Honeymoons have evolved from simple beach vacations, and these days, couples can choose a trip as unique as they are. In this series, Katie Goldstein from Travelingpanties and Smartypanties. is breaking down the best honeymoon destinations, one at a time, to help you narrow down the dizzying array of options so you can choose the one that reflects your interests, budget and style. Up today? London.
Destination: London, England
International flights are plentiful and arrive at Heathrow (LHR), Gatwick (LGW) and Stansted (STN) airports. International trains to St. Pancras Station (like the Eurostar) are plentiful, too, and often a very economical option.
To get around London, we do not recommend renting a car, as city streets are clogged with traffic and parking prices are through the roof. The most popular method of transportation is the Underground, also known as the “Tube.” Tourists also find sitting on the second level of the double-decker buses to be jolly good fun! Taxis are also abundant and can be hailed on nearly every street corner.
Who hasn’t dreamed of being whisked away to live amongst royalty in Buckingham Palace? Well, we can’t promise exactly that, but honeymooning in London can get you pretty close! London is the energetic heart of Great Britain and is a unique honeymoon destination for culture-seekers. London can provide a wonderful adventure that can serve as the perfect way to start a life together. Even after nearly two millennia, London (one of the world’s oldest cities) is still a thriving, urban playground, bursting with life and inspiring pop culture for decades. The city of London offers honeymooners world-class restaurants, theaters and museums. Plus, some of the most stunning, pastoral landscapes are only a quick trip away.
When to go
Well, everybody knows, you don’t go to London for its weather. However, it’s not nearly as bad as its reputation leads people to believe. London’s weather is at its best during its peak travel season, which is from June through September. However, tourists should note that airfare and hotel prices unsurprisingly increase during these months as well. Couples looking to save money should look to travel from January through March, when tourist crowds die down. Prepare to bundle up, though, as it gets chilly! A bonus of visiting London during the winter months? This is London’s prime time to visit the theater!
Where to stay
Although London may not have the reputation of Paris, the English capital also offers honeymooners an abundance of over-the-top luxury accommodations that are sure to quicken your pulse.
We checked in with Tim Krenzien from Paul Klein Travel, a Virtuoso Member Agency specializing in luxury. Mr. Krenzien recommended several of his favorite luxury properties for honeymooners. First up, The Dorchester. Located in the stylish Mayfair area of London, this contemporary hotel features stunning views of Hyde Park and a critically-acclaimed Wolfgang Puck restaurant. The hotel’s extreme attention to detail and high-quality service has been impressing guests for years.
Next, Mr. Krenzien recommends The Connaught for his discerning clients looking for the ultimate in luxury. The Connaught is also conveniently located in Mayfair, just a short walk away from the best shops along Bond and Regent Streets. This hotel offers extreme elegance and some of the city’s best tea!
Finally, Mr. Krenzien suggests that guests looking for extravagance should check out The Savoy. Celebrities including Winston Churchill, Frank Sinatra and Claude Monet have all called this hotel home and you can, too. Enjoy incredible views along the River Thames and exceptional dining at its many restaurants. The Wall Street Journal has said, “The Savoy is in a class of its own and should be.” Need we say more?
Although London has an endless offering of luxury hotels, couples looking to share a truly authentic experience in London may wish to rent a luxury apartment. Renting an apartment provides a more affordable way to experience luxury that won’t break the bank. Contemporary travelers have been opting in favor of apartment rentals recently to bypass the predictability of the hotel experience and explore the city like a local. Although you do give up some amenities like a daily maid and room-service, visitors are afforded more privacy, space and an authentic city experience.
We recommend booking through Avenue Story, a respected broker with an impressive portfolio of properties. The Avenue Story team will work with you to choose an apartment that offers the perfect location and price range you’re looking for. The Avenue Story website offers genuine photographs of each apartment for you to peruse so you can rest assured that the apartment you choose is every bit as luxurious as a hotel.
