London Travel Guide

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by Santorini Dave • Updated: January 23, 2019

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The 93 best hotels, restaurants, shops, bars, clubs, tours, places, and things to do in London, England.

London Hotels

1. The Savoy • Covent Garden • $$$$

The grandest grand dame of London hotels; past guests include Claude Monet and Laurence Olivier. Beyond the top-hatted doormen, exquisite rooms are either English Edwardian or Art Deco in design, reflecting the Savoy’s historical influences. Excellent fine dining onsite, courtesy of Gordon Ramsey, as well as the legendary American Bar – London’s oldest. A short walk from the West End’s attractions, theaters, and restaurants and Covent Garden tube. • Map • +44 20 7836 4343

2. The Dorchester • Mayfair • $$$$

Opulently classical hotel that’s been attracting royalty, Hollywood actors, and American presidents since 1931. Expect palatial rooms filled with marble, antique furniture, and sumptuous fabrics, as well as a futuristic spa and 3-Michelin-star dining courtesy of French chef extraordinaire Alain Ducasse. Overlooks the east side of Hyde Park, a short stroll from the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace, and the nightlife of West End. • Map • +44 20 7629 8888

3. St. Pancras Renaissance • Central London • $$$$

A carefully restored London landmark that’s part of St Pancras International train station. Many original features inside – from the cathedral-like cupola ceiling above the grand staircase to the original furnishings in the rooms and signature suites. Complimentary historic tours of the hotel, plus onsite spa and classic British fine dining. Walkable to the British museum. Excellent public transport connections to the rest of the city. • Map • +44 20 7841 3540

4. The Ritz • Mayfair • $$$$

Overlooking Green Park near Buckingham Palace, The Ritz is synonymous with old-world luxury. The interior is done in classic Louis XVI style, complete with ornate antique furnishings and heavy silk drapes. Butler service in the suites. Onsite dining is classic French; “Tea at the Ritz” is open to all. Next to Green Park tube; ideally located for exploring Westminster, the West End, and Hyde Park. • Map • +44 20 7300 2222

5. Soho Hotel • Soho • $$$

Quirky boutique hotel right in the heart of Soho, with excellent dining and nightlife right on its doorstep. All rooms were individually dressed by interior designer and co-owner Kit Kemp, and feature bright, eye-catching wallpaper, a signature mannequin in each room, and a striped umbrella in each wardrobe. Guests can relax in the library or in the sculpture-strewn drawing room, complete with a 24-hour honesty bar. Refuel restaurant serves contemporary European dishes with a separate children’s menu. • Map • +44 20 7559 3000

6. Sea Containers • South Bank • $$$

With stellar views of the Thames, Sea Containers is a few minutes’ walk from the London Eye, Borough Market, Globe Theatre, and Tate Modern. Nautical touches, such as the copper-clad ‘ship’s hull’ reception, convey 1920 cruise ship glamour; rooms are understated and decked out with custom-designed furniture. Onsite is Lyaness (formerly the Dandelyan Bar) with its highly original cocktails, while the glass-enclosed Rumpus Room rooftop bar has an unobstructed view of London’s landmarks. • Map • +44 20 3747 1000

7. Claridge’s • Mayfair • $$$$

The epitome of luxury for over 150 years. Hand-curated furniture, signature prints, and sumptuous fabrics abound in guest rooms, along with high-tech features such as iPod docking stations. Suites are waited on by butlers. Michelin-starred dining onsite. Easy walk from Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park, and the West End. Near Bond Street tube. • Map • +44 20 7629 8860

8. Shangri-La at The Shard • South Bank • $$$

Occupying the 34th to 52nd floors of London’s iconic jagged-topped skyscraper, this is London’s highest hotel, and has incredible views. Rooms are neutral-toned, with floor-to-ceiling windows; suites come with butler service. Asian fine dining onsite, as well as English afternoon tea and cocktails on the 52nd-floor bar. Close to London Bridge tube; a short walk from Tower Bridge, Tate Modern, and the Tower of London. Well-placed for boat tours of the Thames. • Map • +44 20 7234 8000

9. Chiltern Firehouse • Mayfair • $$$$

Inside this converted 19th-century Victorian firehouse there are just 26 exclusive, individually retro-styled rooms, lofts, and open-plan studios. Each guest is looked after by a personal assistant, but the hotel retains a relaxed and homey vibe. There’s ingredient-focused cooking at the onsite restaurant (helmed by a Michelin-starred chef), while the Ladder Bar mixes signature cocktails. Numerous restaurants and high-end shopping nearby. Close to Baker Street tube; walking distance from Hyde Park, Madame Tussaud’s, Sherlock Holmes Museum, Buckingham Palace. • Map • +44 20 7073 7676

10. The Langham • Marylebone • $$$$

Luxury hotel with Oriental touches. Expect plenty of marble, fresh orchids, and warm, unobtrusive service. The rooms are all decadent opulence, featuring dark-wood furniture and plush fabrics. The onsite bar, Artesian, was voted World’s Best Bar for four years running. The location is just off Oxford Street, ideally placed for shopping, restaurants and bars in Soho, and the West End’s many theaters. • Map • +44 20 7636 1000

11. Mandarin Oriental • Hyde Park • $$$$

Luxury hotel overlooking Hyde Park, with Michelin-starred dining by Heston Blumenthal. Classic Edwardian decor, excellent Asian-themed spa, and cutting-edge in-room entertainment. Located near Knightsbridge tube. Ideally placed for high-end shopping; short walk from Kensington’s terrific trio of museums and Buckingham Palace. • Map • +44 20 7235 2000

