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The Sunday Salon: London

It’s a quiet weekend, BUT this week I finally bough tickets for a vacation I’m planning for September. Guess where I’m going? LONDON! I haven’t been back to England in seven years, and it’s definitely time for a return trip. I’ll be there for a week, and I’m staying at the St. Giles hotel on Bedford Avenue, very close to nearly everything (it’s also a stone’s throw from this former bookshop). I’ve got ideas for the things I want to see, but I need some help: if you’ve been to London, what else do you think I should do while I’m there? I wanted to go to the V&A, the British Museum, Hatchard’s Bookshop, Persephone Bookshop, Temple Church, the Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese pub (where Samuel Johnson and Voltaire, Thackeray, and Dickens were patrons), go see a show (Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap is playing, as is Susan Hill’s The Woman in Black), and a few other places. I fell as though I won’t have enough time to get it all in!


Anonymous said…
I would recommend going to The Woman in Black, brilliant theatre experience.

If you miss The Mousetrap, you can always come back and see it, even if it's ten years later, it'll probably still be playing.

I haven't been to London for yonks, but you should go to the Tate Modern or Tate Britain. Hell both.

Also, if you're a fan of comics then pop along to Gosh!
Teresa said…
Oh, London. I could go there every year and not get tired of it.

For cheap theatre tickets, the TKTs booth in Leicester Square is great. Just queue up shortly before 10:00 am, and you'll get great seats at half price. I think they've had Woman in Black available every time I've gone (although some other show has always caught my eye instead).

I'm a big fan of London Walks ( They do great walking tours that often take you into parts of London where you wouldn't think to go, and they provide great bits of information along the way. No need to book in advance--just show up at the tube station where their brochure says to meet with cash in hand.

And there are lots of great book bargains to be had at the South Bank Book Fair, under Waterloo bridge.
Anonymous said…
I'm so jealous. I studied in London and loved every minute - a part of my heart is still over there. :) I second the previous suggestions (particularly the Tate Modern and Britain), but also:

While I knew very little about good food while living there, I do know that I always enjoyed eating at Cafe in the Crypt at St. Martin-in-the-Fields (on Trafalgar Square). It was such an interesting dining atmosphere.

Try to catch an Evensong service at Westminster Abbey. What a beautiful and non-touristy way to experience the Abbey. The music is always lovely.

If you are willing to dedicate a day for a short day trip, head to Hampton Court Palace. It is wonderfully well-kept, and the gardens are gorgeous.

If you want some literary stops, both Samuel Johnson and Charles Dickens' London homes have been made into museums and are worth checking out. Also, aside from some really striking architecture, The British Library has a not-to-be-missed permanent (and free!) exhibit. Magna Carta, Gutenberg Bible, Shakespeare folios, and lots more.

Sorry this got so long. I get excited when talking about London. :)
Color Online said…
Wish you a great trip.
Marg said…
Jealous, jealous, jealous! I really wish that I could go again but it is going to be a while for me! I'll just have to live vicariously through you! Enjoy your planning!
Meghan said…
I love London, but I've only been to the big touristy places, so I don't have any cool suggestions for you. I'd echo the British Library suggestion, though, it's a fantastic place for someone who loves books and history.

- Meghan @ Medieval Bookworm
Ted said…
Having just returned, check out 3 shows: War Horse, Le Clic, and A Duet for One are all supposed to be amazing. Go to the Sir John Soane Museum too, it's fantastic. I really like the London Review of Books bookshop right near the British Museum.
debnance said…
I can only imagine how wonderful London is. I would spend many, many hours in bookshops. Any bookshop. All bookshops.

Have a lovely trip!
Jenn said…
Ditto to the Cafe in the Crypt at St. Martin-in-the-fields. Delicious, affordable & unique exprience. The brass rubbing there creates an interesting souvenir too.

I also loved the V&A, we went on one of the evenings when they turned the foyer into a cafe/club with music and drinks. I believe that happens once a month. It's a very cool way spend an evening, but they had roped off quite a few exhibits that we had wanted to see so a daytime visit is also in order.

So many choices for great theatre- we loved Wicked and bought tickets for a good price directly from the theatre box office near Victoria Station.

I wish I had been organized enough to book entry to the Ceremony of the keys at the Tower- it's free, but you need to request an invitation at least two months prior. Sigh, perhaps on my next trip.
Anonymous said…
Lucky you! I've never been but would like to one day! - Stephanie
Definitely plan to see the Ceremony of the Keys at the Tower of London -- the tickets are free but have to be ordered by mail in advance, so do it now! Here's a link with all the information:

And try to experience Westminster Abbey on a Wednesday evening (when the abbey stays open till 7 p.m., last admission at 6 p.m.)You can almost feel the ghosts, it's really magical.

Afterwards, you could always continue the Susanna Kearsley Tradition and stroll down to the river at Westminster Bridge, take a seat on a bench and sit watching the lights come on all down the Thames in the evening -- it's what my family used to do every night when I first visited London as a 10-year old, and I still love to do it.

Another favourite stop for me is the Temple Church, if only to pay my respects to William Marshall's tomb.

And bring an empty suitcase for the books you'll find while trolling the second-hand shops around Charing Cross Road...:-)
Maw Books said…
How fun! Do you have room in your suitcase for a stowaway?

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