So you’re soon to visit the UK capital, are you? Well, whether you’re coming for the last few weeks of summer, for an autumn trip or a winter/ Christmas short-break (perhaps at luxury hotel rooms in London?), there are some things you simply have to know to get the most out of your time in the city…
• Airport codes – London Heathrow (LHR); London Gatwick (LGW); London Stansted (STN); London City (LC); London Luton (LTN)
• Time zone – UTC +00:00
• Area code (telephone) – +44
Where you must visit
• Cutty Sark – the only surviving tea clipper ship anywhere in the world (the fastest vessel on the seas in its 19th Century pomp); recently renovated after a fire and better than ever before for family visitors
• Shakespeare Globe – an awe-inspiring recreation of a typical 16th/ 17th Century London playhouse at which Shakespeare’s company of players would have mounted productions of his plays; which is exactly what it’s used for today (it stands very near the site where one of the Bard’s favoured theatres in Southwark originally stood)
• The Palace of Westminster – one of London’s (nay, one of the world’s) most iconic buildings, this masterpiece of neo-Gothic Victorian architecture, comprising both the Houses of Parliament and the Lords, isn’t to be missed for that essential selfie
• Sky Garden – free to enter (although you may need to book your slot in advance), this Square Mile-located ‘virtual garden’ is full of restaurants and bars and offers sensational views of the entire city from its skyscraper-high vantage point.
Where you ought to visit
• Hampton Court Palace – acquired by King Henry VIII in the 15th Century, this majestic abode features whole sections added down through the centuries, right up to the Georgian period; in a word, exquisite
• Kensington Palace – the official residence of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge; its state rooms are worth a look around but its grounds (backing on to Kensington Gardens) are gorgeous and its ‘Orangery’ eatery is absolutely sublime for afternoon tea and it’s very easy to reach from hotels near Oxford Street London
• Tower of London – surely the oldest still-standing building in the whole of London (certainly the oldest of serious note), the Tower has been so many things throughout history since the start of existence in the 11th Century as a fortress for William the Conqueror, you truly have to visit the venue to discover and explore it all (note: it’s home to the Crown Jewels and where you’ll meet the marvellously, colourfully clothed Yeoman Warders).
• British Museum – maybe (*just maybe*) the greatest and most comprehensive museum on Planet Earth, it’s an extraordinarily jam-packed institution dedicated to human history, art and culture and comprises items drawn from every corner of the globe
• Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) – the world’s premier museum for the decorative arts and design; this is the sort of place you’ll come across delights large and small you had no idea you found quite so enchanting and fascinating (a great café too)
• Natural History Museum – featuring an extraordinarily vast array of specimens from throughout natural history, as well as a hugely kid-friendly dinosaur area and clever-clever science-focused section; children-free late night openings are highly recommended (you can leisurely stroll around with a glass wine; a perfect accompaniment to a luxurious stay at the nearby Marble Arch By Montcalm hotel).