London Journals

Footloose Female Off the Beaten Path in London

Best of IgoUgo

A March 2001 trip to London by Idler

Thames view Photo, London, England More Photos
Quote: A forty-something woman leaves job, husband, and son behind and goes wherever her fancy takes her for five days in London, a familiar city she hadn't visited since she'd lived in England back in the 1980's.

Footloose Female Off the Beaten Path in London

Best Of IgoUgo

Overview

St. James Park Photo, London, England
Quote:
London never sleeps, and it seemed at times neither did I as I raced about the city, attending concerts, musicals, and plays, having tea at Fortnum & Mason, tracking down esoteric items while shopping, browsing through bookstores, meeting old friends at the British Museum, visiting the Victoria & Albert Museum, Sir John Soane's Museum, The Museum of London and the Tate and Wallace Collections; looking out over London while riding the Eye, pottering about Highgate Cemetery and Petticoat Lane, and taking in an "Oscar Wilde" themed London Walk. Phew! Quick Tips: London is a great place for solo women travelers - it's relatively safe, friendly, and packed full of enjoyable sig...Read More

Edward Lear Hotel

Best Of IgoUgo

Hotel | "The Edward Lear Hotel"

Quote:
The Edward Lear Hotel is in a great location, just a two-minute walk from the Marble Arch station. Nearby is the Oxford Street shopping area, featuring Selfridge's, Sainsbury's, and a host of other stores. It's not on a main street, however, but in a tidy row of townhouses on Seymour Street. Wigmore Hall and the Wallace Collection, a lovely concert hall and museum, respectively, are in walking distance, as is Hyde Park. The exterior of the hotel is attractive, with cascading baskets of plants and a blue historical marker by the door. Like many hotels that have been converted from dwellings, however, it has its eccentrities. Na...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on March 24, 2002

Edward Lear Hotel
28 30 SEYMOUR ST MARBLE ARCH
London, England W1H 7JA
44 20 7402 5401

British Museum

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction | "The British Museum"

British Museum Photo, London, England
Quote:
The British Museum is a behemoth of a museum, but a glorious one. Visiting the museum can be a bit overwhelming, though, unless you determine what parts of the museum you're most interested in visiting. For example, I decided to take a look at the Mildenhall Treasure and Anglo Saxon section on this visit, as in former visits I'd seen the Egyptian, Greek, Roman, and Near Eastern sections. Still, there are vast sections of the museum I've never had stamina to visit. Some of the highlights of the museum include the Elgin Marbles, the Rosetta Stone, and an amazing collection of mummies and other Egyptian artefacts (the best ou...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 23, 2002

British Museum
Great Russell Street
London, England WC1B 3DG
+44 (207) 7323 8299

Victoria and Albert Museum

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction

Quote:
If you're a collector - or have even a hint of a tendency to collect things, then the Victoria and Albert Museum will absolutely send you. Whatever your passion - porcelain, metalwork, textiles, jewelry, glass, musical instruments, clothing - the V&A will speak to it. If by some chance you don't have a passion, then I can guarantee that you will have by the time you walk out the door. Like other mega museums, the V&A is best done in restraint, with planning and pacing. Stop by the front desk and get a plan of the museum, then decide what you're in the mood to look at. I've been to the museum four or five times, b...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 24, 2002

Victoria and Albert Museum
Cromwell Road
London, England SW7 2RL
+44 (20) 7942 2000

The London Theater Scene

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction

Quote:
On each of the five nights I stayed in London, I went to a concert or theater performance. I visited London without a set plan, relying instead on spur-of-the moment decisions based on whim. However, the first thing I did when I arrived was survey the concert and theatre listings in Time Out magazine. This provided a good idea of what was on in town. I also used the Half-Price Ticket Booth in Leicester Square. My favorite night out was a chamber music concert in ...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on March 24, 2002

The London Theater Scene
West End
London, England

London Shopping

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction | "London Shopping, part I"

