Londinium New Year

COVID wrecked my 2021 New Year’s plan. Celebrating 2022 at home wasn’t much fun either.

So what’s a lady to do?

Head to London for 2023, and their biggest firework celebration in years – that’s what.🎇🎆

Following my Nice Christmas, I jetted to England — my second home

Man, I love this country. 😍

Sightseeing wasn’t a concern since I frequently visit the UK , so as it was in Nice, relaxation and catching up on my school work were my priorities. 

Shopping at the various Christmas markets still hanging around also made the agenda. 


Flying from Nice to London Heathrow was a slight nightmare. I booked the second direct flight from Nice to London Heathrow, which happened to leave at noon. My pre-booked Welcome Pickups taxi arrived at the arranged time and there were no issues getting to the airport. 

However, the airport check-in was a different story.

I adhere to the ‘get to the airport two hours before your departure for international flights’ rule. Imagine my shock when I arrived and there was no one at the check-in counter. 

Empty British Airways Check-in counter at Nice Airport

A quick direct Twitter message to British Airways was answered and they replied their staff would be there shortly.

Thirty minutes later — the queue is backed up and still no staff in sight. Guess BA’s definition of shortly greatly differs from mine. 🙃

British Airways queue at Nice Airport

Staff arrived ten minutes later and I checked in and proceeded through the security gates and passport control. 

The flight was smooth and no crazy people antics or ‘Karens’ on this flight.

Upon arrival at Heathrow, and after picking up my luggage, I headed to the London Underground and relaxed for the hour it took to get to the London Lodge Hotel, my lodging for the first part of my London stay. 

Traveler’s Tip:  

If you frequently visit London, invest in an Oyster Card and learn to use the Tube. It’s less expensive than the London taxis.

Yes, it may take a bit longer, but when a taxi from the airport cost upwards of £150, I’d gladly take the Underground for £7.

Besides, a taxi from Heathrow to my hotel would’ve taken seventy-five minutes, which is about fifteen minutes more than the Tube. 


This was my third stay at the London Lodge Hotel. My first two stays were magnificent, so hopefully the third time — a three-night stay — would be the cherry on top. 

It wasn’t.

While my stay wasn’t terrible, it was impacted by a host of issues: 

1. The room I was allocated was in need of a complete renovation. The furniture was very worn and chipped in too many places to be passed off as ‘wear and tear.’ Also, I was supposed to be allocated a room with a view of the Victorian Style Lexham Garden Street, but was given a room with a view of the boiler. 

2. The carpet needs to be ripped out and replaced. Honestly, I think a hardwood floor is better for cleanliness and style, and less chance of visible and nasty stains on carpet. I was scared to put my bare feet on that carpet.  

3. The bathroom needs renovating as well. The tub was chipped and the water handles were covered in residue and crust. Also, the fire alarm in the ceiling looked as if it was ripped out and the cover just stuck back to make it look as if the device works. The toilet needs replacing because it shouldn’t take three flushes. 

4. The bed was quite comfortable. No complaints here. 

5. The position of the outlets, including having none by the bed, needs to be addressed. It’s sad that there was no room to have the tea service set up properly and I had to find an outlet to make myself a cup of tea. Also, not having a spot next to the bed to recharge my phone was a letdown. 

6. In the three nights I stayed, my room was not serviced once, even when I left the ‘Room free for Service’ sign on the door. That isn’t acceptable, and a major hygiene and cleanliness issue. 

Renovations are surely needed. The photos on the web site didn’t match what I received and it was sad to see this hotel so run-down, particularly after my wonderful stay three years ago.

It was because of the wonderful service I received during my previous stay that I decided to stay at London Lodge again. However, I’m not sure I’ll return until the hotel is renovated and not so run-down. 

To my surprise, management agreed with my feedback, stating the room I was allocated was scheduled for renovations that had to be halted because of the pandemic.

Additionally, I was not allocated the correct room because those rooms were currently being renovated. The hotel even refunded a portion of my payment since I wasn’t allocated the room with a view, which cost £75 more a night than the room I was allocated. 

Not bad customer service, and once the renovations are complete, I will return. 


Before wandering the city, I needed breakfast and paying the hotel £32 a day for a Continental Breakfast would leave a bad taste in my mouth. 

I stumbled upon Chez Antoinette while shopping in Covent Garden. Cozy place for breakfast. The breakfast menu was limited, but still cheaper than £32. Customer service was hit and miss, but not terrible. 

I ordered the half avocado, poached egg, oak smoked salmon & homemade hollandaise sauce on toast for £10 and a hot chocolate for £3.5.

Breakfast was edible and filling. The hot chocolate was decent, but the taste told me it was made with hot water and not milk. 

Not sure I would eat here again as their All-Day Menu consists mostly of snack food like sandwiches and cheese plates. 


There were no true plans for this adventure. I’ve been to London many times, so nothing really piqued my interest. However, I never fail to find something of interest during my London adventures. This time I ‘happened’ upon the Leicester Square Christmas Market

Leicester Square is the heart of London’s tourist district. The main attraction was the circus and cabaret show ‘La Clique,’ but I focused more on shopping. Entry to the market was free, but individual shows and entertainment activities had ticketed prices.

The Square is also the centre of London’s cinema land, and home to Scenes in the Square. The square has been home to cinemas since 1930 and hosted its first film premiere in 1937.


Shopping done, I headed over to Covent Garden for lunch. I selected Tuttons, one of the most famous and long standing restaurants in Covent Garden, because it wasn’t packed with people and the menu had variety.

Unfortunately, that’s all the good I can muster. It wasn’t a terrible dining experience but I don’t think I’ll dine here again.

For a place not terribly busy, I waited a long time for someone to come and take my order. Also, took 10 minutes for a waiter to refill my water glass. This was after the fourth time I asked for a refill.

My lamb shoulder hot pot was hot, but lack seasoning and flavor.

Lamb shoulder hot pot

I did a bit more shopping before heading back to the hotel for the night.


Stopped by You Me Sushi on my way back to the London Lodge. Needed something different and fresh to have for dinner in my room while I caught up on my favorite British Television programs like Come Dine With Me.

Splurged on the salmon poke bowl, miso soup and edamame. The bowl was decent and filling. Service is typical fast food – focused on speed instead of niceties.

salmon poke bowl
Salmon poke bowl


I moved to the Hotel Indigo London-Tower Hill following my three-night stay at London Lodge. The seasonal high cost of hotels required the change as I was using my timeshare points to save a few dollars. 

Overall, an enjoyable stay. Staff were courteous and professional. The Superior Room was cleaned and looked luxurious. The four-poster bed was comfortable. The room was still a bit small for a Superior, but had lovely decor and the shower was nice. 

The Full English breakfast was okay and decently priced. Wi-Fi was a bit iffy at times, but worked when needed.


I’d been debating visiting the Churchill War Rooms for a few years. The museum is always on my list for my London Adventures, but it is also one that is always bumped for another activity. 

This year I made the museum a priority. I pre-booked my date and ticket, and jumped on the Underground to King Charles Street.

Churchill War Rooms
Churchill War Rooms

Traveler’s Tip: 

Always book your visit in advance. Although this is not a requirement, tickets do sell out for specific times, and the time you arrive may not be available.

Also, try to book a time between 0930 and 1030, when the museum opens for the day. It gets pretty packed as the day goes on, and it’ll be tough to enjoy if you’re bumping into people at every turn. The space can get very tight, especially with so many people inside.

Churchill War Rooms Entrance Queue
Churchill War Rooms Entrance Queue

My dedicated entry time was 1000, although I arrived at 0920 because I knew it would be a long queue. My ticket also include a guide book.

The museum and site was very interesting and informative. During tWorld War II, a group of basement offices in Whitehall served as the centre of Britain’s war effort.

The complex, known as the Cabinet War Rooms, was occupied by leading government ministers, military strategists and Prime Minister Winston Churchill, hence the name.

Churchill’s War Cabinet met here 115 times, mostly during the Blitz and the later German V-weapon attacks. They were in use 24 hours a day until August 16, 1945.

I enjoyed learning little known facts like how the switchboard operators and typists in Room 60 were all civilian women. During the Blitz, many of them remained underground day and night, sleeping between shifts in the sub-basement below the War Rooms, known as the ‘dock.’

If they aren’t on your list, the War Rooms and the London Transport Museum are certainly worth the entry fees. Very educational and fun!


Took the opportunity to roam the city, just snapping random photos.


My tummy was growling following my visit, so I pulled up Google Maps and searched for seafood restaurants. The Seafood Bar had a fair amount of four and five-star reviews, so I decided to check it out. 

The Seafood Bar, London
The Seafood Bar, London

Glad I decided to make my way to this restaurant. The menu offers a variety of choices, including vegetarian. I chose the Fruits de Mer for one person, with a side of chips and a large sparkling water.


Fruits de Mer
Fruits de Mer for one person

The platter is a combination of mussels, smoked mackerel rillettes, whelks, clams, crevettes, seafood salad, Devon brown crab, two oysters and Nordic Blu salmon sashimi.

I considered splurging and adding lobster to the mix, but there was enough food on this platter to satisfy my tummy. 

The food was delicious and customer service was excellent. The prices are a bit high, so if you’re on a food budget, be cautious when ordering. 

The restaurant was nice and warm and the atmosphere was nice. Really enjoyed my meal and chances are I’ll be back.


The next two days were spent wandering around the city, shopping and enjoying myself until the party on New Year’s Eve.

My friends and I had tickets to London’s New Year’s Eve party. Before we headed out, it was decided to enjoy a nice dinner close to the hotel. Most pubs were open, but we knew it was inevitable these places would get rowdy as 2023 drew closer. 


Two of my friends stayed at the Chamberlain Hotel, which was down the street from my hotel. They said the hotel’s pub had good food at reasonable prices. The menu had a variety of selections and I chose the Dover Sole special and a chocolate brownie for dessert.

Service was good and food was tasty. Prices were reasonable. Atmosphere was decent, not too loud or rowdy. I can’t comment on the hotel, but the pub was a nice place to relax and get ready for the night activities.


We headed toward Central London to watch the show. 

2023 in London
One minute before midnight

And boy was it a show!!

“Love London” was the theme and included many messages of love and unity, including a lovely  tribute to the late Queen Elizabeth II.

It was easy to see how much the late Queen was missed by everyone in attendance. 

The fireworks display and the camaraderie made this celebration one the most memorable.

As the only teetotaler in my group, I took it upon myself to ensure my friends made it back to their hotels safely and without incident.

I returned to my hotel, as my first 2023 travel adventure was flying back home on New Year’s Day.

Originally, the plan was to book a taxi because of the early morning flight. The cost was £143 for a pre-booked taxi, not including service charge or tip.

New Year’s Day rates I guess.

However, I learned the Tube was running early morning service because of New Year’s.

Cost was £7.70 to airport.

Let’s take a few moments and consider our options:

  • Time by taxi to airport: 90 minutes with traffic and construction. Also, the taxi company couldn’t guarantee a driver would arrive on time to pick me up due to all the late night traffic.
  • Time to airport by Tube: 75 minutes. No hassle.

Yep, I took the tube. Arrived at airport on time and fly to my next adventure location:

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