Rail alternative

As inflation continues to rise and lack of wage increases for workers, rail strikes are likely to continue. Here are some ways to get around London and get some sightseeing in too:

...By air
Emirates Air Line — The temperature controlled cable car 90 metres (300 ft) is higher than than the O2 Arena Greenwich Peninsula to the Royal Docks. The 10-13 minute (5 minutes 7 am - 9 am Monday - Friday) ride offers birds eye views of London and starts at £5 / adult and £2.50 / child. 

...By Land
Routemaster Bus
 — Take the Number 11 bus starting at Liverpool Street Station and ending at Victoria Station. The route takes approximately an hour and goes by many of the major landmarks including Bank of England, St. Paul's Cathedral, Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace, Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey. A fun and affordable way to see London!
www.wakeupdocklands.com+44 2039 503951

Tally Ho!
Take the 3-1/2 hour Landmarks & Gems tour on a traditional British bicycle complete with ding-dong bell and wicker basket. The leisurely ride stops at Lambeth Palace, Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, London Eye and Covent Garden Market to name a few.  Ride up to Buckingham Palace to see the changing of the guard, view the Household Calvary, visit a top historic pub and unleash your inner-Banksy by ‘tagging’ London with spray paint.

...By water
London Waterbus — The traditional narrow boat on the Regents Canal has is celebrating 60 years of service and stops at Camden Lock and Little Venice. The Waterbus and one way fares from Camden Lock and Little Venice start £14 / adult and £10 / children. Booking online is suggested - especially on the weekends.
www.londonwaterbus.com+44 2037 639881

Uber Boat — In 2020, Thames Clippers partnered wtih Uber and officallly became Uber Boat by Thames Clippers.  It is the fastest and most frequent boat service on the River Thames with 17-stops starting at Putney Pier to Royal Arsenel Woolwich Pier. Major attractions along the route include Big Ben, London Eye, Shakespeare Globe, St. Paul's Cathedral and Tower of London to name a few. 

Last, but not least, while London now covers more than 600 square miles, the original City of London (nicknamed the 'Square Mile') covers just 1.12 square miles. The perfect size to travel . . .

...By Foot
London Loop — This loop with 30 stops begins and ends at Waterloo Station with food stops, free views and countless photo ops along the way. It takes approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes or 15,000 steps (if you are counting).

Download the Citymapper app and just go!

Quintessential English afternoon tea

For less than 30 quid

Once upon a time, you can have the full afternoon tea experience for £20. While these are few and far between, there are ones for less than £30. And best of all they are conveniently located by some of London’s most popular attractions:

The Crusting Pipe Wine Bar & Restaurant (Covent Garden) — Located in the heart of Covent Garden, the covered terrace is protected from the elements. Afternoon served daily between 2:30-5:30 pm.  A scone, clotted cream and preserve will only set you back £4.95. When booking request a ‘window’ table so you can watch live musical performances.
Starting at £27.95 / person, (inside Covent Garden)
www.davy.co.uk/wine-bar/crusting-pipe+44 2078 361415
27 The Market Building, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 8RD

The English Rose Café & Tea Shop (Buckingham Palace) — This independent family run café on Lower Grosvenor Place and Trip Advisor Hall of Fame honoree serves Afternoon Tea for 2 £38 (£19 for each additional person) 12 pm-5pm. The tea consists of finger sandwiches, cakes and scones with clotted cream and jam, and a pot of tea.
Afternoon Tea for 2 £38, (7 minute walk to Buckingham Palace)

www.theenglishrosecafe.co.uk+44 2079 766280
4 Lower Grosvenor Place, London SW1W 0EJ

The Ivy Tower Bridge (Tower Bridge) — The Ivy has a number of brasseries and cafes located throughout the UK. Their afternoon tea served 3-5 pm daily changes depending on the season. They also offer a cream tea of scones, clotted cream, jam and tea or coffee for £8.75.
Starting at £26.95 / person, (2 minute walk to Tower Bridge) www.theivytowerbridge.com+44 2031 467722
One Tower Bridge, Tower Bridge Road, London SE1 2AA

Great Court Restaurant (The British Museum) — No visit to London is complete without a visit to The British Museum, The first museum of its kind in the world includes over 8 million works. Enjoy an afternoon tea break 11:30 am-5 pm complete with Earl Grey tea-soaked and Somerset butter scone and classic Cornish clotted cream.
Starting at £26 / person, (inside The British Museum) 
www.britishmuseum.org+44 2073 238299
Great Russell St, London WC1B 3DG

