London Zoo is the world’s oldest scientific zoo. It was opened in London on 27 April 1828, and was originally intended to be used as a collection for scientific study. Today it mixes modernity and history but not at the expense of the animals that live there. In the north side of Regent Park, it will keep you busy a whole day and you will really have fun either going with friends or having kids with you. Arrive early to make the most of your day and be sure to take snacks and other sustenance if you want to avoid spending a fortune on the food on sale at the zoo. Don’t miss Penguin Beach were charismatic penguins love to show off.
Somerset House is one of London’s most innovative museums. Find there a formidable art gallery, a beautiful fountain court, a terraced café and a classy restaurant. The new Embankment Galleries explore connections between art, architecture and design with series of temporary exhibitions. Family workshops take place on weekends and holidays. Somerset House is a major sight in London, with its classic architecture (two spectacular five-storey period staircases that you don’t want to miss!) and its quirky exhibitions.
In summer Somerset House hosts an outdoor film screen and a wonderfully atmospheric ice-rink in winter. This winter the ice-rink should appease the most discerning music snobs with all kind of tunes till late in the evening.
Portobello Road Market is probably the world’s best known street market with a history stretching back over 150 years. It goes through the Notting Hill area carrying everything from farm fresh produce to vintage clothing and accessories. Hundreds of traders sell all sorts of everything, old and new, and there’s plenty of delicious street food from all around the world. Be sure to pop into the hidden gems behind the stalls where you will find endless rows of cafés and antique shops. And don’t forget to stop at 142 Portobello Road where William Thacker’s (Hugh Grant’s) in his shop Travel Book Co. met Julia Robert. It has never been a bookshop but it was Nicholls Antique Arcade, then a furniture store called Gong, and now a gift shop.
Note that the market is opened on Good Friday but closes on other bank holidays and for the famous Notting Hill Carnival.
Whether you’re a Vampire, Werewolf, Sasquatch or something else entirely, you will find anything you need at the amazing and wondrous Hoxton Street Monster Supplies – yes you read that correctly.
Besides, the Monster Supplies store is the only place in London (maybe in England??) where you can buy some Organ Marmalade, tubs of Mortal Terror or even jars of Thickest Human Snot! Everything about this gift shop is clever, cute and wonderfully themed!
Recently voted ‘No. 1 Kids’ Shop in London’ by Time Out Magazine, all proceeds from this kingdom of sweets and knick-knacks, go towards funding The Ministry of Stories, a charity that runs creative writing workshops for kids in East London, accessible via a secret door in the shop.
Even in London it’s not that difficult to find some cool unpretentious places. But that’s not every day you can enjoy a drink between a cobra and a lioness.
On Mare Street, The Last Tuesday Society will make you step in a quirky world, where after few cocktails you won’t remember if you are in a taxidermy museum or in an actual bar. Downstairs you have a real museum which is an interesting journey into an incoherent jumble of random funny things.
What can we say about Buckingham Palace that you wouldn’t already know?
If you are in the neighbourhood it’s worth the sight, as it’s still a major monument in London, but I won’t bother to stop by for the changing of the guards. Except if you enjoy being packed in a sweaty crowd where half of the people are doing selfies with their selfie-sticks.
But you can buy tickets to visit the inside of the Palace at different times of the year.
Green Park in front, is nice and the flowers are all year long stunning.
Best known for its fabrics, Liberty is the loveliest department store on Regent Street. If you can fight the crowd and reach it you will find a little haven full of precious things. More humble than the shiny Harrods, Liberty is a gem to appreciate for his architecture, inside and outside stunning. Constructed from two ships, Mr Liberty wanted customers to feel as if they were exploring someone’s home, keeping the shopping galleries small, albeit linked to three rather grand atriums.
Unlike Harrods Liberty goes from affordable to eccentric prices. You will walk between young creators and well known brands. Go there for the perfume gallery where you will discover exquisite scents.
Of course the Christmas period is something magical but one more time, you have to keep in mind that central London gets a bit nutty in that time of the year. Despite the craziness, London is still the best place to feel Christmas, so fight the crowd and go for it! You won’t regret it.
Paris has Les Galeries Lafayette, New York has Bloomingdales, but in London we have the shiny and eternal Harrods! Harrods is sparkling from every corner; from high tea to diamonds you will forever be dazzled by that surrealistic department store.
But here’s few fun facts you probably don’t know about Harrods:
• Harrods was first established in London Stepney Green as a tea merchant and grocery store.
• Winnie-the-Pooh was found in Harrods.
• An Egyptian cobra once has been hired to guard a £62,000 pair of of haute couture ruby-sapphire-and diamond-encrusted sandals.
• A silver replica of Harrods is on display on the store’s lower ground floor. This was a gift from Gordon Selfridge when he lost a bet with the Harrods managing director.
• You can buy gold bullion off the shelf.
• Noel Coward, writer and playwright bought an alligator in Harrods Pet Shop one Christmas. A baby elephant was also sold by Harrods as a present to Ronald Reagan.
• Have you heard about the story of Christian the lion? Bought in Harrods in the late sixties and release in Kenya years after? If not, that’s a great story including a happy ending. > https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cvCjyWp3rEk
The Museum of London document you the history of London from prehistoric to modern times. You will also be able to have a look on the London wall as it is build on it.
Tourist, family day out, academic… etc permanent (free) and temporary exhibitions will please everybody. There are loads of interactive activities where you are 100% sure to learn thousands of facts and hidden gems about London.
From the galleries devoted to pre-historic London to the time of the Roman conquests to Henry VIII to the Beatles – everything is covered here. A fascinating show of photographs of modern-day Londoners is displayed on the undulating walls outside the museum. But the very best part is the surrealistic feeling you will get going through antics surrounded by a really modern neighbour.
You cannot say you know London if you haven’t stopped there before!
If you know a tiny bit of London history you should know that the north clock tower ( also known as Elizabeth Tower) at the Houses of Parliament has got a Great Bell called Big Ben! The Whitechapel Bell Foundry, 20 minutes by walk from Park Villa, is notable for being the original manufacturer of Big Ben. You won’t be able to visit the foundry anymore but It’s worth to see if you are in the neighbourhood. It’s funny how few people can actually relate that yellow shop on Whitechapel Road to the famous Big Ben.