The eternity of London hides within its 300 museums
and galleries, the many spots that have inspired the literary giants,
and in its picturesque parks and gardens…
London, a timeless city with a rich history, profound art and culture, and some of the world’s best entertainment and dining, attracts visitors from all over the world.
Diversity is a key word for London. People from 270 countries live here, building up an extremely rich experience – tasting Ethiopian food, learning salsa, gazing at ancient Egyptian artefacts, enjoying a live band in a Bavarian pub, all in just one day. Nevertheless, London also boasts many exclusive elements – the red bus, the black taxi, Big Ben on the Thames, the Tower of London and more.
The must-visit neighborhoods in London
London is divided into as many as 32 neighborhoods, of varying size and appearance, providing some special inspiration for London tourism. Three of the most prominent – the West End, South Bank and the City of London – are situated on either side of the Thames and bring together the main sightseeing attractions. It is recommended to get a London City Pass, which entitles cardholders to a variety of discounts, free entry and free boat ride on the Thames.
Walk past the 51.59 metre high Nelson Memorial Column in Trafalgar Square, down Whitehall to the Houses of Parliament and onwards to the National Gallery which houses over 2,300 great works from the 13th century to the mid-20th century, including masterpieces by Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Titian, Van Gogh and Auguste Renoir. The Portrait restaurant on the top floor of the gallery offers views of Trafalgar Square, the Houses of Parliament, the London Eye and the surrounding landscape. The Montgomery cheddar soufflé with kale is a signature must-try.
Step inside the British Museum and hire an audio guide for an immersive tour of collections of treasures and culture from around the world. The Museum Tavern, which opened in 1723, was once frequented by great writers such as George Orwell, Conan Doyle and JB Priestley. The late-Victorian etched glass and extensive woodwork create a gorgeous interior. The food is classic pub accompaniments such as pies, burgers and grilled meats. For more dinner options, head to Soho, Chinatown or Leicester Square. In the mood to see a play? Try your luck at the ticket booth in Leicester Square.
Stroll down towards the Thames, cross at Hungerford Bridge and hop on the London Eye (remember to book online in advance) for a ride of around 30 minutes. By the time your pod reaches the top, you can even see Windsor Castle 25 miles away if the weather is good, and even if the weather is poor, you can still enjoy the close-up views of the Houses of Parliament. The interactive tablets inside the pod provides a multi-lingual guide about landmarks just as they come into view. Afterwards, a walk along the South Bank takes you past the Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, the National Theatre, Tate Modern and Shakespeare’s Globe, all of which are valuable cultural and artistic destinations. At meal times, head to Borough Market near London Bridge in search of good food. Be sure to try the Middle Eastern cuisine at Arabica Bar & Kitchen and the pasta at Padella. The many street performers also make for a unique South Bank scene.
The City of London
The City of London is the financial centre of London and home to the Tower of London, an ancient fortress that has served as a royal palace, a prison and now an armoury and museum. The raven with clipped wings is let out of its aviary to roam within the walls during the day, and legend has it that if all the ravens left, it will cause the Tower, and therefore the kingdom, to collapse hence this one was purposely kept here. Have a chat with the Beefeaters and enter the Jewel House to admire the Crown Jewels. Near the Tower of London stands another landmark, the Tower Bridge, spanning the Thames. Forty-two metres above the water, the upper level of Tower Bridge is a wide suspended walkway with views across the Thames through the glass windows on either side.
From a mammoth’s jaw circa 200,000 BC to Oliver Cromwell’s death mask and the scrawls of convicts on the walls of Wellclose Prison, the Museum of London tells an educational story spanning 450,000 years of history from prehistory to modern times. Interactive displays and reconstructed scenes transport visitors to London in different periods – the Roman Londinium, the Saxon Lundenwic, through to the cosmopolitan city of the 21st century.
The Sky Garden on the 43rd floor of the Walkie Talkie has a huge glass façade with a bird’s eye view of the city. The City is relatively quiet in the evenings, as most Londoners don’t live here, so it’s a good time to take your time and explore this originally bustling neighbourhood and its narrow streets. There are not many options for accommodation and most of them are expensive, but it is easy to get around if you dwell here.
