London Calling!

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Covent Garden, Shutterstock

“When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life,” so claimed Samuel Johnson to his biographer Boswell. Mark Browne took a trip to put this to the test visiting two of the city’s most iconic neighbourhoods for Together: Covent Garden and Liverpool Street.

There is no doubt that along with Paris, London is one of a few European cities that can be described as truly global in stature. The recent coronation of King Charles III has put London and its historic landmarks in the spotlight. Historic London sites like Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London are powerful draws for tourists, as is the city’s theatre land and thriving City of London district, which remains one of the most attractive capital markets in the world. 

Covent Garden 

One of the most popular tourist destinations in central London, Covent Garden is a vibrant area that offers a wealth of attractions and activities that can appeal to visitors with a wide variety of interests and ages. The eponymous Covent Garden market itself has been operating since the 17th century and is still a thriving venue, offering culinary and fashion wares from the restored historic covered market halls, outdoor stalls lining the surrounding streets, as well as the restaurants and cafes housed within. 

Nearby Seven Dials Market is a much more contemporary incarnation of the market concept. Housed in a former warehouse, it features a large international food court and hosts DJ evenings. The adjacent Covent Garden Piazza is a lively square, often featuring street performers and surrounded by shops and restaurants. In fact there is a wealth of spots of interest for those with an awareness of architecture, including the nearby regal beauty of The Strand and Cecil Court.

Beyond these sites, Covent Garden is perfectly located to access some of London’s primary cultural attractions. These include the Royal Opera House as well as the theatres of the nearby West End. For those with an interest in cinematography, the London Film Museum may be of interest, while the multiplexes of Leicester Square offer current releases. However, it is probably best situated for those wishing to enjoy London’s art collections. The National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery are both located nearby, as is Somerset House, which houses several galleries featuring visiting exhibitions. Other popular sites include the London Transport Museum, which features an impressive collection of vintage buses, trains, and trams. 

Where to Stay 

As a popular base for London tourists there is no shortage of local venues. However the newly opened AMANO hotel offers a modern and stylish option with a cosmopolitan feel. Its rooftop bar affords fantastic views across the city in the evenings while the signature restaurant, Penelope’s, is a lively venue offering an immersive dining experience where guests can enjoy an exciting fusion mix of first rate Israeli-Spanish cuisine from Executive Chef Fez Ozalgan, against the backdrop of a DJ-fuelled party ambience. Just the spot for visitors to base themselves – and experience – while also enjoying this cultural quarter.

Liverpool Street 

Further to the east, Liverpool Street is a bustling area in, and adjacent to, London’s financial district, often referred to as “the city”. While it would traditionally have primarily appealed to business travellers, it can also act as an interesting base for recreational visitors to London, especially as the Liverpool Street train station makes it readily accessible and gives access to one of London’s main travel hubs. 

Located right in the heart of the city, the area allows visitors to see architectural gems both of a historical nature, such as the Bishopsgate Institute, or St Paul’s Cathedral, as well as modern buildings such as ‘The Gherkin’ or ‘The Cheesegrater’. It is also convenient to iconic London sights such as Tower Bridge. 

Popular spots for shoppers include the Old Spitalfields Market, the Petticoat Lane Market and Brick Lane. They sell everything from vintage clothing and accessories to artisanal cuisine. There are also local cultural attractions including the Whitechapel Gallery, specializing in contemporary art. The neighbouring district of Shoreditch is now among the most trendy parts of London and offers many different styles of food. Street food or quirky bars and gastro pubs offer an impressive range of cuisines. The choice is almost dizzying. 

Where to Stay 

The relatively newly opened Pan Pacific Hotel, located in the heart of the area and very close to Liverpool Street station, is an excellent 5 star cosmopolitan option for visitors. Combining the attractions of a modern luxury hotel with the high service standards one would expect of this chain, this gracefully themed destination hotel affords fantastic views over the surrounding area.

However, it has two elements that really set it apart from other hotels in the area – its wellness and restaurant facilities. Boasting an entire floor dedicated to wellness, the amenities in this 1,083m² exclusive facility really raise the bar. The highlight is an 18.5m infinity pool with panoramic views onto the city plaza outside – but that’s just one element of the top level features available. With top-tier treatment rooms, a cutting edge gym with the latest equipment from TecnoBody®, as well as steam and sauna rooms, this facility offers the definitive venue to focus on fitness and wellness in the heart of the city.

In terms of cuisine, the hotel’s Straits Kitchen restaurant, headed by Head Chef Jun Yung Ng, offers an enticing melting pot of authentic cuisines from Singapore’s many cultures designed to tempt every palate. Little wonder the hotel has won a host of awards including the Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Award.

Mark Browne was a guest of the AMANO Hotel and the Pan Pacific Hotels.