L o n d o n

London, how shall I describe it. It's my absolute favorite cosmopolitan city on this planet, there may be others but Scotty hasn't beemed me up yet despite my pleadings.

It has great theaters from Shakespearean to avant-garde, great museums, an endless selection of arts from the traditional to the bizarre, a mouthwatering selection of ethnic restaurants, shop till you drop opportunities for all budgets, multi-cultural events year round, interesting people from the the absolutely boring to the outright loony, the list goes on and on....., I just love the place.

Upon arriving in London one of the first things you should do is purchase a copy of Timeout Magazine, the Bible (or equivalent) for London, regretably their website is rather limited on information. A very good online source of information is LondonNet.

Sections below:


Next, depending on how long you will be in London you should purchase a Travel Card. The London Transport system is divided into 6 zones. Much of the inner city lies within the first 2 zones. That is where you will probably spend most of your time. It starts making sense to buy a 7-Day Travel Card (counting from the day you purchase it) if you stay 5 days or more. This because not only is it cheaper than buying 7 One-Day Travel Cards but because they are valid 24 hours a day while the One-Day cards can only be used after 9:00 am. Prices increase all the time so check upon arrival at the airport or go to the London Transport site for latest fares (there is a full PDF file containing the full pricing booklet). In order to get into town you also need a one-time extension which you purchase at the same time. Note: be sure to bring along a small photograph of yourself which you will need in order to be issued with a Photo-ID in conjunction with your 7 day card.

Alternative: If you intend to spend most of your time within zone 1 then you might want to consider purchasing a 10-ticket carnet for £17.00.

Any one or more day Travel Card also allows you to ride the ubiquitous red double-decker buses. The older ones have a permanently open rear entry and exit platform and you can hope on or off whenever the bus stops or you feel courageous (or foolhardy) enough.


I guess everyone has a favorite guide, mine are the Michelin guides and Eyewitness Guides (by Dorling Kindersley).  The Michelin guide is wonderfully compact and filled with a plethora of information, more that you would ever know what to do with including detailed maps of most museums, definitely value for money.  The DK guides I buy selectively only if I really think I need them, lots of photographs and ancillary information, so take a look at it before buying (if by mail).

The Arts / Museums:

Now that all the major museums are free (Thanks to funding from the National Lottery) there is no longer any need for my previous money saving tip.  This now only makes sense for those who come to london very often and visit the special exhibits in the museum which still are charged for.  Thus you need to go to about 10 of these fee exhibits before recouping the £30.00 annual pass fee from the National Arts Collections Fund  Tel: 020-7225-4800 which entitles you to concession prices.  If you still think this is for you then you have to call up the Art Fund and give them an address, give that of the hotel, and pay by credit card (because their main office is in Scotland) telling them that you want to pick up a temporary card from their London office. You then have to go there in person.  They are located at 7 Cromwell Place London SW7 2JN just off the South Kensington Tube Station.


What's a great city without great food? Below is a small selection of my favorite haunts. As I am a vegetarian I will only eat at restaurants that have a reasonable selection of dishes I can choose from. I also avoid restaurants that cater to tourists: bad food, no value for money, lousy atmosphere.

Busaba Eathai
Delicious fast Thai food in a bustling environment
106-110 Wadour Street, Soho
Tel: 7255-8686
Open 7 days a week 12:00 - 23:30
My Rating: A/B, I continue to go there often, consistently good food

Bleeding Heart Bistro & Tavern
Good Gallic cousine with an excellent wine list (received Wine Spectator Awards)
Bleeding Heart Yard, off Grenville Street, EC1N (hard to find)
Tel: 7242-8238
Note: NO jeans, shorts ortrainer in the restaurant.
My Rating: A
There is also a nice Bistro dating from 1746 !

Winner of the Best Chinese Restaurant 2004
8 Hanway Place, W1T, near Tottenham Court Road tube
Tel: 7907-1888
My Rating: A-/B+, the Dim Sum is unrivalled in London. Expensive.
Bookng a must

La Famiglia
A good "family run" Italian restaurant
7 Langton Street, SW10
Open 7 days a week 12pm-2:24 and 7pm-11:45
Tel: 020-7351-0761 or 7352-6095
Just off Kings Cross Road
My Rating: Haven't been there in a while but TimeOut still rates it well.

