The Wanderlust of.. Instagram account @PrettyLittleLondon

After a press trip to Spain, we met London based Andrea, the co-founder of London @PrettyLittleLondon and owner of @dr_difilippo. Two amazing Instagram accounts that shows you the best of London, and the world has to offer. Want to know THE prettiest spots in London and are you curious about the story behind this amazing account, read on..

Nice to catch up with you again Andrea! Tell us a little bit about who you are and what @PrettyLittleLondon is all about.
@PrettyLittleLondon was created with the intention of showcasing the most beautiful hidden gems in London, which could be an undiscovered neighbourhood, a typical British pub, a colourful café or even a pretty door. Many Londoners tend to only explore their own neighbourhood and the main tourist attractions, but London is much much more, and we want them to get out of their comfort zone and start exploring!

Ice creams at Covent Garden Market, London, England.

We were amazed on how much London had to offer.

How did you and Sara come up with @PrettyLittleLondon, and did you guys ever expected it to be such a success?
I was working in an awful office job and was completely lacking creativity, so Sara thought it would be a good idea for us to buy a camera and start exploring the city we had lived in for over a year and knew nothing about. We started going on long walks and taking pictures, and we were amazed on how much London had to offer. We were looking for inspiration on Instagram but couldn’t really find anything a part from the obvious tourist attractions, which lead us to create an account where everyone could share anything they thought was ‘pretty’ in the city. We didn’t expect the account to grow so quickly, but we knew London needed an account like ours, it’s just such a pretty city!

Whale Natural History Museum
London’s natural history museum by Andrea

So you must know London pretty well by now. What’s your all time favourite spot and why?
There are so many, which makes it really hard to choose! But I really love Hampstead because it looks and feels like a small village within such a big city, so when I am looking to have a relaxing walk and take some nice pictures, that is my go-to spot.

Hamstead London
Hampstead, London

Elke lived in London for 7 years (near Hampstead actually!), but so much has changed over the years. What area in London do you think has stayed the most traditional?
I think the Southbank is pretty much the same as when I arrived in London and is – in my opinion – one of the best areas for a summer walk, with its stunning views and lovely atmosphere.

Our followers are loving the foodie hotspots; could you tip them 3 restaurants/café’s that are totally hot right now?
Again, there are so many! If I had to choose 3 though, it would have to be Elan Café, Mr Fogg’s and Coppa Club.


The amazing Elan Café

Coppa Club
The popular Coppa Club in London

Does this place even exist or was this just a dream?

Besides London, you guys travel a lot for Pretty Little Trips, what has been your favourite place so far?
Every place we have visited is unique in its own way, but if we had to choose our favourite so far it would have to be The Maldives. It’s one of those places that when you leave you ask yourself: ‘Does this place even exist or was this just a dream?’

What can we find in your carry-on luggage that you wouldn’t leave the house without?
The simple stuff, but necessary; my camera, power bank and laptop.

Maldives
The Maldives by Sara Helen Santini (@santinisarah)

Because you and Sara are a couple, we wonder; is it difficult to mix work with your relationship?
Not really, we are very good at separating work from our relationship, which means we can still switch off at the end of the day and enjoy our personal lives.

Andrea and Sara
Andrea and his Sara

Sounds very romantic! What can we expect of Pretty Little.. over the next few years?
We have a lot of projects and ideas we are working on, so expect a lot of surprises in the next 2-3 years!

Can’t wait! And finally; what kind of traveler would you consider yourself to be?
I am the traveller that will wake up at 6am to explore, and make the most of every second. (when I am in a new destination). Staying in the hotel to relax is not an option for me!

For London inspiration and the latest hotspots follow them on Instagram, or follow their other travel account @PrettyLittleTrips

Love,

Wander-Lust

*Header photo courtesy of @yaroslava_kirichok

 

 

 

The Better London – Why Manchester is the place to be

Whether you are looking for a city break in England or to settle permanently somewhere in the UK, Manchester is the place for you. How about London, I hear you ask. London is great, but there is more to England than just it’s capital. I am going to give you five reasons why you should go to Manchester on your next break, before you eventually decide to pack your bags and move there.

Experience the culture
Manchester is not only the home to two of the greatest football team (debatable but we’ll let this go for the purpose of this article), it is also the home of the longest running TV show in the UK, Coronation Street. Whilst the football fans can busy themselves at the Football Museum and enjoy tours to both Etihad Stadium and Old Trafford Stadium, the non-footballers can engage in some mind-scratchingly challenging games at the Crystal Maze LIVE Experience, just the TV show. If you’re someone who prefers a quieter and easier time, step into real life Hogwards. The John Rylands Library is a must, whether you are a Harry Potter fan or not.

