LONDON—I’ve been to London twice; once in 2015 and again in 2018. This list is from the completely biased point of view of a teenage chocolate addict, semi-food-obsessor, and all-round lover of anything aesthetically pleasing.

  1. Drink the Marks & Spencer Belgian Chocolate Milkshake (not kidding). 

Oh boy. I drank this by total chance in 2015 and became obsessed. The drink is scarily creamy and so, so, so chocolatey, and completely addictive on the whole. It costs under $3, if I remember correctly. I begged my parents so many times to allow me to bring a cooler box on the flight home as my check-in luggage, just so I could drink the milkshake back home too. (I was being completely serious, and I mean, who wouldn’t be? There’s only a limit on volumes of liquids for carry-on baggage, after all.)

Fair warning though: my cousins, who grew up in England, thought it was ‘average’ (we had a serious talk afterwards), so it could just be that I’ve never had a good milkshake (it definitely isn’t). 

2. Visit Victoria Station.

This is oddly specific considering how a) it’s a train station, and b) it doesn’t even have Platform 9 ¾, but there’s just something about the station that I love. During our 2015 trip, my family and I stayed in a hotel nearby – so after our 6:00 a.m. Tube ride from Heathrow upon arrival, the station was the first ‘real’ part of London that I saw. Something about the huge brick arches and massive streams of sunlight just made the whole place feel… airy? Welcoming? Warm?

I can’t adequately express what the environment there was like in words, but it seems like I’ll never need to again, since when we returned during the 2018 trip (I persuaded my parents to book the same hotel just so we’d be close to the station), it was pretty claustrophobic.

3. Go to Soho.

This is probably pretty obvious, since the Soho area is so close to Oxford Street and Regent Street, but I thought I’d mention it anyway. I LOVE walking around the general surrounding area, from Liberty to Selfridge’s, to Lillywhites and Nike Town, and so on. But Soho has 3 shops that I adore – and that I visited for the first time in 2018. 

First up is Bodean’s BBQ. We don’t get overly great barbecue in Malaysia, so I may be biased, but everyone (everyone!!) in my family loves Bodean’s (we’ve also recommended it to dozens of other people and they all claim to love it equally). I’ve only ever eaten the ribs here, but they’re so, so good. Smokey and barbecue-y and tender and literally perfect.

Next is Cass Art. This is a lot more subjective since it’s an art store, but it’s an amazing art store – which apparently makes all the difference. Products here are insanely affordable in comparison to those at other stores in both England and Malaysia, and they even have an online store. My dad and I actually ran to get there before they closed, since it was our last day and I really wanted to have a look at their products (they’d already even closed the till). 

Lastly, L’ETO, a cafe and restaurant with a few outlets worldwide. Honestly, I thought it was ‘alright’. But I’m really picky about food, and every single person in my family loves it, so I’m putting it in here too. More specifically, my relatives are obsessed with the ‘Pistachio Dulce De Leche’, a super airy combination of cake and cream and I-don’t-know-what-else. It definitely wasn’t ‘bad’ per se, but I just don’t like pistachio in general, so it wasn’t for me. They have an ‘Oreo Mocha’ which is really, really good though!

And there you go – 3 (or technically, 5) completely random things which I personally loved doing in London, with a lot more food-related items than I anticipated. There are a bunch of other foods that I ate and liked, a range of attractions which I thought were pretty cool, and a bunch of shops that I couldn’t stop walking back to, but when I think of London, these are always the first things that come to mind. 

Overall though, what I love most about London is the atmosphere – there’s genuinely nothing that compares to it.