PART 2: London’s must-see list is endless, but here’s what you really shouldn’t miss out on while living in the capital. WORDS: Daniel Landon
For class, sophistication and style Harrod’s (above) is hard to beat. It’s worth wandering through some of the lesser visited parts of the store to get an idea of the lavish items (and price tags). For an equally elegant store without the crowds, head to Fortnum & Mason. Just over the road is Burlington Arcade, a treasure trove of olde worlde class.
Big Red Bus
The old-school Routemaster buses (they’re the ones with the big opening at the back so you can jump on and off at any time) are a true London icon. Most have been phased out but they still operate on route 9 between Aldwych and Royal Albert Hall, and route 15 between Trafalgar Square and Tower Hill.
Britain is famous for its grand country estates with magnificent manor houses and manicured grounds. There are such estates in London, including Kenwood House (adjoining the massive and wild forests of Hampstead Heath), Ham House (near Richmond), Chiswick House, and the grand-daddy of them all, Hampton Court Palace.
Great live music
There’s no doubt that London has one of the best live music scenes in the world. The history of venues such as the Brixton Academy or Shepherd’s Bush Empire pretty much guarantees bands and musos there will play to the rafters. Or catch hip up-and-comers at Camden’s uber-cool Barfly and Koko.
Afternoon tea in the dining room of a posh hotel, waited on by smartly dressed waiters, eating fancy cakes and sandwiches, and sipping tea from fine bone china cups is quintessentially English. It’s about £30 at a five-star hotel but is a decadent, genteel experience. You will not go wrong at The Ritz, Claridge’s, The Dorchester, The Lanesborough or The Berkeley.
Step back in time in modern London at the faithful replica of the famous Globe theatre that existed in Shakespeare’s time. For the most authentic experience stand in the open-air courtyard just in front of the
stage for only £5 and revel in a performance of one of the Bard’s masterpieces.
Central London’s large public parks are magnificent, and a rare treat when compared to the limited green space in other massive cities. Regent’s Park has a tranquil mix of formal and informal gardens, while just over the road is Primrose Hill. The 180-degree panorama over the city from the top is sublime.
To hang out with some of the trendiest, edgiest, too-cool-for-school people you will ever see head to the East End, particularly around Shoreditch and Spitalfields and the north end of Brick Lane. Hoxton Square, in particular, is London’s epicentre of cool, with funky bars and shops and avant garde galleries.
Delve into the war
Discover the massive impact that World War II had on London and how the capital was the nerve centre of the fight against the Nazis. The Cabinet War Rooms and the Imperial War Museum are evocative reminders, while the Museum of London explores the horrors of the Blitz.
Worth a look even if you’re not interested in art. It’s not at all fuddy-duddy, with plenty of modern, out-there and more classic stuff.
Click here for part one of The TNT 2010 ‘Must-do in London’ list