Town Hall Manchester
Town Hall Manchester

From November to December, the city will be transformed into a magical German Christmas Market

As a growingly international city and with the help of both universities, University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester has attracted many internationals to reside in the city. The diverse population has also built the second largest Chinatown in the UK and the third largest in Europe! Here you’d find many authentic Asian cuisines and enjoy a festive celebration of Chinese New Year every February. From November to December, the city will be transformed into a magical German Christmas Market, with stores dotted all over the city center. Unlike London, you will not have to fight your way into the only Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park with thousands of visitors just to get your hands on a cup of overpriced mulled wine.

Manchester

Shop till you drop
Believe it or not, you don’t have to go to London to get your shopping fix. Here in Manchester, you can find three major malls one next to the other, and many more department stores and shops scattered all over the city center. Whether you are into designer brands or high street names, your needs will be satisfied either in Selfridges, Harvey Nichols or the biggest shopping mall in the city, Arndale Shopping Centre. For your convenience, the trio hurdle together in one corner of the city, only a mere 10-minute walk from Manchester Victoria train station, unlike in London where you have to walk miles or spend £2.20 each time you board the overcrowded tube.

Along Market Street where the entrance to Arndale is, you can find at least five different sneakers stores, a three-story big Urban Outfitters, WHSmith, Aldi (the cheapest supermarket), TKMaxx (for the off-season designer goods) and a four-story high Primark. You are most guaranteed to find whatever you are looking for. What’s more, there is a House of Fraser and a Debenhams opposite Primark, if you haven’t already bought enough as you wiggle your way through the crowd and up the street.

Should you prefer a quieter and more ‘sophisticated’ shopping experience, I’d suggest you head to King Street, where you will find various local boutiques, branded stores and pop ups. Although usually quieter than the main street, you will not be disappointed by the range and the number of shops you find here.

Manchester

If you find yourself constantly revisiting Brick Lane or Camden Town in London, Northern Quarter is just the place for you. Small enough not to tire you out but big enough to cater for your needs, whether that is a desire to treasure hunt in vintage stores or to look for your next Halloween outfit, Pop Boutique has you covered. Cow Vintage and Blue Rinse are just a few of the many vintage shops you can find in this uber cool quarter.

Manchester Food heaven
Unlike London, where you cannot enjoy the dining experience fully because you often have to keep track on how much you are spending, restaurants in Manchester are kinder to your purse without making you compromise on the variety or quality of food. Fancy some Italian? There are the sleek, high end Italian restaurant chain, San Carlo, dotted all over the city center for those who like to enjoy the finest Italian dining experience. There’s also Don Marco, which does an amazing lunch deal for £7 a course or £12 for two. Salvi’s Cucina is also an authentic option to go for! Fancy something cheaper? We have also your classic Carluccio’s, Pizza Express and Va Piano!

food in manchester

After that intense shopping spree, you need to refuel before you head home or do it all over again!

Just opposite Selfridges, Corn Exchange houses some of the most popular restaurants in the city. There you can find Vietnamese food, Indian, burgers and again, Italian. Across the street to Printswork, there are Mexican, Japanese and several pubs for those who’d rather enjoy their meal with a side of football. For those who enjoy a more authentic Asian dining experience, head to Chinatown to satisfy your cravings. Wasabi (not the London chain) is a more affordable and authentic alternative to Yo! Sushi and Try Thai does an amazing lunch deal. Its ground floor interior is also very grammable, which is always a bonus. Near but not in Chinatown, you can find the best Chinese restaurant in the city at The Rice Bowl – the perfect place to visit with a group of friends in order to taste as much as the menu as possible.

Whether you are coming from Manchester Piccadilly or not, I highly recommend you head to the Northern Quarter, where you will find the quirkiest and hippiest restaurants and cafes. There you will find the vegan legend – V Rev, where they serve the tastiest mac and cheese and vegan burgers! You also must not leave without stuffing your face with the BEST BURGER IN TOWN at Almost Famous. Get a grill-cheese sandwich to go from the Northern Grill. (I love it so much I’ve been featured in their insta!)

vegan burger

Save your pennies
One of the best thing about Manchester is that, although it is one of the major cities in the UK, it is much more affordable than London. It has basically everything that London has to offer: theatre – checked, Michelin star restaurants – checked, endless shops – checked, international community – checked… even employment opportunity is on par with the City, as many offices have set up their headquarters in Manchester because of the cheaper rents and lower expenses. International and national enterprises are shifting their attention from the capital city to this Northern capital because they realise that this is the place to be! Did you know that Tescos are more expensive in London than it is in Manchester?

