Well, gosh, where do I begin in recapping my September 2022 trip to London?
As you undoubtedly recall, Her Majesty the Queen died on September 8, 2022 – the day my husband and I arrived in the U.K. for our 10-day trip. We were actually up in Manchester (more below) when it was first announced she was ill, and then that she had passed away, but our journey then took us to London for all the literal once-in-a-lifetime series of royal events that we had the chance to experience with local Brits of all persuasions toward the Monarchy.
In between, we also suffered a bout of food poisoning (miserable, even in London!) and enjoyed a few other stereotypical tourist attractions that my husband had never visited during his/our past trips. Below, I’ve put together an informal report about our trip, plus details on where we stayed, where we ate, and everything else you might be curious about if you’re planning a trip to London soon – or just want real proof that I actually do visit London regularly.
London Trip Recap
In this section, I’ll cover everything we did each day in London. Obviously, this post isn’t like most I write which are supposed to be helpful resources for you planning your trips. Instead, I’ll just cover it all quickly so you can see what we did and ask any questions in the comments below. (Also, as I write stories related to these experiences, I’ll add links so you can click to read more if you want to visit them too.)
Day 0 / September 8 – We arrived at Heathrow in early morning after a delightful flight on Virgin Upper Class; we took advantage of their arrivals lounge to freshen up before catching the Heathrow Express into town, then immediately boarded a train north to Manchester for two days (more below).
Day 1 / September 10 – We arrived back in London by train from Manchester around 10:30am. We headed straight to our hotel to drop our bags, make a quick visit to the Crypt Museum at All Hallows by the Tower, and then headed up to the Royal Exchange to hear the Acession announcement of King Charles III in the city. We then wandered into Central London, then back to our City hotel for a short rest before dinner in West London. Then it was back to South London to visit the Infinite Mirrors exhibit at the Tate Modern.
Day 2 / September 11 – Overnight, we came down with food poisoning (which I now think we contracted up in Manchester), and spent pretty much the entire day laid up in bed at our hotel. I’ve had food poisoning in several countries, and it’s miserable every time – even in my favorite destination! Unfortunately, we had a can’t-miss dinner reservation in West London so had to pull it together to make our way across town for that.
Day 3 / September 12 – Still feeling unwell, we tried to start pushing ourselves to not completely lose two days. We visited the Tower of London during the afternoon, which is definitely physically challenging even when you feel 100%! After that, we took it easy with a Tesco takeaway dinner at our hotel and an early night.
Day 4 / September 13 – Starting to improve, we did a lot more to try and make up for some missed time. In quick succession, we visited St. Paul’s Cathedral, the London Mithraeum, and the Roman Amphitheatre at the Guildhall before heading toward Paddington for lunch. Then we had a two-hour GoBoat London boating experience in Little Venice and Regent’s Canal. After that, we zipped across town again to ride the London Eye, then had dinner before calling it a night.
Day 5 / September 14 – Our last full day, we tried to make the most of it despite still not feeling fully recovered. In particular, we did a short walk along part of the London Wall and then had lunch at Spitalfields before heading toward Central London to try and see the Queen’s Procession from Buckingham to Westminster. We weren’t able to reach the actual viewing areas, so ended up in a pub in Covent Garden to experience it with other locals viewing it on TV there.
Then we had a Flytographer shoot near Tower Bridge and Leadenhall Market (can’t wait to share these!!) and caught the Tube back across town to have dinner with a friend in Chelsea. Then, we tried to queue to see the Queen laying-in-state, but after an hour I realized we would literally be up all night and have to go straight to our hotel to pack and head to the airport, so we bailed from the line and tried to get a short night of sleep before leaving.
Day 6 / September 15 – As mentioned, our flight from Heathrow to Dublin was mid-morning, so we didn’t do much this day: just took the Tube to the airport and flew away.
All in all, this trip felt so short – and it was made shorter by being ill during our visit. That said, we still managed to pack in a lot, and I know this is just one of many future trips I plan to make. (Next up, August 2023!)
Restaurants & Bars on this Trip
I didn’t go into detail about meals above, because I wanted to detail a list of them separately here. Hopefully this is helpful if you’re considering a trip and have either researched these places or are looking for inspiration to add them to your travel plans.
- My Old Dutch (Holborn/Central London) – We ended up having lunch here randomly, because when I lived in London, I had a loyalty card that was almost full. We both enjoyed the “Hot Dutch,” a pizza-like dish on their customary ultra-thin “pancake.”
- The Yorkshire Grey (Bloomsbury/Central London) – We tucked in here for a half-pint and a bit of research for my 10th grad school reunion last year. They’ve changed ownerships since I visited here regularly, but seem steady on now – solid drink choices and an updated space make it a nice spot for a pint or meal.
