4 days 3 nights in London - Short Trip Guide


This trip to London is sooner than I expected. To be accurate, it is more of a 3 days 3 nights trip as we arrived late on the first day. 

Figure 1: A necessary photo of London (smelly) telephone booth for hubs


In year 2015, I had the honour to be selected for an overseas school trip with my batch mates. I basically just followed the ones who guide and plan around without having much control. I realized we do not remember details that happen in a trip few years down the road as much as we try to recall, at least for me. Moreover when it is something you didn’t fully plan for, memories of it became less precise.

Words activate memories and raw emotions. And even though this stopover in London hasn’t been all that pleasant for us personally, it is still worth noting down.

If you are planning for a short visit in London, here’s an overall guide of places you can visit. And feel free to scroll till the end to see more on the places you can go and a foodie’s recommendation to eating in London!

Overview of itinerary:

Day 1:  Reached London in the evening around 6pm – Tower of London – Tower Bridge evening view – Walked back to our AirBnB in Brick Lane

Day 2: Breakfast (The Breakfast Club@Spitalfields) – Leadenhall Market (just passing by) – St Paul’s Cathedral – Milennium Bridge – Tate Modern – Big Easy Bar-B-Q & Crabshack – Trafalger Square –Palace of Westminster – Westminster Abbey – Big Ben – London Eye – Dinner (Koya City@Bloomberg Arcade)

Day 3: Breakfast (Pret a Manger) – Changing of Guards at Buckingham Palace – Royal Academy of Arts – Regent Street – Lunch (Flat Iron@17 Beak St) – Hamleys – Oxford Street – Chinatown – Dinner (Ruyi Chinese Restaurant)

Day 4: Breakfast (Pret a Manger) – Luggage storage@Paddington Station – Lunch (Five Guys Burgers and Fries@The Lighthouse Building) – King’s Cross St Pancras station – Camden Town (Camden Lock Market)



Here’s a link where you can read more about Oyster Card when traveling in London. Take for example the fare difference when traveling within zones and between zones, the maximum price cap per day for individual trips, and etc.



Some stories behind each day:

Day 1:  Reached London in the evening around 6pm – Tower of London – Tower Bridge evening view – Walked back to our AirBnB in Brick Lane

We flew with Singapore Airlines and upon arrival we received an urgent message from our AirBnB host whereby she couldn’t host us at the place we booked. We were informed that the new place she assigned would be much better. When I collect the key from the opposite store, I knew something is gonna go wrong.

The room was on the third floor, with a narrow and dusty staircase all the way to the top. We stepped in soon to find out that the room is much smaller than the one we have booked. Not only that, the window was small, that leaves limited airflow in a warm summer season but thankfully we were too tired each night to be bothered about it. The table and cabinet cramped together leaving no walking space in between. The kitchen was untidy. Thankfully the washroom was clean.

We were rather disappointed and were unhappy that the host failed to have communicated well throughout and has been extremely rude when we voiced out to her. We ended up seeing the bright side of things and compromised. Needless to say this was one of our worst stay on AirBnB. But every other room that comes after our London trip has made us even more appreciative because no other could do much worst than this.

Well, enough for my rambling.

Our plans have somewhat changed due to our AirBnB, so the route we share may not be the most timesaving but hope it can give you an overall idea as reference.

Since it is rather late in the evening and we were recovering from jet lag, we’ve only decided to walk around Tower Bridge area. There was a growing crowd on the staircase and grassy area, all spending time with their loved ones enjoying the sunset and light breeze.

Figure 2: View of Tower of London and Tower Bridge


Figure 3: Bought a drink from Bar by the River, which wasn't there during my last visit

Figure 4: Bar by the River


Day 2: Breakfast (The Breakfast Club@Spitalfields) – Leadenhall Market (just passing by) – St Paul’s Cathedral – Milennium Bridge – Tate Modern – Big Easy Bar-B-Q & Crabshack – Trafalgar Square – Palace of Westminster – Westminster Abbey – Big Ben – London Eye – Dinner (Koya City@Bloomberg Arcade)

I saw some online reviews on The Breakfast Club so we decided to check it out at the nearest branch. We arrived as soon as it opens at 7:30am and ordered our standard Full English Breakfast and Eggs Benedict. The only thing I wasn’t generally fond of is the black pudding; the rests of the food were great and the portion is filling! But I wouldn’t say it is something that worth queuing for if you have to wait 30 minutes in a line, or more. We knew we were gonna start the day early so no queue, less fuss!

Figure 5: Early birds in The Breakfast Club

Figure 6: Sorry, just posing before my food arrives

Figure 7: Eggs Benedict in The Breakfast Club

Figure 8: Full English Breakfast in The Breakfast Club

Figure 9: The seats slowly filling up as we eat

Figure 10: Passing by Leadenhall Market

Figure 11: Didn't spend much time here as some shops were still closed. 

