ON THE MAP: LONDON

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London is the Capital and the largest city in England and the UK. London has a diverse range of people and cultures, and more than 300 languages are spoken in the region. It is a spectacular city not to be missed, and has so much to offer everyone.  London exerts a considerable impact upon the arts, commerce, education, entertainment, fashion, and tourism to mention a few. 

WHERE TO STAY

For entertainment, cuisine, shopping, and sensory overload, there is no place better to stay than SOHO.  The Firmdale Group owns several boutique hotels in London in various parts of the city. Located in SOHO, The Ham Yard is our favorite of the Firmdale Group properties, but we also love The Knightsbridge Hotel, located around the corner from the infamous luxury department store Harrods. Click here for additional information on their properties.  For the ultimate in luxury and pampering, nothing can beat Claridge's or The Connaught Hotel. For more budget friendly options, AirBNB's can easily be rented throughout the city. 

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GETTING AROUND

By far the easiest way to get around London is via the underground public transit system fondly referred to as "the Tube". You can get pretty much anywhere in the city on the Tube, and there are even mobile apps that make mapping out your journey a breeze. We used Tube Map- London Underground and it worked fabulously! Look for signs with the iconic "Underground" logo to find stations where you can purchase a refillable Oyster Card. Do not be intimidated by the Tube system--

it's clean, easy to get a hang of, and the most efficient way to get around town. 

If underground transport is not your thing, you can find the iconic black hackneys (taxis) all over the city. Beware--they are very expensive and traffic can be so congested in London that it takes forever to get anywhere by car. Uber is also available and is less expensive than a taxi in most cases, but it can be difficult to find a driver during peak times and in certain parts of the city. Lastly, don't forget about the famous red double decker buses. It's definitely worth taking a ride or two as a fun tourist activity, but the routes are not as convenient as the Tube, making it a less desirable option for getting around.  

TOURIST CHECKLIST

If it’s in your budget, it is worth your while to hire a guide.  We highly recommend Sean Kelleher, sean@seanlondonguide.com.  He is incredibly knowledgeable and schedules tours so that you are able to travel by walking and taking the tube, which is ideal in a city where travel by car is time consuming and expensive. It is a unique, educational experience and worth every penny.  If you like to read up on a city before you visit, click here to check out Rick Steves' book on London.

Below are some of our favorite tourists spots to make sure are on your list:

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  • Westminster Abbey

  • Tower of London

  • London Eye

  • Hyde Park

  • Piccadilly Circus

  • Natural History Museum

  • Victoria and Albert Museum

  • Double Decker “Hop on Hop Off Tour”

  • Churchill War Rooms

  • St. Paul’s Cathedral

  • The National Gallery

SHOP 'TIL YOU DROP

If you appreciate shopping as much as we do, you will be amazed by the shopping mecca that awaits you in London. From ultra luxury department stores and boutiques to lower priced "high street" brands, there is an unlimited amount of options. We suggest packing an extra suitcase for taking home all your goodies! Below are some of our favorite spots to do some damage, but you can also click here to check out Travel Triangle's guide to London shopping

  • Harrods: iconic luxury department store. Don't miss the food hall!
     

  • Harvey Nichols: High fashion department store. 
     

  • Selfridges: High end department store with the best tennis shoe selection we’ve ever seen!
     

  • Liberty London: another fantastic, but smaller and more eclectic department store.  
     

  • Dover Street Market: Avant garde, trendy and FUN!  It may break the bank.
     

  • Check out Oxford Street, Bond Street and Regent Street for high end boutiques,
     

  • Covent Garden and Covent Garden Markets: fun, mid-tier priced boutiques with a fantastic outdoor market.
     

  • Camden Market: some great stores, but visit mostly for the fun people watching experience. 
     

  • Carnaby Street: lively area with many shops, pubs and performance venues.

WINE + DINE

Forget what you've heard in the past about the London dining scene--the city has really stepped up their culinary game! There are some amazing options to delight your palate. Here are a few worth mentioning:

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  • Coppa Club Tower Bridge

  • Chiltern Firehouse

  • Palomar

  • Rules

  • Gloria

  • The Cinnamon Club

  • Park Chinois

  • American Bar London

  • Bob Bob Ricard

TEA TIME

There are few things more quintessentially British than High Tea. There are countless options at every price point to enjoy afternoon tea around London, but our favorite experience by far is Sketch London. Every room (right down to the space pod toilets) is over-the-top and decadent. You will feel like you just walked onto a whimsical Wes Anderson movie set. Another excellent choice for High Tea is Claridge's where you can enjoy more old world charm in a luxury setting. Wherever you choose to visit, make sure you make reservations well in advance! The most popular places fill up weeks ahead. 

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THEATER ARTS

Last but not least, you should definitely check out one of the many theater options located throughout London. The most iconic theater is in the West End, where you can enjoy some of the most famous shows including Hamilton, Book of Mormon, Romeo & Juliet, Les Miserables, and Dear Evan Hansen.  But there's plenty of additional options to enjoy the arts spanning everything from traditional opera to contemporary musicals and modern dance.  Check out the Royal Opera House, Shakespeare's Globe, Young Vic, and Regent's Park Open Air Theatre...just to name a few!

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Ellen Krantz

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m: 832.331.5218

Kyla Linn

kyla.linn@compass.com

m: 281.905.2760

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