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Famous five: perfect places to visit on a weekend in London

Let’s face it, there’s nothing quite like getting away from it all and spending the weekend in one of the world’s most stimulating, fascinating and fantastic cities. But what should you do when you’re here in London? Where should you go? So much to squeeze in; what can’t you miss…?

Hit the market and more in Notting Hill

Famed for its starring role in the hit Brit romcom movie of the same name, Notting Hill is one of the trendiest districts of West London; stylish and aspirational but multicultural and down-to-earth at the same time. Its biggest calling cards for visitors are undoubtedly the ubiquitous and comprehensive Portobello Road Market and the Caribbean-themed and vibrantly colourful Notting Hill Carnival, which takes place at the end of August every year. But it’s also great for small, indie art galleries like Graffik and Salon Contemporary, while The Gate Theatre’s quickly established itself as a centre for emerging stage talent and, food-wise, the neighbourhood’s packed with Michelin-starred restaurants, such as The Ledbury, and top cocktail bars like Beach Blanket Babylon.

Mix with the hipsters in Shoreditch

Effectively a rough triangle (formed by Old Street, Great Eastern Street and Shoreditch High Street) of down-at-heel but oh-so cool bars and pubs, indie fashion boutiques and dynamic, unique restaurants and eateries, this small area on the cusp of The City (so very easy to reach if you’re staying at, say, the M by Montcalm hotel) is famed for its trendy crowd, fascinating street art and tech start-ups. To say it’s happening is putting it mildly; what with marvellously monikered watering holes like Bull in a China Shop and Happiness Forgets, terrific shopping thanks to the unusual retail hub that’s Boxpark and even the interior design haven that’s Geffrye Museum, it’s an unmissable slice of throw-it-all-together urbanity.

Shoreditch

Get yourself over to glorious Greenwich

No question, when it’s warm out and the sun’s beating down on the city (whether you’ve made your base one of the Montcalm hotels or any other 5 star hotels in London), there’s nowhere to quite rival Greenwich. One of London’s two UNESCO World Heritage sites, this stretch on the banks of the Thames is dripping with late Stuart and Georgian splendour and enormous historical resonance when it comes to Britain’s maritime glory, thanks to being home to the likes of the Old Royal Naval College, the National Maritime Museum, the fantastic Royal Observatory and, of course, the Prime Meridian line. It’s absolutely perfect as a place to spend the day seeing the sights and picnicking on the rolling green of Greenwich Park, looking out on the spectacular view of the to the river and, further afield, The O2 to the north and The City to the northwest.

Discover the riverside riches of Southwark

Too often overlooked in favour of the South Bank, that near irresistible tourist-trap to its immediate east, this district is jam-packed full of attractions and historical intrigue, stretching, as it does, from Waterloo to London Bridge. Naturally then, that means it encompasses the foodie paradise that’s the upmarket Borough Market and all its restaurants, bars and assorted eateries, but also the capital’s cultural touchstones that are the Tate Modern (one of the greatest modern art galleries in the world) and Shakespeare’s Globe theatre (a reconstruction of a Tudor-era playhouse that makes for a fantastic theatrical experience). Moreover, there are the iconic landmarks that are The Shard (the tallest building in the UK) and HMS Belfast, as well as the firm family-favourite venues The Clink, The London Bridge Experience and The Golden Hind. What more could you ask for?

Stroll around the irresistible Covent Garden

Finally, situated slap-bang in the centre of town, this beacon for visitors from all over the world is simply the perfect London piazza. Once the site of a major flower market and still home to the luxurious Royal Opera House (as detailed in the classic musical My Fair Lady), it also features such delights as the London Transport Museum, the London Film Museum (housing the Bond in Motion exhibition), a plethora of pristine and unique boutiquey outlets, restaurants and bars and, down neighbouring streets, at least two major West End theatres and all the shoe shops you could ever wish to visit in Neal Street. And, of course, that’s not even to mention the gaggle of street performers that delight tourists every moment of every day in the piazza itself – it’s a worth the visit just to experience their acts and antics alone!

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