The Ultimate Travel Guide to London
London is one of the most visited cities in the world. One of the reasons is that there is just so much to do & see in this incredible city. The skyline of England's capital city is dominated by modern skyscrapers. Every year, architects reach further for the skies as their buildings stretch closer and closer to the heavens. However, millions of tourists flock to London every year - not for the modern spectacles - but the old, historic postcard favourites: St Paul's Cathedral, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey and the magnificent Tower of London.
It is not just the sites that visitors flock to London for. The city boasts an amazing collection of luxury hotels, fabulous restaurants, relaxing spas, sensational bars and superb shopping. Hotels including the magnificent The Connaught London offer Michelin-starred restaurants, spas and magnificent bedrooms. COMO Metropolitan boasts hotel rooms & suites and serviced apartments for those looking for an extended break - perhaps with family in tow. Even London's 4-star hotels are excellent including St. Ermin's in Victoria - which has its own honey-producing rooftop apiary.
For those looking for culture, London offers sports - from football to polo, museums, art exhibitions and walks. You can head to Stamford Bridge or Arsenal for Premiership football, Twickenham for rugby union and follow in the footsteps of James Bond - Sean Connery - and play a round of golf at Stoke Park - as seen in Goldfinger.
London is bursting at the seams with Michelin-starred restaurants - with some of the most famous names in world cuisine present. Whether it's Gordon Ramsay or Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester, London will fill your belly with amazing food! And of course, you enjoy after dinner drinks at quirky, trendy and delicious bars … and maybe pop into one of London's many opulent private members clubs for a dance and cocktail!
Next morning, why not go on a walk to the South Bank - one of the many walks around London where you can take in the city's history and culture. Or a visit to a museum - the V&A in Kensington or the magnificent Science Museum. If art museums are your bag, The Tate and Tate Modern will sate your inner Gainsborough or Picasso!
London is - to quote Tina Turner - “simply the best”!
How to Get Around London
Worth noting that cars drive on the LEFT of the road - possibly the opposite that it is at home!
London is a huge city, and the Underground – Tube - is the most convenient way to navigate it. While the King has his own carriages, but you will have to share with the hoi polloi. As a treat, hire a Rolls Royce, the benchmark of British sophistication, which will allow you to move around in ultimate style. For an aerial perspective, book a private tour or transfer with the London Helicopter Company.
There are hundreds of hotels in London. All the major hotel groups are represented here. In the BusinessClass.com guide to Hotels in London you will find only the best of the best. Offering the finest, most genuine service to the best facilities. You can book a room in the centre of Mayfair or in the city's highest hotel - Shangri-La The Shard London. Some hotels boast Michelin star restaurants, some bars that serve up the city's finest cocktails and some have spas that will soothe, pamper and delight.
Best Time to Visit London
London enjoys four seasons (and two Four Seasons hotels!). Spring - warm, wet, often sunny, Summer - hot, dry, mostly sunny, Autumn - cool, wet, sometimes sunny and Winter - cool, wet, dark and the occasional visit of the Sun! Temperatures vary from 35 degrees C (95F) n the height of Summer to - 2 degrees (28F) in the depths of Winter. However, London - and indeed England - has a way of bucking all trends! In 1975, it snowed in London in July! For a good weather forecast - The Met Office website is where to head.
How to Stay Safe in London
London - like every city in the world - is as safe as you want it to be. Stick to where you know. If you have issues, call 999 or 112 on your mobile phone - both numbers are free - or seek out the nearest police or security officer.
- Use licensed taxi or indeed Black Cabs
- Keep to well-it main roads and avoid walking alone at night
- Keep your property out of sight and safely under the table. Many venues have clips under the tables. Use them to secure your bag
- Don't accept drinks from strangers
- Don't leave your bag unattended anywhere in London – this can cause a security alert. If you see an unattended bag, call 999
- Keep your purse or wallet close to your body and don't carry too much cash
- When using a cash machine, check that no one is looking over your shoulder and that the ATM hasn't been tampered with. Cover the keypad so no one else can see your PIN.
- Keep your mobile phone and other electronics out of sight in your pocket or bag when not in use
- Use the safe in your hotel room for valuables
- Inform your mobile phone provider and police if your phone or other valuables are stolen or lost
- Ensure that you carry the necessary travel insurance - better to be safe than sorry!
