Feb 9, 2024

THE JOURNAL

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Travel Inspiration

My Essential Guide to London

Fora Author Henley Vazquez

Co-Founder

Henley Vazquez

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a white bicycle leans against an iron fence in front of pastel-hued houses

Notting Hill, London

London never gets old. The city’s charming neighborhoods, cobblestone streets, world-class museums, multicultural dynamism and electric culinary scene are just a few reasons to visit England’s capital. Below is our essential guide to London — your cheat sheet, if you will — broken down by neighborhood.

Ready to get away? Connect with me to make the most of your London vacation.

The quick and dirty:

Currency: £, British pound sterling (GBP)

Language: English 

Transportation: the Tube, London’s equivalent of the subway, and hackney carriages (the famed black taxis)

Best time to visit: April, May & June — and if you don’t mind the cold, the holidays are particularly magical 

Dress code: posh and preppy, and bring a raincoat

Central & West London

You’ll likely be spending most of your time in these London areas, where you’ll find the city’s most popular attractions, like Hyde Park, Piccadilly Circus and Big Ben. But Central and West London are also home to posh neighborhoods, each with their own distinctive feel. Unsurprisingly, you’ll also find many of the city’s best hotels here, where glamor (or rather, glamour) and luxury reign.

Bloomsbury

The vibe: quiet, residential, intellectual, museums galore

Eat / play / stay

Don’t miss the neighborhood’s impressive selection of world-class museums, including the British Museum, the Grant Museum of Zoology and the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology.

Soho

The vibe: local, fun, great nightlife

Eat / play / stay

Ham Yard: a bright, playful stay brimming with eclectic art and a leafy garden to boot 

  • Fora Perks: welcome amenity, breakfast daily, upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible

Hoppers: Sri Lankan street food in a fun, casual space

NOPI: top-tier Mediterranean from Yotam Ottolenghi

Evelyn’s Table: a 12-seat hot spot where local produce gets treated to expert Scandinavian and Japanese techniques

Mayfair & Marylebone

The vibe: high-end, designer, luxe

Eat / play / stay

The Dorchester London: a veritable London landmark, newly renovated, with legendary afternoon tea

  • Fora Perks: £100 hotel / resort credit, breakfast daily, upgrade whenever possible

Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane: recently renovated sophistication just off of Hyde Park

  • Fora Perks: When you book Four Seasons with me, you'll enjoy exclusive Four Seasons Preferred Partner benefits. I'll be pleased to give you more details.

Brown's Hotel: discreet and exclusive, with playful decor, historical caché and unbeatable afternoon tea

  • Fora Perks: £100 food / beverage credit, breakfast daily, upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible, additional exclusive offers

Mandarin Oriental Mayfair (opening spring 2024): the brand brings its signature sleekness and butler-equipped service to Mayfair’s oldest square, Hanover

  • Fora Perks: When you book Mandarin Oriental with me, you'll enjoy exclusive Fan Club preferred partner amenities. I'll be pleased to give you more details.

Gymkhana: Michelin-Starred Indian in a handsome, intimate space

Benares: elevated Indian in dimly lit environs

Coya: fun, sexy Peruvian cuisine in a colorful, lively environment

Roka: contemporary Japanese with a touch of urban chic

a swanky living room with two large blue couches surrounding a coffee table decorated with a vase of red roses

Image courtesy of Brown's Hotel

Covent Garden

The vibe: touristy, lots of theaters

Eat / play / stay

L'oscar London: a fun boutique hotel with bold patterns and colors in a restored Baroque-style church

  • Fora Perks: £80 food / beverage credit, complimentary bottle of wine, upgrade & late check-out whenever possible

