How I’ve missed London!  We happened to hit it when the weather was pitch perfect:  75 and sunny all week long.  We stayed with family while in town, but I did scope some new hotel options as well as some shopping standards and newbies.

STAY

If Soho is your thing, stay at DEAN STREET TOWNHOUSE.  Even if you don’t book a room, make sure to have a meal in their old English dining room, replete with vintage armchairs, cut glass chandeliers, and boasting a menu of popular British fare.  THE GROUCHO CLUB (members only) is across the street for dancing afterward.  www.deanstreettownhouse.com  www.thegrouchoclub.com

The ST. JOHN HOTEL claims that their rooms are “designed to have everything the traveller needs and nothing that they do not.”  I’m attracted to the clean white pallet.  Minimal yet luxe.  Apparently, you shouldn’t skip their ‘breakfast bun’ at the top of your morning! www.stjohnhotellondon.com

DO

Let’s put it this way:  I’ve never been to London and not visited the TATE MODERN .  Enjoy a walk along the river before or after.  www.tate.org.uk

Hit HYDE PARK in warmer weather and take a pedal boat for a ride around the Serpentine, rent a deck chair and chill out on the lawn, and grab lunch and a view at the Serpentine Bar and Kitchen.  A perfect day.  www.royalparks.co.uk

Dress and take afternoon tea at CLARIDGE’S.  Quintessential London. http://www.claridges.co.uk/page.aspx?id=1792

Rent a bike!  Grab a Barclays Cycle Hire bike at any number of stations around the city, tour the city, and then return to any station.  My favorite way to see London.  http://www.tfl.gov.uk/roadusers/cycling/14808.aspx

SHOP

As described by friend and Londoner Chris Connors, “LIBERTY is an eternal place for us Londoners.”  And a must see for us tourists.  Each visit brings fantasies of living in London and stopping for everything from fresh cut flowers, to a favorite candle, and anything clad in the eponymous Liberty print. www.liberty.co.uk

CHARLOTTE OLYMPIA is a must for shoes, shoes, shoes!  I walked out empty handed (feeling a bit pounded by the pound I guess), but I’m a fan.  The shop is adorable and my three-year-old daughter got to place her head inside a giant porcelain cheetah.  Fun for all.  www.charlotteolympia.com

I stopped at FENWICK BOND STREET and their newly renovated beauty floor. Gorgeous!  I found our beautiful Stephanie Johnson bags on display as well as new product I haven’t seen anywhere else….a bed of nails anyone?  Apparently it does wonders for your nervous system (yes please!) and is a great relaxer. www.fenwick.co.uk  www.bedofnails.org www.stephaniejohnson.com

EAT

Head to Shepherd’s Market in Mayfair for a ‘bit of Paris’ at LE BOUDIN BLANC.  They make a sublime Coquilles St. Jacques and the atmosphere is old world divine and cozy.  www.boudinblanc.co.uk

Lucky me.  We danced the night away at ANNABEL’S, a members only retreat (Stepdad is a member!) with live drumming paired to Lady Gaga and the like. Enjoy a most elegant dinner before you hit the dance floor.  Put on your best dress and see if Prince Harry will host you!  www.annabels.co.uk

Can’t get enough London?  Check out my Destination:  London collection on ThisNext for more inspiration  http://bit.ly/lw9P8D and take a look at some of the must-have’s I’m including on my trip: