London is a timeless honeymoon destination for culture-seekers and couples that thrive in the fast-paced pulse of cosmopolitan living.
The capital city of England and of the entire United Kingdom (which encompasses England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland), London is steeped in rich history and bursting with world-class museums, landmark sights, theaters, and restaurants, which altogether makes it one of the most vibrant and energetic places to visit on the entire planet. London’s growing population of over 8 million people constitutes its status as the most populated city in the European Union, and with 1 in 3 of those residents born outside of the U.K., modern London is culturally rich, ethnically diverse, and an overall beauty to behold.
Spanning over 600 square miles, Greater London (what is most commonly referred to simply as “London”) embodies 32 boroughs along with the specially designated City of London, a barely 1-square-mile independent county located at the center of the entire metropolis. While navigating the technical geography and understanding the unique neighborhoods that define London can seem like a daunting task for a first-time visitor, the city has an essential directional tool that makes moving around a breeze: the River Thames.
Flowing in a slight spiral from west to east, the River Thames dissects London into two, and is home to some of the city’s most popular sights, from royal palaces and renowned art galleries to great fortresses, observation points and of course famous bridges. Following the river is one of the most pleasant strolls in the entire city, and an easy introduction to some of London’s greatest attractions.
Centrally located and just south of the Thames, South Bank is one of the most prominent areas for honeymooners to visit during their trip. The aptly named neighborhood is the pinnacle of London’s arts, with the Royal Festival Hall, Hayward Gallery, and National Theatre all nearby, and its location along the river, abundant in cafes and greenery, is perfect for an afternoon stroll while admiring sights such as the London Eye ferris wheel and the city’s tallest skyscraper, the Shard.
Still central but just north of the River Thames, the always energetic West End is London’s commercial and entertainment hub, and the most visited area in the entire city. Many of London’s finest hotels and restaurants spread across affluent West End neighborhoods such as Mayfair, Covent Garden, and Soho, firmly earning the right for the West End to reside on every honeymooner’s itinerary. Whether it’s shopping along the 1.5-mile-long Oxford Street, catching a film premiere near Leicester Square, or settling in for a live play in any one of the 40 theaters across Theaterland (the only place to rival New York City’s Broadway for live productions), there is something for everyone in the West End.
With close proximity to the attractions of the West End but a bit further stretched from central London, the quieter and calmer neighborhoods of West London also make a sound choice for first-time visitors to the city. Look for lower hotel rates in family-run hotels and restaurants in the leafy neighborhoods of Paddington and Bayswater, or spring for exclusivity and upscale glamour in the celebrity-favorite Notting Hill. Picturesque canals and pretty cafes make Little Venice in the residential Maida Vale neighborhood a perfect stop for an afternoon break from the bustling city.
As all things typically go, the once rough around the edges area of East London is increasingly becoming a go-to destination for design-conscious travelers, as exemplified in the recent upswing of ultra-modern hotels, hip bars and restaurants, a vibrant street art scene, and a forward-thinking fashion sense. This is visual London at its finest, and creative-minded individuals will certainly want to seek neighborhoods such as Shoreditch and Hoxton to indulge in the sights, sounds, and overall flavors of some of London’s most effortlessly swanky meeting grounds.
With temperatures that rarely dip below freezing, London’s mild climate offers year-round appeal for honeymooners. The summer season between June–August is arguably the most attractive time to experience the city, when outdoor dining, open-air cinemas, and music festivals dazzle visitors throughout sunny days and long nights. Spring and Autumn enjoy comfortably cool temperatures in the 50s and 60s – perfect for full days of exploring the ins and outs of this urban oasis, though rainfall is quite common. Visitors in winter can expect festive markets during the holiday season, along with especially steep travel discounts during January and February, the city’s quietest and coldest (think 30s and 40s) months.
London’s largest airport (and one of the busiest in the world), London Heathrow (LHR) sits just 14 miles west of central London and makes a great entry point for arriving travelers with its frequent, fast, and affordable options to access the city. Further south, London Gatwick (LGW) offers train, bus, and taxi connections to central London in less than an hour. Keep an eye for discounted airfare by flying into Stansted (STN), the UK’s top airport for continental budget airliners.
Once you’ve made it into the big city, befriend the London Underground (better known as “the Tube”). Despite being the oldest metro system in the world, the Tube is far from dated and extremely efficient – its 11 lines span 270 stations and are sure to help get you where you want to be. A reliable network of trams and buses fill in the gaps as needed, and the much newer London Overground services further distances along with a national rail network. Most of the system is operated by Transport for London (TfL), which sells its Oyster card for discounted rates on any method of travel, and a Visitor Oyster card for the most significant savings.
