Whether you live here and are celebrating something special, you have family coming to visit and want to impress them with your local knowledge of your town, or you are simply heading down to London for the weekend and want to make every minute count, there are always excuses for planning a weekend in the capital city and it is pretty much my favourite thing to do.
As a present for my boyfriend’s birthday he decided it would be fun to ‘do something’ instead of receive something. So we picked a weekend in January (I work in events so November-December is pretty much a no go) and I planned a whole weekend of things to do. This is actually pretty easy and I definitely did this in stages. There were a few things I knew he would love and booked them immediately, and then it was just about filling the gaps across the weekend and seeing what free things we could do as well as what restaurants and bars were on route around meal times. A lot of the places we went are open all the time, so you can definitely just steal part of these ideas or adopt a whole day for your plan. Let me know if this is something you find interesting to read about as I would definitely love to do more of these.
After work on Friday, we went straight to the theatre to watch Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake at Sadler’s Wells. Although I am absolutely convinced I have seen this before it was brilliant. I bought the cheap seats at the back of the circle, but the view was perfect. I do really appreciate that generally at Sadler’s the view is good no matter where you are sat.
From there, we got a 15 minute bus to Old Street and tried our luck getting into Gibson Bar without a reservation. After about 20 minutes of not being able to feel my fingers we got lucky and were invited inside to a table. Now the cocktails at Gibson are about £14 each but they are amazing! Literally the mixologists who put together their menu are so creative and quirky in their cocktail combinations and if you are a cocktail fan it is definitely worth visiting. We each had 2 cocktails each and then headed home – images below!
Starting our day at Bond Street we went to Ole & Steen for brunch at around 11:30am. There are a lot of these bakeries popping up and that is because they are absolutely delicious. I had the cinnamon swirl (best pastry option hands down) and then their mushroom, truffle and gouda toastie which is insanely good.
We then walked to Oxford Circus and got the Victoria Line to Walthomstow Central (end of the Victoria line). From there, it was about a 15 minute walk to God’s Own Junkyard, which is an amazing container filled with neon signs. Although I can’t comprehend how they run them all at the same time but the spectacle is pretty phenomenal. It is somewhere that Edd has always wanted to visit and it is totally free!
After getting our fill of neon, we went next door for a drink at Mother’s Ruin. The lady who runs this bar distils her own gin which we obviously had to try. I can confirm it is pretty nice! They also have a variety of great gins (it’s a gin bar – if that wasn’t obvious by the name “mother’s ruin” which is a very interesting insight into British history if you haven’t heard the saying before).
From there we stopped for hot chocolate at Bru and then got the tube back home to get ready for the evening (around 4pm).
I booked us a table at BYOC Camden which cost £30 each and you absolutely have to book this or there is no way you will get in. Basically you play the flat fee and bring a bottle of spirit (has to be unopened, recommend half a bottle of 70cl per person) and then the bartenders make you a variety of cocktails based on your spirit until the bottle runs out (or you fall over). I’m not biased in suggesting that you select gin for this unless you’re against it. Vodka is pretty boring for cocktails but you do get espresso martinis so there is that! Whisky would also be nice, if you can happily drink half a bottle of it. The bartenders are best left to create what they think is best, but will be open to your opinion if you have a strong preference (i.e. hate short cocktails, really like sweet cocktails etc.) It is also a brilliant location for a birthday party! We brought a bottle of Brockmans gin which is my current favourite and I really enjoyed trying the 5 different cocktails we received.
At this point we were a little tipsier then I had originally intended, but we did still make our way to a dinner reservation via the Northern Line to Ristorante Frescobaldi in Leicester Square. This is a fairly new restaurant from a brilliant Italian chain that has opened in London and I had the best calamari with lime mayonnaise followed by delicious ravioli. I would price this at mid-high with a dinner for 2 with wine costing about £100, higher if you are going for the meat options. You can find their full a la carte menu here.
I woke up gloriously hangover free, which was not quite the case for my boyfriend. We did however arrive at Westminster Pier to get a boat across the Thames to the Emirates Airline Cable Car. I bought this deal on Groupon for £15 each, and it was such a beautifully clear day for January that I couldn’t have planned it better. The Groupon deal also takes you both ways so don’t make the mistake of jumping off once you reach the other side.
By this point it was about 3pm, so we actually spontaneously watched a movie at the cinema in the O2 after lunch at Las Iguanas, then headed to Canary Wharf for the free Winter Lights festival.
…and that’s a wrap! It was a pretty full on weekend but we had such a great time and covered a good amount of London over a few days. If you enjoyed reading this then please do give it a like, you might also like London weekend: vegan friendly if you want to read more of my blog.