12. The Connaught • Mayfair • $$$$

Historical heritage meets modernity. This grand 19th-century hotel is split across two wings: traditional rooms with antique furnishings in one, and bright, contemporary and somewhat oriental one in the other. Michelin-starred French restaurant onsite, as well as traditional afternoon tea, and one of the world’s best cocktail bars. High-end shopping and restaurants nearby. Short walk from Hyde Park, Buckingham Palace, and Soho’s nightlife and dining. • Map • +44 20 7499 7070

13. ME by Melia • Covent Garden • $$$

Sleek, monochromatic, contemporary hotel, with understated but stylish rooms and a hollow black marble pyramid that accommodates the reception. Terrific Rooftop cocktail bar overlooking St Paul’s Cathedral, Tower Bridge, and the London Eye. Short walk from Covent Garden; perfect for exploring the West End’s attractions, theaters, and nightlife. • Map • +44 20 7395 3400

London Restaurants

14. Social Eating House • Soho • $$$

Michelin-starred bistro cuisine by Gordon Ramsey protégé Jason Atherton. Informal, vibrant bare brick walled setting, excellent use of seasonal, local produce. The prix fixe early bird menu is great. Attached to The Blind Pig: a stylish, speakeasy-style bar known for its killer cocktails. Reservations. • Map • +44 20 7993 3251

15. Sabor • Mayfair • $$$

The best Spanish restaurant in London. Dine on grilled meats at the asodar’s communal tables upstairs or dig into tapas plates downstairs; dishes span Castille, Galicia, Andalucia, and more. Black trumpet and truffle croquetas, Jerusalem artichoke tortilla, and suckling pig are standout dishes. • Map • +44 20 3319 8130

16. Homeslice Neal’s Yard • Covent Garden • $$

Bustling Covent Garden branch of the fantastic local pizza mini-chain. Unusual toppings vary from spiced lamb with suman yogurt to kimchi with porcini cream; you can either get it by the 20-incher mega slice (plenty for two) or go half and half. No reservations. • Map • +44 20 3151 7488

17. Roganic • Marylebone • $$$

A successful pop-up has found a permanent home here, showcasing the best of seasonal produce from around the country in tiny, beautifully-assembled dishes. Choose between an 8 or 11-course tasting menu and feast on the likes of dry-aged Cumbrian beef and chicken with cod roe. Weekday business lunches are a bargain. • Map • +44 20 3370 6260

18. HIDE • Mayfair • $$$

An ambitious project by hotshot chef Ollie Dabbous, split into three levels: Below is the classy subterranean bar serving innovative cocktails and rare spirits. Ground is the informal all-day restaurant, while Above is the light, bright fine-dining venue with bold-flavored tasting menus that make great use of local produce. Scroll through the provided iPad to access the 6,800 tipples from Hedonism Wines. • Map • +44 20 3146 8666

19. Barrafina • Soho • $$$

A larger, glitzier version of the original small-plates-and-no-reservations Barcelona-style tapas bar. Perch on a leather stool and order the runny-centered tortilla, the Josper-grilled meats, and the fantastic fresh seafood. Get here early, or be prepared to wait. • Map • +44 20 7440 1456

20. Rules • Covent Garden • $$$

London’s oldest restaurant first opened its doors in 1798 and was once frequented by the likes of Charles Dickens and Edward VII. The plush old-world interior – all dark wood and velvet banquettes – goes well with braised pork cheeks with black pudding, venison with chanterelles, and other fine British fare. • Map • +44 20 7836 5314

21. St. John • The City • $$$

Contemporary, Michelin-starred nose-to-tail dining. This trendy yet affordable ‘meatery’ makes the most of local, seasonal British produce, and the menu changes daily. If you’ve never tried roast bone marrow and devilled kidneys, this is the place to do it. Reservations highly recommended, but walk-ins welcome for dining at the bar. • Map • +44 20 7251 0848

22. The Ninth • Fitzrovia • $$$

French-Mediterranean dishes made for sharing, against a backdrop of exposed brick and wine racks. Standout dishes include salted beef cheek, oxtail croquettes, and chargrilled calcots. 2 and 3-course set lunches are a steal. Terrific wine list. • Map • +44 20 3019 0880

23. Benares • Mayfair • $$$

Michelin-starred North Indian dishes in a stylish setting. Head to the lounge bar for East-meets-West cocktails and street food-style snacks, or opt for a full meal in the dining room – meats grilled in the tandoor oven, lobster biriyani, seared, spiced scallops and more. • Map • +44 20 7629 8886

24. Restaurant Gordon Ramsay • Chelsea • $$$$

Mr ‘Hell’s Kitchen’ doesn’t cook at his flagship, 3-Michelin-starred restaurant anymore, but it’s still the place to blow your paycheck on some of the most memorable French fare of your life. Expect flawless service, a stellar wine list, and intelligent, beautifully-executed dishes, such as Cornish turbot with black garlic and roast pigeon with buckwheat. Reserve well ahead; smart dress code. • Map • +44 20 7354 4441

25. The Palomar • Soho • $$$

A taste of 21st-century Jerusalem, served to the pulsing beat of dance music. Perch at the busy bar and watch the chefs put together tapas-style dishes designed for sharing: seared octopus, Yemeni-style kubaneh bread, Josper-roasted poussin. Open for early dinner; ideal if you’re catching a West End show. • Map • +44 20 7439 8777

