Greetings Internet Stranger and welcome to a perfect 24 hours in London itinerary! I was so excited to visit London and experience this 24 hours in London itinerary. True story: my parents lived in London in the late 1970s, before I was born. (Long before I was born, ahem.)
My mother told me that back then, the only food available in London restaurants was one moldy roast beef with a side of deflated Yorkshire pudding served by a toothless crone in a back alley. How far the London food scene has come since then!
Want to cut right to the chase, Internet Stranger? The best activity in London is this excellent food tour with tons of five star reviews.
Or if you want to explore all tours in London, check this search engine right here to find the best deals!
We will spend the entire London itinerary eating our way through London via a food tour and a classy Michelin-starred restaurant. For our first stop, we’ll head into St. Paul’s and learn even more fascinating fun facts about this city’s remarkable development! So come on and have a butcher’s hook at maybe the best London itinerary you’ll find on this blog!
24 hours in London itinerary
Where to Stay?
London’s a massive city, so there’s a gajillion choices available for hotels for your 24 hours in London itinerary. I can recommend my favorite choice for the budget-conscious traveler. (London’s gobstoppingly expensive, so we might all be a little budget conscious when we visit here, unless we are the King.) I’ve stayed at and enjoyed the oddly named 72QT.
72QT is right on Hyde Park, on the other side of the park from Buckingham Palace, near Paddington Station. So you can go say hello to Paddington Bear’s statue in Paddington Station if you stay here. You can even leave him a jar of marmalade. Click here if that sounds appealing to you and you like saving money.
If you’d rather explore other hotel options in London, you can find about a billion and three excellent deals for every budget by clicking here. This search engine will help you find the perfect place to stay during your 24 hours in London itinerary. With plenty of options to choose from, I’m sure you’ll find something for your schedule and budget.
24 Hours in London Itinerary
Morning: St Paul’s Cathedral.
Ah, St. Paul’s! A true London institution. After all, how many structures in London can say they were heavily featured in the film Mary Poppins and even have a beautiful song, sung by Julie Andrews, about them. (Yes, I’m referring to “Feed the Birds”, and it was Walt Disney’s favorite song.)
Well, I’ve stood on the steps of St. Paul’s and heard an American glee club sing “Feed the Birds”, and it was glorious. But even more glorious is the chance to head inside this stunning building, pick up the audio guide and learn about its history. It’s the perfect way to start this 24 hours in London itinerary. I’ll share more with you with…
Three Fascinating Facts: St Paul’s Cathedral
1) Why does St Paul’s Look so Different from other London Churches?
Well, the simple answer is that it has this massive round dome that we will get to explore shortly. If you know anything about London history, you’ll know that a giant portion of the city was destroyed in a fire in 1666. (This is often referred to as the Great Fire of London, as opposed to the little fire that I put out in my kitchen this afternoon, which doesn’t have any name at all.)
If you know more than one thing about London history, you’ll know that Christopher Wren was the architect charged with building back the city, and that St. Paul’s is his greatest achievement. I suppose he wanted to make it all fancy and domey to cement his legacy. Genius architects are like that.
Christopher Wren is also the name of a character in the famous Agatha Christie play The Mousetrap, which I strongly suggest seeing when you are in London. It is the longest running play in the history of the world, after all.
2) What’s with all the monuments?
There’s about a grillion monuments in St. Paul’s, basically all to famous Brits. You can see one of them, the famous writer Samuel Johnson above. The audioguide tried to tell me that they’ve been expanding the notion of memorials, so that it’s not just Great Men who are getting them, but I am skeptical. It seemed to me that most of the monuments were still to Very Famous Long Dead Dudes.
Don’t miss the crypt if you want to see more monuments to great Brits like William Blake, Lord Nelson, the Duke of Wellington, and of course, Christopher Wren–the architect, not the fictional character.
I feel like being buried in the basement of your greatest artistic accomplishment is every architect’s dream.
3) Is it worth climbing to the top of St. Paul’s?
Well, that depends, Internet Stranger? Does the chance of seeing this view entice you? Because I took this picture myself from the top of St. Paul’s. When I visited St. Paul’s, the famous Whispering Gallery was closed, but you could still climb up to the galleries to get the views. (I wasn’t the only tourist a little confused about this, but there’s no extra fee to climb to the top.)
The higher gallery is called the Golden Gallery, and it’s a bit rickety and tricky to get there. If you’re not steady on your feet or comfortable with narrow passageways, I don’t recommend it. But if you are comfy with a lot of narrow stairs, go for it! It will make your 24 hours in London itinerary even more special. You won’t get these views of London anywhere else, at least according to what the ghost of Christopher Wren told me.
