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Capital ideas for a trip to lively London

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Live the high life in one of the world’s great cities.

London always has something new going on, so I thought I’d tell you about what I’ve checked out recently that’s interesting and worth making a beeline for in the next few months.

The Shard is a landmark building on the London skyline, designed by Renzo Piano. At a height of 1,016ft (310m) it is the tallest building in Western Europe, and is now a symbol of London, recognisable throughout the world. A visit is a must when next in the city.

The View is situated at the top of The Shard, on floors 68, 69 and 72, and is almost twice the height of any other viewing platform in London. Prepare to embark on a multi-sensory journey to 244m (800ft) above of one of the greatest cities on earth.

Travelling skyward in two high-speed ‘kaleidoscopic’ lifts, you’ll swiftly reach Level 68 a cloudscape above the world.

Then journey to Level 69 where the view is revealed and London opens out before you. Here you see an astonishing 360 degree, 64km (40 mile) view over the city and beyond. The past, present and future of London unfurls beneath you, and is brought to life in multimedia displays.

For the best view in town, ascend to Level 72, at 244m the highest public level of The Shard. You’ll be exposed to the elements with sounds of the city around you. Looking up, you’ll see the shards of glass that form the top of this skyscraper as they disappear upwards into the sky.

The View is open from 9am to 10pm daily. All tickets are dated and timed, so there are no queues.

A superb place to eat while there is Aqua Shard on Level 31. With a backdrop of stunning views of London and the Thames, the menu offers wonderful light British dishes. Starters, priced from £6.50, include grilled octopus and Scottish mackerel with tomato sorbet, pickled shallots and aubergine dressing.

Main courses start at £16.00 and include Dover sole served with cuttlefish, broad beans and cider sauce. The quality is superb and the views are second to none. Prices aren’t silly, and the dcor and service are impressive.

Say hi to Angus, the general manager from Ayrshire, from me!

Call 020 7478 0540 or visit great place to stay in London is Hotel Xenia in South Kensington. Located at Cromwell Road, SW5, this new luxury boutique hotel has rooms that cost far less than you would imagine, yet delivers superb quality.

It’s just minutes by foot from the city’s most famous museums, including the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Natural History Museum.

The Victorian building has been lovingly restored, and boasts 99 contemporary guestrooms, including one suite the first in London to have a Turkish bath. Unique personal touches are prevalent throughout the property, including the addition of a tablet computer in each of the bedrooms.

The hotel is also showcasing an exciting new dining concept. Its restaurant, Evoluzione, has been inspired by renowned nutritionist Chiara Manzi, and serves delicious Italian food with a healthy twist. This is low-calorie Italian cuisine in a restaurant located in the property’s bright conservatory, with daily demonstrations at a dedicated show cooking station.

Hotel Xenia delivers, among other delights, a delicious three-course meal for under 800 calories so you can enjoy guilt-free gourmet dining!

For eating out I have another excellent recommendation again great value for money. It is Les Deux Salons in Covent Garden at 40-42 William IV Street.

A little bit of Paris in London is the best way to describe it. In October 2010 Les Deux Salons, the third venture from Michelinstarred duo Anthony Demetre and Will Smith, opened its doors to the public.

The twofloor brasserie situated in the heart of theatre land, reflects the same ethos, quality and great value as its two sister restaurants Arbutus and Wild Honey.

Here you can enjoy robust French cooking delights in a dcor of dark green leather banquettes, mosaic marbled flooring, aged mirrors and globe lights. The feel is very much of a traditional brasserie on the Boulevard Montparnasse in Paris.

The food is simply excellent oysters, foie gras, all manner of fish and meat, steak tartare and all the French classics. Seriously impressive and what’s the most amazing fact? That you can have a two course lunch or dinner daily for £9.95!

This is an absolute find. Book ahead on 020 7420 2050 or at, and tell the fabulous waiter Trevor and the general manager who used to work in Edinburgh you read it here!

Another cracker is Damson & Co at 21 Brewer Street in Soho W1. This place showcases the very best of British produce like venison, lamb, mutton and goose, all complemented by an eclectic range of cheeses.

It’s like a really cool wine bar with lots of character and truly great food. Dishes from £5. This place is great value, quirky and fun. Call on 0203 697 2499.

If you’re brave enough to hire a car for London, Europcar has a good deal. They offer hire from £39 per day based on a three-day hire of a VW Up or similar. Go to or call 0871 384 9900.

Xenia Hotel is a member of Great Hotels of the World Premium Collection. Rooms from £123.50.

For more information or to book, please visit or call 020 7380 3658.

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