A week exploring the countryside, followed by a short overnight in the city before flying home. This has become a somewhat regular itinerary on many of our recent trips. Michael and I are both similar in that we rarely feel truly at ease in a city while on vacation. There are so many sights to see (not to mention, meals to be eaten), that our brains never slow down and allow us to relax, so we opt for a quieter pace outside of town during the week, with a brief sampling of city life at the end of the trip. That said, one night is clearly never enough, and I always head to the airport wishing we’d had the chance to spend just a little more time exploring the city. London was no different, and even though we’ve each been to the city before (albeit separately), it’s a place I’d return to again in a heartbeat.
Being in the city for only one night and having seen many of London’s highlights on our previous trips, we allowed ourselves to take a more relaxed approach and stuck fairly close to the Covent Garden area where our hotel was located. Below are some of the highlights from our quick London overnight, as well as a few helpful trip planning links and places we’d like to visit on a future trip. If you think we missed anything, let us know in the comments so that we can keep it on our radar.
Covent Garden Hotel
Our favorite experience during our all too short stay at the Covent Garden Hotel was an afternoon tea in the Drawing Room. The maple-lined wood panels give the entire space an especially inviting and comforting feeling, while the mix of bold patterns serve as a fun complement to the overall traditional sense of the room. Read more about our stay at this beautifully designed Firmdale Hotels property at this link.
Pentreath & Hall
One of the main reasons we ended up choosing to stay at the Covent Garden Hotel was its proximity and walkability to the design shop, Pentreath & Hall. I’ve been following Ben Pentreath’s work and blog for a while now, so a visit to the shop he co-owns on Rugby Street was a London-must for me. I failed to plan ahead and leave enough room in my suitcase for anything to take home from this delightful shop, but lucky for me (and you), Pentreath & Hall ships to the US!
There are no shortage of amazing restaurants in London, or in Covent Garden specifically, so narrowing down our list of places to try for our one dinner in London was no easy feat. The Ivy, which was conveniently located just a few blocks from our hotel, fit the bill for giving us the most authentic London experience, having been viewed as a London institution for most of its one hundred year tenure.
Polpo – Covent Garden
Hands-down, our favorite meal in London was our lunch at Polpo, a Venetian style restaurant with locations throughout London and beyond. While the pizza and meatballs were hard to beat, we’ve been thinking about trying to recreate the Aperol sorbet and Nutella pizza ever since we left London.
David Hockney at Tate Britain
Seeing the David Hockney exhibition at the Tate Britain was easily the activity we’d planned in London that I was looking forward to the most. The retrospective, which spanned over 60 years of Hockney’s career and closed at the end of May, drew nearly 500,000 visitors and became the Tate Britain’s most popular exhibition to date. It was a true pleasure of mine to be one of the half a million people to see Hockney’s most iconic pieces (his pools are my absolute favorite) and to see more of how he experimented with different media over the course of his lifetime.
The same show is coming to the Met for a few months in November, so if you have any plans to visit New York this winter, I can’t recommend seeing the Hockney exhibit enough!
London, England Trip Planning Resources
We shared a few of our resources for planning our trip to Southwest England on this post, but here are some London-specific links that came in handy while prepping for our all too quick Covent Garden overnight.
- The Best Covent Garden Restaurants on Tatler
- ISWAS London – no post in particular, but an overall helpful resource for London
- What to do in London’s Coolest Neighborhood by Katherine Wheelock on CN Traveler
- Coco Kelley’s London Calling and Travel Guides: Day 1 and Day 2
- Jo Rodger’s The Five Loveliest Teas in London and Where to Eat Classic British Food in London on Vogue
On our Radar for Next Time
- Stay: The Laslett and The Ned
- Eat: It broke my heart not to be able to visit Violet Cakes, the inspiration for my favorite baking cookbook. Its location in East London didn’t make sense for such a quick trip, but I’m not ruling out for future trips. Also – Granger & Co., Quo Vadis, 40 Maltby, Kiln
- Do: Visit Columbia Road Flower Market
Photos by Meredith Perdue for Map & Menu.