24 Hours in London Itinerary
After: East End Food Tour
After getting cultured at St. Paul’s Cathedral on this 24 hours in London itinerary, I need to feed you! I’m from New York City, and like most New Yorkers, I tend to compare pretty much every place I visit with my adorable hometown. So I was excited to take Eating Europe’s food tour of the East End.
This neighborhood, which has historically been home to many immigrant communities, reminds me of the Lower East Side back in NYC. Of course, in the Lower East Side, we don’t have a place called The English Restaurant.
If you want to take this delicious tour for yourself, you can book it yourself easily.
Check here for rates and availability!
Until then, just join me as I take you on a virtual…
approximately top 5: east end food tour edition
1) St John Bread and Wine
The tour began with some British comfort food classics. Our first stop on our 24 hours in London itinerary was St. John Bread and Wine. This restaurant is the brainchild of offal aficionado Fergus Henderson. Offal just means animal organs like brains and kidneys. Some people think they taste offal, but I enjoy them.
Anyway, you don’t need to worry about offal on this food tour because we are just having cozy bacon sandwiches. They came with a house made ketchup, which our guide Emily told us had a special fruit in the sauce. What is it, Internet Stranger? I’ll never tell! And not because I forgot!
2) The English Restaurant
Speaking of English comfort food, our next spot on our 24 hours in London itinerary was The English Restaurant for some bread and butter pudding. (A reminder to my fellow Yanks that in England, pudding is just a dessert and not necessarily milk based.)
Emily advised us to leave a hole in the pudding so we could put lashings of hot custard on top. You don’t have to tell me twice! Warm custard on top of dessert is the greatest of all English customs in my book.
The English Restaurant is family owned, and it hasn’t been open terribly long. But the building itself dates back to the 17th century. I don’t think there’s a single building in New York City that is that old, unless you count the Hellmouth in the basement of Port Authority. So I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to wander around and enjoy the historic wood.
That hand telling you to dine upstairs is so classy! You can tell it dates back to the days when ladies were not allowed in the club.
What would an English food tour be without some classic English cheese? That’s why we turned into Androuet, which is a cheese shop with stores in Paris and London. The cheesemongers here were French, so they cracked wise about how they were being forced to give us English cheeses instead of their preferred fromage. But who can really say no to a fine Cheddar or Stilton?
You could really taste the difference between the processed Cheddar and this baby. Androuet’s Cheddar actually tasted a bit of grass, that’s how natural it was. It’s named for a village called Cheddar, which is where it was first produced. I need to go to there…to work on my night cheese.
Stilton, the blue, is a much stronger cheese. We were told that it needs to be made with pasteurized cow milk, or it’s not Stilton. I really want to know who makes all the cheesemakers follow these rules. Is there a Cheese Police? A Cheese Court of Appeals? A Cheese Supreme Court? Does England have Cheese Solicitors and Cheese Barristers? Do they wear wigs of Cheese?
4) Poppie’s Fish and Chips
One simply cannot have a 24 hours in London itinerary without fish and chips. I loved Poppie’s because of its adorable retro decor. If you click on the link to their website, when you arrive, you will see Pop himself wearing a hat made out of a newspaper and looking every inch the cranky gentleman.
The hat’s not actually not made out of real newspaper because that wouldn’t be hygienic. But as fish and chips were traditionally served in a newspaper, Poppie’s prints its own clean, ink-free papers for the take-away fish.
The fish and the chips are soft on the inside and crispy on the outside, just as they should be. Like any red-blooded American, I enjoy ketchup on my fries. But when in England, I prefer to shake some vinegar and salt on my potatoes instead. Basically anything you put on a potato tastes good. That’s the magic of the spud!
Poppie’s also puts Cockney rhyming slang on their newspaper wrapping. Cockney rhyming slang is a kind of slanguage that was popular among a certain element of London society once upon a time. It’s easy to learn and fun to practice!
Here are some examples: Trouble and strife means wife, butcher’s hook means look, and Rosie Lee means tea. I’d love to come up with a rhyming slang name for this blog, but I think Around the World in 24 Hours is too long to rhyme.
5) Pride of Spitalfields
This is a food tour, not a booze tour, but what’s English food without the humble pub? So of course we had to stop at a charming local called The Pride of Spitalfields. You know it’s authentic because they have rugs on the floor, mismatched chairs, and a pet cat. Also one of the suspects in the Jack the Ripper case used to drink here. It’s like Agatha Christie wrote a pub.
On our London itinerary, we were served some ale and some cider at room temperature. (They were in separate glasses.) Some Americans on the tour were really weirded out by the room temperature ale, but I say there’s no point in sweating small cultural differences. Some people spell color with a u, some people serve beer at room temp.
The tour had now brought us to the Bangladeshi community on Brick Lane, so that meant it was time for curry. Our dining destination was Aladin, which had a sign outside proudly proclaiming that it had received an award for best curry from Ainsley Harriot. (Ainsley Harriot is a British chef with a great accent and adorably demented facial expressions. Please Google Ainsley Harriot memes immediately, and then watch his show Ainsley Eats the Streets.)
