Visiting London – What to do and what to avoid

I’ve now lived in London for a bit more than 3 years, and have had many good friends and members of my family coming to visit me. There are a few places that people always want to visit and I try to get them to avoid, and then there are the places I have shown them. So in advance of the Olympics and as my posting to the UK comes to an end this summer then I would like share them with you.

[I will try to improve lay-out, add pictures and perhaps a map later. But perhaps I’ll need to change the theme]

WHAT TO DO

Sit down and people watch at Serpentine bar and kitchen with beautiful view over the Serpentine lake in Hyde Park – perhaps before or after visiting The Serpentine Gallery. If in the summer then you can also relax at their summer pavilion (in 2012 by Herzog and Ai Wei Wei) with a book or card from their wonderful little bookstore.

Leighton House – a wonderful museum which was the house of Frederic, Lord Leighton (1830-1896) painter associated with the pre-Raphalites and the artist behind well known picture of a sleeping beauty in an orange dress Flaming June. But I love the house as a testament to a love of beautiful objects and islamic art. Beautiful tiles line its Arab Hall with a fountain surrounded by benches. Stunning!

Marlyebone high street (hat tip to StreetSensation) and its Sunday farmers market, which is a great place to find fresh and delicious produce, and Daunt bookstore with its wonderful geographically organised section and beautiful store and shelves.

Walking down Portobello market on Saturday mornings start away from Notting Hill tube station is best.

Visit the South Bank Centre and Gabriel’s Wharf. Going to the theatre or concerts at South Bank. Walk along the river to the Globe.

Have dinner or lunch at EV near the street called The Cut – love eating outdoors and this is one of the few places in London I’ve found to do this.

Shopping in High Street Kensington – not and never in Oxford Street.

The Photographer’s Gallery near Oxford Street.

Spitalfields Market, the old Truman Brewery and Brick Lane – but don’t eat your curry on Brick Lane, I still haven’t found out which one is good yet. Tooting Road have a lot of good Indian restaurants.

Have fancy lunches at Michelin starred restaurants during the week when it only costs about 30 pounds. Amaya in Knightsbridge, The Green House in Mayfair and Pied a Terre on Charlotte Street are favourites.

Walking around the mews in Knightsbridge and finding original pubs with charm and neither football or music. My local haunts are for a quiet pint : Fox and Hounds and Nag’s Head and if you also want some food then The Grenadier

Discovering Korean restaurants

Having a cup of coffee or a drink at the top of Tate Modern

Enjoying the views from Primrose Hill and having wonderful cakes at Lanka

WHAT TO AVOID

[if you do want to do some of these either come back after 2012 or do it early in the morning or late in the evening]

Camden Market

Shopping on Oxford street

Buckingham Palace

Leiscester Square

Big Ben and House of Parliament, if you are not going inside

Westminster Bridge

Going out in Soho (go East to e.g. Shoreditch or Hoxton instead)

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Karen Melchior

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