Tick off some of London’s most famous landmarks while visiting memorable Bollywood film locations. Start in Trafalgar Square, home to the free-to-enter National Gallery. Fans of the movie Salaam-e-Ishq won’t be able to resist humming ‘Tenu Leke’, which was filmed here. It’s a 15-minute walk to the London Eye – which featured in Namastey London, Bride and Prejudice and Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham; take a ride on the giant Ferris wheel for 360˚ views of the capital. Back on ground level, cross Westminster Bridge to catch sight of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. You’ll soon reach Buckingham Palace; time your arrival for 11:30 to watch the Changing the Guard ceremony, when bearskin hat-clad soldiers perform an elaborate switching of places, accompanied by a full military band. At certain times of the year you can tour Buckingham Palace’s magnificent State Rooms and gardens; book online.
London –the word alone conjures up images of classic British experiences, from seeing the Changing of the Guard outside Buckingham Palace to admiring extravagant displays in the windows of Harrods. Bollywood movie lovers can tour the many locations that have featured on-screen, while James Bond and Harry Potter fans can recreate thrilling moments from the films across the capital. Shopaholics are spoilt for choice, with world-famous department stores next to high-street treasure-troves like Topshop and Primark. And when it comes to dining, chefs including Gordon Ramsey and Jamie Oliver invite you to experience their dishes at restaurants across the city.
Day 1: Bollywood lovers’ London landmarks
Hop on a bus to Knightsbridge, home to luxury department store Harrods. Its Food Hall is a gourmand’s dream, with mouth-watering picnic options to take to nearby Hyde Park – or enjoy a leisurely lunch at one of the in-store restaurants and cafés.
Spend your afternoon in South Kensington’s Museums Quarter, a 10-minute bus journey from Knightsbridge. There’s a trio of world-class museums here, all free to enter: The Natural History Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum and Science Museum (the first two starred on-screen, in Mujhse Dosti Karoge and Aashiq Banaya Aapne respectively).
When it comes to hotels, London is home to fantastic luxury, mid-range and good-value options. Want to spend less on accommodation (and more on shopping!)? Book into Qbic in Shoreditch, east London, or one of citizenM’s three hotels. From Qbic or citizenM Shoreditch, it’s walking distance to Poppies Fish and Chips, for the classic British meal.
Day 2: Time for some serious shopping
If yesterday’s shopping taster made you eager for more, devote this morning to retail therapy. Find Selfridges on Oxford Street, home to the world’s largest shoe department, a dedicated Denim Studio and a Body Studio – no wonder it’s has been voted the Best Department Store in the World for a record six years running. Next door is Marks and Spencer’s giant flagship store and across the road is Primark, a magnet for fashionistas from all over the world with bargains that are hard to beat. Continuing east on Oxford Street, you’ll hit the flagship Topshop store, another tempting Aladdin’s Cave of fashion, with a free personal shopping service. From there, turn onto Regent Street and discover the famous children’s toy store Hamleys, as well as quirky and elegant department store Liberty.
Continue down Regent Street to Veeraswamy, the UK’s oldest Indian restaurant, which was crowned with a Michelin star in the 2017 guide – the set-price lunches offer excellent value for money. The elegant restaurant wouldn’t be out of place in a suave James Bond movie – so channel your inner 007 for your next adventure: a speedboat tour of London. Hop on the Tube or bus and in less than 20 minutes you’ll be at Victoria Embankment, where you board the fastest of all London RIBs (Rigid Inflatable Boats) for a zoom past the capital’s major landmarks, as seen from the Thames!
If you’re feeling shaken and stirred after your ride, it’s time for a cocktail. Have yours with a view at Sky Garden, just 15 minutes away by Underground. This lush, greenery-filled hangout is loved by locals and visitors, who come to admire the lights and sights of London from 155 metres above ground. There are several bars and restaurants at Sky Garden as well as regular events, from yoga classes to live music.
Day 3: Live the highlife three ways
Start your third day with an even more daring 007-inspired adventure. Remember when James Bond dropped onto the O2 Arena (then known as the Millennium Dome) in The World is Not Enough? You too can get an adrenalin rush at the icon with Up at The O2, an ‘urban mountaineering experience’ that involves climbing right over the roof of the building for an amazing perspective of London. First you’ll be kitted out in jumpsuit, special footwear and harness, before climbing up 52 metres above ground level for incredible panoramic views. The fun’s not over yet – the journey down is even more thrilling than the ascent!
Next, head to the Emirates Air Line, London’s first and only urban cable car. Unlike your O2 climb, this just requires you to sit back and enjoy a super-scenic ride over the River Thames. Disembark at Royal Docks and hop aboard the Docklands Light Railway to Stratford. If you watched the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, you’ll recognise the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, home to the iconic Stadium and Zaha Hadid-designed Aquatics Centre. Head straight to the distinctive ArcelorMittal Orbit for a third experience of the highlife – the artwork is home to The Slide, the world’s highest and – at 178 metres – longest tunnel slide, which circles the sculpture 12 times before ending with a 50 metre straight run back down to earth!
Day 4: Harry Potter and more famous faces…
Add magic to your trip with a visit to Kings Cross Station, from where Harry Potter and his friends set off to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The Hogwarts Express departs from Platform 9 ¾, which you will find at the station complete with a trolley magically disappearing through the wall – an unmissable photo opportunity. The Harry Potter Shop is next door, so stock up on wands and Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans.
Walk along Regent’s Canal to Camden Market (approx. 30 minutes) or catch the Tube or bus (less than 15 minutes): the market has over 1000 stalls selling clothes, music and food from all around the world. After a browse, treat yourself to lunch at York and Albany, a short walk from the market; the Gordon Ramsey restaurant serves delicious modern British food, with great value set menus on offer.
Just over the road is Regent’s Park, home to ZSL London Zoo. The oldest scientific zoo in the world was where Harry Potter first realised he could speak Parseltongue – that is, the language of snakes. Slither over to The Reptile House and check if you’ve got the gift too… Continue south through Regent’s Park and emerge into the smart neighbourhood of Marylebone. Prepare for a celebrity encounter at Madame Tussauds, where you can get up close and personal with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, as well as Amitabh Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai, Shahrukh Khan, Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif. Sherlock Holmes fans will love the Sherlock Holmes Experience at the museum – a theatrical detective challenge– as well as the Sherlock Holmes Museum just around the corner at 221b Baker Street. Marylebone is home to some of London’s hottest restaurants – wind down at Michelin-starred Trishna, which serves up coastal Indian cuisine, or spot (real-life) celebs at Chiltern Firehouse.
Day 5: Grab bargains at Bicester Village
Spend your last day picking up gifts for friends, family and yourself (why not?!) at Bicester Village. Located about 60 miles/100km away from the capital, there’s a handy Shopping Express shuttle that takes you straight from London to the luxury shopping outlet in under an hour, or you can take the train from London Marylebone to Bicester Village railway station from 46 minutes. There are reductions of up to 60% on British brands including Alexander McQueen, Burberry, Cath Kidston, Mulberry and Vivienne Westwood, plus many more international brands.
There are plenty of restaurants and cafés to pause at to fuel your next round of shopping, from British local and seasonal food at the farmshop restaurant & café to noodles, British classics available at Villandry, to dim sum and bao buns at Simply Noodles.
London has several airports, with international flights arriving into Heathrow and Gatwick, and Stansted and City Airport also welcoming flights from Europe. There are several train stations in the capital, with a Eurostar terminal at St Pancras International.