A city full of contrasts, London is one of the most diverse and exciting cities in the world. It simultaneously wears a royal crown and a punk mohawk. It’s districts traverse the spectrum from the historic Westminster to the cutting-edge Shoreditch. It’s distinguished, yet also open to the latest trends; reverent, yet also liberal. The English capital buzzes with life and is comfortable living it up in a mini-skirt, while also treating its institutions and traditions as sacrosanct. It retains a multi-faceted identity where Royal Ascot thoroughbreds, the hallowed grass courts of Wimbledon and quidditch matches at the Harry Potter studios coexist in perfect harmony.
On the banks of the mysterious Thames, a wave of mist plunges you into an atmosphere worthy of a tale of Sherlock Holmes, and the imposing Palace of Westminster rises up before you. The bustling City is just a stone’s throw away, as is the elegant St Paul’s Cathedral and the enthusiastic debates at the House of Parliament, which the unflappable Big Ben seems to watch over with a unwavering eye. For many years, the tower and its clock have displayed a very British placidity, not unlike that of the waxworks of Madame Tussauds.
Travelling along the river, the city shows off its historic side at the Tower of London, a fortified jewellery box recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Further on, the huge millennium wheel, the London Eye, and the glass and steel skyscraper, the Shard, opposite the legendary London Bridge, remind us that the city has firm foundations in modern times. Covent Garden, which blossoms in the shadow of Westminster Abbey, along with the lively streets of Notting Hill - now the ultimate weekend destination for chic bohemians - bear witness to a vibrant heritage.
Among cool, hip and groovy Londoners, Shoreditch is THE place to be, with its explosion of colour and façades decorated by street artists. Trendy restaurants and bars, hip designers and quirky shops live side by side to create as an exhilarating shopping and café experience as any that Piccadilly Circus might have to offer, where London’s main roads converge.
Between Soho and Mayfair, the exclusive designer labels of Bond Street and Regent Street respond to the elegant brands of Oxford Street, and the department stores join the battle of “who can offer more” which began last century: Harrods or Selfridges, which will you choose?
When you decide to set aside your shopping bags and explore a museum or two, history lovers can choose between the three London sites of the Imperial War Museum, not forgetting a visit to Trafalgar Square. If Egyptology or Antiquity is more your passion then head to the British Museum, a true cradle of knowledge that you’ll never finish exploring.
Interested in modern art? Then make sure to visit the short-lived London Art Fair or the industrial Tate Modern, where you can enjoy a daring programme combining unmissable masterpieces and the next big thing. If you fancy large-scale exhibitions on a range of different themes, the Victoria and Albert Museum looks forward to the Fashion Weeks to remind us all of the English capital’s place in the fashion world.
The new hub for fine food, London is welcoming a new generation of high-flying chefs, serving up an uninhibited gastronomic experience. Arriving from all four corners of the globe to get involved in London’s daring new scene, they are encouraging the more established and well-known chefs to take the elegant sophistication of their dishes one step further. When Sunday morning arrives, forget about brunch and give in to the temptation of the Sunday roast - a stylish, laid-back staple you can enjoy in a local gastropub pub or a trendy restaurant. The dynamic energy of the city can almost make you dizzy! When you’re ready for a more peaceful escape, make sure to visit Greenwich, the southeastern London port famous for its Meridian, to reset your watch before you head home … or to start your London adventure all over again.