Tea & Tattle (The British Museum) — Established as a bookshop in 1903, Arthur Probsthain Bookseller is one of the leading Oriental and African booksellers in the world. The downstairs tearoom offers a no-frills traditional English afternoon tea featuring loose leaf teas, homemade cakes, jams and sandwiches and just baked scones. Instead of tea for two you have the option of smoothies or coffees for two and all options come with homemade lemonade.
Starting at £24 / person, (across the street from The British Museum) 
www.tea-and-tattle.com +44 7722 192703
101 Victoria Street, London SW1E 6QQT

The Wallace Restaurant (The Wallace Collection) — The Wallace Collection of 15th-19th century fine and decorative arts was open to the public in 1900. One stipuliaton is that no object should leave the collection and until 2019 not even on temporary loan. The indoor, light-filled courtyard is protected from the elements and a perfect break from the busy West End.
Starting at £24.95 / person, (inside The Wallace Collection)
www.wallacecollection.org+44 2075 639500
Hertford House, Manchester Square, London W1U 3BN

At these prices you can enjoy afternoon tea more than once!

Celebrate Roald Dahl Day

September 13

In honor of one of the world’s best storytellers, Roald Dahl Day takes place every year on September 13th. Four fantastical ways to celebrate in London and Surrey:

Roald Dahl Museum & Story Centre (Great Missenden) — Get a glimpse into the life of Roald Dahl and what inspired his fanciful stories and enduring characters (Willa Wonka is 58 years and counting).  Here you will find his Writing Hut left as is — including the ball of foil wrappers from the three bars he ate nearly everyday (consequently he needed false teeth at 21 — also on display!) and part of his hip bone and the handcrafted writing table finished with cloth from a pool table.  Apparently, over his 36 year writing career, he wrote exclusively with US pencils and legal pads of paper.
www.roalddahl.com+44 1494 892192
81-83 High Street, Great Missenden, Bucks HP16 0AL

Charlie & the Chocolate Factory Afternoon Tea (London) — Speaking of having a sweet tooth, One Aldwych, located across the street from the Lyceum Theatre features one of the sweetest afternoon teas and is sure to please kids or kids at heart. Special touches include a keepsake illustrated menu featuring different characters on the cover from the book. With Afternoon Tea service Wednesday – Sunday beginning at Noon until 3 pm (weekdays and 4 pm weekends) it is perfectly timed to enjoy before a 2:30 pm Lion King matinee.
onealdwych.com+44 2073 0010008
1 Aldwych, London 

Matilda The Musical (London)— Winner of 99 international awards, including seven Olivier Awards, including Best New Musical (record for the most won by a musical), Matilda The Musical re-opened at West End's Cambridge Theatre September 2021 and recently celebrated its 10th anniversary in London. A Netflix film adaptation of Roald Dahl's Matilda is set scheduled to be released in the UK on December 2nd.
uk.matildathemusical.com+44 2039 252998
Earlham Street, LondonWC2H 9HU

National Motor Museum (Hampshire) — While Roald Dahl was best known for his book writing, he helped co-write the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang screenplay that was made into a film. The original vehicle is included in a world-famous collection of 280+ vehicles at the National Motor Museum.

BONUS : The Beaulieu Attraction is one of the top visitor's destinations and the all-inclusive ticket includes access to The National Motor Museum, World of Top Gear, Palace House & Gardens, Little Beaulieu, Beaulieu Abbey, The Secret Army Exhibition and unlimited rides on the monorail.
www.nationalmotormuseum.org.uk+44 1590 614650
Beaulieu, Brockenhurst, Hampshire SO42 7ZN

As Roald Dahl once said 'A little magic can take you a long way.'

London for (Book) Lovers

International Literacy Day September 8th

With back to school upon us and in celebration of International Literacy Day September 8th, London boasts some of the biggest and most unique bookstores.

Waterstones is the largest bookstore chain in the UK and its Piccadilly location is considered the biggest bookstore in Europe. Foyles, which was purchased by Waterstones, flagship store in Charing Cross Road was recognized by Guinness Book of Records for the number of titles on display and its 30 miles worth of shelf space.

