The Big Apple and Big Ben: New York and London in winter

Q.

Hi,

Do you have any travel tips for New York in November and London in December? I like to drive, walk around lots, be in the city, but I also wouldn’t mind a day or two in the countryside. I’ve been to both cities before but haven’t spent too much time in either. I like small, quaint cafes, people-watching and roaming in the city centres, as well as shopping, boutiques, eating at nice places. I am vegetarian so appropriate food options would also be great.

In New York I’ll be staying in Manhattan, and in London in the Notting Hill area.

Thanks,

Mallika

Hi Mallika,

Since you’re staying in possibly the nicest bits of London and are so clear about what you’d like to do (that’s great btw, very helpful while I looked for suggestions) I would suggest you spend as much time as possible in Notting Hill.

NOTTING HILL

Portobello Market is great to spend an afternoon at

Portobello Road Market: Since you’re staying in the gorgeous Notting Hill area you will want to visit the iconic Portobello Market, which is open all days but especially popular on Saturdays. The website gives you a good idea of what you are likely to find there every day.

Farmacy: Considered one of London’s best vegetarians restaurants and located in Notting Hill, the restaurant considers food as medicine and makes sure it is as delicious as possible while being chemicals, sugar and dairy-free. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Honest Burgers: Look out for an Honest Burger outlet that does vegetarian burgers with chickpea fritters and cheddar cheese and also vegetarian mains. They have several locations in Notting Hill itself and more around London.

Hummingbird Bakery: Three words: red velvet cupcake. 133 Portobello Road, London.

Vintage stores: If you like vintage fashion or just want to see what all the fuss is about head to One of a Kind frequented by Sienna Miller and Kate Moss, or Dolly Diamond.

Aime: For slouchy French wear.

Electric Cinema: This gorgeous, intimate theatre is a great idea for ‘dinner and a movie’ night. There is only one screen so book in advance. Plus they have doughnuts and wine!

More suggestions for what you can do in Notting Hill.

More boutiques in Notting Hill here and here.

REST OF LONDON

Since you prefer walking around rather than doing proper sightseeing maybe you would be interested in doing a self-guided walk. Here are some walks you could do if interested.

London Eye: Even though it’s ‘sightseeing’ I think this could be fun.

Louis Hungarian Patisserie London: Cookies, eclairs, cream slices galore. This is one of London’s most popular coffee and cake shops. A great place to people watch on Sundays when the locals head here.

Greenwich Market: A great place to eat, shop, people watch and find out about whatever’s the latest buzz in London, the Market showcases food from all of London’s diverse communities. Think Ethiopian, Italian, Asian, all in delicious finger-sized quantities. A great place to pick up unique souveniers. Do take a look at the website before you go because it tells you exactly which shops and stalls will be available on which days.

The Lamb, Bloomsbury: The Lamb is exactly how you imagine a London pub to be: dark, Victorian interiors with framed pictures, deep-dimpled Chesterfield sofas and leather-topped stools. There’s also a pocket-sized garden at the back though the November weather may keep you indoors and true, gastro-pub cuisine along with craft beers and wines.

The Christmas Tree in Trafalgar Square

Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club: Dating back to 1959 this jazz club has always had its pulse on the up and coming jazz scene. The big shows are staged downstairs and tickets start from about 25 pounds for a weekday show. The ‘Upstairs’ bar section is much more laidback and features (usually free, else costing 6-10 pounds) performances ranging from Cuban Jazz to Acoustic Jazz. Their menu features the best of simple pub food that includes vegetarian offerings.

Christmas Lights: Beautiful Christmas decorations and lights will go up by mid-November so do try not to miss them!

There are many more Christmas events happening in the city such as the city’s largest Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square.

For Harry Potter fans Christmas decorations go up in the Great Hall in the Harry Potter Studios and more.

More great vegetarian restaurants around London.

More things to do in London.

NEW YORK

Joe’s Pizza: You cannot leave NY without eating pizza and Joe’s is one of the most iconic places to have one. Their ‘fresh mozzarella pie or slice’ is a winner. Multiple locations.

Lombardi’s: Possibly the oldest pizzeria in the country, Lombardi’s also serves salads and wine and sangria along with delicious pizzas.

The High Line: If it’s not too cold or windy consider walking along this defunct freight train track that has now been converted into a garden and open-air art and design space.

Walk Across Brooklyn Bridge: The historic Brooklyn Bridge is fun to walk across in its own right but you can also stop by the Brooklyn Bridge Park, which has a lot going on. I find parks a great place to watch people at their most relaxed.

Big Apple Greeter: This is a free volunteer-based service by local NY residents to show tourists around their city. There are no pre-set itineraries but rather a chance to see the city through a local’s eyes. You will have to contact them as early as possible since it’s a very popular service. It’s completely free of charge and there is a ‘no tipping’ policy but you may consider making a donation.

Max Brenner’s Chocolate by the Bald Man: Go here if only to be hugged by their specially designed ‘hug mugs’ that you can wrap your hands around as you sip hot chocolate with red chilli powder to really get you steaming (Mexican Spicy Hot Chocolate) or the perfectly balanced salted caramel. They also serve waffles, fondue, etc.

Central Park in the winter is truly magical

Tavern on the Green: Treat yourself to some high-class food in this urban farmhouse inside Central Park. They offer a weekend brunch. Get here during daylight to make the most of the setting. And make sure you have the time to enjoy the fall foliage either before or after your meal.

GreenFlea Market: Sundays from 10.30am-5.30pm.

Sugar Sweet Sunshine: Indulge your sweet tooth at this tiny bakery that is considered by some to be New York’s finest. Sink your teeth into a lemon cupcake or dip into their banana pudding.

Evolution: A true New Yorker, a store and natural history museum almost, Evolution sells all things quirky ranging from fossils to toys and edibles. Or just walk around with your mouth open. That’s what we would do.

More great NY shops here and here.

More things to do in NYC in November here and here.

I personally like the sound of the Hudson Valley cruise and ice skating.

Happy travels! Stay warm!

Shalome

Photos: Header: Photo by Liam Macleod on Unsplash
Portobello Market: victor10947
Trafalgar Square: Chris Dorney
Central Park: Photo by Emanuel Hahn on Unsplash

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