My First Trip to London

london-phone-booth

I’m going to be totally honest with you guys… I feel like I need a re-do with my London trip. Before I went to London, I felt like ev-er-y-one told me OMG YOU’RE GOING TO LOVE IT. And I believed them! I truly thought I was going to love London. But each day, I kept feeling guilty for not loving it. So, so guilty. I kept thinking.. “What am I doing wrong?! Everyone loves it here! Why don’t I?!” There were a variety of not-so-pleasant, behind-the-scenes factors that went into it, but I really didn’t like my time there. I’ll save those travel lessons for another day, but rest assured, they are coming.

Hands down, my favorite way to explore a city is by walking around and immersing myself in the culture. London has landed on just about every “Walkable Cities” list, but I only walked around about 1.5 of the 4 days we were there. It was raining most of the trip so there were a lot of taxis and Ubers taken instead. Of course, there were so many things that I loved seeing and enjoyed experiencing, but I genuinely feel like I need another trip there to take on the city in a different way. When I’m traveling, I really enjoy immersing myself into the culture, food, people, and language. To me, that’s the whole point of traveling — to see how other people do things and gain a new perspective. I don’t feel like I did that this trip… I feel like we were just trucking along, checking boxes off of a list without actually experiencing it. Does that make sense?

For those of you that may be planning a trip in the future, I’m going to share what I loved, what I didn’t really love, and what I would have done differently. Hopefully I made the mistakes so you won’t have to… Taking one for the team, here. 😉

Things I Loved in London

Elizabeth Tower / Big Ben — Big Ben is iconic and so photogenic! (Big Ben is actually just the name of the bell, the tower is called Elizabeth Tower, but it seems like everyone refers to the entire thing as Big Ben.) We went to see/hear Big Ben during the day and also at night for a totally different view. Both were great! You can see the London Eye right across the river, and Westminster Abbey is just across the road, too.

big-ben-london-eye-2

The Tower Bridge — Another iconic, photogenic spot! We started at White Mulberries in the St. Katharine Docks and walked over the Tower Bridge to Borough Market. The architecture of the bridge is phenomenal.. I wish I could have seen it at night, too!

tower-bridge-london

Liberty London — This was one of my favorite shopping destinations in London! I have gotten a glipse of Liberty through the different collaborations they’ve done in the US — J.Crew, Nike, etc. — so I was dying to go the the store. I think I spent an hour there, but it could have easily turned into more. The flower shop outside, the stationery shop on the first floor, the bath section upstairs, the home shop on the 3rd or 4th floor, and their gift shop with all of their namesake prints, the crystal chandeliers hanging down the middle of the store, a whole section of just fabric — the store was so fab! Plus, they carry a lot of other designer clothes, shoes, and accessories. Not to be missed! I love the exterior of the store, too — it’s tudor style with a bit of a Medieval feel. Feels very “London!” My favorite part, though, was the Barbour jackets with Liberty lining — obsessed! I almost walked out with one, but I practiced some self control. However, I did pick up a notebook set and a lavender-filled eye mask. (I’m still kicking myself that I didn’t buy the exclusive Diptyque candle!)

liberty london flowers

babour liberty exclusive

barbour jacket liberty london lining

Sketch for Tea — This was an experience, for sure! The tea room is entirely blush pink and gold, which was so cute. But the place has so much character — the art on the walls is pretty funny and the bathrooms are so crazy. I’m not going to ruin it for you, but let’s just say that there were geese in the bathroom. (If you follow me on SnapChat, you can attest to the bizare-ness!) We later found out that it was some sort of Easter art installation with the geese, so I can’t speak to what it’s like normally, but definitely worth checking out! (Also, I’ve heard that Sketch is great for cocktails, but we only had tea.)

Artesian — We ended one of our last nights at the Artesian bar in our hotel, and it was a great scene! Definitely not your standard “hotel bar.” Wish we would have realized that sooner! I had rosé (shocking), but the cocktail menu looked fabulous.

Marylebone — Our hotel was right on the border of this neighborhood, and it was such a fun little area to explore on our first day. Picturesque flats, cute shops, little eateries — definitely one of my favorite neighborhoods that we explored!

Notting Hill — We tried to go to the Portobello Road Market on Sunday, but ended up getting there right as it was closing. We walked along Portobello Road and up and down the little side streets to see the notorious pastel-colored houses. It was a fun few hours of wandering! (I’ll be posting a whole slew of Notting Hill pictures this weekend.)

