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A few days in London for the first time. Looking for food/drinks/shopping.

My friend and I are headed to London from Dec. 27-31. I've got the touristy stuff covered, but I am lacking good restaurants (good doesn't always mean expensive), great bars (good for people in their late 20's/early 30's with a solid crowd), decent shopping (great places I can't find in the states) and some must-see's that are off the beaten path.

I'd appreciate any recommendations or suggestions and thanks in advance for the help!

9 Answers

top answer by
stephanie from Nixa

We love going to Browns for yummy sticky toffee pudding and great drinks and we always enjoy Barbecoa it has great food and lovely views of St Paul's cathedral. I enjoy shopping at Cath Kidston near the lively market of covent garden and the market is fun to walk through and is always busy. Make sure to stop by Harrods at least to see the windows this time of year. Enjoy London!!! 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Barbecoa (restaurant)
  2. Cath Kidston (attraction)
3 thanks

answered by
Emma from Glasgow

The Shoreditch area is good for bars and Brick Lane is a great experience - get a proper salt beef bagel.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Shoreditch (neighborhood)
  2. Brick Lane (neighborhood)
3 thanks

answered by
Pamela from New Canaan, Connecticut

London is one of my favorite cities, and here's my all time London Must Do:  On the Sunday or Monday that you are in London, book a tour at Dennis Severs' House (Dennis Severs' House, a not-to-be-missed unusual and unforgettable experience - see the website for details) and then wander over to the Spitalfields (Old Spitalfields Market) to shop for cool clothing and goods (see my blog for details) made by independent British designers.  There's a multitude of great shops, bars, and restaurants in the market, and in the surrounding area, so you can easily spend the whole day, and into the night, there. Have fun!

Here's a preview of Dennis Severs' house...

...and a vendor at Spitalfield's Market

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. London (city)
  2. Dennis Severs' House (attraction)
  3. Spitalfields (attraction)
2 thanks

answered by
Gizem from Izmir

St Christopher's Pl is a great place to rest while you're walking around Oxford Street (definite destination for the first time visitors)

portobello markets I think another must to do when you're abroad is going to a local market. This is a little bit touristy but I assume still local. I think it was on Saturdays only. There was a stall cooking very tasty fried crab claws that I recommend!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. St Christopher's Pl (attraction)
  2. portobello markets (attraction)
2 thanks

answered by
Paula from Tampa

Don't miss Harrods! It's a great way to spend an afternoon even if you don't buy a thing! The food halls there have some great places to eat and of course the Harrods Tea Room is a treat! Enjoy.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Harrods (attraction)
2 thanks

answered by
Stefanie from London, United Kingdom

Varnisher's Yard in Kings Cross has a few restaurants and bars with a good crowd and vibe - VOCCamino (tapas), Bar Pepito (cosy wine bar).  It's great for starting the evening with drinks and bite before moving on to a later night out nearby, over in Angel/Islington or East London.  

Soho is always a good choice for both restaurants and bars of all types so it just depends on what cuisine you're up for.  My latest hits were Bocca Di Lupo (has a great little gelateria sidekick across the road called Gelupo), Tuscanic LtdKoya (for udon - you can't book and may have to queue), Notes Covent Garden (more of a cafe that also stock lovely wines and make wonderful coffees), Brasserie ZédelNOPI.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Kings Cross (neighborhood)
  2. VOC (restaurant)
  3. Camino (restaurant)
  4. Bar Pepito (restaurant)
  5. Soho (attraction)
  6. Bocca Di Lupo (restaurant)
  7. Gelupo (restaurant)
  8. Tuscanic Ltd (restaurant)
  9. Koya (restaurant)
  10. Notes Covent Garden (restaurant)
  11. Brasserie Zédel (restaurant)
  12. NOPI (restaurant)
2 thanks

answered first by
Michelle from Melbourne

Some really good eating and drinking around Borough Market with a fun vibe. A fair few of my fave restaurants I'd normally recommend are sadly closed between Christmas and New Year. 

If you're looking for a bar with a view, check out this list:

Shopping? Probably S Molton St and New Bond St are the only ones that come to mind. You could also check out Selfridges and Harvey Nichols London

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Borough Market (attraction)
  2. S Molton St (attraction)
  3. New Bond St (attraction)
  4. Selfridges (restaurant)
  5. Harvey Nichols London (attraction)
2 thanks

answered by
Nick from London

Hi Kathryn

Your visit dates are typically when a lot of Londoner's are on Christmas holiday's (they normally come back for NY) so things will be a little quieter as a result. I am sure if you stay more central it will still be lively enough for you. For bar's and eat's, what's your budget like and how hip do you want to get? East and South East London have a lot of great clubs, bars and restaurants that tourists hardly ever go to (it's a bit rougher around the edges). Soho is very lively, Notting Hill & Holland Park, more refined. It's difficult to give you too much without knowing more about what you are looking for. Dojo is a great App for when you are in London, is good for helping you plan/book and for local suggestions/private tours. (Disclosure: I am the founder of TripConsul, we are in beta at the moment but are trying to answer the kind of questions you are asking). 

Good luck! 


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Soho (attraction)
  2. Notting Hill (neighborhood)
  3. Holland Park (neighborhood)

answered by
Rod from Sydney

Hi Kathryn, I stayed in London for a few days earlier this year and loved it. I didn't do any tourist stuff accept for a long walk along the river. I stayed in the Southwark area of SE1. Its a great borough full of cool cafes, bars and restaurants. Check out the Borough Market here. 

And a must see for a Sat or Sunday brunch is This was my favourite. I went on both days. Awesome street food. I also wrote a bit more about my London stopover here. . Hope this helps. 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. London (city)
  2. Borough Market (attraction)

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