London is one of my absolute favourite cities. I always have a ball there.
It is without a doubt an incredibly #literarycity as London is home to so many incredible writers. They may not all have been born in London, but there are some really fantastic spots that visitors can enjoy. We had the most fantastic four days that were filled to the brim with amazing activities. If you’re planning your own trip and need some inspiration, I hope that my itinerary gives you some ideas. If you’re reading for fun then I hope you enjoy!
We landed in London on a cloudy Wednesday afternoon.
First on the agenda was a trip down the rabbit hole. We had a magical Mad Hatter’s tea party in The Sanderson Hotel. The plates, cups, and fantastic food were all inspired by Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. We had sandwiches and mini burgers, we had scones with fresh cream. We had tiny, sparkly potions that read “Drink Me,” and darling cupcakes that read “Eat Me.” The sugar cubes came in a music box and the champagne sparkled in the glass. It was a delicious, and absolutely gorgeous way to spend an evening. If you’re a fan of Alice in Wonderland then you will be just as excited as I was.
I was giddy over the John Tenniel illustrations on the cups and plates.
This wonderful treat was on the pricer side. It was definitely a splurge for a special occasion, and if you’re a big literary lover then I would recommend it as I do think the attention to details alone are worth it. I also want to take a moment to say that the staff at The Sanderson were absolutely fantastic and so attentive, especially as my table had allergy questions and concerns. They answered all of our questions and ensured that we had an amazing tea that was safe for everyone to eat. So I can’t say enough good things about my experience, but be warned, a trip to Wonderland is on the more expensive side.
*I can provide a full breakdown of costs if people would be interested, although it should be noted that this was a celebratory trip so we splurged more than we normally would.*
Thursday was an amazing day from start to finish. We had breakfast around the corner from our hotel – don’t worry, I will talk about our accommodation in another point. Knowing that we had a #theatretrip to look forward to that evening, we set out to enjoy our morning in the Tate Modern. It was an excellent way to spend a few hours. We happily wandered around the museum, we really enjoyed all of the different exhibits. We did not pay to see anything, we would have loved to see Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirror Rooms, however they were fully booked for the foreseeable future. We hadn’t planned out each day in advance so we didn’t know that we would be going to the Tate Modern until that morning. It is amazing that a museum like this offers free entry and free access to certain exhibits so you can have a brilliant day without having to spend money if you’re trying to save.
*Important Note – London is an expensive city so I was saving in preparation for this trip as I know before even getting there that it is an expensive place to visit so saving while there can be a challenge but not every single thing has to be a splurge.*
On Thursday evening, we were off to Her Majesty’s Theatre to see Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera. It was an amazing night at the theatre. The show was incredible. You can read all about it by clicking the link to my #theatretrip discussion.
Before we went to the theatre, we had a gorgeous dinner at Dirty Bones Soho.
The food was delicious. The cocktails we had were two for the price of one, so fantastic value and very tasty. The staff were so friendly and fun. We had a great time and I would go back there for dinner in a heartbeat the next time I’m in London.
Dish tip – The spicy chicken salad and the high baller cocktail were delicious. I know a salad may not sound like much bit it was so big, so tasty, and so filling. I also ordered a side of fries. It was a perfect meal.
Friday was a really fun day. We had no plans, nothing booked, no agenda. We decided to be spontaneous and so we set off with a coffee in our hands and we headed back to Soho. We spent the morning at Tattoo 13 in Soho. Every single person who worked there was amazing. Really talented, really welcoming, really fun. I got another ear piercing. Nothing too exciting, I just got another lobe piercing (I do have four now though so I pretend I’m cool). That was six weeks ago now and the piercing has healed perfectly.
I can not recommend this place enough if you’re in London and you want to get a tattoo or a piercing. I wouldn’t normally do something like this when I’m away, but we read brilliant reviews, had word of mouth recommendations from people we know, and when we got there the staff really were so lovely that we just got great vibes and we felt confident about being there. So if you live in London or you’re visiting and this is something that you’d do, Tattoo 13 is an amazing spot. It is fun to do something spontaneous now and then. I had no piercing plans when I left Dublin, but I’m so happy that we spent the morning in Soho. They do accept walk-ins too so if you get there early like we did, you might be lucky enough to get a slot. Hurry though, the place got busy fast and it is clear to see why it is so popular. This is one of my all-time favourite memories from this trip.