Hyde Park — I walked through the southeast side of Hyde Park one afternoon on my walk to Harrods and it was stunning. The rose garden was just starting to bloom.. There was a cute little waterfall.. And it was on a rare day with blue skies and sunshine! Picture perfect.

hyde-park-london

Borough Market — Because of our schedule, we weren’t able to go to Borough Market while it was fully open. (We planned to do it on Sunday, but it was actually closed that day. Our fault for not planning ahead!) However, we went during the “partial market” lunch-time hours and it was awesome! I can only imagine what it’s like when each and every stand is bustling.

london-borough-market

bratwurst-beer-borough-market-london

borough-market-london

Green Park — We walked through Green Park on accident when we were on our way to Buckingham Palace. The striped lawn chairs and blooming yellow flowers did not disappoint!

striped-chairs-green-park-london

Pubs — We went to one pub in Kensington and one pub in Mayfair after dinner at The Woseley and it was fun just hanging out in a local place, drinking a local beer. Wish we would have done a whole lot more of that!

The Tube — I thought the Underground was super easy to navigate and it was so clean! Nothing like the Subway in NYC.

The Langham

Eurostar — The train to Paris was just over 2 hours… So easy!

As you can see, the touristy things were actually some of my favorite things to do while we were in London. (And if London is anything like New York, that’s when you know you did it wrong! haha #justbeinghonest) I need to go back and experience the city like a local!

Things I Didn’t Love in London

London is a lot like New York City. Another dose of honesty — I’ve been chillin’ on the hate side of the love/hate relationship with NYC lately. (I’ve been writing a whole post about this, so more on that to come. It’s getting better as the weather gets nicer, though, so hopefully I’ll be back to loving it soon.) I didn’t realize how much London was like New York before I visited. I think I was expecting London to feel more European and it really didn’t feel that way at all. Honestly, it felt so much like New York. I went on this European vacay to escape NYC for a bit, so I think the stark resemblance between the two cities threw me for a loop.

Our hotel was conveniently located near all of the great shopping on Oxford Street and Regent Street. However, our first day exploring was on a Saturday when we wandered to Oxford Street. Imagine Broadway in Soho in New York on a Saturday afternoon during Christmas season. And then multiply that times three. That’s what our jet-lagged selves walked into on our first day on the town. I was ready to run far, far away. However, I will say that when I was walking on Oxford during the week, it was not nearly as much of a clusterf*ck chaotic. My first impression kind of ruined it for me, though.

I think if I would have gone into the trip with different expectations, I would have felt a lot differently! I’m eager to go back for a few days and see if my opinion changes the second time around.

Things I Would Have Done Differently in London

Westminster Abbey — We saw it from the outside, but weren’t able to take a tour on Sunday. I would have loved to have done that!

Buckingham Palace — These sell out so make sure you book tickets well in advance! We saw it from outside, but I would have loved to take a tour of the palace and also see the changing of the guards. Apparently the tour is with a glass of champagne!

buckingham-palace-london

gold-black-gates-buckingham-palace

Kensington Palace — We did tour Kensington Palace, and while I feel like I learned a lot, I was a little bit underwhelmed. I think I was expecting it to be more extravagant. (Again.. my silly expectations ruining it.) There was a cool fashion exhibit about the different dresses over the years that was neat to see!

Borough Market — I loved going to Borough Market, but would have loved to have gone when it was fully open. The full market is open Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

Camden Market — Camden Market was awesome for food! There’s a lot of weird shops, too, but the food selection was awesome. Unfortunately, we had eaten before we went there so I only had a brownie and a few samples from food vendors, which were all amazing. I would definitely recommend going there on an empty stomach!

camden-lock-market-london-desserts

camden-lock-market-london-food

camden-lock-market-london

camden-lock-market-scones

camden-market-london-cakes

And honestly, I would have walked more places! It’s a walkable city and there’s always so much more you see while out walking around. Pack comfortable shoes, pack your umbrella, rain jacket, and rain boots, and just walk! 

Things I Still Need To Do in London

Alexander McQueen at the V&A Museum — I’m really bummed I didn’t go to this exhibit while we were there. It was in New York before I lived in New York so I was hoping to go while we were in London and it just never really worked out.

Primark — It was on my list to go to Primark and there was one pretty close to our hotel, but I never made it there. Have you been? From my understanding, it’s kind of like an H&M.

Joules — Joules is one of my favorite UK brands and I was excited to see one of their stores. I was planning to go to the store in Kings Cross before our train to Paris, but go figure — it wasn’t open yet because we had an early train. Oops.

