I'm Here on Business

I'm Here on Business in London

by Hilary Bass Rifkin
The cool suit is on the Boris bike. Photo by Pavia Rosati.

You're busy, business traveler. Let's make this easy for you, whether you have 30 minutes or 30 hours to fill.

LONDON – You came, you saw, you arbitraged. Time to use whatever time you have leftover from the business trip wisely. Here's what to do if:

You Only Have One Day

We have a 24-hour itinerary just for that.

You Don't Want to Socialize with Work Folk

You can:
a. Unwind with a drink at a great bar.
- Charlotte Street Hotel - Loud and liveley — advertising, 'innit.
- The Chamberlayne - Effortless cool abounds in this Kensal Rise staple. 
- Pizza East - Easy pies in a cool industrial Shoreditch space or the new Portobello Road outpost.
- St. Martins Lane - Eurotrash, Saudi Princesses, and the occasional yummy mummy.
- Hakaasan Mayfair - Elegant, dark, and — oddly — a brilliant margarita.
- The Cellar Bar at Alfred Dunhill - Look sharp, and bring your business cards.

b. Eat dinner at the bar and get a contact high from the scene around you.
- Roka - Corporate card? Robata and sushi tasting menu is a must. Soho is the main one; there's also a Canary Wharf location.
- Barbecoa - BBQ courtesy of Adam Perry Lang and Jamie Oliver with stunning views of St Pauls.
- Maze - Gordon Ramsey in mini-me mode. Small bites in a grand and modern space.
- Plateau - Modern European with lovely views. We all end up at Canary Wharf at some point. 
- Fino - Gentrified Spanish Tapas.

You Want Your Colleagues to Think You're a Local

Make reservations at any of the restaurants above or snag a table at a local haunt. Don't forget reservations. They take "have you got a booking?" very seriously in London and don't do their best to accommodate walk-ins.
- Wright Brothers Oyster and Porter House - The name says it all. (Borough Market; Soho)
- Hereford Road - They call it "market English." It is just simply good. (Notting Hill)
- Rasoi Vineet Bhatia - Chelsea's hidden Indian gem.
- Goodman - Classic New York steakhouse. But better. (Soho; City)
- Bocca di Lupo - Pretty and delicious regional Italian with in-house gelato production.

You Need to Work through Dinner in Your Hotel Room

Marks and Spencer grocery stores have excellent, fresh, organic prepared foods at multiple locations around town.  

You Want a Shot of Culture

Music - Single tickets are easy to come by and there's something on every night at Royal Albert Hall, Royal Opera House, Ronnie Scotts jazz club, Round House, or the Jazz Club in Camden.

Art: These museums stay open late.
- Wedesday - South London Gallery.
- Thursday - National Portrait Gallery, Whitechapel Gallery.
- Friday - National Portrait Gallery, National Gallery, Royal Academy of Arts, Tate Britain (first Friday of each month), Tate Modern, Victoria and Albert.
- Saturday - Tate Modern.

Head out towards Shoreditch and Bethnal Green for extreme gallery hopping.

Theatre - Great discount tickets are always available at the Leicester Square Box Office ticket booths and online. For the unexpected, see a dance performance at Sadler’s Wells and emerging theater at The Young Vic.

Film - For indie experience, head to The Barbican. For an experience you can still live with, try The Gate Cinema in Notting Hill. Relax with a nice glass of wine in plush seating and watch the latest foreign and independent releases. It's extra nice at midday when the theatre is empty.

You Want to Impress a Client

Sports: Get your hands on executive box tickets to whatever premiere league game is on. Chelsea v. Arsenal would close any deal.

Food: The chef's table at The Savoy (River Restaurant or Savoy Grill) is a nice second.

You Want to Spend the Money You've Earned (a.k.a. Souvenirs)

For all things amusing and British, head to Pedlars on Talbot Road in Notting Hill. Or, better yet, their concession in Selfridges for high-end gift shopping at one of London's premiere department stores.

For quirky, of-the-moment, fashion gifts, go to Dover Street Market.

For food and pantry, shop Harrods Food Hall or the equally classic Fortnum and Mason.

For trinkets, stroll Portobello Market, but don't expect any bargains. Alfies Antique Market in Marylebone is less touristy, indoors, and amazing. 

You Want to Stretch Your Legs

Gym: Lomax Bespoke Fitness, Nutrition, and Well Being has innovative training pods with everything you need for tailored workouts. Pay as you go for easy access. Masseuse, nutritionist, holistic facialist, and osteopath are always on call.

Yoga & Pilates: Triyoga the very best and at incredible prices at locations in Soho, Primrose Hill, Chelsea, and Covent Garden. Bootcamp Pilates has locations in Notting Hill, Hoxton, Fulham, and Richmond. 

Bike: H2 Clubs are on the cutting edge of indoor and outdoor cycling classes, as well as classes to hone biking skills. Or hire a Barclays Bike and ride around town. 

Running: London's many parks are excellent for runners. You can do a seven-mile loop through Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park, Green Park, and St. James Park and hardly ever have to touch a street, as they all connect. 

You Want to Escape from It All

Take the 30-minute train from Paddington to Windsor and stroll the grounds of the Windsor Castle.

Hop on the Thames water taxi from Westminster to Greenwich. Watch history pass you by, then walk the great hill up to the Royal Observatory to catch the stars.


Traveling Solo in London
Weekend Getaways from London
Fathom's London Guide

We make every effort to ensure the information in our articles is accurate at the time of publication. But the world moves fast, and even we double-check important details before hitting the road.