I used to go to London every year, this time was August 2019. I couldn’t imagine it would have been the last. I stayed at the Qbic Hotel, which I absolutely recommend, because it’s a green hotel. The hotel is in fact one of the greenest in the city, the staff is friendly and the rooms, like the rest of the hotel, have a very particular design. It is located in Aldgate East, still zone 1, so central and the hotel is very close to the metro station. From the hotel, moreover, you can easily walk to Tower Bridge and Tower of London.
Along the Thames you can stop and grab a bite at Ping Pong, a chain of restaurants excellent for quick lunches based on dim sum (Chinese dumplings). When discovering a city I prefer to take long walks. From there, you can move towards Piccadilly Circus, ready to immerse yourself in the chaos of shopping between Regent’s Street, New Bond Street, and Oxford Street. If you enter one of the many little streets to the right of Regent’s Street and you will find yourself exploring Carnaby Street, which will leave you speechless.
Make your way to the famous Liberty department store, my favorite of all, with its solid wood structure and fantastic chandeliers in the center. Another great place you can choose to have lunch (or whatever) is the Brasserie of Light restaurant, which is located next to the main entrance of Selfridge’s. Don’t let the chic appearance scare you off, it’s a much quieter place than you might imagine. A perfect place for Instragram lovers: pink marble bathrooms and a winged pegasus created by Damien Hirst in crystals (and great burgers!).
This time, I also tried the famous experience at the London Eye, official stop for any tourist in the capital. In my opinion to be avoided. Apart from the huge queues (which can be avoided by buying the ticket online), the price is high, and all to enjoy a view that can be enjoyed from many other free terraces scattered around the city. For example, one of my favourites is the at the 10th floor of the Tate Modern. Another one is at the 6ht floor of the Oxo Tower. But also, Madison Terrace right in front of Saint Paul’s Cathedral. In short, you have many other options in my opinion more valid (and free!) to enjoy the view of London.
Another experience I finally got to enjoy was a visit inside the Palace of Westminster (Parliament). I thought it would be more disappointing and I was actually ecstatic. The palace which is divided into the two “houses”: House of Lords and House of Commons is a play of colors (representing the “houses”) and history. It is not allowed to take pictures inside except in the lobby. In addition, along with the ticket you will be given the audio guide, interesting to understand how the British Parliament works. For example, did you know that citizens can get an interview with a minister without an appointment?
From the Parliament, heading towards Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery, take Parliament Street and in just 10 minutes you will be there. If you’re hungry you’ll find a super good and cute pub on your right: The Red Lion – Ale & Pie. Order their homemade pie with sweet potatoes!
As far as concerning street markets you can try visit the Columbia Road Flower Market, near Brick Lane. It’s a small market of flowers and plants of all kinds, with vintage, country, and modern furniture stores on either sides. Then from Columbia Road you can quickly reach Brick Lane and the Spitalfields district, where at number 216A you must try the bagels of Brick Lane Bakery, open 24/7. Get the classic smoked salmon and cream cheese for £2.20 and then you’re ready to tackle all the vintage and non-vintage market stalls.
If you love mysteries and have already heard of the famous Jack the Ripper, you’ll know that you’re right in “his” neighbourhood. So, to have an all-round hunted experience go have a beer at The Ten Bells pub, dating back to the 18th century, still with the original ceiling and tiles of the time, is full of mysteries because it is said that two of the prostitutes victims of Jack the Ripper, Annie Chapman and Mary Kelly, usually went there. If you want to have a cheap lunch, stop at any of the stalls of Spitalfields Market, there is something for all tastes and dishes from all over the world; or a few steps from the pub you will find Poppies, considered the best fish & chips in Britain!