Waterstone Picadilly is Europe’s largest bookshop – with six floors of books and 150,000 titles in stock, you should be able to find just what you’re looking for. They also have comfy sofas to read their books – what more could we ask for ?
Nearest tube station: Picadilly Circus
Designed by Sir John Soane, the architect of the Bank of England, to house his collection of works of art, this intriguing museum is packed with quirky architectural experiments, antiquities and paintings. The house has been kept almost exactly as Soane left it when he died in 1837. No room looks like the next one and Soane even created a gothic room to host his parties. His eclectic collection includes an Egyptian sarcophagus, greek statues and paintings by Turner and Canaletto. A visit doesn’t take much time – around an hour, say, during which you’re bound to make some intriguing and fascinating discoveries.
Tube Station: Holborn
Cyberdog is one of the craziest shops of Camden Town – and this should give you a fairly good indication of how insane it is.
Cyberdog is located in Stables Market in Camden Town
First, let me get this straight: I have never bought anything from Cybergog, and most probably never will. But I intend to go there every time I go to Camden Town – when I have friends coming over who want to visit the standard London landmarks, that is.
Unfortunately, you’re not allowed to take pictures inside, but this photo of one of the two giant robots stationed outside can give you an idea of what you’re going to find inside. Only a faint idea, though, because going inside is a very special experience. Cyberdog is indeed specialising in ravers and cybergoths’ clothing. That apparently means fluorescent clothing with electronic accessories that you are very unlikely to wear outside a rave party – or outside of Camden Town, if you prefer. It’s quite expensive though, so it doesn’t make for a fulfilling shopping experience, but visiting the shop is clearly worth the trip. After all, where else can you find a neon-lit shop (and a DJ in the weekends) with blue-haired shop assistants selling futuristic clothing?
Nearest stations: Camden Town, Chalk Farm, Kentish Town
Located in the heart of Regent’s Park, Queen Mary’s garden holds one of the finest collections of roses in the country and its access is free of charge.
Going to a rose garden in the middle of September may not have been my brightest idea, but the blooms of Queen Mary’s garden were still perfuming the air.
Nearest Tube Station: Baker Street
Located in Victoria, Westminster Cathedral, the seat of the Roman Catholic Church in England, should not be confused with Westminster Abbey (part of the Church of England). Its Byzantine design, quite different from the traditional architecture of Great Britain’s cathedrals, contrasts with Victoria’s modern surroundings.
But what tends to be less known about Westminster Cathedral is that it is actually possible to take a lift up to the top of the bell tower.
Of course, the panorama of Westminster Cathedral’s Tower is clearly not worth that of other popular sites such as the London Eye; but going up the bell tower is only £5 (£2,5 for concessions) and the venue is far less crowded (we were actually alone in the tower when we visited it).
At 65 metres high, visitors are rewarded by views encompassing the Parliament, Buckingham Palace or the towers of Battersea power station – though, surprisingly, the Thames, only a few hundred metres away from the Cathedral, is nowhere to be found.
Tube Station: Victoria
Walking in Mayfair, I was amazed to find these peaceful public gardens, which contrast with the bustle of the urban surroundings. Mount Street Gardens are quite small, but immaculately maintained and the numerous benches invite for a nice break under the plane trees’ shade. With Phoenix Garden, this small shaded green space is one of London’s nicest secret public gardens in central London.
Nearest tube stations: Green Park, Bond Street
The thousands of specimens of the small Hunterian museum – a.k.a. the Museum of Anatomy and Pathology, located in the Royal College of Surgeons on Lincoln’s Inn Fields – can be mind-boggling, scary or disgusting – but certainly not boring. They include the skeleton of an Irish giant (exhibited against his dying wish); photos of the first surgical procedures; animals, foetuses and human body parts preserved in orderly jars. More disturbing, perhaps, the examples of what a hernia, heart disease, genetic mutations or cancer look like, among many other inflictions. Definitely not for the faint hearted.
Nearest Tube Station: Holborn