If you’re taking a tour of this grand palace of politics you can book ahead to enjoy afternoon tea afterwards. Sadly there’s no chance of seeing the PM – teas are served on Saturdays and selected days during Parliament recess – but you can nibble on savouries and cakes in in the elegant Terrace Pavilion with views of the Thames rarely enjoyed by the public.
Whether you’re on your way home from a night’s clubbing or you’ve been up since 5am with your three-year-old, gloriously quiet mornings in central London are your reward. Head for St John Bakery, just behind Maltby Street Market for their famous freshly made doughnuts oozing with jam, or go Proustian with just-baked madeleines dipped in your cup of tea.
Nothing beats sitting by an open fire drinking a good pint in a charming old pub (reading Dickens while you toast your toes, optional). On a cobbled street on the lanes above Hampstead village, the Holly Bush is one of the perfect spots for just that. The menu is reliably gastropub, but the low-beamed bar and the eighteenth century interiors are pleasingly far from contemporary.
Unlike urban riverside drinking in central and east London spots, the stretch between Hammersmith and Putney Bridges affords far prettier views of the Thames. This popular example has a large wine list and a decent selection of ales to choose from before you head out for a table on the decking or, if you’re lucky, a seat under the willow tree.
Every aspect of the fish-frying process has enjoyed an upgrade to ensure this Shepherd’s Bush chippy is the best in town: excellent fish, light batter, homemade tartare sauce and double-fried chips. To compensate for the lack of cheery chippy shoveling potatoes at the fryer there’s a live video feed from the kitchen so you can even watch the peas being mushed.
Why not refresh yourself with a genuinely local brew? The Camden Town Brewery makes lagers and pale ales at its base underneath Kentish Town West station and its wares can be sampled in bars all over town. However, its own bar is worth a visit (open Thursday to Saturday), with nosh supplied by guest street food stalls. They also run brewery tours Thursday and Saturday.
We’re not talking about a glorified fruit machine asking chart trivia here, this live session every other Monday night is an interrogation in sound. Officially known as the Rough Trade Shop Pop Quiz, it’s a good night’s entertainment, with rounds featuring pictures, music exerpts and general pop questions. There are drinks and record tokens for prizes.