The world is your oyster and Manchester is the ideal starting point

coffee spot in Manchester
Quirky but affordable coffee spots in Manchester

Gateway to your getaway
Should you ever run out of things to do in Manchester (impossible!), there are four train stations in the city, all fairly close to one another, to take you away to a town nearby or a city for away. Venture out to the Greater Manchester on a weekend and take a tram to Chorlton for an edgy brunch, or Alderly Edge to potentially bump into the Manchester footballers who live in one of the many mansions up the hill. Sheffield, Leeds, Liverpool or York are just an hour or so away by train and so much cheaper to get to than from London, which is only two hours away from Manchester! If you fancy escaping further and out of England, the Manchester Airport is easily accessed to by train, tram and taxi.

Even though the city is 90% rain, your mood will never be dampened by the weather because of the surrounding people.

Manchester is friendly
Because you have made it this far, I thought I’d give you something special. The final and most important reason of all, people in Manchester are much more friendly! You are more likely be greeted by a stranger with a smile on the tram than you would down south, where the image of miserable looking commuters on the London tube is no stranger to all. Even though the city is 90% rain, your mood will never be dampened by the weather because of the surrounding people. On top of that, the tragedy after an Ariana Grande’s concert a few years ago has brought Mancunians closer and the sense of community is so great it’s infectious.

Honestly, give it a go, get a train or book a flight there for your next trip, Manchester will leave you inspired and wanting more.

Love,

Chantelle

*Chantelle is one of our guest editor from Hong Kong. She has lived in three different countries and have travelled across many continents. Having been in England for the past nine years and graduated with a Law degree, she is now taking a break in Paris for the year as she figures out her next step in life. Always passport ready, she is an expert at traveling light and on a budget, although she still enjoys the occasional indulgence in a luxurious holiday. You can follow her on Instagram.

5 x Slightly Less Touristy Places in London

Everyone knows the Big Ben, the Tower Bridge and the London Eye, but London has so much more to offer! The city is so varied and there is always something new to discover which makes wandering around London a fun adventure every time you visit. In this article we’ve selected 5 spots which are slightly less touristic.

1. CamdenTown
Camden Lock Pl, Camden Town, London
Camden town is known as one of the alternative areas of London and is especially popular among young people. The district used to be a typical industrial place with many workers’ houses and factories. Many of these buildings are now used for commercial and artistic purposes, making the neighbourhood completely “hot” again. In Camden you can find everything from street food to vintage clothing, and from second-hand books to unique collector’s items.

2. SouthbankCentreBookMarket
Southbank Centre Book Market
Underneath Waterloo Bridge, Lambeth, The Southbank Centre Book Market is one of the oldest second-hand book markets in the south of England. You will find old books, postcards, magazines, posters and comic books here. It is located by the thames below the waterloo bridge and next to a skate park that is completely covered in colourful graffiti. It’s definitely worth a look!

London books

3. RonnieScott’s
47 Frith St, Soho, London

Ronnie Scott’s is the most famous jazz club in London and was founded in 1959 by the English jazz musician Ronnie Scott. You can spend a nice evening drinking cocktails while enjoying great jazz music. There is a different artist almost every night, and sometimes even the world’s top jazz stars perform here. You can check out the programme here.

Less touristy spots in London

4. LittleVenice
6 Park Place Villas, London

The name already says it: Little Venice brings you into the ambience of the famous Italian town. If you want to get away from the ‘hustle and bustle’ of the city, you have to go here. This part of London has a unique, charming atmosphere and is surrounded by large stately villas. The small canals are full of boats and in the surrounding streets you will find cozy pubs. From Little Venice you can walk all the way to Camden Town. This route is really beautiful; it will take you trough Regent’s Park and you can catch a glimpse of the animals from London Zoo. If you’re hungry or thirsty along the way, The Summer House is a restaurant I recommend.

Little Venice London

5. Rooftop Film Club
Roof A, Bussey Building, 133 Rye Ln, London
Level up your cinema night! In London there is the Rooftop Film Club where they play the latest films on a beautiful roof terrace. With panoramic views and stunning sunsets, movies have never looked so great. Book your tickets on time, because when the weather is good the tickets go very fast! You can see which movies are currently playing here www.rooftopfilmclub.com/london

Love,

Iris

*Iris is one of our guest editors from The Netherlands. She’s got a big interest for fashion, poetry and traveling. She was only 3 months old when she was on the plane for the first time, and she has been to every continent in the meantime. She’s a dreamer and would prefer to be on the beach every day. You can follow Iris on Instagram.