London Eye — I got to see the eye in both daylight and at night, but I didn’t actually take a ride in it. Have you done it? Should I add it to my list for next time?

london-eye-view-from-bridge

Oxford — I would have loved to take a trip to Oxford while we were in London, but we didn’t have enough time.

Bath — Same situation as Oxford. I’ve heard it’s absolutely beautiful!

Platform 9 3/4 — You guys. I WAS AT ST PANCRAS STATION AND DIDN’T EVEN KNOW THIS EXISTED. I not-so-secretly love Harry Potter. I mean, I went on a trip to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter after I graduated from college. (#donthate) As we were pulling up to Kings Cross, I said “I wonder if Platform 9 3/4 is actually here, but we were too busy with all of our luggage and trying to catch our train to even think about it.” Apparently there is a whole store and everything!

Kings Road — I don’t think we really went anywhere in Chelsea and I feel like that’s a must-do.

Granger & CoMackenzie raved about the ricotta hotcakes, but we didn’t make it there. On the list for next time!

What else should I add to my London list for next time? Maybe I should have asked you guys *before* I went! 😉

 All photos taken by me, Jessica Sturdy. Most of which on my Canon camera, but the photos from inside Liberty are on my iPhone.

Leave a Comment

56 Comments

  1. 4.10.15
    Morgan A. commented:

    I love the honesty!! I think too many times we pretend everything awesome when in reality, lots of experiences in life can be let downs. And thats ok. We did a Europe trip last year (skipped London though) and I felt super guilty for not loving every place we went. Like, Rome…I felt so weird because I had only heard the best things, but I just didn’t get it.
    x, Morgan.

    http://www.morningappleblog.com

    • 4.10.15
      Melissa commented:

      Morgan, I went to Rome a few years ago and I disliked it greatly. The ancient stuff was great, but I thought the city was crowed, busy, dirty, and cramped. Florence, on the other hand, is to die for.

  2. 4.10.15

    I do agree with you, NYC & London have a lot of similarities. I think like New York, London takes time to really see & experience. there are so many “must-see” spots, but even more hidden gems. definitely not a hidden gem, but The Orangery at Kensington Palace is amazing. And like you said, just wandering through the streets & stopping in the local pubs is the best way (in my mind) to see the city. I think you should spend more time there! 🙂

    • 4.10.15
      Jessica Sturdy commented:

      The hidden gems are DEFINITELY what our trip was missing! (If you have suggestions, please send them my way for next time!) We weren’t able to go to The Orangery because we did the tour right at the end of the day and it was closing. I definitely need to go back!

  3. 4.10.15
    Jill commented:

    I’ve wanted to go to London for YEARS! I making the trip this year even if it kills me. It’s nice to hear about the bad with the good. I want it to be perfect but I have a feeling it’s sheer size will overwhelm me but I need to see it. Bring on more travel posts!

    • 4.10.15
      Jessica Sturdy commented:

      Planning ahead is kind of a must since it is pretty spread out! And pencil in time to just explore different neighborhoods, without a destination or motive in mind. For me, I think that’s key when traveling most places!

  4. 4.10.15
    Jenny C commented:

    I’ve been to London twice, and loved it both times. My brother and sister-in-law lived there for a few years, so I had a place to stay when I went. We were about a 30 minute tube ride from the center of London, which I think helped keep things a little better. You definitely need to go to Westminster Abbey! It is beautiful. If you didn’t go into the Tower of London, that is a must as well. Harrod’s is amazing; having tea there is nice as well. My boyfriend didn’t like it as much, but what does he know 🙂

  5. 4.10.15
    Melissa commented:

    I’ve been to London 5 or 6 times now (several of those were when I lived in Liverpool). It definitely helps to go when the weather is nice, as the flowers are blooming and everyone is generally much happier. But you’ve done some stuff I haven’t yet, and I’m taking note for next time!

    I recommend doing the River Thames boat tour from Parliament to the Tower of London, and doing that tour. Then, if you get the unlimited ride ticket, hop on the boat and go to Greenwich, stand on the Prime Meridian (two hemispheres at once!), have tea at the Cutty Sark (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cutty_Sark), and take in amazing views of the city. Also, catch a show by hitting the discount tickets booth in Leicester Square. Walking in Hyde Park is also glorious when the weather is nice.

    Primark is great for really trendy items at bottom dollar prices, but the quality is terrible. So if you do purchase things, do so knowing they will fall apart within the year. I usually purchase a few accessories there when I visit, but when I lived there, my entire wardrobe was Primark. Check out New Look for better quality. I also suggest going to Primark in the middle of the day, and possibly to a store not located in London. When I was there in November, I nearly murdered a mother and child because they were causing massive crowd issues.

