Destination Debrief: Central & West London

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Fora Author Fora Travel

The Modern Travel Agency

Fora Travel

    London never gets old. The city’s charming neighborhoods, cobblestone streets, world-class museums, multicultural dynamism and electric culinary scene are just a few reasons to visit England’s capital.

    You’ll likely be spending most of your time in Central and West London, where you’ll find the city’s most popular attractions, like Hyde Park, Piccadilly Circus and Big Ben. These areas are especially great if you're a London first-timer, or if you want to check off the city's greatest hits from your bucket list. But Central and West London are also home to posh neighborhoods, each with their own distinctive feel. Unsurprisingly, you’ll also find many of the city’s best hotels here, where glamor (or rather, glamour) and luxury reign.

    Witness the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace, don your chicest ensemble for afternoon tea, rent a paddle boat on Hyde Park's Serpentine Lake, visit the city's world-class museums — immersive activities abound. But you should also budget ample time for wandering and serendipity, as London is full of hidden gems.

    There's a lot to this worldly city, and a lot to navigate. But we'll make it easy for you. Trust us, when it comes to planning a trip to London, you're better off enlisting an expert. And with the right planning and expertise, the city opens up.

    Ready to get away? Connect with Fora to make the most of your London vacation.

    The quick and dirty:

    Currency: £, British pound sterling (GBP)

    Language: English 

    Airports: Heathrow Airport (LHR), London Gatwick (LGW), London Stansted Airport (STN)

    Public transportation: the Tube, London’s equivalent of the subway

    Private transportation: hackney carriages, the famed black taxis, whose drivers are required to know the city like the back of their hand; in fact, to become a carriage driver, one must pass what is considered to be one of the world's most difficult tests, taken after years of intense study memorizing London's 25,000 streets and landmarks (!)

    Best time to visit: April, May & June — and if you don’t mind the cold, the holidays are particularly magical 

    Ideal length of stay: 3-4 days is ideal for a stopover, perhaps as an add-on to a lengthier trip. However, if you want time for all the major attractions, 5-7 days is the sweet spot

    Signature dishes: fish & chips, English brekkie, curry, Sunday roast dinner, shepherd's pie

    Dress code: posh and preppy, and bring a raincoat

    Holborn & Bloomsbury

    Holborn and Bloomsbury are ideal for the culturally curious, academic-minded traveler (the latter is home to University College London, after all). Bloomsbury especially is an intellectual haven perfect for the museum addicts among us. It's also quite residential and ideal for wandering.

    a handsome library with dark wooden accents, a gray couch and tables strewn with books and objets

    Image courtesy of Rosewood London

    Where to stay in Holborn & Bloomsbury

    L'oscar London: A fun boutique hotel with bold patterns and colors in a restored Baroque-style church. Fora Perks include £80 food / beverage credit, a complimentary bottle of wine, an upgrade and a late check-out.

    Rosewood London: Regal and quintessentially British, with wrought-iron gates and impossibly polite doormen ready to welcome you. When you book with Fora, you'll receive exclusive Rosewood Elite perks, including £85 food / beverage or spa credit, a welcome amenity, breakfast daily and an upgrade.

    What to do in Holborn & Bloomsbury

    Don’t miss the neighborhoods' impressive selection of world-class museums, including the British Museum, the Grant Museum of Zoology and the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology. Afterward, rest and people watch in Lincoln's Inn Field, a grassy public square.

    Where to eat in Holborn & Bloomsbury

    Noble Rot Lambs Conduit is a hip neighborhood wine bar on a charming street that dates back to the 18th century. Head to the opulent Colonel Saab, located in the former Holborn Town Hall, for authentic Indian food accompanied by jazz music and Indian artwork.

    Soho & Covent Garden

    The lively Soho is London's former red-light district. Today, it has a great vibe, and is home to some of the city's best nightlife, including LGBTQ-friendly pubs and clubs. Plus, it's fun, hyper-local and energetic. Although Covent Garden can be a bit on the touristy side, the area's theatre game is strong — the neighborhood is basically the Broadway of London — and a few hidden gems still impart a dose of local authenticity.

    a colorful dining room with woven light fixtures and plants and pink chairs

    Images courtesy of Ham Yard Hotel & The Savoy

    Where to stay in Soho & Covent Garden

    Ham Yard: A bright, playful stay brimming with eclectic art and a leafy garden to boot. Fora Perks include a welcome amenity, breakfast daily, an upgrade and extended check-in/out.

    The Savoy: This luxurious landmark on the River Thames has well over a century's worth of experience delivering the utmost luxury to discerning guests. Fora Perks include $100 food / beverage credit, breakfast daily, an upgrade and extended check-in/out.

    a handsome library with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves and fresh flowers

    Image courtesy of Ham Yard

    What to do in Soho & Covent Garden

    Explore Covent Garden’s famed open-air piazza lined with shops. The Photographers' Gallery always has an intriguing exhibition on display, while the legendary Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club is a must for live-music enthusiasts. No visit to Covent Garden is complete without catching a show, of course, and if you're into opera, the Royal Opera House will not disappoint. At Peloton Studios London, take a live cycling, running, yoga or strength class with the brand’s top instructors. And leave time for a facial at Skinwork Soho.

