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The best guide to London, updated every year
All the legendary sights--from the Bloody Tower to majestic St. Paul's, from Big Ben to Buckingham Palace
Great neighborhood walks--explore heraldic Westminster, ritzy Belgravia, charming Chelsea, and beyond
Where to shop--from bowlers and biscuits to tweeds and ties
Discover royal haunts, Shakespeare's Globe, and the Beatles' London
Day trips to Oxford, Stratford, Windsor, Bath, and Cambridge
Where to stay and eat, no matter what your budget
Grand hotels, charming Victorian gems, and Bloomsbury bargains
The latest restaurants, coziest pubs, and most lavish teas--savor the best of the new British fare
Fresh, thorough, practical--off and on the beaten path
Costs, hours, descriptions, and tips by the thousands
All reviews based on visits by savvy Londoner Kate Sekules
37 pages of maps--and dozens of great features
Smart travel tips
Read an Excerpt
Pleasures and Pastimes
Food, Glorious Food: The Delights of Dining
London now ranks among the world's top dining scenes. A new generation of chefs has precipitated a fresh approach to food preparation, which you could call "London style," though most refer to it as "Modern British." Today, almost everything on the culinary front has changed. The old standards have been given a nouvelle spin although roast suckling pig topped with strawberry-papaya and served on a bed of chili noodles may not be everyone's cup of tea. The nouvelle push has taken the starch literally out of many of the city's menus, and this new energy is even finding a vogue for old standbys like angels-on-horseback (crisp bacon wrapped around oysters). Savvy Londoners looking for a dinner bargain go for the nearest tandoori house this Indian food goes beyond the cliché into national-dish territory. Londoners have now enlarged their purview to encompass most of the world; in the space of two weeks, diners can cover as much tongue-tingling ground as in a two-week package tour of exotic, far-flung places. In fact, so many people are eating ethnic that the indigenous caff (the British diner) which offers such grab-and-gulp goodies as fish-and-chips, chip butties (Wonder Bread with margarine and fries), or chips and ketchup has become less ubiquitous in central London than good sandwich bars. Today, such native delicacies as the cockles, winkles, and smoked eels found in the cockney stalls of the East End appear as just one more exotic cuisine in the pantheon.
Cheers!: The Pub Experience
Londoners could no more live without their "local" than they could forgo dinner. The pub or public house, to give it its full title is ingrained in the British psyche as social center, bolt-hole, second home. Pub culture revolving around pints, pool, darts, and sports is still male dominated; however, as a result of the gentrification trend started in the late '80s by the major breweries (which own most pubs), transforming many ancient smoke- and spittle-stained dives into fantasy Edwardian drawing rooms, women have been entering their welcoming doors in increasing numbers. This decade, the trend has been toward the bar, superficially identified by its cocktail list, creative paintwork, bare floorboards, and chrome fittings. The social function is the same: these are English pubs, but not as we formerly knew them. When doing a London pub crawl, you must remember one thing: arcane licensing laws forbid the serving of alcohol after 11 pm (10:30 on Sunday; there are different rules for restaurants) a circumstance you see in action at 10 minutes to 11, when the "last orders" bell signals a stampede to the bar. After many decades, however, some relaxation of these unpopular laws is in evidence with weekend "extensions" being granted, especially in Soho, plus a slew of clubs/bars/pubs that get around them by charging a moderate cover after 11 pm.
The Performing Arts: From the Boards to the Bard
There is a strength and fluidity about the performing arts in London that makes them very difficult to pin down. An actor playing Lear with the Royal Shakespeare Company one day could quite possibly appear in a television farce the next; an opera that has played to the small exclusive audience at Glyndebourne in the English countryside might reappear the next week at the Royal Albert Hall, delighting millions through radio. In music and drama, opera and ballet, there are endless opportunities for visitors to enjoy themselves to the hilt.
Best Foot Forward: Walking Through London
London is a great walking city because so many of its real treasures are untouted details: tiny alleyways barely visible on the map; garden squares; churchyards; shop windows; sudden vistas of skyline or park. However, it is big, VERY BIG. And often rather damp. With the obvious precautions of comfortable, weatherproof shoes and an umbrella, this activity might well become your favorite pastime.
Table of Contents
About Our Writers
Each year the Gold Guides are written and updated by more than 500 resident writers.
How to Use This Book
Describes organization, icons, and other key information.
Please Write to Us
Tells you how to get in touch with our editors.
The Gold Guide: Smart Travel Tips A to Z
An easy-to-use section divided alphabetically by topic. Under each listing you'll find tips and information that will help you accomplish what you need to in London. You'll also find addresses and telephone numbers of organizations and companies that offer destination-related services and detailed information and publications.
Helps get you in the mood for your trip.
The City of Villages
Describes the diverse enclaves of London.
New and Noteworthy
Cues you in on trends and happenings.
Gets you oriented.
Pleasures and Pastimes
Describes the activities and sights that really make London unique.
These help you make the most of your time.
Showcases our top picks from special restaurants and one-of-a-kind accommodations to out-of-the-ordinary sights and activities... Let them inspire you!
Festivals and Seasonal Events
Alerts you to special London events you'll want to seek out.
Each of London's amazing neighborhoods is covered by the 13 sections of this chapter, with a recommended walking tour and a list of neighborhood sights. From Westminster to the East End, you'll know where to go and what to see.
Nightlife and the Arts
Outdoor Activities and Sports
Side Trips from London
With Bath, Cambridge, Oxford, Stratford-upon-Avon, and Windsor.
List of Maps