Spend 24hrs finding out what lies beneath the capital
Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, and Tower Bridge are just some of London’s iconic sights. But they just scratch the surface of this colourful capital. From twisting tunnels under the Thames to fine dining on the tube, we navigate London’s edgier underworld to map out 24 hours in the city.
DAY ONE: Morning - Tunnel beneath the thames
Ever imagined what it’s like to take a stroll under the Thames? Set to the city’s southeast in the district of Rotherhithe, the Brunel Museum lets you probe the peripheries and explore one of the capital’s best-kept secrets. Dubbed the ‘eighth wonder of the world’ and a triumph of Victorian engineering, courtesy of Marc Brunel and his son Isambard, it opened its doors to the world in 1843. Today you can still see the Grade II listed chamber where Brunel Jr had a brush with death.
Top tip: Alternatively, you could walk the Greenwich foot tunnel – open all year.
Afternoon - wander through Wonderland
London gets ‘curiouser and curiouser’ as you travel further south. Transforming the nooks and crannies of Lambeth, dramatists Les Enfants Terribles are making Alice’s Adventures a reality in summer 2017.
In pursuit of a large white rabbit with a stopwatch, visitors navigate the warren of tunnels and interact with this storybook favourite. A grinning Cheshire cat and the Queen of Hearts are just some of the personalities to be found along the way.
Top tip: Wear something cool and comfortable to get the most out of this underground adventure.
Evening - tuck in on the tube
You’ll be ready for a four-course meal after all that sightseeing. The award-winning Basement Galley, or Underground Supper Club, means you can actually stay on the tube as you savour haute cuisine. Le Cordon Bleu graduate, Alex Cooper, creates Scandinavian and French inspired cuisine. And he serves it on a decommissioned 1967 London Underground carriage in the borough of Waltham Forest – railing against your average fine dining environment. It’s slightly out of town, but worth the journey.
Top tip: Gordon’s Dickensian-inspired Winebar, in vaulted cellars on Villier’s Street, is another option if you don’t manage to snap up a table.
End the day at Flemings Mayfair, which puts you in a fashionable spot back in the centre.
Day 2: Morning - go avant-garde
For the artistically inclined, Leake Street’s Graffiti Tunnel is a must. Hidden below the grumbling tracks of Waterloo in Lambeth, this 300-metre stretch is one of the capital’s largest graffiti walls.Banksy popularised it back in 2008 and since then it’s become an underground canvas for local street artists wanting to push boundaries. Capturing the kaleidoscopic hues of London’s creative imagination, bold strokes and daring colours are in stark contrast to what you ordinarily find in the Underground.
Top tip: Banksy’s tunnel challenges social and political convention, so bring an open mind with you.
Late morning - escape the everyday
Step back in time at Churchill’s underground blitz bunker on King Charles Street, in Westminster. Making up a part of the Imperial War Museum, this dugout was once a covert meeting place for the British government during the Second World War. Now it documents the life and times of Sir Winston Churchill. Make a beeline for the virtually untouched Map Room to see British wartime strategy in action.
Top tip: This underground adventure is almost always popular. But if you book in advance you can often avoid the queues – and standing out in the British weather.
Top tip: Downstairs at The Ampersand Hotel, Apero serves a collage of sunny dishes inspired by the Mediterranean – and is set in the old Victorian arches beneath the hotel.
Other luxury hotels in London
To mix up underground adventures with strolling in the leafy spaces, make Dukes Hotel or St James’s Hotel and Club your base. Both are between Green Park and St James’s Park. To be near Hyde Park, try The Arch London. Or enjoy the bustling shops of Knightsbridge or Notting Hill at The Capital Hotel & Apartments or The Laslett.