Some relatively smaller, but equally impressive shops include:

Hatchards — Located next to Fortnum & Mason, Hatchards is the UK’s oldest book shop and holds three Royal Warrants and considered a bookseller to the Royal Households. While it too is owned by Waterstones, its Piccadilly location covering four floors with 100,000 books definitely does not feel like the run-of-the-mill bookshop.
www.hatchards.co.uk+44 2074 399921
187 Piccadilly, London W1J9LE

Daunt Books — The two-story Edwardian style branch in Marylebone was originally established in 1910 and is considered one of the first custom-built bookshops in the world. James Daunt founded Daunt Books in 1990 and is known for specializing in travel books — all neatly organized geographically by country. Additionally, Daunt is an executive of Waterstones and more recently Barnes & Noble. If there is even a touch of the charm similar to the Marleboyne location, book lovers are in for a treat.
www.dauntbooks.co.uk+44 2072 242295
83-84 Marylebone High Street, London W1U 4QW

Word On the Water Located canal side near King’s Cross railway station, a 1920s Dutch barge has been repurposed into a charming floating bookstore also known as The London Book Barge. Operating since 2011, they were cleverly open up as an outdoor market throughout the pandemic by only selling selections from their exterior shelves and continuing their tradition of treating passer-bys with live music performance and poetry slams.
www.wordonthewater.co.uk+44 7976 886982
York Way, Granary Square, London N1C 4LW

The Notting Hill Book Shop — This independent book shop made famous by Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts in the film Notting Hill was known for its travel books. In fact, the back part of the store is still called The Travel Book Company as featured in the film. The iconic blue exterior matches the Hugh Grant’s famous blue door, which is a quick 2 minute walk away at 280 Westbourne Park Road. It is hard that 23 years later fans still flock there!
www.thenottinghillbookshop.co.uk +44 2072 295260
13 Blenheim Crescent, London W11 2EE

Books for Cooks Not nearly as famous as its Notting Hill neighbor, the sheer volume and variety of cookbooks is overwhelming at Books for Cooks. Tucked in the back of the store is an on-site test kitchen where recipes are put to the test Tuesday – Saturday. They offer a reasonably priced three-course meals, usually featuring recipes from Books for Cooks own cookbook. The tables fill up by noon, so arrive by 11:45 am to guarantee a seat and food is served until it is gone.
www.booksforcooks.com+44 2072 211992
4 Blenheim Crescent, London W11 1NN

While technically not a book shop, you can’t mention books without mentioning the British Library . . .

British Library Since the British Library receives a copy of every publication produced in the UK and Ireland, it houses a staggering 150 million items. To put this in context, if you were to take out five items every day, it would take you over 80,000 years to view them all! Reserve a free tour that covers the history of the Library and its collections (including the King's Library, which once belonged to King George III) along with how items are stored and delivered to researchers. Visits include a stop in the book handling room and possibly the viewing platform to see researchers at work and ends in the Treasures Gallery where such notable items as the Beatles Manuscripts, Leonardo Da Vinci’s Notebook, the Magna Carta, and the first edition of The Times are displayed.
www.bl.uk+44 3303 331144
96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DB

Bookworms can also checkout, nearly 250 other book shops in London: londonbookshops.org/map.html

All for the love of books!

Celebrate Harry Potter’s Birthday

July 31st

July 31st marks the birthday of the fictional character Harry Potter. Along with events that take place in the movie on this date, it also happens to be the birthday of author J. K. Rowling.

Four ways to party in Potter style:

The Making of Harry Potter
Opened in 2012, Warner Bros. Studios in Leavesden located 20 miles outside of London is a behind the scenes permanent exhibit complete with authentic costumes, sets and props.  A shuttle bus runs between Watford Junction station and the Studio Tour.
From £49.95
www.wbstudiotour.co.uk ✆ +44 2034 277777
Studio Tour Drive, Leavesden WD25 7LR

Platform 9-3/4 Located at Kings Cross Station as featured in the movie, the site also features the first Harry Potter Shop in the world.  Take a photo with Hogwarts scarf or purchase a professional one they take.
www.kingscross.co.uk/harry-potters-platform-9-34 ✆ +44 2078 331137
Kings Cross Station, London N1 9AP

Harry Potter and the Cursed ChildWhile North American productions have been reduced to a single play, London will maintain the original two-part format of the most awarded play in history.
From £15 / part
www.uk.harrypottertheplay.com ✆ +44 3303 334410
Palace Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, London W1D 5AY
Tip : Friday Forty  Every Friday 40 tickets are released for every performance the following week for £40 (£20 per part).  The TodayTix lottery closes at 1 pm on Friday and winners are notified by 5 pm. www.todaytix.com

