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London sites

In London, love and scandal are considered the best sweeteners of tea.
– John Osborne

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Photo courtesy of The Wallace Collection

Atelier Millinery

  • Soho, School/Class/Workshop, $$$$ $$$
  • 9 Smiths Court
  • London, W1D 7DP
  • +44-20-7734-3848
  • Website

Make a statement with a bespoke race day headpiece. Millinery classes are offered at all levels and include tutorials on everything from cocktail fascinators to cloches.

Dennis Severs' House

  • Spitalfields, Museum, $$$$ $
  • 18 Folgate St.
  • London, E1 6BX
  • +44-20-7247-4013
  • Website

Tour the home of the Jervis family, Huguenot silk weavers who lived a few hundred years ago. The house is filled with elaborate furnishings and details from their lives, down to grocery lists and toast caddies and letters to friends and the quills used to write them. Except the whole thing is an elaborate work of fiction by the brilliant American-born Dennis Severs. The house is a living museum experience that feels very much like a game.

Read more on Fathom: A Totally Unauthorized Look Inside the Dennis Severs' House

Gate Picturehouse

  • Notting Hill, Cinema, $$$$ $
  • 87 Notting Hill Gate
  • London, W11 3JZ
  • +44-87-1902-5731
  • Website

Relax with a nice glass of wine in plush seating and watch the latest foreign and independent releases. It feels extra special at midday when the theater is nearly empty.

Geffrye Museum

  • Hoxton, Museum, $$$$ $
  • 136 Kingsland Rd.
  • London, E2 8EA
  • +44-020-7739-9893
  • Website | Email

Step back in time to see how the English have lived from the 1600s to the present. The museum is a series of eleven living rooms brimming with details of the eras: a 1830s chess set, a 1910 fireplace, 1998 magazines.

Hampstead Heath

  • Hampstead, Parks and Gardens
  • London, NW3 1TH
  • +44-20-7332-3505
  • Website

For walks! Full of gardens, parks and wildlife, you can feel removed from the hustle and bustle of busy London while still being close to the city center.

Hampton Court Palace

  • Hampton Court, Palace, $$$$ $$
  • East Molesey
  • London, KT8 9AU
  • +44-84-4482-7777
  • Website

King Henry VIII's royal palace makes for a fantastic day trip from the city center. The Tudor palace houses art from the Royal Collection, and the great medieval hall has a notable hammer-beam roof. At the Royal School of Needlework, one can choose from more than 160 classes and learn how to make things like Tudor goldwork pillowcases. Not to mention the expansive grounds filled with courts and gardens and a celebrated maze.

Highgate Cemetery East

  • Highgate, Parks and Gardens, $$$$ $
  • Swain's Ln.
  • London, N6 6PJ
  • +44-20-8340-1834
  • Website

Meander down labyrinthe pathways while you go on a spooky treasure hunt for notable burials like Karl Marx, Douglas Adams, George Elliot, and Anna Mahler. Come on Saturday for a guided tour and visit the West Cemetery for its striking architecture.

Hyde Park

  • Knightsbridge, Parks and Gardens, $$$$ $
  • Bayswater Rd. and Park Ln.
  • London, W1J 7BS
  • +44-300-061-2000
  • Website

No city in the world has as many wonderful parks as London. Start your green tour in Hyde Park: Rent a boat to tour the Serpentine Lake, or see what's on at the Serpentine Modern Art Gallery. Then wander into Kensington Gardens and Green Park across the street.

King's Cross and Regent's Canal

  • King's Cross, Neighborhood to Explore
  • King's Cross
  • London, N1C 4AA
  • +44-20-3479-1795
  • Website

Major efforts have been put into redeveloping this historic neighborhood. The restored German Gymnasium now houses a buzzing restaurant and bar, there's an outdoor swimming pond, an intimate two-acre natural park along Regent's Canal, and shopping at Coal Drops Yard.

Koko

  • Camden, Music Venue, $$$$ $$
  • 1A Camden High St.
  • London, NW1 7JE
  • +44-870-432-5527
  • Website

What was once the largest theater outside West End is now a leading concert venue hosting big names in music: The Rolling Stones, Coldplay, Madonna, Elton John.

Rachel Vosper Candle Making Course

  • Belgravia, School/Class/Workshop, $$$$ $$$
  • 69 Kinnerton St.
  • London, SW1X 8ED
  • +44-20-7235-9666
  • Website

Spend a morning in a sunlit boutique making candles with posh chandler Rachel Vosper. Classes last about two hours, when the room is consumed with incredible fragrances. Champagne included.