26. The Chipping Forecast • Notting Hill • $

Former fish and chip stall turned restaurant, the Chipping Forecast is nautically themed, with distressed furniture and super-fresh fish on the menu, sustainably caught in Cornwall. Get it grilled – coated in panko breadcrumbs, or deep-fried in a fluffy BrewDog beer batter. • Map • +44 20 7460 2745

27. Bao • Soho • $$

Former Taiwanese street food turned hip eatery serves its signature gua bao (fluffy steamed buns with braised pork) alongside other, slider-like bao and a smattering of xiao chi (small eats), such as oyster mushrooms with century egg. Wash them down with sakés, artisanal ciders, well-matched beers and hot oolong tea. No reservations. • Map • +44 20 3019 2200

28. Dinner by Heston Blumenthal • Belgravia • $$$$

Centuries-old British recipes given the super-modern treatment by Britain’s most experimental and daring chef. Try the salamagundy, powdered duck breast, and tipsy cake or go for the blowout option of a multi-course meal at the chef’s table. Fun, playful, and memorable. • Map • +44 20 7201 3833

London Shopping

29. Carnaby Street • Soho

The birthplace of the fashion and cultural revolution during the Swinging 60s. The 13 narrow, largely pedestrian streets that make up Carnaby are lined with independent boutiques, up-and-coming designer names, heritage brands, cafes, and pubs. • Map

30. Oxford Street • Soho

London’s most famous shopping street. Bordering Soho to the north, Oxford Street is lined with over 300 shops – from high street fashion and souvenir stores to designer outlets such as Selfridges, as well as Debenhams and John Lewis department stores. • Map

31. Harrods • Knightsbridge

Iconic luxury department store. Going strong for over 160 years, Harrods is dedicated to high-end designer fashion (think Prada and Dior), luxury gifts, fashion accessories, exclusive perfumes, and gourmet food. Hungry? There are nearly 30 restaurants to choose from, as well as a great deli/ food hall. • Map • +44 20 7730 1234

32. Covent Garden Market • Covent Garden

Hip shopping neighborhood in the West End. If you’re after imaginative arts and crafts and street theater, head for the Covent Garden Market, housed inside a Victorian wrought-iron building. Nearby Neal Street is a good place to hunt down urban streetwear and shoes. • Map • +44 20 7420 5856

33. Savile Row • Mayfair

The home of bespoke British tailoring. Tailors set up shop in this Mayfair street in the late 18th century and it remains the place to come if you want a handmade suit made the old-fashioned way (but with soaring pricetags of today). Look out for big names such as Ozwald Boateng, Huntsman & Sons and Henry Poole & Co – the original Savile Row tailor credited with inventing the tuxedo. • Map

34. Notting Hill • Notting Hill

Hip, offbeat neighborhood, made famous by the movie of the same name. Notting Hill’s streets are lined with large, attractive Victorian townhouses and an array of small, unique shops specializing in vintage clothing, antiques, organic food, and books. Nearby Westbourne Grove is more high-end, with a mix of quirky boutiques, designer shops, and art galleries. • Map

35. Spitalfields • The City

The streets of Spitalfields are dotted with boutiques by up-and-coming designers, as well as quirky independent shops and small galleries. Look out for Collectif Clothing and Mercantile, as well as established brands such as Belstaff and Barbour. The Victorian arcade of the Old Spitalfields Market houses antique, fashion, and street food stalls. • Map

36. Harvey Nichols • Knighstbridge

Flagship luxury department store. Harvey Nichols’ flagship store opened on the corner of Knightsbridge and Sloane Street in the 1880s. There are designer boutiques and lifestyle shops spread across eight floors here, with the fifth floor dedicated to chic restaurants. • Map • +44 20 7235 5000

London Historic Pubs

37. The French House • Soho

Known as ‘The French’ to its regulars, this pub has been part of London’s bohemian scene for decades. During World War II, it was used as headquarters by Charles De Gaulle and the Free French, and in its heyday it counted Dylan Thomas, Sylvia Plath, and Lucian Freud as members of its clientele. Lots of French and Spanish wines by the glass. • Map • +44 20 7437 2477

38. The Lamb & Flag • Covent Garden

This 18th-century local institution used to be the favorite watering hole of Charles Dickens. Then it became more low-brow and acquired local fame for staging bare-knuckle fights, earning it the nickname ‘Bucket of Blood’. More sedate these days, it’s a good spot for a pint of London Pride. • Map • +44 20 7497 9504

39. The Star Tavern • Belgravia

Classic upscale pub – all chandeliers, dark-wood furnishings, heavy drapes and bookcases full of antique tomes. The Star was the haunt of the rich and famous during the Swinging 60s – Peter O’Toole, Diana Dors, Albert Finney – as well as criminal masterminds (the Great Train Robbery of 1963 was planned here). Popular for Sunday roasts and cask ales. • Map • +44 20 7235 3019

40. The Ten Bells • Spitalfields

This Spitalfields pub used to be a regular haunt for the Victorian prostitutes who were murdered by Jack the Ripper in the late 19th century. All tours featuring London’s most notorious murderer swing by here; the faded decor and candlelight add to the creepy atmosphere of the allegedly haunted building. • Map • +44 20 7247 7532

41. Ye Olde Mitre Tavern • Clerkenwell

This low-ceilinged inn is allegedly London’s smallest pub and also one of its oldest, dating back to 1546. Queen Elizabeth I is said to have drunk here and danced on the courtyard out back. Award-winning real ales and cider on tap and good pub grub. • Map • +44 20 7405 4751

