This large conurbation we've just entered, could it be London?
July 26, 2012 7:42 PM   Subscribe

London - best time to go this autumn, best area to stay close to the British Museum, favorite second-hand clothes stores, favorite museums (of ANY sort), absolute Musts of a non-touristy sort (my boundaries: changing of the guards is OUT, High Tea somewhere lovely is IN). Bonus: great guided walks. Bonus bonus: can I get in to the taping of a BBC radio/TV comedy/panel show?

This lifelong Britophile is finally going to spend a week in England this year for her birthday. Huzzah!

Most of my planned activities are easy enough to pick for myself - a few days at the British Museum, an afternoon in Kensington Gardens and/or Regent's Park, a weekend visit to Notting Hill - but for others it would be nice to hear from fellow travellers and locals.
Note: don't need any restaurant recommendations as I'm quite looking forward to noshing on a big bag of groceries from Marks & Sparks, but I would like to indulge in fish and chips in a twist as often as possible.

1. Timing. Luckily my vacation time is after the Olympics are over. I can go either two weeks after the Olympics, or three weeks after. Does a week either way make a difference as long as they're over?

2. Location. I'm leaning towards Bayswater/Paddington as being affordable and within an hour's walk of my three target activities (an hour's walk is a pleasant vacation activity for me). If that's not a great choice, let me know! I also see Bloomsbury/Soho, Victora/Westminster, Hampstead/Camden Town, and Kensington/Earl's Court.

3. Second-hand clothes shops. My favorite kind of souvenirs are second-hand clothes; they've lived a while in the city and remind me of it whenever I wear them. I'll be using the Charity Retail site and this TimeOut article to look up shops, but are there any great areas/shops I shouldn't miss? I'm not looking so much for vintage as for everyday stuff.

4. Museums. Britain is home to more museums than I could shake a stick at in a year and I've only got a week. I'm assuming at least 2-3 days of that will be taken up by the British Museum (I am very museumy). Are there any of your favorite beautiful, weird, wonderful, amazing museums that shouldn't be missed? Art, oddities, history, culture, I'm open to pretty much everything.

5. High Tea. There's a lot of choice, but I'd want deliciousness to be the first consideration, and a place where I could be comfortable with a book and respectable but not fancy traveling clothes.

6. Bonus round: Walks! Secret London has a bounty of do-it-yourself walks, but I'd love to take one or more guided walks. London Walks has a dizzying variety of choice, even when I look at specific dates - any recommendations? I'd also heard of a walk that goes into the old city buried under London (which may or may not be considered as part of subterranean London), but I can't seem to find it now. London walks has one that does it from ground level ("Underneath you is something interesting, too bad you can't see it muah-haha!"), but it's not available when I'm there and I want to actually go down and see the real thing, be it the buried city and/or part of subterranean London.

7. Double Bonus Round! I love all British radio/TV panel shows, comedy shows, literary readings and adaptions - I still listen to Bleak Expectations on a regular basis because it is FANTASTIC, adore QI, Just a Minute, Would I Lie to You.... just everything. How possible would it be to try to get into a live taping of, well, anything? That would really be a fantastic birthday present... the only reason it's low on this list is because it's probably a pipe dream, but you gotta have a dream.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit to Travel & Transportation around London, England (35 answers total) 39 users marked this as a favorite

If you want to get your food seriously on, don't miss the Borough Market. And don't fill up on the first thing you see... it goes on for blocks, and it's full of ready-to-eat deliciousness (including ,but nowhere near limited to, fish and chips... think more like duck confit, scallop cups, and the best grilled cheese in the world) so look around before you make your choices.
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:05 PM on July 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

I loved going on the Fat Tire Bike Tour. I've been to both the Royal Tour and the River Thames tour, but I recommend the Royal tour if it's your first time in London. Easy biking, great atmosphere, and you can visit many of the major tourist spots in one day.

I often stay in the Arran House Hotel, which is basically like staying in a dorm room. Very tiny room, and shared bath/toilet, but it's very cheap and it was more than enough for me. It's within walking distance of the British Museum. There are several small hotels like this in the area.
posted by xmts at 8:29 PM on July 26, 2012

If you're looking for a smaller museum, Sir John Soane's Museum is a wonderfully quirky place. For some social history with your art, see the Foundling Museum. The new British Library in St. Pancras always has interesting exhibits on.

London Walks: I've been on the Jack the Ripper, Ghost, and Darkest Victorian London walks (hmmm, I seem to be doing the gore thing). All great fun, and you get an interesting mix of people walking about with you.

Hotels: In previous stays, I've spent at least part of my time at the Imperial Hotel in Russell Square (a few steps away from the British Museum). It's comfortable enough, although be aware that a single is about the size of a large closet. At the very least, I sleep there the first night & then move on to a University of London dorm. This site, aimed at academics, has all sorts of links to budget hotels/dorms/b&bs/etc.

(Also, I do hope you plan on a night out at the theatre!)
posted by thomas j wise at 9:28 PM on July 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

1) I'd opt for as long after the Olympics as possible, but then I think it seems like a bit of a nightmare.

2) Those all sound like good areas to me. London is an awesome city to walk around in. I am also a fan of walking around a lot on vacations, and when in London I generally picked a target (shop/museum/restaurant) and then wandered in that direction checking out other stuff along the way.

4) If you like more modern art then the Tate Modern. I've gone there every time I've been in London (3 times so far, I really like London) and loved it every time. Plus then you can take a nice walk by the Thames, and pick a bridge to cross over back into central London.

Also, this may be covered in the other threads, but packaged sandwiches in cafes, groceries, and drugstores are all shockingly to this American at least good and cheap. It's possible that some days I ate sandwiches for all 3 meals. Maybe.
posted by grapesaresour at 9:59 PM on July 26, 2012

I'm not sure what your budget is, but when I was in London we stayed at the Radisson Edwardian Kenilworth. It is right across the street from the British Museum and a block or so away from the Tottenham Court Road tube stop.
posted by SisterHavana at 10:02 PM on July 26, 2012

I can go either two weeks after the Olympics, or three weeks after. Does a week either way make a difference as long as they're over?

The Paralympics runs from August 29th-September 9th, which covers both weeks. Won't be as big, but London will still very much be in Olympic mode; I have friends there who are more excited about the tickets they have for those events than the main games, and there'll be ones going spare. Conversely, cheap accommodation may be hard to find, and things like university dorms are being used for the Games.

August 27th is the late summer bank holiday; the Notting Hill Carnival is on the 26th and 27th. Term starts on September 4th for most London state schools.

How possible would it be to try to get into a live taping of, well, anything?

BBC tickets here: nothing listed yet for September. Indie TV stuff here. Be warned that it may be a bit sparse for panel/comedy stuff, as most of the regulars will be at Edinburgh for the Fringe until the end of August, then recovering from it.
posted by holgate at 10:12 PM on July 26, 2012

If you love fashion, costume, fabric, hats or sewing, Threads magazine just had an excellent spread (July 2012 Number 161 issue) on how to see the best of this in London, sorry not online. It includes the suggestion of booking a tour at Angels the Costumers who have outfitted UK film, theatre and tv since 1840. So as a British TV fan, you can go take a 90 minute tour! Max group 12...
posted by chapps at 10:35 PM on July 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

I was just in London. Highlights were two really well-put together science museums, surprisingly, called the Hunterian Museum (anatomy, across the park from the Soane which underwhelmed) and the Wellcome Collection (nearish to King's Cross). And they were both free.
The Hunterian is also connected to a small hotel called Nuffield Accomodation, which has weekend discounts and was really nice.
posted by tooloudinhere at 11:32 PM on July 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

The Victoria and Albert Museum is great if you're into Stuff (furniture, home goods, etc.). Sir John Soane's Museum is fantastic, and I'm also seconding the British Library (make sure to check out their permanent display of important stuff on paper from the Magna Carta to Beatles lyrics).

I can recommend staying near the British Museum- there's quite a few cheapish hotels in Bloomsbury and you're reasonably central. Also, you can soak in as much museum as you want since it will be convenient (and it's free)! London is fantastic for wandering, especially if you're into history. You pretty much stumble over old interesting things every few blocks without even trying. I've walked from Trafalgar Square over to the City and back along Southbank and it's a nice way to spend a day. (Central) London is very walkable!

As to Hight Tea, make sure you book well in advance if you want to go to one of the classic fancy hotel teas.
posted by MadamM at 11:38 PM on July 26, 2012

Last time I was in London I signed up in advance for tickets to the "Ceremony of the Keys" (nightly locking up of the Tower of London). It was a really nice guided walk explaining a tradition that has been going on every night - for about 700 years!

As the site mentions you have to send away for free tickets in advance, but I thought it was a nice and special thing to do.
posted by alchemist at 12:28 AM on July 27, 2012

sro audiences do free tickets for many of the panel shows. Register for the shows in which you're interested and they will email you when tickets are available.

