Recently I have found dozens of inexpensive nonstop flights from Boston to London Heathrow and Gatwick Airports, which makes for a great long layover location (see my post on cheap flights here) and even more so with the Chunnel connecting London and Paris in just a few short hours. Be sure to get to the train station on either side with hours to spare a la any airport as it has essentially become the same type of security between the countries and I expect as Brexit unfolds it will become so even more. 

Michael and I stayed at the Threadneedles for two reasons. One, points. It is part of the Autograph Collection. Second, the location is close to Shoreditch which is an area I particularly love to wander. I can also say the rooms are super nice and very clean and the concierge here was so wonderful - champagne at check-in, dozens of recommendations for sightseeing and eating in our short stay in town and an overall friendly welcome. I have also stayed at the Dean Street Townhouse, which was quite lovely with well appointed rooms, however the neighborhood is not exactly lively so you will spend a bit of time in the Tube (I try to walk if I can, but a note on the Tube - it is very easy to navigate and will save you money and time even to and from the airport or train station. Michael says do yourself a favor and buy an Oyster card, the UK version of a MetroCard). 

Once our bags were in our room, we bundled up as London is a layering town, much like Newport, you never know exactly what the weather will be so just bring everything layer worthy and an umbrella. We walked through Old Spitalfields Market which is essentially a giant open air artisan market with various vendors. We found seats at The Grocer and had great glasses of white wine while we planned our trek around the neighborhood and confirmed travel reservations for the following day back to the States. The outdoor seating was charming and great for people watching while becoming acquainted with the neighborhood vibe.

Kristen Coates Travel Blog London
We lucked out by taking a chance just a block or two away at DF Mexico and had a wonderful lunch with great tacos. Who knew?! Then we grabbed a couple of lattés at Nude Espresso and we were off on our walk to find some public art walls. 

Kristen Coates Travel Blog London DF Taco

If you’re having trouble finding the Tower Hamlets art walls, put Nomadic Gardens, 1 Fleet St Hill, London E2 6EE  in your GPS. We had an excellent time chatting with some of the artists painting on an overcast and somewhat chilly Sunday afternoon. Nomadic Gardens, sort of a co-op of musicians and vendors in an enclosed hangout that is part garden, part organized junkyard, was closed while we were there, but I did see in a bit behind a locked gate and I kind of think it’s worth checking out if you can. 

Kristen Coates Travel Blog London Art Wall

Back out of the art wall district and up Brick Lane, there are dozens of cute shops and tiny restaurants. We found some interesting antiques and a great place with large pieces of cake in the window that I could not resist and some chocolate that wasn’t too good, but the experience was lovely. 

Kristen Coates Travel Blog London Brick Lane

Heading back toward Threadneedles we stopped at The Breakfast Club which is a diner of sorts and asked to see The Mayor of Scaredy-cat Town - this is the secret password to be led through a refrigerator down some stairs into a lively bar. The drinks were fantastic and for a Sunday evening we thought it was pretty great. We grabbed some takeout at Pho Spitalfields so that we could get back to the hotel for some much needed rest. 

Kristen Coates Travel Blog London Speakeasy

In the morning we took the Tube to the Dean Street Townhouse for a traditional English breakfast. We liked sitting at the bar here and it was fun to chat with the bartenders, Dennis and Guido, and see the hustle and bustle of the morning in such a beautiful dining room. After breakfast we stopped in at a nearby Lina Store for some turquoise and white striped souvenirs and our obligatory Instagram photo of the shop’s super cute storefront. I also literally ran into actor, Bill Nighy, and quite rudely too because instead of being able to mumble “pardon” or “sorry” or any other nicety I could only hear the song his character sings in Love Actually, “I feel it all around me, so let it growwwww,” in my head. But that’s part of the fun of travel right? Take yourself out of your element and see how you adapt to other environments, elements and of course, encounters. Hopefully better than I did in this instance! 

Kristen Coates Travel Blog London Dean Street Townhouse

Our jaunt on this trip ended here as we had to make our flight… the whole purpose of stopping in London! But if you really have time, jump back on the Tube or take a bit of a walk to the staple department stores London shopping is known for including Harrod’s, Selfridges and Liberty. Find the flower installations in phone booths and coming out of cars and stores and I also love seeing whatever is on view at the V&A and Tate. Cheerio. 

That list one more time.


Dean Street Townhouse
The Threadneedles

Old Spitalfields Market
The Grocer
DF Taco
Nude Espresso
Brick Lane
The Breakfast Club with speakeasy The Mayor of Scaredy-cat Town
Dean Street Townhouse 
Lina Stores
Flower Phone Booth 5 Ellis Street SW1X 9AL

All Photos: Kristen Coates 

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1 comment

  • I haven’t been to London in many years. Loved your article, tips and photos!!

    Amy McGranaghan on

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