We walked all the way to St Paul’s Cathedral but we didn’t pay to get in. From there, we walked across Millennium Bridge to get to Tate Modern to check out their current exhibitions.

Figure 12: We actually did went in for free to a small chapel where you can pray and confess. But we didn't. 



Figure 13: Our entire walk on the Millennium Bridge we could hear her singing and she was good!

Check out some of the artworks that were captured below:

Figure 14: Tate Modern exhibition space

Figure 15: Him standing before an artwork that he likes because it reflected of his OCD traits, Part of "Collection Displays: Between Object and Architecture" at Tate Modern 

Figure 16: Part of Joan Jonas "Reanimation" Installation, Tate Modern, 2018.

Figure 17: Part of Joan Jonas "Reanimation" Installation, Tate Modern, 2018.

Figure 18: Part of Joan Jonas - Exhibition at Tate Modern

Figure 19: Part of Joan Jonas - Exhibition at Tate Modern

Figure 20: Artwork exhibited in one of the gallery hall

Figure 21: Part of Jenny Holzer's Exhibition in Tate Modern, 2018

Figure 22: Part of Jenny Holzer's Exhibition in Tate Modern, 2018



You may consider visiting Southbank Centre and Hayward Gallery, which is about 15-20 minutes walking distance away from Tate Modern. By the time we leave Tate Modern we were starving already.  He decided to go for Big Easy instead of Burger and Lobster as the latter can be found in Malaysia, and the price for Big Easy is also more reasonable.

The food has reached up to our expectation and we can call this one of the best meal we had throughout our honeymoon. The lobster served was even bigger than the ones we had in Iceland.

 
Figure 23: Big Easy!

Figure 24: The lobster was so juicy!

Figure 25: We ordered two of the same portion



We went to Trafalgar Square afterwards, but gave National Gallery a miss and walked straight to Palace of Westminster and Westminster Abbey. It was around 5:20pm when we arrived at Westminster Abbey and there was a service called Evensong happening half way through. We requested to join the session to hear from the choir and for a time of prayer.

Figure 26: Palace of Westminster

Figure 27: Westminster Abbey


Both of us honestly didn’t know Big Ben was under construction. When we finally spotted it, I can’t help to laugh when he asked me for a photo of Big Ben on Google. We helplessly took a photo and walked along Thames River with London Eye in view.

Figure 28: Big Ben under construction


Our church friend from Singapore have arranged a dinner meet-up in London and I was thrilled to be meeting the couple again after awhile. She made a booking at Koya City in Bloomberg Arcade for us to try their Udon Noodles. The serving was again big, and the broth was something we haven’t tasted before. We also had ‘Kakuni’ (braised pork belly with cider) for starter that was also very appetizing.  And so we ended the night catching up with them.

Figure 29: Kakuni in Koya City

Figure 30: One of the cold udon we ordered



Day 3: Breakfast (Pret a Manger) – Changing of Guards at Buckingham Palace – Royal Academy of Arts – Regent Street – Lunch (Flat Iron@17 Beak St) – Hamleys – Oxford Street – Chinatown – Dinner (Ruyi Chinese Restaurant)

On this day we decided to just go for Pret a Manger near our place, and we found out that their Cinnamon Danish was really good! With that kind of expectation, we tried two Cinnamon roll in Stockholm at two different shops as we saw they were quite known for, we thought Pret a Manger did a better job!

Witnessing the changing of guards is such a touristy thing to do and we gladly took it up and included it in our plan. The ceremony on that day started around 10:45am, and we waited at our spot around 10:15am. The weather was warm and it sure is crowded as it can be, we quickly regretted this silly idea. Remember to check the changing of guards’ schedule if you are still up for it. And here’s an article if you are wondering where to stand throughout the ceremony. There’s gonna be give and take whichever spot you decide.

Figure 31: Marching band in Buckingham Palace

Figure 32: Guards on duty marching in

Figure 33: Band marching out

Figure 34: The spot we got could only allow us to see clearly what happens outside of Buckingham Palace, but not the actual changing of guards in the courtyard. Also, be aware of pickpockets if you are there! We held real tight to our belongings. 

While heading towards Regent Street, we stopped by Royal Academy of Arts, and also chanced upon Banksy’s 2002-2008 works being exhibited in Lazinc Sackville. What a nice surprise!

Figure 35: At the entrance of Royal Academy of Arts


Figure 36: Banksy's artwork 

Figure 37: Banksy's artwork in frame

Our friend recommended Flat Iron as it only costs you £10 for a flat iron steak. We added Roast Aubergine and Dripping Cooked Chips for sides, Bearnaise and Fred’s Sauce. A cup of popcorn was served at the table while we wait. There are multiple branches and apparently if you head to the one in Covent Garden, you’ll get a free Salt Caramel Sundae. The other branches will charge you extra for that. Highly recommended if you are a fan of steak.

