Eating, Drinking and socialising, London
Nice place to warm the cockles on a chilly wet spring day. This pub is situated on Bankside (next to the Thames) and is great to pop in for a Guinness or a coffee or a meal while you are doing some sightseeing in the area. It's warm and spacious and popular and has plenty of seating areas as it is on 3 floors. Check the View London website for further details and a bit of history.
Fondest memory: Finding nice warm friendly cosy pubs when you most need them :)
London is one of the most expensive cities in the world. Hotels and food are costly but you can find budget options and still avoid the flophouse and street vendor options.
For food, try pubs. Everyone says that. Some pubs are still a bit pricey but still they're cheaper than restaurants. Cafes are often good value, if they're diner style cafe's not trendy "Cafes" or bars. Tea rooms are often good too, for a light lunch or late afternoon soup and sandwich. Often Chinese and Curry restaurants have good value for money, serving up large portions that can be shared between 2 or more people. The Wetherspoons chain of pubs tends to have really reasonable prices, there is a small number of items where two meals selected from them cost about 6 pounds total.
If you are in the area of some of the markets, like Camden or Portobello Road, there are always hot food kiosks where you can get fast food (as in quick and hot, not tepid and bad for you), often a tasty ethnic dish such as curry or chinese, cheap.
Grocery stores and places like Marks and Spencer food halls have take out sandwiches and salads and beverages. They even have small bottles of wine.
Fondest memory: Avoid fast food joints which, while reasonable in price though probably more expensive than you're used to at home, don't tend to have good quality food. Besides, why go to a McDonald's in London! You can do that at home!
If you want to treat yourself to a really nice restaurant, go for lunch when the menu will be cheaper. Some churches (For example St. Mary Le Bow near St. Pauls... see restaurant tip) have tea and lunch rooms and museum cafes are often very reasonably priced.
For specific suggestions, Timeout has a book on Cheap Eats in London and i believe there's a Cheap Sleeps in London as well. Cheap eats can be bought off Amazon.
Save enough money to have one very good meal.
London has pretty much the widest variety of foods available anywhere, from Moroccan to Carribean, Polish/Mexican (I kid you not) to Lebanese. But the top French and Italian restaurants, like Mirabelle and Zafferano, truly shine.
Gordon Ramsey gets most of the press, and his signature restaurants in Chelsea or Claridges definitely have some of the best food in London. But there's no need to spend £100+ a head - more recent opening such as Racine serve fantastic food at reasonable prices.
And of course, the venues themselves may be one of the great memories of your visit: the view over the Thames from the Oxo Tower, the glittering golden mosaics of the Criterion Brasserie (pic), the Art Deco ballroom of the Atlantic or the outstanding modern design of Bank with its curved ceiling of thousands of panes of glass.
I love Starbucks. I adore it. And I don't care who wants to argue how commercialized or consumer-specific it has become. (of course it isn't as good as good old regular NY coffee that comes in Greek cups!)
How to order something "skim" at Starbucks?
Just say "skinny!"
"Hi. Welcome to Starbucks. How can I help you today?"
"Hi. I'd like a skinny cafe latte."
-oh. what does that mean?
-oh. it means a cafe latte SKIM.
Favorite thing: I really enjoyed going to pubs and drinking beer which is very popular as you know.In every part of London you can find pubs where they offer drink and even food.The music is different from place to place but I always manged to find something good.Cheers
Its not a big area but worth to visit. Chinatown. There are countless small shops and restaurants. If you want to see a little bit of Chinese atmosphere and you have some time you can go there.
There I ate instant noodles, not the most delicious meal I ate in London but it was o.k. For sure there you can find better food as well.
Favorite thing: You really can't go further than a block or two without seeing a pub. More often than not pubs in London are beautiful buildings, full of character, but you'll find the real character and charm will be on the inside. So pick one you like, go in and have lunch or dinner and just relax in the atmosphere!
Covent Garden is one of my favorite places in London. There is so much to see and do. We spent hours exploring this area on both of our trips!!
Fondest memory: As we walked around Covent Garden, it began to rain. For a few minutes, it was a light rain but, quickly turned to a pour. We ducked into the Charles Dickens Coffee Room on Tavistock Road. It is a quaint, cramped little corner serving drinks, sweet snacks and sandwiches. We sipped our tea and hot chocolate until the rain stopped.
I went out for dinner with my good friend VT'er Jennifer while she was over here in London for 12 hours on a stop over before she went to Germany to start her vacation.
We went to Covent Garden to the Piazza Cafe for dinner.
I know that some people may think its cliche... but hey, lighten up! Try some! And I'm not talking about the stuff you get at nice restaurants, but the greasy stuff you get at local fish and chip stores.
Fondest memory: Coming back after a long, but fun day tired... satisfied... and starving... the chip ship around the corner was a godsend! I know its cheaply made food and its greasy, but hey, I'm on vacation! And all the walking around that you do in London should offset all the calories... I hope! Greasy chips is a great late night snack!
Ah, the culinary delights of British cuisine, fish and chips, or if you are feeling adventurous have a kebab, this seems to be part of the "going out" night.
Basicly you and your friends meet up on Friday night at your local boozer, drink as much as you can before the bar closes at 11pm, then possibly head to the local club, drink even more till that closes at 2.30am. After that you and your friends go in search of a take away, it doesn't matter what you order, cause at this stage you don't care as long as it's hot and edible, 9 out 10 times you will get a kebab with everything on it, and devour it within minutes whilst talking to your friends and mumbling incohearant words at the take away staff.
All in a nights fun, the true British way
Favorite thing: If you visit central London in winter, you will see street vendors selling warm chestnuts. These are very nice, and are in no way associated with the dodgy hotdog/hamburger stalls you will also see. Make sure you try the chestnuts, they're very nice.
Favorite thing: When you are in London, you have to visit a proper pub! Pubs in england are unlike any other pubs in the world. You can enjoy a cold pint, in a comfy environment and have a chat with some real locals. You can find them in or around London, and are identifiable by their unique names (such as 'The Cat & Parrot' etc) and their exterior designs, see left.
Even though i have been to the UK several times before i never had eaten this yet. The name alone reminds me of the Harry Potter books... And according to Bernie it is typical english so when we couldnt decide she told us to try this..
It is quite good though very sweet. ANd i was glad i didn't need to eat all of it since Inga and i had decided to share this...
Go to visit some VT-friends.......
This idea from going to London started with plans to organize a meeting in London. Rieke and I just met once on a VT-meeting in Antwerp and we made the decision to go to London for a weekend !!!
And what a GREAT time we had............
Fondest memory: The VT meeting and of course Riekes' company :-))