Entry & Exit Requirements
London has a few airports - Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton and Southend being the main ones. There is also the Eurostar terminal at St Pancras.
- APPLIES IF YOU ARE VACCINATED OR NOT:
- do not need to complete a UK passenger locator form before you travel
- do not need to take any COVID-19 tests before you travel or after you arrive
- do not need to quarantine when you arrive
- check if you need a visa to visit the UK
- at least SIX months left on your passport
- at least ONE blank page in your passport
- CUSTOMS - you have to declare:
- anything over your duty-free allowance
- banned or restricted goods in the UK, e.g. meat and dairy products from most non-EU countries
- goods that you plan to sell
- more than Euros 10,000 (or its equivalent) in cash, if you’re coming from outside the EU
If in doubt, refer to the UK Government website
London Travel Guide: FAQs
Where is London located in the UK?
London is the capital of England is located in the south-east of the country. While there is just so much to do & see in the capital, there are also excellent days trips to enjoy to famous places including Stonehenge, Bath and Brighton.
What is London famous for?
London is one of the most famous, diverse, exciting and visited cities on Earth. London excels in excellent restaurants, hotels, spas, museums, walks, private clubs, bars, sporting venues, art exhibitions, historic sites and shopping.
And the following were “invented” in London: vacuum cleaner, handheld computer, calculator, cash machine, machine gun, Bourbon biscuit, fire extinguisher and bristled toothbrush!
How big is London?
London is 1,574 square kilometres in area - greater than Paris, New York and Los Angeles. London also has a population of 9 million - slightly more than that of New York. London is “bowl” shape and from high points in the city you can see the south coast of England! London's infrastructure is pretty good with a great Underground system, over ground train service, taxis, buses. river boats, airports and helicopter pads to ensure easy navigation!
I only have a day in London. What should I do?
- Awake early and enjoy a “full” English - which can be vegetarian also! Eat in hotel or head to an excellent cafe - the Regency Cafe in Victoria is my favourite.
- Take a trip on the London Eye - you can see most of the London's major sites from here
- Head to the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park to watch the Household Cavalry trot by for the Changing the Guard - 9.28 a.m. weekdays and 10.28 a.m. on Sundays
- Shop at Harrods and Harvey Nichols on Knightsbridge
- Head to the excellent River Cafe for lunch - Hammersmith
- Stroll around Buckingham Palace, Westminster Cathedral and Houses of Parliament
- Tea at The Ritz or The Dorchester
- Visit to the Tate Modern on South Bank
- Evening cocktail in the bar in the Shangri-La Hotel in the Shard. The views are simply magnificent!
- An evening at the Royal Opera House or take in a show on Drury Lane
- Dinner at one of London's top restaurants
- A late night drink & dance at a private club
- Back to the hotel for a well-deserved rest!
When do restaurants open in London?
Pubs officially open from 11.30 am – 3 pm and 5.30-10 pm., Monday to Saturday and 12.30-2.30 pm. and 7-10 pm. on Sundays. But you will find many which open at 9.00 a.m. for hardened drinkers!
Restaurants mainly open for lunch and dinner but some - including the excellent Wolseley on Piccadilly are open all day from breakfast onwards.
Of course, casinos, nightclubs and private members clubs have special licensing hours.
On a visit to London, visit the “Fox & Anchor” and “Duck & Waffle”. Opening at 7am in the week (8.30am on the weekends) - they are set in Smithfields - near the meat markets! Enjoy a pint and amazing cooked breakfast! Memorable and strangely romantic! Other suggestions include the traditional Royal Oak in Southwark and the Kings Arms in Waterloo for ambience, steak tartare with Marmite and toast, as well as their Scotch Eggs. The Harp in Covent Garden is a little removed from the crowds, while The George Inn near London Bridge is the city’s last surviving coaching inn and has a cobbled courtyard that is a drawcard for that thirst-quenching pint in Summer.
What time does it get dark in London?
From March to October, London days are long! June 21st is officially the longest day of the year (shortest night) and it is bright until 9.00 pm. October is when it starts to get darker by the day. By December 21st, darkness envelopes London by 4.00 pm. Summer in London is for the outdoors, Winter is for indoor fun!
What are the best activities in London?
So much to do, so little time!
My favourites: Take to the skies in the London Eye, one of the world’s tallest Ferris wheels. The gradual rotation in one of the 32 high-tech glass capsules takes around 30 minutes and gives an ever-changing perspective of London. To add to the appeal, book a private capsule and add a glass of Champagne to the proceedings.
Borough Market in Southwark has existed since the early 11th century. Still operating as a wholesale market in the early hours, it is now known as a foodie’s paradise where discerning Londoners come to buy top-quality produce. There is also an amazing array of street food and a dedicated covered area to linger in.
St Paul’s Cathedral, as the Anglican cathedral of the Bishop of London, has been a place of worship for over 1,400 years. Built and rebuilt five times, its interior is awe-inspiring and its dome, framed by the spires of Wren's City churches, has dominated the skyline for over three centuries. Venture down to the crypt and discover the tombs and memorials of some of the nation's greatest heroes including Admiral Lord Nelson and the Duke of Wellington.
… and for the children, the Harry Potter Experience at Leavesden and Hamleys - the greatest toy store in the world!
Read more in the BusinessClass.com guide to the 20 Best Things to do & see in London!
Bath - take the British Pullman train run by Belmond - to visit the Roman baths - 160 kilometres away, Oxford - to visit the University city including the superb Bodleian Library - 1 hour by railway, Stratford Upon Avon - the home of William Shakespeare - 2 hours by train and finally Stonehenge - 140 kilometres away … to some, rocks in a field, to some, stones placed there by aliens and to others a prehistoric monument on Salisbury Plain. Read more in the BusinessClass.com guide to the Best Day Trips from London.
London is a shopper's paradise. Knightsbridge is home to the world famous Harrod's and Harvey Nichols, Jermyn Street is - along with Savile Row - the home of sartorial elegance … but features Paxton & Whitfield - the greatest cheese shop in the world, Carnaby Street is home to the boho-chic from the 60s, 70s & 80s and Covent Garden has the market where you can buy any gift or knickknack. Read more in the BusinessClass.com guide to the Best Shopping Streets in London.
Mayfair is the most central district of London. From here its an equidistant walk to Knightsbridge to the west, the West End to (ironically) the east, Buckingham Palace to the south and Regent Street to the north. Mayfair is one of the most affluent postcodes in the world, so do not expect “cheap” hotels, bars or restaurants! Walking is for free though! When in Mayfair, look up and see the tops of the buildings! They all tell a story …
London may be a big city but there are plenty of open spaces to retreat to for a picnic, bird spotting, cycling, and walking. The centrally located Hyde Park with more than 4,000 trees, a lake, meadow, rose gardens and the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain, as well as historic Speaker’s Corner, is one of them. The 140-hectare royal park is the biggest in London and fondly referred to as the city’s ‘green lung’. Adjoining Kensington Gardens are home to Kensington Palace, the Albert Memorial, Peter Pan Statue, beautiful flowers, green grass for picnics and the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Playground. Follow the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Walk, a seven-mile-long walk charted by 90 plaques set in the ground, that take you within sight of buildings and locations associated with the Princess during her life.
Hampstead Heath offers wonderful walking trails and bathing ponds. Branded an island of beautiful countryside, you will never tire of this thriving inner-city escape. Another Victorian green space is Wandsworth’s Battersea Park, which comprises 80 hectares of parkland, feature fountains and a small-scale children’s zoo.
The beautiful gardens at Regent’s Park span 166 hectares and were designed in 1811 by renowned architect John Nash. Named after King George IV, Regent’s Park comprises magnificent formal gardens, laid out pathways, the 12,000 roses in Queen Mary’s Gardens and a Boating Lake. It also has the largest outdoor sports area in London, and an open-air theatre.
Covering 1,000 hectares, the views from the top of the hill in Richmond Park are stunning. Renowned for its unrefined woodland gardens and deer herds, Richmond Park’s rich history includes notable royal connections dating back to Edward’s reign in 1272. There are ancient trees, historic buildings, and numerous rare wildflower species.
How many days in London is enough?
There are never enough days in London! You could spend a year in London and stay in a different luxury hotel, eat in a fabulous restaurant, drink in an amazing bar or pub and visit a gallery, see a show or watch a sporting contest, EVERY day! However, 7 days is a good start! That would include a day trip to visit somewhere like Stonehenge or Brighton. In this time you will just scratch the surface of this amazing city - but you have to start somewhere!
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