    I definitely hope you go back and give it another chance. It’s beautiful when the weather is not craptastic, and I think your expectations will be more realistic. I think a lot of people, myself included, expect it to be this glorious place we see in the movies, when the movies only show the glamorous and famous sites, and not the “real” city.

  6. 4.10.15
    Sarah commented:

    what a great post! I appreciate your honesty! I absolutely love London; it is my very favorite city in the entire world. I hope you can go back and give it another chance. It sounds like you fit a lot into your trip – kudos to you for seeing so much!

    I used to live in NYC and I agree that London is similar. I no longer live in New York and I miss it dearly…which could be why I enjoy London so much. And I completely understand when you say you wanted more of a break from the city hustle and bustle. (I was also on the love/hate NYC train when I lived there and now that I’m not there, the grass is greener, I guess?) Anyway. The weather can be a real deterrent on a walking vacation! My last trip to London (November) was cold and rainy too – and it makes it that much harder to walk around, catch buses, see sights, etc.! I would also avoid Oxford Street…I went once for a post-Boxing Day sale and am still recovering 🙂

    As for suggestions on future trips – I have taken the London Eye. It’s expensive and only really worth it on a clear day, so you’d need to factor that in. I am not sure I would go again. I also took the Westminster Abbey tour – also expensive and no photos allowed inside but it was interesting. I recommend Shakespeare’s Globe theatre, even if you just take the guided tour and not see a play as well. (Plus, I think the Queen’s Walk along the south bank of the Thames – walking from Waterloo station to the Globe – is one of the prettiest paths!). I haven’t seen the McQueen exhibit but have visited the V & A for the Peter Rabbit and Grace Kelly exhibits and the whole museum is very cool. I think you would also enjoy a quick stop in Harrod’s (and Selfridge’s, if you didn’t go in while on Oxford Street). The Tower of London is a prime tourist spot but I’ve been twice and enjoyed it. I love the history and the views of Tower Bridge.

    I’m glad you got to see the beautiful parks and neighborhoods though. Some of my best memories of London are just walking around, exploring.

  7. 4.10.15
    Ashleigh commented:

    As a half-Brit (not to be confused with a half-wit), I think I am biased with my love of London, thought of course not every British person loves London. I think you definitely need another go with better weather and maybe more time to take things slow? The London Eye is amazing if you do it just at Sunset so you can get daylight and nighttime photos. Westminster Abbey as well is a must – I just went for the first time last year and was weirdly emotional about the amount of history inside those walls. I think you need to wander into Hampstead! It’s picture-perfect quaint and quiet and still close enough to London that you can be in the city center in about a 15 minute tube ride.
    Please please tell me you went to Selfridges. I know Oxford Street sucks on a weekend but Selfridges is basically the best. It’s particularly beautiful at Christmas.
    I guess either way, I feel like London deserves more time to be truly enjoyed – especially the Borough Market! It was one of the first London attractions I experienced and it doesn’t disappoint. I hope you get a chance to go back soon, it’s truly wonderful! Plus, you know what they say – If you’re tired of London, you’re tired of life!”

  8. 4.10.15

    I would have suggested getting high tea at SoHo hotel and the bars in that area too. Some of my favorite London eats are in that neighborhood.

  9. 4.10.15
    Amanda commented:

    I know what you mean about a do-over for a big vacation! I went to Ireland 3 years ago and the airline lost my luggage so my trip was ruined contacting them every day looking for my bag, tracking down new everything (from deod to all new clothes). I did find Primark that way and still have some of the things I bought. But yeah I really want a do-over on that trip where I’m not obsessed with getting my bag back. (It finally showed up THE LAST DAY before I left, ugh)

    I so want to go to London, but I’ve heard that it’s like “any other big city” – specifically like you said, NY. If I make it there, I’ll be sure to come back to check out your tips! I think the weather makes a big difference, especially when it comes to exploring by foot. I’m glad you kept it real with us!

