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The contrast of new and historic will leave your breathless as you explore this grand city. Hyde Park, the largest of the four Royal Parks, encompasses 350 acres that spans from Kensington Palace to the edges of Buckingham Place. Punctuated with grand gardens and water displays, Hyde Park has hosted famous concerts, Speakers Corner has been the epicenter of important demonstrations or rallies and some of the more solemn moments of history are commemorated through touching memorials throughout the park.
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Steps from Hyde Park are some of the most iconic attractions including Big Ben, Parliament, Trafalgar Square and the stunning Westminster Abbey, which has hosted some of the most significant events including weddings, coronations and is the final resting place for several monarchs.
Wind your way down the Thames River to the London Eye, a Ferris wheel 135 meters (442 feet) tall that on a clear day, offers views of Windsor Castle, 25 miles away. Steps from the London Bridge stop and view the Monument to the Great Fire of London that ravaged the city for almost 4 full days in September 1666.
For one of the best views of London, explore the pedestrian walkway spanning the Tower Bridge a full 42 meters (137 feet) above the Thames River. With the unique glass floor, enjoy 360-degree views of city including the bridges namesake, the Tower of London.
Built in 1078, the Tower of London was once the official residence of the ruling monarch. Over its long history, the castle also served as a prison, was home to the Royal Mint, and today houses the Crown Jewels of England.
A short stroll away from the Tower of London be sure to stop by St. Paul’s Cathedral one of the most recognizable buildings in London. Destroyed in the Great Fire, St Paul’s rose from the ashes, only to suffer damage again in World War II. Today, the white dome still stands tall above much of the city as it receives guests for daily services.
No trip to London is complete without spending time at Trafalgar Square. Once home to the King’s Mews, or stables, the square is a popular gathering place, hosting many important demonstrations and annual community celebrations. Central to the square is Nelson’s Column, commemorating Admiral Horatio Nelson, who died at the Battle of Trafalgar, for which the square is named. The column is flanked on four sides by bronze lions, each weighing more than 7 tons. Originally designed to feature four important historical figures, only three bronze statues were developed honoring previous Kings, leaving the 4th plinth or stone platform to a rotating public display of art, meaning each visit to the square will have something new to view and enjoy.
One of the most famous shopping destinations is Harrods of London. This shopping meca covers 5 acres and is one million square feet of retail shopping space where you can browse the 330 departments in the store.
Lined with over 300 shops and restaurants, Oxford Street is one of the most popular shopping areas in London featuring global brands as well as local favorites. Bond Street is home of to some of the most luxurious brands in the world ranging from fashion designers, fine jewelry and art galleries.
For something unique, check out Portobello Market in the West End of London. Independent shops and retailers offer unique clothing designs, antiques and retro items.
The culinary scene has exploded in London with leading Chef’s serving up their signature dishes in top rated restaurants. International flavors will dance across your taste buds as top Indian, Asian, Spanish French and local English flavors are sautéed, grilled and steamed to perfection.
Afternoon tea with pastries and sandwiches are an English tradition and one you should experience in London. If you are looking for the traditional experience check out the Savoy or the Claridge’s. For something a bit more contemporary, try the Mirror Room at the Rosewood Hotel or Sketch.