You better believe I wanted to see that view from Primrose Hill when I first learned about it. While planning my trip to London, my first task was to read all the books set in London I could in order to find the ones that would make for perfect literary dates. Primrose Hill sounded like such an idyllic and dreamy spot in London. Soon I stumbled upon a book titled With Love from London and what? It’s about a woman who inherits her mom’s bookstore in Primrose Hill.
Thank you, literary gods! That view from Primrose Hill was within walking distance of my hotel so for me walking and exploring this area sounded like the best thing to do on my first day in London.
The hill in Primrose Hill park sits 219 feet above sea level according to the plaque I read that is at the summit. Once you’re at the top, you will have an amazing view of central London, which shows famous landmarks like St. Paul’s Cathedral, The Shard, and the London Eye just to name a few. I think the view from Primrose Hill is a must-see site, especially on a nice day. Lots of cute dogs are running around as you make your ascent up the hill.
If you haven’t read my book review of With Love from London, I recommend doing so because as this is a literary date, the book will be featured throughout this post.
*Full disclosure, I don’t give spoilers that tell you major plotlines in the story but knowing the places the characters go to could give some clues to the storyline. I also will share some small moments from the book but without giving plot details. It’s always my opinion that my literary date will make you want to read the book even more, but admittedly I am biased. 😉
In the book, Val follows the clues her mom has left for her in a scavenger hunt her mom devised for Val to gain more insight nto her. Valentina’s mom, Eloise, abandoned her as a child and Valentina has no idea why. She hopes this scavenger hunt will lead her to some answers.
However, Val is having trouble with her latest clue, which is upsetting to her because she’s worried she’s reached the end of learning more about her mom. One of her new friends suggests she clear her head by taking a walk.
Val agrees and so off she goes toward Primrose Hill Park.
I followed along Valentina’s path…
From the book: “What once was royal land, and the private hunting ground for Henry VIII, is now a small public park. Liza told me it was a favorite among locals and tourists alike for its panoramic views of London…”
I was so excited to see that panoramic view from Primrose Hill.
As I spotted this hill, my excitement grew, this is it, the first mission of my London trip was about to be accomplished. I had always wanted to take literary dates abroad and when I finally decided to do it, I was excited but also nervous. Would I find my way? Would I get lost on my own with shoddy cell service?
I have a terrible sense of direction so being lost and unable to find my way is one of my biggest worries. But here I was in Primrose Hill looking up at that hill and I knew I got myself here. My first literary date abroad and my trip to London began at this moment.
And there are cute little dogs galore at Primrose Hill! Look at this adorable one I saw trotting along.
Now let’s go see that view from Primrose Hill, shall we? Don’t be mad if there are a couple more cute dogs thrown in for kicks.
The View from Primrose Hill
The view from Primrose Hill did not disappoint. I sat down at the top for a bit to soak it all in. Lots of other people are of course at the top as well, but there is time and space to take it all in. Lots of people are taking pictures, sitting and chatting, and just reveling in the beauty.
I always feel awkward about asking for my photo taken but I think I was asked first to take some photos and then the nice woman returned the favor by taking quite a few of me. So glad I could capture this moment…
I highly recommend heading here to see the view from Primrose Hill and perhaps bring your dog, friends, and a picnic. It’s definitely a spot to spend some time in especially on a day like a day I went. It was beautiful!
When character Val reached the top, she admired the stone engraved with William Blake’s words: “I have conversed with the spiritual sun. I saw him on Primrose Hill.” I think I had a spiritual moment while admiring the view from Primrose Hill thinking, “I am here on my first solo trip. I’ve done it. I’m doing this on my own and I’m enjoying it.” And I thought, I don’t need a bookstagram boyfriend, I got nice people all around to take my pic. Ha!
Val also set out to see the oak tree dedicated to Shakespeare so I plugged that into Google maps and set out to find it too. I’m not sure if I was successful.