What to do
It might sound cheesy, but if you’re in London, the best way to kick-off your trip is with a double-decker tour bus ride around the city. You can experience the magical sites of the city comfortably aboard an open-air, hop-on-hop-off bus tour. We recommend the Original Tour. They offer tours for every taste and include many free walking tours, like “Changing of the Guards” and “Rock and Roll” themed tours, with the price of your ticket. Once you’ve gotten a good overview of the city, here is what we recommend you do!
- Sit down to afternoon tea. A modern-day tea party is a must when you’re in the country that invented it! Tim Krenzien recommends High Tea at the Savoy, Brown’s or Claridge’s.
- Borough Market is London’s oldest market and a must-see for foodies. Sample gourmet goodies like artisanal cheeses, empanadas, cakes, pies, falafel and even burgitos — fusion of a burrito and hamburger.
- Tim Krenzien also recommends doing a London Food Walk if you’ve got a big appetite.
For history buffs
- The Churchill War Rooms and Churchill Museum offer visitors the chance to learn about this legendary British icon in a unique subterranean setting — the actual space where he worked for a short period during World War II when air raids on London were anticipated.
- Visit the Tower of London, a former castle and prison, which is said to be haunted by its dreadful past. Learn about the horrific deeds of torture and executions that took place here. See where Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII’s second wife, was beheaded for treason and even where King Henry VI was murdered. Bizarrely, this is where the Crown Jewels are kept as well. They are a sight to be seen — there is even a 500-carat diamond! Not to be missed!
For those looking for romance
- The Troxy in London is hosting Future Cinema’s Casablanca. The theater has been transformed into Rick’s American Cafe. Actors bring the story to life while patrons sip old-fashioned cocktails, are regaled by a live band and are able to gamble (with fake bills) in a casino.
- Rent a private pod on the London Eye and enjoy a bottle of champagne along with breathtaking, panoramic views of the city.
- A night of theater in the world’s most renowned theater district is a must! See shows like Les Miserables, Singin’ in the Rain and The Lion King!
- A visit to the spectacular ceremony of the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace is something every visitor must experience. This age-old ritual doesn’t occur every day, so be sure to check the schedule.
- No visit to London is complete without a visit to the stunning, gothic gem that is Westminster Abbey. Another must-see cathedral is St. Paul’s Cathedral, where Princess Diana and Prince Charles got married.
- A trip to Harrod’s can’t be missed! Even if you can’t afford to shop here after the wedding, it’s still worth a trip to catch a glimpse of its opulent Food Hall.
- A day trip to Stonehenge, perhaps the most famous prehistoric monument in the world and now a world-heritage site, is worth a visit. Try and solve the great question of what Stonehenge really was and how it came to be.
Where to eat and drink
- Hit up Hakkasan, a chic Mayfair hotspot known for its fabulous Asian cuisine with a modern twist. Keep your eyes peeled because you just might spot the likes of Lady Gaga or Katy Perry!
- If you’re looking for romance, Clos Maggiore is hands down your best bet. Its menu is a delectable blend of English and French cuisine.
- If you’re looking for dependable Japanese cuisine, check out Wabi London.
- For over-the-top entertainment, visit Circus, a restaurant and bar featuring live cabaret dancers and pan-Asian cuisine.
- For a modern twist on your favorite steakhouse, check out STK at the ME Hotel.
- Check out La Bodega Negra (owned by La Esquina) if you’re looking for a trendy scene. Be sure to book ahead as this hotspot fills up quickly. Book a table downstairs if you’re looking for a naughty evening out. Note, the entrance to this restaurant is through a sex-store shop front. Be afraid….
- For a casual and modern Thai experience, pop into one of several Busaba Eathai restaurants. Be sure to try their unique calamari!
What to watch out for
Pickpocketing was invented in London but as long as you’re careful, it shouldn’t be an issue. Also to note, tipping in London is typically 10 percent, but many restaurants now automatically include it in the bill, so double-check before you tip twice!