More City Trips & Guides?

The 3 Day London Guide

When I turned seventeen, I had a dream and wanted to live in London. As I always followed my heart, I arranged a job as an Au-pair and left The Netherlands for a life in the heart of the British Capital. I ended up staying for 7,5 years. Although I know London pretty well, it’s a city that changes every other month when it comes to restaurants, clubs and other hotspots. Time to go back and find out!

How to get there
As it’s only a short flight from Amsterdam (around 1 hour), you might as well fly with the most affordable option which is Easyjet. Fly to London for as little as just €27,44,-, based on a single fare for 1 person for a booking for 2 people. You have several options; you can fly to four different airports from Amsterdam. Gatwick, Luton, Stanstead or Southend Airport. All airports are around the same distance from the city center. I flew to Gatwick, but because that airport is divided into 2 separate terminals, it could take a bit longer to get to the train station. For this matter, I prefer Luton. Tip: Buy yourself an Oyster Card at the train station. You can use this also to travel to Gatwick Airport and you’ll get a good discount if you use the Oyster card for this trip.

Easyjet naar London
Flying to London is Easy Peasy with Easyjet


Where To Stay
There are ton’s of options, and it really depends what budget you have, but I tried and tested a couple for you and these are some affordable, yet comfortable hotels you will love.

Motel One
During my recent stay in London I stayed at Motel One. There is only 1 Motel One in London, and it’s located in the London business district, around the corner of Tower Bridge. The hotel offers small, yet comfortable rooms, that have magnificent views over the city, with the “London Gherkin” as the center piece. Rooms are available to book for as little as £99,-. Yes, it’s London people, you’re not going to get anything for a better price at a top location like this one. From the hotel, you can easily walk to the Thames River and all see the Tower Bridge or visit the Tower of London. Book your stay here.

London City Guide
My room view at Motel One

New Road Hotel
This newby has just opened in hipster East London. The hotel is inspired by the increased popularity for social living and accessible luxury, the new concept hotel offers guests everything the need, and nothing they don’t. The boutique hotel fits 80 guests and fits perfectly into the East London scene, ideally placed for both leisure and business travellers alike with easy links to all the sights of London. Book your stay here.


The New Road Hotel

Ace Hotel
If you have a little more cash to spend, you should check out ACE Hotel. It’s been popular for years and that is not without reason. Ace Hotel is located many cities around the world like Los Angeles, Kyoto, New York and in London Shoreditch. The hotel is housed next to the popular Brick lane market, many restaurants and art galleries. Rooms go from about £200,- and you can book it here.


Where to Eat
Oeff, where do we start! London is full of hotspots, but there are only a few I will mention. We all know Sketch by now, so you won’t find that one on this list. These are our favorites!

» GBR London
If you wanna go posh, plus British, you need to visit GBR. Situated in The Dukes hotel, it’s British food at it’s best. Being a vegetarian, I was worried that there would not be much to choose from, but the risotto was devine! The interior is classical British with a James Bond vibe. The coacktail menu has recently changed, so I was lucky to taste the new menu. The staff is lovely and are happy to accommodate you with special requirements. They also offer all day dining and a killer high tea, so if you’re up for some great British flavours, you should check it out. www.gbrrestaurantslondon.com

London Guide
GBR

» Ping Pong
It was there 10 years ago, and it’s still good. Ping Pong is an Asian Fusion restaurant with incredible dimsum dishes. It’s great for lunch and even better for dinner. Don’t forget to order the Jasmine flower tea, because it’s an actual flower opening up in the clear tea glass. www.pingpongdimsum.com

» Saint Aymes
This place is good for pink latté’s and your instagram account. The outside is such a treat with the pretty (fake) flowers. www.saintaymes.com

» Elancafe
Again, a wonderful place for your instafeed. The walls are covered in roses and the interior features marble tables where you can perfectly pose against the rose wall. Oh, this place is also famous for it’s cakes and great looking coffees. (almost forgot about that part!) www.elancafe.co.uk

» Camden Lock
I used to work in Camden Town and this area is a food walhallah. There are many international food stands with delicious, homemade foods and vegans can go crazy here. Rumer has it, that you can find the best vegan burgers here.. www.camdenmarket.com

Camden lock, London City Guide
Vegan food at Camden Lock

» Pachamama Bar & Kitchen
They serve a killer Peruvian lunch, brunch, dinner and create wonderful cocktails. Check the menu here.

