Window on my world — 08 September 2015

Each month American Express Essentials present a selection of the most original travel and lifestyle trends with ideas from around the world.

I was recently asked by them to contribute for their travel section some suggestions about London prompting me with a series of questions. For no particular reason here are my answers.

What is your best-kept secret find in London, and why? (could be anything: a restaurant, a shop, bar, museum, park, landmark, etc.)

It’s like Florence with rain

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Photo: Rooftop view in London ©Emma Feath

Adjacent to St Paul’s Cathedral is shopping centre One New Change, ignore the plethora of shops and restaurants, and take the glass-walled lift to the top. A platform there gives unparalleled views of Londoners’ favourite historic building, one of the few places left to view the iconic dome, much like Florence’s Santa Maria del Fiore. The novelist Guy de Maupassant ate daily at the Eiffel Tower’s restaurant so he didn’t have to look at the structure which he hated, and from this vantage point above the shopping centre you can’t see the murky goldfish bowl beneath you.

Where do you go for a great iconic ‘London’ experience, without the tourists?

Gain some Knowledge

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Photo: A beginner’s guide to taking cabs ©Ady Gupta

You could waste your money and time by joining the queue to gape at a room full of wax effigies, but I’m suggesting a better use of your vacation, by taking a tour. See all the sights without joining the crowds. A number of cabbies offer tours: Harry Potter; Princess Diana; or historic London, you choose. No overcrowded tour bus, confusing use of public transport, the guy doing the driving knows London and with up to six passengers it’s not as expensive as you might think.

The colder months will be here soon: what’s your favourite thing to do or place to go when the weather gets chilly?

A shelter from the elements

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Photo: Temple Place Shelter ©David Styles

Dotted around London are 13 remaining Cabbie Green Shelters offering sustenance to all, but only those with ‘The Knowledge’ get a seat inside. Built by philanthropic contributors to ensure Victorian cabbies had a warm dry place to eat, the alternative had been the local boozer. The size of a garden shed, only 13 are left of the original 61 built which at that time provided donated books and newspapers to read while eating; while alcohol and political discussion was forbidden, as today the latter was probably ignored. Seating twelve with a working kitchen, one even has its own Twitter feed @RussellSqCabHut.

If you can’t visit during Open House Weekend (19-20 September) when last year three opened their doors to the public, go there to buy an authentic London breakfast, you never know the shelter’s proprietor might let you have a look inside.

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