• luxury guide to London

Luxury Guide to London

Welcome to Backpacker’s Boutique. Every Sunday, this spot will feature a new travel blogger. Some weeks it will be a really fun interview about packing, fashion, and fitness so you can snoop inside their bags & lives a little bit and other weeks it’ll be a detailed luxury guide to a city the featured blogger/expat knows very well. E-mail me if you’d like to be featured.

A Luxury Guide to London

Tell us a little about yourself and tell us why you’re an expert on luxury travel in London.

I’m Kirsten, and I’ve been born and bred in London – although at times it can be a love/hate relationship, it’s an unconditional love! I went to university in Norwich, a much smaller city in the UK (very dainty and cute). I spent some of that time at university living and studying in Melbourne, Australia, and completely fell in love with the country. After graduating, I came back to London and spend my time navigating more of my home city. Even after all this time, it never fails to surprise me with new bars, events or views.

luxury guide to london

What makes London a perfect destination for travelers seeking a glamorous trip?

London’s full of the old, historic grandeur of the past as well as innovative ideas to spice up any luxury experience. The more I see of other cities, the more I appreciate how flexible London can be: it’s the posh, traditional mother or father and it’s the gritty cool kid – but always (well, most of the time) done with a touch of sophistication.

What 5 star hotel is the best in your town?

There are a few! The complete classic is The Savoy. If you come here, you’ve hit the big time. The St Pancras Renaissance Hotel is probably the most beautiful looking hotel from the outside (and inside!) I’ve ever seen in London.

What about boutique hotels, of them all, which would you send your friends or family to stay at?

There are probably three options: two of them are Firmdale hotels, the Covent Garden Hotel and Soho Hotel. They’re boutique on the most luxury end of the scale.

For more quirk, I’d go with The Hoxton Hotel in Shoreditch. It’s not as much typical boutique as part of the new breed of hip hotels with that streetwise but homely feel, with an open fireplace, exposed brick wall and books.

luxury guide to london

Are there any fun activities for the adventurous traveler?

You can climb up the Millenium Dome (now called the o2) which is near where I live, in Greenwich! Do it at sunset – you’ll get a wonderful view over London. There’s also a speedboat that’ll swing you around on the Thames with some funny music, like the James Bond theme tune. Experiencing London’s landmarks from the river gives you a bit of a different perspective. In summer, there’s a really fun trend to learn to trapeze outside in some of London’s parks. For a built up city, it’s got a lot of options.

Where are the best hang outs during the day? 

London’s parks are lovely – I’ve had many lazy, sunny afternoons in Hyde Park, Regent’s Park and St James’ Park (which looks magical in the spring with flowers everywhere and a view of the London Eye). There are even lidos you can spend the day at – I went to Brockwell Lido last summer, and even though it can’t properly take the place of a good beach, I’ll accept it as a substitute! 

London has so many markets dotted around to explore with friends or by yourself. One of my favourites is Columbia Road Flower Market – for flowers, believe it or not. It also has cafés and cute independent shops so you have somewhere to go after the hustle and bustle of all kinds of beautiful flowers being excitedly sold. I always try to pick up a bunch of sunflowers here as they’re a favourite flower of mine.

luxury guide to london

I recently went to Maltby Street Market with my sister, which left us so pleasantly surprised. Located under railway arches, it has such an authentic feel and every food stall you look at has you intrigued.

In the winter, it’s all about cafés and pubs. London loves pubs. Wilton Music Hall is perfect for some history and a pint. The worn away and exposed walls with its relaxed vibe make you feel so comfortable to settle down and cosily while away the day.

luxury guide to london

If you have a big date night, what are the most delicious restaurants in London and what are their best dishes?

I have an American boyfriend who lives in Boston, so whenever he visits London, I always try to impress him with the city’s restaurants. To be honest, it’s a challenge to pick somewhere as London has so many restaurants.

We’ve gone to Sushisamba, which has some other locations over the world, but in London it’s got a great view and their sashimi is awesome. Head outside for a cocktail by the fire, too – the mojito is a treat.

Location: Heron Tower, 110 Bishopsgate, London EC2N 4AY

In London, we get a ton of concept restaurants – the most recent I’ve been to is called Bubbledogs: all sorts of hotdogs (you can choose toppings from mac’n’cheese to caramelised lettuce), and an extensive list of champagne. It’s a genius idea to me that still manages to leave you feeling glamorous, despite eating hot dogs.

Location: 70 Charlotte St, London W1T 4QG

Village East is also great: modern European food presented so well and some killer cocktails.

Location: 171-173 Bermondsey St, London SE1 3UW

luxury guide to london

Let’s talk desserts- what place makes the best?

I’m weirdly going to have to mention a brunch spot here. It’s the Cookbook Café, inside the Intercontinental Hotel. You get unlimited bellinis and an all you can eat buffet – but in a classy way – including waffles topped with popping candy, eggs benedict, sashimi, and finally, masses of dessert cakes, including little macaroons. It’s incredible and is honestly one of my favourite places to go in London. 

Tell us all the hot shopping spots; who’s carrying the trendy local designers? Are there designers we should make sure to meet?

Avoid Oxford Street like the plague! Ok, maybe an exaggeration – it does have everything you need, but only go there very early. It’s so busy and it can get pretty stressful at times (Christmas shopping here this year will definitely be a pain I must suffer!). I prefer Long Acre in Covent Garden area as it still has some of my favourite shops (like Zara, but sadly not Topshop) and is much less busy.

It’s definitely worth checking out the markets, too. Spitalfields market is great for upcoming designers and it’s a great day out.

luxury guide to london

What are a couple of the best salons and spas in London? 

