Ace Spots near London’s Top Sites
London is one of my favorite cities, and one that I keep returning to year after year. With nearly a dozen British stamps on my passport, my trips have been less centered around guide books and more focused on uncovering hidden gems. Here’s a list of some of my favorite discoveries -- all within walking distance of London’s major sites.
Must-see: Tate Modern Gallery
- Peer at the works of Matisse, Pollock and Picasso at the Tate, and then take a short walk to a more interactive museum: Vinopolis. The wine museum features more than 100 wines, all available for tasting. Sip and see the large collection, chat with the experts on-hand or learn new skills with classes like Cocktail Masterclass.
Nearby: Pimlico Road
- Perhaps the most famous department store in the world, Harrods thrills shoppers with 330 departments over seven floors. Its large food hall is particularly worth admiring, but you’ll find a more unique shopping experience outside its doors. Walk 15 minutes down Sloane Street, past Sloane Square, to a string of high-end antique and art stores on Pimlico Road. After sifting through one-of-a-kind art and furniture, you can refuel at Artisan du Chocolate, where they handcraft the chocolate from ground beans and offer creative flavors like masala chai tea and gingerbread cookies.
Must-see: Notting Hill
Nearby: Holland Park
- The neighborhood made famous by the 1999 romantic comedy is still a must-see 14 years later, thanks to its quirky shops and outdoor markets. Once you’ve filled up on food and antique stalls, have your Julia Roberts-moment by breaking free from the crowds in quiet Holland Park. Located up a hill off of Holland Park Avenue, the park’s towering trees make it feel like it’s walled-off from the rest of the city. Take the walking path straight to the other side -- you’ll spot modern art sculptures and a Japanese garden along the way -- to Kensington High Street, where you’ll be released back into bustling London.
Must-see: Covent Garden
Nearby: Lamb and Flag bar
- Covent Garden is an essential London stop -- whether you’re on your way to a West End show, watching the street performers or sipping mulled wine from the outdoor market. Veer off the main strip and down Floral Street to the Lamb & Flag pub. This historic bar was once a favorite of Charles Dickens, and its tucked-away location will make you feel like you’re living in one of the author’s novels. Grab a leather booth inside or stand just outside on the cobblestoned street and sip your pint in the sun.
Must-see: Buckingham Palace
Nearby: Brown’s Hotel
- No tourist’s trip to London is complete without a visit to the queen. After a peek through the iron gates, do as the royals do and sit down for afternoon tea. You’ll find the traditional kind a 10-minute walk away at Brown’s Hotel, where you can nibble on scones and tea cakes by an elegant fireplace (try to call ahead for reservations). Or take a walk to the other side of Hyde Park, toward Kensington Palace and The Orangery. Located on the palace grounds, this tea spot also offers a traditional menu but in a more casual setting -- jeans and walk-ins accepted!
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