To paraphrase Fat Boy Slim, London has Come A Long Way Baby....
Ooozing with history - both Tower of London ancient and Cool Britannia modern - London is a city that stands still for no one. So whether you're looking for hip underground art, old-school tweediness, high-street chic or just a nice place to get a decent cuppa and see the sites, find it all here in EssentialTravel.co.uk's 24-hour guide to London.
Bob Bob Ricard
Start the day with a refined English breakfast at the capital's latest and swishest all-day brasserie. Inspired by an Edwardian railway carriage, live out your Murder on Orient Express fantasies, as you sip tea and feast on hot buttered crumpets topped with rose petal jam. It's open till 3am when glamorous barflies takeover.
- Address: 1 Upper James Street
- Tel: +44 (0)20 3145 1000
- Website: www.bobbobricard.com
- Tube: Piccadilly or Oxford Street
The Original London Sightseeing Tour
Contrary to its name, it's hardly 'original'. But, don't turn your nose up: if you're new to the city, it's a great way to find your bearings and see the big historical attractions such as Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, the Natural History Museum, Tower Bridge, etc...
- Website: www.theoriginaltour.com
Houses of Parliament and Big Ben
Catch democracy in action - this is where the laws governing Britain are debated and passed (or passed over!). If you're a UK resident, your local MP can arrange for you to tour the house and climb the Clock Tower (aka Big Ben!). Time your visit right and spot the Queen when she opens new the session of Parliament (November or December).
Get off at St Paul's Cathedral, walk across the 'swinging' Millennium Bridge to the fantastically industrial Tate Modern, which houses an extensive collection of modern art from Matisse to Rothko. And most of it's free.
- Address: Bankside
- Tel: +44 (0)20 7887 8888
- Website: www.tate.org.uk/modern/
- Tube: St. Pauls
With more teas than you can imagine, daily tea tastings and wonderful smells you will want to take home; Tea Palace is a deliciously different world. Nestled in the middle of Covent Garden's bustling Piazza, a stop off is a must for the connoisseur and cuppa lover alike.
- Address: 12 Covent Garden Market
- Tel: +44 (0)20 7836 6997
- Website: www.teapalace.co.uk
- Tube: Covent Garden
Forget slow ferries, the best way to see the river is speeding down in a Rigid Inflatable Boat (Rib) at 30 knots (35mph). It takes 40mins to meander from the London Eye to Tower Bridge, but then the engines really kick in as you fly across the water to Canary Wharf. Sit tight.
- Address: Boarding gate 1, Millennium Pier (directly under the London Eye)
- Website: www.londonribvoyages.com
- Tube: Waterloo or Westminster
Deen City Farm
A healthy mix of chickens, ferrets, pigs, cows, goats and even peacocks, Deen City Farm also has a petting area for small kids and a riding school for older ones. If you're looking for a cheap lunch there's a little cafe, as well as shop where you can buy souvenirs - and Deen City Farm eggs.
- Address: 39 Windsor Avenue, Merton Abbey
- Tel: +44 (0)20 8543 5300
- Tube: South Wimbledon
Xstrata Treetop Walkway Kew Gardens
Watch the kids (okay, and their parents) gawp as they wonder through the gardens' latest attraction, an 18-metre-high-, 200-metre-long treetop walkway. The closest thing you'll find to a real bird's-eye view.
- Address: Kew Gardens
- Tel: +44 (0)20 8332 5655
- Website: kew.org
- Tube: Kew Gardens
Still the leader of high street fashion, the ever-trendy super store remains a one-stop shop for leggings, skyscraper stilettos and micro minis (although they do maternity and children's wear too). Try the boutique section for edgier designs.
- Address: 216, Oxford Street
- Tel: +44 (0)20 7636 7700
- Website: www.topshop.com
- Tube: Oxford Street
When it comes to the best afternoon tea, there's a well-trodden Tea Tourist Trail to the door of The Ritz. But it's to The Wolseley - with its grand ambience, delicious cakes and art deco inspired silverware - that in-the-know Londoners and celebs head.
- Address: 106 Piccadilly
- Tel: +44 (0)20 7499 6996
- Website: www.thewolseley.com
- Tube: Green Park or Piccadilly
Glow Urban Spa
Facials have come a long way since the days of oatmeal scrub and slices of cucumber on your eye-lids. But sometimes the old ways are the good ways, which is why this chic salon has developed a 'raw glow' facial using only freshly prepared, raw ingredients like sea algae, fruit and vegetables. A heathy dose of bliss!
