“You know I love a London boy, I enjoy nights in Brixton, Shoreditch in the afternoon…”
It’s no secret Cooper and I are Swifties (the collective term for ‘fans of Taylor Swift’). He might not like me mentioning it too much in public, but trust me, he is. Cooper’s up there dancing with the best of them at her shows 😁
You’re likely to know by now that she’s released a new album – the 7th studio album. Taylor Swift London Boy – we love this track on Lover! Don’t get your hopes up about running into her in the UK capital though. The song tells a story about where she spends time with her ‘London Boy’ Joe Alwyn. And they’re known for not advertising where they are.
But you can still take a wander around places that are obviously close to her heart. If you’re a super fan, you might have heard about this odd theory that her lyrics actually map out a heart around London.
Must say, I’ve read some rather cynical accounts of Swifty’s London Boy guide to the city. But, as someone who is also rather in love with London, I kinda like her guide.
Taylor Swift London Boy city guide
We’ve compiled some travel info for any of you other Swifty fans. It’s a great way to take in the experiences and areas she’s mentioned.
In Taylor Swift’s London Boy she mentions “Camden Market in the afternoon”. So Camden is pretty cool and you’ll find a lot of things at the market. If you get tired of big crowds, don’t go in the afternoon.
We’d suggest going later at night, or early in the morning. Camden Market is well worth a look, but time it so you don’t get trampled!
FEST is also a nice spot that decorates according to the season. Nice to go for a drink away from the crowds.
Highgate and Hampstead Heath
Taylor’s spent a bit of time in the suburbs of North London. It’s known to be a bit affluent, posh even. Granted, we like it. We house sat in Crouch End recently. We also enjoyed a house sit near beautiful Hampstead Heath. It boasts miles of parkland walks, lakes and stunning views across London.
There’s a number of number of tubes/Overground will take you right up to one of the entrances to Hampstead Heath.
Leafy Highgate is best known for its cemetery. It’s an old one, and also the final resting place for many well-known figures including another music fave, George Michael.
Like Camden, it gets very very crowded. But there’s some cool experiences to be had here. Most of ours include food 😆
Sketch, pictured above, is pretty special (don’t miss going to the bathrooms – just trust us). For a bit of craziness in Soho, you’ll find us digging for an afternoon drink deal at Bar Soho. (Swifty mentions ‘drinking in the afternoon’… sure, it’s a thing on a sunny day 🌞). There’s plenty of food joints, bars and pubs in the vicinity of Bar Soho, if you can get yourself down that way.
And when you need a snack (yup, you know what I’m talking about), go here:
Hackney, Shoreditch and the east end
Aww, our ‘London home’ side of the city. For a large part of the last century the east end struggled. Much of it was badly hit during WWII, and the poorest Londoners resided here.
A lot has happened in recent years. Shoreditch and neighbouring Dalston are arguably ‘trendy’. No doubt there’s a cool energy, lots of boutique stores, arty experiences and a surprising side of London to see.
Taylor Swift in London Boy mentions Hackney as a place to explore, over “Louis V on Bond Street”. Agreed.
Broadway Market is our absolute favourite experience in the east. Head over there early on Saturday for one of the best, loveliest local markets in the city. Around the corner is a fabulous bar/restaurant/pop-up store space called Mare Street Market. Highly recommended. Then, take your foodie treats, sit in London Fields (park) and people watch.
You can view east London in all its glory from this excellent rooftop venue:
High tea in London Boy
I read a news item saying that ‘purists’ will be upset with Taylor Swift for calling ‘afternoon tea’ ‘high tea’. Weird – that’s how I know it. And that’s how it’s marketed. All tastes the same 😋
Top London travel tip: before coming to London, sign up for a discount site like LivingSocial or Groupon. There’s plenty of awesome deals on high tea or afternoon tea! Buy one ahead of your trip and indulge.
Brixton and south London
Down to south London now. Brixton is famous for music, cool markets and lots of new fun things opening all the time.
Jump on the Victoria line and head on over to this side of the city. Culture Trip‘s published a helpful guide on things to do in Brixton.
“Stick with me, I’m your Queen…”
Ok so you’re coming to the capital. You’ve seen The Crown, Victoria… Get amongst some Royal action while you’re in town. Why not.