42. The George Inn • Southwark

William Shakespeare himself propped up the bar at the George, while his plays were performed in the courtyard below. It’s the only galleried coaching inn still standing, with a maze-like interior, warped wooden floors and original fireplaces. Serves contemporary pub food such as jerk duck nachos. • Map • +44 20 7407 2056

London Cocktail Bars

43. The Vault at Milroy’s • Soho

Step inside the oldest whiskey shop in London, go to the large bookcase and press a button. The bookcase will swing open. Take the blue-lit steps down to the intimate, speakeasy-style bar and order either one of the classic cocktails, beautifully mixed and presented, or a tropical, refreshing Porter House Punch. • Map

44. Iris at the Gherkin • City of London

There are many sky bars in London, but the view from the 40th floor of The Gherkin is hard to beat. The cocktails are beautiful and divided according to London’s geographical regions. Try Jack the Ripper (a twist on the Bloody Mary), or the Brixton Pound, with rum, tonka bean molasses, and chocolate bitters. The bar snacks and the British cheese platter are as good as the drinks. • Map • +44 330 107 0816

45. Gazelle • Mayfair

At this luxe Mayfair haunt, bespoke cocktails (heavy on champagne and conceived by award-winning mixologist Tony Conigliaro) come in delicate glass vessels. The Modern European restaurant below serves imaginative dishes designed for sharing. • Map • +44 20 7629 0236

46. Lyaness (formerly Dandelyan) • South Bank

Dress nicely before coming to sample some of London’s most original cocktails at the recently-acclaimed Best Bar in the World. All concoctions are ground-breaking originals by award-wining mixologist Ryan Chetiyawardana, aka Mr Lyan. Try Stranger Things Old Fashioned (Jim Beam, valerian, chamomile bitters, habanero). • Map • +44 20 3747 1063

47. Mr Fogg’s Residence • Mayfair

You can easily imagine Jules Verne’s fictional explorer, Phileas Fogg, drinking here in a velvet armchair, surrounded by mismatched furniture and Victorian knick-knacks. The original cocktails are inspired by Mr Fogg’s travels; we recommend the Nocciole Night Train and Saved From Sacrifice. • Map • +44 20 7036 0608

48. Oriole Bar • Clerkenwell

The showy little sister of the legendary Nightjar jazz bar has a speakeasy ambience, leather-and-fur-meets-the-tropics decor, and a creative cocktail menu filed under Old World, New World, and The Orient – where the namesake bird is found. Nightly live jazz (no cover on Mondays and Tuesdays); reservations essential. • Map • +44 20 3457 8099

London Craft Beer & Breweries

49. Cask Pub & Kitchen • Westminster

The original pub from the group behind the Craft Beer Co chain typically features a constantly changing selection of 25 beers on tap. 300 more bottled brews available – German-style, Belgian-style, lambic, and stouts, plus IPAs by the likes of Siren and Evil Twin. • Map • +44 20 7630 7225

50. Camden Town Brewery • Camden

One of London’s most popular breweries. This bustling place is known for its three types of lager, as well as pale ale, ink stout, and numerous seasonal lagers, ales and IPAs. Tours of the brewery available; book online. • Map • +44 20 7485 1671

51. The White Horse • Parson’s Green

Known to its regulars as The Sloaney Pony, this west London institution usually has eight rotating brews on tap from the likes of Lagunitas, Lost & Grounded, Fyne Ales, and other London brewers. Over 130 imported brews from Belgium, Germany, and the USA. Excellent pub grub. • Map • +44 20 7437 5745

52. The Porterhouse • Covent Garden

Irish bar with some hand-crafted brews from Dublin. This large bar with gleaming copper pipes is divided into several sections, with cozy nooks and crannies and live music in the basement in the evenings. Huge selection of beers, ales, and stouts from around the world. • Map • +44 20 7379 7917

53. Earl of Essex • Islington

This pub is particularly good for serious beer lovers – strong on beers from local London breweries, such as Redemption and Loka Polly. Pub grub is paired with individual craft beers and there’s a nice beer garden to boot. • Map • +44 20 7424 5828

London Brunch Spots

54. Regency Cafe • Westminster

Best place in London for a full English breakfast. Come to this Art Deco-style cafe for a generous plate of sausages, beans, hash browns, eggs, toast, fried tomatoes, and black pudding and hear your order yelled across the room. Solid British menu the rest of the day. • Map • +44 20 7821 6596

55. Ottolenghi • Spitalfields

Super-popular Middle Eastern-style eatery. Ottolenghi has several branches around London; their brunch menu is short and sweet and includes the likes of shakshuka with labneh, za’atar fried eggs with Mastelo cheese, and Dutch pancakes with poached quince. Reservations recommended. • Map • +44 20 7247 1999

56. Jikoni • Marylebone

Playful multicultural menu. Chef Ravinder Bhogal mines her heritage (India via Nairobi) for inspiration for her creative dishes, such as tamarind-glazed bacon with fenugreek waffles and poached eggs with curry hollandaise. Wash them down with achari Marys and banana and cardamom lassis. • Map • +44 20 7034 1988

57. Aquavit • Piccadilly

Sky-high ceilings, minimalist decor, and the finest contemporary Nordic breakfast in London. Choose classic smorgasbord items, such as herring or gravlax with mustard and pair them with aquavit, or go for weekend brunch dishes, including raggmunk (Swedish potato pancakes) with bacon and lingonberry. • Map • +44 20 7024 9848

