World's Best Holidays|
The famous writer Samuel Johnson once said "When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life, for there is in London all that life can afford."
There's so much to see and do, as London sprints towards the 2012 Olympics.
London is a fascinating city and has been so for many centuries. If only this historic city's walls could talk , telling the tales of fascinating periods such as the reign of Henry the 8th, the industrial revolution, and the air raids of World War II. And now in modern times, the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, including the drama of Princess Diana's sudden death alongside the heir to the famous Harrod's store.
London is a city of contrasts, where the futuristic London Eye now sits near the historic Tower Bridge; where Londoners look forward to the 2012 Olympics but maintain the mannerisms of centuries past.
For the visitor planning a trip to London in this new century, be prepared - you need time and money.
Make sure you stay near London's centre, or near one of the underground Tube lines such as Piccadilly, because traffic jams can be a horrendous waste of valuable holiday time, and the strong English pound has catapulted London to being arguably the most expensive city in the world.
It only takes a little intelligence and ingenuity to overcome these obstacles to enjoy one of the world's most engaging cities.
Getting Around London
The best introduction to London is to take one of the open double decker bus tours to see the famous sights. If you're short on time, this is the way to do it. If you've just arrived, this two hour tour will get you orientated.
The proliferation of discount airlines into London's five airports means you can happily avoid the congestion and delays of the now-frustrating Heathrow Airport. Savvy travellers now take international airlines into Gatwick Airport, a little further out than Heathrow but often half an hour quicker into the city than the chaos of Heathrow.
Luton and Stansted Airports north of London are the much-used entry ports of the cut-price airlines, with good connections straight into the city by train or bus, including the very good Green Line. And the best located airport is London City airport, used mostly by private jets but you may be lucky enough to get a smaller commercial flight in by checking airline flight schedules.
Try to avoid arriving in or leaving London in peak hour. This can add as much as two hours to your journey time because of congested roads, including the now-infamous M 25 ring road.
And if you're one of the thousands taking a cut-price airline to or from London, here's a great tip which may not sit comfortably with jolly old England - take one of the German discount airlines such as Air Berlin. Most people know Germans are strict with time, and these airlines are so well organised that they'll often arrive early, compared with the frustrating delays on airlines such as Easyjet and Thomas Cook.
There are so many sights and experiences to enjoy in London that you really will need days to soak it all up. London's fickle weather is never the same from one year to the next, but the best time to visit is late June or early July, or in September - either side of the August summer crush that means queues and your valuable holiday time taken away.
There are a number of companies operating open double decker bus tours in London taking in best sights, including The Original London Sightseeing Tour which operates hop-on hop-off tours that take two hours.
What to See In London
Actually seeing the famous landmarks featured on TV around the world is an enriching experience. Buckingham Palace is marvellous with its regimented changing of the guard.
London Bridge and the Tower of London are steeped in history, with tales of royalty and famous figures "detained" in the tower while enjoying many privileges.
Nearby Trafalgar Square and Nelson's Column are enduring reminders of the centuries of war that London has survived. Admiral Horatio Nelson was one of Britain's most-loved naval heroes who fought valiantly for Britain and won four major naval victories at the cost of an arm and an eye.
Nelson's final and most famous battle took place off the Spanish cape of Trafalgar in 1805, when he defeated Napoleon's mighty French fleet along with the Spanish fleet, while dying aboard HMS Victory.
The peaceful sight of St Pauls Cathedral is enduring testament to the genius and dedication of architect Sir Christopher Wren, with the construction overseen by five monarchs between 1675 and 1710. It's the fourth cathedral on this site, after its predecessor was destroyed by the Great Fire of London.
The mighty Thames River flows through London, just a short distance from other famous sights including the Big Ben clocktower and adjoining House of Parliament , famous Westminster landmarks dating back to the 19th century.
And the West End has some of the world's most famous theatres including the Savoy and the Theatre Royal, featuring many of the world's most famous actors.
And for shopping, there's so much retail therapy here that you may need therapy afterwards to recover.
Everything from the famous Harrods and Marks and Spencer stores to famous children's stores like Gap are bigger than life in London. You can get just about everything on Oxford St, avoid the crowds on Kensington High St, or get classy clothes in Covent Garden.
For something slightly alternative try trendy Soho, the upmarket restaurant and media district that used to house sleazy sex shops till its transformation in the 1980s. Soho is near Oxford St to the north, and the expensive Mayfair to the West.
Soho is also where you'll find the hotel we consider to be London's best for Location and Luxury.
Accommodation near London's landmarks
London is now multi-cultural in more ways than just population - many famous hotels have not only been taken over by wealthy foreign owners, but improved to the 5 star luxury standard of hotels you'll find in wealthy cities such as Dubai.
Where London was once dominated by famous establishment hotels, some of these are now a little tired and living on past glories.
If you want 21st century luxury combined with English style at an affordable price, our favourite is the Jumeirah Lowndes Hotel in fashionable Knightsbridge.
This is a comfortably-sized 87 room boutique hotel in a great location only 5 minutes from Harrods and Harvey Nichols department stores, on major tube lines and in a stylish neighbourhood.
The professional front desk staff are very helpful and the deluxe rooms have everything for a comfortable stay. Photo above of Jumeirah Lowndes Hotel room London.
The Jumeirah Group has also taken over the Carlton Towers Hotel nearby on the border of Knightsbridge and Belgravia - another 5 star luxury hotel and more storeys.
This is one of the most upmarket areas of London with the stores just mentioned and the designer stores in Sloane Street right nearby.
The West End entertainment district is also nearby, only minutes away by London taxi cab.
The Soho Hotel is ranked #1 on the Tripadvisor® website. It has 85 guest rooms with "modern English-style interior characterised by oversized bed heads and designer furniture." Bathrooms are granite, oak and glass, rooms are spacious by European standards with flat screen TVs and some rooms have private terraces.
Tatler magazine has described the Soho as the most glamorous hotel in the world, and prices start from 280 pounds, excluding the hefty 17.5% tax known as VAT.
Hotly pursuing the Soho Hotel is the famous Hyde Park Hotel, now run brilliantly by the world-renowned Mandarin Oriental group. This accommodation near Hyde Park is very well located near good transport links at Hyde Park corner.
Anyone who's been to the Mandarin Oriental in Bangkok will tell you of the wonderful service by almost-intuitive staff, and this hotel overlooking London's famous Hyde Park is very similar.
From the moment you arrive at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, you're greeted by proper English doormen in uniform who are as friendly as they are knowledgeable.
The rich marble interior of the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park Hotel is a sight to behold, and the High Teas in the conservatory overlooking the beautiful Hyde Park are worth every bit of the 30 pound fee, with the freshest sandwiches and most delightful scones you'll ever taste.
Hotel rooms at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park start from 265 pounds a night with comfortable beds offering a choice of six pillows.
There are many cheaper options in London than these Five Star hotel delights, but you're on holiday and you want something that will live on in your memory. You'll always remember one of these outstanding hotel experiences, compared with the many mediocre hotels in and near London that are sometimes only a hundred pounds less.
You deserve it - spend a little more and really enjoy one of the World's Best Holidays in London.
Advertising Contact Ben Grummels