...
...

Photo credit Eva Dang and John T

Tired of London, tired of life

When a Man is Tired of London, He is Tired of Life – Quote from Samuel Johnson 18th Century Diarist

Other cities may try to claim this enduring epithet but it is to London that it rightfully belongs. As an honorary Londoner having lived here for almost all of my adult life, I am constantly enchanted and inspired by the diversity and immensity of the most beautiful City in the world. 

London has it all. The British Royal family and their palaces, pageantry, heritage, tradition, a two-thousand-year history, iconic landmarks, classical and contemporary architecture, culture, fine art, fashion, music, commerce, theatre, museums, international sporting events, vast open spaces and parks, world-class tourist attractions and monuments celebrating literary and musical greatness in playwright William Shakespeare’s magnificent Globe Theatre and the quirkiness of the Beatles’ Abbey Road zebra crossing.

One of the world’ most frequented cities, many visitors and even resident Londoners never experience London’s vast uniqueness and the hidden gems and discoverable secrets on bustling streets from Mayfair to Peckham. Gazing at picture-postcard landmarks, riding a Big Red Bus or treading well-trodden thoroughfares provides unforgettable memories but an added dimension is accessed when armed with a wonderful new guide, Insider London, A Curated Guide to the Most Stylish Shops, Restaurant and Cultural Experiences by Rachel Felder. (Harper Collins Design). The Insider Guide offers an opportunity for a different kind of round London sightseeing tour. 

The South Bank of the Thames, a river that stretches for 200 miles, is as good as any place to begin a whistle-stop tour of the Capital. The cultural heart of the city entertains with classical theatre, dance and modern drama in the Royal Festival Hall, National Theatre and street theatre with musicians, performers and mime artists.

A bird’s eye view from a glass-enclosed carriage at the top of the London Eye opens up a breathtaking panorama of some of the best London has to offer.

The gold cross topped dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral, Buckingham Palace, Lambeth Palace, Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London, Millennium Bridge, MI5 headquarters, The Shard, currently the highest building in London, the eye-catching Gherkin and Cheese Cutter glass skyscrapers, the Savoy Hotel and the magnificent sweep of the river downstream with its leisure craft, working barges and speedy commuter Thames clippers.

Tate Modern, a former power station towers over the South Bank and is one of the most important contemporary art museum’s in the world.

Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, a 1400 seat reconstruction of the original Globe provides an extra-ordinary opportunity to see the Bard’s plays performed in an authentic setting, that being, outside. The open-air theatre operates all year round and every day ‘groundlings’ tickets are available for just five pounds. Wear warm clothing.

The Golden Hind, the ship of Elizabethan explorer Sir Francis Drakes is now a function venue, moored on the South Bank within sight of the Tower of London. Tower Bridge which spans the river downstream, has a ‘selfie gallery’. A mirrored floor and ceiling balanced between the white and gold embossed columns of the blue iron and steel structure of the stone walkways and balustrades of Tower Bridge, over one hundred feet above the tidal flowing river.

On the mirrored platform capable of supporting a bundle of hay and six elephants, the architect envisioned visitors observing the ‘beastly splendor’ of the river in a constant state of flux, forming and dissolving far below.

As night follows day, energetic sightseeing leads naturally to the need for a nice cup of tea. The grand tradition of Afternoon Tea – a lavish spread with small sandwiches, scones with butter, jam and cream and cake, is a specialty of some of the grandest London hotels, such as The Ritz and Fortnum & Mason on Piccadilly and the luxury department store, Harrods in Knightsbridge.

However, there are also smaller more affordable options at establishments such as Bea’s of Bloomsbury, Postcard Tea by Bond Street and Wringer & Mangle, an old industrial laundry at London Fields. To combine afternoon tea with sightseeing, the BB Bakery Bus Tour serves afternoon tea on a double decker bus or on a boat travelling down the Thames.

Away from the central London tourist hot spots, Camden Market delivers insight to youth culture and offers a glimpse into a mysterious world of flourishing underground tribes of native Londoners and international visitors. Flamboyant clothing geared to punks, goths, witches and warlocks, rock n rollers, bikers, cyber heads and war mongers are all on sale. A theatrical experience, glamorous vintage outfits, ethnic outfits, battle fatigues and glorious gothic fantasy wear are displayed by shop assistants dressed to the nines or made up to hell. Ethnic food stalls conjure up smells and flavors from India, Thailand, Mexico, the Caribbean and good old British fish ‘n chips. There is also a homage booth to the reggae legend Bob Marley selling dreadlock accessories, music, posters and t-shirts.

Weary feet can head to Covent Garden for the restorative treatments offered by Neale’s Yard Remedies or to the not so sweetly named Cowshed, a small chain of comfy and casual spas on Primrose Hill.