Royal Academy of Arts

  • Piccadilly, Cultural Center, $$$$ $
  • Burlington House
  • London, W1J 0BD
  • +44-20-7300-8090
  • Website

The country's oldest fine arts society also hosts some of the city's best exhibitions from the likes of RA members David Hockney, Ai Weiwei, and Anish Kapoor. In summer months, look for work from up-and-coming artists.

Sadler's Wells

  • Islington, Dance, $$$$ $$
  • Rosebery Ave.
  • London, EC1R 4TN
  • +44-20-7863-8198
  • Website

The innovatice dance performance venue showcases talent from all over the world and commissions new works. Of special interest are collaborations between choreographers, visual artists, and musicians. 

Serpentine Gallery

  • Kensington, Gallery, $$$$ $
  • Kensington Gardens
  • London, W2 3XA
  • +44-20-7402-6075
  • Website | Email

One of the city's best modern and contemporary art galleries, located in Kensington Gardens park. Exhibits rotate continually. The bookshop, Koenig Books, stocks an excellent collection of art and photography books. A new wing, The Serpentine Sackler Gallery, will open in 2012. Open daily 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; admission is free.

Shakespeare's Globe Theatre

Shakespeare's original Globe Theater was located a few hundred yards away, but this is as faithful a recreation as the limited historical records allowed. Come for live performances, tours, and special events.

Sir John Soane's Museum

  • Holborn, Museum
  • 13 Lincoln's Inn Fields
  • London, WC2A 3BP
  • +44-20-7405-2107
  • Website

A charming and quirky architect's home showcasing neo-classical work in inventive ways. Greet his lordship (or at least his portrait) in the library-dining room, explore previously inaccessible lobby and catacombs (thanks to a recent seven million pound restoration), and appreciate rotating exhibitions at the Foyle space.

Somerset House

  • Strand, Cultural Center, $$$$ $$
  • Strand
  • London, WC2R 1LA
  • +44-20-7845-4600
  • Website

The original Tudor Palace of the Duke of Somerset dates back to 1547 and continues to attract throngs with contemporary and design exhibitions, cool coffee shops, and a pop-up skating rink in the courtyard (from November to January).

Southbank Centre

  • South Bank, Cultural Center
  • Belvedere Rd.
  • London, SE1 8XX
  • +44-20-7921-0823
  • Website

London's premiere arts and culture center always has something going on. Thankfully, last-minute tickets are easy to get. There's a dizzying array of classical and cutting edge dance, theater, visual arts, literature, festivals, and many free events.

Tate Modern

  • Bankside, Museum, $$$$ $
  • Sunner St.
  • London, SE1 9TG
  • +44-020-7887-8888
  • Website | Email

The modern and contemporary art museum in a former power station is at once sprawling and peaceful, an ideal industrial backdrop for rotating exhibitions and permanent collections that range from Henri Matisse to Damien Hirst. Don't miss the gift shop for its outstanding collection of cool design products.

Victoria and Albert Museum

  • South Kensington, Museum
  • Cromwell Rd.
  • London, SW7 2RL
  • +44-20-7942-2000
  • Website

Named for the Queen and her beloved Prince, the massive museum has an extraordinary art and design collection from around the world. Ballgowns, furniture, ancient jewelry, carpets, theater sets — it's a style haven.

The Wallace Collection

  • Marylebone, Museum, $$$$ $
  • Hertford House, Manchester Square
  • London, W1U 3BN
  • +44-20-7563-9500
  • Website

Beautiful former family home off Oxford Street with an amazing collection of paintings and objects, primarily from the 17th and 18th centuries. Armory, porcelain, and furniture; Fragonard, Watteau, and Canaletto. Daily lunchtime tours; excellent programs for kids; free admission. The restaurant is a great respite from the city.
Read More on Fathom: A Lunchtime Stroll Back in Time

Wellcome Collection

  • Bloomsbury, Museum
  • 183 Euston Rd.
  • London, NW1 2BE
  • +44-20-7611-2222
  • Website

Explore the intersections of life, art, and medicine through the ages. Consider the rise of vegetarianism in 19th-century London, or take a hi-tech journey to find out what makes a voice. A permanent collection called Medicine Man showcases the well-traveled Henry Wellcome's fascination with medical antiquities.

White Cube

  • Bermondsey, Gallery
  • 144–152 Bermondsey St.
  • London , SE1 3TQ
  • +44-20-7930-5373
  • Website

Get your contemporary art fix at the third and largest outpost of Jay Jopling's White Cube gallery. The impressive 58,000-square-feet former warehouse shows the work of top international artists, and hosts films and lectures in the auditorium.

Young Vic

  • Waterloo, Theater, $$$$ $$
  • 66 The Cut
  • London, SE1 8LZ
  • +44-20-7922-2922
  • Website

Emerging UK and global talent on three stages at the more experimental offshoot of the legendary Old Vic theater. 

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