Hail an iconic black taxicab if you prefer to soak in the view with a bit of privacy during your journey across destinations, or rent a bicycle via the city’s Santander Cycles system to combine a bit of exercise into your sightseeing excursion.
Views From Above - Seeing London in its entirety is next to impossible on the ground, so take to the sky for a magical moment to absorb the cityscape. Nestled on the South Bank of the River Thames, the London Eye is the world’s tallest ferris wheel and provides the perfect vehicle to grace above the night’s sky with your special someone.
Book a trip in a Cupid’s Capsule to enjoy privacy, champagne, and chocolate truffles as you soak in those endless views of the city below. Feeling the need to go even higher? Leave the crowds behind and tour across London’s famous skyline from a helicopter ride with the London Helicopter.
See a Different Sight Every Day - Rich culture, iconic attractions, and instantly recognizable landmarks – it’s no wonder that London is one of the world’s most visited cities. With so much in the realm of history, arts, and sheer gothic grandeur to absorb, it’s easy for a first visit to turn into an endless checklist. Instead, be a bit modest with your itinerary and aim to visit just one of the city’s major sights each day.
Walk across London Bridge and Tower Bridge; snap photos of the Big Ben clock tower; tour the 900-year old Tower of London; watch the crossing of the guards display and catch a glimpse of royal life inside Buckingham Palace; gain perspective into London’s history inside Westminster Abbey; and compare your own rankings of masterpieces by visiting the National Gallery or British Museum.
The list of must-visit destinations never ends, and that’s part of London’s allure. Don’t get overwhelmed – purchase a London Pass for steep savings, and utilize the city’s famous double-decker hop-on-hop-off buses if you feel like expediting any sightseeing.
Visit Little Venice - Cruise the calm waters of London’s very own Grand Canal for a scenic escape from the fast-paced energy of the city. Located just a short Tube trip from central London, Little Venice is the perfect place to sneak in a bit of quiet, country romance on an otherwise distinctly urban honeymoon. Pack snacks for a grassy picnic, go on a gondola ride or even enjoy a long lunch from a floating cafe.
Shop ’Til You Drop - Whether you fancy mixing a bit of retail therapy in with your holidays or not, an outing to explore the elegant world of London shops is a must. Visit Oxford Street for an array of big-name retailers, Knightsbridge for the pinnacle of department store luxury (like Harrod’s), Portobello Road for antiques and collectibles, or Camden Market for an eclectic combination of fashion, music, art, and food.
Attend the Theatre - The theatre experience in London’s West End is arguably the only live commercial theatre to rival New York City’s Broadway. Over 40 theaters span the area, with world-class daily productions of classic plays as well as newer, original performances. An evening show sets the perfect mood for an unforgettable night, and TKTS is a great way to score discounted tickets for day-of performances.
If Elizabethian plays are more your speed, head south across the Millennium pedestrian bridge to reach Shakespeare’s Globe, a replica theatre in honor of the original which housed the famous playwright’s notable works and offers seasonal open-air productions.
Bask in Afternoon Tea - Afternoon tea is one of the most quintessentially authentic indulgences to experience while visiting the English capital. While the art of enjoying mid-afternoon tea, crumpets, cookies, cakes and beyond has long been a prim and proper affair, the afternoon tea of today takes on many forms as it is enjoyed everywhere from quaint teahouses to five-star hotels and quirky cafes.
For an honest take, book a table for two at Claridge’s, which has been serving the finest sweet and savory treats alongside a wide array of carefully selected teas for nearly 200 years. For a more contemporary afternoon tea, check out the Mirror Room at the Rosewood Hotel, where colorful pastries and creative artworks set a more distinctly modern tone to the whole experience.
Gordon’s Wine Bar – Established in 1890, Gordon’s is London’s oldest wine bar. Located in an atmospheric cave entirely lit by candlelight, Gordon’s has long been considered one of the most romantic spots to sample some of the world’s most exceptional wines from sherry and port to Madeira and beyond. A precisely curated selection of cheeses is served in accompaniment, along with plenty of tapas plates to constitute a full meal of assorted delicacies. Does it get better than escaping the city streets to dine in a cozy wine cellar?
