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United Kingdom

Welcome to London

City description  

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.

Top things to do in London

Enjoy our selection of finest attractions

  • All
  • Highlight
  • Art & design
  • Shopping

Where to Eat

  • Sofitel restaurants
  • Café
  • Restaurants

Hix

Expect carefully sourced local seasonal ingredients and classic British flavours at HIX, a fantastic London restaurant chain helmed by celebrated chef/ restaurateur Mark Hix. After dining at HIX Soho, head downstairs to Mark’s Bar and enjoy an expertly-crafted cocktail.

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Sketch

Restauranteur Mourad ‘Momo’ Mazouz and French chef Pierre Gagnaire have created a sophisticated adults playground for lovers of food, art and music at Sketch, a restaurant and lounge bar set over two floors of a converted 18th-century building in Mayfair.

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Nopi

Israeli-born chef, Yotam Ottolenghi takes his signature bold Middle Eastern flavors to a new level at his stylish London restaurant, Nopi. The dining room is chic and the sharing plate-style menu is organized into ‘Meat’, ‘Fish’, and ‘Veg’ sections to suit all palettes.

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Pollen Street Social

One of the city’s best places to eat, drink and socialise, chef Jason Atherton’s award-winning Pollen Street Social is a true London gem serving sophisticated Modern British cuisine in a vibrant setting in London’s Mayfair.

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Harrods Food Halls

Located within one of the most famous department stores in the world, the Harrods Food Halls are home to the finest food retailers in the world. This is one of London’s most upscale addresses for gourmet products, fine foods, international wines and fresh produce.

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Hakkasan

With seductive, low-lit interiors and sumptuous modern Chinese cuisine, Hakkasan is the award-winning, Michelin-starred restaurant which changed the face of upscale Chinese dining in London. Savour crowd-pleasing signature dishes such as stir-fried Chilean seabass with Szechuan pepper.

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CVS Seven Dials

Settle in for great wine and flavorsome sharing plates at the stylish and cosy wine bar in London’s Covent Garden, Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels Seven Dials. Make sure to sample their great selection of French and international wines.

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Rapha Cycle Club Café

A celebration of all things cycling, the Rapha Cycle Club Café is the perfect place to mingle with cycling enthusiasts over great coffee, fresh food and good vibes. The in-house cafe nestles within a corner of the Rapha Cycle Club store in London’s Soho district and serves excellent coffee roasted by Workshop Coffee. 

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TAP

At TAP’s three London locations, it’s all about serious coffee skills and quietly cool spaces. Try a single origin espresso, an Aeropress or a brewed cone drip coffee as you unwind in the funky industrial-style interiors. Dark woods, factory lights and the hum of conversation make this a local favourite in London. 

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Kaffeine

With two cafes in London’s Fitzrovia neighbourhood, Kaffeine is one of the leaders of the UK specialty coffee scene due to its expertly-crafted brews and regularly-changing casual cuisine. As the seasonal range of sandwiches, tarts, soups and salads emerge from the kitchen, settle into this cosy space and enjoy a smooth latté, a single origin espresso or a pour-over coffee creation. 

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La Belle Epoque

Every dish is a work of art at La Belle Epoque restaurant in the Sofitel London Heathrow, where French gourmet cuisine is given an Asian twist by Chef Mayur Nagarale. The only fine-dining restaurant in Heathrow airport, this 3 AA Rosette award-winning culinary gem is known for its inspired menu featuring dishes such as herb-crusted monkfish with Dorset crab, smoked wood pigeon with confit legs and beetroot, and roasted saddle of rabbit with a boudin of chorizo. With a stylish dining room furnished with plush purples, deep turquoise and golden lighting, La Belle Epoque brings a touch of Parisian glamour to Heathrow. 