I do not know if it’s the best curry in Brick Lane, but the spicy lamb and chicken tikka were pretty darn tasty in my book. Emily told us that chicken tikka masala had recently been voted the national dish of the United Kingdom. (The dish was invented in the UK, possibly in Glasgow, not actually in India.)
Apparently King Charles has eaten at Aladin, and you can tell the Royal Family is popular in this restaurant because of this massive mural featuring the late Queen, her corgis, Big Ben, a double decker bus, Banksy, probably Sean Connery, London cabs, and two disembodied eyes.
Are the eyes protecting London or planning to set the whole city on fire with the power of their mind? It’s really hard to tell from this picture.
7) Brick Lane Bakery
I was terribly confused when I heard Emily talk about a beigel (pronounced by-gull). In NYC, we love our bagels enough to spell them without the letter i. But the East End used to be a Jewish neighborhood, and the Jewish immigrants brought their bagels to London just the same way they brought them to New York City.
Here in London, they seemed more likely to serve the beigel with salt beef and mustard instead of lox and cream cheese. I know I should say NYC bagels are better, but I honestly feel there’s room in my tummy for both of these goodies, just like there’s room in my tummy for room temperature ale and spelling theater theatre.
8) Pizza East London
Our final stop was at a newer, trendier restaurantt. This place showed how the East End had gentrified in recent years. Now we were served a small piece of chocolate salted caramel tart, something I think you’d have been hard-pressed to find in London back in 1670.
But there’s one thing I’m sure of about British food. Whether it’s a bread and butter pudding or a salted caramel tart, those Brits know how to bake!
24 Hour Tip
Those are all the secrets of the tour that I can share with you for now. You’ll have to take the tour for yourself, if you want to find out the rest.
Check rates and availability right here!
24 Hours in London Itinerary
Evening: Dinner at The Clove Club
This morning on our London itinerary, we learned all about classic British comfort foods and the foods of its many immigrant communities. Then we learned all about London at the Museum of London. But tonight on our London itinerary, we will learn about fine dining in contemporary London by spending an evening at The Clove Club.
This restaurant has a Michelin star and was recently ranked the 33rd best restaurant in the world by The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, if you care about that sort of thing. I definitely do, otherwise why would I have looked up the information? I have better things to do that look up useless facts, Internet Stranger!
Like I need to share with you…
approximately top 5: clove club edition
The Clove Club is a tasting menu restaurant, and like most tasting menu restaurants, it begins with an array of delectable snacks. The first was a punchy palette cleanser of mango gazpacho with almond milk and almonds.
Here we have an adorable crab tart served inside a giant crab shell. I like an hors d’oeurvre with a side of whimsy!
Now there’s a one bite of buttermilk fried chicken served with pine salt. You could do a lot worse than finding this fried chicken underneath your Christmas tree. Are you listening, Santa?
Batting cleanup is this ball filled with haggis. The Clove Club specializes in British fine dining, and what is more British than Scotland’s national dish? Some people think haggis tastes offal, but if you’re fine with sausage, I don’t see why you wouldn’t like haggis. I think a perfectly spiced haggis is a right treat. (I’m hoping this post will win me honorary citizenship to Scotland.)
As my grandmother always said, “Once the haggis is done, it’s time for the real meal to begin.” This first course is Cornish Mackerel sashimi with English mustard, cucumber, and elderflower. One thing I liked about The Clove Club was that they prepared classic English ingredients in surprising ways.
I’m sure Cornish fishermen never thought about turning mackerel into sashimi unless it was raining so badly that their flints were unable to start a fire. But it turns out that the flavorful mackerel is excellent served raw. “ARRR!” my imaginary Cornish pirate friend agrees.
This minimalist treat is raw Orkney scallop with Manjimup truffles, clementines, and hazelnuts. One of the reasons to experience a tasting menu restaurant is to check out a new ingredient, and I had never knowingly eaten a Manjimup truffle before. They actually come from Australia.
I know Australia used to be a British penal colony, so I suppose it counts as a local ingredient. Anyway, much like Lorelei Lee enjoyed finding new places to wear diamonds, I enjoy finding new places to find truffles.
For the soup course, I was presented with courgettes, chrysanthemum, and ham. (In the US we call courgettes zucchini. In the United Kingdom they use the French term. I don’t really understand that because France has been our ally since the American Revolution, and the French and the United Kingdom have only been allies, historically speaking, for about five minutes.)
Anyway, I can tell the chef at The Clove Club has learned every Southerner’s secret to cooking green vegetables, which is just to add pig fat to everything.