Dans Le Noir? – The perfect juxtaposition for any tourist who has spent several days absorbing the sights of a new city, Dans Le Noir? is a restaurant experience famed for its entirely pitch black dining room. A slew of surprising meals are served, only identifiable by shape-coded plates after ordering from a basic menu of meat, fish, or vegetarian. In a completely dark dining room conversation is predictably fresh, and there’s a certain allure to being with your partner in such a fine restaurant while nobody can see you. The service is calm, understanding and overall magnificent, and plates are seasonally inspired, though the real draw here is the utterly unique experience.
Clos Maggiore – Any restaurant that has won multiple awards for atmosphere and romantic ambiance is worth visiting on a honeymoon. Couple the stunning interior of this Covent Garden restaurant’s rear conservatory – which is adorned in flowers, twinkling lights, and faux apple blossoms – with a Michelin-star menu of modern French fare and a wine list of over 100 pages, and you’re sure to leave satisfied on all counts. Fair warning: the conservatory is London’s most romantic dining room, and you’d be wise to book your table well in advance.
Berners Tavern – Located inside the London Edition hotel, Berners Tavern is a gastronomic paradise that has been gaining steam as the city’s most popular restaurant since it began welcoming diners in 2013. The 18-foot ceilings and walls covered in gilt-framed art make for a dining room of unparalleled lavishness, while a menu built of British staples like traditional pork pie and fish and chips keeps things comfortable and effortlessly cool.
The Noble Rot – Great food and excellent wines have placed this Parisian-styled bistro in the hearts of many Londoners. The Noble Rot calls itself a wine bar and restaurant, though the setting is more akin to that of a longtime friend’s incredibly fancy and lovably lived-in dining room. Whether you pop in to enjoy a glass of wine along with simple bread, butter and olives at the bar or opt for a three-course full dinner, slipping the Noble Rot into your day is always a good idea.
The Covent Garden Hotel - Check in to this 58-room boutique hotel in the heart of London’s West End to enjoy a precisely crafted mix of classic and contemporary to go along with an impeccably cozy atmosphere. Though the property frequently caters to a high clientele of celebrities and designers, the Covent Garden Hotel still manages to create a soothing home-away-from-home ambiance, with an in-house cinema, impressive library and drawing room, and a fabulous French brasserie which serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Steps from the city’s best in shopping, dining, and entertainment, this is a gem property where a convenient location doesn’t disrupt the peace of a perfect stay.
Claridge’s - This 5-star hotel in the glamorous Mayfair corner of London is as classy as they come and the perfect place to set a romantic tone for any honeymoon. One of the longest-standing hotels in the entire city and having welcomed royalty on countless occasions, Claridge’s is sometimes referred to as an annex of Buckingham Palace. From the iconic marble checkered lobby to the art deco-inspired and individually unique rooms, Claridge’s embodies the spirit of London as the rest of the world fantasizes it to be. No wonder that celebrities such as Audrey Hepburn and Marlene Dietrich called this place home for months at a time.
Blakes Hotel - Blakes Hotel, in the notoriously posh neighborhood of Chelsea, is credited for having pioneered the concept of luxury boutique hotels internationally. Lovingly converted from a row of original Victorian townhouses, Blakes is a mecca for inspirational design, cultured sophistication and impeccable service. Located within the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea – the smallest borough in all of London, and renowned for its exclusivity – this is place spot to enjoy shopping in designer boutiques, dining in fine restaurants, and people watching across manicured streets. In-room spa treatments and ‘round-the-clock room service also make it perfectly OK if you prefer to enjoy the comforts of your quarters for a long while.
London Marriott Hotel County Hall - Nestled along the vibrant South Bank of the River Thames and encompassing London’s former City Hall, the London Marriot Hotel County Hall has become as much a landmark building as the iconic structures that it directly faces. The London Eye, Big Ben, and Westminster Bridge are all right outside, which makes this central hotel an unbeatable choice for sightseeing endeavors and first-time visitors.
Shangri-La at The Shard - The Shard is the U.K.’s tallest building and an unmistakable new contribution to the London skyline since 2012. Proudly occupying floors 34-52 of the Shard is the 5-star Shangri-La Hotel with 200 rooms all featuring floor-to-ceiling windows that let the beauty of London below shine through. Luxe touches like a pillow menu, body-contouring beds, and sophisticated decor set a remarkable tone, though the focus here is undoubtedly on those jaw-dropping views from your bedroom windows. Reserve one of the hotel’s 17 suites to enjoy personal butler service, and be sure to bring your swimsuits up to the 52nd floor for an indoor infinity pool experience like no other.