11 Chapters
Medium 9781628870268

16 Favorite Moments

Joseph Fullman FrommerMedia ePub

You can explore the wonders of science, history, and nature at world-class museums, eat yourself to a bigger dress size at top-notch restaurants, marvel at just how much gold and jewelry fill the royal palaces and castles, and say you’ve “done” London. But to get to know London, you need to experience the special moments that reveal the city’s true character. Here are some of the best:


Race to the top of the Shard. Two super-speedy elevators whisk you to the top of Western Europe’s tallest building for views that seem to stretch on forever in all directions. It’s a great experience at any time—particularly on the topmost viewing platform, which is exposed to the elements—but for a truly breathtaking photo opportunity, go in the evening when the sun starts sinking and the lights come on across the city. Go to page, .

Take an inter-art cruise aboard the Tate-to-Tate boat. Running between the sister galleries of Tate Britain and Tate Modern every 40 minutes, the boat allows you to instantly swap an eyeful of paintings and installations for views of some of the Thames’ most iconic sights, including the London Eye and Big Ben. The boat itself is a work of art with a colorful spotted livery by Damien Hirst. Go to page.

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5. The Great Outdoors

Joseph Fullman FrommerMedia ePub

Since 1536, when Henry VIII appropriated the land from the monks of Westminster Abbey for hunting, 142-hectare (351-acre) Hyde Park has been the scene of duels, highway robbery, and sport. Today, it is a beloved oasis in the midst of London where the masses come to sunbathe, roller-skate, putter around in boats, and generally try to leave the city behind. START: Tube to Hyde Park Corner.


Hyde Park Corner Screen. Erected in 1828, this imposing park entrance (one of six) was designed by Decimus Burton, the noted architect responsible for much of Hyde Park’s layout. The triple-arched screen is composed of Ionic columns, bronzed ironwork, and carved friezes inspired by the Parthenon Sculptures (Elgin Marbles) (Go to page, ). Unfortunately, it’s being degraded by air pollution at this busy traffic circle. 10 min.

Rose Garden. From the Rose Garden, a riot of color in the early summer, you can admire the back of Apsley House, the former home of (and currently a museum dedicated to) the Duke of Wellington. Nearby stands the Wellington Arch, topped by a majestic statue, Winged Victory, erected to commemorate the Duke’s numerous military triumphs. The garden is filled with fountains and climbing-rose trellises, both much loved by kids. Its central fountain is ringed with benches where you can sit with a picnic lunch, as hopeful sparrows flutter around. 20–30 min.

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9. The Best Hotels

Joseph Fullman FrommerMedia ePub

Hotel Best Bets


Best Historic Hotel

Hazlitt’s 1718, 6 Frith St., W1 (Go to page)

Best Hotel for Victoriana

The Gore, 190 Queen’s Gate, SW7 (Go to page)

Best Hotel for Clubbers

The Hoxton, 81 Great Eastern St., EC2 (Go to page)

Best Luxury Hotel

Claridge’s, Brook St., W1 (Go to page)

Most Refined Atmosphere

The Connaught, Carlos Place, W1 (Go to page)

Best Hotel for Royal Watching

The Rubens at the Palace, 39 Buckingham Palace Rd., SW1 (Go to page)

Best Base for Museum-Hopping

The Gallery Hotel, 8–10 Queensberry Place, SW7 (Go to page)

Best Views of the Thames

Park Plaza County Hall Hotel, 1 Addington St., SE1 (Go to page)

Best Chance to Get a Good Package Deal

The Rembrandt Hotel,> 11 Thurloe Place, SW7 (Go to page)

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The Savvy Traveler

Joseph Fullman FrommerMedia ePub

Before You Go

Government Tourist Offices (Visit Britain)

In the U.S.: Visit Britain, 551 Fifth Ave., 7th Floor, New York, NY 10176 ( 212/850-0321). In Canada: Visit Britain, 5915 Airport Rd., Suite 120, Mississauga, Ontario L4V 1T1 ( 905/405-1720). In Australia: Visit Britain, Level 16, Gateway, 1 Macquarie Place, Sydney, NSW 2000 ( 028/247-2272). The best place for information, regardless of your home country, is on the Web at www.visitbritain.com or www.visitlondon.com. You can download PDF brochures and maps, or have them mailed to a U.K. or U.S. address, or ask any question about the city by filling out the online contact form at www.visitlondon.com/contact-us.

The Best Time to Go

Although prices are highest in spring and summer, the weather is best then (though you should be prepared for showers at any time). Sunny and warm August is a sensible time to visit because many Londoners go on vacation and London’s notorious traffic lightens up (slightly). The only problem is all those extra tourists. Fares are cheapest between November and March, Christmas and New Year excepted. The city’s museum and theatre scenes are still in full swing in winter, but the city can get dark and chilly and bleak. September and early October can be gray and rainy, too, but most gardens are still in bloom.

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1. The Best Full-Day, Two & Three-Day Tours

Joseph Fullman FrommerMedia ePub
This tour is of “Iconic London.” You’ll be visiting attractions, including Westminster Abbey and St. Paul’s, that have been familiar to Londoners for hundreds of years, as well as more recent arrivals, such as the towering Shard, and modern re-creations of the past, such as Shakespeare’s Globe. Total time: 1 day; total history covered: More than 1,000 years. START: Tube to Westminster.  Westminster Abbey. The nearly 1,000-year-old abbey is one of the finest examples of medieval architecture in Europe. Like a giant shrine to the nation, it contains some 3,300 memorials to kings, nobles, and other great British figures from down the ages. William the Conqueror, Edward III, Mary Queen of Scots, Elizabeth I (whose death mask was the model for her tomb’s figure), and Henry V, the hero of Agincourt, all have elaborately decorated sarcophagi. Don’t miss the Gothic ceilings (reflected in a large mirror for close-up viewing), the stained glass in the Chapter House, and the elaborate carvings of the Henry VIII Chapel’s choir stalls. And make your way to Poets’ Corner, where you’ll find monuments to well-loved literary names such as Chaucer, Austen, and Dickens. 1½ hr; arrive before 9:30am to avoid line-ups. 20 Dean’s Yard. 020/7222-5152. www.westminster-abbey.org. Adults £18, £13 seniors & students, £8 children 11–18, £36 family, free for children 10 & under. Free admission to services. Mon–Tues & Thurs–Sat 9:30am–4:00pm, Wed 9:30am–6pm,. Last admission 1 hr before closing. Closed Sun. Tube: Westminster. See All Chapters

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