  10. 4.10.15
    Vanessa commented:

    Thanks for your honesty. In the world of blogging, it’s refreshing to hear something that isn’t all rainbows and unicorns. I am married to an Englishman, and on our first trip to London I made him do all the touristy things because I had never visited. On subsequent trips we ventured out of London. Things I recommend in London (especially if you like history): you can sit in on a session at Parliament for free; British Museum, Albert and Victoria, National Gallery, and Tate Modern (most have free days or are free); Tower of London; eat somewhere with a view, like Duck & Waffle (open 24 hours).
    Things outside of London: Hampton Court, Hever Castle, Oxford (while there tour Blenheim Palace, it will wow you if Kensington did not!) or Cambridge, Warner Bros./Harry Potter Studio Tour (loved it!!!). I loved the Liberty store too!
    Then there are just the natural wonders: White Cliffs of Dover, lake country, Brighton Beach, etc.. We also visited Durham University closer to the border of Scotland, where my husband attended. It’s an awesome city on a river and some parts of Harry Potter were filmed there at Durham Cathedral. We toured one of the dormitories (called “Castle College”) at the university and it’s over 1000 years old. Pretty amazing stuff!
    There are also many smaller towns to visit that are pretty awesome. My husband took me to Cheshire, which has so many tudor buildings, it’s great for walking around (it’s closer to Manchester though).
    The first time I visited was fall and the other time was spring. I agree…you definitely need sneakers or comfy shoes, rain boots, a trench, scarf, and an umbrella. Hope you enjoy your next trip, but if not…there are so many amazing European cities to visit!

  11. 4.10.15
    Marissa commented:

    Loved your honesty, Jess! Sometimes the whole ‘travel’ thing looks so glamorous, when in reality it’s not & I think we need to see more reviews like this out there! 🙂 xxx

  12. 4.10.15
    Alexandra commented:

    Love your super honest posts – I’m definitely pinning this and looking forward to your tips!

    Warm Regards,
    Alexandra
    http://www.littlewildheart.com

  13. 4.10.15
    Maddy commented:

    I love this and, like all the other comments have said, love your honesty! Travel is a combo of our expectations and our past experiences meeting up with our ability to be open minded to new things – you’ve definitely got the open minded part (esp seeing as you’re already mentally planning to try again!) but just seems this trip wasn’t doing it for you. That happens sometimes! 🙂

    I’ve never been to London but I’ll definitely take these bits and pieces into account if I ever plan a trip there. Thanks for the post!

  14. 4.10.15
    Liv commented:

    WOW! Looks like you had a blast. Thanks for sharing those beautiful photos and tips. I can’t wait to visit London, hopefully soon.

    Liv

    http://www.livforstyle.net

  15. 4.10.15

    I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy London that much! Arriving to a crowded place jet lagged can make for an awful experience. That’s how I felt when I got to Vegas. It was so busy and I was so tired and our rooms weren’t ready and I started crying in the lobby. Not fun. Thankfully it got A LOT better once I got sleep! haha

    Her Heartland Soul
    http://herheartlandsoul.com

  16. 4.10.15
    Casey Edmondson commented:

    I too felt London was SO similar to NYC and had mixed feelings on my first trip. The second time I went there we did more of the not so typical tourist things and it was 100x better! Seeing it more from a locals POV and visiting places off the beaten path is def. the way to go!

    Camden market is amazing! Also, make sure you visit Primark next time you’re there – a combination between a Forever 21 and H&M. I agree with Tate and National Gallery as well! Def worth seeing!

  17. 4.10.15
    Maddy commented:

    Thank you for sharing all the good & bad parts! My friend lives there for grad school currently and I am hoping to head out in late August/September – I will definitely be using your post to help me decide what I want to do!

    xo, Maddy
    http://cassidylou.com/

  18. 4.10.15
    Alyson commented:

    Very honest post. I’m one of those people who LOVE London. I spent a year abroad there in college and have visited a few times since. I’m also a native New Yorker and I think your point about the cities having some similarities is very true. When I first went to London in college, I felt instantly at ease and comfortable. For me the diversity (food, people, interests) the pace, and the fact that you could walk everywhere made me feel at home. I think if you’re the type of person who really loves NYC and/or grew up here, then chances are you’ll love London too.

  19. 4.10.15

    hm very honest! i love london loved it the first time and love it everytime!
    hope you to enjoy the city the next time!

    Irene
    http://www.thedailylace.com

  20. 4.10.15

    I haven’t been to London in many, many years, but I do remember it being a lot like New York – just.. typically wetter. And I’m right there with you – I have a love/hate relationship with the Big Apple. Next time you travel to the UK I’d recommend checking out Wales, it’s one of the most gorgeous places I have ever visited.

    Josh – The Kentucky Gent
    http://thekentuckygent.com

  21. 4.10.15
    Emily commented:

    I totally know what you mean about London! I’ve visited three times and actually lived there for a semester in graduate school. I kind of feel the same way about Ireland; I felt really guilt for not loving it but honestly, Dublin felt so much like Boston. I also agree that it’s about curbing your expectations (London as a city does not have the same vibe as other major European cities) and finding hidden gems.

