London’s a city that has something for everyone – not least those off-the-beaten-track attractions you’re unlikely to find in a guidebook but which may just make your visit…
Treat yourself to Victorian Afternoon Tea at the V&A Café
(Cromwell Road SW7 2RL/ open 10am-5.45pm Monday-Thursday and Saturday-Sunday; 10am-10pm Friday)
How does fine tea served in the finest porcelain, tasty tarts, crumbly scones and ribbon sandwiches sound? Delicious, right? And quintessentially English! Indeed, there are few more traditional things you can do in the UK capital than indulging yourself to a ‘Victorian Afternoon Tea’ at the café of the world-renowned Victoria and Albert museum (V&A). Luxuriously decorated, its environs are absolutely perfect for such an occasion on a Sunday afternoon (of course!) between 3 and 5pm. And, to whet your appetite, why not first enjoy a yourself in the wider museum, with its extraordinary collection of 2.3 million art and design objects from across 5,000 years of human history and every corner of the globe?
Browse through the shelves at Daunt Books
(83-84 Marylebone High Street W1U 4QW/ open 9am-7.30pm Monday-Saturday; 11am-6pm Sunday)
Although it doubtless contains many a great tome dedicated to traversing different areas of the globe, the real appeal of this travel book shop must be its quite magnificent, olde world interior. To step inside this aesthetic delight is truly to step back in time. Oak balconies, stained-glass windows, wicker chairs and nooks and crannies to investigate are all the order of the day in this Edwardian-era establishment which looks pretty much exactly as it must have done way back when it first opened around a century ago. If you’re in town in the early part of the calendar year (especially if you’ve checked-into accommodation nearby – say, the Park Grand hotel Paddington or the Park Grand Westbourne Terrace), be sure to book up for the Daunt Books Festival – you’ll be able to while hours in the place listening to author readings and discussions.
Step into Alice Through the Looking Glass
(14 Cecil Court WC2N 4HE/ open 11am-6pm Monday-Friday; 12noon-5pm Saturday)
The UK is, of course, home to some of the greatest literature ever written, some of it vibrant, ribald, completely original but utterly universal – which perfectly describes the two Alice adventures written by Victorian-era Oxbridge academic Lewis Carroll. And, would you believe it (to be fair, this is London, so you probably would), there’s a shop right in the heart of the capital dedicated to all things Alice. Taking its name from the second of Carroll’s books, it’s a haven of Wonderland-related collectibles and trinkets (everything from art prints to espresso cups and t-shirts to, yes, of course that old Alice favourite, themed chessboards). That said, be careful sampling anything that says either ‘Eat me’ or ‘Drink me’, of course!
Experience the Experimental Cocktail Club
(13a Gerrard Street W1D 5PS/ open daily 6pm-late)
Finally, let nobody tell you London’s nightlife isn’t among the liveliest, most varied and exciting you’ll find anywhere on the planet; especially not when you can step inside somewhere like this place. Indeed, while the capital’s home to several so-called ‘secret bars’, this one’s an unquestioned hidden gem; its über-cool Parisian-themed interior being home to a plethora of award-winning mixologists coming up with some of the most imaginative and best cocktail concoctions you’ll ever taste. Throw in an excellent set-list, helping to establish an awesome vibe, and you’ve a night to remember in London, all right.