- Address: 9 Motcomb Street
- Tel: +44 (0)20 752 0652
- Website: www.hushhspas.com
- Tube: Knightsbridge or Hyde Park Corner
Hat and Tun
Join the savvy after-work crowds at this latest offshoot, from the guys behind iconic gastropub The Gun in the Docklands. It's all about retro-Brit cool here so order a steak and ale pie and wash it down with one of their fine cask ales.
- Address: 3 Hatton Wall
- Tel: +44 (0)20 72424747
- Website: www.thehatandtun.com/
- Tube: Farringdon
Jodie Prenge, winner of BBC reality TV series I'd Do Anything will star as Nancy, opposite Rowan Atkinson's Fagin (till 25 July 2009) in the Lionel Bart musical based on Charles Dickens' novel.
The star turn of the revamped Royal Festival Hall - in food terms, at least - Skylon offers fantastic views, a contemporary European menu, and killer cocktails. It's also perfectly placed for exploring the South Bank (which includes the Queen Elizabeth Hall concert hall and Hayward gallery).
- Address: Brook Street
- Tel: +44 (0)20 7629 8860
- Website: www.skylon-restaurant.co.uk
- Tube: Bond Street
Victoria & Albert Museum
Home to all things art and design, the Victoria & Albert Museum is open till 10pm every Friday night. Aside from exhibitions ranging from the costumes of Tsars through to the outfits of Vivienne Westwood, you can catch lectures, live music and events in the buzzy foyer and quandrant.
- Address: Cromwell Road
- Tel: +44 (0)20 7942 2000
- Website: www.vam.ac.uk
- Tube: South Kensington
This former theatre in Camden (Charlie Chaplin even performed here) is now one of the best venues to catch top touring and local live bands. Celebrating its fourth anniversary, the regular Saturday Guilty Pleasures (Hall & Oats anyone?) club night is a beloved classic.
- Address: 1A Camden High Street
- Tel: +44 (0)870 432 5527
- Website: www.koko.uk.com
- Tube: Camden Town or Mornington Crescent
You can't miss the first international branch of the boutique Milanese bakery in the heart of Soho. There's a giant wood-fire oven in the window and a communal table filled with late-night bread buyers who can't resist a glass of Prosecco for the road.
- Address: 135 Wardour Street
- Tel: +44 (0)20 7478 8880
- Website: www.princi.co.uk
- Tube: Oxford Circus
Bethnal Green Working Men's Club
Like dressing up? The old East End social club is where you'll find London's most creative club nights from retro big band and ping pong tennis (yes, really) to the best burlesque nights.
- Address: 44-46 Pollard Row
- Tel: +44 (0)20 7739 7170
- Website: www.workersplaytime.net
- Tube: Bethnal Green or Liverpool Street
From the people that brought you [members' club] Soho House, the quality French-inspired menu at this all-day restaurant includes everything from waffles to burgers and is open till 3am most nights.
- Address: 13-17 Old Compton Street
- Tel: + 44 (0)20 7734 0623
- Website: www.cafeboheme.co.uk
- Tube: Tottenham Court Road or Leicester Square
London's latest superclub is from the people behind Fabric. Expect big name DJs such as Paul Van Dyk and Armand Van Helden, and interesting live music from the likes of Sam Sparro, and Hercules and Love Affair.
- Address: The O2, Peninsula Square
- Tel: +44 (0)207 549 6686
- Tube: Canary Wharf or Canning Town
New Covent Garden Flower Market
This is where the florists go, so you can buy lilies at wholesale prices. You'll need to buy in bulk but at prices like these, it's worth it. The date's going too well to call it a night? This is the place for you.
- Address: Nine Elms
- Tel: +44 (0)20 7720 2211
- Website: www.newcoventgardenmarket.com
- Tube: Vauxhall
Brick Lane Beigel Bake
Join the post-club brigade at any hour for a cheap-as-chips plain or filled bagel (salt beef - and mountains of it - being the most popular) at this 24-hour East End institution.
- Address: 159 Brick Lane
- Tel: + 44 (0)20 7729 0616
- Tube: Liverpool Street or Bethnal Green
Looking out on Regent's Park and beyond to Canary Wharf and the BT Tower, this is one of the best views of London. Get here for sunrise before the crowds set in, especially in summer.
The early opening hours are for the traders from neighbouring Smithfield meat market, and after-hours revellers are not encouraged. But those who appreciate a Guinness with their breakfast are welcome! Hang around til lunchtime and savour one of the messily, delicious roast meat sandwiches.
- Address: 94 Cowcross Street
- Tel: +44 (0)20 7250 1442
- Tube: Farringdon or Barbican
Last Updated: December 2008