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Best Places to Stay, Eat, Drink and Shop in London

All of the traditional restaurants, stores, and museums that you won't want to miss.


By Emily Selter, Town & Country

While London may be known today for new restaurants, trendy stores, and contemporary galleries, it's worth visiting some of the city's oldest and most traditional spots too. From a restaurant so authentic that it served as a film set for Downton Abbey to a hotel where Claude Monet painted his famous scenes of the Thames River and a bar with martinis so good that they inspired Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond, these are some classic spots in London that you won't want to miss.


Where To Stay

The Savoy

It doesn't get more classic than the oldest luxury hotel in London. First opened in 1889, the building still retains much of its late 19th century charm (the interior of one of the elevators still looks exactly as it did when it was first installed over 100 years ago), and guests can stay in rooms decorated in either Edwardian or Art Deco styles. Claude Monet painted views of the Thames from his room at the Savoy, and Coco Chanel and Ernest Hemingway were also frequent guests at the hotel.


Where to Eat

Rules

Established in 1798, Rules is the oldest restaurant in London still in its original location. The menu is filled with traditional British fare, including game, roasts from the restaurant's own farm, pies, and puddings.

34 Mayfair

34 is a classic steakhouse in Mayfair, and although it hasn't been around for as long as some of the other restaurants on this list, it's quickly become a neighborhood staple.

Simpsons-in-the-Strand

Stepping into Simpsons is like stepping back in time—waiters still wheel around silver carts of roast beef and lamb—and Beef Wellington, Winston Churchill's meal of choice at the restaurant, still features prominently on the menu. Downtown Abbey was even filmed in the wood-paneled dining room, because it looks exactly as it did over a century ago.

The Wolseley

The Wolesley only opened a decade ago, but it has quickly become a London staple. Inspired by European cafes, its menu is filled with British, French, and Austrian classics, along with salads and sandwiches perfect for a light lunch.


Where to Drink

The Beaufort Bar

Hidden in the back of The Savoy, the Beaufort Bar is painted black with touches of gold. Each evening, musicians perform on the piano and the cocktail list includes drinks inspired by some of the hotel's most famous guests.

The Ship Tavern

First founded in 1549 (though it only moved to its current location in the 1920's), the Ship Tavern is a classic wood-paneled pub located just a short walk from Covent Garden. Its upstairs dining room serves some great classics too.

Dukes

Famous for their martinis, the bar takes the art of making one very seriously. A bartender brings a cart to your table, where he fills a frosted glass with the gin or vodka of your choice and tops the drink with a twist of lemon flown in from Italy.

Mark's Club

If you can find a friend who is a member (this will be hard, because only 1,000 people have been granted access to this exclusive club), there isn't a better place in London to drink. The legendary club is genteel, quiet, and has counted the Queen Mother, David Cameron, and Victoria Beckham among its past visitors.

The Grenadier

It doesn't get more classic than the Grenadier, which is located on a tiny street in Belgravia. Even though it is frequented by celebrities and members of the royal family, the interior doesn't look like it has changed in decades...or even centuries. Get a pint, or a pie.


Where to Shop

James Smith & Son Umbrellas

James Smith & Son has been selling umbrellas since 1830. Their versions are pricey, but well worth it. The handmade handles are crafted from fine wood and accented with chic tassels, and many of the umbrellas include a lifetime warranty if they break.

Fortnum & Mason

The store gets its fair share of toursits, but there is still no better place to stock up on British classics like tea, jam, and biscuits. If you have an especially large suitcase, don't forget to pick up one of their famous picnic baskets.

More: 14 Reasons Why Fortnum & Mason is the Best Grocery Store in London

Hancocks

One of London's oldest estate jewelers, Hancocks sells a selection of vintage jewelry from the past few centuries by designers including Cartier, Paul Flato, and the legendary British jeweler Andrew Grima. Plus, its location in Burlington Arcade makes for more shopping very nearby.

Liberty London

Housed inside a Tudor-style building, this department store sells much more than its famous floral prints. Its floors are now filled with new pieces by contemporary designers, enduring classics, and interesting statement pieces.

Selfridges

It may be enormous and imposing compared to the quaint layout of Liberty London, but a trip to Selfridges is still worth it to peruse the store's unparalleled selection of clothing and accessories.


What to Do

The National Gallery

The National Gallery houses some of the most important paintings in the history of art, including Jan Van Eyck's Arnolfini Wedding Portrait and Leonardo da Vinci's Virgin of the Rocks.

The Wallace Collection

Housed in the former mansion of the Marquesses of Hertford, the Wallace Collection contains hundreds of important paintings, sculptures, and works of decorative art, including a huge collection of arms and armour.

The Soane Museum

Tucked in a small square off of High Holborn, the Soane Museum was the former home of the architect Sir John Soane, who lead a circle of English artists and intellects at the beginning of the 19th century. His house is a labyrinth of small rooms filled with his collections of ancient antiquities and British art.

Apsley House

The former home of the Dukes of Wellington, Apsley house still contains the family's collections of fine and decorative arts, including gifts that the Duke of Wellington received after he won the Battle of Waterloo.

Westminster Abbey

The church is quite touristy, but a trip over is worth it to see the tombs of the monarchs, including the tomb of Queen Elizabeth I. Don't miss the Lady Chapel, which is located in the back of the Abbey.
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U.S. Daily News: Best Places to Stay, Eat, Drink and Shop in London
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