London Calling: How THR's Social Editor Does England

Sarah Gidick

An L.A. girl's guide to London, with each spot as Instagram-friendly as the next.

The Hollywood Reporter's social editor Sarah Gidick takes us along for her vacation to London, England.

'The Queen's Life Guard' riding down the mall.

Full disclosure I'm a pescatarian who enjoys champagne cocktails, horses and the short-lived British baroque period. It's all about being niche these days, right? My London plan was to simply not have one &mdash: I wanted to check out the major tourist spots, head to the famed English countryside, meet up with friends and figure out where 30-somethings hang out. If great food, nice hotels and taking pretty photos are your thing, consider this your guide to (one of) the greatest cities in the world.

Buckingham Palace

Since 1837, the reining sovereigns of the United Kingdom have lived and worked in Buckingham Palace. Since the palace isn't open year-round, take advantage and visit when the gates open to the public. Currently on view, "Fashioning a Reign: 90 Years of Style From the Queen's Wardrobe", featuring exquisite pieces from renowned designers Norman Hartnell, Hardy Amies and Ian Thomas. The exhibition is remarkable, with pieces such as the queen's mechanics uniform from WWII and her exotic caftans for a trip to Afghanistan &mdash: the vast wardrobe illustrates her life story. No photos are allowed inside the palace, and I didn't dare try to sneak one. But I did get a perfectly scooped birthday ice cream cone in the Buckingham Palace gardens. Buy your mom something nice on the palace grounds. There's something beautiful at every price point: a pill box, a set of rose hand soaps and shortbread tins are great to bring home.

Buckingham Palace, London SW1A 1AA. +44 303 123 7300

The Stafford Hotel

The Stafford Hotel is the perfect place to land after a long flight. The Stafford boasts the American Bar &mdash: a concept created in 1930s London to attract Americans into bars by serving Manhattans and Martinis &mdash: where head barman Benoit Provost curates an impressive selection of autographs, Lonsdale boxing gloves signed by Evander Holyfield, and every Ivy League and NFL hat imaginable. The American Bar's gin-based Pimm's cocktail is a favorite of David Beckham. The wine cellar is the oldest in London and hosted American and British soldiers during WWII. There are still gas masks and newspapers in the corner that soldiers left behind.

The Stafford Hotel 16-18 St James's Pl, St. James's, London SW1A 1NJ. +44 20 7493 0111

The Ivy

A mainstay since 1917, The Ivy is Hollywood's favorite spot in London. Angelina Jolie, Kate Hudson and Tom Cruise &mdash: even the royal family (Princess Diana, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip) have all dined in the art deco-themed restaurant. Order the Strawberry Hill upon arrival &mdash: strawberry and balsamic shrub and Champagne served in an expertly sugared flute, a must for Champagne cocktail lovers. For a main, the filet of Wester Ross salmon with corn-and-shrimp risotto with summer truffles is a must. Make a reservation for dinner right after booking your flight to London, prime dining hours get snapped up quickly.

The Ivy 1-5 West Street, London WC2H 9HQ +44 20 7836 4751

The Ritz London

The Ritz London's legendary tea service in the Palm Court can now meet any dietary restrictions &mdash: gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, pescatarian &mdash: you name it (who knew?). Note that there's a dress code: Gentleman are required to wear a jacket and tie, and obviously no sneakers or jeans. Treat yourself to a glass of Champagne Barons de Rothschild &mdash: Ritz Reserve Rose, served exclusively at the Ritz London and the Ritz Paris. After you're served sandwiches (it's completely acceptable to eat them with your fingers), another round of food comes &mdash: scones served with Cornish clotted cream. A cake trolley then comes around for ladies only. Photos are allowed, but be discreet, it's the Ritz after all. Martin Luther King Jr., Andy Warhol and Al Pacino are just some of the famous names who have been to the Ritz, open for more than 100 years.