» Farm Girl Café
They are a holistic Australian farm café with delicious (and healthy!) foods. They are based in Chelsea, Soho and Nothing Hill. Make a reservation to avoid a fully booked café. www.thefarmgirl.co.uk

» Boxpark Shoreditch
It’s been around for a few years now, but if you like to try quality streetfood, you should eat at Boxpark. There are options enough to fill your tummy and you can go shopping after that (then again, maybe before is better, otherwise you might not fit those new pants) Check here for the latest food stands.

» Duddell’s London
Located in the historic St. Thomas Church in the heart of London Bridge, minutes from Borough Market, Duddell’s London is offering an authentic and delicious Cantonese cuisine. Just look at the interior, wow! The dim-sum here is hand-crafted and the cocktails are Asian-inspired. www.duddells.co


Duddell’s London


Where to Shop
Shopping in London is something that you can’t get around. Depending what your taste is or how much you want to spend, there are options for everything. I’ve highlighted my personal favorite shopping districts and added a few that you just have to see for yourself.


Shopping in London’s high street

» Oxford Street
It’s the largest and longest shopping street in London. You will find all the commercial brands here like ZARA, Mango, Nike, H&M etc. Also check out the shopping mall Selfridges. It’s amazing!

» Knightsbridge
This is for the Chanel lovers among us. Big brands show off their impressive shopping windows and you can find Harrods here, the topnotch shopping warehouse that is worth checking out, especially the food hall and the toy kingdom.

» Camden Town
One of my favorite shopping area’s in London! It used to be a horse stable market so you will find many alleys and secret corners here. It’s great for bargain shopping and you can find local goods, weird stuff, plus there is even a crazy techno/house store which you need to check out, it’s like walking into a club!

» Carnaby Street
This street is full of amazing shops! Some are boutique, others are more mainstream like Adidas or Superga. Sneaker lovers should check Carnaby Street!

» Boxpark Shoreditch
There we have the boxpark again! Yep, this place is well worth checking out for speciality clothes and unique items. I bought some glitter socks there, I mean, what a catch!


What To See & Do
Like New York, London is a city where you can’t get bored. There is lot’s to see and do, but to narrow it down, these are my personal tips.

» Visit Some of London’s Parks
London is greener than you might think. There are several parks to choose from besides the famous Hyde Park. Primrose Hill, Regents Park and lesser known Hampstead Heath are my favourites. They are more local and offer stunning views and nature. If you are in Primrose Hill, make sure you walk into the neighbourhood and check out the coloured houses.

Primrose Hill London

» Sky Garden
I didn’t manage to go because I forgot to make a reservation but if you do have the time, visit the Sky Garden. Stunning views over the city with an indoor tropical garden. Entrance is free but you need to book a time slot. They do accept walk-ins after 6pm during the week. skygarden.london

Bonus » If you like gardens, check out Kew Gardens. It’s about 30 minutes travel from Central London and their Victorian glasshouse just opened. See over 10,000 plants in the world’s biggest glasshouse. www.kew.org

» Neill’s Yard
This tiny colourful alley in central London is super cute and has a few nice shops and restaurants. From here you can easily walk to Covent Garden.

» Covent Garden
What’s not to love about this area. Street theater, live opera singers, musicians, local goods, shops, restaurants and a market. Covent Garden is the place I never skip when I’m in London.

Neill's Yard London
Neill’s Yard

I hope you enjoy London as much as I do. After all, it was my “home town” for many years. Let me know if you’ve used our tips, we’d love to hear it!

Love,

Elke

 

 

 

Why you should live abroad at least once in your lifetime

When I just turned seventeen years old, I moved to London. Why? Simply because I wanted to see what it was like. My plan was to live there for one year, and then explore the rest of the world. I ended up staying for 7 years.. I also lived in Los Angeles on and off for about 2 years. It was a great experience. It taught me so many life lessons. I came to London young and pretty naive when I look back at it but living abroad has made me into the women that I am today.

So, do you have any plans to live abroad? And is it for you? If so, these few lessons and tips may prepare you for one of the best decisions of your life. 

1. Stand on your own 2 feet
It’s about letting go of the save harbor and sailing away to a new experience. Yes, it might seem scary but taking that first step and just GO feels great.
You’ll be surprised how quickly you will become that independent person.

