London in 24 Hours
Short and sweet
Sure, you can buy a pass and jump onto one of those double-decker sightseeing buses but if looking at cathedrals and pushing past crowds outside Buckingham Palace isn't quite your cup of tea, then read on.
8am: Breakfast at Chiltern Firehouse. A magnet for A-listers like Kate Moss, Keira Knightley and even David Cameron, André Balazs' (of Chateau Marmont fame) fire station-turned-swanky hotel property boasts a restaurant that's headed up by Nuno Mendes, formerly of Viajante. I'm not usually one for doughnuts but if the crab-stuffed doughnuts are available, be sure to order that. And just because you've requested for seats at the bar, dress appropriately, as even the waitstaff are in Emilia Wickstead.
10am: Get educated. Depending on what's on at the museums, it's probably a good idea to go bright and early. For Chanel's Mademoiselle Privé exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery, I ended up having to queue for an hour to get in, with more queues within the exhibition itself. Must-visits include the Victoria and Albert Museum, Tate Modern and the Fashion and Textile Museum in Bermondsey. Founded by fashion designer Zandra Rhodes, the FTM is currently hosting 'Liberty in Fashion', an exhibition that celebrates Liberty's 140th anniversary.
1pm: Lunch in a barn. Across the road from Charlotte Street hotel is Barnyard, a pseudo-barn that's Ollie Dabbous' second restaurant, after his very popular eponymous restaurant, Dabbous (another personal favourite - the coddled hen's egg with smoked butter is everything). Expect classic British cuisine that includes roast beef and black pudding - the lobster roll is also very good. If your man's looking slightly unkempt, Ted's Grooming Room is conveniently located right next door, where he can get The Full Ted (a haircut and clean shave or beard design). And if he's particular about his denim (read: Japanese Selvedge), head to Rivet and Hide on nearby Windmill Street that will score you extra points.
3.30pm: Retail therapy. Harrod's, Dover Street Market, Selfridges, Liberty, Oxford Street, Carnaby Street...the list goes on. London is a shopper's heaven, whether it's Burberry, Topshop or Penhaligon's you're shopping for. A personal favourite is the beauty hall at Liberty that carries a curated selection of beauty brands from all over the world, including Frederic Malle, Rodin and Egyptian Magic. This is also where I stock up on lip balms from C.O. Bigelow Apothecaries.
5pm: A spot of coffee. London is upping its coffee game and depending on the area you may find yourself in, there's always a good cuppa to be found. Get your caffeine fix at Prufrock, Monmouth, Workshop Coffee Co. or Fernandez and Wells.
6pm: Take a walk. Or go boating, cycling or horse riding at Hyde Park, one of London's biggest parks. An even bigger plus? Hyde Park's Winter Wonderland returns from 20 November 2015 to 3 Jan 2016.
8.30pm: Dinner with a view. A stone's throw from London Bridge and around the corner from Borough Market is The Shard, Renzo Piano's glass-fronted tower that houses a mix of offices, residences, restaurants and UK's first Shangri-La Hotel. Located on the 35th floor is the elegant Ting restaurant, which serves up Modern European cuisine with an Asian twist, and a bird's eye view of the city. Ignore the à la carte menu and go straight for the tasting menu with wine pairing. Ting's sommeliers have done an excellent job - the ultra-tender beef short rib was paired with madeira, which although may sound like an amateur move, resulted in a delightful, refreshing twist that made the dish that I'd initially wanted to change, the one I enjoyed the most.
11pm: Undercover drinks. Located smack-bang in the middle of Chinatown, behind an unmarked door with a surly guy at the front is Experimental Cocktail Club, a speakeasy-type bar spread over three floors. Dimly lit and buzzing with lively chatter, the atmosphere at this cosy bar more than makes up for what it may lack in the cocktails, but it's the company that matters after all.