In London Boy, Taylor Swift mentions ‘Louis V’ (the store), but implies exploring the rest of London outside of the glitz is just as fun (true).
You do need to explore central London though. Why? Because it is lovely!
From the historical buildings in Bloomsbury to stunning St Paul’s and Thames walks – find out why people, including us and Swifty, fall in love with this place.
Bonus: get yourself to a good old fashioned English pub
A quintessential London experience: the pub. They’re different in England than pubs in other places. Cosy, chilled, good times.
Careful in London that you don’t get dragged into a touristy pub – nothing wrong with them, but they’re often more expensive and lack the authentic charm that your local neighbourhood pubs have.
One of our favourites is in Angel, east London. Take a look.
So you see, Taylor Swift views the city like many of us do. For those who don’t like it, tough. The visitor numbers can’t be denied, nor our fabulous city’s millions of fans all over the world. I’ll take my rose-tinted view whenever I can 🌈
Please do add your tips or questions in the comments below. See you in London!
Taylor Swift London Boy, image: Dimitrios Kambouris/VMN19
A few weeks back, we received an invite from Point A Hotel Liverpool Street, asking if we’d like to take a look around the newly refurbished premises. After having the chance to stay at Point A Hotel Shoreditch we jumped at the opportunity. There’s nothing like a London staycation, after all!
The thing we genuinely like about the two Point A Hotels in London that we’ve seen: the brand has reinvented what compact is. It’s easier than you might think to get totally ripped off by hotels in London – you’ll pay a fortune thinking you have somewhere nice reserved, only to find it’s run-down, uncomfortable and dowdy.
Our experience with Point A Hotels in London is that they make great use of space, opt for stylish tech and comfy beds.
Best things about Point A Hotel Liverpool Street
Point A Hotel Liverpool Street was one of the original hotels in the network. We experienced the totally refurbished version, and we’re thoroughly impressed! Point a Hotel Liverpool Street is about 5 to 7 minutes walk from the station. It’s just two minutes’ from Spitalfields, which has everything you could need for a stay in central London.
Outside of its very convenient location, there’s a spacious outdoor area that you can enjoy if the sun is out. Inside you’ll find a comfortable lounge / chill out space that is also where breakfast is served.
Like its sister property in Shoreditch, the rooms are compact but cleverly designed so that you feel like you’re in a cosy nook. There’s plenty of clever hiding space for luggage too. Topped off by fun mood lighting, black-out curtains and 43-inch Samsung Smart TV, you’ve got everything you need for a total getaway.
Find out more about Point A Liverpool Street Hotel’s refurb here.
Top 4 things to do near Liverpool Street
Old Spitalfields market
This east London hot-spot has seen market activity for over 350 years! Now, Spitalfields is a covered market, brimming with lovely eateries, lively places to have a beer and shops to browse. It’s definitely one of the best things to do near Liverpool Street, and it’s just a couple of minutes’ walk from this London Point A Hotel. There’s over 50 shops and stalls at Spitalfields.
What we like about the place is that the restaurants and bars are big. Plenty of space means a place to sit down. I even managed to get some work done so would add it to our list of fave London digital nomad working spots.
Salesforce Tower and Sushi Samba
Locals know this secret well. For one of the very best things to do near Liverpool Street, and a FREE view of London, head to Salesforce Tower (formerly Heron Tower). The glass lift is swift. That is, in less than 30 seconds you’ll be 39 floors high! The view is spectacular though.
It’s easy to pop into Sushi Samba for a drink on their outdoor deck. You’ll need a reservation to eat there though, or at the dining alternative at the top, The Duck and Waffle. The Drift is on the ground level, also another lovely venue.
Be mindful here, you’ll possibly need dress shoes to enter the building, but outside that, you can enjoy a fun free experience, just a short walk across the road from Liverpool Street.
Described as ‘a 32-acre central London neighbourhood’, Broadgate is the brand new precinct opened next to Liverpool Street station. We wandered through earlier this year just as it was opened. It’s built in a circle type shape, with beautiful restaurants and Instagrammable boutiques throughout.
This spot has everything from pubs to high-end sushi, beautiful meeting spots and table tennis. Read more here.
