We arrived on Saturday around 4 PM in London. After going through customs, grabbing our bags and sitting in a bit of traffic, we checked into our hotel and went to a group dinner (not sure of the restaurant/pub was called, but not important anyways). My friends and I decided to scope out the area around our hotel, which we quickly realized was not the most poppin' place.
Roxy - Small club tucked in on a side street, very easy to miss. One of my friends just randomly spotted it. After a trip back to the hotel to grab our IDs, we got back in line and went into the club. It was much smaller than expected and had reasonably priced drinks. The crowd was pretty young and everyone was more dressed down than they would be in LA. I mean one girl was rocking silver Birkenstocks...We decided to move on to the only other bar/pub that was open and almost get taken when trying to find a Domino's by some guys wanting to split a cab to Soho
Our group boarded a bus in the morning and took a tour around London to see all of the big tourist spots. We (obviously) saw Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, etc. I got some great photos and a few laughs about my Baberaham Lincoln joke. Our tour finished in Waterloo so a group of us went to find some food. Afterwards, we split up and some of us decided to walk around the Kings College area. We hit up the Tate and then struggled to find the tube stop to go home.
A lot of our friends that have studied abroad highly recommended Sketch, a tea room/restaurant, which we decided to go to for dinner. We finally heard from a promoter that was passed on by a friend and went over to Whiskey Mist, a small club, right after. The British seemed to loooooooove to sit at tables and drink their watered down drinks, so as soon as some 'ratchet' rap came on, my friends and I took the dance floor.
Nando's - This is a chain restaurant that serves chicken dishes. We have them at home (DMV), randomly, so it is exciting to go to a real one here. I ordered my usual chicken pita with lemon and herb sauce and a side of corn on the cob. We also ordered the hummus and pita with Per Peri drizzle, duh, and a pitcher of sangria.
Sketch - UNREAL. Definitely worth the hype/price because everything was quality and you kind of pay for the experience. It was about £60/person for a main course and two drinks. We sat in the Gallery which looked right out of a Wes Anderson movie, so obviously I died. I ordered the fish and chips, which had a more elegant, modern twist and was absolutely delicious and perfectly sized. Every room in Sketch was incredible. Would highly recommend going here and DEFINITELY go to the bathrooms.
Whiskey Mist - I think this club was in Mayfair. It was not packed, however, it was a Sunday and things began to pick up around 12:30. The clubs here are much smaller than I expected. All of the promoters/bartenders/club employees were dressed up in garb a la Game of Thrones because Sunday. The boys here are super cute but do not approach girls (a friend from London later explained why). For a Sunday night, it was a good time.
Monday was our first set of lectures/visits. In the morning, our group walked over to the Accent center. Some of my friends from school also happened to be taking their classes there. We had two lectures on Monday: one on media and public opinion in the UK and London, and the other on working in Public Relations in the UK. I particularly enjoyed the second because it was exciting to learn more about the industry from a top expert, especially because I am a PR major.
Later on, a group of us went to dinner at Meat Liquor. The restaurant really gave of that Southern American vibe mixed with a hint of rock n roll. Afterwards, we stopped for a drink at Central & Co before heading off to Cirque le Soir. Cirque was unbelievable and we ended up staying until they closed. We walked around the area trying to find a cab and were on the way home when the sun was rising.
Meat Liquor - Our group loved this restaurant! It's gotta a really great vibe/atmosphere. I ordered the chicken burger which included a slightly fried chicken breast with usual toppings a nicely spiced aioli of sorts. The drinks were tasty as well. We all ended up spending about £26 each.
Central & Co. - Although a bit hesitant at first, I was glad we stopped in here. We went to the bar area on the lower level and ordered two rounds of shots. The waiter/bartender made these cute little drinks basically that were super yummy, and only cost £5 for two! The staff was super chill there and sat down with us recommending places to try.
Cirque le Soir - Oh. My. God. This place was insane. We went in around 11:15, which was super early. We had to pay £20 to get in with our promoter but it was definitely worth it. Despite the queue of at least 100-150 people waiting outside, there were not that many people inside. The night started off with some house music and then started to pick up closer to 1 AM. At 1, they start their freak show which was very exciting. We ran around, visiting the ball pit, took lots of pictures and had a great time, very eager to return.
Our visit for the day wasn't until the afternoon, so in the morning, I decided to walk around and stop by a coffee shop that a friend recommended. It was super yummy and they even had Matcha!! Later on, we met and walked over to BBC. Their facilities were incredible and it was mind blowing to be there. I wish we could have seen more of the radio division but it was still very informative and exciting.
After recovering from the long night before, my friends and I decided to have a more chill evening. We went over to Mayfair for dinner at Burger and Lobster before meeting up with my other friends who are studying here. I cannot describe how unreal Mayfair was, literal daddy central. The area is very wealthy, and the men are quite attractive. We were all giggling through the trip to and during dinner. After dinner, we walked around Green Park and then took the tube to meet friends and go to a pub. One of my friends and I really wanted to go to Wok to Walk, a noodle take away place, but after the 20 minutes of walking in circles, we found out it was closed. We decided to go back to Chinatown and try some of the restaurants there, which was a terrible idea. I'm still gagging over it.