Explore Covent Garden’s famed open-air piazza lined with shops

The Barbary: well-sourced Middle Eastern food prepared using fire and clay ovens

Knightsbridge

The vibe: upscale, fashionable, prime real estate

Eat / play / stay

The Lanesborough: an exceptionally chic hotel housed in a luxurious mansion

  • Fora Perks: £100 hotel / resort credit, breakfast daily, priority access to courtesy car where applicable, upgrade whenever possible

The Berkeley: modern and contemporary, with a delectable gourmet pastry shop 

  • Fora Perks: £100 hotel / resort credit, breakfast daily, upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible

a fancy tea room with green chairs and a glittering circular chandelier

Image courtesy of Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London

Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park: perfectly located, with a luxe spa and several restaurants, one of which boasts two Michelin Stars

  • Fora Perks: When you book Mandarin Oriental with me, you'll enjoy exclusive Fan Club preferred partner amenities. I'll be pleased to give you more details.

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal: Michelin-Starred elegance at the Mandarin Oriental

Belgravia

The vibe: luxe developments, grand homes, posh

Eat / play / stay

COMO The Halkin, London: a study in understated luxury, with soothing interiors and a Georgian-style brick façade

The Peninsula London: (newly renovated) glamor, style and prestige steps from Hyde Park and Kensington Palace 

  • Fora Perks: £100 hotel / resort credit, breakfast daily, guaranteed upgrade at time of booking, check-in/out anytime (as early as 6am and as late as 10pm)

The Emory (opening spring 2024): design-forward, modern and cool, and every room is a suite

  • Fora Perks: £100 hotel / resort credit, breakfast daily, upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible

La Poule au Pot: a lovely French bistro with brick walls and wooden floors

The Grenadier: a must-visit pub beloved by locals

Westminster

The vibe: touristy, bustling, home to iconic landmarks

Eat / play / stay

Raffles London at The OWO: regal and traditional (and newly renovated), housed in London’s Old War Office building 

  • Fora Perks: complimentary mini-bar soft drinks, complimentary one-way private airport transfer, breakfast daily, upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible

Check of London’s top tourist attractions, like Big Ben, Buckingham Palace and, of course, Westminster Abbey, where you’ll find the graves of distinguished Brits like Charles Darwin

The English Grill at Rubens at the Gardens: seasonal British fare in a posh, cozy setting

Notting Hill, Chelsea & Kensington

The vibe: trendy, chic, bohemian, upscale

Eat / play / stay

Bandol: A taste of the South of France in ultra-chic digs

Mazi: A+ Greek with a modern flair

East London

a loft with plush orange couches and floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking tall buildings

Image courtesy of 100 Shoreditch

London’s east end caters to a younger, artsier crowd. Expect plenty of galleries and hipster hangouts, with an approachably gritty edge.

Hackney & Shoreditch

The vibe: edgy, young, artistic

Eat / play / stay

100 Shoreditch: clean, contemporary and design-forward, with hipster vibes and a buzzy energy

  • Fora Perks: £50 hotel / resort credit, welcome amenity, upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible

South London

A curved gray concrete staircase in a modern building lobby

Tate Modern, London

There are not many hotels south of the Thames, but that’s part of its appeal: the area is one of London’s coolest locales. It’s infused with a fun, eclectic energy, and a confluence of different cultures makes it especially vibrant. Come here to feel like a local. 

Bermondsey

The vibe: cool, hip, local

Southwark

The vibe: historic, trendy, bustling

Eat / play / stay

The Hoxton, Southwark: beautifully designed hipster hot spot near South London’s best galleries, restaurants and markets

Wander around the Borough Market, the city’s oldest fruit and vegetable market

Explore the Tate Modern, a fantastic modern art museum with beautiful views

Catch a shown at Shakespeare’s Globe theatre in Southwark’s entertainment district

Peckham

The vibe: cool, buzzy, local, foodie, fun

Eat / play / stay

Kudu: beautiful South African cooking in a beautiful space

Coal Rooms: coal-fired, locally sourced fare prepared in an open kitchen

Peckham Bazaar: ultra-casual and ultra-delicious wood-fired cooking

Brixton

The vibe: dynamic, multicultural (including a vibrant Caribbean population; the neighborhood is also known as Little Jamaica), prime nightlife, vintage, neighborhoody

