1. South Bank
First stop, Waterloo, and the pick ‘n’ mix playground that is the South Bank — a meagre 15 minutes’ march from the breakfast table. The dizzying volume of thrills here is enough to match any sugar high, with the London Eye, independent boutiques of Gabriel’s Wharf, Southbank Centre, Bernie Spain Gardens, Sea Life aquarium AND the British Film Institute just a few of the treats on offer here. And that’s not to mention the bottomless bonanza of events that take place here all year round – from exhibitions and performing arts, to Udderbelly; one of comedy’s funniest finds – all nestled right here along the River Thames.
2. Buckingham Palace
A quick two stops on the tube from Waterloo you’ll find Green Park, one of London’s many leafy lawns and residence to Her Majesty The Queen. Ok, so we’re not promising she’ll be walking the corgis round the courtyard, but spot the Royal Standard flying high and that means she’s home, so why not give her a wave from the gates while you take in the bewildering beauty of Buckingham Palace? Go one better with a mooch around The State Rooms, or feel every bit the queen bee at one of the many exhibitions, talks and recitals that take place inside the Palace throughout the year.
3. Covent Garden
From Green Park to Covent Garden, here you can expect rather more shopping and schmoozing over a coffee or a cocktail than Queenie’s carnations and conifers. Covent Garden’s the perfect pit stop for a spot of lunch; Head to the locals’ favourite, Balthazar, for a seafood platter, steak or hearty plat du jour, before refreshing with some retail therapy, a mini makeover at make-up artist to the stars, Charlotte Tilbury’s flagship emporium, and finish with a cultural journey at the London Transport Museum.
4. The National Portrait Gallery
Meander Theatreland, the cobbles of Seven Dials, Long Acre, Neal Street and down St. Martin’s Lane to the bustling Trafalgar Square, and make a beeline for the National Portrait Gallery. Room 35 houses the contemporary portraits, from paintings of soul sweetheart Amy Winehouse, to a spine-tinglingly brilliant bronze figure of world wide web inventor, Sir Tim Berners-Lee. You’ll be left wondering how on earth some of these are paint – not print – and at what point these life-like statues are going to walk straight off their plinths and join you as you discover the rest of this curiously brilliant building.
5. Plum Valley
The hunger’s setting in after all that excitement, we hear you, so it’s time to put those feet up and get those tummies ready for a treat. Sneak a look to your left from the hotel and behind those rather jazzy gates (yes those ones, right there!) sits London’s famous China Town, so make your way to Plum Valley, one of Gerrard Street’s finest feasteries, and tuck into spicy tofu, roasted mango duck breast and Korean Diver Scallops. And don’t even think about leaving without trying the lychee martini.