On London, it’s hard to argue with the famous essayist Samuel Johnson who wrote: “when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.” The English capital draws visitors in with its reputation, its Royal Parks, its fine-dining restaurants and its cosmopolitan charm. So even if you’re short of time, just a few hours can go a long, long way. Here’s how to make the most of your time in London.
Try a seriously pimped up picnic
Forget lunch at your desk, nothing says summer in London like a picnic in one of the capital’s Royal Parks. Where the sun is soaring, head to Hyde Park and dine al fresco in first-class style by swapping pork pies for pure luxury with a hamper from Fortnum and Mason. Transforming your humble picnic into a quintessentially British experience, the Belgravia Hamper is easily the pick of the bunch; it’s a wicker chest crammed with all kinds of gourmet booty, from venison salami and mini spiced orange ham to champagne marmalade and traditional potted Stilton. Stretch out in the sunshine near the Serpentine Lake with a chilled glass of Fortnum’s Sancerre and soak up the sun in one of London’s greatest green spaces.
Take a Michelin-starred masterclass
Restaurant Gordon Ramsay in Chelsea is one of just two restaurants in London sporting three shiny Michelin stars. Needless to say, the nosh is out of this world, with dishes ranging from roast pigeon with fennel, lavender, honey and blood orange to lemon parfait with bergamot and sheep’s milk yoghurt. Try the exquisite seven-course taster menu or, if time allows, go one step further with a private masterclass. In just a few whirlwind hours, you’ll prepare your very own three-course Michelin-starred lunch, including paired wines and champagne on arrival.
Afternoon tea - with your own personal twist
Afternoon tea is a timeless English institution. Whether you’re after something classic or quirky, there’s a high tea out there for you. Traditionalists should plump for The Ritz or Claridge’s, both dishing up dainty British bites in decadent settings. For something offbeat, try the speakeasy-style Squiffy Picnic at Cahoots, offering finger food and flasks of G&T in a disused tube station every weekend, or the Science Afternoon Tea at The Ampersand Hotel, a whacky affair with raspberry planetary rings, chocolate dinosaurs and mango mousse volcanoes.
Refresh your wardrobe like a rock star
Forget pounding the pavements of Oxford Circus or waiting in cashier queues that never budge, if you’re on a business schedule and pushed for time, splash out on a no-stress spree with a personal shopper experience at Selfridges. It’s the ultimate way to get your London look and make you feel utterly A-List at the same time. After an expert wardrobe consultation and a little work on your own personal colour scheme, you can relax as your personal shopper makes the magic happen around you. It’s pampering, and then some.
Rent your own private spa suite
Occupying a whole floor in the Four Seasons Hotel, The Spa is a rooftop sanctuary with a stellar reputation for relaxation and staggering skyline views. Push the boat out by booking the private Sky Suite, selecting up to four hours of treatments and soaking in the steam bath with a glass of bubbly as you gaze out over the Houses of Parliament. Bringing a whole new meaning to the ‘high life’, there’s no better way to unwind after some hard graft in the boardroom.
See London’s sights in style
Cruise along the Thames aboard your very own Union Jack hull boat, complete with Italian leather seating, gourmet bar treats and a chilled bottle of Moët & Chandon. Easy to work around office hours, the two-hour private sunset cruise sails past London’s most iconic landmarks as the evening lights starts to twinkle along the river. Afterwards, your captain can drop you off for dinner at the Shard, take you to the London Eye for an evening along the South Bank or deliver you to straight to Shakespeare’s Globe.