Four Days Avoiding the Royal Wedding in Hampstead, London

*POST UPDATED JANUARY 2022.

Friends, Boyfriend & I made a boo-boo. We looked at the calendar, randomly selected dates, booked flights to London + a non-refundable hotel. We never thought anything more about it until shortly before our departure day. A well meaning parent uttered the words that had us screaming internally: “Isn’t that the weekend of the royal wedding?” Images of the city jam packed with overly excited tourists flashed before our eyes, and we honestly thought about cancelling our trip.

Eventually, we talked ourselves into believing it would work out okay. Neither of us relished the thought of being amongst the extra 33% of tourists in London that weekend, but we hatched a plan that would make it work. We decided, unequivocally, to avoid central London at all costs. The hotel we’d booked was in Hampstead anyway, so we adjusted what plans we had made to focus there instead. It worked a dream! Friends we’d planned to visit were happy to escape out to Hampstead for a catch-up, leaving the crowded streets of the city centre behind. 

I decided to try out a new format for this post (in the style of Alana), and I really like the way it worked out. Happy travelling, friends!

avoiding the royal wedding, DAY ONE  

For the first time ever, we flew into Stansted rather than Gatwick (the Victoria Express is handy, but it’s bloody expensive). Our spirits were high as we boarded the National Express bus to Liverpool Street Station, knowing there’d be a Krispy Kreme doughnut waiting for us. We feasted on a hearty brunch at the nearby Hotbox – we’re talking pork belly eggs Benedict & a smoked meat hash – before taking to the streets for a carefully planned photography walk. My route took us through the Spitalfield Markets, along Princelet Street and its surrounds, & onto Elder Street. Satisfied, we took the tube to Warren Street & headed towards Daunt Books for a spot of shopping.

Shopped out, we paid a visit to the insta-famous Warren Mews, had coffee at The Old Dairy, & tracked down the beautiful house on Fitzroy Square that was used in Phantom Thread. After a brief stop on the bench outside the house for a doughnut break & an imaginary life discussion, we headed to our hotel for a nap.

The rest of the evening was spent enjoying a couple of beers in The Horseshoe – Camden Lager, always – and dining in a restaurant near our hotel, Chez Bob (*2022 update: sadly, now closed)

the condensed version, day one

• breakfast at Hotbox (get the smoked meat hash!). Address: 46-48 Commercial St, London E1 6LT, United Kingdom

• photo-walk along Princelet Street, Elder Street, onto Warren Mews

• shopping at Daunt Books in Marylebone. Address: 84 Marylebone High St, London W1U 4QW, United Kingdom

• coffee at The Old Dairy (seriously good coffee). Address: 35 Conway St, London W1T 6BW, UK

• location spotting at Fitzroy Square (the house of Reynolds Woodcock in Phantom Thread)

• drinks at The Horseshoe (home of Camden Lager, one of our very favourites). Address: 28 Heath St, London NW3 6TE, United Kingdom

• dinner at Chez Bob. Address: 205-207 Haverstock Hill, Belsize Park, London NW3 4QG, United Kingdom. *2022 update: sadly, now closed.

avoiding the royal wedding, DAY TWO

D-Day. The day that we unequivocally decided to stay the heck away from all tube stations & central London in general. We started our day with a classic bacon sarnie amidst the garden café at The Buttery, which was harboring some of the longest lasting wisteria of the season.

After breakfast we met a friend at possibly the best coffee spot in the village, Ginger & White. It’s a very trendy spot, so be prepared to elbow some locals out of the way at the communal table, but it’s worth it. This was quickly followed by coffee number two at Le Pain Quotidien & a leisurely stroll around the village. For lunch, we opted for some of the best sausage rolls known to man from The Hampstead Butcher, before heading to the welcoming arms of The Holly Bush for a sneaky pint. A further wander brought us past the insta-famous crooked house and into the grounds of the lovely cemetery where John Constable is buried.

