Author Leslie Woit Photography Mirjam Bleeker
LONDON IS A TRULY COSMOPOLITAN CAPITAL, arguably the world’s greatest. Art, literature, fashion, architecture, and business are booming in this city of some 8 million souls, and if you haven’t visited lately, relax: The days of bangers and beans are long dead. London is now an epicure’s paradise, though laced with a frisson of sticker shock as this is one of the world’s costliest cities. Diners aren’t the only ones agape at the bottom line. London watches in horror as the price tag soars for hosting the 2012 Summer Olympic Games.
Despite the city’s relentless popularity, there persists a degree of good old English deference. Closed-circuit TV cameras are said to snap you an average of 300 times a day, but celebs relocate here to go about their business relatively unhindered. I once watched Madonna at Sunday lunch unable to attract the attention of anyone— including the waiter. She’s just one of two millennia worth of conquerors, exiles, and hippies who have made London their town. One in three Londoners was born abroad—making the city, to its detriment some believe, decidedly un-English. But as the good Dr. Samuel Johnson once said, “Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.” London has its share of those, too. But you’ll likely encounter only the good sort during your three days.