Welcome to London
London is more than Big Ben, black cabs, and tea. It’s all the world’s cultures in one location. It’s the dichotomy of traditional and cutting edge. Find your favorite pub by the Thames, have a gin & tonic, and discover why London is one of our personal favourites. Let’s go.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, FOUND is producing free Virtual Vacations to encourage everyone to learn more about global culture while social distancing.
The local businesses, restaurants, and bars in our own hometowns of Houston and Austin need our support too, so we encourage you to order take-out and delivery as often as you can via our Perfect Pairings.
We’ve called London home a few times, and are longing for the day we can head back and have a night on the town that requires a night bus.
London Calling (through Zoom)
Get in good headspace with a five-minute meditation hosted by the National Gallery and admire French artist Redon’s painting Ophelia Among the Flowers.
While this is 9am Central Time in the US, Alex Lacey, a local London tour guide, hosts her daily #GlobalTeaBreak on Instagram Live Monday – Friday’s. Be sure to catch this next week as she dives into the history of some of London’s much-loved areas.
Catch another certified London tour guide, Katie Wignall, as she takes to Instagram and provides you with a look at hidden spots across London via her Lookup London Live videos. We strongly encourage also donating to her on her website after watching her tours as all of her content is provided to you for free!
Luckily, you don’t have to pay that hefty entrance fee to catch a birds-eye view of London aboard the London Eye. It’s a great way to get a lay of the land and where you’ll head to next!
Continue your morning by heading to a few museums and libraries. It’s easy to get lost for hours at the Natural History Museum but luckily, their online tour won’t leave you realizing where the day went!
Admittedly the most interactive and interesting virtual museum tour we’ve seen thus far is at the British Museum. This multi-sensory tour lets you browse their exhibits, artwork and artifacts dating back to 5000 BC. If you’d rather take a look at their other exhibits and collections, you can do so here.
Before you grab a quick brekkie, check out London’s most iconic bridge, The Tower Bridge, as you’ll have the boat’s perspective here riding underneath the bridge.
Local Houston Breakfast Pairings
One of the few authentic places to get an English-type breakfast is the Bull & Bear. Although no full English, they do have the requisite beans on toast. Delivery available on UberEats, Toast, and GrubHub.
Looking for something a bit more simple? Pick up a London Fog at Black Hole and a delicious pear & earl grey scone from Common Bond for an easy start to your day. Even better? They now have a drive-through location in the Heights!
“Ma’am” as in “ham”, and not “ma’am” as in “farm.”
While you aren’t able to catch a glimpse of the Queen, you can still tour parts of Buckingham Palace via a guided tour or an interactive tour of the Throne Room. Her Majesty spends the majority of her weekends (and her quarantine with Prince Philip), at Windsor Castle. On this tour, you’re able to visit the traditional State Banquet in St George’s Hall, the Waterloo Chamber and the Crimson Drawing Room. The luxury will almost make you question if Megan did the right thing. Almost.
Beefeaters are more than gin, they’re the ceremonial guardians of the Tower of London (whose official name is Yeoman Warders). Visit the Tower of London with your official tour guides, Dan Snow and YW Scott Kelly. More importantly, also kept within the walls of the Tower are the Crown Jewels. Learn about what was used at Sovereign coronations dating back to 1661! Keeping in the theme of coronations, this virtual tour of Westminster Abbey includes a close up view of the Coronation Chair as well as a peek inside the great halls of worship.
Make your way over to the home of UK democracy and get a glimpse inside the Palace of Westminster. Explore the central lobby, the House of Commons Chamber, the House of Lords Chamber and even the Royal Gallery. Head a ways down the street to Number 10 (10 Downing Street) where the British Prime Minister lives and works. Through Google Arts and Culture virtual tour, you’re able to take a peek inside the Cabinet Room where the PM holds weekly meetings and the Grand Staircase which houses portraits of every PM.
Speaking of Prime Ministers, don’t miss The Churchill War Rooms. This virtual tour takes you around the underground maze where Churchill and his strategists orchestrated their next move during World War II.
Local Houston Lunch (and tea) Pairings
Lunch in London is efficient, especially during the work week If you’re running low on time, you’ll probably end up grabbing a packaged sandwich from Marks & Spencers. We recommend sticking with the sandwich game and order from Local Foods where if you spend $50 or more, it’s free delivery.
