HONEYMOON TRAVEL DIARY: LONDON

During our honeymoon we spent a little time in London. Here are the highlights…

First things first, if you haven’t read our honeymoon itinerary or Paris travel diary then be sure to do that first.

BACKGROUND

I have to preface this post by saying that we were not in London very long (at all) and we had some travel mishaps. Both of those things have a big effect on my takeaway feelings from the city.

It was a short stay in London because it was kind of a last minute add to our schedule. We had initially planned to stay a couple days in Bordeaux but when Ethan saw that his favorite soccer team was playing while we were in Europe we decided we might as well go! So we decided to ditch the idea of Bordeaux and head to London. We thought about spending more time in London but ended up deciding to only do two nights since Ethan had already been to both Paris and London and not only liked Paris better himself but guessed that I would much prefer Paris too.

After we confirmed our travels to London, we decided it would be a shame to be so close to Juddmonte Europe and not visit so we planned to do that as well. Ethan works for Juddmonte Farms in Lexington so we were excited to see their home base farm.

With those two things alone planned we had a pretty full schedule. But, then we added a couple travel mishaps into the mix. We booked a terrible airbnb and had to spend time dealing with customer service and relocating to a hotel, we had trains cancelled due to trespassing and we missed the EuroStar train back to Paris and ended up stuck in London for most of a day with our luggage. Now, things like this happen (especially when you are on a long trip) but when you pile those onto the short London stop it really plays a part in how you experience the city.

So, all in all, we did not give London a fair shot. I am sure we could go back and have a great time (and maybe we will in the future) but during this trip all I kept thinking was “well we’re definitely not in Paris anymore” and counting down the seconds until we could go back to that magical city.

None the less, here is a recap from our two days!

ACCOMMODATIONS

Our lodging story from London is not ideal, but I will take you through it anyhow so you can learn from us.

AIRBNB

These photos are gross right. Yep. They are. Don’t stay HERE!! I won’t spend much time on this–I know it’s a drag to hear someone complain. But there is a takeaway, so I wanted to share.

When we checked into the airbnb we booked it was nasty. Stains on the furniture, crap everywhere, broken appliances, no toilet paper/paper towels (I learned that the hard way), disgusting carpet. And the person who let us in wanted to sit down and make herself at home chatting. Mind you, she had brought her icky dog and it was running around the apartment and all she wanted to do was invade our space and tell us about where to get a massage with a happy ending. Seriously. Once she finally left we called the host (which was an agency). They were horrible to deal with and after tons of back and forth, the best they could do was a $50 refund if we promised not to post a review or any photos of the apartment. Since we had already lost so much time dealing with this issue (we missed out on going to a high tea that afternoon which was the only thing I really wanted to do while we were in London), we decided to focus on finding a new hotel and getting our luggage there.

Finally Ethan contacted AirBnB rather than the host and they handled the situation wonderfully! They were professional, understanding and so quick to respond. So, sharing this to say.. if you ever run into an issue like this, save yourself a ton of time and contact AirBnb directly ASAP. We ended up getting a full refund.

Z HOTELS – PICADILLY

This is the hotel we ended up staying at. It was the only thing close by that we could find online with rooms still open that weren’t super pricey. I don’t have any photos to share but it was pleasant in contrast to our AirBnB. The room was tiny (we expected that) but the hotel was clean and safe and the staff was overly friendly and helpful! Bonus, they had a complimentary wine and cheese happy hour nightly in the lobby. It was wonderful! Above and beyond what you would expect. They had a server bringing wine selections to your table and refilling your glass and the buffet included tons of cheese options, nuts, olives, hummus and chutneys. It wasn’t a high tea at The Ritz (like we missed out on) but it definitely turned our evening around and put us in a great mood again!

HOTEL XENIA

We recently learned after chatting with our friends that they stayed at this boutique hotel and loved it. After looking at the photos and hearing their review I would definitely book here if we return to London!

RESTAURANTS + BARS

Turns out London food is just as bad as everyone says it is! Definitely made me miss all the rose and bread from Paris! BUT, we were not there long enough to seek out anything good and our schedule was too up in the air to make reservations. I would definitely try to have some things lined up if you are visiting so you have a better experience with the food scene.

THE BARLEY MOW

This is exactly what you would expect from a London pub. Not much to write home about in my opinion but we stopped here for a drink and it did the trick.

PUB NAME UNKNOWN.. SORRY!

I don’t even remember the name of this spot but it was not something I would recommend. We decided to eat true pub food on our first night (we had a hard time finding a place to go) and ordered fish and chips. It was about as gross as it looks haha! The peas were cold and the food was soooo bland.

DINNER ON THE GO

We grabbed this when we were running (literally) to catch the underground to go to the soccer game our second night. We decided to squeeze in riding the London Eye after our trip to Newmarket so we were really pressed for time. We didn’t mind though since we were not any too excited about having another pub meal, haha! We found a Shake Shack after the game and had a late night bite before bed.

THE PACKHORSE INN, MOULTON

This is the restaurant we ate lunch at the day we were in Newmarket visiting Juddmonte Europe. It was such a nice place, the atmosphere was lovely and the food hit the spot.

TRANSPORTATION

I can certainly say, I left London a little more familiar with international train stations!

EUROSTAR

We took the EuroStar train back and forth from Paris to London. It’s affordable and so fast and very relaxed travel. Highly recommend! Crazy that in a little over 2 hours time you can be in a totally different city. We booked our tickets ahead of time online. Our journey departed from Paris at Gare du Nord and arrived in London at St Pancras Station. Ethan and I actually enjoyed the ride on the train. It moves so fast so the ride is smooth and it was nice to have a couple of hours to just sit and relax. Our seats were spacious and we did not upgrade.

