Words by James Gregory Wilkinson
Stopping over in London? Flight Centre Business Travel has all the essential ingredients to ensure your visit to the Capital doesn’t skip a beat.
Markets And Shopping
On Saturday mornings, the Portobello Road Markets are in full swing and it’s here where you’ll find antiques and vintage fashion, alongside fruit and vegetables, music, London gifts, shoes and general bric-a-brac.
The Portobello Road Markets
Before starting your market journey, stop by the Notting Hill Farmers Markets for a pastry from Ye Olde Pie Emporium near the Notting Hill tube station (Saturdays from 9am to 1pm) and once you’ve conquered the famous street, stop by the Portobello Green Fashion market at the Northern most end.
Across the Thames, Borough Market is a foodie’s dream, with everything from oysters to cheese, chorizo and aged meats. The markets are open on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and are a great spot for lunch as well as just a foodie stroll.
The Tate Modern
North of Tower Bridge, Old Spitalfields Market is the place for antiques, vintage and bespoke fashion, records, books, food and bags. Make sure you stop by the Lee Clarke stall, where there are vintage seconds in excellent condition and if you’re in luck you might find a pair of 70s brogues.
Still on the topic of shoes, a short walk from Old Spitalfields Market is our favourite shoe store, Grenson, where you can pick up a pair of handmade new English Brogues for men or women in a range of colours, fabrics and soles.
If spending the day shopping is on the cards, catch the tube to Piccadilly Circus, then walk up Regent Street – passing top labels along the way including Zara, Anthropologie, Burberry, Uniqlo, JCrew, Levis, H&M, Lacoste, Karen Millen, Benetton and Apple – to Oxford Circus. Once up here, find Topshop, House of Fraser, John Lewis, Chanel, Disney and more.
If it’s your first visit to London, hop on the Piccadilly Line tube to Knightsbridge, home to the capital’s most famous store, Harrods.
The Saatchi Gallery
Attractions and galleries
Even if you haven’t visited London, you’ll still know to swing by Buckingham Palace, 10 Downing Street, Big Ben, London Bridge, Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament. If you have time, don't forget the National Museum, British Museum, Tower of London and the Royal Opera House.
These are best seen from one of the many open top bus tours that are operated by numerous tour operators and are ideal should you be only visiting for a short period of time.
London is also home to several of the world’s leading art galleries, including the Tate Modern, located on the banks of the Thames in a former power station, and the Saatchi Gallery on the King’s Road in Chelsea at Sloane Square. Both showcase fine and eclectic contemporary art, be it from rising starts or major international artists.
London Bridge & The Shard
Food and drink
At the new Mondrian London at Sea Containers (see hotels), two of the stars of the show are the signature 200-seat restaurant Sea Containers headed up by chef Seamus Mullen and eclectic bar space Dandelyan, led by leading London mixologist Ryan Chetiyawardana.
At Sea Containers, expect local fresh produce from lamb meatballs to smoked and roasted chicken, dry-aged bone in rib eye, pork chops and sea bass, several of which are part of the various ‘feast’ menus which are the order of the day.
Dandelyan at Mondrian London
Next door at Dandelyan, find London’s hotel cocktail bar of the moment that serves up concoctions Chetiyawardana describes as both “innovative cocktails and refined interpretations of the classics”, all with local fruits, herbs and botanicals reminiscent of the British countryside.
Nearby at fellow new property Shangri-La Hotel, At The Shard, London (see hotels), find the city’s highest cocktail den Gong, located on level 52. The bar staff shake, stir and strain some of the best drinks in the city, washed down with views of London, from London Bridge to the London Eye.
The property is also home to Ting, where local-sourced cuisine is infused with a hint of Asian flavour from breakfast through to dinner. They also do a brilliant afternoon tea.
At Pizza East, below the hip Shoreditch House – and also with a great location in Portobello near Notting Hill – find Italian classics with a modern spin (our picks are the spicy sausage, mozzarella and tenderstem broccoli; and leek, guanciale and egg) in a former warehouse space that dishes up good service and local beers alongside one of London’s best Italian wine lists.
You can’t visit London and not have a pint at a pub and the best collection of classically British watering holes are found in Notting Hill. Our favourites in this great suburb are The Westbourne (in summer score a table outside; always expect a fun, happening crowd), the Prince Bonaparte (expect modern British pub food and very good shared plates in an Art Deco setting), The Oak (drinks in the lounge upstairs and Mediterranean cuisine downstairs) and The Ladbroke Arms, which is charming both inside and out (and don’t skip the Sunday roast).
Pizza East Restaurant
London has had a swathe of new hotels open in recent years and three of the newest offer something unique to their location and bring different offerings to the capital.
The newest kid on the city’s accommodation block is the hip 359-room Mondrian London at Sea Containers. Run by Morgans Hotel Group – known for creating hip, eclectic and fashionable hotels across the world and notably in London - Mondrian London at Sea Containers lives up to its family reputation.
Expect an urban boutique hotel experience across the board from the rooms to the day spa, bar, restaurants and lobby. The property embraces its position on the edge of the Thames and features a handcrafted copper hull that sweeps from the entrance right through the lobby. There’s also a world-class day spa, Agua Bathhouse and Spa, which offers a range of city-best treatments.
The Westbourne Pub
Accommodation options, including our pick the River View Balcony Suites, offer spacious rooms and uninterrupted views up and down the Thames. The restaurant, Sea Containers, and bar, Dandelyan, are also winners (see food and drink).
In once dodgy but now uber-cool East London, Ace Hotel London Shoreditch has become the area’s hottest establishment to rest your head, thanks in part to the area’s great galleries, bars, restaurants, performing arts spaces and shops. Its hip designer rooms, the Bulldog Edition café (which serves up Shoreditch High Street’s best coffee), minimalist lobby bar named appropriately Lobby Bar, and modernist English brasserie Hoi Polloi are all also a major draw.
Last May, the doors at Shangri-La Hotel, At The Shard, London, opened high above the city with a property that fuses modern Britain with classic Asia, from the lobby to the rooms. Located in the tallest building in Western Europe on floors 34 to 52, Shangri-La Hotel, At The Shard, London is the city’s first high-rise hotel and it offers spectacular views of London in every direction, overlooking such landmarks as the Houses of Parliament, Tower of London and St. Paul’s Cathedral.
Mondrian London: Spa (left) & Riverview Balcony Room (right)
Every one of the hotel’s 202 guestrooms and suites has a view, and the rooms are amongst the largest in London, averaging more than 42 square metres. They feature Chinese art reinterpreted in a modern, abstract way alongside a soothing colour scheme and mood lighting.
All offer the Shangri-La Bed, featuring patented body-contouring technology. Marble-clad bathrooms with heated floors and Acqua di Parma amenities also come standard. Complimentary Internet access, one of Shangri-La’s signature offerings worldwide, is available throughout the hotel, and butler service is offered in all suites.
As is expected with most Shangri-La hotels, food and drink is offered at an incredibly high quality and expect just that at Ting and Gong (see food and drink).
Next to the bar on level 52 is a 24-hour gym and London’s highest infinity pool.