Fits on the Road: Hosting Our First Visitors in London

I guess this isn’t technically “Fits on the Road” since I’m living in London vs. visiting, but I thought it would be valuable to share the itinerary from my recent visitors here for anyone’s future visit to London!

This was a fall (October) visit; my sister Laurie, her husband, his sister, and her husband all visited us from the U.S. Some of them had been to London before, but if so, it had been many years, so this itinerary was catered to people who hadn’t been to London before.

They arrived from Heathrow on Sunday; they took an uber from the airport to our flat. Taking the trains wouldn’t have been too bad, but since they had so much luggage, it was easier to taxi.

They arrived around 10:30 am; generally after a long international flight, guests like to shower, have some coffee, and chill a bit, which is exactly what we did.

My guests brought us all kind of US goodies- peanut butter, candy corn, Gatorade, nuun, and Lucky Charms for my husband! (He has a bit of a sweet tooth!)

After everyone was refreshed, we walked to the tube station to take the Northern line into central London. Note, every guest needs their own oyster card and/or apple pay for the tube, you can’t share oyster cards.

We went to the Seven Dials Market for lunch. Markets worked well with a group as everyone could order what they wanted.

Next we walked over to Jermyn Street and St. James’s Market (by my office!) to do some window shopping, before heading to Liberty (such a beautiful store) and Hamley’s toy store (a huge toy store with lots of British themed gifts from the kids!)

We walked through Covent Garden, SoHo, Carnaby Street, and then made our way over to Mayfair where we eventually had dinner at the Mayfair Chippy. The best way to explore a city is just walking around and we had decent weather to do so.

The Mayfair Chippy is a small fish and chips shop, but tasty. Definitely make a booking ahead of time.

Everyone was tired from the long day(s) of travel and a full day of walking and sight-seeing, so after dinner we may our way back to Hampstead for the night.

Day 2:

We left our flat around 8:30 am to take the Northern line to Westminster, where we walked across the Westminster bridge for photos of the London Eye, Big Ben/Parliament, and then walked through Green Park to Buckingham Palace in time for the changing of the guards. This time of year, the changing of the guards occurs on Monday/Wednesday/Friday/Sunday at 11 am. It is recommended that you get there around 10-10:15 or you won’t get a decent viewing spot. We were a little late, so we couldn’t see everything, but we could see the guards and band well enough and got the idea!

We were at Buckingham until about 11:45, when we then walked down the Mall towards the Thames, stopping for some pizzas at 50 Kalo di Ciro Salvo Pizzeria.

After lunch we walked along the Thames to Temple Station, where we had a 1:30 departure for a “Hidden London Walking Tour.” The tour focused mostly on the Fleet Street/ Blackfriars area of London, which I hadn’t previously explored much.

The tour ended at Ye Old Cheshire, a historical pub, so we grabbed a very quick 1/2 pint there before hopping on the tube to go to high tea at Harrod’s.

Harrod’s a sight to be seen, even if you aren’t interested in high tea.

The tea was a lovely experience, though quite a bit of food! I had made a dinner booking post-tea at the Holly Bush in Hampstead, but no one was really that hungry after tea. But we still walked there and had some small bites and drinks. The Holly Bush is a beautiful pub, tucked away on a lovely little street in Hampstead.

Day 3:

Our day started early, with a pre 7 am departure from Hampstead to go to the Tower of London for the opening ceremony. We had a tour booked that included the opening ceremony, the full tour of the Tower of London, and then Tower Bridge. The nice thing about this tour is that we were the first visitors through the doors and to the Crown Jewels exhibit, and there were no crowds at all.

We spent a few hours in the Tower of London before walking to Tower Bridge, where we did the tour there. Dustin and I had previously taken this tour, but it was fun to do it again with my guests.

After the tour, we walked to Borough Market for lunch. Since it was a weekday, it was so much quieter than normal, which helps to make it a bit more enjoyable. Again, at a market like this, everyone was able to grab what they liked and there’s something for everyone at the Borough Market.

We then walked along the Thames, past Shakespeare’s Globe Theater, Millennium Bridge, the Tate Museum, and more until we found our way to the London Eye, where we had pre-booked fast track tickets for the 45 minute ride in the Eye. The London Eye was a neat experience.

After the Eye, we walked back to Piccadilly/St James’s Market for a bit more souvenir shopping, stopping at places like Fortnam and Mason’s for gifts to bring back to the U.S.

Eventually we made our way back to Hampstead, where we had a low-key last dinner together at the Stag Pub near our flat.

Wednesday morning, our guests left for St. Pancras Station to catch the Eurostar to Paris to finish out their holiday.

And that is the summary of our first visitors to London!

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