The only thing you need to be mindful of is the time it takes to board the train. We had taken other trains during our trip and the boarding process was so quick but we kind of forgot that we were actually changing countries with this one. Seems obvious, I know but it is easy to forget to allow time for when you are in the middle of a long travel trip. Don’t forget that you have to go through a couple security lines and customs to get your passport approved BEFORE you board so allow for plenty of time. We accidentally missed our train back to Paris and ended up dragging our suitcases around trying to find a restaurant and somewhere to pass the time until we could get on a later train. The ordeal of trying to rebook onto another train is not a fun one either, trust me. I don’t know how normal this is but the day we traveled there were hardly any seats still left on other trains that day. Save yourself the trouble and arrive at the station at least an hour and a half before your boarding time.

CABS

It was easier for us to take cabs around than try and get Ubers. It seems like cabs still dominate here but it wasn’t an issue because the ones we took were spacious and clean. And I loved that they were black!

LIVERPOOL STATION

We scheduled a train ahead of time to head out to Newmarket the day we visited Juddmonte Farms Europe. We expected this to be easy travel but when we arrived and were waiting for our train they announced that it was cancelled (along with all others on that track) due to trespassing. The station was pretty hectic and it took us a while to figure out what had happened and what we needed to do. We kept being told to go to different lines and wait to talk to someone and once we were there they would tell us to go somewhere else.

In the end, it turned out trespassing meant someone was found on the track on foot (unfortunately suicide and suicide attempts happen this way) so the trains traveling through that area were immediately cancelled until further notice. We had to get to a different station and take a different train line out to Newmarket. It wasn’t labeled clearly and they never checked our tickets or gave us new ones but we ended up making it there eventually.

ST PANCRAS CHAMPAGNE BAR BY SEARCY’S

After missing our train back to Paris on the EuroStar, we wanted to make sure we made it on the rescheduled one! Since we were stuck with our luggage and no where to go to kill the time (we tried to store our luggage with an app but after paying and trekking all the way there it was WAY, WAY too shady to leave our bags) we decided to just go back to St Pancras station early and sit and wait. The bottom floor of the station is super loud, crowded and hectic. But….up on the second floor Heaven awaits. A quiet and luxe champagne bar up in the sky. When I saw it I swear I felt like musical instruments started playing in my head and it lit up in a halo of light! This is DEFINITELY where you want to pass your time if you are at St Pancras station. In fact it is so good that I would even recommend arriving early enough so you can stop in for a glass before your train.

The champagne bar is above the train lines but in the open station air. It feels like you are up in the sky because the big dome glass ceiling is above you and the trains swoop in and out on the tracks beside you. The booths were really spacious and we had plenty of room to slide our luggage under the table. There were outlets on each side so we could charge our phones etc. But here’s the best part–each booth had blankets, a switch you could flip to turn a heater on under the table AND a button you press for champagne! I was in a fabulous mood after finding this gem and sipping a couple glasses of bubbly. This spot turned our luck around and set us up to head back into Paris for a fabulous Valentine’s day evening!

ACTIVITIES

We did not have hardly any free time while we were in London but here is what we got to experience!

BOND STREET

Bond Street is where you can find all the luxury shops. The only time we had to walk around there was at night after everything was closed but it is still a magical place to window shop.

LONDON EYE

We squeezed in a ride on the London Eye because we hadn’t done anything touristy to see the city. You can buy tickets there, you don’t have to get them ahead of time. It was a neat thing to do since we did not have time for anything else but I don’t think I would ever want to do it again. It is pretty boring, moves slow and traps you in a glass car with too many other tourists haha. We did get a view of Big Ben but it is under construction so that wasn’t very exciting.

TOTTENHAM SOCCER GAME AT WEMBLEY STADIUM

Now this was fun! It was a bit of a trek on the underground to get there but we had a blast! I love doing things that Ethan is passionate about with him. He gets SO into games and it is really fun to watch and be around. I love his energy and it makes me really happy to see him so happy. He spends his Saturday mornings at home waking up bright and early to catch Tottenham soccer games so it was awesome for him to be able to see them play in person (thankfully their stadium was under construction so they were plying at Wembley temporarily since it was close by). Ethan just bought our tickets on his phone the morning of the game so we did not have top notch seats but it didn’t matter. The stadium is so nice! It certainly made for a good night and I am so glad we went!

JUDDEMONTE FARMS EUROPE

Since Ethan works for Juddemonte Farms in Lexington we wanted to take the time to head out to Newmarket and see their European farm since we were so close by in London. It was lovely to be able to tour the office, farm, see the foals and view the stallions.

WEATHER

I mentioned this in my itinerary post, but as soon as a 10-day forecast is available before a trip I label a list of days I will be gone with a high/low temp so I can plan outfits. Since our honeymoon was a long trip, I had a full spreadsheet going. It did not include outfits (I was just winging those) but it did include the high + low temperature for each day, what city we were going to be in and any activities or travel that we had booked.

Luckily, we had great weather while we were in London so this was a huge plus. The high was 49-50, the lows were 36-38 and there was NO RAIN! We were there Feb 12-14th.

So many of you all reached out to me saying how much you love London. Like I said, it did not get a fair chance in our book but it is a city that has so much to offer so don’t let me discourage you if you have a trip planned! Maybe.. just learn from our mistakes, haha! xx

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