There is nothing more British than soaking up the sun after a long rainy spring. Picnic in style (and with proper social distancing) by grabbing all the cheese and wine from Montrose Cheese and Wine.
In the mood for some Tikka Masala, the unofficial-official dish of the UK? London Sizzler and Tarka both offer the dish, and do pick up.
While it’s no 99 Flake, Milk & Sugar Ice Cream does take us back with their Rain or Shine flavor: earl grey, lavender, and lemon ice cream. Perfect for those hot days where you’d actually prefer a chilly drizzle.
In an absolutely smashing move, some of our favorite restaurants are doing afternoon tea services to go. Tea, sandwiches, and the cakes are all included. Unfortunately the three-tiered cake stands aren’t.
- McHugh Tea: full service available by calling, just make sure to do so a day in advance.
- Kiran’s: for an Indian-flavor twist, check out their afternoon tea, available on Saturday’s.
When one is tired of London, one is tired of Life
So we’ll keep going. The magic never dies with Harry Potter at Home. For kids and those young at heart. You can also have a go at film-making, costume design and more with Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter online!
One of our favorite museums in London, The Victoria & Albert museum is doing a curated virtual tour of Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk .
Another favorite and perhaps one of the best modern art museums in Europe, The Tate’s collection of Monet’s, Picasso’s, and Rothko’s is far above the rest. In this tour, Tate Modern’s director takes you on a guided tour of Tate’s new buildings. You can also join Tate’s curators of the Andy Warhol exhibition, too!
If you’re looking for some feels, make your way to the National Poetry Library and listen to their catalog of poetry relating to life during the pandemic. Touching during these rough times.
You say you want a (virtual) revolution
While the UK has turned out the best array of rock musicians over the past 60 years, London’s music scene today is vastly varied. On June 6th, DJ techno & house festival Junction 2 is moving online with their exclusive DJ sets. Learn more about musicians and other notable people from Brent, the Mayor’s London Borough of Culture 2020, in a video series and reggae map, as part of Brent 2020 Unlocked.
For all our classical lovers out there, The Royal Opera House is streaming shows through its Facebook and YouTube pages. You can also sing along to some of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s best musicals, The Shows Must Go On, featuring beloved favorites such Phantom of the Opera.
In the world of theatre, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre has released its recorded performances for worldwide viewers to watch for free from April 6 through June. You can also listen to a global cast read complete Shakespearean works every week with The Show Must Go Online.
The Bard would be honored that one of our favorite actors is reading a Shakespeare Sonnet a day on his Instagram. Just a couple will make you feel very cultured indeed.
Local Houston Dinner Pairings
All nights are Pub Night at The Red Lion. One of the few authentic British pubs left standing in Houston, they’re the place to hit for traditional pub fare. British Indian, Shepherd’s Pie, and a Sunday Roast…we’re drooling just thinking about it. Call them directly for pick up, or order on Favor.
Good beer & fish and chips are a staple at any pub you’ll visit. The Phoenix on Westhimer has them for curbside pick up by calling them directly. Rudyard’s in Montrose, although not completely British, does a mean fish & chips. Add an extra side of tots because you deserve it. Call to pick up, or if you’re within the ‘hood, they’ll deliver for free.
Looking to cook something at home? Isreali-English chef Yotam Ottolenghi is sharing his recipes and a few cooking videos on his Instagram.
You can also visit your local Central Market and whip up your own version of a Sunday Roast! Don’t forget to grab a bottle of Chapel Down, too. English sparkling wine is giving champagne a run for its money so we highly suggest trying it. Thanks global warming?
Close out your evening at one of our favorite cocktail bars in London, Cahoot’s. They are posting a cocktail masterclasses on their Instagram. Drinks while taking the Tube that don't come in a can...yes please!
Learn to make an East Gin & Tonic from Bombay Sapphire Cocktail’s website. We had the honor of visiting Bombay Sapphire's amazing distillery last year and was wowed by the hospitality and their focus on conservancy (oh, and the gin).
Since you're upping your cocktail skills at home, join the blokes from Here Nor There (HNT) on their Instagram IGTV for some serious lessons. They learned their trade at one of our favorite bars in London, Trailer Happiness, and now we get to enjoy their drinks locally. While some are not traditionally British cocktails, learning how to make a proper Margarita is always welcome.
For a very British summer-y cocktail to ease the days indoors, opt for a refreshing Pimm’s cup or a bubbly-blackberry Bramble.