Liv gets two whole weeks of spring break here, Yay! We took a three day trip to London (my second favorite city). Antz job has an office there so he spent a day at work. We stayed at The Hoxton Shoreditch. It’s almost identical to The Ace Shoreditch. The room was much smaller but it had the same hipster vibe and Shoreditch is such a fun area to stay in. We promised to take Olivia to the Warner Bros Harry Potter Studio Tour which was amazing. I advise you to purchase tickets well in advance. I procrastinated and they were sold out a few weeks before our trip so I had to pay a lot more for Golden Tours package but it included tickets and roundtrip coach to Leavesden which was convenient. While Antz was visiting his work office, Liv and I went to The Sanderson hotel for a girls Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea Party. We also had the best cake ever from the pretty Peggy Porschen which is an Instagrammer’s dream. We met up with our friend Melissa for an authentic Indian dinner in White Chapel. She gave us a tour of her neighborhood and showed us two amazing Basquiat-inspired Banksy art! I had no idea he has been putting up new art.
I was concerned about taking the Eurostar train due to France’s SNCF on-going strike but luckily it seemed every train except ours was canceled. We arrived about 40 minutes before our train departure time and it turned out to be the perfect timing. We breezed through the long customs line and we made it to the waiting lounge just as our train began to board.
You guys, I did something I have never done before, traveled in heels! Granted, they are the most comfortable wedges on the planet. I bought these Kork Ease wedges (similar ones here) from my favorite store in Highland Park, Dotter. Of course after weeks with no rain, it drizzled all morning.
This was the emptiest I have ever seen Gare Nord. Oh! Can I say how much I love my Away Carry-on bag. At first I wasn’t sold on the price and how small it is but for weekend trips it’s worth every penny! We arrived at San Pancras station to a lovely day in London.
After a few months of daily Metro commuting in Paris, I was surprised at how different taking the Tube is in London. There are less stairs than Paris, which is a plus, however the stations have escalators that are as steep as Mt. Everest. I totally get vertigo and wearing heels, holding my luggage along with Olivia’s hand was a balancing act because I don’t ever touch the hand rail (I saw a travel show about how much fecal matter is found on them). The Tube trains are also smaller and arrive in the station at the speed of a roller coaster.
Liv spotted our first Invader right away! Our hotel was only a few blocks from the Tube station.
Guess what? I had a harder time understanding people in London than in Paris! Very cool accents but they talk faaaaaast. To be honest, the room we ended up with wasn’t my fave. It was small and there wasn’t a closet for our bags but the bed was very comfy and I had a throne-esque chair to rest my tired feet.
It’s always hard to get out of a comfy hotel bed but we had to explore the town before our dinner plans. You know I can’t resist a photobooth.
The lobby was very cool but it was so packed with people, I couldn’t get any good photos. There was an art show featuring twins that looks rad and a dreamy communal kitchen space with a bright red Smeg!
As much as I love French croissants, I missed good old doughnuts! We passed Doughnut Time on our walk in so we had to get a snack.
I forgot they don’t accept euros in London so off to the ATM for some quid! Liv still wants to know why America is the only nation without women on the currency.
This little piggy had a Notorious P.I.G. doughnut.
We took a double decker bus to Whitechapel to meet our friend for dinner and we passed the old London Hospital. Our friend Melissa who was our tour guide for the evening, told us that Joseph Merrick lived in that hospital. I am a huge fan of the film The Elephant Man. I saw it when I was a kid and I still remember weeping buckets of tears over the horrific abuse he suffered. I asked her what was the city planning to do with the old building and she said probably tear it down and build condos. Lame!
She took us to an Indian part of Whitechapel for some authentic Indian cuisine. Now, I am fairly new to the Indian food game. It took me years to figure out what I liked and unfortunately, what I don’t. I am good with chicken Tikka Masala, white rice and garlic naan. I couldn’t tell you what I ordered at this place. The food was good, but I didn’t order correctly. You know when you are having such a great time you forget to take any pictures of the evening? That happened. I am infamous for delaying a meal in order to get that perfect dish shot but I only managed to take one picture at the restaurant.
Yup, those are raw white onions (my kryptonite) but I ate all that chicken! Yummy meal and bonus, we brought our own wine. After getting some ice cream for dessert we headed to the Barbican Centre to see the Banksy art.
I am so glad Melissa was our guide because we would have never found them. Thanks for a bloody wicked night m’dear!
The next morning we woke up to cute little breakfast bags on our door and we got all dolled up for our second breakfast of the day Peggy Porchsen’s Cakes! Besides, my motto is Eat Cake for Breakfast.
