1. Buckingham Palace
Probably London’s most desirable property, Buckingham Palace has served as the official London residence of Britain’s sovereigns since 1837. The State Rooms are open to visitors during August and September annually and are lavishly furnished with some of the greatest treasures from the Royal Collection – paintings by Rembrandt, Rubens, Vermeer and Poussin; sculpture by Canova; exquisite examples of Sèvres porcelain; and some of the finest English and French furniture in the world.
2. St James’s Park
With its royal, political and literary associations, St James’s Park is at the very heart of London and covers 23 hectares (58 acres). Used in films as a meeting place for spies and politicians on park benches, St James’s is also home to the Mall, the setting for many ceremonial parades and events of national celebration. With a lake harbouring ducks, geese and pelicans, facilities also include a cafe, children’s playground and deckchair hire.
3. The Royal Academy
A prestigious art school as well as a renowned venue for hosting major international exhibitions of contemporary Fine Art and past masters, the Royal Academy of Arts also stages series of talks, lectures and workshops throughout the year. The annual summer exhibition is the largest open entry contemporay art exhibition in the world, showing established and unknown living artists. Permanent collections include works by Titian and Constable. Facilities include a shop, restaurant and toilets.
4. Fortnum and Mason
Certain shops have become institutions, and the upmarket grocers, Fortnum and Mason, is one of them. Established in 1707, Fortnums is seen as being quintessentially English. It isn’t just a novelty shop for tourists – a lot of well off Londoners still use the store for regular food and wine shopping. Produce is presented very appealingly and people seem prepared to pay for the quality, the brand and the experience. There are three different restaurants and a wine bar.
5. Burlington Arcade
First opened to great accliam in 1819, Burlington Arcade was Britain’s very first shopping Arcade and is now recognised as a historic and architectural masterpiece. The longest covered shopping street in England and possibly the most beautiful, this oasis of calm is one of London’s hidden treasures packed with luxurious accessories such as cashmere, antiques, vintage watches, connoisseur writing materials, fine fragrances and top quality leather goods.
6. Jermyn Street
Tucked between Piccadilly and St James Park, Jermyn Street epitomizes an idea of English tailoring. Although not quite in the same league in terms of cost and status as Saville Row, men can buy good quality ready made or made to measure shirts, shoes and accessories like ties and cufflinks, with some shops also offering suits, jackets and trousers. Expect to be called “Sir” all the time, by impeccably suited gentlemen tailors and shop assistants with tape measures hanging round their necks.
7. Afternoon Tea at The Ritz
Served in The Ritz’s spectacular Palm Court, there’s a choice of several varieties of tea, finely cut sandwiches, freshly baked scones, jam and clotted cream and a range of delicate pastries, combining to make for an unforgettable afternoon. Gentlemen are requested to wear a jacket and tie when using The Palm Court, Rivoli Bar or The Ritz Restaurant. Jeans and/or training shoes are not permitted in these areas. Booking at least 4 weeks in advance is essential to avoid disappointment.
8. Spencer House
Spencer House is not well known, but is perhaps one of London’s most magnificent buildings. Built from 1756 to 1766, it is London’s only surviving eighteenth century palace. It was built for John, the first Earl Spencer and ancestor of the late Princess of Wales. Lovingly restored to it’s former glory, including recreated details such as carved marble fireplaces and authentic colour schemes gleaned from antique paint flakes, the state rooms and garden are now open for public viewing every Sunday.
9. Cork Street Private Art Galleries
Although the centre of gravity for the London Art World has shifted east is recent years, Cork Street still has a good selection of galleries showing a mixture of modernist and contemporary painting and sculpture as well as some examples of more traditional work. Don’t be put off by snooty receptionists – just pretend you might be interested in buying something!
10. The Trocadero
Shoot ‘em up games, cinemas, dodgems, shops and cafes – the Trocadero is a true pleasuredome and is a great stop-off point on a night out or if you’re passing through the area. Having opened in the late 1700’s the Tocadero has always had a reputation as a famous landmark with changing faces. The variety of entertainment attracts tourists, teenagers, local office workers and families alike. The Trocadero is linked to Piccadilly underground station.