The Ritz London 150 Piccadilly, London. W1J9BR. +44 (0) 20 7493 8181

The Bridge Coffee House

A typical London pub can be a little overwhelming: It's crowded, it's hard to order drinks. If you're looking for something quieter in the hipster-centric Shoreditch area, go to The Bridge. What's actually a Turkish coffee shop owned by Italians sets the scene for a pretty chill bar. There's a lounge upstairs with overstuffed low-sinking velvet couches. Try their signature cocktail &mdash: the espresso martini &mdash: as a precursor to a wild night out in London. Bring cash, this spot doesn't take cards, and U.K. bodega ATMs can be a bit finicky with American bank cards.

The Bridge Coffee House, 15 Kingsland Road, Shoreditch, London, E2 8AA.


Sketch is a favorite of style Instagrammers, fashion editors and starlets alike. The entire Gallery room is blush pink, which also happens to be the color of the moment. The walls are adorned with 239 exclusive, irreverent works by celebrated British artist David Shrigley. Don't miss the stylish bathrooms, which are actually pods that look like they could have come from the set of Alien.

Sketch 9 Conduit St, London w1S 2XG, +44 20 7659 4500


Some Londoners will tell you Harrods is "too touristy" and some will tell you that "you MUST go." Go. If you aren't charmed immediately by the expertly merchandised handbag section, then head down a few blocks to the Victoria and Albert museum. But if handbags and pretty things are your gig, keep walking. If you don't end up in the fragrance room, then enter the Food Halls. You'll see everything from the tiniest strawberries imaginable to beautiful flower blooms.

Harrods 87-135 Brompton Rd, Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7XL, +44 20 8479 5100

Wiltshire County

Depending on what time of year you visit, try to make it out to the countryside. Wiltshire, located in South West England boasts gorgeous villages, little shops and fields of horses. The wellness trend is booming all over England, so grab a green juice and get some fresh air. See Stonehenge (preferably at sunrise), get a workout in by climbing the 332 stairs in the Salisbury Cathedral, or hike up to the high peaks. Fans of the Band of Brothers miniseries will want to visit the village of Aldbourne: Easy Company was known to visit The Blue Boar.

English horses are happy horses.

Shoreditch House

The Shoreditch House, housed in a former warehouse, is a must-visit &mdash: if you can get in. The members-only club boasts a crowd that's similar in dress to what you would expect on the streets of Silver Lake or Venice Beach. No suits, no little black dresses &mdash: this is the place to showcase your unique style, just as long as it's cool. A select number of Shoreditch House rooms are available to the public, but they go very quickly. The rooms are outfitted with every possible amenity &mdash: tucked neatly in tiny organized pouches &mdash: with premium bedding and heated towel bars. The Cowshed spa downstairs offers spa services for "party prep and recovery treatments." Get the Cowshead Moody Massage if you can. The industrial-looking gym is full of young people in the latest looks by Stella McCartney for Adidas. For Soho House members that miss the print-out photo booth at the West Hollywood location, the Shoreditch House has a sepia-toned photo booth on the club floor, as well as a buffet of gummy candies.

Shoreditch House 1 Ebor St, London E1 6AW. +44 20 7739 5040

Blenheim Palace

Blenheim Palace, a colossal historic house and gardens in Woodstock, Oxfordshire, is a must-visit. The birthplace of Winston Churchill and country home of the 12th Duke of Marlborough has quite the Hollywood connection: Spectre, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and Cinderella are just some of the films shot at the breathtaking location. Dior held its 2016 Cruise Show at the palatial estate, where Elizabeth Olsen, Kate Beckinsale and Kate Mara sat front row. This show marked the third time the French fashion house has shown at Blenheim, with the first show in 1958. The home is decorated in the English baroque style, so if Versailles is your thing, Blenheim Palace will take your breath away. The grounds are massive, so bring a Champagne picnic and your dogs for a perfect afternoon. Nearby is Bicester Village outlet mall, which boasts Oscar de la Renta, Saint Laurent, Celine and Dior stores.

Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxfordshire.