An insider’s weekend in London

By Jess Parr, British Airways cabin crew and travel blogger.

Photography by Jess Parr/@TheLayoverLife_

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May 2017

Making the most of just 48 hours in one of the world’s greatest cities is not easy. So, we asked founder of The Layover Life and British Airways cabin crew member, Jess Parr, to give us her top tips for a perfect weekend in London.

Day One

17.00 – Like a local

Kickstart your weekend with the perfect date night. Venture no further than the hotel lobby for One Aldwych’s weekend Film & Fizz Experience. Before curtain-up, be sure to enjoy a drink in the Lobby Bar, expertly crafted by in the in-house creative mixologists. Alternatively keep it simple and indulge in the hotel’s latest addition, The Old Fashioned Cocktail Trolley – the bar is wheeled to your table and you’ll be served arguably one of the world’s best cocktails, matched to your individual tastes.

Film & Fizz starts with a glass of Lallier Grande Réserve champagne and chair-side snacks served in the 30-seat cinema

  • Discover the delights of Covent Garden and Theatre Land from One Aldwych.

    Food for thought

    Sample the best of modern Basque cuisine at chef Eneko Atxa’s restaurant and stylish wine bar, Eneko – the egg yolks tempura is a must.

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  • Sample a classic bacon naan at this Bombay-style café.

    Curry club

    Dishoom Covent Garden opens from around 08.00 until 23.00 most days, for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

    Discover London
  • Peer up at the iconic towers of Westminster Abbey.

    Did you know…?

    The Abbey is the resting place for many British monarchs, as well as scientist Isaac Newton, and author, Charles Dickens.

    Fly to London

Stay… One Aldwych

The superbly located One Aldwych is a stone’s throw from many of London’s famous landmarks, West End theatres, and the buzzing nightlife of Soho and Covent Garden. The hotel itself blends a rich history (it’s housed in the old Morning Post printing offices) with modern, chic design and incorporates effortlessly cool features, including an exclusive cinema and a chlorine-free swimming pool playing underwater music.

Day Two

10.00 – Step in time

After a hearty breakfast, it’s time to get your bearings. Start the day with a walking tour that’ll shed some light on this ancient city’s chequered past. For first-timers, try Footprints Tours’ classic London landmarks tour that’ll take you to Westminster and through to Buckingham Palace, and give you the lowdown on the people and events that have shaped them. If you’re after something a little more in-depth, the knowledgeable tour guides are happy to tell tales of London’s former residents and quirky facts about British history. Perfect for return visitors or even those who want to be tourists in their own city.

13.00 – Read all about it

Venture north to Little Venice and take a walk by one of London’s beautiful canals and enjoy a boat ride up to Camden Town. Boat tours operate seasonally, however London’s well-connected Santander bike system is available all year round, ideal for cycling the towpath. Take the canal path north, which meanders its way through Regent’s Park, and arrive hungry for street food.

17.00 – Creative cuisine

London is full of stylish restaurants that can sometimes have endless waiting times and punchy price tags. If you want to guarantee a reservation and at a fraction of the cost then opt for a pre-theatre dinner. Head to Bronte for chic interiors of pale pinks and vivid greens making it feel like art deco Miami. It’s not all style over substance though; the food is as fabulous as the design. The European and Asian-inspired dishes combine classic fare with a modern twist. Try the edamame and kale pancake and truffle tenderstem broccoli. Make sure you save room for dessert because the molten chocolate fondant with peanut butter ice cream is the star of the show.

  • Explore the quirky shops and alternative scene in Camden

    Private tour

    Let Jess take you through her London adventure with her step-by-step Esplorio guide.

    See Jess’s guide

14.00 – No reservations

Camden is home to some of the capital’s best markets, pubs and live music. Take your time strolling around this diverse and bustling area of London that’s very popular with locals and tourists alike. Make your way to Camden Lock to indulge in one of London’s most famous food markets. The array of global cuisines on offer will ensure there will be something for everyone - foodies will not be disappointed!

19.30 – Tread the boards

No trip to London would be complete without seeing a West End show. Opt for a family favourite, the Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre. A show for all ages, this brilliant beaming masterpiece still proves to be the most popular West End show, 17 years after it first took to the stage.

23.15 – All that jazz

World-famous jazz bar, Ronnie Scott’s, delivers late night drinks and music as the perfect end to this busy London day. Listen to jazz, blues and soul in this intimate and unique venue. Musicians change daily and tickets sell out fast so make sure you book in advance.

Day Three

10.30 – Breakfast worth the hype

If you want to dine at Dishoom (think Bombay cafe with an Irani twist) you need to prepare yourself for a long wait to get into any one of their four London venues. With only a short time in the capital, breakfast at Dishoom is the winning ticket if you’d rather not wait in line but still want to experience the hype. There’s no better way to start your day than with a bacon naan washed down with spicy chocolate chai. Just like their evening menu, everything on the breakfast menu is unique and delicious.

  • Grab yourself a bargain and a bite to eat at Camden Lock Market.

    Famous faces

    The late singer and Camden local, Amy Winehouse worked on a stall in Camden Lock Market and fellow singer, Prince, once opened a shop here.

    Explore London
  • Grab an Old Fashioned and soak up the smooth sounds at Ronnie Scotts.

    Soul of Soho

    This famous club has hosted everyone from Miles Davis to Sarah Vaughn. It’s open daily from around 18.00 until late, plus Sunday lunchtimes, 12.00 – 16.00.

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  • Treat yourself to a little luxury at Liberty London.

    Tudor timber

    The imposing mock-Tudor main entrance was built using timbers salvaged from HMS Impregnable and HMS Hindustan, back in 1924.

    Shop London

12.00 – Beat the crowds

Avoid the shopping crowds of Oxford Street and veer off the main road for a more serene shopping experience. Browse the wonderful windows of Liberty department store and take a stroll down Carnaby Street for both boutique shops and well-known brands.

14.00 – Bird’s-eye view

The London Eye is one of the capital’s most popular tourist attractions. It’s easy to see why when you enjoy the 30-minute experience. Panoramic views of the Thames, Buckingham Palace, St Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster are all within reach from your viewing pod. Make sure you buy the fast pass tickets to avoid the queues, as it’s notoriously busy. The new 4D experience is a fun addition to do before you get on the wheel, showing you London in all seasons and cultures.

16.00 – Wine and dine

Nestled behind Embankment Station is London’s oldest wine bar, Gordon’s. The enigmatic interiors haven’t changed for decades, with walls adorned in ancient newspaper clippings giving this underground bar a truly unique ambiance. This hidden gem has an ample wine selection with friendly and helpful staff to recommend if you’re stuck for choice. Busy periods see a staggering 400kg of cheese a week and 23,000 bottles of wine a month being shifted through this tiny bar.

17.30 – Over the rooftops

Finish the weekend with views of London from the 68th floor of the Shard. The viewing platform gives you uninterrupted 360-degree views of the London skyline. Arrive just before sunset and watch the day turn to night as your busy weekend comes to a close.

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