London: West to Chelsea
SEE The Brompton Oratory Brompton Rd., 20/7808-0900, bromptonoratory.com
This London pompworthy Catholic church is often overlooked--a pity, since its ornate, late-19th-century neo-Baroque interior is eye-popping, and the Old Masters statuary (mostly pilfered from Tuscany and Rome) is outstanding in its own right. Believers can catch mass in Latin daily at 6 p.m.
SEE King's Road
A swanky shopping strip designed by Charles II as a shortcut to his mistress's house, bookended by World's End and Sloane Square. The best place to spy London's moneyed elite browsing for a baby carriage, or to pretend you're James Bond. (Royal Avenue is where Fleming sited Bond's London pad.)
SEE V&A (Victoria & Albert) Museum Cromwell Rd., 20/7942-2000, vam.ac.uk
The world's priciest and most-impressive collection of bric-a-brac, this catch-all museum's stunning holdings range from a set of monolithic Raphael cartoons to a National Fashion Collection that boasts jackets from both Queen Elizabeth's era and current designer Alexander McQueen. Open Mon., Tues., Thurs.--Sun., 10 a.m.--5:45 p.m.; Wed. and last Fri. of month, 10 a.m.--10 p.m. Free; special exhibitions and events from £10.
EAT The Cow 89 Westbourne Park Rd., 20/7221-0021
Gastropub owned by Tom (son of Terence) Conran, with chic, retro fixtures--imagine an upscale tea room from the 1950s--and a menu heavy on seafood. Try a pint of Guinness, the house tipple--as Madonna did during her early days as an adoptive Londoner.
EAT Lisboa Patisserie 57 Golborne Rd., 20/8968-5242
Tucked away in West London, a pilgrimage-worthy Portuguese patisserie, with an on-site bakery that churns out heavenly pastéis de nata (custard tarts).
EAT The Wolseley 160 Piccadilly, 20/7499-6996, thewolseley.com
The newest spot from the creators of The Ivy is a large, brasserie-style restaurant with plenty of seating and long hours, so almost anyone can snag a table. The best (and cheapest) scene is breakfast, when media and fashion types nibble gingerly on housemade date-and-pecan twists or pain au chocolat. Open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
DRINK Apartment 195 195 King's Rd., 20/7351-5195, apartment195.co.uk
Cozy, dim bar with overstuffed leather seating and, on occasion, roaring open fires in the winter. Its hidden location--in apartment no. 195--means that passing riffraff don't disturb the friendly, local vibe. Closed Sun. in summer. DRINK Trailer Happiness 177 Portobello Rd., 20/7727-2700, trailerhappiness.com Kitschy California-inspired bar, with a 1960s decor (bean bags, lurid prints) and drinks list (mai tais and zombies never went out of style here). Graze on snacks called TV dinners and groove to the low-key DJ.
SHOP Harvey Nichols 109-125 Knightsbridge, 20/7235-5000, harveynichols.com
Harrods may lure the tourists, but Harvey Nick's is the real fashion mecca: a vast, luxurious cosmetics department, two floors of menswear in the basement, and an unbeatable selection of high-end haute couture. Refuel with a glass of bubbly at the Fifth Floor Café.
SHOP J&M Davidson 42 Ledbury Rd., 20/7313-9532, jandmdavidson.co.uk
Artisanal leathers designed by husband-and-wife team John and Monique: women's and men's accessories, plus homewares, and even fashion. Classic but not fusty.
SHOP Olivia Morris 355 Portobello Rd., 20/8962-0353, oliviamorrisshoes.com
Morris is the punky enfant terrible of London's cobbling clique (Jimmy Choo, Manolo Blahnik, et al). She makes a range of weird but wearable shoes, from African-inspired wedges to velvet boots. Closed Mon. and Tues.
PLAY The Electric Cinema 191 Portobello Rd., 20/7908-9696, the-electric.co.uk
At last, an alternative to lukewarm popcorn and rock-hard seats: Here, enjoy a movie while lounging in an overstuffed armchair (complete with footstool), sipping a glass of wine, and nibbling on gourmet snacks. There are a couple of secluded two-seater sofas in the back row. Admission from £5.
SPLURGE Gordon Ramsay 68 Royal Hospital Rd., 20/7352-4441, gordonramsay.com
London's answer to New York's Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Ramsay is as famous for his fiery temper--showcased on several hit TV cooking shows--as for his food. A shame, since his take on British staples is tasty and refreshing. With three Michelin stars and only 14 tables, save up for a year or so, and book at least a month in advance. Closed Sat. and Sun.
TIP Avoid fines on the Tube Be sure to take your paper ticket after you pass through the Tube's electronic turnstile. If you're caught without your ticket (many people forget it), fines can reach as high as £20. Transit bobbies roam the underground, regularly stopping riders to demand proof that they've paid.