Not Your Typical Trip To London
I’ve been to London 2 times prior to this trip so this particular trip I did a more different kind of sightseeing – more like a Instagram photo floral tour since flowers has become the new trend.
Not only that, I fulfilled my cravings for Asian food such at Dim Sum, Vietnamese and Thai food. Ever since moving to Barcelona, I haven’t found any great asian cuisine and I miss it a lot.
Visiting London is NOT cheap but I was lucky enough to score a cheap flight from Barcelona and lucked out on finding a cheap accommodation.
£1 = $1.34 USD as of June 11th, 2018
When I went 3 years ago, £1 = $1.77 USD Insane!!
Flight from BCN –> LGW (Gatwick) Vueling Airlines
$96.50 OR 9,850 points in the Chase Ultimate Rewards Portal.
I didn’t use my points because I’m saving it for a bigger trip.
Lodging: Millennium Apartments in the Shoreditch area $75/night
Hotels and most Air B&B were going for $150+. The room was really tiny but that didn’t bother me since I was out most of the day anyways. The Shoreditch area is a great location! It’s kind of a hipster-ish area and the tube was a 5 minute walk from the apartment.
Things to do before you come:
Purchase your Gatwick Express ticket online using the route from Gatwick Airport to London Victoria Station. A round trip ticket cost me £32.70 ($43.73 USD) Your ticket may be cheaper if your flight lands after peak hours. Peak hours are first train of the day to those arriving at the airport before 10:00 am and in the evening it is between 4:30pm – 6:00pm leaving from London. You can purchase tickets once you land but be prepared to wait in a long line. Finding the Gatwick Express is fairly easy however make sure to have the ticket bar code handy on your phone because you will be scanning in and out.
Once you get to the London Victoria station, you need to purchase the blue Oyster card which cost £5 (non-refundable) and then load the card with money. I wasn’t able to purchase the Oyster card through the self-service machine so I had to wait in line for the customer service rep.
There is a daily cap for using the tube in Zone 1 & 2. I spent a total of £25 in the span of 4 days and that included 1 trip to Zone 4 for the Kew Gardens. The Oyster card works on the city buses as well. To read more about it, click here. The tube operates from 5am – midnight daily with reduced services on Sundays. One ride in Zone 1 & 2 cost £2.40 with the Oyster card.
***Please note – when traveling via the tube, there are a lot of stairs to go up and down. Hopefully you have packed light! Your phone will not work underground so screenshot your google map routes before down underneath to the station. There is wifi underground but you cannot connect to it unless you are registered with their local phone services like Vodafone or Virgin. (It asks for a username login/password)
Uber works here! It’s way cheaper than taking those cute taxis. If you don’t already have Uber, use my promo code: JennyC41
Book FREE tickets to the Sky Garden which is a glass dome that has a 360 view of London. When I went 3 years ago, I went to the Shard (another tall building) – guess how much it was to go to the top? Almost £50 ($67 USD)!!!! Tickets to Sky Garden go fast so book at least 1.5 weeks in advance. You also have to pick a time slot. If there is no availability for the day you want to go, you can still get up there if you make reservations to one of their 4 restaurants.
And finally the last thing to book before coming to London – if you are a priority pass holder (Benefit or having a Chase Sapphire Credit Card) you should book a reservation at Gatwick’s airport lounge called No1 for your departure date. Call (+44) 844 264 6440. I tried getting in and the receptionist said they were full but that really isn’t the case. Priority Pass holders are bottom of the totem pole and they will try to sell you a pass to get in. Luckily, another place you have access to is the Grain Store Cafe & Bar in which they offer 15£ off your bill. Both of these lounges are located in the South Terminal.
What To Do:
If you want to do the usual touristy activities such as the Tower Bridge, Buckingham Palace etc, I found a blog in which you can refer to here.
Did you know that all the museums here are free? I only had time to check out the British Museum on the last day. Need a place to store luggage? I used stasher.com to find a place near the British Museum.
Drop by the Camden Market – Plenty of shops and trendy pop up restaurants.
This time in London I embarked on a tour of some of the beautiful floral cafes that London has to offer and the magical Kew Gardens.
Peggy Porschen, Les Senteurs Perfumeria, Elan Cafe – There was a line for Peggy Porschen & Elan Cafe to sit down but you don’t have to wait in line to take a photo. You can also just order something small for take away.
Outfit: Floral Off Shoulder Set from boohoo.com – £22. Click here.
Kew Gardens: £16 – You can purchase your tickets in advance online so you don’t have to wait in line when you arrive. Kew Gardens is in Zone 4.
Outfit: Boutique Vintage Floral Dress from boohoo.com – £21. Click here.
I had my photographer friend accompany me to take all these photos! He’s a local resident in London and if you’re interested in having a guide, please contact Lawrence at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gatwick airport – TSA was very thorough with liquids in your carryon. The TSA agent pulled my bag aside and took out a couple items such as mascara and liquid foundation and put it in a ziplock bag and then I was on my way. Good thing is you don’t have to take off your shoes when going through the metal detector.