20140913-8069 
Living abroad made me stand on my own 2 feet and gain my independence.

2. Learn a new language and culture
Ok, I probably picked one of the easiest countries to live in because in The Netherlands we all speak a fair bit of English. 
But I must say, every city speaks it’s own language and with it, it’s own culture. I learned to speak “the London way” and even understood it when people told me they were “Lee Marvin”. (which means Starvin’  in cockney English.) If you learn about different cultures and habits you will also become more open minded, which I think is a good thing. If you don’t know the language at all, take a course. It will make everything 10 times easier.

3. Meet new people (from all over the world)
If you’re going to move to a big city, you’re probably going to meet new friends with different nationalities. I’m still in contact with people from Croatia, Czech Republic, Germany, Mexico, England, Australia and the States. Some of these contacts have visited me back home and the other way around. This way you broaden your network.


Meet new friends for life.

4. You will get to know yourself (really really well)
There’s no better way of getting to know yourself whilst traveling or living abroad. Learn from your mistakes and get back up. Always listen to your intuition if you’re unsure.

5. Make a plan before you go
So, what will you do when you get there? Don’t go there with empty pockets. Save enough money to last you a few months or even better, find a job or course before you go. 
Depending on which country you may fly to, you may need to arrange a visa and working permits. When I moved over to London, I worked as an Au-Pair. This meant that I needed to look after the kids, clean the house and cook dinner. Is a good starting job when you are young and you want to integrate quickly. For this you need some experience and it’s always a good idea to get some sort of a diploma. 
For more information on how to start to work as an Au-Pair, check this website.

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Make a plan before you decide to leave your mark 

Let it happen and enjoy it

6. Fall in love
Whether it’s with a person or a city, you’re probably going to fall in love. Let it happen and enjoy it. It happened to me twice (I dated an English man for 5 years and a guy in LA for about 2,5 years) and although it didn’t work out, it helped me grow and taught me the life lessons we all need to know. Falling in love with a country, city or small town is a beautiful thing. Because you can always return and you will never forget the experience!

Falling in love abroad
Don’t be afraid to fall in love abroad..

7. You can make a new start
You may have fucked up a few times in your life. Or you may have done really good. It doesn’t matter because when you move to another country, you can start all over again! This is great. New friends, new habits, new food, new adventures. 

8. You will appreciate your home country
Homesickness. If you are a frequent traveler, you may have experienced this feeling before. Yes, I have called my mum up a few times, crying my eyes out because I didn’t like my job, didn’t have a lot of friends in the beginning or felt lonely. But I never gave up. At the end, you know you can always return. Nowadays we have so many channels that help us to get in touch with the home front that it is almost impossible to miss home! Living abroad makes you appreciate where you came from. Maybe you shouldn’t complain about the rain so much (sunshine everyday of the year can also get a bit boring believe it or not!) or you may appreciate your mothers home cooked dinners a lot more.

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When I stayed in sunny LA, I loved it when it rained now and then.

So whether you want to move to England, Miami or Australia. Prepare yourself for the best ride of your life and always stay true to yourself.
You’ll be fine!

Love,

Elke

From Amsterdam to London in just 3 hours. (by train!)

A few days ago the new Eurostar train arrived at Amsterdam Central station, where it continued it’s way to London in just 3,5 hours.

The train was filled with VIP’s for now, as the train made it’s first ever trip to London and back. You need to wait just a little while (until April  to be exact) until you can board the new Eurostar and spend your weekends shopping at the British capital.

The train speeds up to 300kmh and will eventually take around 3,5 hours to get from Amsterdam to London. At the moment there is an extra stop in Brussels where you need to get your passports checked, and this takes around 1 hour extra. They are planning to change these international agreements soon, but apparently this takes a little longer than expected.


The comfort of train travel

Tickets are already made available to buy, and are as cheap as €40,- for a single fare. Book early if you want to catch this cheap fare though. Sure, taking the plane is faster, but not so great for the environment, and if you have a fear of flying (like I do!), this is such a great option!

See you in London baby!

Love,

Elke

La Suite West » A new female friendly hotel in London

Travelling for work is something I have to do quite often, it’s a love and hate relationship between me and these business trips. On the one hand I love to be in Barcelona, Paris or London, grab a glass of wine after work and breath in a different culture to keep life interesting. On the other hand it’s a lot of shitty European airlines with delays, long days and missing the comfort of your own home. So when you travel around, it’s nice to stay in a hotel that actually feels like home. 

