London conjures up so many cliché images: Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, and red double-decker buses. While such sights are must-sees, tread further away from the tourist traps and you’ll discover what truly is the capital of the world in its endless, ethnically diverse neighborhoods. A global melting pot and Europe’s largest city, London offers virtually anything and everything to the visitor, starting with never-ending nightlife, top-notch cuisine, and probably the world’s best shopping.
Best Place to Dance: Legendary Heaven nightclub has been the epicenter of London’s gay and lesbian community since 1979. This world-renowned gay nightclub has a capacity of more then 1,600 people and numerous dance rooms. Be lucky one weekend and you might find Madonna or Lady Gaga performing here. This is the place to dance your life away.
Coolest Neighborhood: A neighborhood in transition, graffiti-saturated Brick Lane is edgy, packing in tons of funky student bars, art galleries, vintage stores and “curry-houses” (home to the country’s best Indian food). Sunday mornings check out the Brick Lane Market, where everything from antiques to vintage Burberry coats can be found.
Shop-til-you-drop: Oxford Street is one of the most expensive and famous stretches of retail in the world. One can find Gucci, H&M, or Zara in any other megacity, but what makes this posh thoroughfare so special is that it truly represents the bustling essence of London. Great for people watching, you might spot Saudi royalty rubbing shoulders with British nobility at the numerous cafes and restaurants lining the road.
Best historic landmark: No visit to London is complete without venturing back in time. The world famous Tower of London dates back 900 years, founded by William the Conqueror in the early 1080s. While a tad morbid given its reputation as a fortress of execution, torture, and horrific imprisonment, it is truly fascinating to still be able to see past inmates’ ancient writings (read cries for help) etched in stones all over the building.
Wine-n’-Dine: Although “fry ups” and Fish n’ Chips might not be the most elegant of dishes, British cuisine has had a huge resurgence in recent years and the chefs at Hix are determined to put it on the map. Located in central London, right in the heart of Soho (which is also London’s main gayborhood), Hix combines both a modern lounge and a hip restaurant, and is great for dates.