London is an exciting city packed with sights to see, shows to watch, restaurants to eat at and shops to spend your cash in. If you only have a limited amount of time to spend in London, it may be hard to decide what to prioritise. Send My Bag is here to help. These are what we consider to be the best in each category that London has to offer.
1.The best sight: Buckingham Palace
No first-time visit to London is complete without gazing down at the magnificence of Buckingham Palace from the top of the Mall, before walking towards it, past the Victoria Memorial, right up to the gates, and peering through the railings to look at the Queen’s Guard. If you turn up at around 11.30 am from April to the end of July, you will be able to witness the pomp and ceremony of the changing of the guard. From 5th August to 24th September you can even take a tour inside the palace!
2.The best museum: The British Museum, Bloomsbury
The British Museum’s seven million visitors a year are testament to its status as the best museum in London, and indeed in the country as a whole. The museum has a plethora of exhibitions arranged according to era/ region, such as the Americas, Ancient Egypt and Europe, as well as by theme, such as ‘Enlightenment’ and ‘Living and Dying’. Several temporary exhibitions also come and go throughout the year. A number of must see objects include the Rosetta Stone, the Mummy of Katebet and the Samurai Armour. If you love history, check out these top destinations for history lovers.
3.The best activity: Enigma Escape, Holloway
If you are looking to do something interactive during your time in London, you could try one of the ‘escape’ experiences that have been created in recent years, such as Enigma Escape in Holloway. This involves being locked in a room and solving puzzles to escape within a limited time frame. Enigma Escape has two games to choose from – Breakout and the Killer! This is a great way to have fun with friends and would make a great idea for a hen or stag do.
4.The best tour: The Houses of Parliament
Almost every Saturday of the year, plus weekdays during parliamentary recess, you can take a guided tour of the Houses of Parliament. You won’t believe that you are standing in one of the most iconic buildings in Britain. You get to tour rooms such as Westminster Hall, the Central Lobby, the Commons Chamber and the Lords Chamber, under the knowledgeable guidance of one of the brilliant official tour guides. Just make sure you don’t make the faux pas of taking a seat while in the chambers – these seats are strictly for MPs/ Lords only!
5.The best high-end restaurant: Clos Maggiore, Covent Garden
Clos Maggiore is located in Covent Garden, so a great choice after a day browsing the market stalls and shops there. The restaurant produces mouth-watering French-style cuisine. If you can, go for the seasonal tasting menu so you can sample a wide range of dishes from this excellent restaurant. You will enjoy your meal in beautiful surroundings – especially if you are lucky enough to be seated in the conservatory. This room has floral branches hanging from the roof and an open fire – décor that has helped towards Clos Maggiore being voted the world’s most romantic restaurant.
6.The best affordable restaurant: Polpo, various London locations
Polpo makes Venetian dishes, such as meatballs and pizza. You will find Polpo restaurants scattered across London, in areas such as Soho, Covent Garden and Notting Hill. They are perfect if you are looking for delicious, affordable food in laid-back surroundings. These restaurants welcome walk-ins, particularly in the evening, which adds to the relaxed, easy-going vibe. The value on offer is in evidence in its Valentine’s Day menu, which costs only £26 for 4 courses, plus a bellini on arrival and a chocolate salami to go!
7.The best bar: The Luggage Room, Grosvenor Square
The Luggage Room is a sophisticated bar in the style of a 1920s speakeasy. Getting into the bar is part of the fun – you have to find an unobtrusive locked door and knock to ask to be let in! Once inside you will receive excellent service, with expert cocktail makers on hand to recommend drinks and explain drinks ingredients. The menu is an encyclopaedia of cocktails, but you can always ask for a drink to be crafted to meet your own specific tastes.
8.The best shopping area: Regent Street/ Oxford Street
Regent Street and Oxford Street are well known to be the shopping centre of London. Here you will find every high street store you can think of, plus department stores, such as Selfridges and Liberty London. Don’t forget the side streets, such as New Bond Street, where you will find up-market boutiques like Patek Philippe, Hermès and Dior. Love shopping? We've got your covered with these top shopping destinations and these tips for shopping abroad.
9.The best cinema: Odeon Whiteleys, Bayswater
We have mentioned some cool cinemas in the past, including the Electric Cinema in Portobello. Equally deserving of a mention is the Odeon Whiteleys cinema in the Bayswater area of London. The special bit about this cinema is the Lounge, which offers 5 cinema screens with luxury reclining seating, and waiters on call at the push of a button to deliver drinks and food to your cinema seat. If you arrive early you can enjoy a drink at the swanky bar before your film begins.
10.The best show: The Lion King Musical
Currently running at the Lyceum Theatre in Covent Garden, the Lion King is sure to please all members of the family with its stunning costumes and uplifting music. If you loved the film, you will certainly love this, and will find yourself singing along to all the tunes long after you have left the theatre.
If you have plenty of time to spend in London, you might consider taking a day trip outside the city to see more of the UK. Here are what we consider to be the Best Day Trips from London.
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