Destinations

How to spend 24 hours in London this spring

London

With the Eid al Fitr holiday falling in April, there's never been a better time to visit the UK capital 

With 2024's Eid holidays falling in April, spring is the perfect time to visit London. From March to May, temperatures hover around 11 to 15 degrees Celsius with a good chance of spring showers as well as sunny spells. Pack a brolly (the British slang for umbrella) and enjoy the less crowded streets of this vibrant metropolis, generally at its busiest during Christmas and peak summer months.

Highlights of the season include London’s St Patrick’s Day Festival, held on the Sunday closest to St Patrick’s Day, which is on 17 March. Around 50,000 revellers join the annual procession that dances from Hyde Park Corner, through Piccadilly and on to Whitehall. The party then moves to historic Trafalgar Square. Celebrations continue into the ‘wee hours’ in London’s many buzzing Irish bars. May see sports bars packed with football followers as the UK’s FA Cup finals play out, while flora fans head to the annual Chelsea Flower Show (21 to 25 May 2024).

Easter also falls during this season, with public holidays on Good Friday and Easter Monday, which could impact venue opening hours and public transport schedules. Easter is the first Sunday after the full moon on or after the spring equinox. In 2024, Good Friday lands on 29 March and Easter Sunday is on 31 March with Easter Monday on 1 April. Also, take note, that hotel prices may increase during May’s school half-term (from 25 May to 2 June in 2024). 

Armed with the above information, you’re ready to plan a perfect spring break for yourself or your travel clients. Here’s a readymade itinerary to tempt them with.

Morning

As spring weather in London can be a little unpredictable, opt for a weatherproof road trip around the UK’s legendary capital in an equally iconic car. A source of pure joy, smallcarBIGCITY offers bespoke tours in classic Mini Coopers driven by London locals. Even the most frustrated British road users tend to break into beaming smiles when they see a beloved Mini passing by; as a result, you’ll encounter their most welcoming persona as you explore the city is the cosy confines of its cutest car. Each Mini carries three passengers and tours range from the 90-minute Landmarks of London (£239 for up to three guests) to the eight-hour Live Like a Local Tour (£797).

smallcarBIGCITY tours

RECOMMENDED: The four-hour Best Bits of London Tour (£479) revealed parts of London even I’d never seen before after living there for more than a decade. A mecca for street artists, the ever-changing Graffiti Tunnel (officially Leake Street) originally painted by Banksy and friends, is one of my favourite stops on the tour.  

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Afternoon

If Easter egg hunts are your thing, the most interesting ones you’ll find in London are hidden in the bathrooms of Sketch. This quirky Conduit Street emporium of restaurants and bars, housed in an 18th-century townhouse, is home to a hangar-like space filled with white egg-shaped fibreglass toilet cubicles. The eerie setting, with a frog chorus soundtrack, has been likened to an Alien birthing chamber. Conceived by restaurateur Mourad Mazouz and designer Noé Duchaufour-Lawrance in 2002, Sketch’s ‘eggloos’ have become its most distinguishing feature – but it’s also worth visiting for the food.

Sketch restaurant

The toilets are part of The East Bar & Pods. Other pieces of the Sketch jigsaw include three-Michelin-starred restaurant The Lecture Room & Library, and eateries by day and bars by night, The Parlour and The Glade.

RECOMMENDED: Sketch honours the great British tradition of afternoon tea in The Gallery from 11am to 4.30pm. In 2024, the Easter-themed edition runs from 29 March to 1 April and costs from £95.

Shopping would be next on my agenda. How can you come to London and not shop? Remaining within the sought-after W1 postcode, Carnaby Street remains one of my favourite places in the world to pick up the latest trainers. A stone’s throw away, Oxford Street is lined with a broader spectrum of stores from budget favourites such as Primark to deluxe department store Selfridges. Regent Street and Bond Street are where you’ll find the greatest concentration of designer boutiques with limited-edition treasures hard to find outside of the world’s fashion capitals.

Night

Pre-theatre dining is the most affordable way to experience many of London’s finest dining establishments. Tuck into an early dinner in the landscaped atrium restaurant of London’s newest Covent Garden hotel, The NoMad. The two-course set menu costs just £45. Expect dishes such as ‘London burrata with pear, walnuts and endive’.

After dinner, take the three-minute walk to London’s Lyceum Theatre to catch one of the city’s most enduring shows, Disney’s The Lion King. Now in its 24th year at the storied theatre, most people know the tale of a wide-eyed cub called Simba and his struggle to become King of the Pridelands, but nothing compares to seeing the musical extravaganza up close from the stalls. Tickets cost from £30.

The Lion King

RECOMMENDED: For cut-price tickets for this and several other productions, head to the TKTS booth in Leicester Square earlier in the day and use your savings for your afternoon shopping spree. You’re welcome!


Where to Stay 

The Londoner 
Open since 2021, The Londoner takes centre stage in the heart of the West End's theatre district, occupying a corner of landmark Leicester Square. It doesn’t get much more central than this and guess what – surprise! – there’s a swimming pool in the wellness retreat. Other welcome elements include rooftop bar 8 at The Londoner and gin bar Joshua’s Tavern. Part of Preferred Hotels & Resorts' prestigious Legend Collection, the hotel has 350 elegant rooms and suites with free-standing bathtubs and room amenities that include quintessentially British duck head handle umbrellas to protect against spring showers. www.thelondoner.com

The Londoner

The BoTree 
New in 2023, and also a Preferred Hotels & Resorts’ Legend Collection property, The BoTree features 199 rooms including 30 suites, an Italian signature restaurant called Lavo and The BoTree Bar, which has already had a few celebrities through its doors. Its discreet location, in a side street where Marylebone, Mayfair and Soho meet, is appealing for those people who want to avoid the paparazzi. www.thebotree.com

The BoTree

Shangri-La at The Shard, London 
Want to soak in a bathtub with Jo Malone’s Jo Loves toiletries range while sipping bubbles and overlooking the River Thames? You can enjoy this fabulously decadent experience at Shangri-La The Shard, London. Sleek, modern and blessed with Chinoiserie touches, all 202 rooms and suites have floor-to-ceiling windows to capitalise on those iconic London skyline views. It’s also worth booking a window seat at sky-high cocktail bar Gŏng, Tīng Restaurant and Lounge, popular for afternoon tea. www.shangri-la.com/en/london/shangrila

Connecting Travel flew to London with Etihad Airways; flights from Abu Dhabi to London cost from AED3,050. For more information on things to do in London, visit www.visitlondon.com/things-to-do/whats-on/special-events/london-events-calendar


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