There are about a hundred different reasons to visit London: the Queen, the culture, the copious amounts of biscuits and tea, and the 2,000-year-old history, just to name a few. So whatever you prefer — a little culture, sights or to shop until you drop — there’s something for everyone. It wasn’t easy to whittle down our list, from West End musicals to Anglican cathedrals and one of the best food markets there are. But here it is, the London city guide of our favourite things to do, places to see, as well as where to eat, drink and stay in the British capital.
This historical Anglican cathedral casts a dome which dominates London’s iconic skyline. It is a sight worth seeing and visiting. Rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren after the great fire of 1666, it remains a top spot for fans of art and architecture. If its fascinating history isn’t enough then head inside to enjoy the stunning interior. You can purchase tickets which grant entry to the cathedral floor, crypt and the three galleries in the dome.
Firstly, it’s good to note that, much like it is at many of London’s galleries and museums, entry to the Tate Modern is free. Only some exhibitions and workshops require purchase of tickets. It’s located in the former Bankside Power Station and is an incredibly vast space for modern art from around the world. The mixed offering includes paintings, photography, installations, and film, so there’s enough to keep you going for at least half a day. Highlights include work from celebrated artists such as Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol and Yayoi Kusama. What’s more is it has the best view of The River Thames from their 360° viewing terrace on the tenth floor.
Not only is the museum one of London’s more magnificent buildings, it also houses the largest collection of natural history in the world. That’s over 70 million specimens, with roughly 500,000 items added to it annually. Learn about dinosaurs, British wildlife, space, the ocean and much, much more under one roof. Entry is free, though there is a charge for some temporary exhibitions. There’s also an open-air ice rink for you to get your festive skating in.
A trip to London’s West End is a must and The Book of Mormon — the hit Broadway musical from the creators of South Park — is currently showing at the Prince of Wales Theatre. The satirical story is based on two Mormon missionaries sent from the comfort of Salt Lake City to Uganda to spread the word of the Mormon church. It’s an utterly hilarious show and definitely worth booking tickets for. You’ll need to step on it though as it’s showing only until March 2020.
London’s largest and oldest food market dates back to the 12th century, that’s over a thousand years of selling food. Today, it sells fantastic British and International produce as well as a whole host of stores selling hot and packaged foods. Whether you are looking to procure fresh British strawberries, add some new cheeses to your board, or sample fresh oysters and a Bread Ahead doughnut, this is a market that suits all tastes. I only have one piece of advice — go hungry!
Since Knightsbridge, Mayfair and Oxford Street are likely to be on your list of shopping spots in London already, I’ve decided to point you in the direction of somewhere less known. Formerly part of the Victorian industrial powerhouse, Coal Drops Yard is London’s newest shopping and dining district. It offers brands that you will know such as A.P.C, Aesop and Tom Dixon, along with brands that you don’t, including independent labels such as Wolf & Badger and iyouall. There are also eateries to stop by and rest between shopping including Le Café Alain Ducasse.
Set within the gardens of high-end development Chelsea Barracks, chef and owner of Michelin-starred Hide restaurant Ollie Dabbous, is back with a pop-up called Hideaway. Here, breakfast, lunch and evening drinks (including a selection of Hedonism wines) are offered. We suggest having a little breakfast or a quick bite consisting of a freshly baked Buckwheat pain au chocolat or the signature Croque Monsieur with optional black truffle, followed by a wander around Chelsea where there are secret gardens and quiet corners to discover.
If fresh hand-rolled pasta is your bag, then Padella is the place to go. This lively bistro is a great lunch spot where quick, fuss-free service delivers excellent Italian pasta dishes. The casual eatery has a no reservation policy but forget queueing physically, as there is a downloadable app, called Walkin, which does it for you, virtually. Must orders include the Pici Cacio e Pepe and Pappardelle With 8-Hour Beef Shin Ragu. You’re welcome.
Scottish-born chef Adam Handling has been making quite the name for himself with his burgeoning restaurant and bar group. The critically-acclaimed chef’s latest opening is in the beautifully restored Belmond Cadogan Hotel which features a stunning cocktail bar, open kitchen and elegant dining room. Here, the menus showcase the best of British produce in a seasonal, sustainable, creative way and result in phenomenally executed dishes. Tasting menu options, with or without wine pairings, are available along with a la carte. We recommend the utterly moreish Cheese doughnuts, signature vegetarian “Mother” dish and the Chicken butter. In fact, I’m still thinking about that creamy chicken stock-infused butter, topped with rich chicken gravy and crispy chicken skin, to this day.
From the same team behind trendy Shoreditch restaurant Lyle’s, Flor is the relatively new-kid-on-the-block located near Borough Market. Part wine bar, bakery, and restaurant, the space is great for brunch. Its bright, charming and cosy interior is the ideal backdrop and the menu incorporates global influence successfully. Favourites include the Palourde clam flatbread with vin jaune and Spenwood cheese, and the Brown butter cakes which taste like little sticky toffee puddings.
Roasting what is said to be the best coffee in London, Monmouth sources their beans from single farms, estates and cooperatives. The specialist coffee shop is a great resting spot, albeit a busy one and sells beans, filter coffee, and freshly brewed cups of coffee. Pick up a baked pastry while you’re there (or in the nearby Borough Market) and your pick-me-up is sorted.
Tucked away in London’s luxury hotel Claridge’s, The Fumoir bar is exactly what you need after a long day of sight-seeing. Refined and handsome, this thirties-inspired bar is ideal for pre-dinner drinks or for the much-needed night cap. Either way, try their signature Fumoir Negroni, made with hepple, gancia rosso, campari and cold coffee infusion with chamomile, and you’re singing.
A luxury hotel, private members’ club and collection of restaurants located in the City of London. If this remarkable 1920s-inspired hotel, set inside the historical Midland Bank building, doesn’t charm you — we don’t know what will.
This Park Lane hotel is the perfect example of what happens when you mix business with wellness, well. Located in the affluent area of Mayfair, The Como Metropolitan London offers 144 stylish yet comfortable rooms and suites. Here, a clean design meets intuitive technology and the COMO Shambhala Urban Escape spa, which all types of travellers will likely enjoy. During our stay we spotted guests that ranged from couples, families of all ages and business travellers. Helping to create a calm and relaxing stay, the rooms are flooded with natural light — thanks to floor to ceiling windows — with green views overlooking Hyde Park.