48 hours in London: what to do

Weekend in LondonEven native Londoners who have lived here are constantly surprised and delighted by London — there is just so much to see and discover. If you’re only in town for a short stay, you’ll want to pack in as much as possible so you leave feeling that you’ve experienced some of the best London has to offer.

We’ve asked some seasoned travellers and London natives (along with our experienced concierges) what they think are the must-see highlights you should pencil in to your itinerary. Keep reading if you’d like an exclusive guide to the best that the city has to offer…

Take in the city

To get a real sense of London we suggest heading upwards and putting some distance between you and the pavement. The Art Deco OXO Tower and the Shard, which has just opened, will give you a real bird’s eye view of the impressive cityscape.

Back down on ground level, we always recommend that guests take the chance to go on a river cruise to get closer to all the landmarks while enjoying London’s iconic waterways. The River Thames is Britain’s second longest river and most cruises along this famous river let you hop on or off as you please, so you can explore what you fancy in more detail. Don’t forget the camera…

Shopping

If you’re pushed for time, London’s most high-end boutiques and shops can be found on Bond Street, Sloane Street, Oxford Street and Regent Street. To minimise the walking distance between each shopping experience, head for a shopping emporium which houses everything under the sun for shopaholics.

Harrods in Knightsbridge, Liberty on Regent Street and Selfridges on Oxford Street are renowned for their well-curated collections and excellent customer service.

London is a treasure trove of one-of-a-kind finds that you can only buy from market stalls or specialist vintage shops. To pick up some extra-special souvenirs, visit some of London’s famous bustling markets like Portobello Market, Camden Market or the colourful Brick Lane Market where Londoners from all walks of life come together.

Culture

Jenny Falconer, who pens the A Lady in London blog suggests injecting some culture into your day by taking in the exhibits at the Victoria and Albert Museum or the British Museum for rainy day entertainment, but makes a break for London’s parks once the sun peeps out.

Just near Leicester square, you’ll find Cecil Court. Teeming in history, it’s a favourite with blogger Mo (who writes the popular A Glimpse of London blog). If walls could talk, the ones here would have some very interesting tales to tell…

Originally built by a spy, Cecil Court became renowned for thieving, forgery and arson (which threatened to damage it irrevocably). However, the space was rebuilt in Victorian times and took on a more genteel identity, becoming popular with poets and writers.

London also has one of the most vibrant and eclectic theatre scenes in the world, so try to slot in an afternoon matinée or evening show while you’re in town. Most of the action is centred around the Theatre District. Why not read our guide to London’s theatre scene and pick out something to see?

Where to eat

• Lunch

The street food trend continues to gather pace in London. And while these days you can get anything from American-style pulled pork to authentic Jamon Jamon, the humble British pie is probably one of the original street food delicacies. Eat my Pies are one of the very best pie sellers, so try to catch them at White Cross Market on a Thursday or Friday and you’ll feel like a true Londoner.

• An afternoon pick-me-up

London is a very walkable city, but a day spent exploring it on foot can leave you with needing sustenance mid-afternoon in that time slot after lunch but just before dinner. Flagging is not an option, so do what Anna Russell, Duchess of Bedford (who is credited with inventing the afternoon tea tradition) would have done and have some light refreshment to keep you going.

The Duchess would have approved of afternoon tea at The Royal Horseguards Hotel (which has been given an award of excellence by the Tea Guild). The experience includes all the trimmings you would expect and is served in one of London’s plushest venues.

If it’s something decadently chocolate-rich you crave, Stephanie Sadler (who chronicles her expat life in London on the http://littlelondonobservationist.wordpress.com”>Little London Observationist blog) has just the place:

“If you stroll down South Bank, turn off and head through Leake street tunnel and pop into the ScooterCaffe on Lower Marsh Street for some of London’s best hot chocolate (and a cute resident cat).”

• Dinner

There is no way you can sample all of London’s culinary delights in one day, but try to squeeze in a curry at one of the famous Brick Lane curry restaurants or dine while soaking up views of Tower Bridge at The Tower Hotel’s Brassiere.

And Bubbledogs is one of the newer eateries making waves in the city’s restaurant scene, which pairs champagne with various gourmet hot dog concoctions. This fun venue is fast becoming the place to be seen at dinnertime.

What would feature on your itinerary if you only had 48 hours to spend in London? What have we missed out?

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