Seventh Heaven: 24 hours in London's secret shopping district
Perfect Day: Seven Dials
Tom Sweeney explores Covent Garden's 'secret' shopping village, the streets around Seven Dials.
10am: Pastries and Paparazzi
Hidden in the heart of the West End are seven atmospheric streets bursting with big-name (Ireland's Orla Kiely, for one) and independent boutiques, drool-inducing delis, raved-about restaurants, cool cocktail bars and hip hotels that radiate from the Seven Dials monument. Plan your shopping day with a barista brew at celebrity hangout Monmouth Coffee. It's the only coffee shop in London with paparazzi on the pavement.
2pm: Short back and side dishes
Collect your freshly groomed fella from Murdock Barbers (18 Monmouth Street) and head to Neal's Yard, a flower-bedecked courtyard, for a light lunch in Salad Pride. Pop into Casanova and Daughters for Sicilian deli specialities, then visit Neal's Yard Dairy, London's top cheese shop, which sells 500 tonnes of the stuff every year, including the pungent Stinking Bishop. For vegetarians and vegans, Wild Food Café is considered the best in Britain.
How: saladpride.com; casanovaanddaughters.com; nealsyarddairy.co.uk; wildfoodcafe.com
5pm: The French Connection
The pre-theatre three-course dinner at Mon Plaisir (19-21 Monmouth Street) is a steal at £17.95/€21.40. London's oldest French restaurant, established in the 1940s and owned by chef Alain Lhermitte since 1972, is a warren of individually decorated dining areas. It's like eating in an antique shop (the outrageously ornate bar came from a bordello in Lyon). If you like onion soup, there's none better. Always busy and always a plaisir.
How: monplaisir.co.uk; +4420 7836 7243.
8pm: Curtain up and cocktails
You're in theatre land, so take your pick. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is on at the Palace on Shaftesbury Avenue, Stomp is at the Ambassadors and Brian Friel's Faith Healer is at the Donmar. Afterwards, sip decadent cocktails in The Escapologist (35 Earlham St.) or have a pint in The Crown (43 Monmouth St.), then retire to the Radisson Blu Edwardian Mercer Street (above, 20 Mercer St.).
How: radissonblu-edwardian.com (rates from around €300); theatreticketsdirect.co.uk
Fly to London with Aer Lingus (aerlingus.com), CityJet (cityjet.com) or Ryanair (ryanair.com). More to see and do in the city on visitlondon.com.