The City or ‘Square Mile’, is a world leading centre of trade and finance. Venerable institutions such as the London Stock Exchange, the Baltic Shipping Exchange and the Bank of England all nestle among its vaulting skyscrapers.
It’s also where London (or Londinium) was founded by the Romans, who were attracted by the river’s easy moorings. The City closely follows the boundaries of the ancient capital and has plenty of museums and cultural attractions. There’s also St Paul’s Cathedral and many smaller traditional churches.
All those financial high flyers like to play as well as work hard, so there are plenty of bars and high-end restaurants. However, you’ll also find tiny traditional pubs. At the weekends, its 300,000 workforce goes home, leaving behind a quiet and interesting area that is good to explore on foot.
City South is attractive and atmospheric. Clerkenwell’s narrow streets have numerous historic buildings filled, ironically, with cutting-edge architects, designers and boutiques. The area even has its own design week. And, with the famous meat of Smithfield Market nearby, it’s a major gastronomic hot spot boasting more than its share of Michelin-starred marvels.
Another location not to be missed is Old Street, also known as Silicon Roundabout. A short walk from Old Street underground and you find yourself amongst handsomely restored and converted industrial premises, buzzing with creative and digital start-ups. Nearby Shoreditch is home to fashion, outdoor eateries, pop-up galleries and just about everything artisanal. Its many modern and traditional bars and clubs make for a great after work destination.
Charlotte Bronté Vilette, 1853
The City seems so much more in earnest: its business, its rush, its roar are such serious things, sights and sounds. The City is getting its living – the West-End but enjoying its pleasure.
Four of the best
St Paul’s Cathedral
This hugely imposing building’s iconic dome is a familiar feature on the London skyline. Step inside and you’ll find an equally awe-inspiring interior and fascinating stories about its history.
Set in what was once the Great Eastern Hotel’s original ballroom, this magnificent Grade two listed room provides a stunning setting for dining at all times of day.
Free lunchtime concerts and paid evening ones featuring the superb choir of 12th-century Temple Church (of Da Vinci Code fame).
Shoreditch’s Street Art
One of London’s newest tourist attractions, these streets display a stunning range of colourful murals by top British and International street artists.