I love it when the gluten free community comes together to help each other out.
I started this blog after I planned a trip to NCY with my gluten free kid. I had done so much research preparing for the trip that I thought it would be a waste to not share the information in the hopes of making someone else's trip a little easier.
That is why I was so happy when Marina, another fellow gluten free Mom who also likes to travel, contacted me about a guest post about her trip to London.
The Gluten Free Teen and I went to London summer 2009. Marina and her family, including her 11 year old daughter who also has celiac, recently visited London over Thanksgiving break in 2010. Marina has graciously complied her travel and eating information to share here in hopes of helping you on your next trip to London.
A London trip we took in November 2010 was one of the best trips we’ve been on yet. The trip was just 5 days on the Thanksgiving week. Since our daughter has celiac disease we planned the entire trip very carefully.
We flew with US Airways from Philadelphia. I called US Airways customer service two weeks before the flight date and asked for two gluten free meals for me and my daughter. I am not on GF diet but I always order two GF meals for us in hope that if I order two, at least one will be available. We both got nice GF dinners: grilled chicken with mashed potatoes and steamed vegetables, a rice cake instead of bread, and fresh strawberries for desert. For snack they brought us more rice cakes. I packed a lot of GF food for the flight (fruit, sandwiches, and snacks) and didn’t have to use it at all.
When planning the trip, I looked for a hotel room with a kitchen and came across serviced apartments. (http://www.londonservicedapartments.co.uk/) There are a lot of them in London and the price is not higher than for a regular hotel. So we booked an apartment at No 1 Mansions. For more information on services apartments click London Serviced Apartments.
We booked a 3 bedroom apartment for 5 people. They had a promotion at the time: stay 6 nights pay for 5.
It was a nice, clean, and very big apartment with fully equipped kitchen in Kensington area called Earls Court. It is a beautiful residential area with a lot of restaurants and stores. Earls Court underground station is in less than 5 min. walk. A small but very nice supermarket ,Marks & Spencer Simply Food, is right near the underground station. They have a little gluten free shelf with some bread, cookies, and cakes. They didn’t have any gluten free pasta.
We had breakfasts at our apartment as well as suppers. I packed and brought with me UDI bread, GF pasta, buckwheat grain, Chex cereal, some GF snacks. The rest we bought at the supermarket there.
Dining out GF in London:
I found a Greek restaurant nearby called As Greek As it Gets. We had a dinner there on our first evening. I contacted them by email and they told me that the chef knows how to cook GF. When we ordered food we let the waiter know that we need a GF meal and the chef came out to talk to us. He told us what can be cooked GF. My daughter had chosen a salad and chicken shish kebab. The prices were very reasonable and food was good.
Cotto Restaurant is the best place for gluten free food in London. The owner is celiac himself. They serve many GF meals and GF bread. The owner came to talk to us when we had dinner there. Good Italian food and not expensive. The restaurant is in walking distance from the London Eye.
J D Weatherspoon pubs is a huge chain of English pubs that has gluten free menu at all locations. We found one Weatherspoon pub right across the street from the Tower of London. Great experience, we all loved it. The GF menu is big enough. They have a chart with all the allergens in their meals. GF chicken was good. The bill was more than reasonable.
Here is a list of chains that have GF menu but we didn’t have a chance to eat there:
• Leon - A popular "healthy fast food" chain they have a wide range of gluten free options (GF is marked on their takeout menu, but not their regular menu).
• La Tasca - Tapas chain, they mark all their gluten free items on their menu.
• Carluccio - This Italian chain has a special gluten free menu, which includes gluten free pasta.
• Starbucks - The well known coffee chain now does gluten free cakes.
• Nandos - Most of Nandos chicken dishes are gluten free, gluten isn't marked on the menu, but each resturant will have a menu specification book which lists the dishes containing gluten. ( I saw one of their restaurants not far from the British Museum).
• Pitcher & Piano - All of their sandwiches are available on gluten-free bread
• Wagamama - Although they don't mark GF on their menu, they're very allergy aware and can modify many of their menu items to suit a GF diet.
One last tip!
Don’t forget to use a very popular promotion: 2FOR1 London attraction. To use it you have to go to a London train station (not an underground station) and buy your travel card (the best way to pay for your travel in London) from them. We walked to Paddington station on our first day and bought 7 days travel card there. It is really worth it since you can then buy 2 tickets for most of the popular attraction for the price of one and get the best price for you transportation. It includes The London Eye, The Tower of London etc.
What would a trip to London be without Tea?
Lastly, on Days Out Guide I found an offer for 2FOR1 Afternoon Tea at Radisson Edwardian Vanderbilt Hotel (walking distance from our hotel). I emailed them, booked the afternoon tea, and let them know that one of us will need GF food. They told me that it would be no problem. The GF food for my daughter exceeded all our expectations. They served finger sandwiches on GF bread as well as some GF pastry and fruit.
The price for the tea is £15.00 and we only paid half of it. If you decide to have tea, email the hotel directly before you make your reservation and ask if they can provide gluten free afternoon tea for you.
Sherlock Holmes Museum
The trip was a lot of fun. We didn’t have any problem finding GF food. The kitchen in the apartment helped us a lot and saved us a lot of money too.
Thanks Marina for so much great information!!