In November, I ventured off to London with Virgin Atlantic and Travelstart for a whirlwind weekend. Between visits to my aunt in London in my younger days where I’d stay a month at a time, layovers in the city when I was cabin crew and a few other influencer trips, I’ve had my fair share of London. Even so, my mind is still profoundly blown by everything we managed to see and do in only one weekend. I saw London in a way I’ve NEVER seen it before, and it solidified my love for the city in a completely new way. Despite the undeniable chill, I can truly say winter is my favourite time to visit this city. It feels like you’re in a Christmas movie and the atmosphere all around is just so special. We loved each and every thing we got up to, so here’s a blow-by-blow of our itinerary and what you absolutely must try while you’re there.
Freshen Up at Virgin Atlantic Revivals Lounge
Since check-in at the hotel was only from 3pm and our exploring was to commence immediately, we freshened up at the Virgin Atlantic Revivals lounge. After an 11 hour flight from Johannesburg to London Heathrow, we had a much needed shower and breakfast.
Visit Royal Albert Hall Tour & High Tea
A trip to London is incomplete without an English tea experience. The High Tea at the Royal Albert Hall is one of the more affordable tea experiences in London and it includes a free one-hour tour of this spectacularly famous building.
Something about the Royal Albert Hall always fascinated me and seeing it in person and hearing about its history did not disappoint. From the Beatles to Jay-Z and Adele, the hallways are adorned with pictures of performances from some of the greatest musicians of all time.
The tea itself was fabulous, and when you pre-book they’re able to make halal provisions. Watch the vlog from 2:04 for a better look!
This was followed by check-in at the Mayfair Hotel, some downtime and a quick outfit change.
Have Dinner at Bloomsbury Street Kitchen
There are over 23 000 restaurants in London, and Bloomsbury Street Kitchen is officially listed in the Top 20 of them all. After what was one of the best dinners I have ever eaten, from starters all the way to dessert, everything was pure perfection.
Offering a wide selection of Asian/Mediterranean fusion dishes – all tapas and designed for sharing – we left in a food coma! The miso chips, lobster shells and eggplant were my favourites. Watch the vlog from 03:45 for a better look.
Watch The Lion King at the West End’s Lyceum Theatre
After dinner we walked to the Lyceum Theatre to watch the world-renowned performance of the Lion King. While some of the actors’ voices weren’t as strong as I would have expected for a hit musical that’s constantly sold out for the past decade, the puppetry was mind-blowing and moving. This was my first West End experience ever and I still thoroughly enjoyed it! We couldn’t take photographs or videos of the performance of course but head to 04:10 of the vlog if you want to see more.
Day 2 started with Twizy Tours – an absolute MUST!
An experience I will never ever forget, we did a two-hour self-driving Twizy Tour through London. An automatic electric car that is technically a quad bike with doors and a windscreen, your ride comes with a iPad guided tour narrated by a BAFTA award-winning director and is filled with cheeky and funny commentary. I was VERY nervous to drive at first and let Danilo take the lead, but when I saw how chilled it all was, we switched seats and I had my turn (SA drivers licenses are accepted). It was wonderful seeing the city from a more connected point of view, and we got to take in sites like Bond Street, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abby and more. We pretty much cry-laughed the entire way! Watch the vlog from 07:05 for our experience.
Go Ice Skating at the Natural History Museum & Another High Tea at Radisson Blu Vanderbilt
This time of year, London has numerous outdoor ice rinks adding to its magical and wintery charm. Set against the backdrop of the Natural History Museum, alongside an old school carousel and Christmas tree centre piece, our experience was as picturesque as it was… challenging! I’m not the best skater to say the least, but it was still a really fun experience and thankfully I never fell. The session lasted an hour, and we later warmed up at the Radisson Blu Vanderbilt with another fabulous high tea. The atmosphere was luxuriously cozy and I think I ate my body weight in scones. Check out the vlog at 08:22 for more on these experiences.
Head to Hyde Park Winter Wonderland
After tea, we went back to the hotel for a quick outfit change then made our way to Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park. It was my third time going, and I can’t believe just how much it keeps growing in its size and splendour over the years; it’s gone from being just a fun optional thing to being a marvel you absolutely must see and experience. Every winter it is on every night for just over a month (ends 5 Jan 2020), and though rides can be very pricey, entry is free and there is so much to see, do and of course, EAT! Head to 09:48 in the vlog for a much better look at this incredible site.
Drive Down Regent Street & Have Dinner at Sticks ‘n Sushi Soho
After Winter Wonderland we met with Danilo’s family for a late night dinner at Sticks ‘n Sushi in SoHo, which was yet another delicious foodie experience. I’ve been told great sushi is hard to come by in London, so if it’s what you’re looking for, this trendy little spot is the way to go. On the way there, I never imagined enjoying sitting in traffic so much while we made our way down a magically-lit Regent Street. The Christmas window displays and jaw-dropping and real feast for the eyes.
Day 3 – the Big Bus Tour
Our plan for the last day before our night time flight was to enjoy the Big Bus hop on/hop off tour to catch the last and best of London. With multiple routes as options, free wifi onboard and earphones with your tour available in 12 different languages, it really is a wonderful way to see a city, get around and skip the parts you don’t want to indulge in . We all felt we’d seen so much on the Twizy Tour though that we only hopped off in Oxford Street to do some last minute shopping, and again at Tower Bridge for one final photo-op. Head to 11:59 in the vlog for more.
Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse Lounge & Upper Class Cabin
Having checked out of the May Fair before our tour that morning, and with our flight only leaving at about 9pm, by the time we reached Heathrow we needed to freshen up again after all the walking. We made our way to the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse lounge which was voted the best airport lounge in the world, and I could see why! It’s massive, and its features are unbelievable. We enjoyed a delicious dinner, a shower, massage and I got a wash/blowout while Danilo got a haircut and grooming.
Virgin spoiled us even further by ending off our trip with seats in their Upper Class cabin. Coupled with their ultra comfy pajamas and truly outstanding service from their cabin crew, I was practically tucked into bed and and slept all the way to Johannesburg. The flight on the way to London was my first time in an upper class of any kind and getting to fly in style and luxury both ways really was a treat. Skip to 13:45 in the vlog for a better look.
The four of us left London with heavy hearts and in unanimous agreement that it was the best trip there ever, wishing it hadn’t ended so soon but amazed that we’d done so much in so little time! Fun fact; my first time ever on a plane was a Virgin Atlantic flight to London when I was 12, and call me Sentimental Sally but it was a wonderful way to come full circle again. We also used Travelstart to book our Turkey trip back in September, and had a fantastic experience; their customer service and post-purchase onsite dashboard features are unmatched!
If you’re looking into a trip to London, book your flights with Virgin Atlantic on Travelstart here. And if you want an even better look and feel of this itinerary, check out the YouTube video below!