Female Friendly
This is the main reason why a hotel is so important to me when I’m working in different cities. Last week I found myself in London (again) and stayed in the La Suite West hotel that position themselves as a female friendly hotel. Normally I would say that a term like ‘female friendly’ feels a bit off to me, but when boarding the airplane in Amsterdam and looked around at the gate, I realised that this term isn’t silly at all. I suddenly noticed that I was the ONLY solo female waiting to board the airplane. It was just men in suits and a few couples on a romantic break together who were waiting to board this early Wednesday morning flight.


New kid on the (London) block

Impressions
Normally I always go straight to the office from the airport so I checked in later that evening. The location of La suite West was absolutely perfect for me as it was situated near the tube station to hop on the central line, and most important, next to the park. I love going for a walk in the morning to clear my head before the start of a busy day at work.

The hotel is decorated by British designer Anouska Hempel and the bedrooms and suites are swathed in black and white with Asian infusions teamed with sleek marble bathrooms. Outside are beautiful long tables in a quiet street, perfect hotel also in spring or summer and to enjoy your morning breakfast outside before strolling Hyde Park and exploring Notting Hill. With Bayswater and Queensway tubes around the corner, it’s the perfect spot to explore the city!

I stayed in the junior suite and loved it, there was enough space to move around and create my own little home while in London and the bathroom was every girls dream. All marble, heated floor, big bath, a shower that makes you feel you’re under a waterfall, and to top it off some lovely toiletries from the British White Company. So thank you for a lovely stay La Suite West! And keep up the good work, acknowledging solo female travellers like me and make sure we feel welcome and safe on our travels.


The all marble bathroom was a dream!

Love,

Jantine

LA Suite West Hotel
41-51 Inverness Terrace, London
Website

Christmas in London » Off the tourist track

Christmas in London without (a lot of) tourists? It is possible! Here are the top 5 tips to avoid the crowd and enjoy the most beautiful city of Europe during Christmas season.

Oxford Street Lights
When to go? After dinner 9-10 pm in soho, pop into Oxford street for a stroll
Oxford is not to missed during Christmas time. Switching on the lights is always a big event to kick off the festive season. From The Spice Girls back in the day to Rita Ora this year, turning on the lights is a big thing! Even if you’re not into shopping, it’s worth walking around for a bit. Take the Tube to Oxford Circus or Baker Street.

Carnaby street
When to go? After the shops close around 9-10 pm.
If you are at Oxford street, don’t miss the Carnaby street lights! There are some great pubs around to have a beer, grab a bite at Kingly Kourt and enjoy these colourful neon disco lights.

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Christmas in London is not complete without seeing the lights! Source

Winter wonderland
When to go? Before 5pm on a weekday
Every year a part of Hyde Park is transformed into a magical winter wonderland. Perfect to drink mulled wine and have fun in one of the rides. My favourite is the Bavarian village, make sure you’re early to grab a spot or book a table. Every night there is a German singer for all your guilty pleasures, so grab a pint and sing along! www.hydeparkwinterwonderland.com

Winterville
When to go? Any time!
Is Winter Wonderland still too much for you? Go to Winterville! It’s basically the hipster version of Winter Wonderland, this year hosted in hip and happening Clapham. Grab the London Underground with a couple of friends and enjoy! www.winterville.co.uk

Winterville, Christmas in London
Source

Colombia road
When to go? Wednesday night in December
It doesn’t get more British than this. Make sure you’re at Colombia road on 6, 13 or 20 December where you can enjoy late night shopping and best of all, a piano moves down the street and stops to sing Christmas carols with the locals, hosted by the local vicar. A magical Christmas in London! www.columbiaroad.info

Extra Tip: Not feeling it to go into the cold? Check out the Backyard Cinema or Pop-Up Screens around the city to see where they play a Christmas movie and snuggle up.

Happy Holidays!

Jantine

*Jantine is a hip hop & cheese enthusiast and a city girl with a love for everything local. After having explored everything there is in Amsterdam while living there, London became her new playground. Her best days are spent exploring the city off the grid, into neighborhoods where you can eat, drink, dance and chat with locals and become one yourself. She will write for Wander-Lust on a monthly basis where she will tip you about the places to be in London! Follow her on Instagram @jantinevanbloois.

Check all our City Trips here!

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Total relaxation at hidden Spa Mika in London

Last week I traveled west, to Shepherds bush. Known for it’s amazing Westfield shopping centre and the one place in London where you can find a decent roti wrap. Right at the areas focal point lies the Dorsett Shepherds Bush Hotel with hidden gem SpaMika.