    As someone who lived there and had a lot of time to explore, I’d say that taking day trips outside the city really adds a lot to the experience. Getting to see the beautiful countrysides, small villages, and beautiful old architecture really help to make a complete trip. Aside from Liberty (which is amazing!) I would, without a doubt, recommend London’s other unique department stores:
    – Harrods (touristy, for a reason. So beautiful and their food hall is to die for)
    – Selfridges (has a great history behind it)
    – Harvey Nichols
    – Fortnum & Mason (this might just be my favorite; luxury foods, sweets, paper and home goods, etc.)

    If you’re going to see one museum, I’d definitely recommend the Victoria & Albert. There’s so much to see, the space is gorgeous, and the neighborhood surrounding it is absolutely lovely. Borough Market is the best, and it’s a bummer you didn’t get to go. Next time, hit the market and then walk along the Thames towards Tower Bridge. Other places: Brick Lane, Old Spitalfields Market, Covent Garden, and Portobello Road. I would also HIGHLY recommend seeing one or two plays or musicals. They are so reasonably priced (compared to NYC) and are of broadway quality. I saw Wicked and Singing in the Rain and both were incredible.

    London is also a huge city and even in all the times I’ve been there I’ve never “seen it all.” Don’t be too disappointed! Now that you’ve been, you’ll have a better idea of where to go, what to see, and how to get around on your next trip!

  22. 4.10.15
    Alaina Shea commented:

    I spent my fall 2014 semester in London and I loved finding the things that weren’t “tour-y” to do. They’re more fun and less, like you said, just to check the boxes, it’s not as immersing yourself in the culture.
    As for your next trip, the V and A is my favorite museum in the world, Oxford in lovely, Bath as well, any market is great (Colombia Road Flower Market is beautiful even just to stroll through).
    Primark is a better forever 21 – great jewelry selections for cheap. Perfect trendy items you can pick up for just a few pounds!
    Also, always look up events or things happening – there’s always something fun in London and its a great way to get immersed in the culture and not see yet another tourist attraction.
    London is great and next time you go you’ll start to love it 😉

  23. 4.10.15
    Tai commented:

    I felt the exact same way when I went to London for the first time last summer. I thought I was going to fall completely head over heels in love with it, but I didn’t. I was completely overwhelmed by the number of people there were, and I was staying in the outskirts, so taking (and paying) for several tube trips every day was not so great. I would love to go back and stay more centrally and plan a little bit more. Your suggestions for places to go are great!
    Also, if you’re a Harry Potter fan you have to go to Leavesden where they have the big movie museum. I just about died it was so amazing and magical! I seriously almost cried I was so happy…

  24. 4.10.15

    I love this post. You put so much work into it! IN LOVE
    I just visited london and it was amazing. Camden markets ahhhhh! love love love

    kamilapodnyc.com

  25. 4.10.15

    This was so refreshing to read! I have spent considerable time in Europe but just cannot “love” London. It just isn’t my jam. And I feel totally guilty about it. Nice to know I have a kindred spirit. And if you do go back and love it, you better plan my next visit! xo

  26. 4.10.15
    Paige D commented:

    I wish you would’ve loved London! I went there this summer completely at random and knew nothing about the city and LOVED it. I would suggest Fortnum & Mason and the Warner Brother Harry Potter studios tour for your next trip….two absolute highlights of mine. And Harrods is an experience in itself..you could spend days in there. Hope this helps for next time!

  27. 4.10.15
    Tecmint commented:

    I love the pictures. Thanks so much!
    http://www.tecmint.com

  28. 4.10.15
    The Yuppie Files commented:

    I think the time of year wasn’t the best to see London. I’d suggest later in the spring or summer when it’s a bit nicer next time!

  29. 4.10.15
    Mandie commented:

    Careful not to rest too long on the hate side of the NYC love/hate relationship. That’s how I ended up living in Iowa 😉

  30. 4.11.15
    Teresa Sturdy commented:

    Mandie, Your comment made me laugh. You don’t have to worry about that. Jessica spent a lot of time in Iowa when my grandparents were still living ( I was born and raised in Charles City). She was not a fan of the winters in NE Iowa.

    • 4.11.15
      Mandie commented:

      With good reason! I wish I knew about the winters…so cold!

