City Guide

Four hours in London 2016

31 Dec 2015 by Valerian Ho

1 - Horse Guards Parade

Horse Guards, London SW1A 2AX, United Kingdom

One of London’s quintessential attractions, the Horse Guards Parade is a wonderful slice of colourful British tradition. Before you see it, though, pay a visit to the Household Cavalry Museum in Whitehall to learn more about the history and heroes of the British Army’s senior regiment from its origins in 1661. As well as audiovisual presentations, exhibitions and displays of uniforms, you can watch the troopers preparing their horses through a glass partition. The Changing of the Guard ceremony takes place at 11am Mon-Sat, and 10am on Sundays. The museum is open daily 10am-5pm; admission is £7 (US$10.5) for adults and £5 (US$7.5) for children;

2 - Boyds Brasserie

8 Northumberland Avenue, London, United Kingdom

From Whitehall it’s a short walk to Trafalgar Square; turn right into Northumberland Avenue and stop for lunch at Boyds Brasserie, situated in a historic Victorian building. It was once a 500-room hotel, but was requisitioned by the war office in 1940. Inside the restaurant the décor is impressive, with much of the 19th century “Verde de Prato” and “Sanguino” marble remaining. The menu offers traditional British fare with a modern twist in the form of “British tapas”. Try the seafood bisque (£8.5/US$13) for mouthwatering flavour, or the delicious sea bass with golden raisins and kale with a Jerusalem artichoke purée (£21/US$32). Lunch Mon-Fri noon to 3pm, afternoon tea Mon-Sun 1pm-5pm, dinner Mon-Sat 5pm-10pm; 8 Northumberland Avenue, London WC2; tel 0207 808 3344;

3 - The River Thames

South Bank, London, United Kingdom

You cannot visit London without strolling along the River Thames. After a full lunch, walk south down Northumberland Avenue until you reach Victoria Embankment on the north side of the broad, muddy river. Cross the river via the Golden Jubilee Bridge to the South Bank; on the bridge look right and two iconic London sights stand on opposing riverbanks: the historic Houses of Parliament on the right, and the modern London Eye observation wheel on the left. Once on the South Bank, turn left and start walking. Along the broad pedestrian promenade you’ll see people jogging, riding bikes, fooling around on skateboards or entertaining the crowds with huge soap bubbles and other inventive acts.

4 - Tate Modern Museum

Tate Modern Gallery, Bankside, London, United Kingdom

A gentle 20-minute stroll brings you to the massive brown edifice that is the Tate Modern Museum. This was originally the Bankside Power Station, but was converted into a gallery in 1995 by Swiss architects. Today, a visit to the Tate Modern takes in the full scope of modern art in a single visit, from iconic artworks such as Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Diptych and Lee Bul’s Craving White to the latest photographic art and more. Of course a full exploration will take you most of the day, but if your time is limited you can visit just one of the special exhibitions that are regularly put on here. Admission to the museum is free, but there is usually a fee for special exhibitions. Open daily 10am-6pm, Fri and Sat until 10pm;

5 - Borough Market

Borough Market, Southwark Street, London, United Kingdom

Back by the riverside, turn right and walk past the reconstruction of Shakespeare’s famous Globe Theatre, before turning south into Park Street and along until you reach Stoney Street. You have arrived at Borough Market, a well-known food paradise whose history stretches back to the 11th century. It’s a source of exceptional produce, both British and international, with more than 100 stalls providing a wide range of food, from truffles and cheeses to fruits and hams. The smell of hot food such as paella and whole-roasted pig fills the air, encouraging visitors to chow down. Borough Market is open Mon-Thu from 10am to 5pm, Fri until 6pm, Sat from 8am to 5pm; 8 Southwark Street, London SE1 1TL; 

6 - The Berkeley Hotel

The Berkeley, Wilton Place, London, United Kingdom

London is famous for its afternoon tea, but rather than queue for a table at well-known tourist hotspots like the Savoy or the Ritz, why not try an equally classy but more secluded establishment. From London Bridge Station it’s a 30-minute Underground ride via the Jubilee and Picadilly lines to Hyde Park Corner (£2.3/US$3.5); head towards Knightsbridge and turn left at Wilton Place to reach the Berkeley Hotel (a black cab will cost around £20/US$30 but may take considerably longer, depending on traffic). The Berkeley’s Caramel Room is one of the city’s chicest places to eat and drink. Its award-winning Prêt-à-Portea afternoon tea sports a creative twist that is popular with fashionistas, who love the cakes and pastries inspired by the latest catwalk designs. The menu changes every six months, and the tea set costs £45 (US$68). Afternoon tea is served from 1pm to 6pm daily; tel 207 107 8866; 

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