It might be one of these trees. Does anyone know? I didn’t want to go up too close since people were relaxing near all the trees. Wasn’t sure if it would be labeled, but maybe I saw Shakespeare’s tree. Either way, I enjoyed my visit to the park and the glorious view from Primrose Hill.
Primrose Hill Books
After soaking in that view from Primrose Hill, next up in my plans is to explore the neighborhood Val and her mom, Eloise lived in, and of course, when I learned it has a bookstore, I was thrilled. For sure exploring that bookstore was a must.
It’s the one with the dark blue awning. Val and Eloise lived right above the bookstore…do you see those people on the balcony? Let’s imagine Val or Eloise there with a cuppa. Now let’s imagine me there instead. It looks like a pretty sweet spot to be if you ask me.
I had a great time perusing Primrose Hill Books’ selection of new and secondhand books. I decided to get the book Iron Annie by Luke Cassidy because it sounds like a wild ride and the opposite of what I typically read.
Next up, I needed some food to eat and now, I have to confess, this is where I failed my With Love from London literary date. I wanted to eat casually and go to a cafe and while I noted Greenberry Cafe, a spot Val goes to, I forgot about it when I was actually in Primrose Hill. Oops!
I think at this point, I had already walked the 30-40 minutes from my hotel, then through the park and up the hilly summit to see the view from Primrose Hill (twice!), then to the bookstore…I was hungry, to say the least. The spot right next door to the bookstore looked good to me and…
…it was! I enjoyed my avocado toast with pomegranates. I even enjoyed going to the loo at this spot because they have quite the sense of humor-
I did not flush my hopes and dreams down the toilet or a goldfish thankfully, but I did admire the views from the toilet…
No lie, this is the view from the toilet! I thought the view from Primrose Hill was nice but who knew there would also be great views from a toilet in Primrose Hill? Wide-open view. I took care of business real fast.
I believe the name of this cafe is Ripe Kitchen, I did take a picture of the awning but it just says “Coffee Bar & Kitchen.”
Anyway, after satisfying my tummy at this spot, I decided it was dessert time. When Val’s new friend Liza gives her a tour of Primrose Hill, she points out an ice cream shop and tells her she has to try the caramel custard flavor.
Well, Liza, you don’t need to tell me twice, I found a spot that has caramel ice cream so that’s where I headed next.
Doesn’t this spot look absolutely adorable? I died of delight when I saw it. I promptly went in and ordered salted caramel and movie night ice cream, which is made with almond cookies and chocolate.
Delicious! And I enjoyed the cute dog who was lounging nearby. Besides the yummy ice cream and adorable dog, what I also loved about this spot is that it wasn’t jam-packed with people. Let me remind you that it is a BEAUTIFUL day on a Sunday and if this was NYC, an instagrammable spot like this would be packed.
I did have a mom nearby with a couple of lovely kids while I sat and ate my ice cream, but the key word is I sat right in one of those cute lounge chairs. This definitely would not have happened in New York. I savored this moment.
Moving along…remember when I wrote about the scavenger hunt Val’s mom sent her on? Now it’s time to go to one of the spots Eloise sends Val to.
Regent’s Park is one of the most beautiful Royal Parks in London and I think you shouldn’t miss it. When I explored it, I couldn’t believe I was able to enjoy it for free. In my opinion, it is way more stunning than NYC’s botanical gardens, which have a hefty fee to go and explore.
Val and Liza follow Eloise’s clue to Regent’s Park. As they walk, Liza points out different things like the old church with a pointy steeple that she wants to get married in, and earlier in the book, Val was told about the grand villas surrounding Regent’s Park.
Val and Liza’s journey leads them to Matilda’s Fountain. I’ll be honest, it looks cool in my picture but the location of it was not what I was expecting. I thought it would be inside the park, but if I remember correctly it was right outside the park on the street. Not a spot that you could hang around and admire like it seemed like Eloise used to do.
Here it is:
Val: ‘”She’s beautiful,” I say, eyeing the woman made of bronze. Her dress is delicate and feminine, and her face is so lifelike — even if it’s cast in metal and not flesh. She holds her hand to her forehead, perhaps to block the sun, but I can’t help but wonder if she’s searching for something–or someone–like me.”‘
We are all searching for something, aren’t we?
