We departed to London on an overnight flight from Toronto via Icelandair. Because we had booked with the Stopover in Iceland program, we had a short layover in Reykjavik and tiny preview of Iceland before travelling onward into London. As I mentioned in my last post, I had some concerns about being caught up in a flight delay, but everything went smoothly as planned; we got through security at Toronto Pearson in about 10 minutes and were eligible for expedited customs in London as Canadian passport holders.
We arrived at Gatwick around noon and caught the Thameslink train to our hotel, the Hoxton Southwark. I had originally looked into staying north of the River Thames, but found the Hoxton chain as part of the Amex Hotel Collection so switched over to get some of the Amex benefits including a complimentary room upgrade and $100 USD credit. The Hoxton is trendy and the room looked nice, although the bed and pillows were too soft for Mr. Chuckles’ liking. We did enjoy staying in Southwark though, as this area was a bit quieter and separated from the hustle and bustle of more touristy districts like Covent Garden. It was still very conveniently located nearby the Southwark underground station and Blackfriars National Rail station.
Lunch at Borough Market
After checking in at the hotel, we headed out in search of lunch. We were within walking distance to the famous Borough Market so had to drop by. We were especially keen to visit after seeing it featured on one of our favourite foodie shows on Netflix, Somebody Feed Phil.
Borough Market is a market hall in Southwark, one of the largest and oldest food markets in London. The market itself claims to have existed since 1014, although it was first mentioned in 1276 in historical records. Today, it sells a plethora of fresh produce and specialty foods, and is open daily until 5 pm (6 pm on Fridays).
We tried the paella from Furness Food Hut which could have been better seasoned, but sufficiently satiated my hunger. Then we enjoyed a quail scotch egg from The Ginger Pig.
Adequately fed, we made a stop at The Whisky Exchange to pick up a bottle for Mr. Chuckles’ nightcap.
On the way back to the hotel for a rest, we spotted signs of remembrance for Queen Elizabeth II which could be found throughout the city.
An evening in Covent Garden
Acutely jet lagged, we had a much needed nap for a couple hours before venturing out across Waterloo Bridge for dinner in Covent Garden — a shopping and entertainment district in the West End with lots of great restaurants. I had originally thought of going to Dishoom, but wasn’t up for a big meal yet so we went for a glamorous selection of cheeseburgers at Shake Shack instead.
On the way back to the hotel, we took a walk along the river and came across some fire spinners on Thames Beach, who apparently do this on every full moon.
That was enough for our first day in London, so we settled into bed to await further adventures. Next up: a visit to Sky Garden, Tower of London, and more.