High tea at the Petersham Hotel in Richmond is lovely, as is the walk up to the hotel from the train station (along the Thames, past the remains of Henry VIII's summer palace). You could continue on to Richmond Park to see the deer, to make an afternoon of it.
posted by goo at 1:02 AM on July 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you want to stay in Bloomsbury, there a great little Cartoon Museum right on Little Russell Street, which is a good palate refresher in between Big Serious Museum sessions. However, I would really recommend you go east to Spitalfields and try Denis Sever's House. This is less a museum than a sort of time warp- the idea is that you've just walked into a Huguenot silk weavers' house in the early 1700s, and the inhabitants are still there, but just out of sight- you can smell their food cooking, there is a still-smoking pipe on the table, you get the picture. The whole place was not done by a historical society, but Mr. Severs, an American gentleman who came through in the 1980s and fell in love with Spitalfields. Then I would either have a slightly pricey but very good, very english lunch at St John's Bread and Wine or Rochelle Canteen, or a cheap-o lunch at Spitalfields Market, or if it's Sunday, the food stalls at Brick Lane Market.
posted by Concordia at 1:04 AM on July 27, 2012

For vintage:

-Whitechapel/Shoreditch/Bethnal Green

You need to go to Beyond Retro on Cheshire Street (just off Brick Lane) and also Absolute Vintage on Hanbury Street. Large, warehouse-sized places with tons of cheap (around £15) dresses and £20-35 shoes. Beyond Retro also loans out costumes and period pieces so it is a really fun afternoon of rooting around. Plus there are lots of other smaller vintage shops on the way, in the area (three on Cheshire Street at least that I can remember, another three or four on Brick Lane, and I would really recommend a quick step inside The Laden Showroom, which is not particuarly vintage but stocks all the local indie designers and some of their stuff is SUPER great - I have a coat from there that always gets at least three compliments per wear, and it is stunning. As a bonus, the kickass Duke of Uke has moved close to BR now and is totally worth a look and if you can, get a curry from one of the 120 curry houses on Brick Lane. YUM.

- Camden

Camden has ten charity shops in a row on the High Street that are also pretty great. It's more pricey than in the east but is still worth a look and woah, how I miss being pulsed along in throngs of goths, scene kids, crusties and every other subculture you can imagine from every angle.


-The Wellcome Collection is Henry Wellcome's personal collection of objects and artefacts, including 'diagnostic dolls and Japanese sex aids, Napoleon's toothbrush and George III's hair'. Really worth visiting.
-Dennis Server's House is a real oddity, the tour of the rooms from different time periods includes a game of trying to interrupt a family of elusive Huguenot silk weavers. An experience!
-The Saatchi Gallery created by fervent supporter of YBA's Charles Saatchi, is a really refreshing, challenging, beautiful gallery
-The Natural History Museum is a must see if only for the Harryhausen-like animatronic T-rex and attending dinosaurs, but the Darwin Centre, full of formaldehyde specimens and stuffed animals
-The Horniman Museum is really wonderful and has a wide, seemingly disconnected set of displays, but is in Forest Hill, which is about an hour away from central. Just to put it out there though.

For high tea:

- The Ritz is the classic choice and having spent my own 26th birthday being charmed off my feet with cucumber sandwiches and scones and a very thorough compendium of teas there, I can attest it is fantastic. But you must be 'properly attired' (blazer and tie for gentlemen - don't worry, they have a room full of jackets a ties to loan to patrons for this if they're without!). Oh and no mobile phones.

-As an alternative, something that might be fun is the Montagu at Hyatt Regency London, while I was there they'd just launched a Winston Churchill Afternoon Tea, featuring some of his favourite treats: cheese on toast, crumpets, mini shepherd's pie, trifle, treacle tart and chocolate éclairs. They finish the tea with a hand-rolled cigar and offer a boozy tea to go with it. This is something I'm really bummed I never got to do before I left!


-If you book ahead, you can get a guided tour of Highgate cemetary (which is not otherwise open to the public), where Douglas Adams, George Eliot, Karl Marx, Lucian Freud and Alexander Litvinenko are buried (amongst other really famous and notable persons).

Happy happy birthday, this is going to be amazing! Drop back in and let us know what you got up to!
posted by everydayanewday at 1:04 AM on July 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

There's not much showing on the BBC Studio Audiences site (linked by holgate), but get on the email list. I've had about a 50% success rate in getting tickets for radio recordings.

Seconding Dennis Severs's House, Highgate Cemetery, Foundling Museum, British Library exhibitions, and adding The Old Operating Museum and Herb Garret - tiny but fascinating.

I know you didn't ask about walk books and I have mentioned these here before - but the two Time Out books of London walks are a really good read even if you don't do the walks. Vol 1, Vol 2.
posted by paduasoy at 2:32 AM on July 27, 2012

Seconding everydaynewday's suggestions. I recommend staying in Russell Square, which, as a Londoner, I think is much nicer than Bayswater and definitely more convenient; from there you can easily walk a few minutes to the British Museum, up to King's Cross, down to Holborn or Soho.

I know you asked for suggestions for tea (the Ritz is meant to be the best, as everydaynewday said), but I made some pub suggestions here.

Areas you should check out that you might have overlooked in travel books:

Clerkenwell and Farringdon -- historic Smithfields Market, gorgeous Exmouth Market, Italian cafes, headquarters of the Monastic Order of the Knights Hospitallers of St John of Jerusalem
Maida Vale -- Little Venice
Greenwich -- National Maritime Museum, interesting architecture, Old Royal Observatory
Shoreditch -- Brick Lane curry houses, vintage shopping, live music, medieval St Augustin's Tower, Geffrye Museum, Abney Park Cemetery
posted by toerinishuman at 3:48 AM on July 27, 2012

If you're only here for a week I wouldn't spend more than one day at the British museum. You can spend that day wandering around Bloomsbury too. It's best to pick an area and just max out on it that for the day, picking just a couple of thing you definitely want to see and just wandering between them.

Also, things are weirdly close together so don't be afraid to walk, eg Tate Modern is ten minutes from St Paul's over the Millenium Bridge but it'd take ages to there via the tube.


The City: St Paul's, Fleet Street, Museum of London, The Guildhall, Bank

The South bank:Tate Modern, National Theatre, South Bank centre, the Globe etc

Bloomsbury/Holborn: British Museum, Inns of Court (Lincoln's Inn), John Soanes Museum, Hunterian, Covent garden

South Kensington: the V&A, Science Museum and Nat. History Museum, Harrods/Kinightbridge, Horseguard's parade, the Serpentine etc in Hyde Park in the other.

Tourist central: Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace and gardens, National Portrait Gallery, Piccadilly Circus, Leicester Square, Pall Mall

The near East: Liverpool Street, Spitalfields Market, Shoreditch high Street, Brick lane.

Also: Fish and chips in a 'twist' may not be available the way you're imagining. You'll be able to get fries anywhere but proper old style fish and chip shops are thinner on the ground in the centre. Have fun!
posted by freya_lamb at 5:36 AM on July 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

Thanks so much everyone!
(but please keep 'em coming ;)

After playing around with the travel fare calendar, I've moved my vacation to mid-September, which is a bit cheaper and misses both sets of Olympics (thanks for the heads-up!)
Pity Arran house is booked solid through September, drat. Radisson blu is a bit above my price range. I'm falling hard for the Kensington Gardens Hotel though.

Adding to my must-do list (aieee only seven days!)

- Fat Bike Tour. 100% percent I must do this!
- Sir John Soane's Museum (I'd forgotten about this gem)
- London Walks gruesome-flavor (which would have been my choice without input, I love ghost walks)
- Everything recommended by Concordia and everydayanewday, time allowing.
- I've already started applying for tickets through SRO, thanks goo!
- I'll be checking out those walk books, those would be lovely to have for the trip and then to re-read to remember after.

The areas recommeded by toerinishuman and freya_lamb are exactly what I wanted for wandering days.

So basically, everyone is a best answer (but I won't mark just yet because I want more more more! :)
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 5:51 AM on July 27, 2012

While I did not take tea there, I noted that the British Museum offers a tea in the cafe at the top of the central round "room". That might be convenient for you and they wouldn't expect super fancy dress while you're being touristy.
I enjoyed the Victoria and Albert museum as well! It's got a variety of things to see - wish I had gotten a guide to focus my browsing.
I did a few London Walks and would definitely do more next time. I, too, spent a great deal of time walking the city. Wish I could go back! Have fun!
posted by LilBit at 5:55 AM on July 27, 2012

LilBit, I love you.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 6:42 AM on July 27, 2012

Can I suggest a trip to Richmond/Twickenham.

