Incredibly diverse and crackling with energy, London is one of the planet’s most enthralling travel destinations. It’s a city of palaces and pound shops, parks and pubs, where show-stopping modern architecture looms above ornate old bridges, glamorous stores, museums and ritzy hotels and playhouses. Exploring this vast multicultural metropolis, you’ll hear everything from
the Queen’s English to Arabic, Cockney to Swahili, as suited cyclists, black cabs and big red buses whir past and Tube trains rumble deep beneath your feet. Whether you’re strolling through the neighbourhoods 
of the rich and famous, browsing market stalls in trendy, street-art-speckled districts or wining and dining in A-list hangouts, London will always keep you coming 
back for more.

The stay

The Twenty Two, London

There’s no shortage of luxury in ritzy Mayfair, which is why a quirky, creative slant makes The Twenty Two feel fresh, despite its prime position on storied Grosvenor Square. Traditional on the outside (grand, Edwardian, historic), this property is anything but staid inside. The 31 rooms and suites, plus a members’ club, were designed by Natalia Miyar, who merged plush velvets and Pierre Frey wallpaper with unexpected colour combinations, such as baby-blue and deep-red, to lend a modern sensuality to the décor. It's sexy yet genteel, opulent yet elegant – and that goes for the guests, too.

The all-rounder

Blue Mountain School, London

What started in 2010 as Hostem, a cult fashion store for brands such as Visvim and Rick Owens, has since evolved into Blue Mountain School. The ultimate multi-hyphenate – part-gallery, part-studio, part-restaurant, part-shop – the six-storey complex in the East End demands proper time. Check the website for rotating art exhibitions or make an appointment to shop three-ply cashmere pieces by Geoffrey B. Small and one-of-a-kind porcelain cups by Steve Harrison. Culinary connoisseurs can experience Blue Mountain School (and Harrison’s ceramics) by booking a table at Cycene for executive chef Theo Clench’s Asian-inflected five- or 10-course menus.

The antiquing

Alfies Antique Market, London

Alfies Antique Market in Marylebone proves that the city’s long history makes it an excellent place to shop for treasures. From Art Deco jewellery to Nordic glassware, there are four floors of goodies (hint: head to the second level for the fashion) only minutes from Edgware Road. Hungry for more? Set your alarm and take an Uber – or book a Turo car share – to Kempton Park near Heathrow for Sunbury Antiques Market, which is held on the second and fourth Tuesday of every month from 6.30am (it pays to come early to score the best finds). “Imagine your favourite vintage store and Parisian flea market rolled into one,” says Edward Cruttenden, whose mum, Sue, started the market more than 40 years ago and who now runs it with his wife, Jennie. “No matter what you’re looking for, someone will be selling it.”

The museum

The Cosmic House, London

Built between 1978 and 1983 in Holland Park, private-home-turned-museum The Cosmic House is an icon of Postmodernist design. Gaze at the tented ceiling of the library, with its building-like shelves and thematically arranged books, and take the central spiral staircase for glimpses of more kooky rooms that conjure the magic of Alice’s Wonderland. Booking ahead is advised because a maximum of 15 people can visit at one time, on Wednesdays to Fridays from 12.30pm to 5pm, and the property is only open to the public for nine months a year.

The walk

Tate Modern, London

Embark on your own art and architecture walking tour of London. Start at Tate Modern at Bankside for Yoko Ono: Music of the Mind (until 1 September) before following the Thames for about 10 minutes west to the Tom Dixon-designed Sea Containers Restaurant for a fancy lunch right on the river. If you’re after something more casual, nearby Southbank Centre Food Market is the place to go from Friday to Sunday for a chicken shawarma pit stop at Levant Kitchen. From here it’s a 90-minute scenic stroll across the Hungerford and Golden Jubilee bridges and through the “olde England” neighbourhoods of Westminster and Belgravia, known for their palatial British Regency and Georgian architecture, to the Design Museum. The exhibition Enzo Mari, which is showing until 8 September, is a retrospective of the life and work of the acclaimed 20th-century Italian designer.

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SEE ALSO: How to Spend a Perfect Week in London

Image credits: The Twenty Two; Lewis Ronald; Sue Barr; Samuel Regan Asante; Gareth Gardner.

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