I’m leaving because the weather is too good. I hate London when it’s not raining. – Groucho Marx
- Concert: The 19th century Royal Albert Hall is visually spectacular both outside and in. Perhaps most famous as the home of the BBC Proms, an 8 week season of classical music concerts held each summer, the concert hall hosts more than 300 events a year and a number of daily tour options guiding you backstage or through its “secret history”. Guaranteed to be a cultural haven on a rainy day.
- Shop: Leadenhall Market in the heart of the ancient City of London district dates back to the 14th century. The surviving Victorian-era buildings are vividly colored and intricately dedicated, offering a dazzling covered market in which to browse artisanal food stores, lifestyle brands such as Diptyque and Barbour, and quirky niche vendors such as gentleman’s accessories designer Knots & Socks and The Pen Shop. Head to Cheese at Leadenhall for wine and small plates, including Scotch eggs with piccalilli – or for samplings of its 200 cheeses from across the world.
- Tea & Books: The Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon at Fortnum & Mason offers a mouth-watering selection of finger sandwiches, scones and cakes for its iconic afternoon tea. Once sated, head to the basement of “the Queen’s grocery store” to stock up on game pies, potted Welsh rarebit, fine smoked Scottish salmon and other British delicacies. One block along at 187 Piccadilly is Hatchards, founded in 1797 and London’s oldest bookshop. The history section and collection of children’s books are particularly strong.
- Walk Through History: Hidden under the streets of Westminster are the Churchill War Rooms. The underground bunker that protected the Prime Minister and his Cabinet during the World War II is now a permanent exhibition of the Imperial War Museum and an incredible walk back in time. The Map Room, once manned around the clock by Royal Navy, British army and Royal Air Force officers, remains completely in tact and the tight subterranean living quarters are recreated to bring to life the intense conditions under which some of the pivotal missions of the Allied Forces were planned. A restaurant situated midway through the labyrinthine tunnels and serving classic British comfort food is an atmospheric spot to take a break. A must see.
- Get Lost In: The British Museum is free to all visitors and absolutely vast. The permanent collection includes 8 million pieces and spans every continent. The artefacts from Ancient Egypt are unmissable while a long walk through the myriad rooms of Greek and Roman antiquities makes for a gentle work out as much as a feast for the brain.
© Ann Berry