London Shopping Photo, London, England
Quote:
Shopping in England was something of an adventure, as I was trying to find some idiosyncratic items, some of which were rather hard to find. My list included specific books, some homeopathic ointments for a friend, moleskin trousers, face tonic, luxury bath items, and even a horsehair fly whisk. Interspersed over the five days I was in London, I popped in and out of small stores and wandered through vast emporiums like Harrod's and Debenham's, finally succeeding in finding all but the trousers. My first foray was on Oxford Street, just down from my hotel. I've always enjoyed shopping in Marks and Spencer's, that basti...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 24, 2002

London Shopping
Various outfitters, bookstores, and dept. stores
London, England

London Shopping

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction | "London Shopping, part 2"

London Shopping Photo, London, England
Quote:
My biggest shopping challenge in London was finding a horsehair fly whisk. "A what?" you're probably asking. Well, it's used to keep the flies off a horse when riding. This is no trivial matter, as any person who’s been on a horse bucking uncontrollably to dislodge a biting horsefly can testify. Hence, the fly whisk. The best whisks are made from horse tail hair set into a long braided leather handle. I had been given the name of a small shop near Bond Street that carried equestrian items. No luck - I found that the shop had been closed. However, I was not without other leads, so I set off for several other sporting goods shops nearby, working my way through the Schneider Riding Boo...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on March 24, 2002

London Shopping
Various outfitters, bookstores, and dept. stores
London, England

Museum of London

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction | "The Museum of London"

Quote:
The Museum of London, located about five minutes from St. Paul's, is the perfect place to spend a rainy afternoon pondering London's long history. Strolling through the chronologically arranged galleries will provide a good overview of London's cultural history, from Roman Londinium on through the Middle Ages, Tudor London, the 18th and 19th centuries, and up to the present. This can be a bit overwhelming, so if you're interested in a particular period (say, the Regency), it's best to head straight for the period of interest and not get too bogged down in exhibits of Roman numismatics or The Great Fire. My onl...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on March 24, 2002

Museum of London
150 London Wall
London, England EC2Y 5HN
+44 (207) 814 5613

London Trocadero

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction | "The Trocadero"

Quote:
Are you feeling restless? Want to be on the move? Don't know what it is you want? Then take the tube to Piccadilly Circus and walk up Shaftsbury Avenue or Coventry Street to the Trocadero, London's premier entertainment complex. Here you'll be in sensory overload, as the complex is a shiny, shimmering universe of pusing neon lights flashing to an urban beat. Ride up and down the escalators in this neon wonderland and check out all the shops, cinemas, cyber cafes, restaurants, video arcades, and exhibits such as Madam Tussaud's "Rock Circus." A carnival atmosphere prevails, and the place definitely is for th...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 24, 2002

London Trocadero
Coventry Street
London, England W1D 7DH
+44 891 881100

London Walks: Ghosts of the Old City

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction | "London Walks"

London Walks: Ghosts of the Old City Photo, London, England
Quote:
Every time I'm in London, I make a point to go on a different London Walk. Don't be mislead by the imitation London Walk companies; this is the original. The guides are seasoned pros, passionate about their subject matter, and able to field even the most arcane question. For added atmosphere, they dress the part (Richard the III, Oscar Wilde, Sherlock Holmes...). Many of them are accomplished actors or actresses in their own right. My first London Walk some years back (in the 1980's, if the truth be known) was on a Ghost Walk in the Old C...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 23, 2002

London Walks: Ghosts of the Old City
St. Paul Tube Stop
London, England
+44 (020) 7624 3978

The London Eye

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction

The London Eye Photo, London, England
Quote:
Over 135 meters high and weighing a massive 1,500 tons, The London Eye is the tallest observation wheel in the world. Built for the Millennium festivities a few years back, on a clear day you can see for 25 miles from the wheel's unique vantage point, perched on the South Bank just across the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. While tickets for the Eye aren't cheap, keep in mind that a single rotational trip will take a half an hour. Compared to other famous "vantage points," such as Chicago's Sears Tower, the Eye provides an uncrowded and unhurried view out over all of London. Tickets for the Eye are booked in advance and ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 23, 2002

The London Eye
South Bank of the River Thames
London, England SE1 9TA
+44 (870) 500 0600