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The Balcon London

The Balcon invites its guests to step back in time within this beautiful belle époque brasserie, nestled within the Sofitel St James in London’s prestigious Pall Mall. Beneath The Balcon’s lofty ceilings, two winding staircases ascend to the restaurant’s namesake balcony, while throughout the airy dining room dark glossy woods offset gleaming brass and plush green banquettes. Sit by the arched windows and enjoy the action as the immaculate wait staff serve classic French cuisine created by Head Chef Matt Greenwood, such as lobster and seafood bouillabaisse, or roast duck confit. Ideal for all-day dining, The Balcon also serves a refined Afternoon Tea experience not to be missed.

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Practical information

  • where to stay
  • when to go
  • Travel transportation
  • event calendar

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When to go

London is great city to visit all year around, since it offers a temperate climate without extremes of temperatures. However, the best time to visit is from April to November, when the temperatures are warmer with an average minimum of 10° Celsius.
While the average annual rainfall is not that high in London compared with other cities around the world, the actual number of rainy days is very high. Rainfall is generally at its highest from October to January.

London annual calendar

  • Jan

    London Art Fair, late January

  • Feb

    London Fashion Weekend, late February

  • Mar

    Oxford and Cambridge boat race, mid-March

  • Apr

    Virgin Money London Marathon, late April

  • May

    RHS Chelsea Flower Show, late May

  • Jun

    London Festival of Architecture, all June

  • Jul

    Wimbledon Tennis Open, late-June to early July

  • Aug

    Classical music at BBC Proms, late-July to early September

  • Sep

    London Design Festival, late September

  • Oct

    Frieze Art Fair, mid to late October

  • Nov

    Taste of London food festival, late November

  • Dec

    Christmas Festival at Royal Albert Hall, mid to late December

Travel transportation

Transportation

Transportation is very easy to organise in London and includes a wide range of methods of transportation, including: local cabs, private car services, rental car, tube, trains, buses, bikes and river ferries along the Thames.
Transport for London (TfL) operates more than 24 million weekday trips, mainly from 5:00am to 00:30am, including:
London Underground (Tube): 11 colour-coded underground lines and 270 stations.
Buses, 700 routes, 8.000 buses and 19.000 bus stops.
Barclays Cycle Hire, a public bike hire offering 10.000 bikes for hire and 700 docking stations.
London River Services is a great alternative to the tube or buses to discover London via the River Thames.
A single fare on the London Underground costs £2.90 and a bus fare costs £1.50.
Buying an Oyster smart card is the best and cheapest way to travel around London. The Oyster Travelcard comes with a pre-loaded credit value to cover the cost of your travel around the city.
Keep in mind that when driving in London, you must drive on the left side of the road.

Taxis

According to the Transport Department, there are 22.000 taxis in London and more than 67.000 licensed private hire vehicle drivers.
London's black cabs can be hailed on the street, found at taxi ranks or booked in advance through a London taxi company.
The initial charge is £2,40 and each additional 126 meters is £0,20. Some additional charges may apply.
Tip of 10 to 15% are not included.
Credit card and debit cards are usually accepted, with an additional charge.

getting to & from the airport

There are five major airports in London:
- Heathrow International Airport, where the majority of trans-Atlantic and long haul flights arrive.
- Gatwick and London City for European flights.
- Stansted and Luton, mainly dedicated to low-cost carrier flights.
Metered taxis are available and private transfers can be arranged at the airports.
By cab between Heathrow and London Paddington, expect a 45 minutes journey to cost a minimum of £65 (depending upon traffic and the time of day). The Heathrow Express train takes only 15 minutes from the airport to London's Paddington, costing approximately £21.50 for a one-way ticket. Gatwick Express is also very convenient when travelling between Gatwick Airport and London Victoria, where this 30 minutes journey costs £17.70 for a one-way fare.

Getting around

Other destinations

* Prices start from. Offer subject to the hotel's conditions and availability. See the sales conditions for the rate. Depending on the country, these prices may not include taxes, may include VAT only or may include all taxes (VAT and city tax). When prices do not include all taxes, the relevant taxes (VAT and/or city tax) will be stated in the following stages of the reservation process. The price is only guaranteed at the time of reservation.

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