58. Balthasar • Covent Garden

Suave Art Deco Covent Garden outpost of the Manhattan institution. People come here for hazelnut waffles, pancakes drenched in maple syrup, and great egg dishes – with Cornish crab, poached with smoked haddock or the classic eggs Florentine. • Map • +44 20 3301 1155

London Things to Do

59. The London Eye

Europe’s tallest observation wheel. See-through space pods take you on a leisurely 30-minute journey above the river, lifting you to a height of 135m and giving you a terrific view of some of London’s most famous landmarks. For a special touch, book the champagne breakfast option. Book tickets online for a cheaper rate and to skip the queues. • Map • +44 870 990 8881

60. Churchill War Rooms

Secret WWII bunker and Winston Churchill museum. From August 1939 until 1945, Winston Churchill and the war cabinet lived in and directed the war against Nazi Germany from these cramped subterranean rooms. The displays in the Cabinet War Rooms and the sounds of speeches and wailing sirens do a great job of replicating the tense wartime atmosphere. • Map • +44 20 7416 5000

61. Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre

Many of Shakespeare’s plays were first staged at the original Globe Theatre, which burnt down in 1613. Sensitively reconstructed to resemble the original, the present-day theatre continues the tradition of staging Shakespeare plays outdoors between April 23rd (Shakespeare’s birthday) and early October. Indoor shows are held year-round. • Map • +44 20 7902 1400

62. Tower of London

900 years of British history. The Tower has been a royal fortress since the reign of William the Conqueror (1066-87), traditionally guarded by Yeoman Warders since the 15th century. It’s well worth taking a free tour with them. Don’t miss the Waterloo Barracks, home of the Crown Jewel replicas, and spot the resident ravens. Legend has it that if they leave the Tower, the monarchy will fall (their wings are clipped to stop them getting ideas). • Map • +44 844 482 7777

63. West End Shows

London’s West End, together with New York’s Broadway, is home to the most diverse range of stage performances and musicals in the world. The most popular musicals include the Lion King, the Phantom of the Opera, and Les Miserables – London’s longest running musical, while classic plays include The Woman in Black and Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap. Popular new musicals (The Book of Mormon) and plays (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child) appear all the time. • Map

64. Westminster Abbey

The grandest and most important church in Britain. Prince William and Kate Middleton got married inside this beautiful 11th century Gothic abbey in 2012, and almost every English king and queen has been crowned here since William the Conqueror in 1066. It is the also the final resting place of royalty, as well as Sir Isaac Newton and poet Dylan Thomas. Get here before the 9:30am opening time to beat the crowds and queues. • Map • +44 20 7222 5152

65. Hyde Park

The biggest and most popular park in central London. Highlights inside what used to be a royal hunting ground include London’s oldest boating lake, Speakers’ Corner (where the likes of Karl Marx and George Orwell once made public speeches), and the Serpentine Gallery that hosts temporary exhibitions by up-and-coming artists. Kids like to paddle in the circular, stream-like fountain commemorating Princess Diana, near the Serpentine Bridge. • Map • +44 300 061 2000

66. Greenwich

A neighborhood rich in maritime history on the south bank of the Thames. By
Greenwich pier, the Greenwich Tunnel literally takes you beneath the river. Near its entrance is the beautifully restored Cutty Sark – a 19th-century clipper that traded with China; climb aboard for interactive displays on its voyages. A short walk east are the grand columns, cupolas and beautiful chapel of the Old Royal Naval College, while up on a hill in Greenwich Park, you can stand with your feet in two separate hemispheres at the Royal Observatory. • Map

67. Houses of Parliament

The seat of the British government. Next door to Big Ben, the neo-Gothic Houses of Parliament is where Members of Parliament (MPs) meet to hold political debates with the Prime Minister and to propose new laws. Visitors are welcome to attend the debates; this means standing in line for up to two hours. The most interesting time to visit is during Prime Minister’s Question Time at noon on Wednesdays, when the PM has to answer hostile questions from members of the opposition party. • Map • +44 20 7219 3000

68. Buckingham Palace

The London home of Her Majesty the Queen. While you won’t be able to see the Queen’s private quarters, in August and September when the Windsors go on holiday to Scotland, visitors can tour the impressive State Rooms – 19 of the palace’s 775 rooms – where the Queen entertains heads of state and other foreign dignitaries. Get to the palace early to watch the Changing of the Royal Guards in their red uniforms and tall bearskin hats, complete with brass band. • Map • +44 303 123 7300

69. St Paul’s Cathedral

London’s most famous church, designed by architect Sir Christopher Wren, survived the Blitz intact during WWII. Inside, check out the stunning Geometric Staircase and the American Memorial Chapel. Climb up to the Whispering Gallery at the dome’s base; if you speak softly close to the wall, people can hear you on the opposite side of the dome. It’s worth climbing the final 152 steps to the Golden Gallery at the very top for stupendous 360-degree views of London. Entry to the cathedral is by guided tour only. • Map • +44 20 7246 8350

70. Warner Bros Studio Tour

The home of the original Harry Potter movie sets. Though parts of the Harry Potter movies were shot in different London locations, at the studios you can explore Number 4 Privet Drive, Hogwarts dining room, and Dumbledore’s office, and check out thousands of props and costumes from the eight movies, enhanced with special effects and animatronic creatures. Ride a broomstick, climb into a mockup carriage of the Hogwarts Express and taste a Butterbeer. • Map • +44 345 084 0900

