The places in London that really click with us
Egerton House Hotel, very expensive, 011-44-20-7589-2412, www.egertonhousehotel.com. One of London's original boutique hotels, the Egerton has new owners, who have completely refurbished it to include flat-screen TVs, WiFi, and video iPods in all of the rooms. Happily, the Egerton's quaint locale on a quiet residential street hasn't changed.
Novotel London Tower Bridge, very expensive, 011-44-20-7265-6000, www.accorhotels.com. We don't typically recommend chain hotels, but this Accor outpost won us over with its view of the neighboring Tower of London and its proximity to St. Paul's Cathedral, the Tate Modern, Millennium Bridge, and other London landmarks. Plus, we usually manage to find some kind of deal on the room.
Beigel Bake Brick Lane Bakery, inexpensive, 011-44-20-7729-0616. We're willing to get up early for a bit of breakfast at this institution. But then, it's open 24 hours, so sometimes we go late. No matter the time, the bagels - try the smoked salmon with cream cheese - are always fresh, hot, and cheap.
St. John Bread & Wine, moderate to expensive, 011-44-20-7251-0848, www.stjohnrestaurant.co.uk. For a taste of British cooking, consider this three-year-old spot from noted chef Fergus Henderson, whose "nose-to-tail eating" features entrées - think rolled pig's spleen with bacon and smoked mackerel with cucumber and dill - that are rustic yet sophisticated.
Chelsea Physic Garden, 011-44-20-7352-5646, www.chelseaphysicgarden.co.uk. This hidden treasure along the Thames dates back to 1673, when it was founded by a society of apothecaries in order to help train apprentices to identify various medicinal herbs and plants. We still find a stroll through its lush environs quite therapeutic.
Shaker Cocktail Classes, 011-44-87-0720-2877, www.shaker-uk.com. When we think London, we think cocktails. (Sorry, pint lovers.) So London seems like the ideal place to learn to pour the perfect martini, mojito, and more - which you can do at this top bartending school's fun-filled five-hour course on crafting cocktails like the pros.