Dark & Beautiful London in a Weekend

Advisor - Bijoy Shah
Curated By

Bijoy Shah

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  • London

  • England

  • Arts & Culture

  • City Travel

  • International Travel

  • Off-the-Beaten-Path Travel

  • Sightseeing

  • Local Culture

  • Historical

buildings next to a body of water with dark clouds in the sky
Curator’s statement

London is one of the world's most documented cities and you can find one thousand things to do. But sometimes you want something a little different. This is how you can spend a weekend in London doing some of the weird, possibly dark, very cool and beautiful things around London Town.

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Where to stay

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Town Hall Hotel & Apartments

Located in London’s vibrant East End, this award-winning hotel combines architectural splendour with cutting-edge design and a devotion to the pleasures of life.

Haymarket Hotel

Set in London's theater district this elegant boutique hotel features eclectic rooms, a trendy restaurant and an opulent library.

Fora Perks
  • Welcome amenity.

  • Breakfast daily.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

Brown's Hotel

An iconic London hotel where history and contemporary sophistication come together within the inviting rooms and luxurious suites.

Fora Perks
  • $100 food / beverage credit.

  • Breakfast daily.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

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Advisor - Bijoy Shah

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Day 1: Stroll the streets of London

tall buildings with cloudy skies


Arrive on a morning flight to London, collect your things and head directly to your hotel to check your bags with the Front Desk or Bell Staff.

Head out for a stroll toward The British Museum, but go to the nearby Russel Square instead of the museum. Take a moment to visit Russel Square Cabmen’s Shelter in Russell Square to grab a light bite. Cabmen's shelters have been around for over 100 years, and this one is not only still operational but it's open to the public! To add, the light fare is not bad, by any means.

Now make your way South to Goodwin's Court. While wandering the quaint street corners and window fronts of Goodwin's Court, one could be forgiven for thinking they had stepped out of A Christmas Carol. The elaborately carved windows and gaslight lamps give this stretch of London a distinctly Dickensian air.

After browsing the shops and such, head to Fortnum & Mason for high tea. Yes, it's a popular spot, but it's worth it! After tea, make your way to the banks of the Thames and walk along the North Bank. You'll get a great view of The London Eye and walk right by Big Ben and the Palace of Westminster.

At the end of your stroll, you'll head to The Morpeth Arms for dinner, one of London's oldest and spookiest pubs. The structure served as a prison, a transfer center for inmates of the previous Millbank Penitentiary, and a holding area for convicts being deported to Australia. If it's not too busy and you ask politely, the staff might let you downstairs to see the old cells! Grab a pint or two and enjoy some pub fare for dinner before heading back to your hotel for a nightcap and some rest.

Day 2: Explore cultural attractions

bridge over body of water with cloudy skies


This morning, start your day at Omotesando Koffee, where you're offered a coffee shop experience that puts engagement over efficiency, also marrying Italian espresso care with exacting Japanese preparation. Truly a feast for the mind, and mouth.

After breakfast, take a long stroll past St. Paul's Cathedral to Guildhall Yard. During the excavation of this site, the government of London found a 2000-year-old Roman amphitheater underground. Very little mention is made of the Amphitheater outside of the Gallery and around the area. When approaching Guildhall Yard, the Gallery is found on your right. Enter and follow all stairs that go down and to the left. There is some signage, but not much, in the building. There's no fee to see all of this, either.

After visiting this oddity, take a quick 15-minute stroll to the St. Olave Hart Street Church. If you descend into the ancient crypt, a well can be found where it is believed that King Olaf II of Norway (Later Saint Olaf) rallied his mento to assist Ethelred the Unready (great name, right?) in driving the Vikings out of London. Go back up to see St. Olave’s lovely churchyard where you can find the grave of Mary Ramsay, the woman popularly believed to be responsible for bringing the Bubonic Plague to London. Also buried in the yard is the person upon whom the ‘Mother Goose’ of children’s stories is based and the herbalists William & Peter Turner. Notably, be sure to check out the churchyard gateway, crowned with skulls and the Latin phrase, ’Christus Vivere Mors mihi lucrum’ — ‘Christ lives, Death is my reward’.

After that dark visit, walk over to Coppa Club Tower Bridge to have a bite and enjoy the view. Have some lunch and walk across Tower Bridge, often what some tourists think is London Bridge. Head west to Borough Market to see one of London's most storied markets. Grab some snacks or a few drinks for later, if you so please. After your quick shopping trip, go grab a pint at The Founder's Arms, adjacent to The Tate Modern. It's a very friendly pub with some nice views. If you're not in the mood for a pint, you can get a good cup of tea here as well.

Now take the short walk to Crossbones Graveyard, known as the “single-woman’s cemetery" because of the high concentration of sex workers, dubbed “single-women” or “Winchester Geese.” These women were prevented from receiving Christian burials. Cross Bones became the unofficial resting place for 15,000 of them and other poor people living in squalor in London.

Now walk up North, across Waterloo Bridge, passing the Royal Opera House, to Attendant Coffee Roasters in Fitzrovia. These ornate, underground urinals once served the Victorian gentlemen of London. Now they serve diners espresso & flat whites. Yes, it's coffee in a 100-year-old men's bathroom, but leave all of your notions at the door, as this is great coffee in a cool, weird place.

Now grab a cab or take the tube to Little Venice, London's own beautiful "canal district." Grab dinner at The Waterway for some fun, modern cuisine along the canal. Have a nice after-dinner stroll along the canal before heading to your hotel for a nightcap and to rest for the night.

Day 3: Enjoy your final day in London

colorful buildings with cloudy skies


Today, get the most out of your last day in London! But sleep in a bit, you deserve it! Head to Twinings Tea Shop at 216 Strand to start your day around 11am for a cup of coffee and an early lunch. His 300-year-old tea shop is now world-renowned for being *the* British tea purveyor. The Twinings "corporate"/family logo, a simple, gold sign bearing the company name, has remained unchanged since 1787, making it the second oldest corporate logo still in use(behind Stella Artois, from 1366). They've had a Royal Warrant, allowing them to provide tea to the Royal Family, since 1837.

After your lunch, check out any last things you want to do like stroll through Notting Hill, before catching your flight home.

Need to Know

Advisor - Bijoy Shah

Travel Advisor

Bijoy Shah

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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to London, and our larger series on arts and culture.