    Where to eat in Soho & Covent Garden

    Head to Hoppers for Sri Lankan street food in a fun, casual space. NOPI has top-tier Mediterranean from Yotam Ottolenghi. Evelyn’s Table is a 12-seat hot spot where local produce gets treated to expert Scandinavian and Japanese techniques, and The Barbary is perfect for well-sourced Middle Eastern food prepared using fire and clay ovens. French-Creole food is served at Louie, located within a former townhouse, while Sri Lankan family recipes cover the menu of Paradise Soho, a cool, modern haunt.


    Westminster is quite touristy, but for good reason: the area is home to some of London's most iconic landmarks, Westminster Abbey and Big Ben among them.

    a fancy dining room with square tables covered with white tablecloths and surrounded by blue chairs

    Images courtesy of The Rubens at the Palace

    Where to stay in Westminster

    Raffles London at The OWO: Regal and traditional (and newly renovated), housed in London’s Old War Office building. Fora Perks include complimentary mini-bar soft drinks, complimentary one-way private airport transfer, breakfast daily, an upgrade and extended check-in/out.

    Corinthia London: Centrally located, with a masterful combination of traditional elegance and clean, contemporary decor. Fora Perks include $100 hotel / resort credit, breakfast daily, an upgrade and extended check-in/out.

    The Rubens at the Palace: A lavish boutique hotel with the friendliest staff and five-star service. Fora Perks include £40 food / beverage credit, breakfast daily, an upgrade and extended check-in/out.

    What to do in Westminster

    Check of London’s top tourist attractions, like Big Ben, Buckingham Palace and, of course, Westminster Abbey, where you’ll find the graves of distinguished Brits like Charles Darwin. The Tate Modern is one of the world's best modern art museums, featuring work from artists including Hilma af Klint, Marina Abramovic, Ai Weiwei and countless others.

    Where to eat in Westminster

    For dinner, we love The English Grill at Rubens at the Palace, which serves up seasonal British fare in a posh, cozy setting.

    Mayfair & Marylebone

    These sister neighborhoods are ideal for a taste of the finer things in life. Designer shops, luxury hotels and high-end everything abound.

    a swanky living room with two large blue couches surrounding a coffee table decorated with a vase of red roses

    Image courtesy of Brown's Hotel

    Where to stay in Mayfair & Marylebone

    Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane: Recently renovated sophistication just off of Hyde Park. When you book Four Seasons with a Fora Advisor, you will enjoy exclusive Four Seasons Preferred Partner amenities. Your advisor will be pleased to give you more details.

    Brown's Hotel: Discreet and exclusive, with playful decor, historical caché and unbeatable afternoon tea. VIP Rocco Forte Knights benefits include £100 food / beverage credit, breakfast daily, an upgrade, extended check-in/out plus additional exclusive offers.

    Mandarin Oriental Mayfair (opening spring 2024): The brand brings its signature sleekness and butler-equipped service to Mayfair’s oldest square, Hanover. When you book Mandarin Oriental with a Fora Advisor, you will enjoy Fan Club preferred partner amenities. Your advisor will be pleased to give you more details.

    The Arts Club: A private members club centered on art, culture and tasteful intellectualism. Pro tip: Don't miss the club's Lanserhof, an exclusive wellness clinic with studio classes and personalized coaching.

    The Dorchester London: A veritable London landmark, newly renovated, with legendary afternoon tea. Fora's special Dorchester Diamond Club perks including £100 hotel / resort credit, breakfast daily and an upgrade.

    45 Park Lane: The Dorchester's cheeky, playful, intimate little sister. Fora's Dorchester Diamond Club perks including £100 hotel / resort credit, breakfast daily and an upgrade.

    What to do in Mayfair & Marylebone

    Here is where to peruse luxe galleries and museums. David Zwirner, Hauser & Wirth, Lyndsey Ingram and the Royal Academy of Arts are all excellent options. Here is also where to indulge your urge to shop: the high-end designers lining the famed Bond and Bruton Streets beckon. And if you're in Marylebone on a Sunday, wander around the Marylebone Farmers' Market, which runs 10-2.

    Where to eat in Mayfair & Marylebone

    We love Gymkhana for Michelin-Starred Indian in a handsome, intimate space. Benares serves elevated Indian in dimly lit environs. Opt for Coya for fun, sexy Peruvian cuisine in a colorful, lively environment, and Roka for contemporary Japanese with a touch of urban chic. Monocle Café is a local haunt serving freshly baked pastries, coffee and refreshing "nibbles." For fresh seafood served the Italian way, Santo Mare is the obvious choice. For out-of-this-world Mexican, you can't go wrong with Kol, where you'll be transported to a tasteful Oxacan home serving seasonal dishes with a modern touch. To balance everything out, head to Daylesford Organic, a light-filled farmshop-café where everything is impeccably sourced (produce is delivered daily from their organic farm in the Cotswolds).


