London Is Cool, but so Very Big

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I flew in and out of London for my trip to Great Britain and it presented the perfect opportunity to extend my trip a few extra days to explore the city at my own leisure. This is something I try to do after every press trip. 

This would be my second time traveling alone and I wasn’t too fussed about it because I love London and it’s one of the best cities to conquer alone. The city is very intuitive with plenty of museums and streets that are great to peruse alone. I remember London being an incredibly big city but I seemed to have underestimated the sheer size of the city once again. I’m used to large cities, being from one (Seoul, not New york, because let’s be real, New York is tiny), but three days was not going to cut it for me if I wanted to explore the east end of the city :( With this in mind, I mapped out what I wanted to do without over stretching myself.

For my first night, I stayed at Firmdale Hotel’s Dorset Square Hotel in Marylbone. It’s set in a beautiful townhouse overlooking Dorset Square Park. The room really speaks for itself. The floor to ceiling windows in the room brought in so much light and brought out the tastefully whimsical and chic design of the rest of the room. The bed frame was my favorite part of the room — it brought the whole space to life.

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Much needed Korean food fix at  Yori  in Soho upon arrival

Much needed Korean food fix at Yori in Soho upon arrival

Monmouth Coffee in Covent Garden is the first shop in this small chain of coffee shops that roast their own beans. They’re serious about their coffee, evidenced by their lack of non-dairy milk lol.

Monmouth Coffee in Covent Garden is the first shop in this small chain of coffee shops that roast their own beans. They’re serious about their coffee, evidenced by their lack of non-dairy milk lol.

Neal’s Yard is a little courtyard tucked away in a side street in Covent Garden. It’s here where you can find the eponymous Neal’s Yard Remedies store among other cafés and shops specializing in health and wellness.

Neal’s Yard is a little courtyard tucked away in a side street in Covent Garden. It’s here where you can find the eponymous Neal’s Yard Remedies store among other cafés and shops specializing in health and wellness.

One of my favorite eateries in London. Go for their porridge in the morning or warm bowls and and toasts in the afternoon.

One of my favorite eateries in London. Go for their porridge in the morning or warm bowls and and toasts in the afternoon.

The second hotel I stayed in for the remainder of my trip is the beautiful St. James’s Hotel and Club in Mayfair. It’s a part of Small Luxury Hotels and this hotel perfectly embodies what it means to be a small luxury hotel. The hotel is housed in a beautiful townhouse in a cul-de-sac (dead end road), just steps from Buckingham Palace, Green Park and Hyde Park. The rooms have all recently been refurbished and are decorated with understated Victorian elegance.

The California king bed shook me up in the best way possible.

The California king bed shook me up in the best way possible.

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It is so, so, so important for me to find a hotel that I’m comfortable in. Being on the road for an extended period of time can make me feel a bit restless. I’m so happy to have found this gem of a hotel that made me feel so at home.

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Breakfast in the hotel’s restaurant, where my mornings started everyday.

Breakfast in the hotel’s restaurant, where my mornings started everyday.

 

My trip to London was really a cultural one. I wanted to visit as least two museums a day. There are so many incredible museums in London to choose from and the best part about them is that they’re all free.

My favorite museum on this trip was without a question The Tate Britain. The museum displays a comprehensive collection of British art from the 1500s to present day.

Cookmaid with Still Life of Fruits and Vegetables by Sir Nathaniel Bacon. I haven’t stopped thinking about this painting.

Cookmaid with Still Life of Fruits and Vegetables by Sir Nathaniel Bacon. I haven’t stopped thinking about this painting.

The Tate Britain  holds the largest collections of JMW Turner paintings.

The Tate Britain holds the largest collections of JMW Turner paintings.

The National Gallery  houses over 2,300 paintings from the 13th century to 1900s

The National Gallery houses over 2,300 paintings from the 13th century to 1900s

The British Museum  is a history nerd’s treasure chest!!

The British Museum is a history nerd’s treasure chest!!

My cozy corner right by the fireplace and book shelf of over 1,000 antique books hand picked by a Portobello antiques dealer.

My cozy corner right by the fireplace and book shelf of over 1,000 antique books hand picked by a Portobello antiques dealer.

I winded down at the hotel after my day of museum-going and set out to Rosewood London’s Scarfes Bar for a solo date :) I literally texted my friend moments before leaving to go to the bar asking if I should go through with the reservation alone. I love eating alone, traveling alone and spending time alone, but somehow the thought of going to a full-on cocktail bar alone seemed daunting. I mustered up the energy and brought a book in hand, Durga Chew Bose’s Too Much and Not the Mood to Scarfes Bar.

Nestled in my cozy nook, I felt the heat of the fireplace next to me and faced towards the live jazz musicians performing songs both old and contemporary.

The experience at Scarfes Bar isn’t stuffy nor uncomfortably upscale as one would think a hotel bar would be. In fact, the atmosphere is very warm and welcoming and the cocktail menu, which is truly a work of art, breaks down each cocktail in an approachable, understandable manner. Peep the digital copy if you want to see what I mean. Each cocktail is a play off of an anecdote or person in history, complete with an accompanying story that describes the cocktail so you know what you’re getting yourself into. The illustrations and language are whimsical and oozes British humor.

Two cocktails and a few plates of small bites sufficed for me as I drew out my night reading to the sounds of live jazz. I loved every moment of being alone in this social, buzzing space.

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My friend Andrea, who was also on the trip with Visit Britain with me, was in London as well and we met up on two occasions. We had breakfast at Kettner’s Townhouse, a hotel and restaurant/bar part of the Soho House chain. The space was beautifully decadent and the food simple and healthy.

On another afternoon, we perused the neighborhood of Kensington in search for blooms. And we found them :)

Brunch at Kettner’s Townhouse

Brunch at Kettner’s Townhouse

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Natural History Museum

Natural History Museum

Hope, the blue whale skeleton in the lobby of the Natural History Museum

Hope, the blue whale skeleton in the lobby of the Natural History Museum

I closed out the trip with a meal at the hotel’s very own Seven Park Place, a one-Michelin starred restaurant by revered British Chef William Drabble. The restaurant is an impressive one for many reasons. It has just nine tables, making it one of the smallest Michelin starred restaurants in the world. The interior and decorations definitely err on the side of luxurious but it’s matched with the personal, intimate experience of the meal. With just 26 covers, Seven Park Place’s service is near impeccable.

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Left: Carpaccio of Hand Dived Scallops, Jerusalem Artichoke, Winter Truffle Right: Seared Foie Gras, Yorkshire Rhubarb and Ginger

Left: Carpaccio of Hand Dived Scallops, Jerusalem Artichoke, Winter Truffle Right: Seared Foie Gras, Yorkshire Rhubarb and Ginger

Poached Fillet of Halibut with Mussels and Clams

Poached Fillet of Halibut with Mussels and Clams

Rhubarb and Lemon Meringue

Rhubarb and Lemon Meringue

Some kind of caramel popcorn dessert with foam and ice cream — can’t remember exact details.

Some kind of caramel popcorn dessert with foam and ice cream — can’t remember exact details.

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Stay at the Dorset Square Hotel and St. James’s Hotel & Club were complimentary. Thoughts and opinions are 100% mine.