Skip to main content

Visiting London, here are some tips....

Having lived in London, I am often asked for tips when people are visiting. Since London 2012 is just around the corner, I thought an update would be in order.

Here are some great restaurants, some top sights and a few basic things to remember about London. While this list is not means exhaustive, I can guarantee a wonderful trip  if you visit just a few of these sites and restaurants.

Sights and Tips

If you are interested in history, do not miss Hampton Court. It was recently the 500th anniversary of Henry VIII, so they have many things going on. You will need a full day, but it is worth it. If you buy this all inclusive ticket you can see all five palaces, including the Tower of London and the Banqueting house (amazing). Well worth the money.

If you want to go a bit off the track the Royal Mews (carriages and royal coaches) and the Queen’s Gallery are very good. Both are next to Buckingham Palace. You can see the Changing of the Guard and then visit both.

If the WWII period is of interest, many people find the War Rooms fascinating. As for churches, I am partial to the Temple Church (12th Century), and it association with the Knights Templar, St. Paul's (City) and St. Martin in the Fields (Trafalgar Square).

The top museums are the National Museum, Nat’l Portrait Gallery, V&A, Soane Museum, and the Natural History Museum. Of course, the Tate if you are into modern art. The modern art Tate is the one south of the Thames.

Avoid any of the Wax Museum and the London Dungeons (very touristy), unless you are a real fan of this sort of thing.

Use the tube and the buses. Only use black cabs, avoid the mini cabs, as they are not safe unless you are out very late and then the restaurant calls one for you. Remember that a black cab can find almost any location if you have the postal code, so write the name and postal code down and you will be in good hands.

If you plan on taking the tube and bus, which I recommend, you will want to purchase an Oyster card, as it will save you a fortune. It is less than ½ the cost of a normal ticket. Here is the website to look into it.

Don’t eat from street vendors in tourist locations, very poor hygiene.

Avoid pub lunches in big tourist areas as the food is often rubbish. All grocery stores have great sandwiches and drinks and crisps for local prices. Waitrose is one of the best and all the top department stores have very good restaurants on their top floors. The Harvey Nichols rooftop cafe is famous and really fab. Some like the Harrods food hall, however I personally avoid Harrods as it is always crowded and very touristy. Selfridges in Oxford Street is much better for shopping and have the same items.

Try and get tickets to the theater. Don’t skimp on the prices or you will be in the nosebleed section and not see anything. Tickets can be had at

“View London” is also a great site for all sorts of info on London and is designed for Londoners not tourists, so you avoid a lot of hassles.

A trip to a "local" pub is a must. The key word here is local. A pub in the Piccadilly Circus area, is not considered local. Many pubs have wonderful food in addition to a good selection of wine, sprits, local beers and ales. Good local beers are London Pride, ESB and many others. They are not served warm, but rather cool. Lagers are served cold. 


Popular posts from this blog

Marlow and Son’s Butterbeans, Garlic Confit and Preserved Tomatoes

I first saw this recipe in Bon Appetit and was fascinated. It used interesting ingredients combined in a unique way and I had to try it. The recipe was given in response to an email from BA writer to Marlow chef Patch Troffer, but the recipe had no measurements and timing.  After making it, I adjusted a few things and added quantities and timing and was very happy with the results. I ordered my dried beans from Rancho Gordo in Napa and they were excellent.   To make it spectacular, you really do need to make the garlic confit and preserved tomatoes. They aren’t hard to make, but set aside a bit of time. Make a full recipe and then use the rest for other dishes.   Garlic Confit 3 heads of Garlic, peeled and left whole.  3/4-1 cup Olive Oil  4 springs fresh Thyme  2 Bay Leaves 2 dried Chili Peppers Add all ingredients to a small saucepan and cook on barest simmer for 1-2 hours. (This broad cooking time is due to the fact that some garlic has more moisture

Norfolk Style Seafood

This is such a good recipe and so simple to make. The story behind this recipe is interesting. When I was a young boy, we used to go to a seafood restaurant in Washington DC called O'Donnell's. They had wonderful food, and most importantly, they had Buck. Buck was a gentle giant at 6' 2" and was always talking to me about his recipe. He had invented this style of cooking seafood and had even developed special pans which could be used over open flame and then it could be delivered to the tables still sizzling.  He was rightfully very proud of this.  After being there quite a few times, Buck shared his recipe with me and told me to keep it a secret. Since this was over 40 years ago, I guess I can reveal it now.  Ingredients 1/2 lb Shrimp, Jumbo Lump Crab or Langoustines, raw and shelled 2 Tbsp Butter 2 cloves Garlic, chopped Dash of Old Bay Seasoning Juice of 1/2 Lemon Few dashes of Tabasco Splash of White Wine Salt and Black Pepper Heat your pan u

Golden Mountain Sauce

I love making Thai food at home, and I've always prided myself on getting that authentic Thai flavor, but if I’m completely honest, I have to admit it always seemed to be missing a little something. Well, I have found out what that little something was. It's called Golden Mountain Sauce and it has been called the "secret of Thai cooking" and has been used in Thailand for over 50 years. Use it as you would soy sauce, but mix it equal parts with fish sauce to get the real Thai flavor. Here is the perfect dish to try it out.   Gai Pad Prik Grapao/Chicken with Hot Chilies and Basil Thais’ love fresh basil, and use many different types. Most of us are familiar with Sweet Basil, and this is easy to find in any market. However, it’s the “Holy Basil”, known as Bai Grapao, which is the most flavorful and authentic. This basil has an anise type of flavor and gives this dish an amazing flavor and dimension that just doesn’t taste the same with sweet basil.