Before I start talking about London, I want to mention that there's a lot more to the UK than just London, don't be afraid to branch out. For example, I traveled to the extremely unknown and exotic city of Cambridge which is a very doable (and highly recommended) half-day trip.
Let's start this London journey off with my favorite breakfast joint!
My flat was right next to this popular breakfast spot and I went often. Come for a traditional British breakfast at a seriously great price. Tip: This place is cash only.
A street over from Regency Cafe is Mala Sichuan. When my aunt came to visit from Shanghai I took her to eat here and she agreed that this restaurant would be considered great even in China. I highly recommend the dry wok sliced pork intestines, double cooked pork, and stir fried morning glory with fermented bean curd. Usually I don't trust Chinese restaurants when they're too clean but this place was seriously good!
This museum was next door to my office and I frequently visited during lunch. I like it because it's not as crowded as other museums and has a good variety of art from different time periods.
Big Ben/Palaces of Westminster
Trafalgar Square/The National Gallery
Trafalgar Square is a great place to sit and people watch (listen and you'll hear a million different languages!) Almost every weekend I was in London, there was some event in Trafalgar Square. It was the main hub for the Eid Festival and Pride. Behind Trafalgar Square you'll find The National Gallery, which has an extremely impressive collection of art. The audio guides are cheap and well worth investment.
Walk a little ways up from Trafalgar Square/The National Gallery and you'll see Foyles Bookstore on Charing Cross Rd. This bookstore has many floors and an impressive collection of books in different languages. (I found Harry Potter in Arabic here!) They usually have a good amount of signed books for sale and on the top floor there's a large cafe where you can sit and read for a bit.
My favorite restaurant is just a little ways from Foyles. Dishoom is a delicious tribute to Bombay. There's several locations but my favorite was the location near Covent Garden. The long lines are made much more bearable with the warm Chai (and occasional cinnamon whiskey) that they distribute to those waiting in line. The decor is gorgeous and the service is impeccable. For the quality of food, the price is right. I recommend the House Black Daal, Garlic Naan, Dishoom Calamari, and Rose and Cardamom Lassi.
From Dishoom you can head to London's Chinatown. My favorite finds here were boba from Biju and fried rice and small tapas from Viet Food.
Café de Paris
Near London's Chinatown is Café de Paris, a nightclub with a great cabaret show featuring comedy, burlesque, and very overpriced drinks.
Phat Phuc Noodle Bar
This is an interesting eatery (with an interesting name) featuring an outdoor seating area and kitchen. It's not a formal restaurant, which adds to the charm. I recommend a piping hot bowl of Pho Bo with an ice cold Tsingtao beer.
You'll find beautiful decor throughout this luxury department store, escalators that move at the speed of the Nile, and high-end finds from the most luxurious brands that aren't sold anywhere other than Harrods. Despite impressive food, perfume, cosmetics, and clothing departments, the "Toy Kingdom" wowed me the most--it's complete with a toy concierge perfect for any spoiled brat! Also check out the spy room section for interesting technology finds and Harrods' impressive selection of collectables for sale, including a collection of signatures from every American president.
Tower of London/Tower Bridge
I loved the contrast between old and new here! After exploring a bit, be sure to take a walk along the Thames.
Victoria & Albert Museum
A truly unique museum focused on textiles and design. I loved the Balenciaga exhibit.
One of my favorite things about London was the big beautiful parks. For a minute, you forget you're in such a big city.
Arguably the best outdoor shopping area in London, Oxford Street carried both higher and lower end stores. Check out the giant Primarks on both ends of this street but be sure not to miss the three floor Lush store!
British Museum/Churchill War Rooms
These were my favorite two places to spend time in London.