Few cities rival London when it comes to iconic landmarks. From the regal elegance of Buckingham Palace to the Gothic-style splendour of Big Ben, the British capital makes a dramatic first impression. It's truly a city of contrasts – Knightsbridge, with its decadent department stores and ostentatious jet-set vibe, feels a world away from hipster enclave Shoreditch, with its vibrant street art and edgy nightspots.

    No visit to London is complete without sampling the glitz and glamour of the West End theatre district and the cosmopolitan cafe culture of Soho. And forget the trite stereotype of bland British food. From mouth-watering market-stall fare to minimalist Michelin-starred restaurants, you can feast like royalty on any budget.

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    A London city break means something different to every visitor. Some will find a procession of historic palaces and sweeping parks, others a whirl of ground-breaking nightclubs and cutting-edge galleries. Book a London hotel and discover your personal version of this city of a hundred villages.

    Get your bearings

    The River Thames is the flowing heart of London, snaking past the glittering skyscrapers of The City, through the historic pomp and circumstance of central London, and out west to the leafy parks and gardens of Richmond. The city’s famed theatres and first-class shops cluster around the West End, and the East End is home to an intoxicating mix of dynamic markets, inventive street art and Asian restaurants. A walk along the curve of the South Bank takes in two miles of waterside galleries, theatres and arts cinemas.

    Street-smart shopping

    London mornings are the time for markets; fashion fans stalk Portobello for vintage outfits and quirky antiques while Borough Market is crammed with hungry Londoners picking up fresh British cheeses and organic meat. Vast department stores like Harrods and Selfridges are the city’s temples to big-name international designers – but the likes of Kate Moss shop at Oxford Street’s street-fashion superstore, Top Shop. Lovers of luxury head to the exclusive streets of Mayfair, where suits, shoes and even cigars can be hand-made to measure – at a price.

    Global dining

    London serves up the world on a plate – if it’s cooked anywhere on the planet, someone is cooking it somewhere in London. Slurp spicy pho soup in Hackney’s great-value Vietnamese cafés, tuck into modern versions of British classics in a laid-back gastropub, or splash out on a Michelin-starred masterpiece in an opulent London hotel restaurant. Every high street has its own version of those twin titans of British dining: the fish ‘n’ chip shop and the curry house.

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