    The upscale Knightsbridge is posh and fashionable, boasting some of London's most in-demand real estate. Here is another neighborhood primed for lovers of fashion and finery.

    a fancy tea room with green chairs and a glittering circular chandelier

    Image courtesy of Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London

    Where to stay in Knightsbridge

    The Lanesborough: An exceptionally chic hotel housed in a luxurious mansion. Fora's VIP Oetker Pearl partner perks include £100 hotel / resort credit, breakfast daily, priority access to courtesy car where applicable and an upgrade. Pro tip: the Lanesborough Club & Spa is an exclusive oasis with a well-equipped gym, a hydrotherapy pool, a steam room, a sauna and an expertly curated treatment menu.

    white longe chairs overlook an indoor pool in a sleek, white-washed space

    Image courtesy of The Lanesborough London

    The Berkeley: Modern and contemporary, with a delectable gourmet pastry shop. Fora Perks include £100 hotel / resort credit, breakfast daily, an upgrade and extended check-in/out.

    Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park: Perfectly located, with a luxe spa and several restaurants, one of which boasts two Michelin Stars. When you book Mandarin Oriental with a Fora Advisor, you will enjoy Fan Club preferred partner amenities. Your advisor will be pleased to give you more details.

    The Carlton Tower Jumeirah: A regal, modern stay with marble bathrooms and a central location. Fora's Passport to Luxury partner perks include $75 food / beverage or spa credit, a welcome amenity, breakfast daily, an upgrade and extended check-in/out.

    What to do in Knightsbridge

    Shop for jewelry, gourmet cuisine, kitchenwares, designer clothes, accessories and more at the iconic luxury department store Harrods. Touristy, perhaps, but nonetheless worth a visit.

    Where to eat in Knightsbridge

    Don't miss a Michelin-Starred meal at the Mandarin Oriental's Dinner by Heston Blumenthal.

    Belgravia, Chelsea & Notting Hill

    The up-and-coming Belgravia has, in recent years, welcomed luxe developments. Expect grand homes flanked by white-stucco terraces, treelined streets and a pervasive elegance. Chelsea is chic, trendy and upscale, with a welcoming bohemian vibe, while Notting Hill is an affluent neighborhood filled with beautiful Victorian townhouses, high-end boutiques, lovely local eateries and lots of color.

     a grand hotel room with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking a leafy park

    Image courtesy of The Peninsula London

    Where to stay in Belgravia, Chelsea & Notting Hill

    COMO The Halkin, London: A study in understated luxury, with soothing interiors and a Georgian-style brick façade.

    The Peninsula London: (Newly renovated) glamor, style and prestige steps from Hyde Park and Kensington Palace. Fora's preferred PenClub perks include £100 hotel / resort credit, breakfast daily, a guaranteed upgrade at time of booking and check-in/out anytime (as early as 6am and as late as 10pm).

    The Emory (opening spring 2024): Design-forward, modern and cool, and every room is a suite. Fora Perks include £100 hotel / resort credit, breakfast daily, an upgrade and extended check-in/out.

    The Cadogan, A Belmond Hotel, London: Belmond's signature discreet luxury and impeccable taste take the British capital. Fora's Belmond Bellini Club perks include $90 hotel / resort credit, welcome amenities, breakfast daily and an upgrade.

    Jumeirah Lowndes Hotel: Where classic sophistication meets modern comfort. Fora's Passport to Luxury partner perks include $75 food / beverage or spa credit, a welcome amenity, breakfast daily, an upgrade and extended check-in/out.

    What to do in Belgravia, Chelsea & Notting Hill

    Visit the Saatchi Gallery, a self-funded charity dedicated to sharing contemporary artwork with as wide an audience as possible, and all while respecting the artist behind the work. London is dotted with pockets of greenery, and the Chelsea Psychic Garden, the city's oldest botanical garden, is a delightful urban escape focused on medicinal plants. In Notting Hill, visit Portobello Market, the world's largest antique market (although, depending on the day, you'll also find food, vintage clothing, accessories, furniture and more). Get your yoga, Pilates and barre on at Triyoga, whose studios are found in different locations around the city. For more wellness, Bamford Wellness Spa Brompton Cross is a serene retreat with holistic treatments combining ancient and modern techniques. And if you happen to be in Notting Hill on a Saturday, you'll love the bustling Notting Hill Farmers' Market, open 10-2.

    Where to eat in Belgravia, Chelsea & Notting Hill

    La Poule au Pot is a lovely French bistro with brick walls and wooden floors, and The Grenadier is a must-visit pub beloved by locals. Other top restaurant picks include Bandol, for a taste of the South of France in ultra-chic digs, Gold, for simple (impeccably sourced) ingredients prepared using live-fire cooking and zēphyr for transportive Greek in an elevated, playful atmosphere. Also don't miss the lovely, intimate Chicama, where the fresh seafood, vegetables, mezcal and tequila are as good as they come. For something on the healthier side, opt for Farm Girl, an Aussie-inspired cafés serving the perfect combination of healthy and indulgent fare.

    Again, this is a lot of information, but Fora makes planning and booking a breeze. Connect with Fora to make the most of your London vacation.

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    Furnished room behind open barn style doors