Inamo - SohoTo create a bit of your own magic, book a 5 pm afternoon tea at Inamo - Soho (a 7 min walk from the theatre) between the two parts.  Considered London's only interactive restaurant guests control their dining experience, the digital projections on your table surface can be changed with a swipe of a finger, including selecting a tablecloth, ordering, watching the chefs and playing retro games.
From £22.95 / person
www.inamo-restaurant.com/promos/afternoontea+44 2078 517051
134-136 Wardour St, London W1F 8ZP

Garden, Glamour & Buckingham

Day out for £35

Chelsea and Belgravia are among the most exclusive neighborhoods in London. Itinerary for an affordable day out, including afternoon tea close to Buckingham Palace:

11 am — Chelsea
Chelsea Physic Garden — Originally established in 1673 to grow plants as medicine, this garden is one of the oldest in Britain. Its rock garden is the oldest in Europe and also boasts one of the largest fruiting olive trees in Britain. It was open to the general public for the first time in 1983.
Tickets start at £12, students and under 15’s £10

www.chelseaphysicgarden.co.uk ✆ +44 2073 52564
66 Royal Hospital Road, Chelsea, London SW3 4HS

Walk to Saatchi Gallery (13 minutes)

12:30 pm — Belgravia
Saatchi Gallery — This year marks Tiffany’s 150th anniversary in London. The new Tiffany & Co. exhibition ‘Vision & Virtuosity’ covers 185 years of craftsmanship, heritage and innovation and features 400 objects. The rooms include their famous window displays, an opportunity to try on a classic Tiffany ring, pose with a cab on NY’s 5th Avenue and sit in a signature Tiffany blue box.
Complimentary tickets can be reserved through the Tiffany & Co. App until August 19th

www.saatchigallery.com+44 2078 113070
Duke of York's HQ, King's Road, London SW34RY
Walk to The English Rose Café & Tea Shop (19 minutes)

3:30 pm — Buckingham
The English Rose Café & Tea Shop — This independent family run café on Lower Grosvenor Place and Trip Advisor Hall of Fame honoree serves Afternoon Tea for 2 £38 (£19 for each additional person). The tea consists of finger sandwiches, cakes and scones with clotted cream and jam, and a pot of tea.
Afternoon Tea for 2 £38

www.theenglishrosecafe.co.uk+44 2079 766280
4 Lower Grosvenor Place, London SW1W 0EJ

Who says a posh has to come at a high price?

For more: Download the London via Surrey Book App

Kids go free in August

Tickets on sale June 14th

Kids Week promotion returns where kids 17 and under go free to shows in August with a full price paid adult ticket (plus half-price tickets for two additional children). There are 45+ musicals, plays, comedies and children's shows, including:

  • Come from Away
  • Dear Evan Hansen
  • Frozen
  • Jersey Boys
  • Kinky Boots
  • The Lion King
  • The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe
  • Mamma Mia!
  • Les Misérables
  • Matilda
  • The Mousetrap
  • Phantom of the Opera
  • The Play That Goes Wrong
  • Six
  • The Tiger Who Came to Tea
  • Wicked

  • For the best selection, pre-pick your show dates and be online Tuesday, June 14th at 10 am when the tickets are released.

    For more: Download the London via Surrey Book App

    Surrey Artists Open Studios

    For over 20 years, Surrey artists open their studios for 16 days in June as part of Surrey Artists Open Studios (SAOS). This year there are over 270 artists in 170 studios participating. Some of the unique taster workshops, include:

    Make your own mini mushroom

    (June 11, 12, 17-19, 24-26) — FREE
    www.theottershawpotter.wixsite.com/ioanna +44 7709 949819
    The Ottershaw Potter, 21a Brox Road, Ottershaw KT16HG

    Make a mosaic pot stand or wall hanging

    (June 11, 16, 1:30 am – 12:30 pm) — £30
    www.heartandhomestudios.com +44 7947 011822
    Reigate Heath, Reigate RH2 8AB
    Heat press a wine cooler

    Soapstone Miniatures

    (June 17, 10:30 am – 1:30 pm) — FREE
    www.artmatters-richmondfellowship.org.uk +44 1737 766212
    Art Matters Earlswood Road, Redhill RH16HE

    Photos: SAOS — www.surreyopenstudios.org.uk

    It is never too late to unleash your inner artist!

