There’s nowhere else like London. Nothing at all, anywhere.
Never mind, our next stop is Harrods where the service is exceptional and Linda literally can’t decide which foie gras to purchase after sampling three different kinds. I refuse to try any because it reminds me of Croatian pašteta, despite being a hundred times more expensive.
Friday was all about selling London as a prospective city to live in to my best friend who is happily settled in Liverpool. I’ve got my eyes on a few two bedroom places at Imperial Wharf, all I need now is someone I actually care about to live with. So far she’s impressed with her brunch at L’eto, I’ve bought her a Big Ben Pandora charm as a belated birthday present and reminder that I want her here and now I must put my sales experience into practice and sell her the city via The Original Bus Tour.
A 24hour Sightseeing bus tour of London costs £29 with The Original Bus Tour. Book online and save £3.50. The ticket also comes with a complimentary cruise on the River Thames departing at Westminster Pier. We hopped on and off a couple times and found the buses with an actual tour guide present were more engaging and interesting than the ones without. We had a hilarious guide ask ‘what us scandalous girls were gossiping about in the front there…’ The bus was bored to hear that I was only talking about having to get my nails done and couldn’t decide which colour to paint them next.
While driving along the river back towards Victoria, I noticed a ferris wheel across the water right next to the London Eye. Linda and I hopped off the next stop in a hurry, leaving the tour guide with a, ‘we’re going to live a little explanation.’
Typically in our behavioural wiring, there was no way in the world we were going to miss out on an opportunity to overlook London on such a glorious day. Squeezing in a work meeting, I have dinner with Linda and a work colleague at Cafe De Pierre near Green Park. I usually avoid anything on main tourist trap roads but I have eaten here before without complaining afterwards. The mix marinated olives were possibly some of the best I’ve had in London and as usual, I’ve ordered a salmon main over a glass of red wine. Dessert is four Ladurée macaroons a few blocks down the road towards Piccadilly Circus. Friday nights in Soho & Covent Garden are a single girl’s paradise, our patience runs thin as we look for a place to have a drink and end up at a slightly but not quite, quieter pub in Mayfair to have a drink.
Forget sleeping in, there’s a Hotel to check into and another side of London to see this. I’ve sworn to my bestie that Borough Markets will charge her life. She’s skeptical because I literally don’t know anything about food and is still using my anti-foie movement against me. Taking the boat from Westminster Pier to Tower Pier, the area around Tower of London is ridiculously busy so we take our photos quickly and disappear from the crowd. We walk over my favourite bridge in London, the Tower Bridge and head to Borough Markets.
“Let’s just walk around sampling all the cheese, olive oil… and everything else…”
Samples lead to sales and £60 later, I’ve purchased olive paste from Taste Croatia, goats cheese from France, balsamic vinegar glaze in Original (Linda in truffle flavour), green olives stuffed with haloumi cheese to snack on with crayfish tails followed by a freshly made chicken wrap with sweet chilli sauce to claim as my brunch. Linda has fallen in love with oysters from Shell Seekers and keeps coming back for more, moments later the staff at the roast hog tent refuse to give away crackling samples which upsets her. Nothing another oyster can’t fix.
Following our excessive food binge, the time has come to check into the St James’ Court Hotel, a Taj Hotel with a decadent lobby and helpful smiley concierge. I don’t have many nice things to say about the reception staff as I believe the service throughout a hotel of such calibre should be uniform and unfortunately I think that the attitude and lack of initiative of some staff should be left with the doorman before the arrive to work. Needless to say, the social media interaction with the hotel was fun and impressive, Linda came back to the hotel on her final night to find a special treat in her room.
So thank you once again to St James’ Court Hotel for looking after my best friend and guest, despite a couple of flaws in customer service, the initiative behind the scenes is enough to prevail your reputation.
Seriously… more food
“I have very high expectations of this place,” I tell the hostess as we make our way to our table at San Carlo Cicchetti. It was the seafood display in the window that won us over and I always respect a place more with their own recommendation of which red wine I should be drinking. The order between us consists of summer bruschetta with broad beans, fritto misto, grilled octopus, mussels, tuna tartare, sweet potato fries with pancetta and after deliberating whether or not to have dessert, we order the cheese board over another round of drinks. I haven’t eaten that well since Cuines Santa Caterina, Barcelona. San Carlo Cicchetti was incredibly incredible. From the service, the quality of food to the ambience, if you’re hungry around Piccadilly Circus, I highly recommend you try this restaurant.
My experience with Buddha Bar began six years ago when the franchise was based at Embankment in London. It has now moved over to Knightsbridge next to the Bulgari Hotel (amazing Mojito’s live there for your information). Good food may impress Linda but an all you can eat sushi is the way to that girl’s heart. Buddha Bar have started an all you can eat menu for £38pp on Sundays between 11-4pm. Over the next few hours we order Chilli calamari, salted and spicy edamame, papaya salad, beef satay, crunchy sushi, salmon & tuna maki rolls, miso soup and spicy tofu & shrimp, spring rolls with a bottle of white wine from South Africa. The only thing missing from the menu was sashimi which the staff insist will be on the menu moving forward from next week. Staff here were attentive and the management did everything in their power to ensure our time there was memorable. Food quality was fresh and tasty, everything we ordered was full of flavour and brought out to us in a timely manner. Buddha Bar is definitely worth the visit if you’re out and about near Harrods.
Obviously there’s always a great adventure between two good friends no matter where they are in the world. What are your fondest memories of visiting London? Was it the food? The Tour Bus? Or that rush that only an international city like London can bring?