i visited in april 2007.
for museums i enjoyed tate modern, the courtald & soane's museum.
for restaurants of the moment i liked canteen, st. john's, just falofs in soho, standard bathi house on brick lane and one in the little chinatown i forget the name. pub food is ok, if repetitive and generally unhealthy. i had a fine fish & chips off kensington high street in one.
for shopping carnaby street, topshop, harvey nics, selfridges, marks&spencer...heck i stopped in all the biggies.
for sights somewhat off the beaten path i enjoyed: southwark & borough market, lincoln/gray's inns, the temple, king's road, barbicon, camden town, docklands & greenwich.
the major parks are a must as well: hyde park, regent's park & green/st. james.
americans might be surprized: not much readily available good food, that the park squares around rowhouses are mostly private, that londoners take a break from the office and get a drink around 3pm & go back to work, & along those lines that although they have a rep for heavy drinking in pubs it's rather false as pubs always have a low alcohol bitters on tap.
visit Khan's restaurant in...
visit Khan's restaurant in Queensway. London has a lot of very good Indian restaurants but for atmosphere and food I have to opt for Khan's-its a priceless gem. The wonderful pubs. Places such as the tiny but atmospheric Nags Head in Kinnerton Street, the Grenadier in a mews off Belgrave Square or the gracious,elegant,Trafalgar Tavern at Greenwich
St Martin in the Fields
This 18th century church, designed by James Gibbs and consecrated in 1726 is a well known London landmark situated in Trafalgar Square. (There has been a church on this site since Norman times). Tremendous work is done here with many of the city's homeless and Chinese community and there are regular services (the first religious broadcast went over the airwaves from this church!!), concerts, brass rubbing and of course the Cafe in the Crypt where you can get a pre-theatre meal quite reasonably - or just escape the cold for a few moments and have a quiet coffee break during the sight-seeing! Coffee and cake for two will set you back about £5.
Concerts are held here every Mon, Tues and Fri at 1.05pm. Check the website for listings of other free events held here.
St Martin in the Fields
Thank you, George, Prince Regent (later King George IV), for this wonderful urban park that bears your name. You may have been a big schlub, a fat selfish preening conceited fop, but at least you had taste and vision.
It was the Prince Regent in 1811 who began turning what had been a royal farm and hunting grounds into a public space. Actually, his architectural guru John Nash originally hoped to build a grand royal palace here. That did not take place, but Nash did design several spacious villas and whole series of townhouse rows surrounding the central green space. Nash also helped with the layout of the public gardens in the central zone of the park. It finally opened to the public in 1845, although at first it was just for two days a week.
Today, Regent's Park is 410 acres of green space. Among the many attractions: a large duck pond, various formal rose gardens, many sports pitches, the London Zoo, an Open Air Theatre, and many long and attractive paths, often lined with towering trees. It's a good place for a picnic lunch, or just a short break from the comings and goings of the city.
Afternoon tea: this quintessentially English tradition is usually credited to Anna, 7th Duchess of Bedford, in the early 1800s. The Duchess grew hungry between an early luncheon and a late dinner and conceived the idea of a separate meal. This delightful tradition lives on today at London's top hotels but also tea-rooms all over the city.