City Guide: London

Where to stay, shop and dine in London

WHY GO?

Because London’s a mighty city, fizzing with life, and it’s especially enjoyable as the festive season gets under way. With superb shops, world-class attractions and a multicultural energy, not to mention over 40 Michelin-star restaurants, its upbeat mood is best seen in areas like Mayfair and the South Bank, which are both enjoying a resurgence.

STAY AT?

The Haymarket Hotel (020-7470 4000; haymarkethotel.com), which has flamboyant interiors, a fabulous swimming pool and an unbeatable West End location, making it the best new place to stay in town ? ideal for special occasions. Double rooms cost from £287. Or if money’s tight, the contemporary Hoxton Hotel (020-7550 1000; hoxtonhotels.com), has rooms starting at £29 if you book well ahead.

SHOP AT?

The new Luella store (25 Brook St; luella.com) and Dover Street Market (17 Dover St; doverstreet market.com) if fashion is what you’re after. Paul Smith’s Furniture and Curiosity Shop (9 Albemarle St; paulsmith.co.uk) is always fabulous. Two eclectic areas worth exploring are Marylebone High St and Duke of York Square in Chelsea where you’ll find Trilogy (trilogystores.co.uk), the best place in the UK to buy cool jeans. For presents, the gift shops at Tate Modern (tate.org.uk) and the V&A (vandashop.com) are worth a stop. Borough Market (boroughmarket.org.uk), open from Thursday to Saturday, is full of foodie treats, while Heddon Street (off Regent St), with Zara Home and Habitat close by, is great for restaurants.

DINE AT?

Scott’s (020-7495 7309; scotts-restaurant.com). Right next door to Marc Jacob’s new store, it’s classy, buzzy and very new Mayfair ? grab a bar stool and order champagne, oysters and wild boar sausages. For gastro-pub fare at reasonable prices, book a table at Great Queen Street (32 Great Queen St; 020-7242 0622) in Covent Garden. Or if you just fancy drinks, DJs and fun, head for The Old Queen’s Head (theoldqueenshead.com) in Islington. For more bar and dining options, visit (squaremeal.co.uk).

ENJOY?

The Christmas lights ? the best are in New Bond Street. Book early if you want to twirl on an ice rink such as at Somerset House (somersethouse.org.uk), which opens on 22 November. Exhibitions worth catching include The Golden Age of Couture at the V&A (vam.ac.uk) until 6 January, and ‘Matthew Williamson’ at the Design Museum (designmuseum.org) ), on show until the 31 January

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