London, like all great cities, is a tough nut to crack as a tourist. You can try and fit everything into a weekend, but in truth, there are London residents who still haven’t been to some of our most famous hotspots.
Essentially, trying to fit in everything just isn’t practical – it can, for example, take 2-3 days to truly see everything in the British Museum. Instead, you ideally need to pick a few of your favourites and focus on those.
So, here’s our own pick of some of the must-sees and must-dos in the West End…
The National Gallery
One of the world’s most iconic art galleries, the National Gallery is completely free to visit. It’s also positioned at the epicentre of London, looking over Trafalgar Square.
It’s a brilliant place to start a West-End visit as it puts you right in the middle of everything, and from there you can’t go wrong. You’re within a short of walk of London’s most famous parks, the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace. Better still, you get to start those journeys with a quick look at an original Van Gogh or Turner.
An iconic department store
When you come to London, shopping is inevitable. But to elevate that shopping trip to a truly memorable experience, it’s worth visiting one or more of the several iconic department stores.
Harrods is perhaps the most famous of all, feeling rather more like a tourist destination than a shop. And if that sort of thing appeals, Fortnum & Mason and Liberty are historic department stores where you’ll find curiosities and luxuries hidden around every corner.
For a mix of the historical and contemporary though, you’ll want Selfridges or Harvey Nichols. These giants have their own colourful histories but are also at the cutting-edge of modern retail.
An iconic brunch
A London brunch has become a rite of passage for tourists and locals alike.
In the West End, you’re spoilt for choice and you may well need to book ahead. The Wolseley in Mayfair is about as iconic as it gets and the art deco interior is memorable. The Delauney is similarly grand, and offers similarly delicious European food.
For something a little cheaper but no less glamorous, try The Riding House Café in Fitzrovia. Or, you may want to really push the boat out and join the celebs at The Ritz, which needs no introduction.
Somerset House isn’t necessarily the busiest destination in London, but it’s hard to think of a place that more beautifully captures a sense of British history and architecture.
The original building dates back to the 1500s, and since then it’s been extended, altered, partly demolished, and has passed through the hands of government, royalty and aristocrats. Today, it’s a fabulous, multi-purpose tourist site, housing cafes, art galleries and various exhibitions. Its main courtyard is home to music concerts and film screenings – and around Christmas, it becomes an ice rink.
A wander round the Royal Parks
To top it all off, you can’t beat a stroll through one of London’s three central Royal Parks.
Hyde Park, Green Park and St James’ Park all border each other, and all offer a fabulous snapshot of London life. If you’re a keen people-watcher, grab a coffee and find a bench on a weekday. You’re likely to see every kind of person, from every corner of the world. And because these parks all back on to many of London’s best sights and destinations, this is the perfect way to fill a gap in your busy days.
Need accommodation for your London trip?
Our serviced apartments in London and Surrey are perfectly positioned for visitors to the capital, offering luxury accommodation at affordable prices.
Take a video tour of our apartments here, or to discuss our availability and rates please call 020 89776699.