Your favourite place in LONDON?


Oct 19th, 2013, 07:56 PM
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Your favourite place in LONDON?

In two weeks, DD and I are leaving for London for the first time. We will stay in Baker Street for 8 nights. This is a surprise trip, and I have very little time to research where to go / what to do. So I am asking all London experts: if you have to choose just one place in London - where would you go? I enjoy books, art, history, food, nature, music ... prefer to be a bit off the beaten track, do not do well in crowds.
kovsie is offline  
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Oct 19th, 2013, 08:20 PM
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Hi Kovsie,
We were just in London two weeks ago for the first time so I am in no way an expert! It's difficult to recommend just one thing, probably because there wasn't just one thing that knocked my socks off. I'll just tell you a couple of things that might help you.
First, wrap your brain around that fact that London is a very busy city and very, very crowded. I think this surprised me a bit.
We enjoyed the London Eye at night (not nearly as crowded). We also enjoyed Hampton Court and Greenwich (both places outside of London a bit) Take the river to Greenwich and enjoy the narrative along the way. And we enjoyed our tour with Tavern Trails (look them up online) a great walking tour to several Pubs with lots of history about the area and ale tasting if you like. Hope you have a good time and I hope I helped a bit. I'm happy to answer any questions too!
Jimpink is offline  
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Oct 19th, 2013, 08:22 PM
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we are going too...daughter and I next january..( i have been before in 2005) but am not an expert of course
we love history and are looking forward to a tour of westminster (closed on sundays as is st pauls except to worshippers)...
i think tower of london is a must for the same reason but there is a good little museum just near selfridges store that houses lots of medieval stuff that i had not heard of before

the banquetting hall has also come highly recommended

many say the hop on/off buses arent a must but for a short trip i think theyre a great way to get yourself orientated and if you get a live guide tour theyre wonderful in my humble opinion lol

we also want to visit diana's memorial in kensington gardens somewhere i believe...couldnt find it last time...despite asking loads of passers-by lol

the british museum is a must for us, too..we will try to visit it in the evening..since we wont have the long daylight hours i enjoyed back in summer 2005

we will also get out to hampton court cos we love the tudor period and leeds castle for the same reason
daytrip to canterbury cathedral to see the spot poor thomas was killed

last time i booked daytrips from a local agency....this time ill just go to victoria station and see whats available and plan that can just get there before 9 and choose a daytrip..out to bath or wherever...evansevans has some good daytrips, if youre interested in heading out

we will miss visitng anne boleyns home hever castle this time because it is now privately owned and doesnt open in winter..big shame for us

look our for halftiks..(sp)..good prices for the shows ...we are staying in leicester sq so will be able to stroll and have a look ...apparently you go around 11am and see whats available

i cant wait to go back to london and daughter is beyond excited at the prospect of being in her 'dream' city for the first time

have a wonderful time..youll glean lots of info here
lanejohann is offline  
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Oct 19th, 2013, 08:25 PM
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The place I never miss is the National Portrait Gallery.

And Hampstead, where I like to stay sometimes & where you can visit the following:
Keats House
2 Willow Road
Fenton House
Kenwood House
Daunt Books, one of several in London, an excellent travel bookshop.
And, of course, Hampstead Village and Hampstead Heath:
MmePerdu is offline  
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Oct 19th, 2013, 08:45 PM
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How about a day-trip out to Dover or Windsor?
halfapair is offline  
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Oct 19th, 2013, 08:56 PM
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Since you are going in the off season you should be able to visit some of the top sites without being hassled by crowds too much.
The Tower of London is quite impressive and the Beefeater tour is fun.

The British Library "Treasures" room is nice & quiet. If you like looking at old manuscripts and seeing Jane Austen's writing desk, this is the place for you.

What about seeing shows at night? It's easy to buy tickets once you get there and see what's showing.
Taking a walking tour is a great way to see various parts of the city according to your interests. The groups are not too large and the guides are very knowledgeable.
halfapair is offline  
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Oct 19th, 2013, 09:53 PM
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I don't have one favourite thing in London, it has so much to offer, but you might enjoy the Wallace Collection. It's a small museum with a great collection and we went there a few times (free entry so we used to pop in for an hour) and it was never overly crowded. Be aware though that London is a busy, very crowded city. You will notice it particularly on the tube and buses.

