London - a la SJA

Sally-Jo Asser on 22 October 2021
Like a lot of people, I’ve been to London many times for work and leisure. There are parts of this itinerary I’ve visited many times and yet still this globally iconic city never ceases to entertain me.

My friend and I booked 2nights, end of October at Bermonds Locke aparthotel, just a 12min walk south of Tower Bridge. Bermondsey Street and The Shard to the west, Butlers Wharf and Shad Thames to the east. This is SE1, artisan deli’s, coffee houses and restaurants are scattered around every cobbled street corner. The vibe is laid back, urban oasis, cultural, creative, one of the most inspiring parts of London. I love this borough and it's a perfect base for a weekend or longer stays.

Checked in, we headed out and grabbed a baguette from a local deli to eat on the go. Ambling our way through the back streets toward Waterloo (a leisurely 45min walk), discovering little gems along the way, gated community gardens, hidden street markets, galleries…. even stumbled across The Ministry of Sound ….. dancing shoes to the ready!!

At Waterloo we met with our Veluba Tour Guide, Hannah. Veluba are pedal-powered, electrically assisted tricycle cabs, as such they have zero emission…. sits well with me! On our hour long ‘Landmark London’ tour we learnt some facts about Big Ben, Whitehall, No.10 Downing St. Stopping in Trafalgar Square for 5mins walkabout, we popped into St Martin in the Fields Church finding a quintet practising Vivaldi….one of this trips memory gems for me.

Getting back to our feet we walked through Somerset House (beautiful place to ice skate during the winter). Continuing along The Strand, passing The Old Bank of England, Royal Courts of Justice, St Pauls Cathedral, Pudding Lane, Tower of London, Tower Bridge along the way glimpsing narrow cobbled alleys leading to ancient monuments and churches nestled between modern buildings….. gentle reminders of the enormous wealth of history London offers beyond the conventional sightseeing.

Next morning we strolled east taking in Butlers Wharf and Shad Thames. In the 1870’s this was the largest warehouse complex on the Thames. Depicted in movies as gloomy working docks, this is now a chic redevelopment of luxury apartments and restaurants. The distinctive iron bridges in Shad Thames were once used for moving goods from warehouse to warehouse and have been retained as part of the redevelopment.

Heading back west, we followed the river front as promenade & side streets allow, taking in City Hall, HMS Belfast, Hays Galleria to Borough Market, an extensive ‘foodies’ feast nestled under the railway arches…. make sure you arrive hungry!!!

We visited The Sky Garden, a foliage-filled atrium, London’s highest public garden. The viewing gallery on the 43rd floor of the Walkie Talkie building offers 360degree views over London. With floor-to-ceiling glass windows, this green oasis provides fantastic views of the famous rooftops of London, with an open-air terrace providing views across the Thames. Free to go up but need to pre-book. Treat yourself to a cocktail, £13+.

We continued on, taking in The Golden Hinde, Globe Theatre, Tate Modern, skatepark under South Bank Centre, stopping for a mulled wine under the bridge arches, eventually passing The London Eye on to Waterloo Bridge. With time to kill before dinner we continued to The Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, The Mall, Admiralty Arch and down Whitehall, passing Horse Guards Parade, Downing St, The Cenotaph.

Our last day….. Mamma Mia The Party at O2…. I think that one deserves it’s own blog, so watch this space.

You’re never far from food when in London. Wherever possible I try to find somewhere a little querky or off the beaten track to eat. We found a great street food market round the back of South Bank Centre, one of the best Samosa I’ve ever had. I love to eat at Wahaca South Bank, I know it’s a chain but I really love the setting and vibe of the place. Built from converted shipping containers, funky and vibrantly painted, be sure to get a window seat upstairs for the best view, or outside on the terrace if weathers allows. Meal for two with cocktails £50.

I can organise many types of experiential breaks in London for you, whether your interest is arts, history, people, classic sightseeing, photography, shopping, walking or food. My friends goal was to see some classic sights and just soak up the ambience of our great Capital…… I think we nailed it :-))