Urban Backpacker’s extensive list of favorite hotels, restaurants, “budget gems” and “things to do” in London.
I would definitely stay here at The Montcalm if I returned for a special London visit (and not on business for five days). It’s a delightful high end boutique hotel in a residential area near the Marble Arch and Hyde Park. Perfect location to walk or taxi. Oxford Street shopping is three blocks walk.
We opted for the less expensive version at the Marble Arch by Montcalm Townhouses (little sister of the Montcalm) across the street. On EuroCheapo (see must compare link below) I was able to manage a small discount off my room rate when I booked! Ask for the larger room accommodations, as the first room they placed us in we could not walk around the bed, and I could not manage that for five days and two people. Happily, we were moved to room #803, which ended up being just perfect! Thank you Marble Arch Montcalm Townhouses you are wonderful!
The one (five star wonderful detail) nicety to add to the Marble Arch Townhouses, was the Babyliss hair dryer in the closet drawer. I know – it’s a female thing. My hair is long, and I need power and heat. The other big golden star addition was our full weeks access to the spa, hot tub, tiny workout gym, the comfy bar, restaurant (all at the larger full service hotel) across the street. I would definitely return to either of these properties again. Walk score is 10+ to many wonderful things!
Doubletree by Hilton Hotel. Points were not available here, otherwise, I would have booked a free room on Hilton Honors points after saving up mileage. Perfect location right up the street from the Montcalm. Older hotel.
Thistle Hotel. Budget option for hotels down the street closest to Marble Arch, this was actually nice and clean, and a-step-up-in-feel to a Courtyard Marriott property.
EuroCheapo. This portal is how I received discounts on most of my hotel stays throughout my three weeks in Europe. It worked on great deals some nights – some nights not so much.
Top Table is the Open Table for the UK. Restaurant Reviews galore.
Budget Gems and blogs for FREE things to do in London!
Luxury Travel Blogs: Top Ten London Freebies.
The Guardian fifty FREE things to do London.
Time Out’s 101 things to do in London – free and not so free.
***Some favorite restaurants on the higher priced side:
Chic, hip and cool. Love this place! Pollen Street Social
Fernandez and Wells Spanish Food to swoon over.
Rules Restaurant (Covent Garden) Oldest Restaurant in London 1798. Kings and Poets and Artists ate here…I am just going to say, “Sticky Toffee Pudding.”
Zafferano The Best Italian Restaurant in Knightsbridge. You will not be disappointed! Great relaxed vibe. Good people.
HKK London Gourmand Chinese Food with 8, 10, 15 course tasting menus to rock your world. Do not miss this for a special occasion night, or an impressive business dinner.
River Cafe Another amazing Italian restaurant. On the Thames. Make reservations in advance.
Duck and Waffle Duck & Waffle welcomes guests 24/7, offering breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner and late night menus. 40th floor of the Heron Bldg and London views to make your jaw drop.
Chotto Matte New restaurant SOHO Nikkei cuisine – a mixture of Japanese and Peruvian. Hip cool vibe.
Angelus A sultry saucy French Brasserie and hidden gem of a restaurant. A quick fifteen minute walk from the Montcalm at the edge of Hyde Park. Try the frog legs and escargot.
***Favorite restaurants on the lower priced (budget gem) side:
Moo Grill Great Steak at affordable prices. Argentina is like a spa for cows.
Nandos Restaurants Biggest selection of South African art in the UK. Great menu! Burgers, pitas, wraps.
SOHO Joe Best Value LONDON pizza!
Byron Hamburgers Love these tasty Brit burgers. Great family restaurant. Something for everyone here.
The Breakfast Club Breakfast, brunch, dinner, lunch, takeaway.
Leon Restaurants Naturally fast food. Full of flavor and full of goodness. Perfectly healthy for families and best priced darn good food.
The British library – Explore the worlds knowledge.
The Blighty Traveller. Best Blog post I found for people watching and various cool spots in London and beyond.
A Spa Day, manicures, pedicures, massage, facials, at Beauty and Melody where we are told Lady Gaga indulges in her pre-concert facials. A block from the Montcalm hotel.
A British Slang website such fun!
The amazing View from The Shard book tickets ahead for 18.95 (Children) and 24.95 (Adults). I have a fascination with everything regal, historical, and involving horses. Next trip I will head to “The Royal Mews” at Buckingham Palace to see the Royal Collection of Historic Coaches and Carriages. The pictures are stunning!
My favorite Hyde Park!
I love wandering SOHO it reminds me of San Francisco.
Take Historic London Walks with London’s best tour guides (all over town for only 9.00 quid) and children accompanying parents under 15 are free!
South Molton Street W1 for walking and top notch shopping. It’s lovely and expensive, yet fun to window shop and drool and dream.
Oxford Street shopping a must do…
And this beautiful store Layers London – I found while walking to a restaurant one night. I will get back to shop here some day!
My new friend Martin, who drove the special black cab, helped direct our last minute photography efforts the day before our departure. At Martin’s kind suggestion, the following are the places I will head to the next time I am in LONDON. They look like winners! Cotswolds – area of Morton in the Marsh, Devon, and Cornwall. Thanks Martin!
BB Bakery is a traditional French Salon de Thé bringing the authentic taste of real French baking to London. Whether you want to meet friends for a coffee and a pastry, relax in the comfy chairs enjoying a spot of lunch or experience their fabulous afternoon tea, they look forward to sharing a passion for food and baking with you. Try some delicious fresh pasta at their sister restaurant, BB Pasta Bar, located just down the road from BB Bakery County Hall.
Definition of Urban Backpacker:
1. Of, relating to, or located in a city.
2. Backpacker redefined: Artful reviews that lead you from hidden budget gems to five-star destinations helping you find palate pleasing adventure, enjoyment, and story collection.
3. Pack bag. Travel there. See city. Eat food. Respect culture. Take picture. Share story. Be thankful. Repeat.