With a history spanning two millennia, it’s no surprise that London has secured itself as an arbiter of cosmopolitan style, perfectly merging royal decadence with edgy contemporaneity. The posh city offers a wealth of design destinations, and we’ve rounded up some of the chicest places to add to your itinerary.
We’ve selected gorgeous hotels for a luxurious stay, restaurants that offer decor as enticing as their menus, stylish speakeasies with world-class cocktails, and must-see architectural landmarks — from centuries-old cathedrals and abbeys to modern skyscrapers on the cutting edge of design.
Historic and contemporary, sophisticated and scruffy — London’s the city that does it all. Its sprawling boroughs reach out from the River Thames to the infamous M25, the circular motorway that divides the city from the suburbs. Whether it’s live theater at Shakespeare’s Globe or DJ sets in the East End, Londoners see themselves as tastemakers to the world, so throw yourself into its cultural life, its bar scene, and its restaurants before you get the last tube home.
Naturally, London is well served by airports, even if a pricey train ticket is needed to access the city from most of them. If you’re arriving late-night, know that the trains stop running around 11 p.m., so a night at an airport hotel may be more economical than an expensive taxi ride. The Heathrow and Gatwick express trains will get you into the city within 30 minutes, but if you’re looking to save money, and you’ve got the time, take the Piccadilly line from Heathrow or the Southern stopping service from Gatwick. Stansted and Luton airports are located in towns outside the city. London City Airport caters mostly to business and short-destination flights, but it can offer a spectacular low-flying approach over the city.
If your flight arrived in London, but Worcester is to be your destination, consider travelling in style with a chauffeur service. Worcester airport taxi transfers using a service such a Cars Exec is quite common and popular. Once in Worcester you won’t want to miss out on a trip to Worcester Cathedral — an Anglican cathedral located on a bank overlooking the River Severn. It is the seat of the Bishop of Worcester. Its official name is the Cathedral Church of Christ and the Blessed Mary the Virgin of Worcester.
Where to Drink
If you can find a friend who is a member (this will be hard, because only 1,000 people have been granted access to this exclusive club), there isn’t a better place in London to drink. The legendary club is genteel, quiet, and has counted the Queen Mother, David Cameron, and Victoria Beckham among its past visitors.
The Ship Tavern
First founded in 1549 (though it only moved to its current location in the 1920’s), the Ship Tavern is a classic wood-paneled pub located just a short walk from Covent Garden. Its upstairs dining room serves some great classics too.
Where to Eat
Stepping into Simpsons is like stepping back in time — waiters still wheel around silver carts of roast beef and lamb — and Beef Wellington, Winston Churchill’s meal of choice at the restaurant, still features prominently on the menu. Downtown Abbey was even filmed in the wood-paneled dining room, because it looks exactly as it did over a century ago.
Established in 1798, Rules is the oldest restaurant in London still in its original location. The menu is filled with traditional British fare, including game, roasts from the restaurant’s own farm, pies, and puddings.
What to Do
The former home of the Dukes of Wellington, Apsley house still contains the family’s collections of fine and decorative arts, including gifts that the Duke of Wellington received after he won the Battle of Waterloo.
The Soane Museum
Tucked in a small square off of High Holborn, the Soane Museum was the former home of the architect Sir John Soane, who lead a circle of English artists and intellects at the beginning of the 19th century. His house is a labyrinth of small rooms filled with his collections of ancient antiquities and British art.
Where to Shop
Housed inside a Tudor-style building, this department store sells much more than its famous floral prints. Its floors are now filled with new pieces by contemporary designers, enduring classics, and interesting statement pieces.
One of London’s oldest estate jewelers, Hancocks sells a selection of vintage jewelry from the past few centuries by designers including Cartier, Paul Flato, and the legendary British jeweler Andrew Grima. Plus, its location in Burlington Arcade makes for more shopping very nearby.
Fortnum & Mason
The store gets its fair share of tourists, but there is still no better place to stock up on British classics like tea, jam, and biscuits. If you have an especially large suitcase, don’t forget to pick up one of their famous picnic baskets.