The afternoon that followed was an extremely pleasant one. We enjoyed drinks with another lovely friend at The Horseshoe (we are weak when it comes to Camden Lager), and crispy sourdough pizza at the local Franco Manca. Before returning to our hotel for the night, we stopped to buy some hazelnut Marine Ices gelato, which was the perfect end to a wonderful day. 

the condensed version, day two

• breakfast at The Buttery. Address: New End Square, London NW3 1LT, United Kingdom

• coffee at Ginger & White (delicious, hipster made coffee in a lovely space). Address: 4a, 5a Perrin’s Ct, London NW3 1QS, United Kingdom

• more coffee at Le Pain Quotidien. Address: 46 Hampstead High St, London NW3 1QG, United Kingdom

• lunch from The Hampstead Butcher (pro tip: get the sausage rolls inside instead of from the guy out front; they’re cheaper). Address: 56 Rosslyn Hill, London NW3 1ND, United Kingdom

• The Holly Bush for a pint & some people watching (one of the coziest pubs in London). Address: 22 Holly Mount, London NW3 6SG, United Kingdom

• wander around the village, up towards the Hampstead Cemetery. Address: Church Row, London NW3 6UU, United Kingdom

• The Horseshoe (again, forever). Address: 28 Heath St, London NW3 6TE, United Kingdom

• dinner at Franco Manca (sourdough bases!). Address: 216 Haverstock Hill, London NW3 2AE, United Kingdom

• midnight snacks in the form of Marine Ices hazelnut gelato

avoiding the royal wedding, DAY THREE

After all the socializing & drinking of the day before, we decided a slower paced day was on the cards for us. All the best Sundays begin with a blueberry muffin, so we stopped into Le Pain Quotidien to sample their vegan variety & enjoy a small bowl of coffee (quirky, but weird).

Fed and caffeinated, we ambled hand & hand up Hampstead Heath, where we sat people watching, admiring the view, & reading. When the sun began to be too much, we took to the shade of the trees. We tried to head in the direction of Kenwood House, but mostly just took a lot of wrong turns. Once located, everything went swimmingly! Kenwood is home to some beautiful works of art & is also just a stunning house to walk around.

Our grumbling stomachs led us a different way off the Heath to The Spaniards Inn. It was easily one of the busiest pubs I’ve ever seen, we were lucky to snag a table! We had a perfect cozy corner with two large armchairs, where we whiled away a couple of hours over the best Sunday roast ever, literally. We rolled back to our hotel after that for a much needed nap.

As it was our last night in London, we ventured out to – surprise! – The Horseshoe for a final farewell. Still stuffed, we settled for a couple late night crepes from La Creperie.

the condensed version, day three

• breakfast at Le Pain Quotidien (vegan blueberry muffins are a solid 8.5/10). Address: 46 Hampstead High St, London NW3 1QG, United Kingdom

• Hampstead Heath.

• Kenwood House (they have a Rembrandt self portrait!). Address: Hampstead Ln, London NW3 7JR, United Kingdom

• lunch at The Spaniards Inn (the most delicious Sunday roast ever). Address: Spaniards Rd, London NW3 7JJ, United Kingdom

• drinks at The Horseshoe (I should be embarrassed by this, but nope). Address: 28 Heath St, London NW3 6TE, United Kingdom

• crepes from La Creperie. Address: 77 Hampstead High St, London NW3 1RE, United Kingdom

avoiding the royal wedding, DAY FOUR

We always get so sad when we have to leave London. It’s one of those cities that we both feel we could live in. Which basically means, we walked around all day with sad faces on, lingering until the absolute last second. We had a farewell breakfast in the Ginger & White at Belsize Park, which is potentially nicer than the one in Hampstead. We opted for a second coffee & a pastry to share before reluctantly heading back to the hotel to check out.

A quick tube ride into Bloomsbury later, we visited an old favourite of ours: Museum Tavern. It’s a cozy pub right across from the British Museum, located conveniently close to another fave – The London Review Bookshop. A trip to London simply wouldn’t be complete without a visit to either. 

the condensed version, day four

• breakfast at Ginger & White Belsize Park (we had scrambled eggs and the homemade beans on toast, both of which were solid choices!). Address: 2 England’s Ln, Belsize Park, London NW3 4TG, United Kingdom. *2022 update: sadly, now closed.

• drinks at Museum Tavern. Address: 49 Great Russell St, London WC1B 3BA, United Kingdom

• browsing at The London Review Bookshop. Address: 14-16 Bury Pl, London WC1A 2JL, United Kingdom

PS, I’ve compiled a printable version of our ‘avoiding the royal wedding’ itinerary here!

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