In a few short days the world will be heading to London for the 2012 Summer Olympics, (including some of my own family). I thought it might be a helpful to do a travel blog on things to do in this great city. Sadly, I haven’t been to London in many years, so I have enlisted my trusted friend and admirer of all things British, Kim, to do a guest blog for me.
The following is her Anglophile guide to London.
Having had a long love affair with the city of London, I recently had the pleasure of living there for a year with my family.
My go to hotel is the Rembrandt, located in Knightsbridge.
It’s perfectly situated, across the street from the V & A, and close at hand to both the Natural History and the Science Museum. It’s a short walk to Harrods, a must see for all visitors to London, and also easily accessible to the South Kensington Tube Station.
I like to start my “tour” of London with a double Decker bus ride. The tickets can be purchased right on the bus, and it’s a hop on hop off, so the ticket is good all day. It’s a great way to see the major sights of London.
The museums in London are all free; you only pay for certain exhibits. My favorites are the V & A, the National Portrait gallery, and the Tate Modern. Take the water taxi from the Tate Britain to the Tate Modern. If you visit either the National Portrait Gallery, or the Tate Modern, they both have excellent restaurants on the top floor.
For the more popular tourist destinations, like the London Eye, or Madame Tussuads wax Museum, buy your tickets online in US dollars before you go. It will save you on the exchange rate, and you can skip the long lines as well.
A stroll through Hyde and Kensington Parks is a must do. The very popular Serpentine Restaurant on the Hyde Park side is a great place to pop in for a bite to eat, and in the spring –autumn you can take a row boat or paddle boat out on the pond. Cross over to Kensington Park to see the newly renovated Kensington Palace exhibit. The Orangery, on the grounds of KP, is one of my favorite spots to bring visitors for a proper English tea.
There are many wonderful outdoor markets in London, but my favorite is Portobello Road, which runs every Saturday. It’s in located in the charming Notting Hill neighborhood. While there, stroll over to Portland Road, and try Julie’s restaurant.
Despite the less then favorable exchange rate, London is still my favorite shopping destination. I love Kings Road, for all the boutiques and smaller shops. Peter Jones, the quintessential British department store is at the top by Sloane Square. The Duke of York Square is home to the Saatchi gallery with its eclectic collection of art. The gallery mess is a great spot for lunch, tea, or an afternoon cocktail.
For those who don’t mind the crowds, Oxford Street and Piccadilly is home to many of the larger chain stores, and is a shopper’s Mecca. Not to miss is Selfridges, definitely my favorite department store in London.
I am a huge fan of the “gastro pubs”. The Enterprise, located on Walton Street (not far from Harrods) is a local haunt. Nearby, is the Admiral Coddginton. A very busy and popular place, it has a traditional pub and beer garden, and an excellent restaurant in back. In Chelsea Square, the latest venture of Guy Ritchie (the ex- Mr. Madonna) is the Markham Inn.
For all of you heading to London. Enjoy your trip and send me some photos!