So This Is London

If your journey includes more than a layover at Heathrow (and it certainly should), here's what not to miss.

BY Jon Barrett

May 06 2009 12:00 AM ET

STAY at One Aldwych, a privately owned hotel that is so comfortable and at the same time so chic that it's a favorite among Londoners. Located on the edge of Covent Garden -- and within walking distance of the city's biggest theater productions, best shopping, and most popular tourist destinations -- One Aldwych is the epitome of calm and class, whether you're meeting friends in the very popular Lobby Bar (said to offer some of the best people-watching in all of London), swimming a lap in the 56-foot indoor pool (which is equipped with underwater music and, like the rest of the health center, is open 24 hours a day), or kicking off your shoes in one of the 105 guest rooms, each of which is a decorated with an original piece of art (part of the hotel's 400-piece fine art collection). Rooms start at about $400 a night. OneAldwych.com

SEEPriscilla, Queen of the Desert, the musical version of the hit Australian film, which opened in London this spring after several sold-out years in Sydney and Melbourne. You've probably seen the movie and you've undoubtedly seen hundreds of drag performances, but don't let that dissuade you from taking in this West End bonanza. You'll be on your feet from the first drop of the mirror ball, the costumes (and costume changes) will amaze you, and you won't get enough of the gay and unabashedly hot Oliver Thornton, who plays the youngest of the three drag queens, Felicia. I liked it so much I went twice. Seriously. Palace Theatre, PriscillaTheMusical.com

EAT at Princi, an Italian bakery in the popular and predominantly gay Soho district. This starkly designed and very popular café isn't the right place if you're in the mood for a full meal. But it's perfect if you want to watch a crowd while enjoying a croissant and coffee. If you're especially nice, you might get your food for free: The handsome Italian man behind the counter said "no charge" because I "was the first one all day" to ask him how he was doing before giving him my order. Who says Americans are rude? Princi.it

DRINK at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern for an authentic taste of England's pub culture -- with a uniquely gay twist. The hostess the night I stopped by was a drag queen dressed as Condoleezza Rice. Oh, how the mighty have fallen. TheRoyalVauxhallTavern.co.uk

Tags: Travel

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