71. The Shard

London’s tallest building. Love it or hate it, you can’t miss the Shard – a jagged glass skyscraper near London Bridge. While not all Londoners love the architecture itself, most agree that views of the city from the Shard are superb. You can either take one of the high-speed elevators up to the observation platforms on the 72nd floor for 360-degree, 40-mile views of the city, or else treat yourself either to a meal at TĪNG at the Shangri-La, or a cocktail with a view at GŎNG on the 52nd floor. • Map • +44 844 499 7111

72. Jack the Ripper Tour

Walk in the footsteps of London’s most notorious serial killer. In 1888, a murderer stalked the impoverished, fog-filled streets and slums of East London. His victims were female prostitutes and the murders were particularly gruesome. The press dubbed him “Jack the Ripper and he was never caught. Numerous tour companies offer Jack the Ripper walks, but the original tour that’s been going strong for over 30 years remains among the best.

73. Boating on the Thames

Seeing the city from the Thames is a quintessential London experience and a scenic way of traveling between many of London’s best-known landmarks – Houses of Parliament, the London Eye, Tate Modern, the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, the Shard. City Cruises run a convenient loop between Westminster and Greenwich, while Thames River Services can take you out as far east as the Thames Barrier that protects the city from flooding. More adrenalin-charged, Thames Rockets runs fast, spray-drenched speedboat tours.

74. Tower Bridge

This neo-Gothic, twin-turreted miracle of Victorian engineering is the most recognisable and striking bridge in London. A stunt plane and helicopters have flown through it (as well as Harry Potter on his broomstick), and a double decker bus jumped the gap when the bridge was raised without warning in 1952. It lifts to let large boats pass through, and if you have a good head for heights, you can walk on the reinforced glass panels in the middle of the walkways, between the two towers, with nothing between you and the Thames, 42m down. • Map • +44 20 7403 3761

London Museums and Art Galleries

75. British Museum • Fitzrovia

Britain’s best museum. The galleries that branch out from the striking Great Court display treasures from all over the world. Don’t miss the Rosetta Stone – the key to deciphering ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs; the Parthenon Sculptures, Egyptian mummies, and elaborate sarcophagi. Other highlights include artifacts from the 7th century Anglo-Saxon Sutton Hoo burial ground, a stone moai from Easter Island, African art, and Mayan sculpture. • Map • +44 20 7323 8299

76. Tate Modern • South Bank

Britain’s powerhouse of contemporary art. The Bankside Power Station on the south bank of the Thames showcases works from 1900 to the present day, with works by heavy hitters such as Picasso, Anthony Gormley, Salvador Dalí, Andy Warhol, and others. The vast former turbine hall is used to maximum effect by hosting temporary installations by the likes of Damien Hurst, Georgia O’Keefe, Mona Hatoum, and Bhupen Khakhar. • Map • +44 20 7887 8888

77. Victoria & Albert Museum • Kensington

One of the world’s best museums of art and design. The V&A has 150 galleries filled with sculpture, ceramics, paintings, jewelery, textiles, glass, metalwork, and fashion from every corner of the world. On the ground floor, don’t miss Mughal Empire art, Ming, Qing, and Tang dynasty porcelain, the exceptional 16th century Ardabil Carpet, or the reproductions of classic sculptures in the Cast Courts. • Map • +44 20 7942 2000

78. National Portrait Gallery • West End

One-of-a-kind gallery featuring portraits of famous British people. The subject of the artwork is the star here, rather than the artist. The works are arranged in chronological order, from the Tudors, Queen Victoria, and Jane Austen, to Paul McCartney and David Beckham, with the subjects depicted through a variety of media, from paintings to sculpture, photography, and video. • Map • +44 20 7306 0055

79. Natural History Museum • Kensington

Fantastic interactive museum of the natural world and a treat for visitors of all ages. Inside, the Blue Zone features a terrific dinosaur gallery, with animatronic dinosaurs, whale skeletons, and big cats. In the Green Zone, meet creepy crawlies, birds, and the long-extinct dodo. Don’t miss the Treasures in the Cadogan Gallery, the Human Evolution gallery, or the dramatic Red Zone – all about precious metals, crystals and volcanic energy. • Map • +44 20 7942 5000

80. Science Museum • Kensington

Seven floors of interactive science and technology exhibits for adults and kids alike. Check out the Apollo 10 command module in the Energy Hall and the enormous Spacelab telescope in Exploring Space. In the Flight Gallery, there are all sorts of flying machines, while kids can test out the different laws of physics using the hands-on gadgets at Launchpad. The IMAX cinema brings to life the mysteries of deep space, underwater worlds, and the giant mammals of the Ice Age. • Map • +44 333 241 4000

81. Tate Britain • Westminster

The most comprehensive collection of British art from the 1500s to the present day. Historic British art includes works by pre-Raphaelites, as well as Constable, Reynolds, and Hogarth and Turner’s landscapes. Notable modern art here ranges from semi-abstract sculpture by Henry Moore, Lucian Freud paintings, and confessional artwork by Tracey Emin. Up-and-coming British artists get exposure in temporary exhibitions. Free tours run on the hour. • Map • +44 20 7887 8888

