Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Things I Learned in London

I was in London for a brief 3 day trip last week. The weather was actually quite cooperative and I even saw the sun emerge for a few minutes one afternoon. I stayed at my favorite hotel, the Churchill in Portman Square - it used to be an Intercontinental and is now a Hyatt Regency. They just redid their rooms last year (while we were there on holiday, as a matter of fact). Anyway, the location is the big plus for me - plus the Montagu, their lobby restaurant is really nice. I can get to M&S and Selfridges within minutes as they're just 2 blocks away.

I managed to dine at my favorite restaurant, Nobu and also tried out MintLeaf, a nouveau Indian restaurant on Haymarket. And had afternoon tea one day at Liberty's little tea shop, imaginatively called "Tea". They served their tea in beautiful Burleigh Black Willow teapots with scones (choice of fruit or plain) with organic strawberry preserves and Devonshire clotted cream. I was in heaven! I eyed their large meringues but managed to restrain myself.

All the Christmas decorations were up along Oxford St and Regent St, and major shopping was taking place all around me - they were shutting the street to make it a pedestrian-only shopping zone on Dec 1.

My big learnings from this trip are that:
1) United won't officially allow you to check Christmas crackers in checked baggage. BUT if you just go ahead and check them, they don't seem to notice.
2) The one carry-on bag rule is strictly enforced at Heathrow - witness the scores of passengers trying to repack their things by the security queue.
3) There is a separate shoe scanner that you go through after the main security line which is thoroughly confusing for many.
4) Things cost WAAAY more in London, especially with the horrible dollar exchange rate.