Finally, if you’re after a bite to eat or a quick drink, there’s plenty of options along Bishopsgate road. This is the main road in front of Liverpool Street train station. Most of our high street eateries are here, including Wasabi, All Bar One, Dirty Martini… You won’t go hungry or thirsty in this part of London.
And when you’re done, head back to Point A for a dreamy sleep.
Point A Hotels are situated across the nation, so ideal for a value for money UK staycation escape. We were sponsored for this stay but the review is our own.
Like many others, Cooper and I have indeed adjusted travel plans because of apprehension over Brexit.
We’ve paid money for fast-track to get in and out of airports amid anticipated chaos; we have 2019 staycation London dates pencilled in the diary, and are considering more local UK travel (rather than heading to Europe).
Staycation London: value for money and a fun city break
The aforementioned survey results reflect our feelings about not letting Brexit stop us from travelling. But rather, we’re encouraged to reconsider our options, which is fine because we have strategies for exploring our own backyard!
So let me ask you a question. If you can’t jump on a plane to go on an adventure, what is it that you want to do on a Friday after a loooong week at work?
I suspect I’m not alone in wanting to grab a drink, put my feet up and chill out in comfort.
According to Point A’s survey, 76% of us also want to enjoy a fun city break. Admittedly, Cooper and I are beat by the weekend, so we miss out on all the cool London experiences we might take advantage of if we were in the thick of the action (read: little effort required).
Point A Hotels put us to the staycation London challenge by giving us a chance to experience their Shoreditch property last Friday night. As it turns out, it was right up our street.
The Shoreditch Point A Hotel is as cool as its neighbourhood. It’s situated just a short walk from Shoreditch High Street or Liverpool Street stations, so about as convenient as it gets.
Point A Shoreditch – the London staycation offering
I arrived a little earlier than Cooper so checked-in, eager to have a look around at our staycation London digs. My check-in experience was terrific. The staff were all lovely and offered helpful advice on what to do in the area and how to take advantage of the discounts associated with the hotel.
Zooming up to level 6, I noticed that the hotel’s tech seemed to be sleek and smooth – from the lighting to the elevator and automated options on the room doors, everything feels fresh and contemporary.
We like fresh and contemporary!
Our room, while compact, continued to impress throughout the stay. From the SMART TV to the [very] comfy bed, lighting options and importantly clear instructions on how to adjust heat, cold, brightness – everything felt nice and easy. Imperative for a short staycation.
To be honest, most London accommodation – even the expensive stuff – is small. We’ve stayed in rooms that were old and cramped yet still ridiculously over-priced. This we feel, is great value for money, and the design of the room made it feel bigger than it probably was.
Our room was compact, yet super stylish and offered clever storage options.
I really liked the offering on the television menu too – a digestible guide to the local area including bars, restaurants, shopping, attractions, coffee, culture and clubs. This helped us to not have to think too much about what to do or where to go.
Shoreditch is easy to walk around and explore. We’d forgotten how fun it is. We may have had a bit too much fun, if I’m honest, but that’s what a staycation in London is for, right?
Point A also offers a bundle of discounts and freebies to take advantage of during your London staycation, including local food and drink deals, and sometimes gym passes.
I’m not going to lie, there’s no way I was going to the gym. Not. A. Chance. It’s my staycation London time – to be treasured. Where’s the bar?
We sum up our stay at Point A Hotel Shoreditch as being stylish, convenient, comfortable and contemporary. Cooper and I were both very impressed at the effort put in to bring the latest tech and style into the space.
We enjoyed the perfect Friday night and short stay in London – with a glass (maybe more) of wine, snuggly and chic place to chill out in, and a pampering offering far better than what we have on offer at home (sorry, Cooper :). Oh, and to top things off, the breakfast (a mix of healthy and naughty) was delicious too.
Point A Hotels are situated across the nation, so ideal for a value for money UK staycation escape. We were sponsored for this stay but the review is our own.
This past sunny Saturday we chose to make a day of it and find the best new things to do in South Kensington, London.
Our itinerary turned out to be fun, so I’m sharing it with you, whether you’re a local looking to explore, or you’re travelling and staying in Kensington and seeking newer cultural experiences.
