30 Jan 2011

Guilty Pleasures - My Top 10 Things in London

Hey everyone, hope you've had great weekends - whether you've been in, out or shakin' it all about. It's been a busy one here in Stupid-Land. Spent 4 hours at the climbing wall yesterday (pics to come later in the week) then headed off to Waterstones for a spending spree with @AliaMcK and finished off with dinner with some lovely girlies. Today was mostly spent having a lovely long 4 hour lunch with husbando as a belated NYE celebration and emailing.

So, to this week's top 10 list - a compilation of my favourite places to go, see, do, eat, drink, shop and chill! I have tried hard to come up with some really original places so even if you're a Londoner, there might be a few places on here that you've not been to.

1) The Posh Restaurant/Boutique Hotel - The Bingham, Richmond
Tucked away on the edge of Richmond, this hotel + restaurant is in a converted town house that looks like nothing special outside but inside it's tastefully opulent with lovely romantic views over the Thames.  The food is to die for - and very reasonably priced with a Sunday set menu starting at £38 for 3 courses. I don't claim to be a foodie but this place has a Michelin star and my very hard to please husband agrees that this place is top quality. We celebrated our wedding anniversary here.
Food - 5/5
Wine - 5/5
Romance - 5/5
Service - 5/5
Ambiance - 5/5

2) The Hidden Treasure Museum # 1 - Leighton House, Kensington
If you're a fan of pre-raphaelite art, you've probably heard of Lord Frederic Leighton. If not, you still might have seen his most famous painting - Flaming June. Leighton was a C19th painter + sculptor + President of the Royal Academy. His house has been carefully preserved, full of his treasures as well as his own paintings + sculptures and is well worth a visit - handily tucked away behind Kensington High Street. My absolute favourite part of the house is the amazing Arab Hall, filled with his collection of Iznik tiles which are the most beautiful blue I have ever seen. Every room is like a little gem. Visiting this museum is little a gift to yourself - it's never very busy and doesn't take long but it is completely UNFORGETTABLE. Go now! (or next time you're in London)

3) The Spooky Place - Highgate Cemetery, Highgate
I'd never heard of this place until I read Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger (author of The Time Traveller's Wife) - which is set in Highgate Cemetery. Although the East Cemetery is famous for the graves of Douglas  Adams, George Eliot, Christina Rossetti and er, Karl Marx, it's actually the West Cemetery that's worth the visit + cost of the guided tour. The views of the amazing Victorian grave sculptures and mausoleums have to be seen to be believed and the Egyptian Avenue is goosebumpily wonderful. It's a little bit of a trip outside of central London but if you like Pere Lachaise in Paris, you'll *love* Highgate for its spooky gothic romance.

4) The Bookshop - Waterstones, Piccadilly
Five whole floors of books, what more can I say?! Fantastic service, great variety, amazing bar on the 5th floor with lovely views (very romantic!!). Just be prepared to walk out with bags full of books! This is somewhere I love to go whenever I am in town and @AliaMcK and I can while away several hours here. It's also got a decent travel section including some very specific walking + hiking books (tip, best travel bookshop in London - Stanfords in Covent Garden)

5) The Hidden Treasure Museum #2 - John Soanes Museum, Holborn
A bit like Leighton House, this is another fully restored townhouse, this time in the heart of Lincoln's Inn Fields and belonging to the C18th architect, John Soane. What is interesting is that his house has been a museum since his death in 1837 when an act of parliament was passed to ensure that it was preserved for students of architecture. To be really honest, you don't just need to be a fan of architecture to love this place - it's a total treasure trove of antiquities and random pieces of art - from the sarcophagi of Seti I to Roman busts and ancient Greek pottery, all the way through to paintings from Hogarth + Canaletto. Enjoy!

6) The Cheap Restaurant - La Casita, Streatham
This is my local Portuguese restaurant but it does, hands down, the best steak in London for £14. Not kidding. Tried and tested by a lot of my friends and my husband orders it everytime we go there! Plus they do it properly rare - like, as in, moo-ing on the plate. It's amazing + well worth the trip to South London. Also have fabulous Portuguese specialities such as salt cod + rabbit stew + great tapas, plus a great value wine list.
PS This place is so titchy, it doesn't even have it's own website so the link will just help you find it!