The Dorsett Shepherds Bush has that amazing Great Gatsby and Art Deco vibe, which completes a perfect London feel. Maybe it’s the fact that the building used to be a cinema, built in 1923 that gives you that royal 20’s luxury feeling. Tucked away in this beautiful 8-story hotel you will find SpaMika, where you enter a world of luxury and tranquility.

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The Dorsett Shepherds Bush

Time to Relax
SpaMika is the perfect place to get away from all the noise of the city and hear yourself think again in the sauna, steam room or in one of the four therapy suites. There’s even a room for a couples massage, is it Valentine’s day yet? 
After a good sweat and steam I chilled in the relaxation room. I might have enjoyed this one the most, it’s so lovely and light and you can just relax on a sofa bed and think about how good life is in that moment. And after I had my zen-moment and cup of English tea I enjoyed the Elemis facial. Elemis is known for their luxury products all sourced from nature but with a scientific proven result. The brand is constantly evolving and researching new methods to improve people’s skin. The anti-aging facial I had made my skin soft and radiant without greasing my skin, loved it.

Spa Mika, London
Time to relax!

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Every girl needs a me-day every now and then, I know I do! This is my new go-to spot in the city to unwind and treat myself. Although, maybe next time I’ll bring a friend as the afternoon tea looked AMAZING 😉

*The Dorsett Spa Taster and Afternoon Tea Package is £84.00 per person and includes a 25 minute treatment, up to 1-hour access to the heated facilities and viewpoint relaxation lounge and refreshments. The facilities include changing rooms with amenities, robe, slippers, and towel with access to the Eucalyptus Finish sauna and Aroma steam rooms before your treatment. Classic Afternoon Tea serviced at the Dorsett Atrium Jin Bar.

SpaMika at Dorsett Shepherds Bush
58 Shepherd’s Bush Green, London
Website

Love,

Jantine

*Jantine is a hip hop & cheese enthusiast and a city girl with a love for everything local. After having explored everything there is in Amsterdam while living there, London became her new playground. Her best days are spent exploring the city off the grid, into neighborhoods where you can eat, drink, dance and chat with locals and become one yourself. She will write for Wander-Lust on a monthly basis where she will tip you about the places to be in London! Follow her on Instagram @jantinevanbloois.

6 Tasty and Affordable Restaurants in London

Trendy, yummy and affordable restaurants in London? It is possible! From pizza to steak, no matter what you’re in the mood for, there are some amazing places to visit without going broke…

Flat Iron (for Steak)
The que is ridiculous, so be prepared when you’re going to this amazing place. Pop by to put your name on the list and go for a drink until your table is free. The food and ambiance is definitely worth the wait. Favorite dish: spinach and the flat iron steak. www.flatironsteak.co.uk

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Wahaca (for Mexican)
Wahaca is a chain of Mexican restaurants in London, but so good! Wahaca has become a classic in London to go out for a nice bite with friends before a good night out. Fave dish: the pork taco’s. www.wahaca.co.uk

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Source: Wahaca

Pizza Pilgrims (for Pizza)
Pizza pilgrims was inspired in Napoli and is the new hot pizzeria in town, cool crowd guaranteed. Pizza’s start from £5,50 and the one in Shoreditch allows you to bring your own booze! pizzapilgrims.co.uk

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Pizza Pilgrims

Herman Ze German
The best sausage in town comes from Herman ze German. Order a big Paulaner beer to go with the spicy curry wurst and enjoy! instagram.com/hermanzegerman

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Herman Ze German

Beagle London (for amazing brunch)
Beagle has one of the best brunch menu’s in the city. Go for a bottomless boozy one and enjoy the culinary feast by the amazing chef. beaglelondon.co.uk

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Beagle London

Any Classic pub (for Sunday roast)
Looking for a great value for money meal? On a Sunday all pubs will serve a Sunday roast, slow cooked meat, potatoes, Yorkshire pudding and vegetables of the season are the ingredients of this classic meal.

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I hope you enjoy these delicious and affordable restaurants in London next time you’re around!

Love,

Jantine

*Jantine is a hip hop & cheese enthusiast and a city girl with a love for everything local. After having explored everything there is in Amsterdam while living there, London became her new playground. Her best days are spent exploring the city off the grid, into neighborhoods where you can eat, drink, dance and chat with locals and become one yourself. She will write for Wander-Lust on a monthly basis where she will tip you about the places to be in London! Follow her on Instagram @jantinevanbloois.