Tips on travelling to London from Tom Pitman
How well do you know London?
I was born and brought up in England and lived in London over ten years. I still spend one or two nights a week there.
Why should I go there?
As I think Oscar Wild said, "when a man tires of London, he is tired of life". This is still true today, the city has so much energy and lots to do whatever your interests. For a tourist there are endless sights, from the historical attractions and the wonderful architecture to the West End and the verdant royal parks.
What time of year should I go?
Anytime from April to October - the weather will always be hit and miss but at least the days will be long; in mid-summer it stays light until around 10pm giving you much more time to enjoy the city. Most of the sporting events and festivals also take place in the summer months.
What's the best way to get around?
Londoners complain about the underground system, but it is quick, efficient and cheap. The buses are a more sedate mode of transport, but the upper desks offer good views of the city. Taxis are expensive.
Where would you send a first-time visitor?
Take the Tube to Westminster, take in the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben and then go to Horse Guards Parade by 11am to watch the changing of the Queens Life Guard. Walk through St James's Park to Buckingham Palace and then head to Piccadilly for some shopping around Bond Street and Regents Street. Lunch in Shepherds Market or perhaps at Greens in Duke Street. Spend the afternoon in one of the many nearby galleries. I have never done one, but I hear that the Big Bus Tours are also a good way to see London and get familiarised quickly.
Anything I should avoid?
Avoid travelling in rush hour and don't hire a car unless you are heading out of London.
Where would you recommend staying?
Money no object? Brown's Hotel in Mayfair. A little more affordable is Dean Street Townhouse in Soho.
What are your recommendations for lunch?
Try Greens Restaurant and Oyster Bar in Duke Street or Bibendum in South Kensington.
Where is the best place for a drink?
There are endless choices but I am a fan of The Lonsdale and No 92, both in Notting Hill. The large famous hotels such as The Berkeley Hotel and The Marriot, Hyde Park, have good bars and usually open late.
Where is the best place for dinner?
Chabrot Bistrot d'Amis in Knightsbridge, E&O in Notting Hill, or try one of London's famous curries at the Star of India in South Kensington. There are loads of good restaurants, so try to find one local to your hotel, but book if you want to guarantee a table.