Now things get a bit more substantial with Dover sole with green pepper hollandaise and Morecambe Bay shrimp sauce. I’m so happy to see that modern British restaurants are using their amazing seafood properly. Morecambe Bay is in England’s gorgeous lake district, and I can eagerly report that their shrimps are delectable.
I also enjoy that the menu told me exactly which part of England all the ingredients came from. It’s a better geography lesson than I got at the Museum of London!
This course, which also looks like a modern art painting, is roast Old Spot pork with cherries, beetroot, and almonds. If there’s one thing I need to thank The Clove Club for, it’s introducing me to Old Spot pigs. These are a cute-as-pie breed of pig that live in Gloucester.
The meat was so full of flavor, I could almost have eaten the pork without any sauce at all and been happy. Although I must say, meat enthusiast though I am, it’s a little disturbing to read that the Old Spot pig is “unusually intelligent”. I hope when the pigs rise up and take over the world, they’ll remember that I said they were cute!
The next course was probably the most clever on the menu. You’re probably thinking there’s nothing especially clever about soup in a fancy glass. But this isn’t just any soup! First the waiter brought out some 100 year old Madeira for me to taste. “Have some Madeira, my dear,” he said. I enjoyed it muchly, but I’d be lying if I said I could taste the difference between 100 year old Madeira and 50 year old Madeira. All I know is that both are booze.
But then the waiter came and added a warm duck and ginger consomme to the Madeira, so I could see how different it tasted in the soup. It was as warming as a hug from a grizzly bear in July. More restaurants should take this approach to cooking with the hard stuff.
The final savory course was slow roast Lincolnshire chicken with smoked liver and artichoke. This felt like an old-fashioned Dickensian dish Mr. Fezziwig might enjoy. I’m sure he wouldn’t think smoked liver was offal.
The English geography lesson continues apace with the chicken from Lincolnshire, which is not far from Nottingham. So I assume that means Robin Hood himself shot this chicken for me. I eat this succulent chicken in the name of King Richard!
The first course was a gooseberry fool with fennel granita. A gooseberry fool sounds like an insult from a 19th century novel about a British girls’ boarding school. But a fool is just a British dessert made by mushing fruit and cream or custard together. The fennel granita is what brings it into the 21st century. I’m sure Tom Brown never once had fennel granita in all his meals at Rugby School.
Our final course is apricot sorbet with toasted almond, burned honey, and bee pollen. It’s a great idea to serve bee pollen with the honey. Of course they would go well together! They go together just like bees and honey! Also, I feel this is the portion of the evening when the wine pairings are starting to get to me. You can tell because my photo got super blurry.
Just like every proper tasting menu ends in snacks, each proper tasting menu must end with petits fours. Here we have one perfect chocolate, one perfect cake, and one truffle made with Fernet-Branca, a kind of Italian herbal liqueur. There’s even a card with a recipe for the Fernet-Branca cocktail with the truffle. Once again, The Clove Club is proving itself to be delicious and educational!
24 hours in London itinerary
What to Pack
- A cell charger so that you’ll be able to keep taking photos all during your 24 hours in London itinerary.
- The best international travel adapter because if you’re American like I am, or European like I am not, you’ll need one to be able to plug in electronics in the UK during your 24 hours in London itinerary.
- My favorite travel guide to London.
- The most reliable travel umbrella that is small enough to fit in my purse, but strong enough to stand up to powerful winds.
- These great TSA approved clear toiletries bags, so I can always keep spare toothpaste and travel sized toiletries in any carry-on.
- My book Get Lost, that I wrote myself with all my best travel tips. This book will show you how travel can take you on a journey of self-discovery.
24 Hours in London Itinerary
How to Get There
Now, I wish I knew where you lived, Internet Stranger, because I could send you a bushel of the finest teas. But sadly, I do not, and so I can’t tell you exactly how to get from your home to your 24 hours in London itinerary.
But I can tell you that you can use an airplane to get to London, and since it’s such a big city, there are many direct flights that will take you straight here in a jiffy. I recommend Expedia for the best way to find the cheapest flight to London.
You can even use Expedia to rent a car so you’ll be all set when you arrive at your destination. (I can’t drive, but if you can, this must be helpful.)
Just click here to start looking for the best possible deals on your flight, so you can head out on your 24 hours in London itinerary.
That’s a 24 Hours in London Itinerary
What would you do on your London itinerary? Are you ready to start booking your hotel in London right now? Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know.
Note: If you want to know how I put my travel itineraries together, just click here. Keep in mind that while each article is about how to spend 24 hours in a place, that doesn’t mean you should ONLY spend 24 hours on a London Itinerary.
If you want to add a 24 hours in London itinerary , try this one. If you want another 24 hours in London itinerary, it’s all yours. And if you want to add on other destinations in the United Kingdom, I’ve got you covered too, right here.
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