We were lucky to work with clients in London two different times in 2018. It’s a great city for planning amazing programs, and it’s one of SHW President Brett Robertson’s favorite cities.
He and his wife recently returned from a trip from old Blighty, extolling its world-class public transportation system and famed English sensibility. Here are some of Brett’s recommended highlights:
1. The Fat Duck
When it comes to food, the Brits always have had a reputation for being boring. Based on rumors alone, you’d think they only eat fish and chips in the south and haggis in the north—but boring is the last word to describe British cuisine!
The Fat Duck, just outside of London, has long been on my culinary bucket list. It’s one of only five 3-Michelin Star restaurants in the U.K., the project of star gastro-chef Heston Blumenthal.
Over five hours we experienced 21 separate courses – and I say experience rather than ate because Chef makes each course a sensory explosion: edible sand, hot and iced cold coffee (at once – absolutely mind blown!), fish ice cream, and a seafood dish complete with headphones.
So many times I thought, “This is the best thing I’ve ever eaten.” Truly the best culinary event I’ve ever experienced.
Other London culinary highlights are Jamie Oliver’s Italian, Roast in Borough Market, and any of the many amazing Indian restaurants.
2. Get in the Royal Spirit
Let’s face it, the Royals have more fans here in the U.S. than they do in the U.K., but I have to admit, it’s fun to get caught up in the hype. And they’re accessible! Kind of. It’s unlikely you’ll be having high tea and crumpets with the Queen, but you can tour her house, the famous Buckingham Palace, as well as numerous other palaces including Hampton Court Palace, Kensington Palace, and St. James Palace. You really can’t go wrong with a tour of any of them.
Our favorite, though, is the medieval Tower of London. Built by William the Conqueror over a thousand years ago, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a time machine as you’ll explore the nooks and crannies of this ancient fortress. Highlights include Henry VIII’s armory, and the current Royal’s family jewels. I love the Beefeaters, the tower’s charismatic caretakers and tour guides.
3. Visit a Museum - It’s Probably Free!
London’s many sensational museums hold something for everyone. The Imperial War Museum is perfect for history buffs, the Tate for modern art fans, and the Natural History Museum for flora and fauna aficionados.
Our personal favorite is the Victoria and Albert Museum. Visit London describes the V&A as “the world’s greatest museum of art and design, representing more than 3,000 years of human creativity.” We’d tend to agree. You can see everything from medieval art to ancient roman artifacts to my wife’s favorite, fashion through the ages. My favorite is the Raphael Cartoons. The best part? The majority of London museums are free!
4. Ditch the Car - Try a Bike!
Bike sharing programs are becoming popular in many major cities, but London jumped in wholeheartedly back in 2010 with a program nicknamed “Boris’s Bikes,” after their eccentric mayor.
Not only is it easy to use, London’s relatively flat landscape and extensive bike lane network makes Boris’s Bikes an ideal way to see the city.
We used the bikes a number of times to visit Portobello Road in Notting Hill, Abbey Road Studios, Brick Lane in the east end of London, and Camden Town home to the awesome Camden Street Markets.