London day out itinerary: Japan House Kensington and the best new things to do in South Kensington
Japan House Kensington
We are huge fans of Japan and our lovely sister-in-law, Asami, inspires us to seek whatever knowledge we can about this fascinating country.
When we read about Japan House Kensington opening, it was swiftly added to our ‘must do’ list, especially as we’d already had a look through the cool Japan Centre in Soho, we wanted to compare.
The space is sleek and clean, boasting design that pleases the eye.
Set across three levels, at the Japan House Kensington, you can shop for unique gifts, plan a travel trip, relax in the library, and soak up history within the exhibition area.
Japan House is intended to offer full cultural immersion through food, art, hospitality, events and carefully curated exhibitions.
Japan is famous for its cuisine and at Japan House, centrally positioned in a Grade II Heritage Listed Art Deco building on High Street Kensington, there’s a beautiful restaurant on the top level, and a cafe at street level.
I tried a Matcha tea shot (or ‘small tea’) – traditionally brewed in front of us – quite bitter to taste and very strong.
At first I didn’t feel so good because I hadn’t eaten in the morning, but I’m pretty sure the tea gave me a clean energy boost that lasted the entire day. I’m sold.
Japan House Kensington is one of three new cultural centres that aim to show the ‘real’ Japan, the other two being in São Paulo and Los Angeles.
Everything at Japan House is Japanese, from the floor tiles to the chefs preparing authentic cuisine.
It’s easy to pop in for a quick look around, or spend a while browsing the displays and books.
Under a ten-minute walk from Japan House Kensington is the fabulous Design Centre in its new SW London home.
The Design Museum was housed in a former banana warehouse on the Thames at Tower Bridge for 27 years, before moving to Kensington and becoming one of the best new things to do in the area.
Upon entering the building in South Kensington, we learn that the place was founded by Sir Terence Conran in the belief that design has a vital part to play in shaping and understanding the world.
Honestly, visiting here was a highlight of our day out finding the best of contemporary Kensington attractions.
The museum celebrates creativity and innovation, and all that has shaped the world around us, including design we might not even see or consider, such as digital design.
The Design Museum, like Japan House Kensington, is picture-perfect in shape and design. It’s mostly free but there are paid exhibitions that might interest you too.
Aside from being visually engaging across all exhibitions that range from fashion to typewriters, transport and political posters, the Design Museum asks us to think about the world around us. How did we get to Kensington – bus or train? Have we looked at a map today; touched a phone; put on shoes; posted to social media?
All of our activities involve design, and usually a manufacturing process developing goods for a specific end-user.
This immersive and interactive experience offers a glimpse into familiar objects of the past and present like cameras, computers and calculators. It also showcases futuristic 3D-printed objects, virtual products and a projection of the world’s transport, immigration and healthcare systems as time ticks on.
A thoroughly enjoyable reminder of the creativity and innovation we are surrounded by each and every day. It’s time we stop taking it all for granted, I think. Drop by the Design Museum for a visit – I dare you – it’ll make you think differently.
Time for lunch at Zuaya in South Kensington
In keeping with our theme exploring the best new things to do in South Kensington, visiting Japan House Kensington and the Design Museum, we made our way to a new restaurant, Zuaya.
Zuaya is a short stroll from Japan House or the Design Museum and is opposite an entrance to Kensington Park – perfect for walking off a big meal later on.
It’s a fabulous South American themed restaurant, with a chic rainforest-themed interior.
The menu draws on influence from Mexico, Argentina and Peru and all dishes are absolutely photo-worthy.
Service at Zuaya was excellent, and we enjoyed our dining experience.
There’s a range of sharing options at Zuaya, as well as an a la carte menu, all reasonably priced. If you’re up for ditching the usual high-street chains which are plentiful in this area, give it a go.
I particularly liked the vegetable cau cau, a stew of sweet potato, butternut squash, mint and Peruvian potato (pictured above).
The dessert menu is tempting too, but we highly recommend the smooth and creamy home-made mango ice-cream. Yummy!
Take a look at the website or Instagram feed for more London foodie inspiration.
V&A Museum: the future starts here
Your afternoon itinerary could vary greatly in Kensington, depending on the weather and your interests.
As mentioned, a wander through the neighbouring parks of Kensington and Hyde is entirely viable; you could visit Kensington Palace too, or the shops on the high street.