Lahore Kebab House
Excellent Pakistani Kebab house with good vegetarian selection
2 Umberston Street, E1
Tel: 020-7481-9737/8
Come early to get a seat! (Near Aldgate Tube Station)
My Rating: A for food

Great Greek Restaurant
89 Regents Park Road, NW1 8UY
Tel: 020-7586-7454
Chalk Farm Tube Station
Note: Reservations a must, ask to be seated in the courtyard
not to be confused with Limania its little sibling cafe. Their Greek wine list is one of the best in London !!
My Rating: Haven't been there in a while, not cheap but TimeOut continue to rate it well.

Good European Restaurant off Covent Garden with an excellent wine list !! "A London Restaurant Gem"
33 King Street, WC2E
Tel: 7379-9696
My Rating: A-, only complaint was that in a large group they sometimes severe food a little too cold. Price about £50 pp

Good Lebanese Cuisine either upstairs at tables or downstairs on bar stools
38 Beauchamp Road, SW3
Tel: 020-7581-5434
My Rating: B
I'm sorry to say but after having been to Beirut, NOTHING tastes as good as Lebanese food there!   :-(

Masala Zone
Good quick Indian cuisine in a modern setting at £10 - £15 per head
9 Marshal Street
Tel: 020-7287-9966
My Rating: A
Note: NO reservations

Very Delicious food, family run Persian restaurant
152 Warwick Road
Tel: 7602-9888
My Rating: B+ even for the Vegetarian only dishes

Neal's Yard
A collection of little restaurant serving dishes from around the world (Morrocan, Thai, West African, Asian etc.) with a vegetarian/organic bent to them.  A fun place to meet and chat, at least in the warmer time of the year!
Note: There is a great english cheese shop, Stilton, Cheddar (the real stuff not the American imitations!) etc. just around the corner, follow your nose.
Near Covent Garden Tube Station
My Rating: A- to B

Ryo Noodle Restaurant
Good authentic Japanese fast-food, great for a quick bite during lunch hour.
84 Brewer Street, W1F
Tel: 020-7287 1318 or 7439-0785
Open 7 days a week 12:00 - 3:00 am Mon-Fri
Sat till 2:00 am Sun till 0:00
Near Picadilly Tube Station
My Rating: B

S&P Patara
Good Thai restaurant
9 Beauchamps Place, London SW3
Tel: 020-7581-8820
My Rating: B+ (continue to go there and like it)
Near Knightsbridge Tube Station

Another Good Thai Restaurant
16 Old Compton Street (Soho)
Tel: 020-7434-3544

Delicious 'modern' Indian food in a very nice setting especially during summer
438 King's Road (Chelsea)
Tel: 7351-4118
My Rating: A-/B+ Good service, though portions are small and prices high.
Complaint: Their website has very annoying music. :-)

Wagamama Noodle Bar
A Japanese Art Deco Restaurant that it currently "In".
Several but I like the one in Soho
10A Lexington Street
Tel: 020-7292-0990
My Rating: B

Other Interesting Stores / Places:

Below is a short list of places I believe are really worth a stop even if you do not plan to buy anything.  Click on the links for the relevant website.

Borough Market
Large and wonderfully entertaining UK/European farmer's market open Friday and Saturday, just off the London Bridge Tube stop

Camden Markets
All guides mentioned this place, a must stop for London, and not just tourists.  If you are looking for authentic, strange, novel, funny, bizarre (insert more adj.) gift to bring home for friends this is the place to shop.    The markets are open 7 days a week from 9:30 am, except for the Camden Canal Market which is open only on Fri/Sat/Sun.
Near Camden Tube Station

Forbidden Planet
The Best SF paraphernalia store I have come across.
Suits, Badges, Games, Comics, Videos, etc.
71 New Oxford Street
London, WC1A 1DG
Tel: 020-7836-4179