Val and Liza continue on with Eloise’s next clue but I won’t divulge any more about that so you can read it yourself. Instead, I head inside the park to see what it’s like.
And this is when I am completely enchanted because I find Queen Mary’s Gardens and it’s absolutely splendid. Do I sound English, darling?
I loved it so much! I actually have a lot more from Regent’s Park to share but just giving a little taste here because my next literary date also leads us here. Yes, Regent’s Park gives us a two-in-one literary date. What can I say? This is what happens when I take a one-week trip as opposed to NYC when I do literary dates one at a time.
Another spot Val goes to briefly is Notting Hill and I definitely went to explore that area on my first day as well. I’ll just share a snippet because I have another confession- somehow I forgot to show the pastel-colored townhouses in Primrose Hill so let’s admire some in Notting Hill, shall we?
I want to also show a spot that Val ate at but unfortunately, I didn’t get to dine here, but I did pass by.
From the book, “It’s a Chinese restaurant on a floating, three-tiered pagoda houseboat.” Next time I’m in London, I’m going! I’m sure it’s delicious.
Next spot is a spot both Val and I did get to go to. How does a walk across Tower Bridge sound?
Tower Bridge is a great spot to go to when also visiting the Tower of London, which is exactly what I did before going to the bridge. Yes, this happened on a different day than my view from Primrose Hill day. I’ll share my experience at the Tower of London on another literary date. I loved visiting that impressive fortress too.
The Tower Bridge is a great sight to behold, so iconic. As Val admired it, she imagined her mom at this spot too. It was a lot of fun to visit. You can just walk across, but I bought a ticket so I could walk across the glass floor above and visit the engine rooms.
If you dare to watch, here is my walk across the glass floor at Tower Bridge. You can hear me freaking out a bit in my understated way but honestly, before doing this, I didn’t think I would be nervous at all. As soon as I looked through that glass floor, my stomach kind of dropped. I was truly nervous.
There are two walkways with glass floors. Just when you think you’ve accomplished walking over it, there’s another one to walk over. The next one is a fun one with a mirror on the ceiling and if you’re brave enough, you can lie right down and take a picture.
That was so much fun! And another awesome thing about walking across this bridge is that you are rewarded a fabulous pub to go relax in afterward. I had my first Pimm’s Cup at The Vault and it was delicious.
Well, ladies and gentlemen, we are almost to the end of our With Love from London literary date. There are a few spots I really wanted to go to from the book but I sadly didn’t get a chance to, like Harrod’s and I wanted to at least see the outside of the Royal Automobile Club.
I try not to get too bummed about missing out on places I want to visit because I try to tell myself that one day I’ll be back. Next trip to London, I will get to Harrods!
The last spot we will go to on this literary date is a special place that Eloise I’m sure would appreciate.
And for a full view, you can watch this video if you like. It also includes a guard marching along the way they do.
It was so cool seeing a spot that I’ve only seen on the TV and in movies. Magnificent!
Last video if you’d like to watch the Dismouting Ceremony at Horse Guards Parade that happens every day at 4pm at 10 Whitehall…it started in the 1890s when Queen Victoria was shocked to see the calvary drinking while on duty. She insisted there be an inspection every day at 16:00. The tradition has stuck.
I hope you enjoyed this literary date inspired by the wonderful book With Love from London by Sarah Jio. We got to see the view from Primrose Hill, eat avocado toast, perused a brilliant book store, marveled at the flowers in Queen Mary’s Gardens, and tested our nerve walking across the glass floor at Tower Bridge. We also got to see Buckingham Palace, horses, and plenty of cute dogs, of course.
It was an amazing literary date and start to my literary travels in London. More to come next week! Thank you for reading my first literary date set in London.
I will share more from my London trip on my social media, so make sure you are following me!
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Before we go, one last view from Primrose Hill…