I packed my bags for a two week trip out of the country, my first stop . . . LONDON! London has always been on my list of places to visit for awhile now and I was so excited when I decided back in October of 2016 that it would be my first trip for 2017. I tracked a multi - leg flight (since I also flew to Paris) on Google Flight tracker and I also tracked one way flights, LAX to LHR and CDG to LAX on the flight app, Hopper. Using Google Flight's tracker I snagged a multi-leg flight deal on Virgin Atlantic and Air France for $605.46.
Once my flight was secured I went on Pintrest and dreamt about how I wanted my trip to be and used my pins to manifest what I wanted to get out of trip (it may sound silly but it got me more excited about my trip and even gave me a bit of outfit inspo). Speaking of outfit inspo, I had so much fun prepping my outfits for my trip and I even tried out a new service to take the stress out of shopping (yes, I find shopping to be stressful at times) off of my shoulders.
I reached out to Iva of Girl Goodies Mix (@girlgoodiesmix on Instagram) for her styling services for my U.K. and Parisian adventure and I am so glad I did. I had a brief but detailed phone conversation with Iva where we went over my sizes, the look(s) I was going for, my likes and dislikes in clothing, and my budget for us to work with, then she got right to work on getting my looks together. One Hundred and Fifty dollars later I had enough pieces to put 5 outfits together, 2 cute berets, and a chic yet practical backpack to get me through my days abroad thanks to Iva and her savvy shopping and styling techniques.
With 6 days in London it was important for me check a few thing off my "London Checklist", such as high tea, visiting Harrods, getting on The London Eye, visiting Buckingham Palace, experiencing London nightlife, dining at Sketch in the Insta Worthy gallery room, trying out the buzz worthy chicken chain in London, Nandos. I would have loved to visit Knotting Hill but the days fly by when you're of course having fun but also sitting in London traffic, and I thought LA's traffic was bad.
WHERE TO STAY
I recommend of course staying in central London, SOHO, or near the Piccadilly Circus area for their close proximity to all the tourist and hot spot areas. The public transportation is efficient and affordable (if staying for a week opt to get the unlimited week Oyster card for about 30 - 40 Pounds) , I did the pay as you go option with my Oyster card because I did take Ubers quite a bit while in London because sometimes I'm not the most patient person in the world. . . especially when it's cold.
THINGS TO DO
- Buckingham Palace is beautiful and a great place to just stop and take the beauty of London in and people watch - You can also see the changing of the guards on weekdays at 11 AM (check the schedule online as the schedule has a tendency to change)
- The London Eye was a must for me, you can save money by pre purchasing your tickets online and if you go on the weekday I found no need to purchase an express line pass. I was able to see sweeping breath taking 360 views of London, the ride last for about 20 minutes.
- Big Ben and Westminster Abbey - I fell in love with the sight of Big Ben, the Abbey is right next to Big Ben and if you want to get the most out of your day I would hop on the London Eye first, head over to take more pics by Big Ben and the Abbey, and if there's still some light outside end your day of sights over at Buckingham Palace and that gets all four hot spots out the way in one shot!
- Piccadilly Circus - Reminds me of a very miniature Time Square, within walking distance to Chinatown, SOHO, and Leicester Square . . . these areas are great for shopping and eating.
- I would have love to hit up a farmers market and Knotting Hill this is definitely something to do on a Saturday or Sunday morning (I didn't wake up early enough, bummer).
- If you can swing it, pick yourself up something nice at Harrods, most of the things that I wanted were out of my price range ( Couture Fendi dress, Balmain trench coat, shall I go on?). However, I did treat myself to a glass of champagne and chocolate covered strawberries at The Champagne Bar located inside of Harrods while I imagined being Carry Bradshaw waltzing through Harrods on the hunt for the perfect Manolo Blaniks.
For nightlife I went to Shaka Zulu in Camden where I met up with two long lost girlfriends of mine that I met back in Miami in 2012 when I was 21! These are some of the reasons I am so grateful for travel, you never know who you will meet or where you will end up next. I contacted my girlfriend Bella and let her known that I will be in London and she reserved Saturday night for us to go clubbing. Shaka Zulu was a chill vibe, the club is huge as it serves as a restaurant up until the time the club opens. The music that night was definitely on a 90's early 2000 vibe and I didn't mind it at all, I had a great time! One thing I will say from my personal experience of nightlife in London, sadly as a Woman of Color I did experience prejudice and racism. My first night in London one of the girls wanted to go to club DRAMA aka Drama Park Lane, and before getting to the club her London friend mentioned to her that we may not get in because they have a "cap" on the number of Black girls they let in (this was already a red flag for me and a complete turn off but I didn't want to be the party pooper especially on the 1st night). When we get to the club we were actually early, the guys at the door seemed "friendly" and told us to come back. When we came back the bouncers acted as if it was his first time seeing us and when we mentioned the promoter's name of the guest list we were on he acted as if he'd never heard that name in his life, meanwhile the promoter was just talking to him trying to get him to let us in before we walked up and the promoter jolted over to the side. I was over it and my friend and I ended up meeting some cool people and went to the eclectic private members club Homme House, where we had an epic and unforgettable night . . . way to turn a negative into a positive on the first night.
I also went to controversial club DSTRKT on my last night. Now I know you're like why would I go to this club that has been in the media for mistreatment of minorities, especially Black women. The night I went to Homme House the other girls ended up at DSTRKT and said they had a wonderful time and that the night they went the club staff were majority African American and asked them to come into the club as they were passing by. Again, I did not want to be a party pooper so I said "sure, it is the last night . . . I'll go". Needless to say we had a great time and the vibes were cool, then two days later I'm in Paris and read that last night club DSTRKT was back in the spotlight again for saying an African American NFL player looked too urban for entry into the club. Moral of the story, I'll stick to Shaka Zulu when partying in London!
Check out my London Vlog below to get a recap of my London adventures