London Travel Journal: Aug. 30 - Sept. 1

So you're probably wondering, "Lia, how did you afford this trip to London and Paris when you're barely getting by with student loan repayments?" Well, I'll tell you why -- because I didn't pay for it. The entire trip was paid for by my parents because 1) my mum wanted to see me walk at my graduation ceremony and 2) she wanted to visit Paris again. 

Heads up: After writing this, I realised that I took absolutely no pictures during the evenings out with my friends. Blame jet lag, adrenaline, and just pure excitement, but there's no pictorial evidence, which makes me kind of sad. I'll have to remember to be better the next time I visit! Now, onto the more interesting stuff . . . 

For our stay, I booked a fantastic Airbnb near my old flat in Islington. Take a look at the property's profile. The place is an absolute steal! If you're visiting London, I fully recommend booking an Airbnb in advance. Unless you want to splash out on a super nice hotel, Airbnb is the way to go. If you're new to Airbnb, use this link to get $33 off your first trip! You'll also help me get credit for my next trip so we can continue to share the Airbnb love!

Image from Airbnb

After admiring the flat and the view, it was time for dinner. The original plan was dinner at the Lord Clyde pub literally down the street, but dinner service didn't start until 6pm and we were starviiiiing. So, we walked further down Essex Road to another pub that came up in my search, the Hops & Glory.

It was still quite early on a Tuesday, with no one inside apart from a small group by the bar, but it looked welcoming! We were told that dinner started at 5:30pm so we grabbed a table and eagerly dissected their food and drinks menu. My eyes immediately zoomed in on the Happy Hour, running from 5-8pm and offering 2-for-1 on their cocktails. I thought I had found heaven.

I wish I could should you a picture of their drinks menu, but I think that was just on Snapchat . . . Whoops. But let me assure you that I fully took advantage of the Happy Hour and had many different delicious cocktails (maybe too many but I was on holiday!). 

I have used every ounce of self-control not to post every single picture I have from that mind-blowingly glorious dinner/drinks. I'm going to write a blog post solely devoted to the Hops & Glory very, very soon. I'll even tell you about the seating in the back with warmers for every table. Yeah, this place is the dream. You won't want to miss that post!

I had an amazing night catching up with my best friends, sitting outside with cocktails at the Hops & Glory. I think I got home around 10pm, after which I had a well-deserved night's sleep.

And a good morning to you, London.

With only 4 days in London, every day was a crazy whirlwind. I started off my first full day back with a haircut. I made an appointment with the skilled Kate at Jubilee Hair Salon. I knew she would be up to the challenge of giving me new cut! I wanted to go shorter and choppier while maintaining some versatility with my hair. Safe to say that she absolutely nailed it! (Picture of my hair a few hours afterwards is further below.)

I then walked to Kingly Court for lunch with Hannah and Maddy. None of us had ever been to Señor Ceviche but were all surprised by the freshness and quality of the food. It's always great to taste something new, especially when it's made well! We all ordered their affordable set lunch and loved the dishes! The meal was full of brights flavours and didn't feel heavy. The service and atmosphere were also great!

Then, we were off to the Prince of Wales Theatre to watch the Book of Mormon matinee! It's been three years since I last saw the show, when it first previewed on theWest End! My mum and sis loved the show, as well as everyone else in this sell-out audience. I found it alright, but I won't bore you with my theatre critiques.

After three disappointing cups of coffee from the famous Monmouth Coffee and some more walking around, I suggested we go to Timberyard Seven Dials. As usual, they did not disappoint.

My family went to have dinner at Salut! while I met Hannah for a quick dinner at my fave London "fast food" chain, Leon. I, of course, ordered the halloumi wrap. Oh how I wish I could have one flown over for me . . . Anyways, we then headed off to Finsbury Park to meet our friends for a retro night of bowling and drinks. I ended up getting second place with no bumpers!

We all woke up rather late the next morning. I think the adrenaline had started to wear off. Our reservation for afternoon wasn't until 3pm so we had some time to kill. That "morning," I saw on Instagram a picture of the beetroot, matcha, and turmeric "latte" at Holborn Grind and decided that I had to have one!

It only dawned on me after I ordered that none of these lattes has espresso. However, turmeric has this power to wake me up in a more subtle manner -- kind of like eating ginger. The turmeric latte was basically a steamed golden milk, which I love!

Soon, it was time for afternoon tea at Dean Street Townhouse. For only £19.50 pp, you'll get a traditional three-tiered afternoon tea with your choice of tea. Service was very professional and skilled -- just wish I'd requested a table by the window!

Since the room was tucked away in the back, the pictures didn't turn out that well. However, the room was very cozy, with velvet on the walls and a fireplace. I would love to come here in the winter! But for a summer afternoon tea? Not quite what I was looking for, but tasty all the same.

The staircase at Fortnum & Masons is absolutely gorgeous!

We had to stop by to get some Digestives for my dad. He loves the milk chocolate ones. 

Buckingham, Palace 

Buckingham, Palace 

My sister, mum, and me

My sister, mum, and me

We then wound up walking all the way to Westminster, visiting Buckingham Palace because I forgot to take mum last time (how?). The walking continued until we reached the Thames. I was cringing internally due to the literal swarms of tourists, but it was nice to see the sites that inspire people across the world. 

I went out that evening, but it was an early night for me. Wasn't feeling too well, unfortunately. It was all for the best though, since I had to wake up early the next day for my graduation ceremony! All the Harry Potter style robes and an amazing meal at the Sky Garden deserve a whole post of their own. That will be out in a couple days so stay in, and you'll know exactly when that goes live! Say high on  Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter :)

All my love,