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Tom Lee

Best travel experiences

Bouldering in Fontainebleau, Trekking in Tibet, Sea-kayaking in Thailand, Zip-lining in Laos,

Tom's Perfect Days

A Little Time In The Trees.On The Lam In London.Bucket Showers & Dawn Strolls

    • Morning
      • Valtaro Soup & Sandwich Bar

      • This not the place to go to sample the 'haute-cuisine' of London, this is also not a place for those with a sophisticated palate, or a delicate constitution.

        Valtaro's is the place to go when you have risen from the wrong side of the bed, and find a meagre five quid in your pocket. There are also a range of pubs on Marchmont Road for those who wish to slake their early morning thirsts.

        Valtaro's nonetheless is a true gem. The plates are the size of hubcaps and the only thing worth ordering is the Full English with a side of Black Pudding and a mug of tea. This is what the Empire was built upon: grease, fried bread, baked beans and tea. Lots of tea.

        Valtaro's will provide any and all with the much needed boost to begin the day without putting a hole in your pocket.
      • National Gallery

      • Go to the National Gallery - it has the good grace of containing many of the paintings you are familiar with, if only by virtue of the cheap postcards your Aunt sent you from her trip to Paris when you were seven and cared little for art.

        Look at Stubb's Whistlejacket - that's a horse and a half - or simply see the highlights: Van Gogh's Sunflowers, Seurat's L'Apres-Midi Sur I'lle de la Grande Jatte, Rousseau's Surprise!....the list is almost endless, which if anything is a testament to the quality of this museum's collection.
      • Koenig's Books

      • The Charing Cross Road is full of second-hand and rare bookdealers, which is great if you are into that sort of thing. But for those who are not so concerned with 1st Edition Conan Doyles or French Octavos, Koenig Books is the place to go.

        It is a short walk from the National Gallery, though the truly idle could walk to Embankment, switch to the Northern Line and take the aforementioned one stop to Leicester Square; however I would remind you the Tube is expensive, and there's a Recession on.

        Koenig's Books specialises mainly in Fine Art books - the sort of thing, which will look dashing on your coffee table - and what they specialise in, they do well.

        The prices are absurdly cheap, which offers the sensation that you are somehow outsmarting the shop when you purchase, though they have been around for years so I would imagine it is they who are outsmarting you. Nonetheless, they have a fantastic selection, which is sure to cater to all aesthetic tastes.
      • The Chandos

      • Decamp from Koenig's Books to The Chandos.

        The Chandos is a chain of pubs collectively owned by the Samuel Smith group. The group provide an extremely important map on their website of all of their locations across the UK. They serve no branded liquor in their establishments, which makes them incredibly affordable options for the morning eleveses drink. (Besides, you just finished breakfast at Valtaro's, it's not as if you are looking to up your game with a sensible, neat Macallan 18).
    • Afternoon
      • Arnold & Henderson

      • I am somewhat reluctant to write this part, as Arnold & Henderson is a rather well-kept secret.

        Situated in a converted bike shed, in the comfort of the Rochelle School (an equally converted building, now filled with design studios) this charming restaurant does not stand on ceremony. It's canteen style dining, and you can bring along your own booze for a small corkage charge.

        The menu changes with the seasons, and the food is excellent without relying too heavily on the multitude of gastronomic fanfare that has seeped into much of the cooking of London restaurants (Pubs serving confit of duck, Cocktail Bars with deconstructed Spring Rolls, Local takeways with Chicken a la grec etc.).

        Order any of the game if it's on the menu when you go, also the pickled chestnuts. Seriously, the pickled chestnuts.
      • Saatchi Gallery

      • Charles Saatchi, in a rather generous move, donated the entire museum 'to the public', which makes this treasure trove of modern art an amazing spot to burn some hours off.

        The museum has a regular calendar of special exhibitions in addition to the permanent collection, so there will always be something new to see.
      • Dover Street Market

      • For the threadheads looking for some exclusives, limited editions and generally the other trappings that have come to signify high fashion, DSM is the perfect place to go.

        Selfridge's is a bit touristy, Harrod's is a no-go, which leaves DSM as the place to shop if you are cool (you want to be cool right?).

        Pop in, pay a heady 500 quid for a nice wallet to hold all the cash you just spent.
      • Mr Hare

      • Just down the road from DSM, and near Bond Street (for those wishing to continue their shopping), this newly opened menswear store is incredible.

        The store offers a full range of handmade italian shoes targeted towards the post-modern well-heeled gentleman (see previous note concerning 'cool'). The staff are also quite friendly, except James.
    • Evening
      • Gordon's Wine Bar

      • If you can nail down a table before a bull-necked city boy (that's Investment Banker to the rest of you) beats you too it (points for alliteration) you would do well to guard said table with your life.

        The arched low ceilings are not designed for the particularly tall, but then again the Bar was considerate enough to supply tables to solve this problem. The wine bar is purportedly the oldest in the world, which will justify seeing it (if only for the novelty), and will also justify polishing off a few bottles of wine to check that the high standard of quality is being maintained.
      • St. John Bread and Wine

      • Bourdain endorses this spot, I also endorse this spot.

        Clean industrial lines in the dining room, updated elegant british cuisine on the plate (you can deal, you started with Valtaro's), and a fairly fearsome cellar.

        The marrow on toast, chitterlings and chips, and rice pudding are my personal recommendations.
    • Night
      • Trishas Aka The Hideout

      • The late night spot. There's a healthy red glow to hide the pale drunken pallor of your grim face. There's a friendly bar staff to serve you reasonably-priced drinks. Jazz on the jukebox. A smoker's garden which is really just a ventilation shaft, and a healthy dose of overcrowding. The perfect spot to end the night.
      • Ballan's

      • Nah mate! You're not done yet. Eat off the drunk with some Egg's Benedict at one of the few 24/7 restaurants in London. The bar is open late if you still think you can handle anything beyond coffee. The Eggs Benedict are exactly what you are looking for at 5AM, get them down and then pass out.
      • I would stay at: St. John's Hotel

      • I mean, I would actually just stay at my house, but that's not an open invite to all comers, so get a room here.

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