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WELCOME TO LONDON

On 20 September 1777, the English author Samuel Johnson famously said, “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.” Some 250 years later, that statement is still true. Feted for its rich history and amazing diversity, London boasts four world heritage sites: The Tower of London, the settlement of Greenwich, the Palace of Westminster, and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. London is also a 21st-century city – capital of the world’s financial industry and a leader in the art, culture and fashion spheres. Its popularity continues to rise as the city prepares to host the 2012 Summer Olympic Games.

THE LAY OF THE LAND

Covering over 600 square miles (1500 square kilometres) and with some 13 million inhabitants, London is one of the world’s largest cities. The River Thames dissects the city centre, running from west to east. London's vast urban area is often described using a set of district names such as Mayfair, Chelsea, Marylebone and Westminster, all of which reflect the names of original villages and parishes that now constitute the metropolis. The City of London is the most historical quarter, being the site of the original Roman settlement of ‘Londinium’ over 2000 years ago. Today this one square mile forms the heart of London’s financial district, where historic icons such as St Paul’s Cathedral sit alongside modern high-rises. The West End is London’s entertainment district and home to its world-famous Theatreland as well as the clubs and bars of Soho and the restaurants of Covent Garden.

AROUND THE LANGHAM NEIGHBOURHOOD

The Langham, London was opened on 10 June 1865 by HRH The Prince of Wales and was heralded as Europe’s first ‘Grand Hotel’. From the outset it held out a prestige unrivalled in London. It also boasted the most convenient and fashionable location – a position still true 145 years on.

The hotel sits in the heart of London, at the epicentre of four urban villages, each with their own distinctive charm: Mayfair is renowned for top-class shopping and dining. Bond Street in particular is synonymous with uber exclusive fashion and jewellery brands while Regent Street is the home to many of London’s iconic flagship stores such as Liberty emporium and Hamleys, the world-famous toy store.

Soho is London’s late-night entertainment hub and home to the city’s top theatres staging world-class productions of musicals and classical dramas, including the world’s longest-running production, The Mousetrap (which opened on 25 November 1952). Stroll through Carnaby Street for trendy fashion, check out England’s version of Chinatown, or pop into one of the many entertainment venues such as the venerable Ronnie Scotts Jazz Club. Venture a littlefurther to Covent Garden to the world-renowned Royal Opera House for a spectacular performance by The Royal Opera or The Royal Ballet.

Marylebone, celebrated as a village inside London, is a charming residential neighbourhood of historic mews homes and residences with a plethora of chic boutiques, gourmet food stores and cafes on Marylebone High Street. A must-see is The Wallace Collection, a museum in a historic London townhouse with 25 galleries displaying a host of masterpieces. Music lovers will be enchanted by The Wigmore Hall, the recital venue that specialises in hosting performances of chamber music and classical piano recitals.

Just a few steps north is Regent’s Park, which, at 410 acres, is the largest Royal Park in central London (larger than Hyde Park). Here you’ll find: Queen Mary’s Gardens, with stunning floral displays that include more than 30,000 roses of 400 varieties; London Zoo, the world’s oldest scientific zoo, which now features over 750 animal species and includes the new Gorilla Kingdom; and The Open Air Theatre, the oldest, professional, permanent outdoor theatre in Britain with an annual 15-week season of productions that include works by Shakespeare.

Fitzrovia is London’s original artistic and bohemian quarter, with fascinating historical buildings and trendy bars. The British Museum, located in this district, is the world’s pre-eminent museum with a collection of over seven million artefacts – amongst the most comprehensive anywhere documenting the story of human culture. The British Library, also found here, lists over 150 million items in all known languages: books, journals, newspapers, maps, stamps, drawings and the earliest versions of some of the most significant books in English literature.

TAILOR-MADE TOURS

Open-top double-decker Bus Tour – Famous the world over for its red double-decker buses, London can be surveyed from the upper deck of one of these grand vehicles…. The perfect introduction to all the great sights of the city.
Black Taxi Tours – London is also famed for its black cabs, so why not travel in comfort and view the city’s landmarks with a private, guided tour in one?
The London Eye – Let London revolve around you, with Europe’s tallest ferris wheel, located on the South Bank near Westminster Bridge. Travelling at 0.6 mph, the thirty-minute flight in your capsule gives you ample time to marvel at the unique views of London.
Helicopter Tours – For the trip of a lifetime, view London from 1,000 feet in the sky. Departing from Battersea Heliport, the helicopter tour follows the course of the River Thames, giving you spectacular views of some of London’s most famous historic landmarks, including St Paul’s Cathedral and Buckingham Palace.
RIB Voyages – A river cruise with a big difference, this is essentially a thrill ride in a high-speed RIB boat. Catch London’s riverside landmarks, such as the House of Parliament and Big Ben, as you whizz along the Thames and zoom under the city’s famous bridges at up to 35 knots. Not for the faint of heart.
Jack the Ripper Tour For a more sedate but equally hair-raising tour of London, step back in time to Victorian London, when The Langham was first opened. This evening walking tour takes in many of the original cobbled streets of London’s East End, re-tracing the footsteps of London’s most famous killer.

OTHER LOCAL ATTRACTIONS

London is also a great place to explore unique attractions further afield:

Hampton Court Palace – Nestled on the banks of the River Thames, much of the palace dates from the reign of King Henry VIII. Its highlights include: the Tudor Kitchens, the Privy Garden, the world’s oldest grapevine, the world’s first real tennis court, the world-famous maze and The Chapel Royal.
Windsor Castle The largest and oldest occupied castle in the world, this is one of the official residences of Her Majesty The Queen. Among its highlights are: the magnificent State Apartments, furnished with works of art from the Royal Collection; St George’s Hall, following the restoration after the fire of 1992; and St George's Chapel, which contains the tombs of ten sovereigns, including Henry VIII, Charles I and, most recently, HM Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.
Lunch in Paris – just 10 minutes by taxi from The Langham, London is St Pancras Railway Terminus where you can board your Eurostar service to Paris. The 2-hour, 15-minute journey allows you ample time for lunch in the French capital, a spot of shopping in the chic Parisian boutiques, a stroll down the Champs Elysees, and to be back in time for a late dinner in London.