London Travel Guide: Hotels, Restaurants, Shopping and Entertainment
To get to the fabulous lounge at Heathrow, book yourself on a British Airways flight. When you arrive at the lounge, you can take a shower and your breakfast, in time to begin your day afresh and not wait for the 2 p.m. check-in time of most city hotels.
Get the advantage of an excellent upper class with Virgin Atlantic Airlines and, if you need to stop by Zurich or Geneva on business, Swissair is a good option.
Airport Convenience in London
Heathrow is a better airport to arrive at than Gatwick because it has better amenities and is much more lively and entertaining.
If you’re traveling Business Class, speed through the airport checks by opting for the Fast Track priority service. You’ll save thirty minutes. Or, you could opt for the Iris Recognition Immigration System (IRIS). This scans your eye and lets you sail through the IRIS channel at the immigration desk. This, however, is applicable to only those with the right kind of passport. The option is available at four Heathrow terminals, Manchester terminals 1 and 2, Birmingham terminal 1 and Gatwick north and south terminals.
Hotels in London (Top Picks)
The Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park
- At £300 to £500 a night, with taxes, it has great value for money.
- Its location could not be better, standing opposite Harrods and the famous Harvey Nichols store, it gives easy access to everything.
- Its Mandarin Bar is one of the best in London.
- Rooms facing Hyde Park give you vast views of verdant green, against the chirrup of birds in the morning. Rooms facing the road have, predictably, traffic noise.
London Hilton on Park Lane
- More affordable at £150 to £250.
- Rooms on the upper floors have gorgeous views.
- One of the best restaurants in the city, Galvin at Windows, sits on the top floor.
Restaurants in London
- Nobu (Japanese): The Bento Box is a great take-way if you’re in a hurry. It comes with a salmon salad, black cod with miso soup, cut rolls and sushi, mango cake and other desserts.
- Theo Randall (Italian), at the Intercontinental Hotel: A fabulous restaurant by the very famous chef it is named after.
- Galvin At Windows: Fantastic on two counts, food and view. Don’t bother looking for the roast duck on the menu. Simply order it.
- Mandarin Bar, at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park Hotel: It is not a hip lounge but a great bar for the business traveler.
- Patisserie Valerie, next to Harrods: This bakery has been around for 85 years. Stop by for a light lunch.
- Zuma (Japanese): The black cod is highly recommended.
- Langan’s Brasserie: Partly owned by the British Movie Star in Hollywood Sir Michael Caine and Shakira Caine, it has the best cheese and spinach soufflé in the city. Insist on a ground floor table – the soufflé is not served upstairs because it gets cold by the time it gets there.
- The Rivoli Bar at the Ritz London: This art deco-styled bar is a spectacular place for meal and drinks. Try the champagne cocktails for which the Ritz is renowned.
- Harvey Nichols Fifth Floor Restaurant: This is a beautiful restaurant with a skylight where you can have a quick meal in the morning or a light lunch. One half of the bar is with specialty wines. Great place for the evening.
- Fortnum & Mason: The tea and scones are not about eating, but about experiencing. They’re probably the best, anywhere.
Shopping in London
- Perfect for the avid shopper with an entire day to spend.
- More than 130 boutiques with discounts of up to 60 percent all the year.
- It’s 35 minutes away from the City. There are trains from Marylebone Station and a bus from the station to the village.
Regent and Oxford Streets
- This is where you go when you’re stressed out for the time. Get good bargains.
- Try The Perfume Shop for deals and fresh fragrances.
Jermyn Street, in the Heart of St.JamesDistrict
- This is where you shop for men and business people. The best shirt maker, Turnbull & Asser, is here.
- You can get very good suits, shoes, cufflinks, ties and shocks.
Fortnum & Masson, at Piccadilly
- Think of anything in the world of food, you’ll find it here.
- A humongous and fantastic mall. You’ll find a large range of both designer and high street labels here.
Entertainment in London
The Phantom of the Opera and Les Misérables are classic plays. But, if you have children with you, The Lion King is a good idea. Watch out for new plays.
Music is big in London, if you like a certain genre like pop, rock, jazz, or rhythm and blues – there are special bars that offer them on weekends.
Clubs such as China White, Milk & Honey, and Annabel’s are great places to hang out and unwind.
- A bustling area with street performers and musicians, it’s in the heart of the theatre district. Walk around and take in the neighborhood after watching a performance.
- Good for gifts and accessories shopping.
- There is a weekend market, which is somewhere between a proper and a flea market.
- You can watch the street performances while you sip on a drink at the terrace of Punch & Judy, a neighborhood bar.
In the theatre district, this is a spot where there is something going on all the time. This is also where you get to snatch glimpses of the rich and famous on the red carpet, thanks to the movie launches.
- The concierge at the Mandarin and the Dorchester are just excellent! You can ask for anything from a ticket to a Wimbledon match to a ticket to a night theatre show, and you’ll get it, of course at a price.
- If you’re not staying at these hotels, ‘Quintessentially’ provides services you might want.
- In a taxi, round off the total up to the nearest pound.
- At fine dining restaurants, it’s 10 to 15 percent.
- For bell boys, one to two pounds is enough.