Accommodation, Review, Sightseeing, Transportation, Travel

Solo holiday in London: Food & museums in Covent Garden and Kensington

London Covent Garden Balloons
Clusters of clouds at Covent Garden

Sometimes when I feel like traveling but don’t have enough money or time, I like to go to TripAdvisor, pick a city I want to visit, and look at the hotel rankings for that city. Maybe it’s my researcher side, but I like to see what hotels have available rooms for a timeframe I wish I could visit, like near my birthday or for a long weekend, and then research online to see if I can find the best prices. It’s kind of like when people use pretend money to invest in stocks, sometimes you win or lose money, but it’s all pretend.

However, there are times where I’d find a great deal on a nice hotel, but the flight to that city might be too expensive, negating any savings I might have had with the hotel deal. But on the rare occasion when the hotel is within driving distance, I might throw caution to the wind and say “why not?” – and I’d book the hotel for a much needed escape!

This is exactly what happened when I was feeling mentally drained from my PhD. I had just submitted my PhD thesis and was now in the middle of studying for my viva, which decides whether or not I earn my PhD. To take my mind off my stress, I went to TripAdvisor and looked at the top hotels in London just to see if there might be any good deals. Well, lo and behold, that day I found one!!

I’ve been fortunate enough to visit London many times, both before moving to the UK to study and during my study abroad, since London is just two hours away from Canterbury. However, like most big cities, there’s so much to see that I always have a list of places to visit and restaurants to try. When I was looking at TripAdvisor for hotels in London, I was already mentally planning this imaginary trip to London. Once I found the great deal on a nice London hotel, that’s when I started thinking that maybe this time, I should actually book the hotel. Especially since the cost of transportation to London would be very inexpensive!

Before I booked the hotel, I made sure to check whether I could book a £5 bus to London. After I booked my bus ticket, I then went back to TripAdvisor and booked the hotel before the price went up. It’s always so exciting when there’s an upcoming trip!

London St. Paul's Hotel Exterior

My Itinerary

The hotel I booked is called St. Paul’s Hotel in the Kensington district and I found it by filtering all hotels near the 3 most popular London museums: the V&A, the Museum of Natural History, and the Science Museum. I knew that I wanted to visit these museums on this trip, plus The Wallace Collection, which is a museum located in a beautiful town house in London, and this hotel had a bus stop literally right outside the doorstop that could easily take me to these destinations. My restaurant goals included eating at Shake Shack (I know, I know) and Burger & Lobster at Harvey Nichols, which is conveniently located right next door to another gorgeous and world famous department store – Harrods. Whew! I had a lot planned for this trip!

The Food: Shake Shack

When I first arrived in London, I made a beeline to Covent Garden to tackle my first eating goal- finally trying Shake Shack. I know this is based in the US, but living in the UK for the past 4.5 years, I wasn’t able to visit one in the US and I heard great things about their burgers. Now that they finally opened in London, I could finally try it for myself!

One of the best things about Covent Garden is the great food choices located in the historic market area. Great architecture, atmosphere, and food – what’s not to love?

London Shake Shack Covent Garden

London Shake Shack Covent Garden

The food was pretty tasty too 🙂

London Shake Shack Burger

The Museums: V&A and the Natural History Museum

Now that I was full, I headed over to the V&A Museum as I hadn’t visited since 2010.

I love the Chihuly glass sculpture at the entrance of the museum.

London V&A Museum Chihuly Chandelier

London V&A Museums Gallery Open Space

After a leisurely visit to the V&A Museum, I was ready to check out the Natural History Museum. A quick walk next door and I was in a completely different environment.

London Natural History Museum Sign

London Natural History Museum Exterior

London Natural History Museum Exterior

Just check out this amazing architecture!

London Natural History Museum Interior

London Natural History Museum Interior

I actually had time to visit the Science Museum before it closed, but I guess I wasn’t too impressed because I didn’t take any pictures…

More Food: Burger & Lobster

After the Science Museum, I walked over to Harvey Nichols for dinner at Burger & Lobster – yum! This is an interesting restaurant because they only serve two items. You guessed it, burgers and lobster. The lobster can be grilled or steamed, and either the lobster or burger costs £20, which includes a side salad and fries. Not the cheapest of meals, but being from New England, I was craving some lobster.

The food was really good! This was definitely an indulgent trip food-wise.

London Burger & Lobster Harvey Nichols

After dinner it was time to check-in to the hotel and get some much-needed rest from all that walking.

My hotel

As I mentioned earlier, this hotel was in the perfect location for my itinerary, and the closest bus stop was right in front of the hotel.

What I liked most about the hotel (besides the great deal I got!) was how charming it was and not like typical hotels in London.

It even looked like a mini-castle!

London St. Paul’s Hotel Kensington Exterior

London St. Paul’s Hotel Kensington Lobby

London St. Paul’s Hotel Kensington Lobby

London St. Paul’s Hotel Kensington Room

London St. Paul’s Hotel Kensington Bathroom

The Museums: The Wallace Collection

The next day I visited The Wallace Collection, which is a short walk from another beautiful London department store, Selfridges.

I found this museum by Googling “beautiful places in London”, and it did not disappoint! If you like beautiful homes and art, this is not to be missed.

London Wallace Collection

It seemed like each room was a different jewel-toned color.

London Wallace Collection

London Wallace Collection

London Wallace Collection

London Wallace Collection

London Wallace Collection

London Wallace Collection

Even More Food: Murakami Sushi

Finally, what’s one of my vacations without trying some sushi? I researched a few different ones in London before deciding to try Murakami.

London Murakami Sushi Restaurant

London Murakami Sushi Restaurant

London Murakami Sushi Restaurant

London Murakami Sushi Restaurant

I hope you enjoyed seeing some of London’s restaurants and museums! I forgot to mention that all the museums I visited during this holiday were FREE! Just one of many things to love about London.

Do you travel solo often? What’s your favorite solo holiday? Thanks for reading!!

Merci!