After spending the morning at Tattoo 13, we headed to Burgers & Beyond in Soho.
The food was amazing. We were starving when we arrived and going to this restaurant was one of my favourite food places of this trip. It just hit the spot. If you’re in Soho, this is a great spot. Dish tip – I got a classic cheese burger with bacon and a side of dirty tots (fried potatoes with bacon, sour cream, cheese, chives, and spicy sauce). It was delicious. I still think about that meal.
After eating we decided to have a wander around a few different book shops – obviously. I do love literature after all. After some browsing, we decided to be the ultimate tourists and even though it was a chilly day, we walked through Leicester Square, Trafalgar Square, Chinatown, and we ended up standing outside Big Ben so that we could see Big Ben and the London Eye because when in London, you simply have to see the big clock. I don’t make the rules. It was a really fun day and I love that we had no plans so we could do whatever we wanted and we just decided where to go next as the day went on. I understand that when your time is limited in a city that having free days like this may not be an option. It was not an option for me the last time I was there in May. We had a busy itinerary and there were places that we didn’t get to see that I made sure we got to this time, for example the Dickens Museum which I am talking about more in my next point.
So while having a day set aside for spontaneous exploring may not be an option, if you’re lucky enough to be returning to a place you’ve been to before like we were and you do have some decent knowledge of how to get around then I would say having some time set aside where you have no plans so you can just do whatever you want could be lots and lots of fun.
On Friday night we decided to have a wander down Fleet Street. Those of you who have been subscribed to katelovesliterature.com for a while now may remember that one of the highlights of my last trip to London was getting to visit the building that was allegedly once the barber shop of Sweeney Todd, the demon barber of Fleet Street.
You can read all about my last trip to London by clicking this link.
My last trip was back in May 2022 and it was completely different to the trip I just returned from. We visited completely different spots and stayed in an entirely different area so if you’re planning a trip to London and want some inspiration then I do recommend reading my previous travel diary because if this current itinerary doesn’t suit you, my previous one may suit you better. Check it out!
I do love Fleet Street so it was great fun exploring it again. There are some fantastic pubs – Dickens allegedly drank in one. There’s some amazing churches, St. Dunstan’s and St. Bride’s. The architecture is amazing and there’s a really cool exhibition in the crypts of St. Bride’s. Overall, Fleet Street is just a really cool street to explore and it is so close to St. Paul’s and Covent Gardens is only twenty minutes away (roughly) so it is a really fun area to visit. We were adventurous and decided to walk down the Hen and Chicken court alley in the dark to see the Sweeney Todd Barber shop one more time. This is one of the narrowest alley-ways in London, but while we did have fun and even though we certainly were not the only ones there to take a picture of the alleged spooky spot, I would never recommend walking down an alley in the dark. This is definitely a do as I say and not as I do moment as it is extremely important to be safe and cautious when one is travelling.
We finished the night in Fleets cocktail bar. This is one of my favourite cocktail spots in London. The cosmopolitans are delicious and the pink floral decor is so pretty. It is a gorgeous spot for pictures and the atmosphere is really fun. Perfect for a date or for a group of friends.
Saturday was our last day but our flight wasn’t until the evening so we were able to have an amazing morning. We started out the day with a full English breakfast and then we set off to the Charles Dickens Museum.
For those of you who may not know, I am a huge fan of Charles Dickens. The first thesis I ever wrote was an analysis on the idea of home and homelessness in the fiction and journalism of Charles Dickens. I absolutely love his work. I studied A Christmas Carol in drama class every December for a decade. I could not wait to explore the Dickens Museum. An unexpected bonus was that during our visit there was a particular exhibition taking place – To Be Read at Dusk: Dickens, Ghosts and the Supernatural.
Charles Dickens wrote and performed ghost stories for over thirty years and he expressed himself and explored the supernatural in his imagination. This particular exhibition explored Dickens’ interest in, love of, and scepticism of ghost stories, as well as celebrating some of his most popular ghostly works.
I absolutely love ghost stories and gothic literature, in fact, I have some exciting news about this particular topic coming soon, but for now I’ll just say that as someone who is a fan of Dickens in general, and as someone who loves ghost stories especially, this exhibition was a real treat.
