Autumn Walks in London
Marble Arch to Regent Street
Head to Paris or Milan to meet the designers, but it's in London's West End where you can pick up the latest designs from the world's top labels all in one place. Combine a saunter around Europe's finest boutiques, interspersed with champagne and nibbles and some really indulgent pampering.
You don't even have to walk far - the shops, department stores and boutiques of the West End jostle for position in a compact area. This simple walk starts at Marble Arch and ends on Regent Street, ready to hit Soho to celebrate.
You'll have already booked up for breakfast at Rhodes W1. The celebrity chef's collection of traditional British breakfasts - which vary from delicately layered pastries to deliciously salty poached smoked haddock and eggs - are accompanied by fresh, vitamin-laced smoothies, a caffeine kick or an early-start flute of champagne.
Selfridges - Oxford Street might be the most well-known for shopping, but it's by no means the best. Head east and skip on past the high street chains, until you get to Selfridges. With nearly an entire alphabet of designers, from Antik Batik to Yohji Yamamoto, hours if not days of shopping fun can be had here. But don't get lost for too long. After early refreshments? Climb the spiral staircase to the Moet champagne bar perched on top of the Chanel boutique - chat and quaff away to your heart's content amongst the throngs of fashionistas.
South Molton Street and Brook Street
So Shei - lingerie from this renowned boutique will help you achieve polished style and sexiness below deck. We adore the 'So Divine' range of 1950s-inspired glamour.
Dune - these uber-cool shoes and bags don't need to shout, they imply urbanity and panache at 50 paces.
New Bond Street
Fenwick - this petite department store is bursting at its haute couture seams with head-turning outfits. Add some extra sheen in the indulgence-centred beauty hall.
Emmanuel Ungaro - the UK outlet of the maverick Franco-Italian is just the place to pick up the dernier cri.
By now you'll probably be in need of a rest. Keep on going down Bond Street, until you reach the hallowed doors of Nicole Farhi. Head downstairs to Nicole's- a fabulously minimalist space, ideal for a quick bite and a glass of wine. The place bubbles with the chitter chatter of happy shoppers. For a longer, more lingering meal, duck down a level further - the serene oak and leather restaurant serves a more expansive menu. But don't hang about too long, there's plenty more shopping to be done...
Nicole Farhi - head upstairs to try on some sleek, conservative threads with a flash of flamboyance.
Celine - dressy, ready-to-wear Parisian designs, hang alongside a to-die-for selection of shoes, bags and accessories.
Fred - take your pick from the quintessential French jewellers' sumptuous collection of white gold and diamonds, for the perfect complement to your new ensemble.
Old Bond Street
Alexander McQueen - the one-time enfant terrible of Brit fashion might have lost his naughty streak over the years, but his boutique is still the place to pick up some inspiring outfits.
Dolce & Gabbana - distinctive, showy combinations from the perennially celebrity-endorsed label.
Prada - simple lines and classic colour schemes characterise this Italian giant.
Polo Ralph Lauren - not the leading light it once was, but this flagship store is still the king for that timeless country club look.
Moschino - the label's unique humour permeates every garment in this range of classic but twisted designs.
Yohji Yamamoto - you'll fall head over your high heels for Japan's premier designer's avant-garde range, inspired by the body's natural contours.
Iseey Miyake - the Far East's other major star revels in combining traditional styles and techniques with their modern counterparts.
Daniel Hersheson - need a stunning hair cut to complement your latest purchases? Book an appointment in advance at this celebrated salon.
Vivienne Westwood - she might have moved away from her punk roots, but the veteran Brit's designs still pack an eye-catching punch.
Liberty - the department store of department stores serves up more fashion, not to mention plenty of other tempting purchases including fabrics, beauty products and some fabulous gift ideas.
Molton Brown - it not just what you wear, the body underneath counts too - pamper yourself beautiful with a huge range of body therapy products.
Burberry - chav it certainly ain't, just ask Kate Moss. This timeless English check is still top.
Levis - by now, you've probably got enough designer gear to be going on with, so why not pick up a pair of 501s to slink around the house in.
Needless to say there are literally thousands more shops to explore in London, but, sadly you can't fit them all into one day. Thankfully you find yourself right on the edge of Soho, the West End's playground of bars and clubs. How about a refreshing drink and a chat about the day's purchases?
Opium - hole up in the mock pagoda at this Franco-Vietnamese styled den for drinks, food and then dancing.
