Daunted by traveling to London? Relax, says Stuart McLean, concierge at The Park Lane Hotel. Armed with inside tips, your visit will be more enjoyable and you'll experience more of the local culture. With that in mind, we asked McLean to share with us his tips on visiting London—and how to make the most of working with your hotel's concierge.
Tip #1: Use your concierge.
"Even if you think your question is silly, don’t hesitate to come and have a chat," McLean said. "I was actually once asked by a guest to keep my hair clippings the next time I had a haircut as he wanted a ginger wig. Fortunately, I have never seen this guest again!"
Tip #2: Tickets can be hard to come by. Ask for help.
"Just because a ticket is sold out, doesn't mean we can't help, whether it's for music, theatre or sports," McLean explained. "The hot ticket in July was for the test match between England and India at Lord’s Cricket Ground, the home of cricket – one of the quintessential English experiences. England is also playing India at the Kia Oval (15-19 August), so soak up the atmosphere, have a glass of Pimm’s and watch two international heavyweights take each other on over the five-day tournament."
Tip #3: Ride an iconic red bus.
"I take a bus where possible," said McLean. "Sit on the upper deck, front seat if possible, and watch the world go by. It also allows you to see architectural features not always possible if you're on foot. Our hotel is a short stroll from Westminster, through Green Park, so I recommend walking to places too, especially through the parks. It’s much more pleasant."
Tip #4: How to see London in one day
"My itinerary for the ultimate day in London would be to wake up early on a Saturday and head over to Portobello Road’s antique market (it’s one of the world’s largest). From there, wander back through Kensington Gardens towards Harrods department store, and have a spot of lunch in the fabulous food hall. Follow this up with an afternoon in the Victoria And Albert Museum, and round off the day with dinner and drinks at The Grenadier pub in Wilton Row."
Tip #5: London's best pubs
"My favourites are The Grenadier in Knightsbridge, Ye Olde Mitre in Hatton Garden and The Only Running Footman and The Market Tavern, both in Mayfair. Shepherd Market, close by, is beautiful too. Many old traditional pubs have original Victorian fixtures."