London: Covent Garden
SEE Theatre Museum Russell St., 20/7943-4700, theatremuseum.org
Unfairly neglected in favor of the market nearby, this outpost of the Victoria & Albert celebrates the lives of acting legends such as David Garrick with more than three centuries' worth of trinkets. Saturday's an interactive day with workshops and makeup classes for kids. Open Tues.--Sun., 10 a.m.--6 p.m. Free.
EAT The Ivy 1 West St., 20/7836-4751, caprice-holdings.co.uk
Still the best place in London to spot a celeb or two--note the hordes of paparazzi permanently stationed out front. As worthwhile for its food as for its scene, its menu's heavy on comfort staples like crab cakes. Booking ahead is essential.
EAT Rules 35 Maiden Ln., 20/7836-5314
The place where time stands still: Rules seems much the same as it was when Dickens was a regular 200 years ago. Expect to eat lots and lots of game (in season, from the northern England estate the restaurant owns). The dining room is like a gentleman's club, so dress up if you want to feel you belong.
DRINK Punch & Judy 40 The Market, 20/7379-0923
Packed every night, often with yuppie office workers, and the beer's overpriced. But that's not the point: On a summer's night, the terrace balcony overlooking the piazza is the best place for a drink in central London.
SHOP Bailey 5-11 Shorts Gardens, 20/7836-6097
Christopher Bailey's menswear is a design insider's choice, from his slim-fit shirts--often emblazoned with his trademark curlicue B--to his roomy jeans and offbeat accessories (silver knuckle-dusters and huge cuff watches).
SHOP Dress Circle 57-59 Monmouth St., 20/7240-2227, dresscircle.co.uk
The store sells anything show-related. There are the standard CDs and posters, as well as scores, programs, and even specialist magazines. The staff's exhaustive knowledge--and gossipy know-how on the current West End scene--is a major plus.
SHOP Muji 135 Long Acre, 20/7379-0820, muji.co.uk
Minimalist Japanese chain selling stationery, homewares, furniture, and clothing. It's all simple and smartly designed--heavy on unbleached paper and Perspex. What's more, prices are always reasonable. The pocket screwdriver sets are particularly nifty.
SPLURGE Koh Samui 65-67 Monmouth St., 20/7240-4280
Lush and hushed, this smallish boutique is the go-to choice for glamour girls in London. There's barely a rack that isn't packed with must-haves: Chloé, Balenciaga, and Missoni, as well as a smattering of rising fashion stars. Cash in the mortgage and splash out.
RAISING THE BRA The buzziest blog in London isn't media-centric or political-scandal-rousing--it's by an anonymous, high-class call girl (belledejour.co.uk). With the nom de plume Belle de Jour, in honor of the classic film, she's just snagged a book deal to reprint her exploits. If you'd rather have your fun than read about it, head for one of these high-end lingerie shops for a real souvenir to remember.
Agent Provocateur 6 Broadwick St., 20/7439-0229, agentprovocateur.com
Run by the son of original fashion rebel Vivienne Westwood, this shop kick-started the upscale lingerie trend in Britain, and is still a reliable choice: The pink-and-black boxes are to marabou thongs and half-cup bras what robin's-egg blue is to diamonds.
Myla 77 Lonsdale Rd., 20/7221-9222, myla.com
Stocks designer lingerie (the pearl-encrusted G-string is a popular choice) as well as a signature line of accessories reimagined as art objects by designers like Tom Dixon.
Rigby & Peller 22a Conduit St., 20/7491-2200, rigbyandpeller.com
Bra-fitters to the Queen, but non-HRH types can come for a free fitting--the women who work here are experienced enough to size you up without even measuring. Splurge on a new bra in your new size (it's almost guaranteed you're wearing the wrong one) and never look back. Closed Sun.
Budget Travel Real Deals
- From $179
- From $1,069
- From $1,125
- From $994
- From $909
- From $449
- From $849
- From $179
- From $1,285