7) The Green Space - Richmond Park
I used to have to do PE and cross country races in Richmond Park but weirdly enough this didn't make hate the park - it made me love it more. When you grow up in Central London, finding 2500 acres of green space is pretty rare but Richmond Park is amazing. It's not got hills or dramatic scenery in that respect but the lush meadows and wooded areas and stacks of natural wildlife including 650 free roaming deer make this a very special place. It's perfect for a lovely walk (2-4hours) or a kid friendly picnic - or even a romantic picnic. If you like to horse ride or have a dog (or love dogs) it's a great place to go.

8) The Walk - Southbank to Tower Bridge
Whenever I think of London and the buzz + excitement it holds for me, I think of the Southbank by Waterloo. It's the perfect place to meet for a drink, a snack, a lunch/brunch/dinner and then take a wander along the river, people watching, looking at the views of London (Big Ben, the London Eye, St Paul's Cathedral, Canary Wharf, the Tower of London ). On the way you can stop into little shops and pubs, wander into the amazing looking Tate Modern art museum, go wine tasting in Vinopolis or Wine Wharf at London Bridge and then finish up after dark eating dim sum in Ping Pong looking at Tower Bridge lit up in all it's glory. Perfect!

9) The Secret Bar - Skylon, Royal Festival Hall
A pricey restaurant with amazing views across the River Thames right in the heart of the Southbank, this is one of my favourite places to have special cocktails with the girls. It's pricey but worth it if you're celebrating! The food is also lovely - and Toptable often have special deals on, so be sure to check it out.

10) The Lingerie Shop - Rigby + Peller, Knightsbridge
Thought I'd better add in one more shop - that didn't sell books - and my next favourite thing to buy is lingerie! It's very rare I have enough spends to shop at R+P but if it's good enough for the queen (the royal corsetiers) then it's good enough for me. The service is impeccable, the range is lovely (they also stock La Perla), the shiny red shopping bags look fabulous - and the sales are amazing value. This place is a little different from your average Victoria's Secrets and much classier that Agent Provocateur (not that sometimes you don't want a little AP Sauce) but Rigby + Peller sell classic, elegant and sexy lingerie. Definitely a treat for any girl

I hope that you feel like visiting one of the places on my list - they are definitely tried and tested - I look forward to hearing your views and please feel free to recommend *your* favourites on the comments section! Thanks for all your views this week - and this month. Tune in on Wednesday for WoTW (Sex) and Interview Friday.

Thank you and goodnight

Stupidgirl has left the building


  1. Ooo, I love Rigby and Peller! It's one of the things I miss about living in London. I got my wedding lingerie there.

  2. Love hearing about other haunts! London is a very evocative city, full of atmosphere and presence. We get a lot of the Georgian, red brick 'echo' here in Philadelphia and it's nice to learn from whence we came. If you're on this side of the watery divide, you might enjoy a somber stroll through Laurel Hill Cemetery, or The Rosenbach townhouse museum...just to tide you over.

  3. Fab list....the only ones I know are South Bank which I agree is fantastic and Rigby and Peller lol where I also got my bridal underwear.

  4. Seems that R+P is a winner when it comes to lingerie

    Will - thanks for those, will be sure to check them out if I come over to Philly!

  5. Best bookshop is London Review of Books. It has knowledgable staff, great service, tons of books not just the best sellers, customer evenings and book signings, oh and it also has a cafe

  6. You should also check out:
    Miss Lala's boudoir on Monmouth St Covent Garden for Lingerie,
    The Museum of Everything, Sharpell's Hall St, Primrose Hill; Hidden Treasure Museum And
    Judith Michael & Daughter, Regent's Park Road, Primrose Hill for Amazing Vintage Treasures !!

  7. Ooh thanks so much for the tips. True - London Review of Books is ace, so really should also be on the list. I miss Ottakars!!

    Thanks for the boudoir shop tips also + the museum, will try those :-)

    Thanks all

  8. That's a really great list. I have yet to discover many of what's listed in there but I can't wait. And indeed, Waterstones is quite something.