To ensure a restful end to the day in your newly discovered secret London, pick up a book at Bedtime from the former home of the novelist and visionary at the Charles’ Dickens Museum in Chancery Lane/Holborn. You can also join a walking tours to visit some of the scenes of his most famous novels, Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickleby. “You asked for MORE?”

Members of the Magic Circle are sworn to secrecy, but you can experience even more mystery and magic with a late night visit to the Davenport Magic Shop in Charing Cross. For children and adults they run classes in the Magic Studio next door and sell magic collectibles from this family owned store that has been in at the same address since 1898.

Which brings us full circle back to the Abbey Road Studios in St. John’s Wood. Night and day, visitors and fans gather outside in the street by the graffiti lined wall at the recording studios where the Beatles produced some of their most amazing and enduring music. The photograph of the Famous Four walking in step across the zebra crossing is an everlasting image all over the world.

They declared All You Need is Love. If you love life, it’s no secret, you will love London.

Find and compare London city breaks here.

Author Name: Ellen Frazer-Jameson

Website: http://ellen.waterdoctor-bh.com/

Author info: Ellen Frazer-Jameson is a journalist, former BBC broadcaster and published author. She lives in London and Miami and to relax dances Argentine tango.


Picture of Andy

Posted by Andy
on 21st November 2019 and
updated on 12th February 2021

Similar blog posts

From the UK's most popular travel bloggers

...

9th August 2022 by The Scrapbook of Life

Weekend In Bath, England – The perfect 2 day itinerary

Fancy spending the weekend in Bath? Whether it’s a hen-do, couples retreat, solo trip, family getaway, or anything else in between, Bath is an excellent choice for a UK city break! Located in the depths of Somerset, Bath is famed for its abundance of curvaceous Georgian architecture, boulevard-style streets, and greens dotted with grand old beech trees. The city is quintessentially English and to help you get the most out of your weekend, I’m going to share with you the perfect 2 days in...

...

8th August 2022 by Where Angie Wanders

8 best holiday cottages with sea views in Cornwall

Cornish cottages with sea views are perfect for a fabulous holiday in Cornwall. Spend long days exploring the traditional fishing villages and historical sights for which Cornwall is famous before returning to your holiday cottage to relax and enjoy the far-reaching coastal views. This post highlights eight carefully selected holiday cottages with sea views in Cornwall that will appeal to those who love to be by the coast and appreciate the beautiful seascapes that can be seen in this most......

...

5th August 2022 by Bemused Backpacker

The 50 best things to see and do in Liverpool

Liverpool is one of the UKs greatest city break destinations with a unique cultural and historical heritage and something to see and do for everyone. With so many iconic attractions you will never fit everything into one trip, so here are just 50 of the best things to see and do in Liverpool to help you choose....

...

2nd August 2022 by Kirsty Leanne

The best London river cruise lunch: City Cruises London sightseeing tour review

If you’re looking for a unique way to see some of London’s most iconic riverside landmarks in the glorious sunshine, then a sightseeing lunch cruise might be right up your street! I recently had the pleasure of enjoying a meal and sightseeing cruise on the Thames with City Cruises with my friend Kaye and thought I’d share my thoughts with you. Keep reading for my full review! The City Cruises London Sightseeing Lunch Cruise lasts for just under two hours and departs from Tower Millenium...

...

27th July 2022 by PommieTravels

Traveling to Cambridge: Everything you need to know

Cambridge is a beautiful academic city known for its influence on history and is full of gorgeous architecture and natural beauty. Explore the historic universities, cobblestone lanes, and lovely quiet pubs that sit along the banks of the River Cam, in the densely populated city centre. Famous for its university and ground-breaking scientific research – many famous alumni include the likes of Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, and Professor Stephen Hawking. Here are some of the best things to do...

...

23rd July 2022 by She Get's Around

Chatsworth’s hidden gems – the best things to do in Chatsworth

If you’re visiting Derbyshire, Chatsworth is a must-add to your itinerary. And, to help you make the most of your trip, we’ve shared our favourite things to do in Chatsworth. A (very) brief history of Chatsworth House. Chatsworth to Derbyshire is basically what the Leaning Tower is to Pisa – we’re very proud of our biggest tourist attraction.  If this is the first time you’ve heard of it, Chatsworth House is the historic residence of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire (the family...

...

22nd July 2022 by She Get's Around

Trying the famous TikTok food in Chinatown, London

Planning a visit to the capital? Our guide to famous TikTok food in Chinatown is sure to level-up your trip. London’s food culture is one of the best in the world (I know I’m a little biased, but hey). And these innovative eateries embody everything that makes London food so stand-out. Whether you’re looking to try something new, explore global cuisine, or simply get your hands on that delicious cheese stick you saw on TikTok, these are treats that you can’t help but be tempted by....