The Long Bar - self-explanatory really, this gorgeously minimal bar tails off into the distance like an American highway. A superlative cocktail list fits the whirlwind of tanned bodies and designer labels.
Kingly Club - Sup on champagne or cocktails amongst the exotic aquariums and elegant glass bar of this legendary members' bar.
Leicester Square to the British Library
Many of Britain's lost, lauded writers were London born. Donne, Milton, Keats, Blake and Trollope all came into the world in this city, whilst others like Dickens, Dr Johnson and Shakespeare became inexorably linked with the sprawling metropolis through their work. All over the city you'll find hordes of Blue Plaques subtly hung on buildings, denoting the residences of our literary heroes, and reams of bookshops selling everything from rare Japanese manuscripts to the latest John Grisham. And finally, of course you'll recognise countless locations from your favourite works.
This walk is a celebration of London's rich literary past, starting at Leicester Square and ending at the British Library near King's Cross.
Exit Leicester Square Tube Station and head north up Charing Cross Road.
Charing Cross Road reputedly boasts the greatest concentration of bookshops in the world. Stroll north from Leicester Square and first you'll come across mainly specialist, second-hand stores which give way to the larger, chain outlets further north, heading towards Tottenham Court Road. Don't miss Foyles - London's biggest and best independent bookshop. The cafe upstairs serves spectacularly sticky chocolate brownies too. If you like jazz head to Ray's Jazz Cafe in the store for the best selection in town.
When you reach Tottenham Court Road Tube (you will notice the 32-storey Centrepoint towering over you), cross over New Oxford Street and take the next right on to Great Russell Street.
On your right is the Cinema Bookshop. Inside you'll find an encyclopaedic array of everything to do with films and film-making.
Continue down Great Russell Street and turn off into Bury Place.
Here you will find the London Review Bookshop, the most recent addition to the city's dwindling ranks of independent bookshops. Duck through the traditional shop front and, despite its compact space, you'll be impressed by the range of volumes on the towering shelves. The passionate, knowledgeable staff are happy to field your questions.
Come back on to Great Russell Street and continue to the end.
On the opposite side of Southampton Row you will see Falkiner Fine Papers. If you are interested in calligraphy, papermaking, typography or the history of printing this shop is the city's major authority on the subject. They even stock all the necessary equipment so you can have a go yourself.
Come out of Falkiner Fine Papers, turn right, then right again down Theobald's Road. Take a left down John Street which turns into Doughty Street.
On your right-hand side is the Dickens Museum, set in the author's only surviving London residence. The foremost chronicler of the Victorian era, Dickens rented the house for £80 and it was here that he wrote Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickleby. Behind this row of houses lies New Printing House Square where the Times newspaper offices were originally located, before Murdoch transferred them to Wapping in the 1980s.
Now come out on to Guildford Street and turn left. Carry on right to the end.
You are now in Russell Square, one of London's largest and prettiest garden squares. In the north-west corner you will find a Blue Plaque dedicated to the American-born poet TS Elliot. The Nobel laureate worked in the building for the publisher Faber and Faber.
Head north along Bedford Way. Turn left down Tavistock Place and carry on until you reach Gordon Square.
Find number 50, in front of which is a plaque commemorating several members of the Bloomsbury Group. The poet Virginia Woolf, Clive Bell and the Stracheys all lived in the area. Virginia Woolf lived at number 46.
Continue north up Taviton Street. Turn right on to Endsleigh Gardens and walk to the end. Turn left along Woburn Place, then immediately right down the busy Euston Road. Take the first right which turns into Woburn Walk.
Here you'll find the residence of the Irish poet and dramatist WB Yeats which is also marked with a plaque.
Head back to the Euston Road, cross over at the lights and turn right. About 100 metres down on the same side is the British Library- the last stop on this walk.
This enormous archive houses over 150 million items, adding 3 million each year to the ever-growing 625km of shelves. But it is not just quantity, the library is home to some unrivalled treasures including the earliest dated printed book, the Diamond Sutra, the Magna Carta, Shakespeare's first folio, the first edition of the Times from 1788 and Leonardo da Vinci's notebook. Visitors to London often miss the British Library, don't make the same mistake. As well as the permanent collections, there are a number of exhibitions; up until the 8th October 2006 you can see Front Page, a celebration of the British newspaper industry.
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