A diverse scene with endless options
(Photo above: Culture abounds in London.)
Having been across the pond many times over the years for business (WTM circa mid-nineties and as recently as last year) and pleasure, there is always something new to discover in a city so rich in diversity. I recently visited London and stayed at the Radisson Blu Edwardian located on Mercer Street in the Seven Dials area near Covent Gardens.
The hotel is situated in one of the seven streets that link Covent Gardens and Soho, and in the middle of the square, there’s a column bearing six sundials, a result of the column being commissioned before a late-stage alteration of the plans from an original six roads to seven.
I absolutely love this neighbourhood that oozes charm and quaintness. The rooms at the Radisson Blu Edwardian are boutique in style, elegantly appointed and chic in décor. The icing on the cake is Monmouth Kitchen, the hotels Italian/Peruvian restaurant adjacent to the lobby with an incredible breakfast menu (buffet and à la carte) and dining menu.
For more information, visit: www.radissonblu-edwardian.com .
Note: Cambridge Theatre is home to the smash hit “Matilda” directly across the street from the hotel and just around the corner is a great local café/restaurant called Seven Dials Café (owned by Balans Soho Society).
London’s West End district is by far one of the favourites amongst LGBT travellers and an industry that has supported many LGBT initiatives.
London’s theatre scene continues to welcome some of the world’s most famous artists who have graced the stage, such as, Madonna in a play called “Up for Grabs “drawing revellers from around the globe, and many more.
During my recent visit to London, I went to see a play called “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” with an intriguing storyline best described on their website: www.curiousonstage.com and of course favorites such as; “Wicked,” “Mamma Mia,” “Les Miserables ,” “Phantom of the Opera” and many more are playing year-round.
I find that the theatre scene offers a wide spectrum of shows that is unparalleled to any other city with the exception of New York.
For more information, visit: www.encoretickets.co.uk .
Note: Planning dinner prior to a show can be daunting while en route, so I highly recommend making a reservation or leaving earlier.
The pub culture is like no other and thrives – just make sure that you plan ahead before heading out for dinner since most pubs usually close at 11 p.m.
The Soho district is where most of the gay and lesbian pubs, clubs, cafés/restaurants, shops are located and situated on or close to Old Compton, Rupert and Wardour Streets.
One of my favourite restaurants is Balans Soho Society on Old Compton Street offering great food at affordable prices, charming décor, friendly staff and fun atmosphere. For more information visit: www.balans.co.uk .
A short list of favourites among locals and tourists include; Compton on Soho (one of the oldest pubs – an institution), The Yard (known for their amazing service and great choice of cocktails), Village Soho (small, cozy and very busy), Rupert Street (great mix and mingle atmosphere and a favourite amongst locals) and dance the night away at G.A.Y Nightclub… for more information, visit: www.visitlondon.com .
London can best be explored by foot and/or tube and planning ahead is highly recommended since the city has so many attractions, exhibits, neighbourhoods and infamous landmarks such as the Tower of London, Big Ben, Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Place, Westminster Abbey, and London Eye, just to name a few.
A visit to the Museum of London and British Museum can best be explored on a day of leisure where you can travel through time exploring the many hidden treasures of past civilizations currently on display. For information on permanent and current exhibitions, visit: www.museumoflondon.org.uk and www.britishmuseum.org .
The highlight of my recent trip, aside from high tea at the Covent Garden Hotel (www.firmdalehotels.com/hotels/london/covent-garden-hotel/afternoon-tea/), was lunch (foodie at heart) at Sushi Samba located at 110 Bishopsgate on the 38th and 39th floor offering a unique fusion of Japanese, Brazilian and Peruvian cuisine with the highest outdoor terrace in Europe offering an unparalleled 360 degree views of the City – quite amazing ! The prices reflect the cost for this spectacular view, but worth the spend.
Armando Mendonça is a tourism entrepreneur, philanthropist supporting HIV/AIDS charities and LGBT travel expert. He can be reached at: [email protected] .