London, England

The Capital of Britain

London, England

The Capital of Britain

When considering the best cities in the world, London is one of my personal favorites: It’s easy to navigate, it’s filled with history, and your options are numerous. London is also multicultural, with visitors from around the world, including its 15 Sovereign Commonwealths and 54 independent member countries. And many of them actually live in London. For example, more than 200.000 Australians live in London, and the city attracts thousands of tourists from Australia every year because flights from Australia to London can be found at reasonable prices. London has many places to stay and things to do.

The London 2012 Games increased focus here. Games and activities were held in Hyde Park, Lord’s Cricket Ground and Wimbledon, among others. And the new Olympic facilities in East London, including the Olympic Stadium and Aquatics Centre, have a legacy of new ways to use the space. And Business travelers are likely to know ExCeL and Earl’s Court (two of London’s large exhibition centers) where some of the Games will also take place.

It’s obvious that a day in London is too short to get to know the British capital. Most people will spend several days here. Tthe upside is that if you’ve visited London once, you’ll probably find yourself returning to London again. There’s a lot to see and do in London, and it’s easy to get around using the Tube (get an Oyster Card at any station), taxis or trekking the the streets. Tristar Chauffeur and Green Tomato Cars provide excellent private transfer services.

Here are some things to do if you have time to explore on your own or wish to extend your business travel for day, consider the following travel tips for 24 hours in London:

  1. Walk the City. London is just one of those cities where you can find yourself walking from one neighborhood in central London to the next and not be bored. Wear a good pair of walking shoes because can cover ground from Victoria/Westminster to Bloomsbury to Mayfair to Knightsbridge. And you can check off a good number of activities along the way. My typical routine is to walk any city upon arrival and just before I depart. When in London, I often begin my visit by walking from one end of Green Park (Wellington Arch) to the other end of St. James’s Park (Horse Guards Road) and back. I also try to find time to relax in Hyde Park. But thee following highlights how you can also incorporate this into your day in London.
  2. Go to the Theatre. Since you’re in London, chances are you’ll want to buy discount theatre tickets to a great show in London’s West End or Theatreland. The spot to do this is in Leicester Square, and people line up in the morning at Tkts, the official ticket by the Society of London Theatre. There are more than two dozen long running shows here, and a quick search on the Tkts site provides more than 250 show result for London. If you arrive to the Tkts booth in the afternoon or early evening, you’ll still be able to get tickets, but the options tend to be limited. So, if there’s a specific performance you absolutely don’t want to miss, purchase them in advance. Otherwise, you can save a reasonable amount of money here.
  3. Visit One of London’s Attractions and Museums. If you’re interested in London culture, you have thousands of options. For example, if museums are your interest, there are more than 300 museums in the city. There are historic houses, iconic buildings, landmarks and more. Top London attractions where we’ve been and suggest you work on checking off your list include the following:
    • Big Ben and Parliament
    • British Museum
    • Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace
    • Kensington Palace
    • London Eye
    • Shakespeare’s Globe
    • Southbank Centre
    • Tower of London
    • Vinopolis
    • Westminster Abbey
    • Wimbledon Museum
  4. Shop in London. London offers some of the best shopping in the world, and there’s a full range of options that is certain to please anyone. It’s best to combine the idea of walking London, shopping in the city, and stopping for lunch in a pub or experiencing high tea at one of the city’s finer hotels or stores at the same time. You have several options as to which direction you want to go, depending on the kind of experience you want. If you’re looking for a small, hidden spot in London where you can feel like you have the shops all to yourself, go to Shepherds Market in Mayfair (ask you concierge for directions). If you’re a power shopper, you can manage to check off — and bring home gifts. Top shopping choices for London include:
  5. Sports in London. If shopping and theatre aren’t for you, London is really a sports city — something that the 2012 Games will remind us about. You’ll have plenty of choices if you’re interested in playing — you can rent bikes or play golf. If you’re more of a spectator, you have many choices. Places where I’ve been (and they’re also great meeting and special event venues) include:
  6. London at Night. London is a lively city, so feel free to head out to the pubs, restaurants and nightlife of the city. Depending on your interests, go ahead and ask for suggestions that will specifically interest you from your concierge. One spot I find myself heading to along the way is The Casino at the Empire when I’m in London. Here, you’ll have two floors of gaming, but there are also nightclubs upstairs that are open on the weekend. And I usually end my evenings at the lobby bar of my hotel; it’s a great way to relax or simply strike up a brief conversation with other hotel guests who may also be there.
  7. Find a Hotel in London. London has more than 1,000 hotels to consider, but the key to maximizing your time is to find a great hotel in London that is centrally located so that it is easier to get around the city. The most convenient neighborhoods are those circled within the boundaries of central London, including Victoria, Westminster, the West End, Bloomsbury, Covent Garden & Strand, Mayfair and Knightsbridge. London hotels (reflecting a variety of hotel categories) where I have stayed include:
    • InterContinental Park Lane
    • The Waldorf Hilton
    • The Royal Horseguards
    • Chesterfield Mayfair
    • Hilton Green Park

