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We are parents, too. We think traveling well and traveling with children shouldn’t be mutually exclusive. We have limited vacation time, and we’re not spending our few days of freedom in lousy hotels eating bad food. We know the world is full of wonderful resorts, cool urban escapes and far-flung lodges that can make our time with our kids count. We want it all, and we don’t think it should be so hard to find. So we’re going to share it with you.

 

Whirlwind Weekend in London

Travel Journal

Travel Journal

Dispatches from around the world

Whirlwind Weekend in London

Henley Vazquez

Passported's Head of Product, Nicole, recently won (yes, won in an Instagram contest) a free round-trip to London from Virgin Atlantic and WeWork. So she hopped on a plane and jetted out to explore the city she used to know well and discover what's new and cool to do right now in London for the weekend. 

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I have a very specific memory of going to London for the first time as a kid. I was 10 years old peering over the makeup counter at Selfridges feeling very proper and grown-up . With customers and salespeople fluttering around me, I picked up a tube of clear mascara, inspected it carefully and brought it to the cashier to make the purchase. With a nod from my mom, I was handed back a small yellow Selfridges bag which I carried around like a trophy.

Since then I have been to London several times and even studied at UCL for a semester in college (many moons ago), so on this trip there was no reason to ride the London Eye, stare at Big Ben or visit the crown jewels. This a guide for grown-ups who want to experience the new culinary, art and fashion scene over a quick weekend in London. You can check out the whole whirlwind itinerary here and all my picks below — Selfridges included. 

STAY

ClassicFour Seasons Park Lane

A well-appointed mainstay recently renovated with top-notch amenities across from Hyde Park. Perks include a Rolls-Royce at your disposal and a world-class spa with jaw-dropping views of the city.

Contemporary: The Metropolitan by Como

For the jet-set with an emphasis on well-being, this recently renovated stay is also on Hyde Park and walking distance to shops and restaurants. The decor is minimalist chic which makes it a calm oasis in the bustling city. Plus, Nobu restaurant in right inside the hotel. 

Traditional: Milestone Hotel

This boutique hotel is like being transported to another era. While not the place for style-seekers, excellent service from a friendly and attentive staff abound all with quintessentially British charm. Classic afternoon tea is a must-try and its location across from Kensington Gardens makes it a great place for a potential run in with the Duchess herself. 

EAT

Tea at the Ham Yard: For a modern take on afternoon tea, head to the Ham Yard for an eclectic mix of traditional cakes and more contemporary favorites like pulled pork sliders. 

Tea at the Milestone: Cucumber sandwiches and scones with jam and clotted cream are the perfect way to experience the classic ritual of afternoon tea in a formidably British atmosphere. Kids can enjoy a special menu including milkshakes. 

Nopi: Famed chef Yotam Ottolenghi's new joint for med food is ideal for a fun night out. Eat upstairs for a more polished experience or opt for a booking downstairs at a communal table overlooking the kitchen to see all the action. 

Polpo: There may be a wait but it's worth it in the bar downstairs for these Italian small plates in a buzzy atmosphere in Soho. 

Hoi Polloi: A vaguely Scandinavian vibe sets this restaurant apart at the Ace Hotel in East London's still hip Shoreditch. 

Berners Tavern: Within the Edition Hotel, this glamorous spot has wall-to-ceiling salon-style artwork framed by crown molding that would make a royal blush. The food is excellent. I recommend getting there early for a cocktail in the lobby and then ordering the côte de bœuf for two.

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DO

Serpentine Galleries: An eclectic gallery showing contemporary art in Kensington Gardens, just a short walk from the Milestone Hotel. 

Pace London: Housed in the Royal Academy of Art, Pace holds a special place in my heart because I used to work there, and shows top international contemporary artists. 

Four Seasons Spa: On the top floor, this spa is exceptional with fantastic services and a vitality pool, sauna and steam room available to all guests, even without a booking. 

Selfridges: Need we say more? Yes, department stores are international these days, but there is one new brand called Self-Portrait that has a section there, which is not as readily available yet in the States. 

Liberty: Classic but cool at the top of Carnaby Street. Well worth a peek to escape the Oxford Street chaos and to check out their famed colorful prints. 

Arsenal Football Club: While I'm not an avid sports fan here in America, going to an Arsenal match seemed like a fun cultural thing to do and it was! Getting tickets is a bit tricky because everyone is a season ticket holder, so ask your concierge (or us!) if you're interested. Also, there's no drinking in the stands, but there is a lot of singing, so read up on your cheering sections chant. 

Casually in front of a graffitied wall in Shoreditch. 

Casually in front of a graffitied wall in Shoreditch. 

Want more? Check out Passported's London City Guide