This pink palace is in Westminster so it took us quite awhile to find it but OMG this place is Disneyland for bloggers and Instagrammers. I was super bummed that I couldn’t get all the people waiting out front out of my photo but what can you do? Funny thing is I did politely ask that group of girls to move over so I could take a photo and they moved one inch. Okay, I see you!
Coincidental it’s on Elizabeth Street wouldn’t you say?
You guys, my iPhone camera do not do these beautiful cakes justice! I am wishing there was a cake shop like this in Paris.
It’s in her genes, what can I say?
She’s getting pretty good at taking our photos. After a stroll through beautiful West London, we headed to Victoria Station to catch our bus to Warner Bros. Studios.
They play Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone during the 35 – 40 minute drive to the studio. It’s lovely because I haven’t seen it in ages and it sets the mood for some Wizardry.
I won’t show everything because I want you to experience it for yourself but there are some really awesome props, costumes and special effects to see.
The best part of the tour is you get a passport book that has a scavenger hunt and riddles to solve as you walkthrough. Every set had a hidden golden snitch and they were not easy to find. When Liv solved the riddles she would stamp her book with an embossing machine.
She bought a quill at the gift shop and now she insists on writing all her correspondences using quill.
This sexy wizard’s pantaloons are notable. You better work those bows and ruffles, boy!
Can I say how betrayed I felt when I saw how small the long corridor set was in real life? I was sure it was an actual hallway connected to Hogwarts Castle.
What a missed opportunity, the tour bus that brought us to the studio should have been the Knight bus!
Of course our tour included a cup of yummy Butterbeer!
My favorite part of the tour is the amazing Hogwarts Castle set. It’s fascinating how much detail is put into this castle.
Can you see the tiny Beauxbâtons flying carriage. I’m gonna drop a little nerd knowledge on ya. Did you know that Beauxbâtons means Beautiful Wands in French? I would totally send Liv to that school!
Our last stop was the magical gift shop and Liv and I ended up with some lame wizard and witch cards we never heard of in our chocolate frogs. That’s some good chocolate though.
We stopped at Kings Cross on our way back to the hotel and stood in the long line of tourists to take the Platform 9 & 3/4 photo. They supply you with a scarf and a $29.99 souvenir photo, if you’re a sucker.
The next day Antz went to work in Camden and Liv and I headed to the West End. Liv had no idea I was taking her for tea. I have never been to a formal tea party either. It felt very posh.
As you can see the food was adorable and very delicious. I had my first scone with clotted cream. We drank buckets of tea!
After tea, we hung out in the lobby of The Sanderson, which has the most random chairs.
It is now Liv’s life mission to own this hanging chair.
Antz took this adorable selfie in his work lobby.
That evening we went to the movies to see the incredible Isle of Dogs. I was planning to see it in Paris but it was only playing in French. Of course I absolutely loved it. I am an avid Wes Anderson fan.
Our last day in London was chill. We had breakfast at a place called The Breakfast Club. Liv ordered the best salted caramel milkshake ever. I missed good ole’ bacon so much.
We had some time before our train so we walked around Shoreditch to hunt for Invaders. We ended up back on Rivington Road which is the same place we had our photo shoot with Lee back in 2014.
Four years later…
We were walking by and we noticed the Banksy we shot too! There wasn’t anyone to take our picture so I used our camera’s remote.
I got my nose pinched again! We walked to Brick Lane and were blown away by the street art. We also caught like eight Invaders.
It took me forever to see that giant ass bow and arrow sculpture. Liv was like, Mom, it’s right there and I’m all, Where?!
I’ve wanted to try a rainbow bagel but they were only made in New York so Liv was super excited to try on from this bakery. I didn’t have one because this place didn’t toast their “beigels” so I passed.
I am such a Pinterest nerd that I geeked out at this shop that sells cleaning supplies. I didn’t have time to go in but look how pretty that green tile is.
I saw a rad Star Wars Invader when we were on the bus one night and I tried to find it before we left. My only clue was the building was grey and I knew it was on a corner. We walked for ages and finally Liv spotted it. On the walk back to the hotel we realized it was only five minutes away! We were walking right past it everyday and never saw it.
We checked out of our hotel and I had a piece of red velvet cake from the Hoxton Grill which was yummy! Then it was time to head back to Paris.
The Hoxton Hotel
81 Great Eastern St
London EC2A 3HU, UK
You can click this link for a discount at any of the Hoxton hotels.
Au Revoir London!