London Food and Flea Markets

82. Borough Market • London Bridge

The oldest and most famous of London’s covered food markets. Borough Market dates back to the 13th century and today its specialty food stalls and shops are where London’s top chefs come to shop for fresh ingredients – while crowds of visitors are drawn to the smoothie stands and the street food stalls that span the globe. • Map • +44 20 7407 1002

83. Camden Market • Camden

Camden Market comprises four main markets that cluster around Camden Lock and along Camden High Street. Head to Stables Market for antiques, independent stores, clothing, and Goth accessories. Electric Ballroom stocks independent designers, vinyl records and vintage clothing. Buck Street Market carries more mainstream clothing, while Camden Lock Market is a terrific gourmet street food market. • Map • +44 20 7485 5511

84. Portobello Road Market • Notting Hill

One of London’s oldest markets. Particularly famous for its antiques since the 1950s, Portobello Road Market is a good place to scout out vintage clothing, vinyl records, and assorted bric-a-brac. Best and busiest on Saturdays. • Map

85. Greenwich Market • Greenwich

Excellent British arts and crafts. Local artisans gather at this historic market to sell handmade jewelry, clothing, accessories, and unique gifts. The adjacent food court serves street food from around the world and the market is surrounded by independent shops, bars, and cafes. • Map • +44 20 8269 5096

86. Brick Lane Market • Spitalfields

Part flea market, part food market, this Sunday market is centered on the Old Truman Brewery, with stalls selling antique furniture, spices, saris, and international street food. The surrounding area is home to several other markets — the Sunday UpMarket, the Backyard Market, the Boiler House Food Hall, the Tea Rooms and the Vintage Market. • Map • +44 20 7770 6028

London Neighborhoods

87. Mayfair/Marylebone/Fitzrovia

Mayfair is one of London’s most exclusive neighborhoods, with numerous old-world, high-end hotels, streets lined with Edwardian townhouses, and numerous fine dining options. Excellent shopping (particularly if you have a big budget) if you’re after hand-tailored suits, designer wear, and fine wine. Just north, Marylebone and adjacent Fitzrovia feature more midrange hotels, a variety of restaurants to suit all budgets, and independent boutiques. Adjacent to Hyde Park, Regent’s Park, Green Park, and Soho.
Best stuff: Sherlock Holmes MuseumMadame Tussaud’sHyde ParkBuckingham PalaceKensington PalaceKensington GardensLondon ZooRegent’s Park Open Air TheatreSavile RowBerry Bros (Britain’s oldest wine merchant) • Burlington Arcade (Britain’s first shopping arcade • MEATLiquor (hearty burgers and southern cooking) • Dinings (innovative Japanese tapas and sushi) • La Gavroche (French haute cuisine by Michel Roux Jr) • Dinner by Heston Blumenthal (centuries-old British recipes, 21st century deconstruction) • Bentley’s Oyster Bar & Grill (impeccable seafood dishes) • Corrigan’s Mayfair (innovative British dishes comprising seasonal ingredients) • Mr Fogg’s Residence (old-world bar with East-meets-West cocktails) • Connaught Bar (signature martinis in an elegant setting) • Purl London (Prohibition-style basement cocktail bar) • Artesian (Oriental-style bar, rum cocktails a speciality).

88. Soho/Leicester Square

Bordered by the shopping meccas of Oxford Street and Regent Street to the north and west, respectively, Soho’s dense grid of tiny streets is the former red light district transformed into London’s lively nightlife district. Numerous gay bars here, as well as historic pubs, restaurants featuring every cuisine imaginable, several West End theatres, and some independent shops. Accommodation for all budgets. Just south is London’s bustling Chinatown and Leicester Square, where movie premieres take place. Bordered by Mayfair, Westminster, Covent Garden, and Marylebone/Fitzrovia.
Best stuff: Leicester SquareOxford Street (high street shopping) • Regent Street (high-end fashion) • Trafalgar SquareNational GalleryNational Portrait GalleryCarnaby Street (independent boutiques) • Soho TheatreCeviche Soho (buzzy and fun Peruvian eatery) • Patara (high-end Thai dining, dinner reservations) • Ember Yard (Basque-style grill & tapas bar) • The Rum Kitchen (Caribbean restaurant, rum-heavy cocktails) • Bao (Taiwanese street stall turned hip eatery) • Barshu (fiery Sichuan cuisine) • The French House (historic bar, many wines by the glass) • BrewDog Soho (Scottish-brewed craft beer) • 68 and Boston (atmospheric cocktail and wine bar) • Bar Termini (great coffee, great cocktails) • Disrepute (classic martinis and intimate booths).

89. Covent Garden

A pedestrian-friendly neighborhood in the heart of the West End. Centered on a restored 19th-century market, this is a great home base for first-timers: hotels are a mix of high-end and midrange, with a few budget options. The narrow streets are dotted with international restaurants that cater to every budget, the covered market houses high-end boutiques, and there are excellent independent shops nearby. Numerous theaters host musicals and plays. Adjacent to Soho, The City, and Fitzrovia. The British Museum is a short walk north.
Best stuff: Covered marketLondon Transport MuseumRoyal Opera HouseSomerset HouseFortune Theatre (Woman in Black stage production) • Lyceum Theatre (The Lion King musical) • Palace Theatre (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child stage production) • Novello Theatre (Mamma Mia musical) • Homeslice (great pizza, innovative toppings) • Flesh & Buns (Taiwan-meets-Japan eatery, industrial-chic basement setting) • Lima Floral (imaginative Peruvian haute cuisine) • Terroirs (rustic French dining) • Rules (London’s oldest restaurant, upmarket British dishes) • J Sheekey (stylish bistro, great meat and fish) • The Porterhouse (gleaming copper pipes, huge imported beer selection) • Lamb & Flag (historic pub once popular with Charles Dickens) • Nag’s Head (classic Victorian pub, McMullens ale on tap).