  31. 4.11.15
    Jeanne commented:

    Gorgeous photo diary! Thanks for sharing Miss!
    ♥♥♥
    Jeanne
    http://fashionmusingsdiary.com

  32. 4.11.15
    Bets commented:

    Felt the same when I visited New Orleans in January. I actually threw out my shoes when returned home; wanted no memories from there. Maybe better planning on my part may have resulted in better experience. It was a letdown though, an expensive letdown. 🙁

  33. 4.11.15
    Kendall commented:

    Isn’t it terrible when our expectations somewhat ruin our travel experiences? This just happened to me last summer with my trip to Austin. It sounds like overall the London trip was a success! I haven’t been to London in years and miss it terribly. I think your impression of London might have been affected by where you stayed; my family and I always stayed in Notting Hill and it almost felt like coming home every time we got off our tube stop. Next time be sure to visit Harrod’s because there is really nothing like it. Also, even though it is incredibly touristy, visit Covent Garden. Another favorite was taking a boat ride up to Greenwich and standing on the international date line. I really miss London and I think you should plan a return trip!

  34. 4.11.15
    Meagan commented:

    Looks beautiful! I hope I can take a London trip someday.
    -Meg
    http://www.smalltownsisters.blogspot.com

  35. 4.11.15

    I have never been to London, but I want to go there so bad. I ‘m going in the near future. Everyone tells me London will be the place for me 🙂

  36. 4.11.15

    So sorry you to hear you didn’t love London, but your honesty is refreshing. Hopefully, your next trip there will be wonderful. If not, it’s cool. Everyone has their preferences.

    Happy Saturday Jess 🙂 Hope you’re enjoying a restful weekend!
    http://www.lovecompassionatelee.com/thinkoutloud/2015/4/8/4815

  37. 4.12.15
    Sydney commented:

    I’m so sorry you didn’t enjoy London 🙁
    I was there about two weeks before you and I had an amazing time! I did many of the things you did but I’d also recommend going to covent garden. It has a ton of cute little stores and also a bunch of bigger chain stores and there’s a little flea market (plus it’s walking distance from Chinatown and soho) I also loved visiting Windsor castle (where the queen lives) it’s about 30 mins outside of London and there’s a lot of places to shop and eat in the little town at the bottom of the hill from the castle.
    I hope you enjoy your next trip!

  38. 4.13.15
    Jenny Lynn commented:

    I was in London for the first time last month and loved it! If you’re a Beatles fan I would visit Abbey Road next time. Walking across it was a highlight of my trip! 🙂

  39. 4.13.15
    Bryony commented:

    I’m British (I live in Oxford) and I agree with a lot of what Vanessa said above.
    I think if you really want to immerse yourself in the culture, doing all the touristy things you’ve mentioned aren’t the way forward.

    For more of a change from NYC, you might enjoy exploring some other parts of the UK. A trip to Bath and Bristol (you could stay in Clifton Village in Bristol) would be great, and beautiful Devon and Cornwall are not far from there. You could stay in a B&B in the Lake District (a typically British holiday!), or visit the Cotswolds. And I definitely recommend a visit to Brighton – unique shops in tiny lanes, by the sea, great restaurants and night life.

  40. 4.14.15
    Alyssa commented:

    Hi there! I lived in London for 4 months during a semester of college and absolutely fell in love with the city. From your post, I can definitely see the ups and downs of traveling in the rainy city. That being said, it’s still a great place to visit and I’d highly recommend venturing back there if you get the chance! On your list of things to still do, I’d 100% recommend taking a ride in the Eye, it was absolutely an incredible experience and one that should not be missed! Do it at dusk or at night though. I’d also add Abbey Road on there! There’s so much Beatle’s memorabilia there and it’s an absolutely beautiful neighborhood in London to visit (off of the St. John’s Wood tube stop). I’m not the biggest Beatle’s fan, but still super cool and worth the trip. As for Primark, I’d say you can absolutely skip it. The best description I have for you is a Walmart/H&M on crack. The stores are always incredibly crowded, the prices are cheap so the clothing falls apart really quickly and it’s definitely not worth your time. It was great on a student budget for clothes to travel in and leave behind in different cities, but for you I’d say you can pass on it. Hope this helps and you get the chance to visit one of my favorite cities in the world again!

  41. 4.17.15
    Molly Galler commented:

    We had the same exact experience. Everyone kept telling me how much I would love London and I just didn’t. My highlights were Harrod’s, the London Eye and Covent Garden. Glad you were able to find some bright spots in an otherwise tough trip.

  42. 4.19.15
    Charlotte commented:

    I was born in London and still live here- I admire your guts to visit oxford street!
    Central London is chock-full of tourists and suits – not fun.

    You must visit the shard! The best views of London by far, and they have restaurants too. We went at night (which I was sceptical about) but the views are just as awesome.