It being out in the suburbier bits means that you can get Fish n Chips there. (There is a pretty good traditional lshop in nearby st margarets and many in Twickenham. I'm sure there are some in Richmond itself, but I can't quite think where now) also lots of classic British Pubs
You can visit the park and see the herds of deer. You can take a rowing boat around the Thames or take a boat (or other transport) down to Hampton Court Palace.

It's London, but a different side of London and might give you an interesting contrast to the middlier bits.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 7:19 AM on July 27, 2012

Additionally, I will look into getting you BBC tickets of some sort.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 7:20 AM on July 27, 2012

I love this place for fish and chips. It's right opposite Spitalfields market and close to Brick Lane/Shoreditch.
posted by Summer at 8:16 AM on July 27, 2012

My mother and I went to tea at the Savoy - which she had been thinking about for years, having read about it somewhere (it was always the Savoy she'd heard of, though Brits tell my the Ritz is more famous). It was very expensive (L45 each), and it was so much fun we would do it again in a flash. I was worried that we would feel out of place, but it turns out that most of the people at the Savoy for high tea aren't rich, they are regular people there for a special occasion (birthday, anniversary, etc). The staff, however, treat you like you might know the Queen. Now they have a short film online about it.

That said, it was definitely a fancy afternoon tea - if you want to do a cream tea or more casual afternoon tea, you may want to try somewhere more like the British Museum.

all of the National Museums in London - the British Museum, The National Gallery, The National Portrait Gallery, The Victoria and Albert, the Museum of London, etc, etc - are FREE, and some of the best museums I have ever been to in my life. I especially like the British Gallery at the British Museum and the Museum of London.

I've never heard of an underground/buried London tour - most of London is pretty low (and historically large parts were wetlands). Could you be thinking of the tours of the buried bits of Edinburgh?

That said, I really liked the "Secret London" London Walks tour - Tuesday morning, I believe. Sort of a less haunted, but hidden stuff tour - and we visited Ely Place, one of my favorite bits of London.

if you're not opposed to hostels, the Oxford Street YHA Hostel (where my mother and I stayed) is worn at the heels, but clean and cheerful and very close to the British Museum. I have heard that the St Pancras YHA has recently been renovated - that's a lot more convenient to King's Cross and for the Tube, and only a few minutes further away from the BM. We loved having a kitchen - so much easier and cheaper to make our own breakfasts and lunches and only go out sometimes for dinner.
posted by jb at 8:55 AM on July 27, 2012

Museums - the Museum of Branding and Packaging, the Tate Modern and the National Portrait Gallery are all great. You MUST go to the V+A if you have an interest in history, art, design or costuming. I love it. The gift shop is great for presents.

Second-hand - I'm afraid London isn't the best part of the country for this, ebcause people know the value of vintage and places have been picked clean by BLOODY HIPSTERS.

I would recommend Golder's Green (don't go on the Jewish Sabbath) and Hammersmith as good hunting grounds. Hammersmith Traid in particular has some good vintage clothing - Traid specialises in reselling clothing and I've always found something when I've been to one of their shops. If you can find a car-boot sale while you're here, you might find interesting trinkets. There are a lot of vintage shops around Covent Garden, and Fara Retromania near Victoria is really well-priced and just fun to look around. Also - don't have time to link just now - check out the blog Faith, Hope and Charity Shopping, she gives a rundown to places in Streatham. (The Trinity Hospice shop there is very jumble-sale like and has some cool vintage items on display - sadly not to buy).

I can't help you with hotels really but MrMippy#s parents stayed in Greenwich which is lovely and has cool markets/cafes nearby. However, it's not totally close to everything, even if you can take the river boat (do this, it's great). I work near Bloomsbury and there are a lot of hotels nearby, plus a short walk or tube ride to Covent Garden and the V+A etc. Nearby is The Fryer#s Delight, an excellent fish and chip shop. There#s a lot of small squares for sandwich eating - one of which has a bust of Virginia Woolf. The Dickens museum is nearby if that's your thing. There's also a small Tesco, a Pret A Manger and a large Waitrose (the supermarket foodies here love).

High Tea - do you mean afternoon tea or somewhere to sit with a cafe? I took my mum for afternoon tea to the Wolseley, it was about £20 and she absolutely loved it. Maison Bertaux in Soho is a long established cafe (I should go back there as last time I was there I got dumped and was brought my hot chocolate by a very sympathetic waitress). The Ritz is expensive. There's also Yauatcha, which has dim sum in the basement and gorgeous cakes on the ground level. The Sanderson does a 'fashion tea' with biscuits iced in the colour of the season - though that sounds more like somethign to do with friends who like shoes. Finally, museum cafes ftw, especially the V+A one downstairs which is wood panelled and gorgeous.

