There is nothing like a visit to London as there is always something to see whether old or new. Here are a few ideas to consider on your next visit to the capital.
The London Eye
When it was first erected in 2000 The London Eye was only meant to be running for a year to commemorate the new millennium. 23 years on and 75 million “flights” over London and the London Eye is still pulling in the crowds.
It is easy to understand why: in the thirty minutes it takes for your capsule to complete the full circle you will see all the famous London landmarks laid out in front of you – as they start to become like miniature versions the nearer you reach the top of the London Eye.
The Houses of Parliament and Big Ben are the most notable sights although slightly further away is Westminster Abbey, 10 Downing Street, Buckingham Palace and Kensington Palace.
In the distance is the newly renovated Battersea Power Station, The Shard, Canary Wharfe and you can just see the outline of Wembley Stadium.
Of course you need to go on a clear day. It is not cheap though with prices starting at £30.00 with Family Standard tickets priced at £28.00 per person. If there was only one attraction in London that you will always remember then the London Eye is definitely the one and is something everyone should do once when they visit London – unless you are scared of heights that is!
Searcys at St Pancras Station
If you fancy something a little luxurious and out of the ordinary then Searcys at St Pancras International Railway Station might appeal.
The name Searcys might not mean too much to northerners as the brand is more known in the south. The champagne bar at St Pancras is the longest one in Europe, though I was expecting a long bar instead of a wraparound version.
Opposite is the brasserie which offers a break from the hustle and bustle of the station. The art deco hideaway offers first class service – it was nice to be addressed as Sir and my partner Madam after a few days of being called “guys”. Why are all these Americanisms creeping into the English language?
We visited on a Sunday afternoon when the Sunday Brunch menu tends to be offered, if we had visited on another day we could have treated ourselves to afternoon tea.
My partner decided upon the Freedom Lager battered haddock served with minted peas, triple-cooked chips and tartar sauce. Priced at £19.50 the meal was served hot, tasted fresh and reasonably priced for London.
My braised Oxtail burger, dry cured bacon, aged cheddar and triple cooked chips was excellent, cooked to my liking and again not over the top price-wise at £19.50 bearing in mind you are dining in what felt like a proper restaurant with white table cloths, service above and beyond the call of duty. If you want to feel someone special and to treat yourself then Searcys is the destination for you. Regardless of onward travel elsewhere we would return back to St Pancras just for one reason alone – to visit Searcys.
2:22 – A Ghost Story – Lyric Theatre
If you want to see a really gripping and enthralling play then this ghost story will be for you. There is a North East connection too as it stars Cheryl Cole, though really the star of the show is the play itself.
Making her debut stage appearance in the West End, Cole was excellent. I was not expecting too much but I would suggest that she gives up her singing career and concentrates on acting. In her role as Jenny she plays a convincing new mother who believes her house that she and her husband, San have bought is haunted. Her North East accent is still present but that did not detract from her performance.
Their friend Lauren comes to a dinner party with her new boyfriend Ben. Over the course of one night things begin to get very spooky.
Like Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap there is a twist in the tale right at the very end, I cannot spoil it for you but it is very clever, so much so I want to see this intriguing play again. Worth seeing.
Andaz Hotel, Liverpool Street
The hotel is one I have been meaning to visit for a few years now but Covid saw to my first reservation being cancelled. Was it worth waiting two years to visit?
A few days before our arrival I received an email from the hotel asking for any preferences for our room such as what pillows we would like, any special requests for the room etc which set the tone for a good stay.
If you want a hotel that is a quick ride on the tube from Kings Cross and has good travel connections then the Andaz Hotel is hard to beat – as you walk out of Liverpool Street station the hotel is right alongside.
The reception area felt like a cross between a hip New York hotel lobby with a touch of English quirkiness. As we were checking in we were offered a glass of prosecco or a coffee – like all guests are. I thought this was a nice touch.
The welcome was very friendly and throughout our stay the reception staff could not do enough for us – even going out to the convenience store opposite one night to buy some coffee and bring it to our room, when there was no decaffeinated coffee in our room.
Our king bedroom was facing onto the road outside (some do face internally) though thanks to the excellent double glazing the noise from outside was minimal. Our room looked quite sparse but it had everything you need – if you wanted anything extra bringing up to your room then you could select from the list displayed on the television.
A huge bonus was the fridge that was stocked daily with complimentary soft drinks. The Nespresso coffee machine along with snacks was also an added bonus. Between 6pm and 8pm free wine and canapes were on offer in the Andaz Lounge.
We dined one night in the Eastway Brasserie at the hotel – the food was a bit hit and miss, whilst my Dedham Vale Ribeye steak was cooked to perfection my partner’s Tuna Nicoise was served with potatoes that had black bits in them which should have never left the kitchen. A copious buffet breakfast is also served buffet style in the restaurant and had British and Continental options that were enough to set you up for a day of sightseeing.
If you want a good location with excellent transport links, shopping (Petticoat Lane Market is a five minute walk away) and a warm friendly atmosphere you might like to stay at The Andaz. Yes, it was worth waiting for.