Figure 38: Our medium rare flat iron steak. If you think the portion is small, it is actually quite filling with the sides and a portion good enough to make you come back.

After the meal we went to shop around Oxford Street, walked the entire store of Hamleys like a kid, he bought a discounted price Clarks shoes and I got some new shorts from other stores.

And we walked down to Chinatown, brought some groceries and instant noodles to be eaten in Iceland. He surveyed almost all the Chinese restaurants to find the best value meal for dinner and I dragged myself following him around. There’s a set meal of one soup, fried rice, and three dishes for only £9.90 per person and it really was the cheapest option. And the food was great!

Figure 39: Chinatown, London

Figure 40: Where we ate along the streets in Chinatown

Figure 41: Pardon my messy hair


It was close to 7pm by the time we finished, and so we took a slow walk around SoHo district and headed back to our AirBnB.

Figure 42: We didn't end up watching any musical in London, do you think it's a waste?


Day 4: Breakfast (Pret a Manger) – Luggage storage@Paddington Station – Lunch (Five Guys Burgers and Fries@The Lighthouse Building) – King’s Cross St Pancras station – Camden Town (Camden Lock Market)

You might say we are boring people but since we have luggage with us after checking out, we decided to eat at Pret a Manger again. The train system was undergoing lots of construction this day, so we had to walked further than usual to the metro, took other line and change a few times. So much hassle but I bet the locals have gotten used to it and it’s an old metro system anyways. The trains are old, and mostly not equipped for a hot summer. The overall metro experience pisses him up a little because we are just too pampered by Singapore’s MRT rail services!

We stored our luggage at Paddington Station and realized we could have alighted at King’s Cross-station and store them there. Anyway, we shared one burger at Five Guys Burgers and Fries, and I enjoyed the mushroom, bacon, and many other ingredients in the two-pattie burger.

Figure 43: We shared this burger, with fries on the side

I only intended to show him the queue for the photo-taking platform in King’s Cross. We still have a couple of hours left before heading to the airport from Paddington, and so we went to Camden Lock Market. We managed to buy a few things there and were glad to have at least visited a market throughout the trip.

Figure 44: There were lots of food stalls too but we didn't eat here

Figure 45: This market was definitely bigger than I expected and they are still expanding

Figure 46: I thought they were grass from afar till I realised it's actually a river


Figure 47: While waiting at the platform


I was very eager to leave London and almost had felt my honeymoon only started when in Iceland.

But I believe all of our good and bad experience in London is too subjective to even be used to arrive at any conclusions.

We both knew we weren’t going to visit London anytime soon. But I know one day I will have my mind changed in seeing this city from different perspectives.

Figure 48: Soho district


More tips?

Here are just some of the places we didn’t go this time round, some galleries I have had the chance to visit during the first time:

- Borough Market (it’s a pity because the days and time for the full market and our schedule didn’t work out)
- Old Spitalfields Market
- Hyde Park
- Kensington Palace
- Serpentine gallery
- Victoria and Albert Museum
- Little Venice
- Portobello Market (Nottinghill)
- National Gallery
- Kew Gardens
- White Cube Gallery
- Christ Church College (Harry Potter’s Hall)
- Southbank Centre
- Covent Garden Market and Neal’s Yard

For food

The couple we met up with has stayed in London over the years and here are their recommendations (exact words used). Hope they don’t mind as I do think this is quite a comprehensive list to consider!

Brunch / breakfast
1. Temple & Sons (City, for full English breakfast)
2. Modern Pantry (Farringdon, for eggs Benedict)
3. Sunday (Highbury & Islington)
4. Berber & Q (grilled meat brunch platter)


Lunch / dinner
1. Barrafina (Spanish, go to the Drury Lane branch because only that branch has squid ink risotto which is amazing)
2. Barbary (Spanish, can book, very good)
3. Mandarin kitchen (bayswater, lobster noodle)
4. Dishroom (Indian food, many branches)
5. Goodman (best steak ever, a few branches)
6. Flat iron (£10 flat iron steak, great value and hip utensils, multiple branches)
7. Smokestak (shoreditch, bbq meats and veg, the veg is superb)
8. Borough market (London bridge, so much to eat! Thurs- sat)
9. Bleeker burger (spitalfields market or Bloomberg arcade in City, best burger ever)

Cafe
1. Allpress (dalson junction main shop)
2. Flat white (soho)
3. Monmouth (borough market)
4. Ole & steen (multiple branches, try their cinnamon social)
5. Konditor & cook (multiple branches, borough market has one. Their cakes are good, coffee is ok only) 

Musicals
1. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (its magical)
2. Wicked
3. Phantom
4. Les mis
5. Aladdin


Thank you for dropping by!
Till then, stay tune for our Iceland road trip posts.

Love,
Christabel
Facebook: @moveborders

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