Eat / play / stay

Sample African and West Indian food at Brixton’s many markets (the Brixton Village Market is a must)

Explore the excellent exhibitions of the community-focused Black Cultural Archives, a treasure trove of Black culture and history in the UK   

Kricket: modern Indian paired with cool, breezy vibes

Fish, Wings & Tings: a community staple serving locally sourced, authentic Caribbean food 

North London

People sit on a grassy hill overlooking an urban landscape in the distance

Primrose Hill, London

North London is more residential: it’s quieter, with less tourists. But the area is definitely worth visiting. Meander the cobblestoned streets lined with beautiful homes; enjoy a picnic atop Primrose Hill, accompanied by some of the best views of the city. North London’s restaurant game is also solid, offering a varied combination of local haunts and elevated options.

Primrose Hill

The vibe: charming, colorful

Eat / play / stay

Take in the views (some of the best in London) from the top of the neighborhood’s eponymous park

Islington

The vibe: residential, multicultural (there are prominent African and Afro-Caribbean populations), great restaurants

Eat / play / stay

Marvel at the Victorian townhouses

King's Cross

The vibe: up-and-coming, modern, family-friendly, lots of outdoor spaces

Eat / play / stay

The Standard, London: cheeky, fun, vibrant stay with lots of personality

  • Fora Perks: £75 food / beverage credit, breakfast daily, upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible

Canopy Market: support local artisans, craftspeople and producers at this covered market within the historic 19th-century West Handyside Canopy

Camden

The vibe: punk, counter culture, edgy

Hampstead 

The vibe: affluent, quiet, residential, green

London, but make it wellness

white longe chairs overlook an indoor pool in a sleek, white-washed space

Image courtesy of The Lanesborough London

If you haven’t heard, wellness travel is all the rage, and London more than delivers. With boutique fitness studios, glamorous spas, nourishing cafés and markets galore, the city is brimming with options perfect for anyone on the wellness continuum, whether you’re merely curious or a full-blown devotee.

Fitness

Peloton Studios London: take a live cycling, running, yoga or strength class with the brand’s top instructors

Triyoga: get your yoga, Pilates and barre on, in different locations around the city

Blok: cross-disciplined training in sleek studios

Spas

The Lanesborough Club & Spa: an exclusive oasis with a well-equipped gym, a hydrotherapy pool, a steam room, a sauna and an expertly curated treatment menu 

Bamford Wellness Spa Brompton Cross: a serene retreat with holistic treatments combining ancient and modern techniques

Cloud Twelve: a three-floor wellness clinic with its own kids’ club

Food

Farmacy London: organic, biodynamic, plant-based nourishment

Farm Girl: two Aussie-inspired cafés, one in Notting Hill and the other in South Kensington, serving the perfect combination of healthy and indulgent fare

Daylesford Organic: light-filled farmshop-cafés where everything is impeccably sourced (produce is delivered daily from their organic farm in the Cotswolds)

Markets

Islington Farmers’ Market: every Sunday, 10-2

Growing Communities (the UK’s only 100% organic farmers’ market): every Saturday, 10-2:30

Marylebone Farmers' Market: every Sunday, 10-2

Notting Hill Farmers' Market: every Saturday, 10-2

Parliament Hill Farmers' Market: every Saturday, 10-2

London is calling. What are you waiting for? Connect with me to make the most of your London vacation.

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Author - Henley Vazquez
    Henley Vazquez

    Henley Vazquez is the co-founder of Fora and a seasoned travel advisor. She's built her career through fostering meaningful relationships and developing opportunities for her community. A self-proclaimed hotel junkie, Henley is driven by match-making the perfect property to each traveler's unique style.