London: Marylebone

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SEE Madame Tussauds Marylebone Rd., at Baker St. 870/400-3000,
Irresistible kitsch and fun, Tussauds is London's premier tourist draw. Skip the Clooney and Pitt-dominated Garden Party at the start and head for the Great Hall, where there's an impressive selection of historical figures, or linger in the gory Chamber of Horrors. Go late in the day: The crowds are thinner and the entry price is lower, too. Open Mon.--Fri., 9:30 a.m.--5:30 p.m.; weekends, 9 a.m.--6 p.m. Admission: £13--£22, depending on time of day.

SEE Wallace Collection Hertford House, Manchester Sq., 20/7563-9500
Stashed in a quiet square, this French château-style mansion is full of antiques and paintings inherited and collected by the illegitimate, art-loving heir of the Marquess of Hertford. There's a heavy emphasis on French finery--Sèvres porcelain, Louis XIV furniture--as well as Boucher and Fragonard canvases, and a smattering of English work by the likes of Reynolds and Gainsborough. Open daily, 10 a.m.--5 p.m. Free.

EAT Eat and Two Veg 50 Marylebone High St., 20/7258-8595 Airy vegetarian restaurant with ample seating and a refreshingly varied menu, from meatless burgers to tofu sausage 'n' mash or hotpot. Weekend brunch is especially hopping and fun.

EAT Golden Hind 73 Marylebone Lane, 20/7486-3644 Is there such a thing as chic fish and chips? Yes, if you stop by this retro joint in Marylebone's gourmet ghetto, complete with vintage Bakelite fryer. Alongside standard cod and chips, expect offbeat extras such as deep-fried mussels. Closed Sun.

SHOP Daunt Books 83 Marylebone High St., 20/7224-2295 Book-lovers' mecca, with piles of new releases arranged by the door. A vast selection of travel books (including guides, memoirs, and maps) fills three floors at the back of the store.

SHOP Get Up Boutique 9 Ashbridge St., 20/7725-9694,
Cute and quirky independent boutique run by a pair of designers who live and knit on site. Wrap dresses, knickers, and cardigans for women, and a few pairs of handmade cotton boxer shorts for men. Closed Sun.

PLAY Royal Academy of Music Marylebone Rd., 20/7873-7300,
The alma mater of composers such as Arthur Sullivan and Michael Nyman combines an on-site instrument museum (you can hear the Stradivarius playing on headphones) with a regular series of free lunchtime and evening concerts. Call or check the website for schedules.

DRINK Salt Whisky Bar 82 Seymour St., 20/7402-1155, Dram-downing whiskey lovers should make a pilgrimage to this dark and cozy bar with its thick plastic Perspex counter and its flickering tealights. The range of available whiskies is staggering, taking in everything from Islay malts to Japanese-made concoctions.

DRINK The Social 5 Little Portland St., 20/7636-4992 On Marylebone's southern outskirts, a reliable DJ bar serving a short menu of comfort staples like beans on toast, as well as the usual range of draft beers. But most people come to listen to the eclectic, unusual roster of turntablists, who play everything from hard-core house to retro salsa.

SPLURGE The Providores and Tapa Room 109 Marylebone High St., 20/7935-6175,
London's legendary palace of fusion food, run by the affable New Zealander Peter Gordon. The two-story space boasts a downstairs spot known as the Tapa Room, which offers tasting portions of its Pacific Rim menu; upstairs is a clean all-white space for pricier, larger portions of globe-trotting gourmet food. The steamed sugar snap peas are delicious.

ESCAPE Hampton Court Palace 870/752-7777,
Forget Windsor Castle--it's little more than a white turret with a few fusty staterooms attached (the Queen's rarely spotted, anyway). True monarchy maniacs should head to Hampton Court. A schizophrenic palace, it was built in two eras and two sections: From one side, it's an ornate, multi-chimneyed Renaissance sprawl (and residence of wife-swapper Henry VIII in the 16th century), while from the other, it's a pale-granite neo-Classical palace (thanks to husband-and-wife team William and Mary, who remodeled it nearly 200 years later). Poke around and see if you spot one of the many ghosts said to haunt the corridors here, but make sure to leave plenty of time to explore the fiendish yew maze on the grounds. Admission: £12.

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