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Guide for Things to Do, Eat, and Shop in London | ICONIC LIFE

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Guide for Things to Do, Eat, and Shop in London

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Your guide for a hop across the pond in 2024.

I’ll be honest, I’m biased. London is my favorite city in the world. I’ve been 10 times and still have a long list of things to do in London. Samuel Jackson famously said, “When a man is tired of London, he’s tired of life.” I couldn’t agree more. In 2024, London is set to dazzle with new shows, restaurants and exhibits along with the history, architecture, royalty, food and culture that has drawn travelers to the city for centuries. 

Won’t You be my Neighbor

London has a slew of ICONIC attractions and places to see, like The Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, Parliament, Big Ben and Westminster Abby. After checking them off your must-do list, it’s time to get to the heart and soul of the city and explore its diverse neighborhoods. From the toney Mayfair to hipster Shoreditch, each corner of London offers a different vibe for travelers to discover. 

Places to see in London, Big Ben

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Each time I’m in the city I pick a different section to learn more about on a London Walks tour. These two-hour sojourns are led by a local with a passion for the area and a knack for storytelling. On my last trip I explored Soho, birthplace of British rock n’ roll and center for edgy fashion. 

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Led by Peter, we walked through some of the best places to see in London, we wound through Chinatown, small passageways, beautiful squares, lively Berwick Market and the famous fashion street, Carnaby Street. Along the way I learned the history of Soho, saw its famous venues like 2i’s Coffee Bar and the London Palladium and viewed a dizzying array of Blue Plaques telling me where the likes of Mozart, David Bowie, Karl Marx and more lived or worked.

Market Time

If you’re struggling to find things to do in London, there are more than 160 markets offering everything from antiques to artisanal food. They hum with life and add to the vibrancy of the city. Head to Notting Hill’s famous Portobello Market , the edgy Camden Lock Market or food meccas like Old Spitalfields Market and Borough Market

 

Places to see in London, Borough Market

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On my most recent visit, my hunger drove me to Borough Market, London’s oldest market dating to 1014. Here vendors hawk everything from craft cheeses, to earthy truffle paella. As I nibble the pain au chocolat I picked up, I lament that my hometown has no market like this.

City of Museums

London has some of the best museums in the world, and the best part is many are free to visit. With limited time and so much to see it’s hard to decide whether to spend part of the day at the British Museum, Tate Modern or the V&A. Or if you’re like me you’ll head to the newly reopened National Portrait Gallery. Closed from 2020 to June 2023 this is my favorite of the city’s museums thanks to its extensive photography collection.

Where to Stay

Ben Broomfield

While there are many places to see in London, it’s also good to be in the know of the best places to stay. The art’otel in London’s newest neighborhood, Battersea Park, is the ideal base for exploring the city. The design-forward hotel bursts with creativity, color and energy. Throughout the hotel you’ll find sculptures, paintings, photography and furniture created for the property by its signature artist, Jaime Hayon.

Jaime Hayon

Ben Broomfield

Hayon was recognized by Time Magazine and Wallpaper as one of the most influential and visionary artists of the past decade. The hotel leans even more into its art theme with workshops for guests by its artist-in-residence, chosen from a group of local artists. 

Places to stay in London, Art'otel rooms

Matthew Shaw

The whimsical rooms have great pops of color and stunning city views. If the weather permits, head to the rooftop pool for a quick dip and a sweeping panorama of London.

Where to Eat:

Afternoon tea is the thing to do and is a must when visiting London and there’s no better place in the city for it than Ting at the Shangri-La in The Shard. Located on the 35th floor of this ICONIC building, you’ll be treated not just to afternoon sweets, but to one of the best views of London you can find. Request table 22 and you’ll have the best seat in the restaurant looking down at Tower Bridge. 

Places to see in London, The Shard

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If your idea of tea is English Breakfast, be prepared to go on a journey into the world of tea. Our server, Alex, is like a poet as he describes the various teas he serves. From the Tie Guan Yin Tea, which he says is the Bordeaux of tea designed to kickstart an afternoon of sightseeing, to the Milky Oolong which he says reminds him of the powdered milk he drank growing up in Romania. If you want to get fancy, don’t hesitate to add a glass of Veuve Clicquot to the tea experience. You’re on vacation after all.

 

Places to see in London, The Shard

Courtesy of TING Restaurant

The food is substantial, and I suggest having tea as your lunch rather than at the traditional time. The truffle egg and cress finger sandwiches are so good, my husband and I greedily accepted the second portion offered. And as with any good tea, the scone with clotted cream and jam is a perfect exclamation point on a great experience. I can confidently say, this was the perfect thing to do in London to start my day. 

Nessa Soho

Places to eat in London, Nessa Soho

Simon Brown

Soho is the heart of London’s fashion scene, so after a day of shopping the boutiques, pop into the new Nessa Soho from executive chef Tom Cenci. 

The bistro blends contemporary British cuisine with global influences. As you mull over the wine list, nibble on the cheese and onion croquettes. 

Pasta Carbonara from Nessa Soho for Things to do in London

Justin DeSouza

The Celeriac carbonara, confit egg, parmesan breadcrumbs and truffle is a playful British interpretation of the classic Italian carbonara, while the roast coronation chicken replaces dried fruit with charred little gem and curried scraps. The creative spin on both food and cocktails makes Nessa Soho a must-try in London. 

Where to Shop

Fashionistas will be in heaven throughout London with its ICONIC department stores like Harrods, Liberty London and Selfridges. For women’s boutiques head to Mount Street for shops from Simone Rocha and Roksanda, and Jermyn Street for men’s suits and shirts. If you’re looking for vintage couture make an appointment at Rellik, Circa Vintage, or One of a Kind

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While you’re unlikely to find high-end designers, markets like the Spitafields Saturday Style Market, with 80 independent designers, or the Petticoat Lane Market can yield fun new looks. 

For a destination that offers something for everyone, punch your ticket for London in 2024. 

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