A global centre of fashion, culture and business, the UK’s vibrant capital never stands still. Go beyond the usual tourist attractions to discover the city as the locals know it on a weekend away to London from Glasgow Airport.
If you’ve done the British Museum (Great Russell Street), the Tate Modern (Bankside) and the National Gallery (Trafalgar Square), then venture outside London’s cultural core to discover a constellation of hidden gems. The up-and-coming borough of Hackney is home to more artists than anywhere else in Europe, and gallery spaces such as A Brooks Arts (194a Hoxton Street), Banner Repeater (Platform 1, Hackney Down Station) and Hackney Downs Studios (17 Amhurst Terrace) showcase the local talent. Islington and edgy Lewisham are also hotbeds of creativity.
The designer boutiques of Bond Street and Knightsbridge might have put London on the fashion map, but it’s far more fun to spend a day browsing the capital’s eclectic markets. Portobello Road Market is the best known, but the vintage fashion stalls at Brick Lane Market near Liverpool Street Station and Brixton Station Road Market on the third Sunday of every month are well worth a rummage. Borough Market is a pure gourmet paradise, and the Columbia Road Flower Market brings the colours of the country to Central London.
Eat, drink and be merry
From glitzy à la carte restaurants to pop-up cafés, and from old-man pubs to molecular cocktail bars, London spans the full gastronomy spectrum. Book well ahead to get a table at three-Michelin-starred eateries such as Restaurant Gordon Ramsay (68 Royal Hospital Road) and Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester (53 Park Lane), or enjoy a scrumptious meal on a budget at vegetarian establishment Food for Thought (31 Neal Street) or local’s favourite Fleet River Bakery (71 Lincoln’s Inn Fields). Nightspots currently in vogue include Great Suffolk Street Warehouse (29 Great Suffolk Street) and Corsica Studios (4-5 Elephant Road).