5 Things: A Local’s Guide to London, England

In “5 Things,” we ask some of our favorite insiders in cities all over the world to share insider travel tips on where to eat, shop, stay, and play in their neighborhoods (plus, what to pack to make the adventure complete). Since spring is just around the corner, we are excited to feature Rebecca Sterling of Roses and Rolltops, and her beautiful guide to London. All of her hints—from the delicious food to must-see shopping spots—are sure to be on my list if I get to cross the Atlantic! See if you can catch the words with the British English spellings.

5 Things: London, England
by Rebecca Sterling

My husband and I love to travel. We often pretend we’ll move to somewhere hot and sunny around the globe; but in reality, London will always be home for us. We both met and grew up in the same village, just outside London in Hertfordshire. We’ve since moved back there to be closer to our families and be able to have a house with a garden and to start a family of our own. Our first baby is due this summer! We have the best of both worlds with London only half an hour away and we travel to the city for both work and pleasure at least once a week.

London holds a special place for us as I studied law at London School of Economics and we bought our first flat there and made our home together. It’s also a city made up of different villages, which we love. The architecture is incredible, with a mix of very old and new skyline. We still enjoy the buzz of going into the proper city occasionally, but mostly now, we get our London fix these days surrounded by greenery somewhere like Primrose Hill, Kew or Notting Hill.

london travel guide


England in general seems to get a bad rap food wise when you talk to people around the world. But we think that London has everything you could ever dream of and food is often the biggest draw for us going into the city at weekends. We’ll get a craving during the week that only London can fill.

london travel guide

A few budget favourites you’ll find across the city are Franco Manca Pizza which offers insanely delicious sourdough pizzas at a good price in a relaxed setting. We also visit Wahaca for Mexican street food in a fun vibey restaurant. The burritos and cocktails are especially good here.

If you’re really into pizza though the very best that we’ve hunted down, and we’re big Italy/pizza lovers, would have to be L’Antica in Hampstead. A tiny little restaurant with queues often down the street on a sunny summery evenings. Perfect before or after a walk on the Heath.

If you’re after a relaxed brunch, I’d recommend Bourne & Hollingsworth in Clerkenwell set amongst the greenery. (This is also probably my favourite building for London decor.) Or there’s the hugely popular Granger & Co, from Australian Bill Granger, with a few locations across the city. The sweet corn fritters are my favourite but the ricotta hotcakes have an almost cult-like following. [Editor’s note: We loved Bill’s in Waikiki!]

Ottolenghi’s Deli would be my pick for picking up a salad or something sweet. Or you could visit Deliciously Ella’s cafe for a yummy take on a vegan menu.

london travel guide

For something a little fancier like afternoon tea or a special dinner, Sketch in Mayfair borders on the theatrical. It is a townhouse tea house that turns into a cocktail bar by night (with so many surprises!). Make a booking in the pink, Instagram famous, Gallery room.

And then there’s The Ivy chain, again with locations across London, but the most special spot is Chelsea Garden. We adore this new famous classic Ivy spin off, they’ve got a few cafes and market grills around the capital now and the style and food is upmarket yet the kind you want to eat. They just get it here. Perfect for brunch, lunch, afternoon tea or dinner.

The Ned’s Sunday Feast makes for a really special meal set in an old bank in the city by the Soho House group. I recommend that before you visit Ned’s, be seriously hungry!

And finally, Borough Market houses a bit of everything as Britain’s most renowned food market right on the river which makes for a nice lunch date.

london travel guide


There are a few favourite shopping streets with a mix of boutiques that I tend to favour when in town. Regent’s Park Road in pretty, coloured Primrose Hill is home to Graham & Green is my favourite interior’s and gift shop along with Space NK for stocking up on favourite beauty brands.

london travel guide

There is also Westbourne Grove (which has my favorite dreamy French clothing brand Sézane) in Notting Hill along with Covent Garden for your shopping needs.

london travel guide

Liberty London isn’t to be missed! It’s London’s oldest department store but it holds a real contemporary take on brands. The stationery and beauty halls here are worth checking out along with their famous fabric and floral display by the front door.