    Limited Edition Jubilee-Inspired Treats

    Celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee with keepsakes and consumables for every taste (and budget):

    • PG Tips — Inspired by Her Majesty's beloved dogs, PG Tips has released packs of its 240 pyramid tea bags in boxes covered Corgis. £3.99
    • Cadbury — Cadbury has released a version of its Dairy Milk Bar in specially designed Platinum Jubilee packaging. £4.23
    • Walkers — Walkers Platinum Jubilee Shortbread Tin featuring images of the Queen Elizabeth on the outside includes Union Jack shortbread inside. £12
    • Krispe Kreme — Krispy Kreme’s Platinum Jubilee Dozen includes three of four different doughnuts (Celebration Crown, Jubilee Joy, Platinum Sprinkles, Original Glazed) until June 5. £15.95 (double the fun with a second box for £8.95)
    • Dunoon — Unlike most English tea cups, the Dunoon’s Platinum Jubilee Skye Shape Mug  doesn’t need refilling for a cuppa of tea (or coffee). £29.56
    • Snowdina — The Platinum Jubilee Celebration Hamper includes three of their best cheddars, a fig and apple chutney a box of biscuits and crackers along with a full-sized bottle of champagne. £70
    • Daylesford — Daylesford’s Jubilee Picnic Hamper 12 savory and sweet treats are packed in a practical soft-sided cooler that can be used time and time again. £90
    • Liberty — The Windsor Ribbon Jubilee Suitcase Hamper is filled with biscuits, cake, tea and a commemorative mug all packaged in a classic Liberty Windsor Ribbon print keepsake suitcase. £110
    • Fortnum & Mason — The Jubilee Tea Party Hamper comes complete with favorite and new creations of preserves, biscuits, teas and even a tea towel. £150
      TIP : Always pick a hamper (the price of a Fortnum’s hamper is always less than purchasing the items individually)

    Get them while you can!

    For more: Download the London via Surrey Book App

    Teas fit for a Queen

    Celebrate 70 years of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign with a Platinum Jubilee Tea

    . . . For the fashionable
    The Berkeley : Prêt-à-Portea Platinum Jubilee Edition  Their traditional Prêt-à-Portea will feature three additional creations, the Queen’s summer hat, a favorite Launer London handbag made from a cake and a crown iced biscuit.
    Starts at £79 per person; Until June 12

    www.the-berkeley.co.uk+44 2071 078866
    Wilton Place, London SW1X 7RL

    . . . For the traditional
    Fortnum & Mason : Platinum Jubilee Afternoon Tea  Afternoon tea in the Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon includes a swan shaped pastry (since Queen Elizabeth II is owner of all the swans in England), eggs Drumkilbo (a favorite dish of the late Queen Mother) and a crown jewel-inspired mousse.
    £70 per person, Until August 31

    www.fortnumandmason.com+44 2077 348040
    181 Piccadilly, St. James's, London W1A 1ER

    . . . For the historian
    JW Marriott Grosvenor House : Platinum Jubilee Afternoon Tea — The limited edition pastries include a Valrhona Chocolate Biscuit Cake (the Queen’s tea cake favorite), Platinum Lemon Possett (a Buckingham Palace menu staple) and Great Room Ice Sphere that commemorates the Great Room at Grosvenor House where then Princess Elizabeth learned to to ice skate in 1933.
    £62.50 per person, Until August 31

    www.parkroom.co.uk+44 2074 996363
    86-90 Park Lane, London W1K 7TN

    . . . For the non-acrophobe
    Searcys at The Gherkin : Jubilee Afternoon Tea
    — The coronation chicken rillettes was originally created in 1953 for Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation and fruity Dundee Cake (Scottish fruit cake made with sultanas, currants, fruit peels and almonds) – two of Queen’s favorites are served 39 floors up.
    £55 per person, until June 25
    TIP : Request a table on the left hand side for views of Tower Bridge
    www.searcysatthegherkin.co.uk+44 3301 070816
    30 St Mary Axe, London EC3A 8EP

    . . . For the kids (and kids at heart)
    The Biscuiteers : Jubilee Afternoon Tea (Multiple)  The Jubilee-themed (corgi and crown) signature hand-iced biscuits were designed in collaboration with Buckingham Palace.
    £45 per person

    So many teas — so little time!

    For more: Download the London via Surrey Book App