Over my school winter break, I made the ever-so-fateful journey from sweet home San Diego across the Atlantic to lovely London-town! I went with some of my greatest friends from SCU, and it was a glorious gals' trip full of us taking the tube and saying "mind the gap" (if you've used public transportation in England, you know), meeting a few awesome 20-something-solo-travelers at our hostel in the university district, playing Adele's "Someone Like You" on the piano in the middle of a crowded pub, and wearing at least three layers each day (this might've just been me).
These are our must-dos for college girls wanting to have the jolliest time possible in the capital city of the United Kingdom!
1. Stay in a Hostel.
We stayed at the Generator Hostel and had a grand ol' time! It had a young and indie vibe with a DJ at night and the dankest croissants and Nutella I have ever had the pleasure of eating. You should stay in a hostel because it is so cheap and everyone you encounter there has their own story and is probably not from America!
2. Indulge in the Food.
Live action photo of me drinking a Rasayana at Hoppers Soho, which is basically a mango/coconut smoothie but 100x better. I consistently have daydreams about it…
London is so rad because there is such a magical and wide array of food options there! We genuinely took part in a love story with every meal we had, but you absolutely must go to Hoppers Soho for the best Sri Lankan food, the Harrod's Department Store Food Court for a huge and delish selection of all types of food and pastries (I'm a little too familiar with their wide selection), and the hot chocolate truck outside the London Eye if you are visiting in the winter (we were warmed all the way to our bones after this pitstop).
3. See the Sites.
The 360° view from the London Eye is unbeatable and truly breathtaking, and there are so many other iconic sites to see, such as St. Paul's Cathedral (which was founded in 1645) and the Tower Bridge. I wouldn't neglect the historical and cultural landmarks, because they add so much to your experience!
4. Turn your Pinkies Up at a Tea House.
Having afternoon tea on a Sunday was a special and quite British-feeling memory of our trip abroad. There are many tea rooms available at ranging prices in London, but we discovered a cute and quirky tea room called Soho's Secret Tea Room. The cozy destination was tucked away on the second level of a bar, fit with adorable mismatching tea sets and the most delightful scones we California girls have ever tasted!
5. Attend Hogwarts For a Day (or an afternoon).
Anything "Harry Potter" is my happy place. I highly recommend stepping into the land of witches and wizards during your time in London, and you have some options depending on how far you want to venture down Diagon Alley. We went to the House of MinaLima, which created all of the graphics for the "Harry Potter" movies, and it was like stepping into a dream world! You can also go to Platform 9 3/4 or take a studio tour of the Harry Potter sets at the Warner Brothers Studios.
6. Get Groovy with Some London-inspired Outfits.
Dressing a bit more funkily than my normal style was so much fun in London! I encourage you to wear things that are a bit out of your comfort zone and perhaps more European, because why not, you're in a foreign country.
7. Go to Sketch London, aka The Egg Bathroom Place You Always See on Instagram.
Sketch London is a posh restaurant with many gorgeous rooms available for tea, brunch, dinner, or whatever you might fancy. We had lunch in The Glade room, which is re-imagined as an ethereal, magical forest. The egg bathroom was set up for Christmastime and we easily spent 25 minutes in there taking cute pictures because LONDON.
8. Dance The Night Away at O'neills on Wardour Street.
If you're looking for dancing and merriment, O'neils is the pub to frequent! My pals and I made many trips to O'neils, and meeting people from all over Europe and hearing Mr. Brightside in London was definitely a highlight.
9. Make Sure You Are Accompanied by Supportive and Spontaneous Friends — They’re The Best Companions.
My sweet friends were easily the best part of the trip to England. We all were easy going, communicative, and down for a random adventure! I wouldn't have wanted to be accompanied by anyone else but my girls. Make sure to travel to London with people who you're compatible with and will listen to you if you want to get Chinese food at 1 a.m.
10. Don't Try to Do Everything Even Though It's Tempting.
This is a candid photo of me on the London Eye during our first real day in London. RIP.
Last but certainly not least, I'd encourage you to take the trip pace a little slower than you might first desire and evaluate how your body is feeling so you don't get oh-so-wiped early on in the trip. Take into account that jet lag is probably at play in your body and that London isn't going anywhere anytime soon. I'm all for making the world your oyster, but it takes oysters a long time to make pearls ;). Future you will thank past you later.