By Shae Walker
This summer I spent six weeks studying abroad in London. While six weeks was not nearly enough time to explore all the city has to offer, it was more than enough time for London to become one of my favorite cities in the world. Here are some of the highlights of my trip:
Sites to See:
The Royal Ascot: Get your fascinator ready because we’re off to the races! I attended the third day of Royal Ascot, otherwise known as Ladies Day, and it did not disappoint. Royal Ascot is an iconic horse racing event held annually that attracts a range of spectators from royalty and members of high society to local Londoners and tourists like myself. Given its prestigious history, Royal Ascot has a strict dress code requiring top hats and suits of the men and elegant dresses and fascinators for the ladies. While horse racing is technically the main attraction, I found the people-watching, particularly the royal procession, to be the most captivating aspect of the day as spectators take the dress-code seriously, turning a day at the races into a red carpet event.
Liberty London: While you could never go wrong with a trip to Selfridges or Harrods, Liberty London is truly a fashion and design lover’s dream. This historic department store, located in the West End, was established in 1875 in a Tudor style building that is as enchanting as the selection of products sold inside. Each room is distinctly decorated and adorned with a carefully curated selection of goods including home-decor, fashion, hand-made textiles, beauty products, and much more. Liberty has also earned a reputation for championing young designers, not just the classics, fueling the success of many up and coming talents in the industry. So whether you are in search of some aesthetically pleasing window shopping or your next fabulous outfit, Liberty London has you covered.
The Cotswolds: For those seeking a brief escape from city life a day-trip to the Cotswolds is your answer. The Cotswolds is a region nestled a little over 2 hours outside of London known for its quaint villages that leave visitors feeling as if they had just stepped into a fairy-tale. Each village in the region has its own unique story told through its rolling hills, historic churches, cobblestone streets, and cottages adorned with climbing roses. My favorite stop on our Cotswolds tour was Bourton-on-the-Water. During our brief visit to the village we wandered the charming streets and admired the river while enjoying a spritz on the patio of the adorable Dial House Hotel. It was the perfect way to end the tour and an even better destination for some much needed R&R.
Places to Eat:
Sketch: When visiting London, afternoon tea is a rite of passage. For our afternoon tea experience we chose Sketch, a social media hotspot that actually lives up to the hype. This avant-garde institution captivates from the moment you walk in the door with its eclectic and whimsical interiors. We sat in the eye-catching “Gallery” room that is known for its pastel pink walls, plush seating, and an ever-changing collection of art. Not only does the ambiance exceed expectations, but the food does too; from the flavors to the presentation, every detail of the four course tea was perfect. After tea we took the obligatory trip to the bathroom for a picture with the iconic egg-shaped stalls and a quick drink in the hidden bar to round out a fabulous afternoon at Sketch.
Bacchanalia: Bacchanalia may be a relatively new name in the London dining scene but it is most definitely a memorable one. Upon entering the restaurant, we were greeted by staff members dressed in togas, hand painted frescos, and expansive sculptures that transported us to ancient Greece. The allure of Bacchanalia didn’t end at the ambiance as every dish from the fabulous pastas to the Greek yogurt dessert (which is a must) exceeded our expectations. While we may have had to book our reservation at this Mediterranean hot-spot nearly a month in advance, it was most definitely worth the wait.
Borough Market: If you have TikTok, chances are you have seen Borough Market. This market is one of the oldest in the city and is renowned for its selection of vendors loved by tourists and locals alike. Visitors could spend hours wandering through the market trying the variety of baked goods, cheeses, fresh produce, and unique dishes offered by the different vendors. We visited the market twice throughout our stay in London and were impressed each time as every dish, including the viral chocolate covered strawberries, upheld the reputation it has gained on social media.
Swans Bar at Maison Assouline: If you are a fan of Maison Assouline then the Swans Bar located inside their Piccadilly location is a must. The store is reminiscent of an art gallery, making it an interior design lover’s dream filled with Assouline’s iconic coffee-table books and gorgeous gifts. The bar, situated in the center of the store, fits a variety of occasions whether you are refueling with a beverage and some light bites after a day of retail therapy or are in search of a sophisticated night-cap after dinner.