We said...Where we go London when we leave the kiddos behind

Lodging
Ramada Encore London West
, moderate, 011-44-870-066-7123. We applaud the year-old encore (sorry, we couldn't resist) for its totally modern styling, above-average appointments, and pocketbook­-friendly prices. and while it's not right in town, it's about a five-minute walk to the tube.

The Sanctuary House Hotel, moderate,011-44-207-799-4044. It may not be the fanciest hotel in London, but it may be the best ­situated. Plopped between Westminster Abbey and St. James Park, and convenient to Parliament, Buckingham Palace, the mall, and the West End, to name a few, Sanctuary House is an ideal, well, sanctuary, whether your visit is for business or for pleasure.

Dining
City Spice, moderate, 011-44-207-247-1012. Of all of the indian restaurants along Brick Lane, in what they call Banglatown, we find City Spice to be the most authentic. well, foodwise, at least (the decor is a little too contempo to truly transport you). In fact, the menu includes dishes like shahi chingri bhuna (atandoori- and karahi-baked king prawn concoction that was once served to mogul emperors) that you likely won't find anywhere else in England.

Isola del Sole, moderate, 011-44-208-785-9962. If it's a romantic supper you seek, look to the italians. Specifically, Massimo Usai and Susanna Mmattana, whose menu of dreamy sardinian specialties will have you cheering "that's amore!"

Vertigo 42, moderate, 011-44-207-877-7842.
If the line for the London Eye is too long, check out the view from this classy eatery perched atop tower 42. As you peruse the panorama spread out before you, nosh on light bites like cream of cauliflower soup and tiger-prawn salad.

Attractions
Chinatown. San Francisco's got one. New York does, too. But London? Yep, hard off Leicester Square is London's own Chinatown, a cultural enclave that's ideal for a little window shopping, exotic snacking, and people watching (especially if you happen upon a spirited game of chinese chess; we've yet to figure out how it's played!).

The London Dungeon, 011-44-207-403-7221.
Madame Tussauds this ain't. Sure, it's got the lifelike historical figures, but this house of wax takes it a step further, with heart-stopping shows and special effects celebrating only the city's most ghoulish characters (Jack the Ripper) and goriest events (the bubonic plague).

Nightlife
Open Air Theatre at Regent's Park, 011-44-870-060-1811. Everyone from Vivien Leigh to Dame Judi Dench has taken the stage at this 70-year-old venue, a true staple of summer in London. The repertoire ranges from Shakespeare to stand-up.

Shopping
Harvey Nichols, 011-44-207-235-5000. Our source dubbed this Harrods’ younger, trendier neighbor, but it’s actually 22 years older than that other London shopping institution. They were right about the trendy part, though, as its 19th-century shelves are stocked with some of the 21st century’s hottest items.