    Other hotels that I have toured worthy of your consideration include:

    • The Athenaeum
    • The Cumberland
    • Sheraton Park Tower
    • Hotel Sofitel London Hethrow (Terminal 5)

  • <b>British Museum In London</b> British Museum In London
  • <b>An Afternoon in St. James Park</b> An Afternoon in St. James Park
  • <b>Royal Opera House in London</b> Royal Opera House in London
  • <b>London Eye at Night</b> London Eye at Night One of the most popular activities in London is to ride the London Eye. It provides a spectacular view of the city both by day and night, but it also offers a range of special event options. Check out how the capsule can be used to host a private dinner (London Restaurant Festival 2009). Photo courtesy of visitlondonimages.com.
  • <b>London Leicester Square</b> London Leicester Square
  • <b>London Taxi</b> London Taxi
  • <b>Covent Garden in London</b> Covent Garden in London
  • <b>London Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace</b> London Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace People gather throughout the day to see Buckingham Palace where "Changing of the Guard" is a formal ceremony everyone wants to see. This is the site where you can find the actual times and dates: www.royal.gov.uk/G. Photo courtesy of visitlondonimages / britainonview.
  • <b>Shakespeare’s Globe in London</b> Shakespeare’s Globe in London
  • <b>Hethrow Express to Paddington Station in London</b> Hethrow Express to Paddington Station in London Want to get from the airport to a spot in central London without paying the high price of taxis or private car services -- yet avoid taking the Tube to every stop? The Hethrow Express is the way to do it. In 15 minutes you can travel from the airport to Paddington Station, an then take a black taxi to your hotel or final destination from there. Photo courtesy of visitlondonimages / britainonview / Pawel Libera.
  • <b>Southbank on the River Thames in London</b> Southbank on the River Thames in London
  • <b>Wimbledon Museum</b> Wimbledon Museum
  • <b>Picaddilly Circus in London</b> Picaddilly Circus in London This is a spot where people will converge in central London during the day and at night. Photo courtesy of visitlondonimages/ britainonview / Pawel Libera.
  • <b>Empire Casino in London</b> Empire Casino in London
  • <b>Hard Rock Cafe on Park Lane</b> Hard Rock Cafe on Park Lane
  • <b>London Sightseeing Tours</b> London Sightseeing Tours
  • <b>Queen Victory Statue at Kensington Palace</b> Queen Victory Statue at Kensington Palace Photo: © 2009 Rob Hard
  • <b>Kensington Palace</b> Kensington Palace Located in Hyde Park, Kensington Palace dates back to the 17th century. Visit the shops, see the garden and enjoy its famous cafe, the Orangery. A range of special events are also hosted here. Kensington Palace was the former home of Lady Diana and Queen Victoria. Photo: © 2009 Rob Hard
  • <b>Kensington House Garden in London</b> Kensington House Garden in London Photo: © 2009 Rob Hard
  • <b>National Gallery in London</b> National Gallery in London Located in Trafalgar Square. Photo: © 2011 Rob Hard
  • <b>InterContinental Park Lane Guest Room</b> InterContinental Park Lane Guest Room My king size bed was amazing. Photo: © Rob Hard
  • <b>Trafalgar Square in London</b> Trafalgar Square in London
  • <b>Junior Suite at InterContinental Park Lane in London</b> Junior Suite at InterContinental Park Lane in London
  • <b>The Wellington Arch in London’s St. James Park</b> The Wellington Arch in London’s St. James Park
  • <b>London Wimbledon Tennis</b> London Wimbledon Tennis
  • <b>Vinopolis Brew Wharf in London</b> Vinopolis Brew Wharf in London
  • <b>London Vinopolis Wine Tour</b> London Vinopolis Wine Tour
  • <b>London Shopping on Bond Street</b> London Shopping on Bond Street
  • <b>Borough Market in London</b> Borough Market in London
  • <b>Wellinton Arch</b> Wellinton Arch
  • <b>Shepherds Market in London</b> Shepherds Market in London
  • <b>Fortnum and Mason in London</b> Fortnum and Mason in London
  • <b>London Royal Horseguards</b> London Royal Horseguards Photo: © 2008 Rob Hard
  • <b>Harrods in London</b> Harrods in London A shopping and dining paradise under one roof. Photo: © 2008 Rob Hard

If you’re looking for help with planning your visit, Visit London is the official London guide, and London and Partners is available to help meeting professionals.

Rob is editor of Business Travel Destinations. He was voted among the top 10 business travel bloggers by USA TODAY 10Best. Rob reviews international destinations for meetings and events -- where business travelers go, the hotels where they stay and their lifestyle preferences on the road. He spent more than a decade planning hundreds of corporate events throughout the U.S. for a Fortune 50 company, including meetings, conferences, seminars, executive retreats and other special events. Rob was previously the event planning guide for About.com (owned by The New York Times Company) from 2007 - 2011. His articles have appeared in business travel publications and travel sites internationally.