By Lottie Gross
City breaks in London are a wonderful weekend or mid-week treat, but how can you make the most of your time? We’ve got tips for your London city break…
If you’re planning a London city break, you’ll need to think about everything from hotels to restaurants to activities. Luckily, we’ve spent plenty of time in the capital and have excellent tips for your London city break.
Splash out on a stunning luxury hotel
London has some of the world’s finest hotels, so it’s well worth splashing out on something a little fancier than you’d usually opt for. Whether you want opulence (try the St Pancras Renaissance in King’s Cross or St Ermin’s Hotel near Victoria) or something a little more hip (we love Dukes in Mayfair or ME London), there’s a hotel for every budget in this city. If you really want to go the whole hog, though, check out our favourite hotels in London well worth splashing out on.
More like this: The best staycations in the UK
Or grab a weekend break bargain
If money’s a little tighter and your eyes are watering at some of the £300+ per night price tags, get a weekend break bargain in the City. Hotels near Bank and the main financial districts in London, like the new for 2019 Vintry & Mercer, offer cheaper weekend rates because the area is generally quieter come Friday nights. Opt for a swish business hotel, and you’ll likely get a better deal than the predominantly leisure properties.
Make it a theatre break
London’s got some spectacular shows, from plays to musicals to opera. Why not make your trip a theatre break instead, opting for a great hotel and show combo? You could see Wicked at the Apollo in Victoria then bed down in a luxury hotel just moments away, or stay in the heart of theatreland in Covent Garden just around the corner from Drury Lane. Check out our box office for some of the best theatre deals in town.
More like this: London theatre breaks: our favourite show & hotel combos
Eat in the capital’s finest restaurants
Booking ahead for many of the capital’s best restaurants is becoming less common. Favourites like Dishoom and Padella don’t take bookings, so you have to either get there early (fine if you’re on a theatre break) or be happy to queue or wait in a nearby bar until your table is called. If booking ahead, though, try Sarastro, which has a Mediterranean menu and frequent live opera or music while you eat, or for something completely different, head to Akira at Japan House, where delectable Japanese dishes are served in or on incredibly heavy hot stones.
Find a secret garden
London is full of green spaces, but eschew the big ones like Hyde Park and head for something a little less visited for your city break. Try St Dunstan in the East – a former Christopher Wren church that was bombed out during WWII. It’s been a public garden since 1970 and is a favourite spot for picnics in a quiet area of the City of London. Alternatively, head to the Sky Garden for a totally different experience – a green display up in the 37th floor of the Walkie Talkie building.
Head south of the river
So much action happens north of the River Thames, the southern side of this city rarely gets the same love. The river’s south bank is just the beginning, too. Stroll along here for great views over to the Houses of Parliament, Tower Bridge and the City of London before heading further south and exploring Bermondsey.
This area of London comes alive at weekends with Maltby Street Market and the Bermondsey Beer Mile, where a series of breweries open up beneath the railway arches to serve the best brews in the city.
More like this: The best spa hotels in England
Take time for tea
Afternoon teas in London are rife. Almost every hotel does its own version, as do some restaurants. Whether you want a bottomless boozy afternoon tea or something more demure, you can find it in the capital. We love these incredible afternoon teas in London.
Shop in the right spot
Forget Oxford Street and Tottenham Court Road. Shopping in London is better than high street stores. Head to the likes of Seven Dials for pretty boutiques with unique and one-off items, or take a peek at the newly opened Coal Drops Yard in King’s Cross. This vast area has excellent restaurants and stunning little shops by small scale designers. There’s even a designer charity shop by Shelter, so you can buy high-end bargains and help the homeless at the same time.
Lottie is an NCTJ-trained journalist, an experienced travel writer and an expert in creating compelling digital content.
Lottie has been in the travel writing business for nearly a decade and has writing and photography bylines at The Telegraph, The Times, The Independent, the i and National Geographic Traveller. She's done broadcast work for BBC Radio 4 and have contributed to a number of guidebooks and coffee table titles during her career.
7 French lingerie brands you need to know about
These are the French lingerie brands Parisian women swear by when they want a luxe update for their lingerie drawers.
By Harriet Davey •
The best vanilla perfume for everyone, every mood and every occasion
Our experts select the best vanilla perfume—from popular bestsellers to niche unexpected finds
By Sarah-Jane Corfield-Smith •