The White Company should be on your list too, with locations across London, perfect for beautiful linens, clothes, gifts, and baby ranges.

london travel guide


This I can’t help with much because we live so close that we haven’t stayed in many London hotels over the years. Here are a few you might consider, as they are amazing-looking places: The Artist Residence London, The Charlotte Street Hotel or perhaps The Ned London. But I don’t think you can beat choosing an Airbnb in a cute neighbourhood, especially for longer stays or with children. I’d focus on either Primrose Hill or Notting Hill as they are well located but definitely have a residential feel.

london travel guide

london travel guide


The weekly Columbia Road Flower Market makes for a perfect Sunday morning for us. We get there early and might get breakfast at one of the trendy east London coffee shops nearby or get something yummy from Violet Cakes (who made Harry & Meghan’s cake last year) before browsing the beautiful flowers and plants on offer. This is flower heaven, but it’s all at bargain prices and it’s a really fun atmosphere even if you don’t want to buy much. Get there early to avoid the crowds or go later (around 2pm) when the sellers are packing up for the best bargains.

london travel guide

We love to think of London as a series of villages so would recommend wandering through some and see where you end up on a sunny day.

london travel guide

Primrose Hill has killer views over the city and the whole area has a cute villagey feel. The shops & cafe culture around Primrose Hill are adorable and we love walking from here down through Primrose Hill Park & into Regent’s Park.

london travel guide

london travel guide

Likewise, Hampstead Heath has Kenwood House, featured in many a movie, and miles of parkland which makes for the perfect quintessentially English picnic spot in the summer especially. Then you can walk down Hampstead High Street for a London fix of shops and restaurants yet still feel the old, village vibe. Across the city you’ll find pockets of old housing, covered in wisteria or with big blousy magnolia trees in spring.

london travel guide

The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew are beautiful year round, especially with the impressive recently re-opened palm house. It is perfect for all ages. Nearby, you also have Richmond upon Thames and the river for a stroll along afterwards.

And if you’re in this part of town, Petersham Nurseries is a favourite weekend haunt for us with a beautiful nursery emporium and teahouse which celebrates the seasons.

There are impressive museums, which are all free. We used to be Tate Modern members and visit regularly, although it’s free admission, but if you’re travelling with children, I’d recommend the Natural History Museum and Science Museum, both near Kensington which has Kensington Park Gardens to let off some steam and see the palace.

london travel guide

For impressive views from the sky, take a free trip up to the Sky Garden for a drink and be amazed by the garden in the sky, with views across the city at the top of the Walkie Talkie tower.

london travel guide


The rumours you heard are true, London does get a lot of rain. So pack a good, lightweight rain jacket or trench coat and Hunter boots if you want to fit in with the locals. However, there are many gorgeous days too. May, June and September are my favourite months and these tend to be beautiful & warm weather-wise. Even October tends to be warm and dry. In the winter, you might need to wrap up but the city rarely gets snow.

To get around I’d recommend Uber or buying an Oyster card for the underground system to beat the traffic. But we love to walk, too. It’s amazing how both hugely vast and yet small & interlinked the city can seem when on foot.

Have you been to London recently? Are you lucky enough to call the city home? What recommendations would you add? 

Thank you, Rebecca, for this local guide to such a notoriously romantic city! Rebecca is a lifestyle blogger and instagrammer based in the UK. Her work has been featured in the Sunday Times as a top influencer. She features mainly interiors and her own home renovation, but also English gardening, travel, and more— recently writing about pregnancy and motherhood as she prepares for the birth of her daughter this summer! She can be found at Roses & Rolltops and on Instagram.

P.S. All of our 5 Things Travel Guides and even more rain booties!

Thank you to Molly Coyne for her help with this series! The “Stay” photo of The Artist Residence is courtesy of Little Miss Notting Hill. “Pack” photo is courtesy of Hunter.

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