The iconic, historic and
sophisticated city beckons
By Scott Jones
“WHEN A MAN is tired of London, he is tired
of life; for there is in London all that life can
afford.” The great Samuel Johnson made this
assessment of 18th-century London. Imagine
what he would think of London now.
Long one of the premier cities in the world,
London has been enjoying a renaissance as a
place where the ancient and the hip sit side by
side. The variety is staggering. But when presented with “all that life can afford,” how do
you put together a game plan? After all, thick
guidebooks are devoted to the task. Here’s a
quick outline of areas of interest to get you
started. Let’s begin by heading to Southwark.
Many of London’s famous attractions can
be found in Southwark. Shakespeare’s Globe
Theatre is one example, and what a time to
experience it. The year 2014 marks the 450th
anniversary of the bard’s birth, and the Globe
is planning a yearlong celebration. Aside from
the Globe, there’s a brand-new theater opening, named after the Globe’s founder, Sam
Wanamaker. It will put on plays and concerts
by candlelight, as in Shakespeare’s day.
Going from classic to contemporary,
there’s the Tate Modern art gallery. You could
spend hours exploring the architectural splendors of the Tate, to say nothing of the sublime
collection of art inside it. Culinary bliss awaits
you nearby at renowned Borough Market,
with delis and restaurants galore. Walk off
your meal by strolling across the Millennium
Bridge, a suspension footbridge that takes you
across the Thames, where you can bask before
Christopher Wren’s St. Paul’s Cathedral. Of
course, the Tower and London bridges also
offer terrific views of the city.
The West End of London remains an epi-
center. Oxford Street—the famous shopping
thoroughfare where you will find legendary
Selfridges—is the West End’s main artery. On
either side lie storied neighborhoods, such as
Soho, literary Bloomsbury and well-heeled
Mayfair. Running from King’s Cross to the
Thames is Museum Mile, home to museums
with world-class collections, such as the
British Museum. Don’t miss the National
Gallery while you’re in the neighborhood.
And catch a performance in the theater dis-
trict. And then there’s St. James Park—am I
Oh, right: Westminster Cathedral, West-
minster Abbey and Buckingham Palace,
future home of baby Prince George and his
parents, Prince William and Catherine
Middleton (the Duke and Duchess of Cam-
bridge). If you’re looking for a sophisticated,
über-modern hotel, try the ME London hotel,
with a rooftop bar that offers panoramic
views, not to mention hip vibes.
Another terrific spot is Trafalgar Square.
There’s always something happening in Trafal-
gar, around which are the Modern Gallery and
St. Martin-in-the-Fields, and with Nelson’s
Column in its center. While checking out
Trafalgar, you might hear Big Ben or see a fire-
works display coming from the London Eye
observation wheel, as both are within walking
distance. Want to spend the night in the old
headquarters of the British Secret Service? The
majestic Royal Horseguards hotel is in the
area, presiding over the River Thames.
If you dig parks, try Hyde Park and
Kensington Gardens. Whatever you think of
Notting Hill the movie, the namesake West
London neighborhood is glutted with charm
and worth a go-see.
For shopping addicts and food fanatics,
there’s posh and fashionable West London.
There you will find the Chelsea and Knights-
bridge neighborhoods, both home to
Michelin-star dining and the latest fashions.
Pricey boutiques are anchored by two of the
best-known department stores on the planet,
Harrods and Harvey Nichols; you could get
lost in either (or both) and emerge days later
without complaints. (Allow yourself the gen-
teel experience of afternoon tea at Harrods.)
The area also boasts the Tate Britain art gal-
lery, the Saatchi Gallery and Parliament.
That’s a mere sketch to get your travel
mojo going. As Lisa Sjolund, partner devel-
opment manager for VisitBritain, puts it,
“Britain is a small island with a big personal-
ity. Make sure you explore the beautiful
countryside and coastlines too!”
With the help of this activity-dense short
list, you’ll be able to answer London’s call. C
Scott Jones ( www.jonesishungry.com) is a
food, wine and travel writer, and a wine specialist at the Costco in Hoover, Alabama.
The Costco Connection
Costco Travel offers a variety of packages
to London, and all include a tour credit to
enhance your experience. Click “Travel”
at Costco.com or call 1-877-849-2730.
(Top) Parliament and Big Ben light up
London’s skyline. (Above) Changing of the
guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace.