If I were to draw up my perfect trip to London it would have been the one I just took. It was a mix of everything I love to do in one of my favorite places in the world. As many of you know I studied abroad in London in 1998 and that was the start of my travels. I had never left the country before and that experience changed everything for me. Since then I’ve been back to London 100 times and each time I get so excited to be back in the Big Smoke! But this trip was a little different; it was my perfect trip to London.
After 3 days in Liverpool, we took the train down to Euston Station and grabbed a taxi to my London Perfect apartment in Kensington. London Perfect is the sister company of Paris Perfect where I had a weeklong rental last summer just before my Euro 2016 road trip. London Perfect didn’t disappoint. The apartment was spectacular.
It was located at 30 Launceston Place just off Gloucester Road about 10 minutes walk from the Gloucester Road tube stop and 5 minutes from Kensington Gardens. It was an attachment to a large house and was essentially a little British luxury casita! It came equipped with everything including a small garden and could easily sleep 4. We were only 2 so the extra space was appreciated!
Since I stayed in London for 5 days I prefer to stay in apartments like London Perfect. We all know I love hotels and London has some of the worlds best like The Savoy Hotel but for longer stays there’s something nice about having an apartment and some extra space.
Saturday night we headed out to meet some friends around Kensington and Chelsea. We popped into a few places but I really liked the Anglesey Arms pub. My friend Charlie, a Londoner, recommended it, as I hadn’t spent much time at night in Kensington. It was a fantastic indoor/outdoor pub with heaters obviously.
It closed at 11, which is the only annoying thing about London, so then we headed to Jak’s bar in Chelsea. This was a great high-end bar that’s a real collection of international wealth with clientele from all over the world. We had a blast, even meeting some pretty high profile people out “on the piss” as they say!
Sunday was match day at Stamford Bridge for Chelsea FC versus Hull City FC. I hate Chelsea passionately but I had never been to the Bridge and my friend Jake had never been to a Premier League game in London. We started the day down the street at the White Horse pub where we met some friends before heading to the Bridge early to check out the Under The Bridge hospitality.
Under The Bridge is the Chelsea club so to speak where your drinks and food is included with your VIP ticket. They played the Arsenal games, which was going on concurrently-I appreciated that obviously! They also did giveaways with old Chelsea players. We got to chat with one of them who was hilarious.
The game itself was a 2-0 victory for Chelsea who maintained their 8-point lead in the EPL table. We had excellent seats and had a scary view of the collision that nearly killed a Hull player after he fractured his skull on a collision in the Chelsea zone. It was the worst noise I’ve ever heard and I’m just glad he made it through OK.
After the match, we headed back to our London Perfect apartment to take a quick nap before the evening festivities. We headed out to Dandelyan, the bar in the Mondrian Hotel in Southbank. This bar was recently named the 3rd best bar in the world.
I have to say it was absolutely fantastic. The décor, the aura, the service, the food and the handcrafted cocktails were all sensational. If you follow me you know I love lists and I have recently become a fan of the 50 best bars in the world list and will certainly check out as many as I can. There are actually 9 in London itself. I’ve now been to all but one!
On Monday, my buddy Jake had to head home so I shot up to North London to do a VIP tour of Emirates Stadium, home of the Arsenal aka the Gunners. Arsenal has been my favorite team since I first went to Highbury, their old ground, back in 1998 to watch them beat Chelsea. That’s literally how I got hooked on soccer.
I have been to a dozen games at the Emirates but I had never been on a tour before. Tours are great as you’ll recall I did at Anfield, Goodison Park and Etihad Stadium back in Manchester earlier this trip.
I had a private guide who showed me every nook and cranny of the stadium including all the clubs and the pitch. I loved every second of it and really appreciated the knowledge of my guide. In fact, he was so good, even though he wasn’t paid to; he took me to the old Highbury Stadium to show me what’s left of it and how they changed it to apartments.
This was my favorite thing I saw on the tour. It was so cool to see how they converted such a hallowed place for so many into apartments while keeping two of the stands in tact. You felt an energy walking into the pitch; which is now a garden for residents. Once a dumpy part of London, Emirates Stadium has made real estate prices skyrocket and the neighborhood gentrify.
After the tour I took a car service out to Premier League Productions to film a show called the Fan Zone; which is broadcast all around the globe. I have the video but unfortunately due to Premier League contracts I cannot yet share it on social media or my website but I hope to soon.
