There’s always somewhere fun to visit in London, and with such a fantastic public transport system, you don’t have to wander far on a rainy day to reach all the popular tourist spots.
Plan your visit at the right time of the year and you’ll even have the bonus of walking straight into all the galleries and exhibitions avoiding queues.
During a trip to the capital with my mother on a blustery March weekend, I stayed at the Dorsett City Hotel in Aldgate, a newly opened four-star hotel in the heart of the East End.
Right next to a London Underground station, it’s perfect for a weekend city break.
Our first stop on the tourist trail was a visit to Old Spitalfields Market, one of the only surviving Victorian shopping sites in the city. Boasting a wide range of clothes, food and craft stalls, the bustling indoor market is surrounded by busy streets filled with vibrant African textile stores.
There’s a great selection of food stalls to choose from, with seating areas dotted around the market.
We opted for a healthy, colourful vegetable platter for lunch, filled with beans, okra and lentils from Merkamo – our first, and certainly not last, taste of Ethiopian food.
The next stop was the Tate Britain in the City of Westminster to see the work of Monet, Tissot and Pissarro at the Impressionists in London exhibition.
The surreal works of leading artists Lucian Freud and Francis Bacon were also on display at the All Too Human exhibition in the adjoining rooms.
Celebrating works based on the human form, the exhibition focuses on the different techniques used by artists painting figures over the past century.
Art enthusiasts are treated to a series of portraits, including one of the last paintings Freud ever completed of his first wife Kathleen Garman, painted when she was pregnant, shortly before they separated.
Narrative art by figurative painters Frank Auerbach and Paul Rego are also on display at the exhibition, which runs at the popular gallery until the end of August.
One of Rego’s most disturbing works – The Family – depicts the uncomfortable scene of a woman and a child undressing a man sitting on the end of a bed. Painted in 1998, it reveals the struggles of her family trying to help her husband Victor Willing, who was suffering from multiple sclerosis.
Inspired by the exciting artworks, it was time to head back to the hotel for dinner to start planning our outing for the next day.
The hotel boasts two restaurants.
The VQ on the ground floor is popular with families with its servings of classics such as barbecue ribs, steak sandwiches and chicken burgers, and its 24-hour breakfast.
There’s also the Shikumen, an oriental offering with home-made steamed dim sum – bite-sized pieces of food also served up for breakfast.
The plentiful portion of stir-fried squid with pepper, chilli and garlic was delicious, and the stir-fried asparagus with lotus root which followed was a tasty light dish which didn’t leave you feeling uncomfortably full at the end of the meal.
Tired from all our walking, we had an early night, dozing off quickly in the comfortable hotel beds.
After tucking into a decent-sized breakfast, we headed out on the Tube again to Kew Gardens where we were in for an unexpected treat.
The vibrant annual orchids festival was due to finish in mid-March, but the exotic flowers were still on display in their full glory when we walked around the Princess of Wales Conservatory at the end of March.
It was the first time the annual floral exhibition had centred on the flowers based in Thailand, which is home to 1,100 species of the plant.
Replicating the trailing nature of the colourful plants growing along the branches of trees and rocks in the wild, the flowers cascaded from the limbs of trees based in the large tropical glasshouse.
Kew is one of the world leaders in the field of breeding the plants with one of the oldest and largest living collections in the world.
You can’t travel all the way to London and come home without sampling the diverse range of food on offer, and with so many celebrity chefs tempting you into their establishments, it is often difficult to figure out the best place to go.
Realising just how busy these restaurants can be on a Saturday night, we booked our table at Outlaws At The Capital a few weeks before travelling to the city.
We certainly weren’t disappointed. Our three-course meals at Nathan Outlaw’s Michelin-starred eatery behind Harrods turned out to be just as delicious as we had expected.
After relaxing in the bar with a cocktail, we were taken through to the sophisticated art deco-style dining area to order our meal.
My ewe’s curd dumplings dish served with sage brown butter, celeriac and hazelnuts melted in the mouth and proved to be a great combination of flavours.
The rhubarb sponge and ginger beer sorbet may not have been the most exciting choice of desserts to follow, although the sharpness of the fruit paired well with the ginger and the sweetness of the cake.
It was the perfect end to a lovely weekend in London with its many tourist attractions and delicious food on offer.
I’m now looking forward to our next adventure in this fun-filled city.
Room rates at the Dorsett City in London start from £107 a night.
A complimentary Handy travel gadget is available in rooms, a smartphone device with built-in features to help hotel guests plan trips and find the best places to eat, play and shop.
There is a Sky bar on the 14th floor where hotel guests can enjoy a cocktail taking in the views of London’s iconic skyline.
The Dorsett City Hotel is within walking distance of many popular tourist attractions, including the Tower Of London, Tate Britain, Spitalfields Market, Borough Market and the Columbia Road Flower Market.