Comedy - BBC has a special tickets bit of their website. Last time I applied they posted the tickets out, so not sure how it will work for overseas people (though if you stay in Bloomsbury, feel free to get them delivered to my office and come pick them up). Be prepared to queue. A lot of shows return in the autumn so you might get lucky. Radio panel shows tend to move around the country, and a lot of the BBC's activity is moving to Manchester, but TV panel stuff should be easily done. Otherwise, Time Out will give you a guide to what comedy shows are on, and you could see one of your favourites at a gig, which might be the next best thing!

Two weeks after the Olympics might mean you arrive during the Paralympic games, so it will be pretty busy. I'd recommend leaving it three.

Walks - go to Highgate Cemetery and book on a tour. I keep meaning to do this because it's the only way you can get into the historic East Cemetery where Dickens and many others are buried. Marx is in the west.

Also - if you go to M+S, get some Percy Pigs. They are good.

(everydayanewday - thanks so much for the BRick Lane links, my nephew is visiting and I forgot about the Duke of Uke!)
posted by mippy at 9:46 AM on July 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

Someone already mentioned Richmond/Twickenham and Hampton Court Palace - I'd also add Kew Gardens to that list.

And if you're going to be around Camden/Regent's Park/London Zoo, my favourite view of London has always been from the top of Primrose Hill (walk up the hill from the bottom, and don't turn round until you get to the top).
posted by ccalgreen at 10:39 AM on July 27, 2012

Ha ha, and you may not find the kinds of clothes that I think you might be looking for at most secondhand shops. My hometown in the London suburbs has always seemed to have about 20 charity shops down the High Street, but the majority of stuff was unfashionable junk from the past 10 years that no-one wants (hence the donation)...
posted by ccalgreen at 10:47 AM on July 27, 2012

We don't really have consignment stores here either so much - there's Bang Bang on Goodge St, but I haven't been down there myself. I have found good stuff at Traid though.
posted by mippy at 11:48 AM on July 27, 2012

thr last tuesday society! they have some pretty interesting-sounding events
posted by taltalim at 10:49 PM on July 27, 2012

Aside from the British Museum, my favourite London museums are the National Gallery (you could lose yourself there for days), the Museum of London, and specifically the cast courts at the V&A. However, I haven't actually managed to make it yet to any of the quirkier ones people recommend - Sir John Soane's Museum, the Horniman, the Geffrye Museum, the Wellcome Collection or the Hunterian.

If you go to the Guildhall Art Gallery, you will find the remains of the city's Roman amphitheatre in the basement.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 2:36 AM on July 28, 2012

I've had afternoon tea in two places which are not the usual fancy hotel. One was the main restaurant at the British Museum - very nice, traditional afternoon tea in a fancy-ish setting. (Plus you could combine a trip to the museum with high tea.) The other was at Drink, Shop & Do on Caledonian Road, near Kings Cross St Pancras. Cool, quirky sort of handmade/vintage aesthetic. Both are worth looking into if you don't want to go down the hotel route.
posted by pink_gorilla at 4:02 AM on July 28, 2012

Plus 6: bonus round - WALKS
I've only ever had fantastic experiences on the free walking tours with this company. They usually take the form of a 2.5-3 hour walk around the main sights. You just show up at the time on the website then tip the guide at the end, so it's great for keeping your plans flexible.
posted by pink_gorilla at 4:08 AM on July 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Just popped back in to show you this website on secret/hidden/odd London I found today that might be worth an extended perusal. Looks interesting...
posted by everydayanewday at 11:39 PM on July 28, 2012

Popping in to say that what you are looking for is NOT "High" tea but instead "Afternoon Tea"

High tea is an early evening meal eaten by (traditionally) a working man directly after work, and would be extremely unlikely to feature delicate sandwiches, fancy cakes, and tea in an exquisite porcelain cup.

Afternoon tea is the genteel taking of tea with dainty accompaniments. I have always heard that Fortnum & Mason is the place for this.
posted by LetticeLeaf at 9:12 PM on July 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

So very many thanks to everyone!

I'm setting up a Google map to use as a reference and I'm MASSIVELY MASSIVELY EXCITED!
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 4:37 PM on August 1, 2012

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