90. City of London/Clerkenwell/Spitalfields

London’s historic heart, where the Romans founded Londinium some 2000 years ago, and its present-day business district, bristling with iconic corporate towers, such as the Gherkin, the Walkie Talkie, and the Cheese Grater. Compressed into the compact area known as the Square Mile, the City is packed with major attractions, medieval churches, and excellent small museums. Adjacent Clerkenwell and Spitalfields are trendy areas with hip cafes and independent boutiques. Covent Garden borders The City to the west, with South Bank and Southwark sitting just across the Thames.
Best stuff: Tower of LondonTower BridgeSt Paul’s CathedralMillennium BridgeThe MonumentSky GardenBarbican Centre (largest performing arts center in Europe • Charles Dickens MuseumSpitalfields Market (crafts, fashion and street food) • Brick Lane Market (saris, bric-a-brac, street musicians, food stands) • Smoking Goat Shoreditch (spicy Thai food, ice-cold beer) • St. John (stylish nose-to-tail dining) • 1 Lombard Street (Neoclassical brasserie, Modern European dishes) • Foxlow Clerkenwell (retro, upmarket steakhouse) • Duck & Waffle (great breakfasts, 40th floor views from Heron Tower) • The Jugged Hare (wide range of beers, game-heavy pub grub menu) • Lamb Tavern (legendary 18th century pub attached to one of London’s oldest markets) • Old Red Cow (extensive range of craft beers and resident ghost) • Demon, Wise & Partners (upmarket basement spirits and cocktails bar) • Old Street Records (bespoke cocktails, live bands, DJ sets in secret basement).

91. South Kensington/Kinghtsbridge/Chelsea

Bordered by Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park, Kensington is an upscale neighborhood packed with world-class museums. Knightsbridge, flanking South Kensington to the east, is where moneyed Londoners shop at the parade of pricey boutiques – Prada, Gucci, Harvey Nichols – that line Sloane Street. Further south, Chelsea is an exclusive residential area with independent designers found along Sydney Street and a concentration of restaurants around the Duke of York Square.
Best Stuff: Kensington GardensKensington Palace (where Prince William and Prince Harry live) • Victoria & Albert MuseumNatural History MuseumScience MuseumSaatchi GalleryHarrods (legendary upmarket department store) • Harvey Nichols (flagship department store) • Zuma (ingredient-driven contemporary Japanese cuisine) • Marcus at the Berkeley (2-star-Michelin British cuisine, romantic, old-world ambience) • Hawksmoor (art deco steakhouse, imaginative cocktails) • The Blue Bar (celebrity haunt, extensive range of champagnes and whiskies) • K Bar (oak-panelled, gentlemen’s club-style bar, expertly-mixed cocktails) • The Botanist (Chelsea restaurant ideal for people-watching, garden-inspired botanical cocktails) • Barts (1920s-style prohibition bar with secret garden).

92. South Bank

Two-mile pedestrian walk along the south bank of the Thames between Westminster Bridge and Tower Bridge, densely packed with major attractions and dotted with restored, centuries-old theaters. The few hotels here fall mainly into high-end and midrange categories. North across Westminster Bridge is the seat of British government, while the area around London Bridge features one of London’s best food markets and the city’s iconic Shard skyscraper. Numerous restaurants and bars along the Embankment and around London Bridge.
Best Stuff: Houses of ParliamentBig BenLondon EyeLondon DungeonTate ModernTower of LondonTower BridgeThe ShardShakespeare’s Globe TheatreRose PlayhouseLondon AquariumRestaurant Story (Michelin-starred British seasonal menu) • Union Street Café (daily changing Italian menu) • Borough Market (gourmet street food stalls span the globe) • M.Manze (London’s oldest pie shop) • Ting (Modern British dishes with an Asian twist up in The Shard) • Lyaness (highly original cocktails) • Gong (sunset cocktails on the 52nd floor of The Shard) • The Drawing Room (jazz-infused speakeasy-style bar) • The George Inn (London’s oldest pub inside a galleried coaching inn).

93. Camden

Grungy and rough around the edges, this north London neighborhood offers a stark contrast to the museums, boutiques, and palaces of the capital’s flashier districts. The Sex Pistols, Madness, Amy Winehouse, Blur, and the Eurythmics are just some of the musicians who’ve played Camden’s legendary music venues. Camden has street art, not fine art; its lively markets attract crowds all week long.
Best Stuff: Camden MarketJewish Museum LondonKOKO (palatial former theatre hosting big-name indie and rock bands) • Electric Ballroom (club nights and live rock bands) • Dingwalls (local institution since the 1970s; live local bands and comedy nights) • Jazz Cafe (intimate jazz and reggae venue attracting local and international names) • Dublin Castle (grungy, dilapidated venue for up-and-coming musicians) • La Patagonia (rustic South American grill) • Lemongrass Restaurant (only Cambodian restaurant in London, awesome fish curry) • The Cheese Bar (counter-only eatery showcasing the best of British and London cheeses) • The Black Heart (good range of local beers, live music) • BrewDog (Scottish craft beer outlet, terrific range of beers) • The Edinboro Castle (best beer garden in Camden, continental lagers and burgers).

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