The beautiful Kensington neighborhood is home to three exceptional museums: the V&A Museum of decorative arts, the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum. The Science Museum will take you on an interactive journey of discovery into materials, space and time. Food, shopping, parks and architecture are also highlights of Kensington, with the upmarket department stores Harrods and Harvey Nichols, and the famous Hyde Park. The magnificent park is divided by The Serpentine and The Long Water, with swans swimming in the lake. On the north-east side of the park is Speakers’ Corner, where people are still allowed to give public speeches, debates and artistic performances. The horse-riding trail is a green promenade lined with giant trees.
Visit London markets
Every weekend, the streets of London are flooded with markets for everything from food to flowers, modern art to antiques, clothing to crafts.
Borough Market, near Tower Bridge, is a famous food market with a huge range of fresh organic food, baked goods and street food, so it’s best to come on an empty stomach. Once you’ve had your fill, you can also pick up some special spices and ingredients to take home.
Covent Garden is one of London’s largest markets, extending from the iconic Market Building to an outdoor square with a variety of restaurants, pubs and stalls selling food, household items, crafts, antiques, jewellery, perfumes and more, with artists and magicians’ performances enhancing the already lively ambience, making it not only a commercial but also an artistic area.
Columbia Road Flower Market makes life fragrant. Take the bus early in the morning and get off near Old Street, walk a short distance and meet people coming up to you with flowers in their hands, you know you’re almost there ……. Step into the lanes full of flowers and sunshine, and pick your favourite bouquet. The music by street performers gracefully flows in the air.
Broadway Market in Hackney of North London features over 70 clothes shops, florists, cafes, restaurants and has been the setting for many films. Talk to local farmers, artists and craftspeople at the market, sample the food and pick up personalised clothes and gifts, or furniture and lighting. We recommend the udon noodles from Japanese restaurant Koya and the sourdough bread from Pavilion Bakery. Not far from the market is the Regent’s Canal, where you can take a walk for a beautiful view.
Red, blue, black and cream, rows of brightly coloured shops line the roads of Camden Market. The sculptures and designs on the outside walls indicate how eclectic the market is. The shops sell all sorts of novelties and handicrafts, vintage clothing, out-of-print books and, of course, all kinds of food. Cookies And Scream is a great vegetarian bakery that is worth a try.
English afternoon tea
The culture of English afternoon tea dates back to the 1840s. Anna, Duchess of Bedford, was hungry when waiting for her supper and asked her maid to prepare tea, cakes and bread for her. This afternoon tea trend has soon became popular throughout the UK. Over time, more varieties of afternoon teas are born, from the traditional sandwiches and scones with Earl Grey tea to the plant-based cakes of today, catering for all kinds of people and tastes.
Opened in 1889, The Savoy has been serving luxury afternoon tea since the first day, including salmon sandwiches, cream cheese, fruit tart and pistachio madeleines.
Though located in Notting Hill, the ingredients used by Farmacy are sourced from its own organic farm in the Kent countryside. The interior is also rustic – wooden tables and chairs and lush plants. The afternoon tea menu focuses on superfoods and organic vegetarian dishes – maca root powder, charcoal bread, quinoa bowls, berry pavlova and prosecco jelly.
Located in one of London’s top art centres, the Barbican Conservatory is a vast tropical greenhouse where afternoon tea is offered every Sunday. Inspired by the more than 2,000 plants grown in the conservatory, afternoon tea menu includes smoked salmon sandwiches with dill grown on the roof and a mascarpone delice made with conservatory-grown passionfruit. The palm fern-filled greenhouse is perfect for photos, and a friendly reminder that as it is a greenhouse, be ready for tropical climates.
Master baker Dominque Ansel is known for having created the sensational cronut – a croissant-doughnut hybrid in his Manhattan bakery. Since then, he has been inventing creative pastries and has opened his first patisserie outside of the US in London, located in the upmarket London neighbourhood of The Belgravia. The shop serves a sweet afternoon tea featuring pastries. Don’t forget to pick up a cronut.
Featuring elegant decoration, huge floor-to-ceiling windows, comfortable sofas and warm services, The Lanesborough recreates the classic and indulgent English afternoon tea with vegetarian options. You can even choose the teapot yourself.
