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Guide to the Best of Britain

From the Editors of Traditional Home
  • Written by Jason Oliver Nixon with Lucy Fitzgerald
    Produced by Jenny Bradley

    London has served as a melting pot of arts, literature, food, and fashion for centuries, but the city underwent a serious makeover in recent years. In preparation for the 2012 Summer Olympics and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, it was transformed into a spiffy international hotspot with cutting-edge public transportation, loads of contemporary hotels, haute design boutiques, and a kaleidoscope of new restaurants that wow with their modern cuisine. The historical city still thrives, though: Tucked-away byways, quaint pubs, and sumptuous gardens harmonize with the city’s more contemporary attractions, blending old London with new. Today, London is brimming with sights and activities that will excite and awe, earning its long-standing title of the world’s most fashionable locale.

  • National Garden Scheme

    The city is home to stunning green spaces, with Hyde Park, Green Park, and St. James’s Park topping the list. But don’t overlook The Regent’s Park with its Queen Mary’s Gardens and Open Air Theatre, where classic plays are performed during the summer months. Tucked-away Holland Park pleases with its romantic Holland House ruins, peacocks, and British Saddleback pigs busily rooting away to restore an overgrown meadow. And flower fans will want to visit Sunday morning’s Columbia Road Market in the East End to browse the endless array of greenery for sale and enjoy the charming shops and cafes that line the surrounding alleys and courtyards.

    For assistance finding the perfect garden to visit, check out Britain’s National Garden Scheme. Every year, NGS publishes the “Yellow Book,” with over 3,700 gardens listed nationwide. Most are privately owned and only open a few times per year, but nearly all of the proceeds benefit charities. With a tradition of opening gardens of “quality, character, and interest,” the NGS is the perfect tool to plan your British garden tour.

  • After this tour from the sky, visit one of London’s more than 240 museums—many of which are free. Top of the list are the National Gallery, the lavishly overhauled Victoria and Albert, the British Museum, the Wallace Collection, the Tate Britain and Tate Modern, and the National Portrait Gallery. But don’t forget such gems as the Serpentine Gallery in Kensington Gardens, the Wellcome Collection, and the Garden Museum.

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