The guided walk with London Walks (link above) is a good idea, they have a wide selection so you can choose something that interests you. Just turn up at the nominated spot and pay your money, no need to prebook which is good in case it's pouring with rain or whatever.

Another thing you might enjoy, and you will get away from big crowds of people, is a walk up through Regents Park to the canal path that leads to Little Venice. You can find this on Google Maps but if you need help, let me know.

Also an idea as you like music, St Martin in the Fields has concerts, both in the church and in the crypt. We went to a couple of jazz concerts in the crypt and they were great, so full of atmosphere down there. There is a cafe in the crypt too so you can get a meal beforehand.

KayF is offline  
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Oct 19th, 2013, 10:03 PM
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This is great - thanks. Please keep it coming! I think a trip to Windsor is a given. I have also thought about the concerts in St Martin in the Fields. DD is also rooting for Lion King, so we will try to find affordable tickets for that, or for another big show. Jazz in the crypt ... mmmm
kovsie is offline  
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Oct 19th, 2013, 11:27 PM
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The Borough Market for lunch! You can graze your way through thr various stalls and then enjoy a fantastic sandwich!
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Oct 19th, 2013, 11:39 PM
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I loved Chelsea Physic Garden and recommend a guided tour to get the best out of it. Easily reached by bus.
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Oct 20th, 2013, 12:02 AM
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Kovsie, I'm sure you'll have an amazing time in London, whatever you do. The hop-on hop-off tourist buses are a relatively quick and easy way to get an initial orientation, but walking will give you a chance to explore and discover the London that Londoners use. Your hotel won't be far from the Wallace Collection, a favourite museum for many people who live in London but seldom visited by tourists (and whatever time of year you come, there's no shortage of tourists in London, both British and from abroad). Marylebone High Street (say Ma-lee-bone quickly and you'll pass for a native) has interesting shops including a branch of Daunt Books, a button shop and VV Rouleaux (for ribbons, braids etc.) as well as independent restaurants and cafes.

One of my favourite things in London is a day in Greenwich, getting there by the DLR (Dockland Light Railway) for good views of the eastern part of London, including Canary Wharf, the rebuilt docklands area, and coming back to Westminster Pier by the boat service. Greenwich has some wonderful buildings, our national maritime museum, the Greenwich Observatory with the meridian line, the Cutty Sark (an old sailing ship, now a museum) and a small permanent market tucked away in the town centre with a variety of stalls, including food and handicrafts. Greenwich Printmakers, a cooperative of print makers in the area, have a shop on the west side of the market, and is well worth a visit.

Other favourites include Covent Garden market (but not on a Saturday when it gets too crowded) and wandering around Clerkenwell and the City at weekends, when it is quiet. Some would say too quiet as most shops and eating places are closed, but the City Museum is open and is well worth a visit. The Postman's Park is nearby, a little tucked-away oasis, likewise remains of the city walls. Also on my list is Tate Modern, which currently has a Paul Klee exhibition (which you have to pay to enter - the rest is free). Walk over the Millennium Bridge from St Paul's to get there.

Two things worth noting - many of the large museums are open late (often until 10.00 p.m.) on Fridays - often a good time for a visit and a drink or a meal in the museum restaurant or cafe. And Time Out (a free weekly listings magazine that comes out on Tuesday mornings) has an excellent website as well for drilling down into particular geographical areas of London and for seeing what is on and where.
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Oct 20th, 2013, 03:44 AM
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The first thing that came to mind when I read your post was the National Portrait Gallery followed by Sir John Soane's Museum,

Think in terms of combinations so you aren't dashinng from pillar to post. The Soane is very near the Inns of Court, Covent Garden, the British Museum and not too far from St. Paul's and the Museum of the City of London, another favorite of mine. Obviously, more than you can do in one day.

Baker Street is close to Marylebone High Street, my favorite shopping street which leads into St Christopher's Place and on to Oxford Street for megga-shopping if you wish, but the latter is usually very crowded.

