Long held as one of the most impressive, glamorous and admired cities anywhere on the planet, London offers a multitude of attractions for travellers from wherever they hail – but especially activities enabling visitors to push the boat out a bit, do something a little out of the ordinary; in short, spoil themselves. Here are some of the most desirous ways you might spend a special occasion in the UK capital, especially if you’re visiting in order to mark that occasion itself…
See the city from above
Granted, London may not be graced by quite the number of cloud-piercing skyscrapers as New York, Chicago or Dubai, but its skyline still makes for a spectacular sight to look down on from on high. And, don’t doubt it, there’s many an opportunity to do so – and spoil yourself as you do – throughout the place. Perhaps the most fashionable option is from atop the relatively new Shard building (the tallest in Europe) near London Bridge.
In fact, it’s worth doing some research online; for instance, for around £60 per person you can join a tour to the Shard’s top, throw yourself into a cracking, old fashioned fish and chip supper at a nearby pub and enjoy a tour around the brilliant Borough Market, a true foodie’s paradise. Other very special vistas of the capital can be caught at the Tate Modern’s upper level restaurant on the South Bank, the ArcelorMittal Orbit sculpture in Queen Elizabeth Park, atop the Sky Garden in the The City and via the exhibition of Tower Bridge.
Eat like an aristocrat
Originally conceived in the 1840s as something of a feeding filler between lunch and dinner by Anna Maria Russell, the then Duchess of Bedford, afternoon tea very soon caught on, spreading like wildfire as the pre-evening activity every person in ‘society’ had to indulge in. Often comprising dainty cups of tea accompanied by finger sandwiches and slices of cake (such as Battenberg or Victoria sponge), the mini-meal has in recent times been relinquished by the upper classes and relished instead by tourists up and down the UK – not least in London itself.
No surprise then, some of the most popular venues in which to indulge and spoil oneself with an afternoon tea are the world-famous, exclusive hotels of the West End, as well as the salubrious, globally-known department stores of the area like Fortnum and Mason. However, you’ll also find many hotels near Oxford Street London offer excellent, affordable afternoon tea options, such as the Marble Arch hotel London Oxford Street’s sister property The Montcalm Marble Arch.
Catch the thesps in ‘Theatreland’
As hailed as the playhouses of Broadway – and, dare one say it, with its venues’ beautiful interior décor and elegant, old-fashioned vibe, giving off something of a more ‘authentic’ feel – the theatres of the West End offer a truly tempting, nay irresistible treat for any visitor to the UK capital. And, in terms of what’s on, frankly whenever you find yourself in the city, they’ll always offer a fantastic choice of the very best big-budget, glamorous musicals, hilarious comedies and farces, cutting-edge modern dramas and ‘classical theatre’ offerings of Shakespeare and his Jacobean playwright peers. So, with everything from The Lion King to Hamlet and Wicked to The Play That Goes Wrong to choose from at iconic venues like the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, the National Theatre, the Old Vic and Shakespeare’s Globe, you really are spoilt for choice by the vast array of choices of ‘Theatreland’.
Discover how the Windsors live
Finally, what better way to spoil yourself than by – well, if not living like – walking in the footsteps of royalty? London is, as surely the world and his wife know, resplendent with regal attractions. Everything from the terrifically historical Tower of London to the decorous Kensington Palace (and its elegant orangery) and from the (admittedly only summer-months-opening) Buckingham Palace to the out-of-town but wonderful Windsor Castle offer glistening glimpses into the lives of the Windsors – and those of their esteemed ancestors.
And, if by now you might be running a little low on funds owing to spoiling yourself so much in the marvellously spoilsome metropolis that’s London (but still want that all-important Royal fix), then around 11am outside Horse Guards Parade in Whitehall or outside Buckingham Palace you can enjoy the pomp and pageantry of the Changing of the Guard – practically every day and always entirely for free.