My London: BA cabin crew

By Jess Parr, British Airways Cabin Crew

As told to Zach Udko | Photography by Alamy

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September 2017

Travelling around the world is all in a day’s work for British Airways cabin crew Jess Parr, but she still loves the thrill of new discoveries in her hometown. Here, Jess shares her secret spots and must-see stops in London.

1. Sunrise yoga at the Sky Garden

This is the perfect way to start your day: a 36th-floor rooftop yoga session in London’s tallest green space, with the most incredible views. Pay just £10 for the yoga class, which is one of the more reasonably priced yoga sessions in the city, or add on a breakfast in their restaurant for an additional £10. The hour-long session kicks off at 06:30 Tuesday to Friday, 08:00 on Saturdays, and 08:30 on Sundays.

If you want to visit the most Instagramable pub in London, save a drink for The Churchill Arms in Kensington – the exterior is completely covered in flowers and plants

2. Duck & Waffle

Located high up in the Heron Tower near Liverpool Street, this 24/7 eatery – a serious bonus if you’re perpetually jetlagged like me – is outstanding at any hour of the day. Their signature dish pairs deep-fried shredded duck with a fried duck egg on top of a waffle (they have a gluten-free option too), served with a little pot of maple syrup. I also highly recommend the ox cheek hash with poached eggs.

  • Start the day right with rooftop yoga at the Sky Garden

    Reach for the sky

    You don’t have to be a fitness fanatic to appreciate Sky Garden. The three-floor public garden, which is also home to two restaurants and a bar, is open to the public for free – but visitors must book their 90-minute slot at least three days in advance.

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3. High tea on a London bus

B Bakery recently came up with this fab combination of a tour bus and high tea experience. The tasty journey lasts 90 minutes, and you’ll be served cakes, sandwiches, tea and coffee, while an expert gives you a commentary on the history of major attractions, including Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Marble Arch and Westminster Abbey.

4. Notting Hill

This is my neighbourhood, and it’s full of charm with all of the candy-coloured houses that make for ideal Instagram backdrops. Stop at one of Notting Hill’s many healthy, nourishing eateries, such as Farm Girl Café, where they serve fantastic avocado toast and eggs, and creative blue matcha or rose lattes. Afterwards, explore Portobello Road Market, where you can find any type of souvenir, along with plenty of cute bars. I’m a fan of Trailer Happiness, a fun basement tiki den with refreshing rum punch cocktails.

  • The signature dish at Duck and Waffle.

    From dusk ‘til dawn

    Duck and Waffle is a truly 24/7 restaurant, welcoming guests from sunrise to sunset – and every hour in between. It’s also located in one of London’s tallest buildings, so keep your camera ready for stunning views of the city.

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  • Enjoy high tea on a London with with B Bakery.

    Time for tea?

    The quintessential British pastime of afternoon tea can be traced back to Anna Russell, the 7th Duchess of Bedford, who is credited with introducing it in 1840 as a way to counter ‘that sinking feeling’ she had a 16:00. The Duchess first took her tea-and-cake routine in private, but was eventually joined by her acquaintances, before the practice became common throughout England.

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  • A mixologist shakes things up at The Distillery ©Jess Parr.

    Gin high spirits

    The Distillery truly is heaven for gin lovers, with 100 gins from around the world, and mixers and garnishes specially chosen to complement their flavours. Located on the trendy Portobello Road, it is close to both Ladbroke Grove and Notting Hill Gate Tube stations.

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5. The Distillery

Gin and tonic is such a classic London drink – I don’t know a Brit who doesn’t love gin. This four-floor working distillery near Portobello Road has two cocktail bars, a private dining room (Gintonica), hotel rooms, and The Ginstitute – a museum devoted to the history and study of the ever-popular spirit. You can even blend your own bottle of gin, which makes for the perfect gift – they’ll even keep your recipe on file for when you return.

6. Thames River ride

Jump on the Thames Clipper and see the city by boat, as you glide by Tower Bridge, The Shard, St. Paul’s Cathedral, all the way up to Greenwich. The Thames Clipper is actually part of the London transport system, so you’ll be sharing this journey with local commuters. Just swipe your Oyster Card and hop aboard for a beautiful ride.

  • Hop on board the Thames Clipper to see London’s sights from the river.

    A sight to sea

    The Thames Clipper boat service is actually part of London’s transport system and can be accessed by using an Oyster Card or a contactless debit or credit card. It’s also a fantastic way to see some of the city’s sights from a unique perspective.

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7. The Churchill Arms

If you want to visit the most Instagramable pub in London, you have to save a drink for The Churchill Arms in Kensington – the exterior is completely covered in flowers and plants. There is also a delicious Thai restaurant in the back, which is quite unconventional for a classic London pub. It’s like you’re wining and dining inside a conservatory – there are plants everywhere.

8. Regent's Canal

The tranquil journey on a barge along this canal will make you feel like you’re in the country. Get off the tube at Warwick Avenue and jump on any barge boat – there are so many different companies offering the service, so you don’t need to book in advance. It’s about an hour-long journey from Little Venice to Camden Lock, where you can step off and wander around Camden Market.

9. Cycle share

Hire a Santander cycle and bike your way around the city. London’s well-connected bike network allows you to cover a lot of ground in a short space of time. Cycle in West London along the River Thames up to Putney, where you will find some lovely cafés and pubs. Once you have paid the £2 bike access fee, they are free to hire for 30 minutes, and then £2 for each extra 30 minutes after – but if you keep docking your bike every 30 minutes, you won’t get charged.

10. Shopping on Carnaby Street

My number one area to shop is Carnaby Street, which is right behind Regent Street at Oxford Circus. You’ll find loads of great shops such as Swedish contemporary fashion brand Monki to the stunning Liberty London department store, a surprisingly calm destination for all your special luxury brands. If you’re still in the neighbourhood at night, be sure to stop at Cahoots, a basement bar designed to look like the London Underground. There’s so signage for it, so be sure to look for the discreet ‘To the Trains’ sign near the entrance.