Sadly my favourite spa right in the middle of London recently closed down, so I’m trying to find another! I’ve heard good things about the Mandarin Oriental Hotel’s spa in Hyde Park. The Berkeley Spa has a rooftop pool with views over Hyde Park and is a hit with celebrities, or Four Seasons Spa, which is located on the tenth floor… also over Hyde Park. Basically, head to Hyde Park for all your glamorous, luxury needs. 

Time for a great sunset view… where would you go?

I think the key with a memorable London sunset is to go high. My favourite has been while having afternoon tea in Tower 42. I treated my mum for her birthday and we sipped champagne while watching the sun set right behind the view of London, with St Paul’s Cathedral in one direction and Tower Bridge another.

Otherwise, I’m always a big fan of a sunset from a park. Primrose Hill gives you a good view, and Hyde Park is gorgeous.

luxury guide to london

Now that the sun’s gone down, fill us on the best places to go for some evening drinks or a great pre-gaming spot.

This is where things get tricky – I’m not sure I can adequately express my love for cocktails, so I’m always hunting around for a new watering hole. There’s Calooh Callay, which is a bar in East London with a collection of weird and wonderful decorations. For chocolate lovers, Dirty Martini in Covent Garden has a delicious chocolate martini (chocolate swirl included). And for a really intimate setting, Bourne & Hollingsworth is like a trendy grandma’s living room, with drinks served in teacups and mason jars.

Secret bars are a big thing here too. Head to Evans & Peel Detective Agency (it really is a bar, I promise) where you need to come with a ‘case’ that proves you worthy of seeing the Detective i.e. entering the bar. If that’s not earning your drink, I’m not sure what is…

I have to mention Circus, too. It’s a bar and restaurant in Covent Garden where circus acts perform their tricks and talents (such as flamethrowing and much more) on the central table throughout the evening. On the weekends it stays open as a club where you can then dance on the tables.

You can also get drinks at the Shard which can be pricey, but a very ‘London’ experience. It also gives you pretty much the same view as at the top but without having to buy the ticket! Definitely put on your best dress/suit here, it’s the perfect excuse to dress up.

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luxury guide to londonKirsten is technically based in London, UK, but she left her heart (and possibly mind, too) back in Melbourne, Australia, after studying abroad there. Half-Czech, putting on skis from the age of two and cruising around the Mediterranean in her childhood years, travel made its mark early. Since, exploits have whisked her away around Australia, Bali, Boston, Iceland, Vancouver, Berlin and more. Connect with her on FacebookTwitterInstagram and Google+


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About the Author:

Rachel Jones left a career in nursing and lived on the beaches of Goa, India for the five years. Now she lives in Mexico where she gives advice on the 40+ countries she’s visited in the last 10 years. She’s the author of two India travel e-books: Guide to India and Insider’s Guide to Goa. Her blog, Hippie in Heels, like its name, is a contradiction combining off-beat adventurous places with glamorous and bespoke travel. Hippie in Heels has been featured in ELLE, Marie Claire, Grazia, and Cosmopolitan magazines. She’s a writer for Bravo TV.


  1. j February 19, 2015 at 3:01 am - Reply

    i’m really sorry i’ve read a lot of your other sites and I respect what you do and what you write
    however for the first time sort of what to write in london i’m so sorry but you have absolutely no idea for what the hell you talking about i don’t think you know london stay in a Ya USA
    or Go a n India.
    at least then u r talk in sense.
    if you really wanna know about london get in touch otherwise i hope you’re not taking this anyway offensively you’re really cool so i know i’m not gonna make any difference but give landon another look you need to see it from the inside just like you explain india n Go a 2 others.
    peace n love

    • Rachel Jones February 19, 2015 at 1:25 pm - Reply

      I really do hate when people say rude things then end their comment with “peace and love” you are not sending peace and love.

      Secondly, I didn’t write this post. CLEARLY. it’s an interview with someone FROM LONDON. And of course I will take what you said offensively, you imply she’s not talking sense… yet you aren’t even typing proper sentences so I don’t imagine you could come up with a better guide to Luxury in London.

      Do not say I don’t know what the hell I am talking about, and follow up with you’re really cool. Your comment was literally useless while this post was informative and well written by Kirsten.

  2. Sarah February 23, 2015 at 4:18 am - Reply

    Wooooow the previous commenter has had a bit of a fail! London is a MASSIVE city (greater in population than plenty of whole countries) so of course one post won’t capture everything. You need a library or something. Having said that, I think this post does a pretty good job and has reminded me that I need to check out Bubbledog pronto! Also interesting to read the perspective of a cocktail fan when I am personally a wine-o who has basically learned the tube map by wine bars. Maybe I should get outside of my comfort zone. Maybe.

    • Rachel Jones February 23, 2015 at 11:28 am - Reply

      lol yes, massive fail. I love thinking of a city as a wine guide or a cocktail one lol

      • Sarah February 24, 2015 at 2:29 am - Reply

        Hahah. I think those are the best ways to think of cities! #priorities

  3. Tim | UrbanDuniya February 23, 2015 at 10:38 am - Reply

    I loved the interview, and I think the luxury guide to London is a great idea. I’ve only been to London once, and I must admit that I wasn’t a huge fan of it, but I’ve heard so much positive stuff about it that I am determined to go back and learn more!! Thanks for sharing, Rachel and Kirsten :)

  4. Barb May 5, 2016 at 3:43 am - Reply

    The first commenter was indeed rude. The person you interviewed should not have done this interview, as she is not familiar with the luxury side of London. She lists a lot of places in East London. No luxury traveler would visit East London. Sorry it to break it to your readers, but the posh side is west London. It s a great travel guide for young people, who dont want to spend too much money and want to go to fun places, but most of these places are far from being the luxury places in London.

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