I've lived in London on and off for over 20 years, and have been compiling my Must List for a long time and will probably be doing so for a while longer, but recently I've been frequently asked for recommendations, so here goes my list of favourite places and things I would do if I was visiting for only a few days.
- Have traditional Sunday Roast at the Butlers Wharf Chop House. A very British thing to do on a Sunday afternoon (late morning). Here, however, it is served anytime, with incredibly delicious steak-thick slice of prime rib (not your regular tough-to-chew roast) and a gorgeous, oversized Yorkshire pudding. The view of Tower Bridge (my favourite landmark) is stunning day and night, so be sure to ask for a table close to the windows or outside.
- Stroll through St. James Park – beautiful space with lots of gorgeous birds including pelicans you can pet. And there's touristy spots at both ends, in case you're hitting those.
- Take Afternoon Tea at Sketch, because there’s an option of having it as elaborate or as simple as you like. And it's the most visually exciting venue in the city. You can just order tea (I recommend rose) and warm scones with clotted cream and fresh raspberry jam.
- Grab a pint at The Golden Eagle pub – piano sing-alongs' Tuesday, Thursday, Friday – 8.30pm-11pm.
- Dine at Entrecote. Originally from Paris. No reservations, so you have to queue to get in or come early - just before 6pm or late - after 9pm. No menu, they just bring you amazing steak, yummy salad and french fries.
- Go for a nightcap at Purl. Prohibition style, unique cocktails (on fire, with liquid nitrogen, absinthe foam etc). Reservations suggested.
- Indulge in a Milan-style breakfast of pastries from Princi (and possibly Prosecco) in Soho. Visit anytime, but don't go for the pizza...because London has, I dare say - one of the best in Europe...
- Grab a pie at Pizza Pilgrims in Soho. These guys travelled all over Italy learning about the best dough, sauce and toppings...and they brought back a taste rivalling the best pizzerias in Naples.
- Have tea at Laduree. Another Parisian place, but if you're not going to Paris, it's also not to be missed. Apart from taking home some fabulous macaroons you should experience the lovely tea room and Jardin Bleu Royal tea with an Ispahan pastry...if not sold out. My sister said - it's what Jesus would taste like if he was food.
- Enjoy a cocktail with a view (and the design of the hotel, and some sunshine...if there is any) at the Radio Bar in ME Hotel.
- Devour a lobster at Burger & Lobster. Another very popular, no reservations, no menu restaurant with a modern New England feel. A great deal if you're going there for the lobster and very very satisfying indeed.
- Sip on the most delicious, understated, cocktails at HIX. The name Mark Hix needs no introduction in London, but you might have not heard of Nick Strangeway, unless you've been on the "it scene" in 70's London. Strangeway is an extremely famous man in the mixology circles and creates unbelievable cocktails with seasonal berries and other fabulous ingredients. I say this with all honesty - I never had a tastier cocktail anywhere else.
- Have a light lunch (or dinner) at Sushi des Artistes, beautifully and uniquely presented sushi, served with delicacies like shaved truffle and caviar.
- Get a bit drunk on Happy Hour cocktails at the Troubadour (and maybe even catch a band). Fresh strawberry daiquiris' – 2 for 1...enough said.
- Celebrate life at the most beautiful restaurant - Alan Ducasse at the Dorchester Hotel. A place where Liz Taylor and Richard Burton would live while in London, a place where you can run into Martin Scorsese in the hall...harbours my dream restaurant. The private table has LED lights surrounding it like a fairytale and seasonal Hermes china for your choosing. You would have to book well in advance and put down a non-refundable 200GBP just for the booking of that table. Or...you can have a coffee at world famous Monmouth in Soho and walk into nearby erotic boutique Coco de Mer…(which is more like an art museum) and Neal’s Yard – very cute secret passage with café’s.
Naturally on your way over to all those restaurants you're bound to see everything you kind of have to see in London, like The Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, Primark, V&A, and The National Gallery...I recommend The National Portrait Gallery instead...it's less tiring and more exciting.