Posts from the ‘England’ category

Monopoly Pub Crawl London

by Jacob Aldridge

The challenge of the Monopoly Pub Crawl is to visit every named Monopoly square in London, in order, having a drink at each – and all on the same day.

It is a long day, but it starts with a sleep in. We don’t have to be at our first destination – Old Kent Road – until almost 11am.

Pass GO!, Collect two hundred pounds to cover drinks and food.

Jacob Aldridge collects £200 before passing GO!

Today’s Experience

Before you pass GO!

  • Collect £200 (actually, this whole day will cost you about half that)
  • Make sure you buy a Zone 1-2 Travelcard (I don’t trust the OysterCard for this)
  • Dress as though you were going to a Mayfair club (because eventually you will be, and you don’t want to be refused service at that point)
  • Familiarise yourself with the Monopoly Board, and the London Map
  • Drink slowly, travel carefully, and stop for meals!
  • Forget all about the details in the mad dash towards Mayfair!

If you’re a regular reader of everydaydream holiday, you may find this article to be a little more technical than usual.

If you’re here looking for a detailed, comprehensive guide to completing the Monopoly Pub Crawl, then read on: we have rules, routes, maps and pictures and videos to help! At the end, you can also download the guide I prepared, for myself and with detailed street maps because I didn’t own a smartphone then, which helped me to complete this world-renowned drinking challenge.

As a starting point, let’s reacquaint ourselves with the Monopoly Board … and then an actual map of where those squares are in real life.

The UK / London version of Monopoly. The original Monopoly board was Atlantic City, in the USA. The UK version came shortly thereafter, and is better known worldwide.

The UK / London version of Monopoly. Photo by Secret Pilgrim, CC License

On the board, you start at GO! and then move effortlessly around the board in a clockwise direction. How hard can that be to replicate on the ground?

Well here is a fabulous map of the Monopoly Pub Crawl created by the guys at monopolypubcrawl.org.uk. You can see that we start on the south side of the river, then mostly cover the east end and north London before diving into a random back-and-forth across greater London. It starts slow, builds up…and leaves us two train stations (in light grey) that will really mess with our planning later on!

Complete Map of the Monopoly Pub Crawl London, in order

Shared by MonopolyPubCrawl.co.uk

1. Old Kent Road
The Lord Nelson, 386 Old Kent Road

Take the tube to Elephant and Castle. Find Bus Stop E. Catch 1, 53, 63, 172, 188, 363 or 453 to Old Kent Road, alight after Albany Rd

Monopoly’s first stop is also its only destination south side of the Thames River. First thing in the morning, the only people here are those – like us – doing a Monopoly Pub Crawl. We nod and smile at the groups carrying a board around with them; and at the lady serving us behind the bar – how she must wonder about the strange groups that make up the first half hour of every shift, and have so little in common with the rest of the clientele in this rough-as-guts neighbourhood.

There are plenty of drinking games you can play on the Monopoly Pub Crawl. Our mission today is to make it all the way to Mayfair, and to do all the squares in order; so we’re sticking with a routine of a half-pint of lager and a glass of water at every bar.

The Lord Nelson, on Old Kent Road

The Lord Nelson, Old Kent Road

If you’re adventurous, or think getting horribly pissed and bailing out halfway through counts, here are a few ideas we’ve heard about or created:

  • Order a drink that includes the letter that the pub’s name starts with (like Stella at the Lord Nelson) or the Street name starts with (like Fosters on Old Kent Road)
  • Scull your drinks – first one to finish chooses the drink at the next stop; or last one to finish has to take a shot at the next stop as well
  • Don’t order the same drink twice (pro tip: start with the strange drinks, because you do NOT want to be sipping a warm, flat craft ale in twenty stops’ time – refreshing lagers are your friend, especially towards the end)
  • Roll the dice to choose your drink – either pre-set rules (1 = lager, 2 = ale, 3 = stout, 4 = imported, 5 = english, 6 = shot!) or based on the order of the beer taps
  • Order the beer with the closest colour to this street in its logo

60 seconds later, and our first half-pint is gone! No doubt there are many wonderful stories to be told hanging about in this old pub, named after the hero of Trafalgar. But we have a bus to catch!

2. Whitechapel Road
The Blind Beggar, 337 Whitechapel Road

Catch Bus 78 from either Old Kent Road or Dunton St (heading towards ‘Calvert Ave E2’). This bus will take you across Tower Bridge. Alight, walk to Tower Hill tube station and catch the District Line Tube to Whitechapel.

Finding ourself on the same bus as the other groups is no surprise. But what’s this? We all alight together just after Tower Bridge, but they’re walking in a different direction!

To our amazement, most people who complete the ‘Monopoly Pub Crawl’ do it by cheating! While we man-up to the challenge of seeing all 26 pubs in order, these groups are heading to nearby Fenchurch Street Station (15 stops early!) because it’s more convenient to do it that way.

Wear our commitment to excellence like a badge of honour, team. All day long we will bump into other groups doing this challenge the sneaky way – be sure to tell them that we, and we alone, are doing it properly.

The Blind Beggar, Whitechapel Road

The Blind Beggar, Whitechapel Road

At The Blind Beggar we have a chance to experience London’s notorious ‘East End’ – when the UK version of Monopoly was converted from the US version, it was readily understood that the southside and east end would be the cheapest real estate – the areas are much better integrated now, but let’s just say we’re happy we’re not ending our day here after nightfall.

Another half-pint down, here’s my first video of the day:

3. King’s Cross Station
The Fellow, 24 York Way

Catch the Hammersmith & City line (Underground) from Whitechapel to King’s Cross Station

Outside King's Cross Station, London

Outside King’s Cross Station.

Train station bars having relocated to St Pancras, next door, we head across the road to The Fellow. There’s a slight look of amusement on the bartender’s face when we order a half-pint of beer and a glass of water, but no time to ask what she means by it – down the drink goes, and out we go.

Here’s where the geography of the Monopoly Pub Crawl (really, of the Monopoly Board in general) gets crazy. We have four stops: in order, King’s Cross, The Angel Islington, Euston Road, Pentonville Road.

And here’s a close-up on a map – you see that we’re going to do the same stretch of underground back and forth to stay in order.

Back and forth travelling - King's Cross Station, The Angel, Islington, Euston Road, Pentonville Road, Monopoly

Back and forth travelling

Still, that gives us a chance to have lunch – supermarket sandwiches (bacon and egg all day breakfasts, of course) devoured on the underground. We’ve now been on the road two hours, and done just three stops – don’t worry, it gets quicker.

4. The Angel, Islington
The Angel, 3-5 Islington High St

Catch the Northern Line from King’s Cross 1 stop east to Angel. (Check the boards – there are two branches of the Northern Line that come through here – we want the Bank branch.)

Yes, there is actually a pub called ‘The Angel’ and it’s on Islington High Street.

The Angel, Islington is The Angel pub on Islington High Street. Seriously!

The Angel, Islington. Seriously!

To make things even more perfect, they serve the cheapest half-pint of lager on the whole Monopoly Board.

5. Euston Road
O’Neills, 73-77 Euston Road

Back to Euston Road, across the road from King’s Cross Station.

Euston Road Street Sign

A hard sign to capture!

If you’re visiting London and want a pint, stay clear of the chain pubs.

If you’re on a tight schedule, like (hypothetically) a Monopoly Pub Crawl, then the nearest pub will always win out!

6. Pentonville Road
The Castle, 54 Pentonville Road

Catch the Northern Line from King’s Cross 1 stop east to Angel. (Yes, sounds familiar doesn’t it!)

Angel tube station has the longest escalator on the underground network. Feeling like we’re losing time backtracking, we decide to walk up it at pace. Ouch!

It’s a nice pub, and it’s good to sit down and savour our half-pint – that escalator walk hurt, plus there’s no point rushing it on top of those bacon sarnies.

The Castle, Pentonville Road. We can see why this is more expensive than the other light blue squares.

The Castle, Pentonville Road. We can see why this is more expensive than the other light blue squares.

And what timing we have, as just moments after we sit down a group of a dozen Monopoly pub crawlers (all dressed in cricket whites) come in. They are clearly in no rush – and possibly one of those groups that does 5-6 destinations and calls that complete.

7. Pall Mall
The Red Lion, 23 Crown Passage

Northern Line to King’s Cross Station; change there and take the Picadilly line to Green Park.
Turn right out of the station and walk down Picadilly to St. James Street on the right.
Walk down St. James Street until you reach Pall Mall and turn left.

We are now at the end of the first row on the Monopoly Board – time for another short video update, as we avoid jail en route to Pall Mall.

And then there’s a chance to order a drink at one of London’s oldest pubs, The Red Lion just off Pall Mall.

The Red Lion Pub, Pall Mall, 23 Crown Passage, London's Second Oldest Pub

The Red Lion Pub, Pall Mall

There’s little time to appreciate the history … but there is time to find the downstairs bathroom. 7 pubs of 26 down, and the seal has been broken!

8. Whitehall
The Clarence, 53, Whitehall

This is a walk – at last, stops close to each other! – to the other end of Pall Mall, around past Trafalgar Square (who created this board?!) and then onto Whitehall.

Whitehall, a street for drinking, governing, and beheading King Charles I.

Whitehall: a street for drinking, governing and beheading King Charles I

Whitehall is the politicians’ street (we walked down here on Monday with talk of beheadings and Downing Street), so it’s no surprise that there are plenty of bars to choose from.

Grab the first one that isn’t crowded, drink fast, and then it’s on to…

9. Northumberland Avenue
The Sherlock Holmes, 10-11 Northumberland St

Walk back up to Trafalgar Square, and spin around to the right.
Walk down the road and you’ll see The Sherlock Holmes ahead on the left, where Northumberland Avenue meets Northumberland Street.

I don’t want to give the impression that this is all about logistics and precision – a Monopoly Pub Crawl is hands-down THE best way to acquaint yourself with London, and a chance to tap into its history.

And its ales – The Sherlock Holmes even serves a Sherlock Holmes Ale, which of course we have to try while we’re here!

If you’re an ale drinker, it has some flavour to offer. For me, I find ales sit very heavily – not a desirable attribute in the middle of a marathon.

The Sherlock Holmes, Nothumberland Ave, 10-11 Northumberland St London

The Sherlock Holmes, Northumberland Ave

10. Marylebone Station
The Victoria and Albert, Marylebone Station

Walk up Northumberland Street and turn right to Charing Cross Station.
Take the Bakerloo line to Marylebone.
Enter the station, and go right to the end, where you will find the pub on your left.

Our second train station, and almost as far away from the other stops as you could imagine! Seriously – the four train stations on the Monopoly Board (King’s Cross, Marylebone, Fenchurch St, and Liverpool St) are all major commuter stops – but so too is Charing Cross station which is RIGHT. NEXT. DOOR. to Northumberland Ave.

Still, Paddington would have been worse – and at least there’s a pub actually inside this station. In front of us in the queue is a group asking the bartender to sign their Monopoly Board – we don’t mean to pry, but it’s only their sixth signature so we know we are well ahead of them. Plus they’ve order a round of Guinness pints – they’ll be here for a while, but we wish them luck anyway.

Outside Marylebone Station. The Victoria and Albert pub is inside.

Outside Marylebone Station. The pub is inside.

11. Bow Street
The Marquess of Anglesey, 39 Bow St

Take the Bakerloo line. Change at Piccadilly Circus for the Piccadilly line to Covent Garden.
Come out of the station and turn right, walking along Long Acre (away from Covent Garden itself). Turn right onto Bow Street.

The Marquess of Anglesey, 39 Bow St

Both the pub and the street name make the photo.

Back now into the heart of London’s West End – this is my favourite part of the city, the theatre district running from about here (Drury Lane is nearby) west into Soho and Leicester Square.

We’re going to cover most of that within this colour group (which, incidentally, is the best set of squares to buy on the Monopoly Board. Statistically, more players land on Bow, Marlbourough and Vine Streets than any other squares.)

12. Marlborough Street
O’Neills, 37-38 Great Marlborough Street

Turn right back up Bow Street; turn right at the end and walk down Long Acre/Great Queen Street to Kingsway; turn left and walk up to Holborn tube station.
Take the central line to Oxford Circus. Exit on the SE corner and walk down Oxford St toward Tottenham Court Road.
Turn right onto Argyll Street and left onto Malborough Street. O’Neills is on the corner of Carnaby Street.

Strictly speaking, there is no Marlborough Street in greater London, but Great Marlborough Street is (by consensus) the destination for this stop. If the pub experience isn’t already starting to feel repetitive, this stop (almost half way through) will do it. We’re heading into another O’Neills chain pub…

Corner of Great Marlborough St and Argyll St, London

Some streets are born great, and some have greatness thrust upon them.

… and sitting outside is the group of Guinness Drinkers from Marylebone Station. How did they beat us here, we ask? Geography – they’ve gone just 3 tube stops, while we had to head all the way over to Bow St / Covent Garden and back.

We’re almost halfway through though, and it’s only 4.30pm. I’m feeling good about our prospects.

13. Vine Street
Gauchos Grill (Swallow St)

Walk down Carnaby Street and turn right onto Beak Street, then left onto Warwick St.
The pubs are at the end of the road as it meets Glasshouse Street.

Vine Street is the only stop on this pub crawl that has no pubs to offer us. In fact, it’s an odd street to be on the board at all, given how small it is, tucked away behind Regent’s Street.

Vine Street Sign, Monopoly Pub Crawl

Still, it exists and we went there!

We’re aiming for Gauchos, an upmarket Spanish restaurant that can be picky with their clientele. Thankfully, we’re well dressed and well ahead of the dinner rush … they want to sit us at a table and show us the menu; we’re happy to sit on the lounges inside … but yes, let’s order some bar snacks to keep us going (how long will they take to arrive? We’re in a hurry.)

14. The Strand
The Coal Hole, 91-92 Strand

Head to Piccadilly Circus Tube – catch the Piccadilly Line two stops to Covent Garden
Cut through Covent Garden and down to the Strand

Halfway there – it’s time for a video update.

As you can see, Covent Garden is a busy place at this time of day. The Coal Hole is too, and proves to be one of the nicer bars of the day (despite a hilarious name – or is that just 13 half-pints of beer talking?).

The Coal Hole, The Strand

Me and the Coal Hole. Apologies for so many photos with me in them!

We’re now on the Red Squares, the turning point on the board between low prices and the top end. It’s not that obvious in real life, however – but then, we are less than a kilometre from Whitehall and Northumberland Ave!

15. Fleet Street
Ye Olde Cock Tavern, 22 Fleet St

Walk or catch a bus along The Strand – it kind of just turns into Fleet Street

Fleet Street sign, London

Fleet Street. Home to Ye Olde Cock Tavern (and, further along, Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese).

What did we say about funny pub names? There’s not much of a journalist legacy on Fleet Street anymore, with the exception of a number of drinking establishments.

16. Trafalgar Square
Halfway II Heaven, 7 Duncannon St

Take the 11, 15 or 23 bus back up along The Strand to Charing Cross Station or Trafalgar Square

Go Directly to Trafalgar Square, if you pass go etc etc

Almost drunk enough for that pole to look sexy. Nelson’s column in the background.

Most Monopoly Pub Crawls recommend the Chandos (at 29 St Martin’s Lane) for the Trafalgar Square stop. That’s a fine English pub, no doubt, but it’s an extra few minutes walk so we’re heading in to Halfway II Heaven.

You’ll probably notice a lack of female companionship here. Not uncommon in a pub, true, but here there’s a better reason – it’s actually a gay bar.

Not that that stops them from happily serving us up our half-pint of beer and a glass of water.

17. Fenchurch Street Station
The Fen or The Windsor, Fenchurch St Station

Walk to Embankment Tube Station (Past Charing Cross)
Catch the District or Circle line to Tower Hill, and walk up to Fenchurch Street Station

Now we know why so many people cheat and take the logical route, instead of doing the Monopoly Pub Crawl in order. Here we are, back at Tower Hill more than 6 hours after our last visit!

Fenchurch Street Station Facade.

Fenchurch Street Station Facade. Insert Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy reference here as well.

Our destination is Fenchurch Street station – and here’s a timing problem. The best day to do the Monopoly Pub Crawl is Saturday – simply because more bars are open later, and you and your mates don’t have to work.

But within the ‘Square Mile’ of the official city of London, not much is open on a Saturday. And that includes Fenchurch Street Station! (Weekends are also more likely to see maintenance closures of tube lines – always check the Transport for London website for updates before heading out.)

If you can’t get in to the Station, expect a mad scramble around the area. There are a number of pubs nearby … but most are closed on Saturdays (weird, but true). That’s how we once found ourselves at Proud, a nearby Burlesque club that isn’t really open for casual drinks (or people wearing jeans) but could sense the desparation in our voices, and the pounds in our wallet.

18. Leicester Square
The Moon Under Water, 28 Leicester Square

Catch the Tube back to Embankment; change to the Northern Line for Leicester Square

Leicester Square sign, London

What it says on the tin! And now reopened after many years of renovation work.

I don’t want to belabour this point, but Fenchurch Street station just lost us 45 minutes. It’s honestly a 5 minute walk from Trafalgar Square to Leicester Square – hell, the Harry Potter premiers ran a red carpet along that road! – but it’s taken us almost an hour.

Still, the yellow squares are fabulously close together and connected in a logical way. That gives us some time to contemplate dinner…

19. Coventry Street
Busaba Eathai with Dinner, or The Comedy, 7 Oxendon St

Walk across Leicester Square and into Coventry Street

Coventry Street sign, London's west end

Coventry Street. More than halfway in now, we are not caring about No Entry signs!

Meals are an important part of a pub crawl that lasts this long – for sustenance, to soak up the alcohol, and to provide you with a kick of energy.

Fast meals (like our supermarket sandwiches) are the best way to do this, and keep to schedule. If you want a sit down, Busaba Eathai just off Coventry Street is a good option – you’ll get here about the right time, and they don’t take reservations for small groups so you don’t need to know exactly when you’ll arrive, and you’ll still probably get seated quickly.

Just let them know two things:
1. You’re in a rush (this is the theatre district, they’re used to that and will help out) and
2. You want your beer served immediately – it’s far too deep into this pub crawl to have to start sculling beers!

20. Piccadilly
Henry’s Café Bar, 80 Piccadilly

Catch a tube on the Piccadilly Line from Piccadilly Circus to Green Park

Piccadilly street sign, London

Piccadilly Sign – at least there are fewer photos of me now!

You can walk down Piccadilly and head for the first bar that looks good. But the fastest guaranteed way is to jump on the tube for this one stop trip, and duck into Henry’s Bar which is just outside Green Park Station.

(Is that the same Green Park Station that takes you to Pall Mall? Yes, we’ve been here before!)

21. Regent Street
All Bar One, 289 Regent St

Catch the tube from Green Park (Victoria Line) or Piccadilly Circus (if you stayed at that end; Bakerloo Line) to Oxford Circus (1 stop).
Head away from the city along Regent Street – it’s between Margaret and Wigmore

Onto the home stretch now folks! Depending on the time of year, night time (even if not night fall) will be on you. But we have several hours still up our sleeve. This is looking good.

This is definitely doable.

I am definitely, definitely, drunk.

Monopoly Pub Crawl reaches All Bar One on Regent Street

So I made it 3/4 of the way through without feeling drunk. Then it hit me!

I suppose, 21 x half pints = 10.5 pints, and I’ve been running around now for almost 11 hours! But now, suddenly, I can feel the exhaustion and the beer affecting me. I try to focus on the task at hand – only five bars to go. But wow, do those five feel like a lot of effort. And there’s more booze hitting my system with every second. Must concentrate. Suspect rambling is about to begin.

Oh, and we’ve gone round the final corner. Time for another video update:

22. Oxford Street
The Explorer, 23 Great Castle St

Walk back down to Oxford St and turn right (towards Bond Street Tube)

Oxford Street sign, London, at night

Oxford Street – it’s night time now!

Oxford Street is a very popular commercial street. But don’t think that means there’s a pub on every corner! Oh no, you have to go looking for them.

And now they’re filling up. And so am I. I’m looking at the time. I’m staring at that half-pint of beer, willing it to go down.

It’s not the booze. It can’t be the booze. Much. Surely? 11 pints in 11 hours, a man of my size and with my liver’s decade of training, should be able to handle that.

No, it’s the tiredness – magnified by the alcohol. Which I manage to get down, followed by a few sips of water to get the taste out of my mouth. Onward…

23. Bond Street
8 Dering St

Turn left onto Bird St until it turns into Bond Street

New Bond Street sign, London

Where is the arrow to the nearest bar please?

Again, you would think finding a pub in London would be easy at this time of night. But no – Bond Street is fancy, it’s jewellry and art galleries, not half pints of beer in the evening. We get a little bit lost trying to find this one. We don’t have time for that!

And the feeling of space that being in a pub at 1 o’clock gives you is long gone. I need the bathroom – third pub in a row. Can you order me a drink? Great. Back in 5.

Better make that 10. And there’s no toilet paper in the men’s room. We do not have time for this! I’m walking into the ladies, grabbing a roll, and coming back.

Taking matters into my own hands. That’s what I’m doing. I’m drunk, and I’m tired, but more than anything I am committed.

WE WILL GET THIS DONE!

24. Liverpool Street Station
Hamilton Hall, upstairs from the station near the Bishopsgate Exit

Head back to Bond Street Tube – Catch the Central Line to Liverpool Street

Welcome to Liverpool Street Station

Liverpool Street Station would be more welcoming if it were located at Marble Arch

Who the flipping hell put Liverpool Street Station here on the Monopoly Board? Look at that map again – this is an hour’s round trip out of the way, and it’s now after 10pm. Still, it’s 15 minutes (each way) on the tube so I’m taking a nap.

Hamilton Hall is exactly what you expect a train station pub to be like late at night. Nobody is here because they thought ‘that looks like a nice pub’. Everybody is here because they would rather be somewhere else – in most cases, that somewhere else is at the end of a train journey from Liverpool Street station.

For us, the somewhere else is Mayfair, via Park Lane. And if I can just get this beer down we’ll be on our way.

TWO STOPS TO GO!

25. Park Lane
The Rose and Crown, 2 Old Park Lane

Catch the Central Line back to Marble Arch
Turn left onto Park Lane, and continue on down

Wow, has that detour ruined what remained of our schedule. After Regent Street, it felt like the night was young and this was easily finished.

Now it feels late. Very late. There’s no longer any guarantee that pubs will be open. We’re headed for the Rose and Crown, at the far end of Park Lane. I’m looking at the time. It’s almost 11.30, and we’re walking down a dark street, and so help me god if we get to this pub and it’s closed and we don’t finish the Monopoly Pub Crawl I will cry and scream and, well, and fall asleep on the front step of the bar.

But what’s that? Hawaiian noises? Downstairs, underneath the Park Lane Hilton, is a really dodgy Hawaiian bar. But I’m desparate, and in a hurry, and damn well committed.

The Park Lane Hilton, London

The Park Lane Hilton – when time is of the essence!

A ten quid cover charge is ridiculous. Any other day of my life I would tell this man to stick it. Instead, I pay it and – because I couldn’t possibly sit here and watch the minutes tick past staring a beer and wondering what will still be open in Mayfair – I order a shot of Malibu.

The first time I ever went into a bar, my dad bought me a shot of Malibu. He was born in London. There’s a connection.

My god I’m drunk. But I’m back outside now. There is one more stop to go and we will have completed this epic, this challenging, this amazing Monopoly Pub Crawl in order.

26. Mayfair
Ye Grapes, Shepherd’s Market, Mayfair

Walk down Curzon or Hertford St. There is a Mayfair Place here for photo purposes

It’s closed. Pub number 26 of 26, and it’s now ten minutes to midnight and we have been running this marathon and drinking those beers for 13 hours!, and the pub is closed.

Everything is closed. Mayfair is dead quiet. This is another city business area, and the local lawyers, and bankers, and Russian oligarchs have all decided to go home early tonight. I am gutted. I am devastated. I am walking around Mayfair until I find…

…an Indian restaurant, with the lights on, and customers inside!

My friends, we are in luck. We have success! We also have naan, and Cobra beer to wash it down with. Cobra Beer and Naan is the taste of success.

WE HAVE DONE IT!

Mayfair Place street sign, London

VICTORY! MAYFAIR! WINNERS!

I have to say, the feeling I have right now is one of relief. I’m not sure if that’s because we have snatched victory from the jaws of defeat, or if it’s the more comprehensive awareness of how epic this day has actually been.

There’s also some exhilaration. I have been wanting to do the Monopoly Pub Crawl since I first heard Dave Lister talk about it in Red Dwarf. I once wrote a Christmas special called “Doctor Who and the Monopoly Pub Crawl of Doom, or pardon me, have you seen my Tardis?”. I am such a Monopoly nerd that I can quote square-purchasing strategy while drunk and standing on Regent Street!

And I have now completed the actual Monopoly Pub Crawl!

Was it more difficult than I expected? Hell yes! Was it worth it? In so many ways.

I wanted to do another video right now, but I am dead on my feet and asleep on the tube. But tomorrow morning, oh yes, here is my take tomorrow morning:

Want to go? Need to know!

Have you completed, or do you plan to complete, the Monopoly Pub Crawl in London? Let us know your thoughts and your questions in the comments below.

And do you think completing this out-of-order, like so many people seem to do, is cheating?

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London: three days in one

 [Chris writes: It was always going to be tough going up against Jacob’s Perfect Day in London in our informal London competition. I’ve taken the tactical decision to throw not just one of my perfect days in London into the ring – I’m throwing them all in.]

Day One: Epicurean London

The first perfect day in London focuses exclusively on the relatively recent and somewhat surprising revelation – the food in England doesn’t suck!

The Poms have, for years, endured as the world, and the French in particular, snorted and stuck their noses up at even the accidental placement of the word ‘England” in the vicinity of the word “cuisine”. Said the French President, Jacques Chirac;

“One cannot trust people whose cuisine is so bad”.

Ouch.

France has moved on from Chirac, but I suspect he still speaks for many of us when we contemplate English food. And how wrong we all are.

One only has to look at the constellation of British chefs and cooks dominating the television, the bookstore, the supermarket ailes, and your stomach, to know that this attitude towards British food cannot last long, if indeed it is an opinion still held at all. From Heston to Gordon to Jamie to Nigella to Rick to Antonio to Delia, there is no shortage of chefs promoting new cuisine in the country, and there are truly exciting places in Britain where artisanal isn’t a word artlessly tacked on by a hipster in marketing – it truly is.

We start our morning at one of those places, and my favourite place in London. We’re going to Borough Market.

Food Heaven is Borough Market.

From our London Perfect apartment in Notting Hill, it is a short trip from Notting Hill tube to London Bridge (Central Line to Bond Street, changing for the Jubilee line towards Stratford).

Borough Market has been in operation, in some form or another, since the 13th Century, and possibly earlier. It recently earned a blue plaque as “London’s Oldest Fruit and Veg Market”.

Today, it is spread over several blocks, showcasing fresh and preserved produce made by individuals who make things the old-fashioned way.

It is hard to believe how varied and exciting the produce is at Borough. From specialist cheese producers, to rare breed pig farmers, to the one guy who smokes his own salmon and scallops up near the Scottish border, you’ll not only find the ingredients of your dreams but usually be talking to the person who made them.

There’s lots to eat and drink, so don’t muck about.

First – go to the Monmouth coffee stand and get in the queue when you arrive at Borough. Even if it looks quite long now, it will get longer still at the day progresses.

Once you’ve grabbed your coffee fix, head over to the Jubilee Market to look at food producers selling everything from jams and preserves, to spices, to handmade dips and dukkah, and their own family recipe for salami and smallgoods. Circle back into Green Market for bread, pastry, and don’t forget to grab an empanada before you go.

It Is Always Time For Tea

Tea and the English will, possibly forevermore, be inextricably linked.

Can you believe that, each evening when The EastEnders finishes (a popular soap on television), the surge in electricity is so great that the company must actively manage the electricity supply, even gathering in electricity supply from France.

What is causing this massive electricity surge? Says the BBC;

No other country in the world switches on some many kettles in so short a time.

Each evening around 7 PM, 1.75 million kettles are switched on.

To honour this national obsession, we’re paying a visit to the Twinings store in the Strand.

Photo courtesy of afatefulhaven.com.

Photo courtesy of afatefulhaven.com.

Thomas Twining, fighting a brave rearguard action against the overwhelming popularity of coffee houses, bought this coffee house back in 1706. In the early part of the 18th Century, tea began to rise in popularity and soon sales of tea from this store eclipsed the coffee business and Twinings was set on the path to tea-time domination.

Here you can buy the regular Twinings tea brands as well as shop from the Loose Lea Tea bar and individual teas for those famous Twinings compartments.

On to Marylebone for Brunch and Cheese

The Providores in Marylebone is one of those places you hear about in whispers and backchannels, because no-one wants to let the secret out – but this place is just too good. You only have to visit The Providores on a weekend for brunch to see the size of the queue and feel the crushing disappoint at forgetting to have booked.

An airy, modern cafe cum restaurant, there are two parts to The Providores – the Tapa Room downstairs, which is a busy free-for-all, and the quieter, slightly more formal dining room upstairs.

Both serve an increbile, eclectic ‘fusion’ menu that showcases the irreverence on the Kiwis and the cosmopolitan spirit of London. Current dishes on the lunch menu is a Smoked Dutch eel with butternut squash star anise puree, edamame, blood orange and macadamia nut salad and Sri Lankan spiced beef short-rib with pearl barley, raisins, almonds, mango chutney and coconut.

Remember to book your place.

Once satisfied, head out onto the Marylebone High Street and wander a bit further up towards Regents Park. You’ll smell our next destination before you see it, and depending on your palate you may love it or may find it slightly offputting.

The first time I entered the Cheese Room at La Fromagerie, I couldn’t quite take it all in. I was found standing in a corner of the room, gazing fondly at a block of Parmesan and inhaling deeply the potent scent of what I think was called ‘Stinking Bishop’.

With cheeses from Buffalo, Cow, Goat, and Sheep, and from all across England, the United Kingdom, and Europe, there just has to be a cheese here that you will find mind-blowing. Brie, Camembert, Aged Cheddar, Pecorino, Ricotta – breathe deeply and you’ll be entranced just like I was.

And before you leave this little slice of food paradise, pop into Patisserie Valerie for a raspberry tart fix.

Photo courtesy of afatefulhaven.com.

Photo courtesy of afatefulhaven.com.

Breast Milk Ice Cream

Yes – that threw me the first time I read about it too. It is hard to determine whether choosing to sample this particular variety of ice cream goes one the ‘have-to-try-it-once’ list or on the ‘are’you-blooming-crazy’ list.

If you were up for it, we’d head to the Icecreamists shop in Covent Garden and have a red hot go. If it isn’t really your cup of tea (and let’s be honest, that’s probably 99% of you) then we’ll head to another Icecream treasure of London – unconventional too, though not in the same way.

Freggo, located just away from the ridiculous hustle and bustle of Regent Street and Piccadilly Circus, is an icecreamery par-excellence. You really will not be able to think of icecream the same way once you try their Malbec and Berries icecream in combination with a dark chocolate icecream. Yes, that’s wine in icecream and it works. Don’t miss this.

Come the Raw Prawn at Harrods

How are we doing for time? Quick – get in that tube!

Harrods, house of all things gaudy and excessive, happens to also have a very fine Food Hall. If you can get past the crowds and the over the top memorials and the purveyors of perfume, you’ll find yourself in something very closely resembling a playground for grownups.

Photo courtesy of afatefulhaven.com.

Photo courtesy of afatefulhaven.com.

Look at the size of those prawns!

Photo courtesy of afatefulhaven.com.

Photo courtesy of afatefulhaven.com.

Ok – it will be overpriced. But just sit yourself down at that counter and stuff yourself with jamon freshly carved from the bone with a razor-sharp knife by a smiling gentleman in an apron and enjoy it. You only live once.

More Tea, and a moment to regather

By now we’re feeling the afternoon dip hit hard, so it’s time for the citrus pep of a cup of Lady Grey and maybe a moment to catch our breath. At Claridge’s Afternoon Tea, they serve the ‘quintessential’ English afternoon tea, and having been practising the art for over 150 years, we’re sure to enjoy the full experience. As Spencer Tracey once said;

I’d rather go to Claridge’s than to heaven.

The Grand Finale, by the Master of Illusion

As if we have any room left in us by now. But we must, we must find some – a hollow leg perhaps. For tonight we dine at Heston’s.

Dinner, his restaurant in the Mandarin Oriental, is Heston Blumenthal’s first entry into the London market. With The Fat Duck solidly booked out months in advance, Dinner is our best chance to sample the cooking that has earned the self-taught chef three Michelin stars and to trade the Best Restaurant in the World title with Noma and El Bulli, depending on who you ask.

Photo courtesy of afatefulhaven.com.

Photo courtesy of afatefulhaven.com.

The restaurant’s dishes are based on Heston’s deep research into historical cooking in English culture, and the dish at Dinner is the Meat Fruit. To all appearances, a mandarin, inside is a special surprise and I won’t be the one to spoil it for you. See if you can guess.

Day Two: Museum London

Not really a foodie? I hear you. Perhaps history and culture is more your thing?

One of the benefits of being an Empire is being able to amass, legitimately or otherwise, enormous collections of historical artefacts and trophies from across the world. England, being a particularly potent Empire, has quite the collection.

Photo courtesy of afatefulhaven.com.

Photo courtesy of afatefulhaven.com.

Start at the British Museum. Of course, everyone else is starting there too, and there will be a big rush to get inside to the Rosetta Stone first. You can join the rush or head on upstairs to the Egyptian collection instead, and find your inner Indiana Jones amongst the mummies and hieroglyphs.

Photo courtesy of afatefulhaven.com.

Photo courtesy of afatefulhaven.com.

Photo courtesy of afatefulhaven.com.

Photo courtesy of afatefulhaven.com.

Photo courtesy of afatefulhaven.com.

Photo courtesy of afatefulhaven.com.

Next, head to the London Museum. This place is little mentioned by most ‘travel experts’ and yet it tells a definitive story of the history of London, from ancient times through the Blitz, and to the heady days of Beatlemania and beyond, in entertaining and creative ways.

Photo courtesy of afatefulhaven.com.

Photo courtesy of afatefulhaven.com.

Once you’ve finished the tour you’ll have a greater appreciation for just how central this city has been in the making of the world as we know it today.

Photo courtesy of afatefulhaven.com.

Photo courtesy of afatefulhaven.com.

Head across the river to the Tate Modern.

Photo courtesy of afatefulhaven.com.

Photo courtesy of afatefulhaven.com.

This titan of the art world, made from an old powerplant and solidly sitting across the Thames from the grand dome of St Paul’s, is a temple to modern and contemporary art and will have you up to speed on all your Modernisms and Post-Modernisms and Post-Modern-Pre-Minimalisms in no time at all.

Photo courtesy of afatefulhaven.com.

Photo courtesy of afatefulhaven.com.

Just near the Tate is the reconstruction of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.There are tours available, but why not come back when there is a play on. Standing tickets near the front of the stage as cheap as chips, although you will be exposed should the weather turn inclement, which in London is ‘frequently’.

Photo courtesy of afatefulhaven.com.

Photo courtesy of afatefulhaven.com.

Finally, and it is a bit out of the way, but how could you miss the Museum of Natural History. For any adult who, as a kid, fantasised about becoming an archaeologist (so, all of you) this is the Aladdin’s Cave, the Nirvana, the Mecca of dinosaur-nerdery.

Photo courtesy of afatefulhaven.com.

Photo courtesy of afatefulhaven.com.

Photo courtesy of afatefulhaven.com.

Photo courtesy of afatefulhaven.com.

Photo courtesy of afatefulhaven.com.

Photo courtesy of afatefulhaven.com.

Day Three: Countryside London

Food – meh. Museums – whatever.

Are you a nature lover, perhaps?

Photo courtesy of afatefulhaven.com.

Photo courtesy of afatefulhaven.com.

If so, let’s grab the DLR and get on out of London. Head out to Richmond Park, where we can gambol to our heart’s content in a massive greenbelt of forest, rivers, and fields.

Photo courtesy of afatefulhaven.com.

Photo courtesy of afatefulhaven.com.

We’ll take time to track down the deer herds that populate the Park, making sure not to get too close – especially in rutting season.

Photo courtesy of afatefulhaven.com.

Photo courtesy of afatefulhaven.com.

Photo courtesy of afatefulhaven.com.

Photo courtesy of afatefulhaven.com.

After we have all the fresh air we need, we’ll make our way to the Petersham Nursery. Not only a nursery full of beautiful flowers like you can only grow in England’s mild and gentle climes, there’s also an amazing restaurant attached. If the restaurant isn’t open, head up to the Petersham Hotel for afternoon tea overlooking the upstream Thames.

Photo courtesy of afatefulhaven.com.

Photo courtesy of afatefulhaven.com.

On your way back into London, hop off and explore Kew Gardens.

Photo courtesy of afatefulhaven.com.

Photo courtesy of afatefulhaven.com.

There’s an exotic greenhouse there full of endless varieties of butterflies, and the photos you take will be beautiful.

Day Four: Get way out of Town

Your perfect day in London may actually be a day trip out of the city. There are plenty of coach tours to places like Bath, Warwick Castle, Stonehenge, and other little satellites around this city, but why not go self-guided. We’ll have a better time.

One possibility is Canterbury, which is only an hour by train and will fulfil all your fantasies about how a medieval English town may have looked and felt.

Another option, if eclectic and alternative if your thing, is Brighton. Full of people who look at the world a little differently, Brighton also contains perhaps the most incredible palace in all of England, if by incredible we mean ‘absolutely-completely-over-the-top’. Playboy George, Prince of Wales, turned the Royal Pavilion into the most fashionable seaside retreat for high-society members of the time, and it has the the most extravagant chinoiserie interiors ever executed in the British Isles.

Photo courtesy of afatefulhaven.com.

Photo courtesy of afatefulhaven.com.

Brighton Pier will satiate your need to have a traditional English carnival pier experience, and if the stars align and the planets tilt and the world turns upside down, you may just might just may be able to go for a swim and not freeze to death.

But don’t count on it.

Wow.

Photo courtesy of afatefulhaven.com.

Photo courtesy of afatefulhaven.com.

So, there it is. Not one, not two, not three, but four different versions of what might constitute a perfect day in London.

Photo courtesy of afatefulhaven.com.

Photo courtesy of afatefulhaven.com.

Please tell us yours!

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London’s Best Walk, Cruise, Dinner and Show

Today and tomorrow we have duelling plans, as the two everydaydream holiday founders compete over their perfect London day. Did you know these two met while they were both living in London? Which one – Jacob or Chris – would make the best guide?

Onto your first perfect day – London’s Best Walk, Cruise, Dinner and Show, by Jacob Aldridge

Today’s Experience

London. Founded by Romans, defended by Englishmen, owned by Russians. This is a world city.

The sun rises over London from Primrose Hill near Regent's Park. You can see the Gherkin, the Shard, the BT Tower, and the London Eye.

Spectacular Sunrise over Sensational London. Photo by The Real Mikey Boy, CC License

And when you want to watch the world wake up, the best place to do it is right here, atop Primrose Hill. We’ve come (having flown in yesterday from Canada) prepared with picnic blankets, a basket of food goodies, and supermarket bubbly – Tesco’s Finest Prosecco at £12 a bottle is actually one of the best don’t-call-it-champagne options around.

Don’t believe me? Have another glass, and take in this view that stretches around from Canary Wharf at the east end of the city, across St Paul’s and the original Square Mile, out to the London Eye and Houses of Parliament. It’s a famous view, most recently punctuated by the Shard, London’s newest (and Europe’s tallest) skyscraper. 3.7 million people are heading to work here right now – ten percent of them are in Banking – and from this height it’s hard to believe they’ll all fit.

From the bottom of the hill we wander across Regent’s Park to Great Portland St, and catch the C2 bus toward Victoria. No trip to London is complete without riding on an iconic London double-decker bus. And of course we’re going to sit upstairs – it’s also a great way to see the city as we drive through.

One of the few remaining old-style Routemaster buses. The latest design has reintroduced many elements of these classics, and forms part of Boris Johnson's London legacy.

One of the few remaining old-style Routemaster buses. The latest design has reintroduced many elements of these classics.

Is the Queen at Home?

We depart the bus at Piccadilly, and walk through Green Park to see if the Queen is home at Buckingham Palace. The royal standard isn’t flying today – anybody hoping to catch a glimpse of Queen Elizabeth II through the curtains will be disappointed.

That flag is the Union Jack, flown when the monarch is not in residence. When the Queen is at home here, the Royal Standard flies.

That flag is the Union Jack, flown when the monarch is not in residence.

There’s still lots to appreciate at the front of the palace. The balcony where Charles and Diana – and 30 years later, their son William and his bride Kate – had their famous wedding kiss. The statue in front is Queen Victoria, who was the first monarch to reside here after 75 years of remodelling work concluded in 1837. If she looks fresh, it’s thanks to the nose job she received just before last year’s Olympics.

The Queen's guard - you can witness the changing of the guard here at Buckingham Palace every day of the year, although it does get overly crowded.

The Queen’s guard – you can witness the changing of the guard here every day, although it does get overly crowded.

London’s Best Free Walk

Buckingham Palace sits at the top of The Mall – which rhymes with Al, Hal, and Val, not All, Hall and Tall.

For William and Kate’s wedding (we still struggle to call her Catherine, only because it makes their monogram WC) 500,000 of their closest friends and fans lined the Mall to watch them heading to and from Westminster Abbey.

My beautiful wife and I were among the 500,000 fans who lined the Mall for the marriage of Prince William and Catherine Middleton, 29 April 2011.

I was one of them! (As was my beautiful wife.)

In 2012 Stephen Kiprotich from Uganda won the Olympic marathon right here.

Today, it’s much quieter as we walk down the broad avenue. To our left is St James’s Park – like so many of London’s best parks, this was originally a royal reserve (back when Buckingham Palace was considered ‘away from the city’) and is now park of the park system that makes London so liveable.

To our right, we pass Clarence House – former home of the Queen Mother, and now residence to Prince Charles and Camilla. Tempting as it is to drop in for tea…

At the far end of The Mall, we pass under a grand arch, and suddenly Nelson’s Column comes into view. Trafalgar Square used to be a roundabout! Now the fountains, the famous lions, and Nelson himself 52 metres (169 feet) up create a public space that seamlessly connects this history of that 200 year old naval battle with modern London, and its future brand.

Trafalgar Square, with the National Gallery to the back. There used to be a road between the two of them!

Trafalgar Square, with the National Gallery to the back. Photo by Mike Fleming, CC License

Take a look at the Fourth Plinth. The city of London has not yet a new hero to immortalise on this space, so it currently forms a combination of display space and performance art stage. Needless to say, 2012’s bronze rocking horse and 2013’s giant blue cockerel were selected to … mixed … reviews. Behind it, above the Square, is the National Gallery – a fabulous free destination for lovers of art, and those who find themselves nearby when London’s notorious weather kicks in.

London's Mayor Boris Johnson at the announcement of the 2012 (Rocking Horse) and 2013 (Blue Cockerel) Fourth Plinth designs. One of these things is famous in London for being a giant cock...and it's not the rooster.

London’s Mayor Boris Johnson at the announcement of the 2012 (Rocking Horse) and 2013 (Blue Rooster) Fourth Plinth designs. Together, they make 3 of the strangest advertisements London has had in its 2000 year history.

From Trafalgar Square we could head up Charing Cross to the West End, along The Strand toward Fleet Street, or down Whitehall towards the Westminster Parliament. We choose the latter – Whitehall is a microcosm of British History: the window upstairs of Banqueting House on the left is where King Charles I was beheaded; across the road is London’s most famous address, 10 Downing Street. You can also be photographed with one of the Queen’s Guard at the Horse Guards’ Palace.

At the far end is Westminster, and our free walk ends at Parliament Square, between the statues of Winston Churchill and Abraham Lincoln, beneath the flags of the Commonwealth, and across the road from the Houses of Parliament.

Parliament Square only reopened in 2012, having been closed for nearly a decade of Iraq War protests. From Parliament Square you can see the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, and the Queen Elizabeth II Tower.

Parliament Square only reopened in 2012, having been closed for nearly a decade of Iraq War protests.

From here, the inside options for tourists include a tour of Parliament and a visit to Westminster Abbey – where kings and queens are married, crowned, and also buried. It is also possible to climb the Queen Elizabeth Tower and see Big Ben, arguably the world’s most famous bell.

Cruise the Thames

My favourite thing to do in London is a ferry cruise up the Thames from Westminster Pier to Greenwich. Not only is this the easiest way to see so many of the key sites – from the London Eye past St Paul’s Cathedral, the Tower of London and Tower Bridge, out to Greenwich – but the boat crew also make some of the best guides in the city!

The boat crew on the ferry from Westminster Pier to Greenwich Pier deliver a guided commentary tour just for tips - but do an excellent job!

The boat crew deliver this tour just for tips – but do an excellent job!

Head upstairs, and hear them point out everything from the point where Queen Elizabeth I entered the Thames on her way to motivate the forces against the Spanish Armada, to the specific buildings they believe have the best (and worst!) architecture in the current city.

The Tower of London, as seen from the boat along the Thames River to Greenwich.

The Tower of London, as seen from the boat to Greenwich.

Greenwich

Greenwich can make a day trip in its own right; when we have half a day there are two highlights we want to focus on.

The first is the Maritime Museum – seeing the coat Nelson was wearing when he was killed is worth the cost of entry alone! (Well, entry is free so really it’s all a bonus.)

If you’ve heard of Greenwich, it’s not just because we ate in New York’s Greenwich Village last week. Greenwich Mean Time is all calculated from the Prime Meridian at the Greenwich Observatory. So we climb the hill…photograph ourselves straddling the zero point of modern communication … and then turn to take it another expansive view of London city, this time looking back toward Primrose Hill.

Most people join the queue at the front of the Greenwich Observatory. Sneak in at the back - it's essentially the same photo straddling the Prime Meridian.

Most people join the queue at the front. Sneak in at the back – it’s essentially the same photo straddling the Prime Meridian. I’m reminded of a tune – one went east, one went west, and that grin belongs in a cuckoo’s nest!

Though closed on Mondays, I recommend ending your Greenwich exploration with a tour of the Cutty Sark, once the fastest ship in the world- and now reopened after a 2007 fire almost destroyed all of that history.

The famous London Underground, better known as the Tube, was the first underground railway in the world - and this year turns 150!

The famous London Underground, better known as the Tube, was the first underground railway in the world – and this year turns 150!

Dinner and a Show?

We head back into the city using a combination of the Docklands Light Rail, and then the famous London Underground. Specifically, we’re taking the Central Line from Bank to Tottenham Court Road. Our destination is the Cambridge Theatre on London’s West End and London’s best theatre production right now: Matilda.

Matilda has become the hottest theatre ticket in town since its world premiere here in late 2011, and it deserves to be. A combination of Roald Dahl’s famous children’s book with modern day maestro Tim Minchin writing the songs means this production is the creation of two storytellers at the height of their artform.

Production photo of Matilda: The Musical, at the Cambridge Theatre London.

Production photo of Matilda: The Musical, at the Cambridge Theatre London. Copyright Matilda: The Musical

The theatre district is known for late-opening restaurants. And we could stay close by … but a perfect day in London needs to end with dinner in its most famous restaurant strip, the row of indian cuisine options on Brick Lane.

If you’ve never been accosted by spruikers outside every restaurant, all offering you ‘the best deal’ at ‘an award-winning restaurant’, then you’re in for a surprise. All we can say is be prepared to haggle – tonight, we’ve managed to secure free entrees and free drinks for our whole party!

Brick Lane is London's best known restaurant addresses, with a long row of Indian cuisine restaurants to choose from.

We honestly can’t tell you the difference between any of these restaurants.

Champagne breakfast and Curry for tea. Both are fit for the Kings and Queens we’ve witnessed in between.

Want to go? Need to know!

  • If you want to see London at its finest, here is a high-resolution, pre-recession summer photo from the top of Primrose Hill – look for the netting to the right, that’s the aviary at London Zoo.
  • Did you know that the top of the double decker buses is white? They’re only red on the parts that can be seen from street level.
  • London really is almost as damp as its reputation. However its most famous weather phenomenon – the Pea Souper London Fog, when you can’t see the hand at the end of your arm – is actually a relic of the industrial revolution. The coal dust and factory smoke created that atmosphere; their departure from the city also took away the pea souper.
  • Climbing up to Big Ben is free, but requires pre-planning – you need to write to ‘your’ Member of Parliament to organise a time.
  • Transport for London ensures the same card – the Oyster Card, which is worth buying even for a short trip because the deposit is refundable – can be used on all London buses, the Underground, the DLR, and even trains inside the city.
  • Earlier this year, everydaydream holiday was invited as celebrity contributors to Posse.com and asked about our favourite London places – check them all out here.
  • If you can’t get tickets to Matilda, we also recommend We Will Rock You, or those classics of the West End Les Miserables and Phantom of the Opera.

Calling all Londoners and London Lovers: What would you fit into the best day in London? Let us know in the comments below, or come start a discussion on our Facebook page.