London has excellent restaurants of all types and price points. What are your likes and price point?
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Oct 20th, 2013, 04:16 AM
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I love walking up Regent Street from Piccadilly Circus to Oxford Circus and then west along Oxford Street to Selfridges. Generally very busy but nice shops and buzzy atmosphere especially on a Saturday evening. I also like exploring the streets east off Regent Street running parallel to Oxford Street - loads of nice bars and restaurants. You can also carry on up Regent Street, crossing Oxford Circus and Oxford Street to Portland Place and BBC Broadcasting House (just behind All Souls Church). You can tour Broadcasting House or just pop into the café for a drink (after security). From the café you get a panoramic view of the BBC's new state-of-the-art 24 hour newsroom.
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Oct 20th, 2013, 04:28 AM
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I strongly agree with Cathinjoe's recommendation of Sir John Soane's Museum and the other things in the area. Try to visit the Soane at twilight when it is candlelit.

One of my most memorable experiences was walking by one of the nearby Inns of Court. I looked into someone's Chambers from the pavement and was thrilled to see a clerk tying up a bundle of papers in actual RED TAPE. In the computer age, it filled my heart with joy. Can't wait until my granddaughters are old enough to bore with this story!

I also love the Wallace Collection and the Courtauld Institute, both small museums. The Wallace has amazing furniture and decoration and -- I didn't notice for several visits -- a lot of very naughty paintings. Wallace himself lived in Paris and was responsible for the ubiquitous dark green horse fountains there.
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Oct 20th, 2013, 05:32 AM
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"I love walking up Regent Street from Piccadilly Circus to Oxford Circus and then west along Oxford Street to Selfridges."

This is an utter waste of time. All you see is the same crappy stores selling the same crappy goods that you see in any big city at home. It's the last place to go if you really want to see London. See

The first places that came to my mind were John Soane's Museum, V&A, Greenwich and the little clock museum at Guildhall. It's no accident that hall of these are about history.
popov is offline  
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Oct 20th, 2013, 06:09 AM
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Not a place, but an event - Ceremony of the Keys. Since you're leaving in 2 weeks see if your hotel can get you tickets.

Favorite places - Westminster Abbey Verger's Tour and Cabinet War Rooms. I also agree with Soane Museum.
adrienne is offline  
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Oct 20th, 2013, 06:13 AM
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Popov - you sound a right old prig. I love Regent Street and Oxford Street for the buzzy atmosphere which for me and perhaps for the original poster is part of the experience of being in an big city. I love being out there with the other tourists and Londoners from all over the world. So, up yours matey!
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Oct 20th, 2013, 06:25 AM
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Favorite--can I have 4?

The Tower of London

Westminster Abbey

The British Museum

Walking along the Thames--this is not all in one day, but I love the views from the various bridges and walking along either bank with all the "stuff" that's nearby to go to (like St. Paul's) or just see (like Big Ben and Parliament). Don't miss a Southbank walk, though.
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Oct 20th, 2013, 06:25 AM
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O thanks everybody! I am just so impressed with this site and with the fact that you all take time to help - it is appreciated! FYI - I live in Dubai and am 5 minutes from the biggest mall in the world, so I am not much into shopping and bling. But how could you know that - I did not give enough info. MaisonPlague: Two years ago, when I still lived in a small city in South Africa, i did walk around places with big snazzy buzzy stores in New York and really loved it - it was so totally different from where I came from. So it all depends popov ... But popov, I will really try to find the little clock museum.
You are right Cathinjoetown, I must now get a simple map of London that I understand and figure out what is where - and plan accordingly. My budget is fairly limited, but because I found reasonable accommodation through Hotwire, I can splurge once (or even twice!). One splurge will be for a show like Lion King or Phantom, but perhaps we can find affordable tickets for this and do both!! Our taste in food: Mediterranean, simple, not spicy ...
kovsie is offline  
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Oct 20th, 2013, 06:30 AM
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London is a huge a populous city - and almost anyplace worth seeing is going to be crowded - as are the streets in central areas, as well as means of getting anywhere (the tube or bus).

I don;t know what you mean by "don;t do well in crowds". Do you just prefer fewer people (as in strolling in Hyde Park) or do you have panic attacks if there are more than a few people (a real issue in most of London).
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