    Brick lane is lined with Indian restaurants and Is famous for their good food. Can also find trendy bars at night and a cool clothes shops and markets during the day.

    Another place to go is Brighton- cute cobbled streets, great shops (don’t bother with Brighton pier) and they also have a marina that is really pretty to look out over during dinner.

    If you have time to spare, I would definitely recommend taking a trip to Cornwall (or Devon) which are at the most southern part of the uk. Famous for fish and chips, pasties and ice cream. They have great beaches (costal walks galore), maybe take some surf lessons and explore their cute shops. Down more cobbled streets! Padstow or St. Ives probably have the most going on and padstow have something called the “camel trail” which is a bike ride that takes you from weybridge to padtow over a do-able distance of about 5 miles.

    Other than that, the great thing about London is that it’s basically made up of loads of little village communities – I’m from Dulwich which had markets going on every Saturday, cool restaurants and cafes during the day and loads of parks. If you find a little area in London you like, just take your time to get to know it!

    Hopefully some of this helps….

    Charlotte

  43. 4.26.15
    Sarah commented:

    My mother is from London so I used to spend summers there with my grandmother. There are a few places in London that I always do that I couldn’t believe weren’t on your list! So do go back and explore it again!! First of all, you MUST do the London Eye. When it first opened, everyone wondered if it would just be for tourists, when in fact it’s something that even locals love!! You can reserve tickets for a certain time slot online so you don’t have to wait in line. Try to go right before sunset. No matter the weather the views are magnificent! You can see the whole city at once!! I saw the changing of the guard once from it – much better than being amongst the hoards outside the palace. The other must-do is Hampstead Heath. It’s truly my favorite thing to do in London. Walking the Heath and then having breakfast at the Dairy. My parents took me there when I was a child. And I now love going as an adult. You’re in London but far away from the crowds and it basically feels like you’re in the country side. I would recommend starting at the bottom in Highgate and then walk across the Heath past the swimming ponds up to the mansion that is now a beautiful museum – it’s where they filmed the movie making scenes in the movie Notting Hill. Explore the gardens and have a real English breakfast of bangers and eggs and tomato and toast at the Dairy. For an over the top luxury do high tea at the Ritz. Reserve ahead! Dress well. It’s the true epitomy of English high tea. Some people also like tea at Fortnum and Mason but the Ritz is truly the most luxurious and special because you’re not allowed in the tea room unless you have a reservation. And you can’t take photos – I snuck one onetime of course! 😉 Harrods used to be the place to go but it’s become very tacky. Although there really is nothing like the toy department! You also need to go to the London Zoo! And take a barge down the canal. And walk through Primrose Hill. And Highgate. You are right that London is very much like NYC in that it’s one of the most expensive cities in the world and full of tourists. But it also has lots of history and charm and quaintness if you know where to look. I hope your trip to Paris was even more impressive – my favorite place- look forward to reading your Paris posts!! Oh and the weather – yes it rains a lot in London – so it’s important to take mud boots and a good rain coat! Don’t let weather affect your ability to explore a city. And yes you should have bought the Barbour!!! So you can out it to good use on your next trip to London! I bought one before my last trip there and wore it everyday! (When I wasn’t wearing my Burberry trench of course…) 🙂

  44. 4.28.15
    Hannah commented:

    Glad you enjoyed most of your trip. Don’t worry about missing out on Primark (it’s full of really cheap and nasty clothes)… there are far better places to shop. You’ll just have to come back again and explore more of England!

  45. 5.6.15
    Christina commented:

    I know I am a little late commenting about this but I think it could be a result of a lot of well-known bloggers have been to London very recently and have all hit the same stops (I can’t tell you how many photos of that pink door, which is adorable, I have seen on Instagram). It seems like envy one has taken the same trip and seen and ate at many of the same exact places and sometimes when that happens you (in general, not just you) aren’t having necessarily an authentic expeience rather than the road that has been very travelled. Plus, if you follow these same bloggers the sites and experiences are likely to have less of an impact since you have seen them repeatedly and they have been so well documented. I had a similar experince in Machu Picchu where I did so much research and looked at so many pictures of the site that when I went there I was underwhelmed since I felt like I had really seen it all. Getting off the beaten track and discovering your own hidden treasures are always what I like most about traveling.

  46. 1.11.17
    Katie Goodwin commented:

    I know this is an old post, but you HAVE to go to Primark!!!! It’s the most amazing store, and soooo cheap. It’s one of my favorite things about London, that and clotted cream 🙂