Wallace Collection

Attraction | "The Wallace Collection"

Quote:
If you're like me, and you find yourself getting woozy in large museums and galleries, then consider going to a more manageable collection, such as the one offered by the The Wallace Collection. The collection was bequeathed to the nation by Lady Wallace, widow of Sir Richard Wallace, and basically consists of the Wallace family's superb art collection. Among the highlights are many exquisite French 18th-century pictures, lovely porcelain and antique furniture, and (my personal favorite) a surprisingly diverse armory, with several rooms devoted to Middle Eastern and Asian weaponry. You're bound to find something you enjoy a...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 23, 2002

Wallace Collection
Hertford House
London, England W1M 6BN
+44 20 7563 9500

Wigmore Hall

Attraction

Quote:
Wigmore Hall, a small gem of a concert hall famous for its outstanding chamber music program and marvelous acoustics, is tucked away on a side street just off of the busy Oxford Street shopping district and easily accessible by tube (Bond Street or Oxford Street stations) or bus (Oxford Street line). There's something on almost every night of the week, and tickets are reasonably priced, usually ranging from 10 to 20 pounds. Enter the lovely marble foyer of the hall on any given day to check at the box office and see what's playing. If you enjoy classical music, chances are that you'll find something to your liking. Wigmore offe...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 23, 2002

Wigmore Hall
36 Wigmore Street
London, England W1U 2PH
+44 20 7487 4874

Quote:
Sir John Soane's Museum is one of the most serendipitous museums in London. The museum is housed in a private home, that of Sir John Soane. After his wife's death, Soane spent a lifetime amassing the diverse collection, leaving it to the nation upon his death in 1837 with the stipulation that nothing in the collection be moved, removed, or tampered with. What this means is that stepping through the museum's door entails a trip back in time to pre-Victorian England. The building itself is as quirky as its architect owner/designer was, with a number of architecture surprises. This is the sort of place to go on a rainy afternoon and indulge in...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 23, 2002

Sir John Soane's Museum
13 Lincoln's Inn Fields
London, England WC2A 3BP
+44 20 7405 2107

Highgate Cemetery

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction

Quote:
          It may seem rather macabre, but one thing I've always enjoyed is a historic cemetery, the more atmospheric the better. One of my favorites is Highgate Cemetery, just on the outskirts of London. Karl Marx is perhaps its most famous residents, but that's just a beginning.           Other notable denizens include eccentric traveler James Holman, who roamed the globe in the early 19th century with nary a hitch despite being completely blind; Elizabeth Siddall, a famous Pre-Raphaelite model; Michael Faraday, one of the mos...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 23, 2002

Highgate Cemetery
Swain's Lane
London, England N6
+44 20 8340 1834

Petticoat Lane Market

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction | "Petticoat Lane"

Petticoat Lane Market Photo, London, England
Quote:
One of the most famous street markets in London, if not the world, is Petticoat Lane, in East London. There's nothing like a stroll down this lively, teeming street, especially on a leisurely Sunday morning. Enjoy watching "Eastenders?" Go see the real thing, find a bargain, grab a tasty snack, or simply soak up the sights, sounds, and smells of this unique market. It's a great place to buy souvenirs cheaply, too; on my last trip I got trinkets such as a London T-shirt and a toy London "black cab" for my ten-year-old son. Th...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 23, 2002

Petticoat Lane Market
Middlesex Street and surrounding streets
London, England E1

Prelude: Oscar and Me

Best Of IgoUgo

Story/Tip

Quote:
Oscar Wilde once wrote, "One’s real life is so often the life that one does not lead." This, regrettably, is true for me, as I suspect it is for many others. Time’s wingéd chariot rushes by as we resignedly wait on hold for the next available customer representative or watch the bumper directly in front of us move a few inches forward on a Friday afternoon. One could argue that an active fantasy life, not to mention the dream of exotic travel, is the best defense against despair in such circumstances. One could argue with equal persuasion, I suppose, that such mental escapism indicates a certain laxity of character. When I encounter people whom I suspect of holding the latter view, I get even by c...Read More