After three decades of living in London, Will Hide knows he still has plenty to discover. A whistling trip to the city’s busiest places brings some unexpected highlights – and provides inspiration for the four-day weekend.
I never figured out why people would line up in droves for this attraction, especially for £ 33.50 per person. But my in-laws were in town from Washington DC, so we decided to give it a try. After spending about an hour there, I’m still not convinced, even though I managed to take a picture of my relatives with Kim Kardashian, or “who?” (as they called her).
And that’s the problem: the main attraction is to take pictures of celebrities, but even on a not very busy April morning, visitors either got in the way of posing, or we got in theirs, and it all got a little hoarse.
The models looked very lifelike, except for Prince William, who looked like he was making an impression on Alan Partridge. Maybe something to store in the back pocket of Insta-dependent tweens if it rains, but I was not won. madametussauds.com/london
On a busy holiday night, both floors of the Piccadilly Circus section were rammed. Thank God we had already booked online. To my great surprise, it was not terrible. My tenderloin steak was decent, although the pepper sauce and chips had obviously been sitting out for a while. We recognized a bottle of Malbec about £ 16 cheaper than a restaurant we had been to the week before. The staff worked flat, but everyone was in a high mood and enjoying themselves, including players. I would not necessarily hurry back, but I would not say “avoid” either.
M & M’s world
It was Saturday morning in Leicester Square and people were actually winding themselves in a long queue to get into the glittering emporium of ubiquitous American sweet producer M & Ms. I mean, why? I’m genuinely confused. What is there inside other than overpriced candy and pillows in the form of these figures in the ads? Complete madness. Save time, money and common sense and just look into your local corner store.
Across the Thames from the Houses of Parliament is the London Dungeon. Fit close, some might say. I was disposed to not like this place because I had always thought it would be a cheesy rip off. (Adult admission starts at £ 28.) But I actually had a good time, thanks to the enjoyable-hammy acting skills of the cast that take you from room to room through a kitty-filled, tongue-in-cheek story in London, including the gunpowder plot and Jack the Ripper. A good one for families, but it is not suitable for younger people.
The London Eye is not cheap but you pay from £ 29.50 if you book online in advance instead of £ 36 a day. Either way, prepare to stand in line, especially during summer and school holidays. But I have to say that the London Eye is worth it. On a clear day or a balmy evening, the views are stunning and you can use the 30-minute rotation to assemble the capital’s puzzle of attractions and places from above.
Visiting Camden Market is a great way to feel old if you are a certain age because it just reminds you of visiting London as a young person and what a boring old cod you have become. Where have all the years gone and oh have you seen the price of that t-shirt etc? Still, it costs nothing to wander around here on a Saturday unless you are drawn to buy a pair of Doc Martins, fancy a piercing, or want to pay the punk sitting on the bridge a few pounds for a photo. You can get good fish and chips at Poppies in Hawley Crescent or a pint nearby at Amy Winehouse’s local, Hawley Arms.
Not even the pandemic could permanently bulge this production, which has been running since 1952. I went in with pretty low expectations for this Agatha Christie classic at St Martin’s Theater, in anticipation of a pretty amateur play, but it was a lot of fun and enduring. the final secret felt like I had been admitted to a secret friendship company. Through the Todaytix app, I got a seat for £ 20.
Is anyone buying anything in Knightsbridge’s most famous department store, except perhaps one of the iconic green bags? I am still slightly traumatized by a family trip there from Yorkshire in the 70s when my mother lined up on a shelf with vibrating pillows. It’s a great place to daydream if your purse stays solid in your pocket. The food hall is exquisite and there is a cozy art deco café if you fancy a cup of coffee.
Save money in central London
Go. The tube card gives a false sense of distance. Harrods to Piccadilly Circus on foot is only 30 minutes.
Skip the open bus ride and bag a top-deck seat on a regular bus. The 24 will take you from Big Ben via Trafalgar Square; the 11 from St. Paul’s Cathedral to Westminster Abbey.
If you want a delicious mealmake it lunch as many places have affordable menus earlier in the day.
Do you need the toilet? You’re never far from a McDonald’s. Larger branches have restrooms, as do Oxford Street department stores.
You can enjoy afternoon tea at The Ritz (£ 67pp) or save money on the farm for the Wallace Collection (free admission) for about a third of the price.
The number of free museums and galleries is impressivefrom Tate Modern to the British Museum.
See more at visitlondon.com