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An Outsiders Guide to London

Sometimes getting the opinion of an outsider will give you a better perspective of what is good in London for first time visitors and what to avoid. Here is some great advice from across the pond.

An Americans Guide to London:

Hailing from Washington, DC, my husband and I just returned from a year working in London. A friend asked us where to stay and eat with just 48 hours in London. We’ve selected our “splurge” and “steal” must-eat favourites:

Where to stay? In our opinion, Covent Garden is the ideal, central location from which to springboard to the rest of London. If you are up for some walking, you can go by foot to Buckingham Palace, passing through Piccadilly, and circle back by Westminster Abbey, Parliament, Big Ben, and Trafalgar Square. Splurge: Covent Garden Hotel is nestled in Sevel Dials—across the street from Monmouth Coffee, the best in London, and Orla Kiely for your women’s shopping fix—providing the perfect luxury stay. It is an ideal hotel where you won’t have to worry about checking for bed bugs or any other problems found in low budget venues. Don’t be surprised to see some celebrities, as this hotel does not sacrifice impeccable accoutrements for discretion. Steal: Grosvenor House, LSE Accommodation offers the best deal in central London. Don’t plan to spend much time in your room; it’s not much to look at, but is clean and all about the location. Be sure to visit during the summer, as rooms are occupied by LSE graduate students September through June.

Breakfast–Standard Fare: Bill’s, tucked away in Covent Garden, off Long Acre. The perfect start to the day is walking Covent Garden’s boutique-lined streets in the morning light before the day’s designer crowds descend on the cobbled streets. Steal: Grab a pan au chocolat at the corner Tesco or Sainsbury’s.

Lunch– Splurge: Scott’s in Mayfair. Exquisite seafood for a fine dining experience. Be sure to try to “chocolate bomb” for dessert. Steal: Borough Market. It’s difficult to decide which delicacy to munch as you stroll through rows of olives and farm fresh produce—from berry-glazed duck sandwiches to stilton burgers there is something to please everyone. Recommend arriving around 11am.

Dinner– Splurge: Tasting menu at Gordon Ramsay’s Maze. Pleasantly large portions; reasonably priced by London standards. Stroll through Selfridges around the corner before settling in for a culinary adventure. Steal: Great Queen Street, on an eponymous street between Holborn and Covent Garden tube stations, offers British homestyle food at its best. The menu changes daily; just ask your server his recommendations. Potted shrimp, meat pies, and a leg of lamb for six.

Where to find the best fish and chips? We’re glad you asked. Splurge: The Ivy offers the best in town. The mint mushy peas make this a dish for the stars. Steal: Rock and Sole Plaice near Seven Dials (Covent Garden tube) is especially perfect on a sunny day—sit outside on the street and people watch while enjoying your freshly fried fish and homemade sauce.

Happy travels and best wishes for a lovely holiday.

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