1. Favourite Personal Achievement: Starting this Blog
Back in April when I decided to start this blog it was just a little bit of fun, but now, 9 months on, it has become a significant part of my day-to-day life. My brain is constantly buzzing with ideas, I use every spare minute I get to write, and I now own a DSLR camera which I carry everywhere, always on the lookout for perfect photo opportunities to share on Instagram. As I look back at what I have achieved over the last year I truly feel like a proud parent seeing how far London City Calling has come. It’s something that I thoroughly enjoy doing and will continue putting my all into as we go into the New Year.
Enough of the soppy stuff, now for what you’re really here for… (click links for original posts)
2. Favourite High-End Restaurant: Searceys at the Gherkin
This was also the topic of my very first blog post. In fact, it was whilst eating a delicious three course dinner in the Gherkin’s luxurious top floor restaurant, overlooking the city as the sun set, that I decided to share my London with the world. Overwhelmed by the beauty of the city that I get to call my home, I just knew I had to share my experiences and help others find all the amazing sights and places London has to offer. Although a little on the expensive side, Searceys at the Gherkin is a beautiful place for a special occasion, with outstanding food and breathtaking surroundings. Remember to check opentable.com for deals.
3. Favourite Everyday Restaurant: Japanese Canteen
As someone who isn’t a fan of seafood, Japanese restaurants have always been a no go for me. However this year I was finally convinced by colleagues to give Japanese food a try (after constant reassuring it isn’t just all raw fish!). This is how I discovered the Chicken Katsu Curry at Japanese Canteen, which is now my favourite food in all of London. Japanese Canteen has 8 restaurants in central London, and the Katsu costs just £6.45 to eat in or take away. The portions are large so it works well as a Friday lunchtime treat or a quick evening meal.
4. Favourite Brunch Spot: Beach Blanket Babylon, Notting Hill
This fairytale-esque restaurant is located slightly off the beaten path in a Georgian Townhouse on the back streets of Notting Hill. It’s Rocco style interior design features extravagant working fireplaces, crystal chandeliers, large mirrors, velvet furnishings and colourful bouquets of roses. It’s a beautiful and unique setting for a champagne brunch. Also, try their pancakes and french toast!
5. Favourite Dessert Bar: Chin Chin Labs
The UK’s first Liquid Nitrogen Ice-Cream Parlour. Not only does it look like something from Willy Wonka’s Factory, but it also tastes DELICIOUS! You can find Chin Chin Labs at their permanent Camden home, or on weekends at Street Feast’s Hawker House in Canada Water. The S’mores-wich (pictured below) is my absolute favourite… vanilla ice-cream sandwiched between two chocolate cookies and topped with a giant toasted marshmallow, melted chocolate and a dash of cinnamon!
6. Favourite Pop-Up: Igloo’s at Coppa Club Tower Hill
I think it’s fair to say this was one of the most in-demand pop-up’s of the year, with Coppa Club having to hire several extra staff to deal with the high demand for bookings. After several phone calls and emails, I luckily managed to book dinner in an Igloo for myself and 7 friends. The intimate setting of the 8 people table inside the cosy, heated igloo, combined with the gorgeous view over Tower Bridge and the Shard, made for a lovely evening of food and cocktails with friends. If you haven’t been yet I’d definitely recommend trying to get down there before the igloos disappear in January. There are no more bookings left, however, walk-in’s are available (as long as you’re prepared to wait).
7. Favourite Entertainment Activity: Luna Cinema
I may be slightly biased towards this one after winning the DoubleTree bed (and stocked mini bar) to enjoy the film from, however, a night at Luna Cinema is undoubtedly a fantastic and unique London film experience. On a sunny summer’s evening, we settled down in the grounds of the beautiful Kensington Palace, with a bottle of wine and a pizza from the food stall, to watch The Breakfast Club on the Luna big screen. With or without the VIP bed the evening would have been a special one, and I will definitely be booking again for next year.
8. Favourite Market: Berwick Street & Street Food Union, Soho
On a weekday lunchtime, in the windy back streets of Soho, you’ll find the adjoining food markets of Berwick Street and Street Food Union. This is my favourite lunch spot in London and one I spend far too much of both my time and money at. But it’s worth it! My favourites have to be the falafel wrap from Jerusalem Falafel, the Chicken Po’Boy from Dixie Union, and the chocolate orange brownie from The Red Gingham Bakery.
9. Favourite Pub: The Churchill Arms, Kensington
In the summer this pub is covered in beautiful hanging baskets full of colourful flowers, whilst in the winter the flowers are replaced by 90 Christmas Trees, making it the most festive pub in London. The Churchill Arms was given its name as it was once the preferred haunt of Winston Churchill’s grandparents, whilst the inside is covered in Churchill memorabilia. It was also the very first London pub with a Thai restaurant. I love the Churchill Arms for it’s quirky outside yet feel of a traditional English pub on the inside.
10. Favourite Roof-Top Bar: Pergola on the Roof
This summer, on the top of the BBC television centre multi-storey car park in Shepherds Bush, was a wooden open-air structure wrapped in flowers and covering a central bar, 4 eateries and a large seating area. Pergola on the Roof was my favourite place to enjoy a few cocktails in the sun with a group of friends this year.
11. Favourite Shop: The Lego Store in Leicester Square
Even if you’re not going with the intention of buying any Lego, this store is a fun place to visit. You can get a picture on a Lego tube carriage next to a Royal Guard and Shakespeare, check out the interactive underground map or marvel at the 2 story high lego Elisabeth Tower (or Big Ben as most people know it). The only downside is that the store has only been open a couple of months and due to its popularity you may still have to queue to enter.
12. Favourite Christmas Decorations: Covent Garden
There’s a lot of competition this year for the best Christmas lights installation in London, but I’ve got to give it to Covent Garden’s Apple Market. The giant mistletoe and disco balls filling the market make it an extremely romantic spot to stop and grab a drink or listen to the busker’s play.
13. Favourite Holiday Destination: Niagara on the Lake, Canada
This small town is located 15 minutes down the road from the popular Niagara Falls and deserves to be much more well known than it currently is in my opinion. The beautiful lake-side town is surrounded by wineries and is an amazing place to hire a bike and cycle through the vineyards, sampling local wines as you go. It was without a doubt the highlight of my recent trip to Canada. Find out more about it here.
14. Favourite New Film: Deadpool or Now You See Me 2
15. Favourite Netflix Series: Stranger Things
16. Favourite Book to Read on the Tube: The Versions of Us (Laura Barnet) or Me Before You (JoJo Moyes)
Okay maybe don’t read the end of Me Before You on the tube, unless you don’t mind crying in public.