Don’t miss popping into Daunt Books, a beautiful three-floor Edwardian bookshop that stocks travel guidebooks, maps, travelogues, plus history and politics books, organised by country.
Dennis Severs’ House
If you want an alternative to the big museums, visit Dennis Severs’ House in Shoreditch. Each of the Grade II-listed house’s 10 bedrooms is decorated with antique furniture. Sever, the house’s American owner, recreated the original smells, scents and background music for the period 1724 to 1914 – it’s like going back in time. There’s no electricity so you have to go round by candlelight.
Built to celebrate the rebuilding of the city after the Great Fire of London, it’s hard to imagine now that The Monument was once one of this city’s tallest structures.Book a stay at The Dorchester
The Barbican is a well-loved brutalist building renowned for its art exhibitions, theatre and concerts, but don’t miss the Barbican Conservatory. Only open on Sunday afternoons, it’s a hidden oasis of tropical plants, overhanging vines and trickling fountains.
For a classic London meal, you can’t beat Covent Garden’s The Ivy, which turns 100 this year. I love its old-world décor and charm – think stained-glass windows and wood panelling. The fish and chips with mushy peas is my go-to order – you can choose from five or six different fish, from sea bream and halibut to dover sole, but save room for the famous baked Alaska.
Journey with the Huguenots
In the heart of fashionable, foodie Spitalfields, you can also discover the perfectly preserved home of Huguenot silk-weavers.
Appetite for style
It was famously beloved the 1990s ‘cool Britannia’ celebrities, but The Ivy is far older – in 2017 it turned 100.
There’s a whole world to discover behind the Barbican Centre’s imposing grey façade, including the surprise of a distinctly tropical-feeling conservatory, where afternoon tea is also served.
I live in North London and I love walking on Hampstead Heath and then going to a beautiful 16th-century pub called The Spaniards Inn for a drink afterwards to warm up – it’s very cosy. Kenwood House also has a brilliant art collection and they have classical music there outside in the summer time.
For off-the-beaten-track boutiques, head to Marylebone High Street. It’s a short walk from The Dorchester and you’ll definitely avoid the crowds. Don’t miss popping into Daunt Books, a beautiful three-floor Edwardian bookshop that stocks travel guidebooks, maps, travelogues, plus history and politics books, organised by country.
A combination of a museum and a smart flagship store, the venue includes a fun ‘pick-and-mix’ bar where customers can fill a wooden box with different teas.
The lookout at The Monument, designed by Sir Christopher Wren, is a great spot for a photo. When it was built, the idea was for people to enjoy the view from the top, because back then it was one of the highest spots in the city and there was little else around it, unlike today.
The crypt at St Martin-in-the-Fields
Ronnie Scott’s is the city’s most iconic jazz bar, but a more unusual place to hear live music is the medieval crypt of St Martin-in-the-Fields church on the corner of Trafalgar Square. The acoustics are superb.
You can visit Alexander Fleming’s old laboratory in St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington where he invented penicillin – he discovered it by accident and it’s one of the biggest medical discoveries in history. It’s only open in the mornings from 10:00 to 13:00, Monday to Friday, but you can contact St Mary’s Hospital and arrange a tour outside of those hours.
London is synonymous with tea – we’ve been serving afternoon tea at The Dorchester for 86 years – so a visit to the Twinings flagship store at 216 Strand is a must, not least because it’s the oldest tea shop in London. Guests can shop favourite blends to take back home, as well as sampling new flavours or joining a masterclass with an expert tea ambassador. Artist William Hogarth was a big fan, and the story goes that, as a struggling young artist, he racked up such a huge tea bill that he offered to paint a portrait of Richard Twining in lieu of payment – you can see it hanging in the shop.