We chose to catch a bus about five minutes up the road and got off at the Albert Hall stop with Exhibition Road in our sights.
This road is pretty busy – understandably – it houses a number of London’s most popular museums that are all free to enter, including the Science Museum and Natural History Museum.
Today however, we wanted to go somewhere new and found ourselves inside the very excellent Victoria and Albert (V&A) museum. Dubbed ‘the world’s leading museum of art and design’, it’s also free to enter, however we being particularly technologically-curious, decided to pay for an exhibition called The Future Starts Here.
This exhibition showcases ‘100 projects shaping the world of tomorrow’.
This includes robots, social bots and wearable tech; digital avatars keeping you around upon death; emails to trees; and bracelets designed to revive you after death (pictured above) if you are one of the couple of thousand who have signed up for cryonics and wish to be frozen but woken when we figure out how to do it!
Most fascinating is a live project that tracks a young Nigerian living in LA who has faced homelessness and trauma through years of hiding from immigration officers, knowing that if his meagre income as an Uber driver were to cease in America, his family back in Niger would be totally ruined.
He agreed to be part of this project that tracks his insomnia as well as use of WhatsApp and Instagram so he can keep in touch with his much-loved and missed family and friends back home. Pictured above, when the curtains are open it means he’s using these services and they also show where he is within his sleep patterns.
A study hailing all the way from our home of Queensland was featured too, and upon donning this attractive headset, you’re dropped into the middle of an extraordinary colourful coral reef to explore as if you’re in the waters just off Cairns.
I won’t give the rest of the secrets of this exhibition away. You really might enjoy it for yourself. If you miss it though, there’s plenty of other options at the V&A. I’ll definitely return soon.
Final stop: dessert at Maitre Choux
A shout-out to our friend Lisa for suggesting this little spot, about five minutes walk from the V&A.
Maitre Choux bakes fresh eclairs and chouquettes every day, made by none other than three Michelin Star pastry chef Joakim Prat.
For a decadent little treat (or two) to get you through the rest of your day, this will hit the spot.
There’s a colourful array of delicious goodies, but the place is small so choose a time when it’s likely to be a bit quieter. Saturday around 3pm was fine, and you can take-away or dine in for respite from the crowds outside.
Find this place on Instagram for a regular dose of prettiness.
That’s our day itinerary in SW London – from Japan House Kensington to a host of museum experiences and delicious, adventurous food. The activities are mostly indoors so perfect if it’s getting a little chilly outside or it’s raining.
We had the chance to work with a drone coach to experience how drones in London can be manoeuvred safely and responsibly. Without practice, we would absolutely NOT recommend flying anywhere, let alone in dense areas. In fact, there are a lot of irresponsible drone operators who make it hard for others just wanting to capture some great content.
There are rules when flying drones, most importantly you need to ensure the safety of people. Our London drone experience gave us insight into the fact that you need to practice, practice, practice!
Take a look at some of the footage, and you might like to read about what we learnt about flying drones in London and abroad here in this special digital feature. Questions and comments, as always, are appreciated below.
We had the exciting task of dipping our toes back in old familiar waters, and ended up as London correspondents for a number of Aussie breakfast radio shows.
Royal Wedding Aussies live from London
Throughout the week we talked all things royal wedding as Aussies live from London on River (Brisbane), Power FM, and a host of other stations across Queensland and New South Wales. We were a little tired by the end of it, but it was good fun.
We were also tipped-off by channel nine that they would be broadcasting live from Buckingham Palace, and I fortuitously ended up at a royal rehearsal in Windsor!
Take a look at these Instagram Stories highlights for the best of the royal wedding, Aussies live from London.
Congrats Harry and Meghan! What a lovely, sunny, romantic and historic event to be a part of.
Let us know in the comments how you celebrated xo
Love Royal Experiences? Did you know we have a few other great posts and insight to share?
Welcome! We are Sarah + Cooper, Aussie expats living in the UK with our Westie dog, London. We like to inspire on how to travel for longer and to live and work from anywhere. Our most popular content here is about seeing the world with your pet, remote working & digital nomadism, and house + pet sitting. Create a global life of your dreams at any age! Subscribe to find out more :)
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