- The Beachcomber (Bayswater/West London) – Our first dinner in London was planned at this “tiki” bar – though their menu is tiki-adjacent and the food was only marginal. Good for drinks, but go elsewhere in the area for food.
- Trailer Happiness (Portobello Road/West London) – An absolutely incredible rum bar on Portobello Road. We popped in here briefly and were blown away by the drinks and service. This is the least “tiki” bar I planned to visit during this trip – but the best by far.
- Trader Vic’s (Hyde Park/West London) – A London/tiki institution, we ate here after our food poisoning, which made it pretty miserable tbh. The ambiance and service were fabulous though, which made up for being unable to drink their trademark Mai Tai.
- Wagamama (Tower Hill/City) – Our first real meal, I opted for the chicken ramen and my husband had the catsu curry. This was the closest I could find to “chicken noodle soup” to help aid my recovery, and it was delicious despite my unhappy stomach. There are Wagamama’s literally all over town, and it’s a great casual lunch option.
- Brewdog (Paddington/West London) – My, Brewdog has grown since I lived in London a decade ago! They have locations all over town, including around the corner from our hotel in Tower Hill, but we ate at their Paddington location. They call it “junk food,” but it’s really just delicious American dishes; I had the buffalo chicken sandwich.
- Street Greek (Charing Cross/Central London) – My husband found this spot when he was craving a kebab; their Ares Lamb wrap was pretty good until I found a little bit of crunchy lamb bone and my stomach decided not to risk any more food for the day.
- The Round House (Covent Garden/Central London) – We ended up in this pub to watch the Queen’s procession; it wasn’t fancy but it’s a cool-shaped space (round, as the name suggests) and they have all the standard draught options you might want.
- The Phene (Chelsea/West London) – Our final dinner in London was at this fancy pub; a London friend met us here for a few pints and a nice meal. We ordered the fancy (and expensive) fish and chips, and the menu is all “elevated” British-inspired foods.
Accommodations on this Trip
During this trip, we stayed at the hub by Premier Inn Tower Bridge; I chose it because of the location and price ($800-ish for 5 nights). Rooms seem to vary in their arrangement, but we were fortunate to have a King-bed room with access on both sides – very crucial as we both got sick!
To be clear, the room is small and basic, but it does the trick and the location is great if you want to be near the Tower of London/Tower Hill.
I’ll have a full review of the hotel coming soon, and will add the link here once it’s live!
Trip Extras: Manchester & Dublin
As I often encourage in my London Itineraries, we took the opportunity to explore beyond London during this trip. We had two main destinations outside my favorite city, and here’s what we did.
- Manchester: We arrived on the day the Queen died (September 8) by train from London Euston, and returned to London on September 10th. In between we visited John Ryland’s Library, learned about Manchester history at The Museum of Science and Industry, and went to Afflecks for some vintage shopping. We also ate a nice dinner at Australasia, had drinks at both Namii (skip) and Schofield’s Bar (must-do), had awesome Italian at Suga Pasta Kitchen, and enjoyed brunch at Blanchflower. The goal of the trip was to visit with friends who live in Manchester, so we did also spend time outside the city at their home and in that area (Altrincham).
- Dublin (Ireland): Our trip ended in Dublin (September 15-17) since flights were much cheaper home from Dublin than London. My husband had never been before, so we did a lot of the main attractions: the Guinness Storehouse, Trinity College, both the National History and Archaeology museums within the National Museum of Ireland, and the delightful and surprising National Leperchaun Museum. We also had some awesome meals at The Brazen Head (Ireland’s oldest pub), Slattery’s (visited by Bourdain) and Fade Street Social (recommended by a Dublin friend who now lives in London).
I’ll be writing “city break” guides for both of these cities soon, so be sure to check the Beyond London page to see if they’re live by the time you’re reviewing this recap.
Highlights & Lowlights of This Trip
Before wrapping everything up, I thought it might be helpful to focus my most salient memories – both good and bad. (Most of my London trips have been pretty much all good, so I don’t expect these recaps will always have a lowlights section.)
- Seeing good friends in Manchester and London
- Flying first class to London – a lifelong goal I’ve had
- Exploring a few tiki bars in London that I’ve long wanted to visit
- Our Flytographer shoot and the amazing photos we got afterward
- Being present for the historic moments following the Queen’s death
- The Queen’s death and mourning period
- Food poisoning – it sucks no matter when or where you get it!
- Painful shoes (why do I always pack them?!)
Okay, that covers my trip! Have any questions about things we did, places we went, where we ate, or anything else? Let me know in the comments below!