Store Street Espresso - A hidden coffee shop that serves amazing matcha lattes and is quite aesthetically pleasing. The staff is super friendly. I got a latte and small salad for £5. However, I keep forgetting about the portions here, so my side salad literally came in a teacup. I sat at the shop for some time and grabbed a Limonata on the way out.
Burger and Lobster - They have a ton of locations but the Mayfair one was fun to go to. Literally all they serve are burgers, lobster and lobster rolls. The only menu they have is for drinks. For £20, you can get a burger, lobster or lobster roll, fries and a small salad. One of my friends and I split a cheeseburger and lobster roll which was unreal. Order the South Carolina Tea or ask the bartender for the drink that lights on fire.
O'Neill's - This is supposed to be the 9-0 for the London School of Economics. Two floors were open and they had a live DJ playing. The crowd was probably 20-30 in age, a lot of SC kids were there. We stayed for a couple hours.
I woke up early - well, early for this trip - and decided to take a walk around to do a little shopping. I got a super cute white lace dress from Zara for the reception we were going to that evening and a white pair of Nikes. Everyone here wears "trainers" with their outfits, no matter how dressed up or down, so it felt good to finally fit in.
The group met in the afternoon and took the tube over to the Pielle Consulting Group, which is located in the Associated Press building. The group does consulting and PR, working on the effects of globalization, especially in non-Western nations.
After a quick turnaround from the meeting, our group headed off to a reception at the Hufschmid residence. Mrs. Hufschmid met her husband when on this program almost thirty years ago, and they hold a reception for ICS every year in their home. Their house was beautiful and in one of the most unreal neighborhoods. We had a quick photoshoot on the train and felt a little too exhausted to go out that night, even though we stayed up till 3 AM chatting and working on our eyebrows.
This was out earliest morning this week. One of my friends and I ran to Store Street Espresso for a little caffeine and pastry pick-me-up, I got the matcha latte again. We met up with everyone and headed to Channel 4. This was easily my favorite place we visited in London. My only association with Channel 4 was the show "Skins." I really loved the atmosphere and how incredible their programming and PR/marketing is. They showed us a ton of material and really helped us understand the scope of television in the UK. My favorite part was when they were talking about their new series "Humans," which they launched with an incredible campaign. I cannot wait for the show to reach Netflix in a few months.
My friends and I then went off to Harrods. I really don't think any trip to London is complete without a stop there. We got a small lunch there and walked around for a while just in absolute awe of their store. Later on, we hopped on the Tube and headed over to Abbey Road. After taking The Beatles class this past Spring, I was stoked to see it in real life once again. My family and I took the famous photo when traveling here a few years ago, so it was fun to do it again.
We went over to Oxford Circus and got Wok to Walk for dinner. It came recommended by a few friends, but it still wasn't all that great. I still thing Trio House is better. We walked over to Goodman after being hassled by a promoter to come to some club that night. We sat down to get a quick drink and desert at Goodman, but we were sat outside and could not interact with the "daddies."
Harrods - Giant department store with small restaurants dispersed throughout the store. There are deli-style options. I got a salad and my friends got sandwiches. Everything was good but not great. Went there more for the experience.
Wok to Walk - This is a customizable wok-cooked noodle spot. It was recommended by friends and said was good for drunching. However, I was still a but disappointed. I got rice noodles with chicken (which I didn't even end up touching because it looked gnarly) and some veggies with a little teriyaki and hot sauces.
Goodman - This is the sister restaurant to Burger and Lobster. Goodman is a fancier steakhouse with a few locations throughout London. We only went to get a drink but were sat outside so that all of the men could be shoved inside. I guess it's a hotspot for more affluent men to meet after work? Would definitely recommend Burger and Lobster over this.
Our final day in London started with a debriefing session on the week and our visits. One of my friends and I went back to Store Street for some much-needed caffeine (got the matcha latte, again) and matcha cookies. Cookies were slightly saltier than expected. Our debriefing took about 90 minutes and generated some good conversation.
We then decided to take on Borough Market for lunch, and got the most delicious grilled cheeses and Pimms. We stayed in the area for a while and even got a little gelato. Some of my friends wanted to see the Globe Theatre so we walked over there and somehow ended up at the Tate yet again. We sat in the cafe and got a drink.
We came back and grabbed dinner at Big Fernand, a French burger joint that was oh-so-delicious. We retreated back to the hotel, decided to nap before going out on our final evening, only to realize that this week got the best of us. Not sure how we're going to make it through the next month, but it will be interesting to see!!
Borough Market - Really cool little street food market tucked in a corner on the south side of the Thames. We got grilled cheese from one booth and then some Pimms iced tea drinks from another. There were so many other booths I would have tried also. The area was really nice and we ended up sitting outside around a few of the pubs there for a good chunk of the afternoon.
Big Fernand - French-style burger joint. Simply delicious with flavorful burgers. There are a few different burgers on their menu but I ended making my own. Although I have not been too good about it, I asked for their gluten free option for the bun, and the staff had no clue what I was asking for. Nice.