Wellness experience in London
London’s wellness industry is booming, with new ideas and programs emerging in all areas to meet people’s needs including nutritional diets, meditation and mindfulness and spa.
Andina, in the Shoreditch, features a relaxing and casual atmosphere and offers up the concept of Andean picanterias, serving a variety of freshly squeezed juices and smoothies. The marinated fish in lime juice and quinoa burger are signature must-haves. Healthy and nutritious, and not too expensive.
26 Grains at Covent Garden is a self-service cereal restaurant for health seekers, where you can choose your favourites from a selection of up to 26 grains and add the toppings of your choice. Communal dining tables are set up to encourage interaction. Porridge and muesli are also served during breakfast, while quinoa and rice are available at lunchtime. The turmeric almond latte is one of the specialities here.
Fruit and vegetable juices, superfood salads and acai bowls, The Good Life Eatery all-day dining restaurant in Chelsea presents a menu of healthy, protein-rich light meals. The business has been so popular that it has now opened a second branch in the Belgravia area.
With its rustic white wood and green glass bottles of botanical oils, creams, and serums, Bamford Haybarn Spa on Draycott Avenue in Chelsea is a wellness destination straight out of Bamford’s own English farm. There is a subterranean spa and a first floor space offering yoga, Pilates, meditation and a variety of wellness-themed workshops such as crystal healing and sound bathing. Guests travelling long distances or experiencing insomnia should definitely try the sleep treatment. At the beginning of the session, the therapist will submerge your tired feet in Epsom-salted water while you choose your favourite oils and music. Afterwards, you will feel completely relaxed and ready for bed.
Standing before Bodyism in Notting Hill, The first thing that catches the eye is the loving slogan on the glass window. Small slips of paper with the words “Gratitude”, “Love” and “Forgiveness” flutter on the door frame for guests to tear off and take away. The Aussie-style café serves nutritious and delicious food, and a turmeric latte is a great way to enjoy while chatting with friends or catching up on work. Downstairs, you’ll find Bodyism private health club. A little different from other gyms, there are no treadmills here, but more of a focus on personal training and a series of classes that guide guests through lower-impact workouts rather than the usual high-intensity cardio. Professionals teach ballet, yoga, Pilates and boxing. And, everyone here remembers your name.
Also located in Notting Hill, Cloud Twelve is an amazing place for parents with kids. The ground floor of the centre is designed for children and the staff will take them through various activities and games. For the youngsters, the first floor offers a spa-restaurant-tearoom experience. The third floor is an exclusive wellness space for parents, offering acupuncture, colon hydrotherapy, nutrition classes and cryotherapy.
The famous Austrian clinic Lanserhof has opened its first branch in London, located in Mayfair. Lanserhof at the Arts Club offers a range of personalised experiences that combine traditional healing with modern medicine, and features London’s first cryotherapy room, treatment rooms dedicated to sports injury recovery, diagnosis services and a thoughtfully crafted menu of healthy food for guests to enjoy after their treatments.
The Bulgari Hotel at Knightsbridge is undoubtedly one of London’s most luxurious hotels, and the spa certainly doesn’t disappoint. Beyond the luxury, the treatments are fascinating – cupping, Chinese Tui-Na, osteopathy and more, with a self-proclaimed “modern day wizard” offering emotional healing. The Trend Room at the spa is a collection of the latest and hottest wellness concepts and is updated every few weeks with pop-up wellness experience.
The London Wellness Centre, composed by a team of chiropractors, psychotherapists, gynaecologists, sports therapists and podiatrists, offers a holistic approach to health and prevention at Canary Wharf in London’s financial neighborhood. The most popular programs with guests are those dealing with stress-related issues.
The Lanesborough Club & Spa in the Belgravia area takes the wellness and fitness experience to new heights. The first-class gym features a wide range of professionals offering face-to-face classes in boxing, running, weightlifting, dance, yoga and more, as well as comprehensive health diagnostics and assessments. Highlights of the spa include ila facials, crystal sound healing (pure sound vibrations created using a pestle and crystal bowl), Tibetan energy healing and more. The biggest draw is the energy healing facial by Anastasia Achilleos, which is offered every Thursday at the spa and must be booked in advance. The club’s pool is also one of the most beautiful in London and people say it’s less of a health club and more of a healing resort.