How best to ENjoy london
Where in London can a woman go with a few hours or days to kill? Well, comfortingly, there are a myriad of things to do since this bustling, cosmopolitan metropolis is blessed with some of the best hotels, restaurants, nightspots and sights in the world and is without a question one of the thriving cities in the business world.
Capital cities are not always the safest places to visit, especially if alone, and for a woman it can be daunting to be in unfamiliar surroundings.
Firstly, it’s worth mentioning for all the poor press coverage London gets regarding its public transport system, the city is a fairly easy place to get around provided you have a little patience, though trying to hail a black cab after midnight can be more difficult than eating soup with a fork so make alternative arrangements via your hotel if planning to make a night of it.
All important is “where to stay in London” with my “hands down” recommendation being the London Hilton in Park Lane for those on a five-star budget.
The 28-storey tower is one of the capital’s landmarks and the Hilton group flagships.
Situated in Mayfair and overlooking Hyde Park, the hotel is within easy reach of most of London’s most famous attractions and it has also recently introduced a “female only” floor that caters specifically for lone women travellers.
As well as providing a few thoughtful extra touches including additional toiletries and re-designed make-up mirrors and lighting, the Hilton also offers a high degree of security, with private check-in, discreet staff and double locks on bedroom doors.
With accommodation arranged and work finished for the day now how about a spot of shopping?
Oxford Street, even on a week day, is bubbling with life and there’s nothing like retail therapy to help wind down.
From Monday to Friday there is less of the mad rush than at the weekends and the opportunity to “browse without huge crowds” is a bonus.
This internationally-renowned street has one of the highest global concentrations of large shops with more than 300 stores selling anything and everything from inexpensive gifts to luxury items that will test even the most shock-absorbent wallets! Selfridges, John Lewis, D H Evans, House of Fraser and Debenhams are just some of the department stores that line Oxford Street as well as flagship branches of BHS, Marks and Spencer and the Burton/Top Shop group.
Finally, if looking to satisfy your musical ear, then it’s worth remembering HMV record and multimedia store at 363 Oxford Street is the oldest record shop on the planet. Just by stepping inside you’ll be treading through a piece of history. What more of an excuse to get your plastic out and hit the checkouts!
Shopping is not to everyone’s liking and perhaps to unwind a little pampering is preferred and there are few places that do it better in London than The Sanctuary.
Another “No Man” zone, it is situated in Covent Garden and offers guests unparalleled levels of personal attention and relaxation.
Describing itself as “An oasis of luxury and tranquility where self-indulgence is the only rule” The Sanctuary is the perfect antidote to the stresses of modern living and ideal to while away the hours in comfort and serenity, though advance booking is advised and ideally spend the entire day there.
Take a swimsuit and suitable footwear, but everything else is provided with robes, towels, hair and body products, all part of the complete package.
Shopping and personal pampering always provide food for thought and if you are not concerned about eating alone then London has some of the finest restaurants in the world.
Whether Italian, Chinese, French, Thai or Mongolian, the capital is awash with food from every corner of the globe.
Recently voted one of the outstanding new Italian restaurants in the capital, celebrity Chef Giorgio Locatelli’s Locanda Locatelli in Seymour Street is the epitome of fine dining and if you manage to get a table, you could find yourself rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous as well as enjoying an amazing meal.
The service is warm and attentive and even if dining alone you will feel part of one very big extended family, with Giorgio often passing amongst tables chatting with guests.
Other eateries worth trying are The Christopher in Covent Garden, The Blue Elephant in Fulham and The Good Earth in Knightsbridge, all excellent examples of their particular speciality cuisine.
For night owls, there is always the chance to grab a late night (or early morning) cappuccino at some of the 24-hour cafés and lounges around the city and a particular area worth venturing into is Fifth Street and its neighbouring Old Compton Street, both in Soho.
Famous among late night establishments and across the road from the late-night Jazz club, Ronnie Scots sits Bar Italia, a tiny coffee house in existence since 1946 and where the well known rub shoulders with the unknown. The likes of Francis Ford Coppola, Johnny Depp, Richard Gere and Kylie Minogue have all stopped to sample a coffee or two at this, one of London’s most famous “all hours” lounges.
Still using what was London’s first gas powered cappuccino machine, the coffee is a real treat and likely to give you that extra buzz if you’re not quite ready for bed, and the breakfast baguettes are also memorable.
No visit would be complete without a trip on the London Eye, with a ride on a clear evening pondering breathtaking views across the glittering city. London is also home to a wide variety of over 200 museums and galleries, including 11 national museums, 10 national trust and 10 english heritage sites.
In fact more than 20 per cent of the country’s designated collections are in the capitals with many open late so if stuck for something to do after an early dinner, there are more than enough exhibitions to satisfy all tastes.
London also offers a great number of networking opportunities with the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry often conducting events for women, so check out their website at http://www.londonchamber.co.uk to see what’s currently going on.
If you need to work on the move while in the capital an increasing number of establishments now offer wi-fi (wireless internet) connectivity, so if your laptop is equipped there is no shortage of establishments where you can set up office with a latte and a muffin and check your e-mails or surf the web.
You can dine alone in the comfort and security of your room or venture out into the night and sample the diverse cultures and multi-faceted arenas that make Europe’s premier city such an exciting place to be in. Of course safety is an issue, but if you are sensible then it will never be an issue that intrudes upon enjoyment, though never forget that just like any other city London has its good and bad spots.