Land of fish & chips, beefeaters & the Queen
London, for many Americans, is the window to Europe and rightly so. After all, Brits speak English, so they must be very much like Americans, right? Dead wrong. I realized the ONLY thing we have in common with the Brits is the English language. That aside, cultural differences rule. Most English love football, subversive humour, and after many pints they become rather loquacious and boisterous.
There is absolutely no comparison to London’s beauty, architecture, steeped history and all of its glorious royal-ness. Take a trip to the National Gallery. Walk along the River Thames (pronounced Tims). Hang out in edgy and trendy Shoreditch in east London, or in chic Mayfair, in vibrant central London, or in many of the green areas and squares.
Home to some of the world’s best theatre, music, and streets, lined with top fashion, world-renowned restaurants and clubs, casual or luxurious one is bound to find her speed.
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Eating a softee ice cream at Hampstead Heath on a warm day
Best places for a single girl or groups of girls to go out
The best concentration of fun and bars is in East London, Shoreditch. Try Cahlloo Callay for some refreshing cocktails. Then, venture towards Great Eastern Dining Room for some good fusion dinner or Beach Blanket Babylon. Check out this post from Bon Voyaging on additional Shoreditch haunts we know you'll love.
The variety of Soho House locales and Home House are also good chill spots. We also have some intel on a new great spot called 5 Hereford. For dancing or if you’re on the prowl, try Boujis, Jalouse, Whiskey Mist or Myra or Dstrkt.
Closer to central London's Mayfair, a more posh experience awaits. Try Hakkasan for some delicious Chinese fare.
Pub Culture & Indian Food
If your preference is beer, you'll be pleased to visit several of hundreds of London's pubs. You'll see after-work crowds pouring out into the streets with pints in hand. Do as locals do and strike up some interesting conversation while at it.
Indian food, and particularly Chicken Tikka Masala, is just as popular fish & chips. Any handful of London's many Indian restaurants are sure to please.
Absolutely my favorite part of British culture, while in London experiencing a true High Tea is essential. My faves:
Langham Hotel – In this posh and beautiful hotel just off Oxford Street, you will be treated to a delicious, award-winning and traditional selection in a plush, quiet setting
Fortnum & Mason – A classic tea at the newly refurbished St. James’s Restaurant in the quintessential London department store. Have tea, then venture throughout the many floors to shop for English labels like Paul Smith. There’s also a fabulous hat boutique.
Claridges – A very traditional (and more costly) award-winning tea. A very fine experience.
Wallace Museum – One of the most incredible, original private houses in London, the Wallace House and Museum has free entry to peruse its old treasures and incredible Art hall. After, indulge in a classic afternoon tea in the converted courtyard, now a covered courtyard.
Visit Southbank Centre on weekends and discover some of London's finest street food. Be pleasantly surprised at the array of gourmet bites, breads and pastries that await.
Portobello Road Market is a longtime favorite for antiques and bric-a-brac.
On Sunday mornings from 8am, visit the Columbia Road Flower Market in London's east end. A coffee, muffin and perusing the flowers on display will surely get your week off to a great start.
Safety & Medical Tips
Walking alone and at night:
Safety Scale - 1: Generally safe, however remain cautious to your surroundings
- Popular over-the-counter drugs for cold/flu symptoms: Lemsip is the Theraflu equivalent. Beechams is the Tylenol cold equivalent
Over-the-counter drugs available for curing women’s infections:
- Easily located in a Boots pharmacy (the UK’s leading pharmacy and on street corners and high streets everywhere), choose from Boots brand capsules or creams or Canesten for thrush
- Process to acquire birth control pills: Birth control pills require a doctor’s prescription. The UK’s public health system is called the NHS (National Health Service) and a list of offices can be accessed here
Contributed by Shindy Chen
Shindy lived in London in 1999, and again recently for 2 years