London, In A Day
Buckingham Palace, Madame Tussauds, The London Eye, Harrods, Hyde Park, St Paul’s Cathedral, Wimbledon -- these are all just a tiny fraction of what the city of London has to offer.
The city of London is over 2000 years old, and is characterised by a mish mash of history, culture, architecture and people. Over 300 languages are spoken within its perimeter. It’s the financial capital of the world (along with New York). It was once the city from where a vast empire was ruled, and has today emerged as Europe’s cultural hub. Restaurants, museums, palaces, art galleries, shops, bars, clubs all come together, as London makes its presence felt on every “must visit” list.
Whether you holiday in London every summer or have been planning a trip that’s never materialised, here’s our guide to getting the best of the city of London in a day.
Check in to your hotel: We recommend The Savoy. It’s location -- close to Covent Garden and Leicester Square -- means you’ll be within walking distance from the city’s eclectic shops and cinema scene. On a budget? Try The Hoxton. It’s famous £1 pound rooms are a huge hit, and the hotel is conveniently located in Shoreditch -- the hipster-friendly part of East London. Looking for something a bit more mid range? Try The Arosfa. Or be boring and go for Holiday Inn. It’s nothing to write home about but location, location, location. Right opposite The Ritz (another luxury option if you’re willing to shell out the big bucks) in the heart of Mayfair, and it won’t pinch your pockets too much, quite unlike other hotels in the vicinity.
Breakfast: In London for a day means you have to start the day with a classic English breakfast. We recommend the full English with Stornoway black pudding at Berners Tavern, located right off Oxford Street at Ian Schrager's grand London Edition Hotel. Or try the weekend three course Bottomless Brunch at The Botanist, Broadgate Circle. There’s also Chiltern Firehouse, recently refurbished and reopened and home to London’s a-listers. The french toast may make the schmoozing entirely worthwhile. Running late? Try brunch at The Duck And Waffle (and order the duck and waffle).
Looking for something more casual? There’s Breakfast etc. You can pick up breakfast on the go from their multiple east London locations.
Museums/Galleries: Museums and galleries in London close early, so best to start your day with a little bit of art and culture. We recommend the Victoria And Albert Museum, especially their special exhibitions (which have included exhibits on David Bowie and Alexander McQueen in the past), the Tate (for British art) and Tate Modern (for modern art), and the National Gallery (for an excellent art collection under one roof). The National Museum is also a must visit, and while we love the Natural History Museum’s building, the collection itself can be skipped.
Lunch: We recommend a light lunch at Launceston Place, a under the radar lunch spot located close to the shops at High Street Kensington. Order the seasonal English lunch. Or if you prefer a bit of Mayfair dining, try Delfino on Mount Street for some delicious authentic Italian.
Shopping: If you’re crunched for time we recommend you head straight to High Street Kensington, with a quick stop before or after at Harrod’s nearby in Knightsbridge. This area has a mix of all the high street and luxury shops, conveniently located next to each other. Have a bit more time? Start off on Old Bond Street and walk via New Bond Street onto Regent Street. Here you’ll find the flagship stores of all luxury brands -- think three floors of Louis Vuitton, Dior, Chanel and Burberry. On Regent Street you’ll find London’s flagship Apple Store and the iconic Hamleys. Walk from here to Oxford Circus onto Oxford Street for the best of London’s high street shopping on offer.
High Tea: End your shopping with a spot of high tea at either The Ritz (if you feel like getting all dressed up) or our personal favourite -- Fortnum & Mason. Wander through Fortnum & Mason’s delicious selection of cookies, jams and syrups to get the scent and taste buds warmed up for the tea and scones that are to follow.
Not a high tea fan? No worries. Just make your way to one of London’s many pubs. Our tops picks: Ape & Bird in Covent Garden, Bradley's Spanish Bar on Oxford Street, Coach & Horses in Soho and Jerusalem Tavern in Farrington.
Theatre: Head back to your hotel for a quick refresher. If you’ve been good on time, you’ll be able to quickly change and make your way to a West End show. We recommend any of the classics: Lion King, Mamma Mia, Wicked, Phantom Of The Opera, Les Miserables. You can’t go wrong.
Dinner and drinks: Since you’re probably close to Soho -- London’s entertainment centre -- we recommend trying a Soho restaurant for dinner and drinks. Our top picks: Yauatcha, 100 Wardour Street, 10 Greek Street, Social Eating House and Bao.
Not in the mood for Soho? Try the all new Sexy Fish in Mayfair or the can’t-go-wrong Sushi Samba in Bishopsgate. Prefer something more east? Try Rök Smokehouse and Bar in Shoreditch.
After hours: If you’re tired, don’t feel bad about heading back to the hotel for some shut eye, but if you want to see what London’s nightlife has to offer, make sure you line your stomach well. If you’re in Soho, hop around the area and enter anything that looks interesting. Our top picks, starting from the more laid back to the very hectic: Milk And Honey, the Blind Pig, The Experimental Cocktail Club, G.A.Y (it’s a gay bar as the name would suggest), Toy Room, and the New York-famous London entrant, The Box.
Not a Soho fan? Mayfair has a plush, high end clubbing scene. Check out Mahiki, Project, Maddox, Movida, Boujis, China White (Soho’s Toy Room and The Box fit in with this category).
Not your scene? Check out east London for the nightlife. Our picks: Efes Pool Club & Bar, Dalston Superstore, Silicon Drinkabout and J'adore, J'adore at Vogue Fabrics.