Before heading to the airport we decided to take a stroll through Hyde Park and so the last thing we did on this brilliant trip was visit the Peter Pan statue as Kensington Gardens is right beside Hyde Park. The bronze statue has quite a memorable backstory. It was erected in the middle of the night in 1912 so one day there was an empty space, and the next there was the boy who won’t grow up. I’m someone who always strives to encourage wonder and curiosity so mysterious statues that “magically” appear are right up my alley.
After making a wish at the Peter Pan statue, it was time to go back to the hotel to quickly grab our bags so that we could make our way back to the airport.
When I was in London last May, we stayed in the Premier Inn in Blackfriars. It was a brilliant location and we got a great price. This time we stayed in the Park Grand Paddington Court Hotel which is located near Paddington station and Hyde Park.
Full disclosure, we opted to stay here this time because the price was simply better.
Again – London is expensive. The hotel was lovely. It was clean, the staff were kind, the location was great. There are plenty of coffee shops and bars around, the Swan being one that we had a great time in on Wednesday night, and I think that if I got the same great deal then I would stay in this spot again. I will be honest and say that I did prefer staying in Blackfriars in May, simply because I found it to be even more central, but to be fair getting from place to place was extremely easy. We got the tube and/or walked everywhere and it is so easy now to use public transportation such as the tube because you just tap your Revolut card (if you have one) when getting on and off.
It was an amazing trip and I loved every second. It seems like an age ago now.
I had intended to publish this travel diary the week after I got home, but if you’ve been following along here and/or on my Instagram @katelovesliterature then you will already know that I had to be #outofoffice for much longer than I intended to be because the week after I got home, I got very sick. I had strep throat, conjunctivitis, nausea, and then another sinus infection so I was sick in bed, taking antibiotics for three weeks straight. I was unable to type or edit anything. Thankfully it was not covid, and thankfully I am finally much better and now I am able to be back to work, back to college, and back to publishing pieces here on Katelovesliterature.com. I try not to talk about my personal life too much, and usually I wouldn’t share that I was unwell because it is unrelated to literature, however I was absent for a long time, and so many people were kind enough to send me well wishes and ask about how I was feeling so I did want to take a moment to say thank you so much for that. Those of you who reached out, you know who you are. It was so kind and I really do appreciate it.
Things are going to get busy again here on Katelovesliteraure.com. I have some pieces that have been on hold while I was unwell that I am excited to finally be able to publish.
I also have some brand new reviews coming very soon.
I am #currentlyreading Hell Breaks Loose by Derek Landy. This book is the prequel to the Skulduggery Pleasant series. This book takes readers back to 300 years before Valkyrie Cain was born. I am really enjoying this new adventure so stay tuned because when I am finished reading, my review will soon follow. HarperCollins Ireland were so kind to send me a copy of this book on Publication Day, however the review I will write is not a paid review.
There is some other exciting news that I am looking forward to sharing soon, but for now all I can say is that there is some really fun work going on behind-the-scenes at the moment.
I am also in the home stretch of my master’s degree programme. All of my lectures are behind me, my proposal has been submitted and now all I have to conquer is the actual, official dissertation. There is still an academic mountain to climb, but it is always encouraging when you can see the top. When I am finished my course entirely, I will finally share what I have been studying and striving towards for the past two years.
I hope that you like the pictures that I am sharing below. There some more snaps on my Instagram grid so if you don’t follow me already then head on over to @katelovesliterature for my photos and regular updates about what is happening here on Katelovesliterature.com.
*All photos shared here have been taken by myself with my own phone and they may not be shared or used without my permission. Thank you. *
I hope you enjoyed my Lovely London Travel Diary.
One thought on “Travel Diary: Lovely London 2023.”
I love London- might have been t here for a limited amount of time, but still worth it. Only 4 and 1/2 days (part tourist and part pilgrim)
Summer of 2015- The Bristol Pilgrimage (result of our church choir being in residence at Bristol Cathedral); so our pilgrims consisted of choir, family, friends, and parishioners
July 29th- arrival in London, walking around Westminster Area
July 30th- Platform 9 and 3/4, Les Mis (date with mom)
July 31st- (start of pilgrimage)- back to Airport to meet rest of group, Windsor Castle
August 1st- Walking Tour of London, Evensong at Westminster
August 2nd- Eucharist at St. Paul’s Cathedral, enough time to walk around Tower of London
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