Travel Destination: London, England
Where 2,000 years of history meets a city of the future.
London is one of my favorite destinations. Though the London Underground (The Tube) is an efficient way to get around the city, you’ll find London very walkable. One minute you’re shopping along a street filled with modern stores and buildings, the next minute you’ll turn a corner and find yourself staring at a 1,000-year-old structure of architectural interest and great beauty. For safety’s sake, though, do remember that in England cars drive on the left side of the road, so before crossing a street look to your right first.
For Americans journeying to this fabulous city, London has one great advantage: Language won’t be a barrier. After all, England is the home of English. Everyone speaks it, though you may find some of the idioms there a bit peculiar as well as quite a few words that have different meanings (e.g., bathroom = loo; car trunk = boot; elevator = lift).
Culturally London is one of the great cosmopolitan cities, with a mixed population of European, Asian, African, Middle Eastern, and other regions represented. It boasts both historical as well as living art, theater, music, and dance venues.
Top Attractions London:
Here are a few of my picks for must-see in London.
Coca-Cola London Eye – The world's tallest cantilevered observation wheel, you’ll be able to see 360º views of the city from a height of 135 meters (just over 440 feet). There are 32 glass capsules that gradually rotate and can accommodate a dozen passengers each.
Buckingham Palace – See how royalty lives. Watch the Changing of the Guard. Tour the Palace and find history behind every door.
Tower of London – Built by William the Conqueror in 1066-67, today the Tower houses the Crown Jewels, but in the past it held famous prisoners, such as Elizabeth I before she became queen and Sir Walter Raleigh.
Westminster Abbey – Founded in 960 CE by Benedictine monks, the Abbey welcomes more than 1 million visitors each year. It is the Coronation Church of England, but it also holds the remains of kings, queens, statesmen, poets, and others, such as Isaac Newton.
Big Ben – While the name refers to the 13-ton bell that famously chimes over London, you’ll want to see the clock tower that houses it. Trimmed in gold it is an impressive sight, especially at night when the clock’s four faces are illuminated. It is attached to the Houses of Parliament, another attraction.
The British Museum – World famous, the museum holds works of man from prehistoric to modern times and from around the world. Highlights include the Rosetta Stone, the Parthenon sculptures and the mummies in the Ancient Egypt collection. Entry is even free.
Walking Tours – For those with special interests, take one of London’s famous walking tours. Meet up with your guide who will take you to places of interest on foot and present an informative talk on the walk’s subject. Just a few of them include Jack the Ripper, the Beatles “In My Life” Walk, London Horror Story, Harry Potter on Location, The London of Oscar Wilde, and so many more.
You’ll find cuisines from around the world throughout London, so your choices are almost endless. But if you’re looking for a once-in-a-lifetime dining experience, check out these top-rated restaurants.
Core by Clare Smyth – Located in tony Notting Hill, you’ll enjoy French, European, British, Contemporary, and even vegan cuisines.
Claude Bosi at Bibendum – Reserve your table weeks in advance for their spectacular seven-course tasting menu. Located in West London, you’re greeted by a doorman in bowler hat who will direct you to the dining room. And expansive wine list will complement any meal.
Hoppers Soho – Try something different in Asian cuisine. Hoppers’ menu is inspired by street food vendors from Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka serving small sharing plates. For those of you who want something different to drink other than wine, try one of their unusual cocktail choices with unexpected ingredients.
Pidgin – With a four-course menu that changes each week, never repeating itself, you’re sure to have a unique dining experience no matter when or how often you’re there. The cuisine is fusion and the staff will help pair a fine wine with your dinner choice.
You can live and be treated like royalty during your stay in London, which boasts some of the best hotels in the world. While there are less pricey places to book, why not splurge for a bit of luxury.
The Savoy – The service is impeccable, the views extraordinary, and the dining is world-class. But for a true Savoy London experience, take afternoon tea in the magnificent Thames Foyer.
Dukes Hotel – Just a five-minute walk from Buckingham Palace and located near ritzy Mayfair, the Dukes is said to have been a favorite of the Queen Mother and Princess Di. If you’re looking to immerse yourself in British décor reminiscent of English historical dramas, this is the place.
Ham Yard Hotel – This family-friendly space is housed in a new building, so it doesn’t have the history associated with some of the grander hotels, but its décor is impressive. Plus, there are some unusual touches, such as a movie theater, bowling alley, and rooftop terrace with beehives and vegetable boxes for the enjoyment of the guests.
Other choices include The Lanesborough, Claridge’s, The Curtain, and The Beaumont. Check out their websites for pricing, amenities, and availability.
As always, safe travels, and enjoy London!