Kamakura Minamoto Kitchoan
A wonderful selection of authentic but pricey Japanese sweets which make memorable presents if you needs something really different for desert.  Or just have a peek at the wonderfully artistic display of the sweets.
44 Piccadilly / Tel: 020-7437-3135
Times: 10:00-19:00
Near Picadilly Tube Station

Planet Organic
A well stocked supermarket for the vegetarian/organic cum ecologically minded palette. It has EKO, Demeter, SKAL, Certified Organic and many more certified products from all over the world. A bit expensive, but hey this is London!
42 Westbourne Grove, London W2
Tel: 020-7221-7171
Opening times: 11am-8pm
Near Bayswater Tube Station
Full listing of other Organic Stores in London.
Fresh & Wild (69-75 Brewer Street) is also a good choice in Soho.

Portobello Road
A wonderful and fun area for browsing around antiques from the moderate collector category to the really kitchy.
Near Notting Hill Gate Tube Station

One of the best travel store I have ever seen: Maps, Charts, Books (descriptive and travel literature, one of my favorite genres)
Three stores in London but the biggest is at:
12-14 Long Acre / Tel: 020-7836-2260
Near Covent Garden Tube Station


London is a great place for a theater buff. Prices are reasonable and if you are willing to queue you can get great tickets for half price or even less. However the queues at the Half-Price Ticket Office located on Liecester square are usually quite long.  There are many other discount stores but they do not always receive tickets from the theaters to sell at a discount.

There are several monthly theater guides available for free - though my preference remains the TimeOut gude. One is bi-weekly The Official London Theatre Guide for the main Westend shows. Another is the bi-monthly Guide to beyond the Westend where you will find a listing of the fringe shows that I love so much.

If you are the type of person who likes certainty it is best to book in advance via phone and then directly at the theater where the show is that you want to see. I do not recommend that you book your tickets via agencies like Ticket-master, Ticket-line etc. They only charge you an additional fee and should only be approached if the theater itself does not have any tickets left (The theater usually allocates a certain number of seats to agencies who only return them on the last couple of days should they have any left).

Now in order to make an informed choice you need to know the location of the seat you'd like to purchase and I seldom rely on the sales person's opinion. Instead I go and get a seating map of the theater in question at the Albemarle Theatre Guide (click to the theatre you want) alternatively there is Londontheatre - Seating Plans.

Below you will find the sites I usually use to determine what shows to book (award winner for instance, or to read up on critiques) prior to going to London:

Fun things to do in London

Below are a couple fun things to do in London, all of which I have tried and enjoyed.

London Walks:   I have been on several and they have something on offer for everyone every day. My favorite are the creepier ones: "Jack the Ripper Haunts", "Haunted London" and "Ghosts of the old City" but they are all fun.

You can usually pick up an up-to-date guide just past immigration at London Heathrow Airport. Else call them at 020-7624-3978, 7794-1764 or 7911-0285 Or visit their site by clicking above.

Visit the Victorian Highgate Cemetery from 1839.
Get off at Archgway Tube Station on the Northern Line
Eastern part open Apr.-Oct.: 10am-5pm dialy, Nov.-Mar.: 10am-4pm daily
Western part only via guided tours
Open: Apr.-Oct.: noon, 2pm & 4pm Mon.-Fri., 11am-4pm Sat. & Sun.
Nov.-Mar.: noon, 2pm & 3pm, Mon.-Fri., 11am-3pm Sat. & Sun.

Telephone Calls

With the advent of competition international telephone calls have become very cheap. That is if you do not call from your hotel phone or your mobile phone. I make extensive use of the calling card you can buy in denominations of £5, £10, £15, £25, from a huge variety of call providers. You choose the provider based on the countries that you will call most often. There are vast differences in pricing schemes, Germany can range from 2p till 10p per minute depending on whom you choose. The cards are easy to use, just dial the number given on the back of the card, enter your pin, listen to an automated message indicating the balance left and then call the number you want and save a bundle!


Feel free to send me an email if you have any questions about London or would like recommendations about a particular venue and I will gladly try to find out what I can.   Email me: Websheikh

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This Page Updated: Feb 2005
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