The segment was great and I got to meet a lot of former Premier League players. I know a lot about global football and it’s always nice to hear from Europeans how impressed they are by your knowledge especially if they happened to play for Manchester United!
After the segment I headed straight for the Connaught Hotel to test some cocktails at Connaught Bar, the 4th ranked bar in the world. I have to say this wasn’t my favorite of the bars I went to on my perfect trip to London. It was very old school with mirrored tables and was very nice but just not my taste. However, the drinks were fantastic and of course the service was on point.
Next stop was the newly remodeled Athenaeum Hotel bar simply called The Bar. This bar is not ranked in this years list but I suspect it will be next year. The drinks were creative, delicious and the visuals of the bartenders’ skill were perplexing. I had a scotch drink made in a bag where smoke was then poured in from a blowtorch. I hope you saw my Instagram stories and Snapchat because it was serious awesome!
Across the lobby from The Bar is Galvin, the Michelin-star chefs restaurant at the Athenaeum where I had a lovely meal in a business like atmosphere. It wasn’t my favorite restaurant, it was a little stale, but it was good for sure. However, I’d prefer to eat at The Bar and watch more cocktails being made!
After dinner I was beat and headed back to crash before another big day Tuesday. I started out heading to the top of the Shard over at London Bridge. The Shard is the tallest building in London and has a pretty cool observation deck. You can it from anywhere along the Thames. Aside from dirty windows the views were perfect and the weather cooperated!
Last second I was asked to come to the Premier League office for a meeting. I gladly obliged and got to see the actual Premiership trophy they’ll be handing out at the end of the season (hopefully not to Chelsea)! It was really a cool experience and they have some good folks working over there. Thanks to Cece for setting that up!
I had a little time to kill before my evening’s events so I went to check out the former #1 bar in the world for several years called Artesian in the Langham Hotel. This bar had literally been the most iconic bar in the world for years. However, their bartenders left and they dropped off the list this year. The place is nice of course and still a great place to go but according to everyone I spoke to it’s not the same.
Then I shot down to Soho, right near where I used to live to check out Bar Termini. A bar at Termini station in Rome inspired this little spot. It is an espresso bar and known for their negronis. I personally don’t like negronis so I had a cappuccino that was amazing! I also tried the Parmesan boulder as someone on twitter recommended to me. The bartenders, both Italian, were phenomenal and told me some funny stories about the competition between the world’s top bars.
If that wasn’t enough I then headed to Old Street in Shoreditch and straight to Nightjar, the #18 bar in the world. They actually opened up a half hour early for me to do a private tasting. I can’t tell you how much I appreciated that. I can also say that Nightjar is in my top 3 bars I’ve ever been to.
The hard to find speakeasy is perfection. It’s what you want a bar to look like. Plus they have skilled bartenders who love their job. I love passion and positivity in people. I don’t care what your passions are but be passionate and positive about something and you have a fan in me. Too many people don’t have any passion and are negative. There was none of that at Nightjar and the amazing cocktails reflected that. Nightjar is in my top 3 bars I’ve ever been to along with American Bar in the Savoy Hotel in London and the Hemingway Bar at the Ritz in Paris.
Next up was Callooh Callay just up the street in Shoreditch. Callooh is ranked #48 and was very good. It’s a local kind of bar where many bartenders hang out. The drinks were good and the head barman was extremely knowledgeable and very nice.
Next up was Happiness Forgets in Hoxton Square that’s ranked #10 on the list. It’s a downstairs bar that looks like something out of New York’s Lower East Side. The drinks were cool and the atmosphere was more date-y…meaning people were on dates. I only stayed for one, as I was getting tired and headed to my last bar.
The Gibson is the new kid on the block. The bar itself looks completely basic but the creations that came from it were spectacular. I’ve never seen more garnishes used in cocktails in my life. My Old Fashioned type concoction features a massive chocolate candy and a bunch of others green things I don’t even know what they were. But it worked well! I loved the Gibson.
Now I’m tired just rereading this and recreating my perfect trip to London but that’s exactly what it was. I got to do so many cool things in one of my favorite places. I can’t wait until I’m back in London again in April! I’ll be sure to check out Oriole in Farringdon, the only top 50 bar I haven’t yet been to. I love London!
Disclaimer: This trip was done in partnership with Visit Britain who arranged logistics on much of what I did in London but certainly not all. The post was written by me, obviously, and hasn’t been influenced in any way.