Hamleys in the oldest and biggest toy store in London. It has been around since 1760. Stepping into
Hamleys, it's a eye-opening experience compared with other toy stores I've been. First of all, there's staff playing toys everywhere in the shop. There's also a huge toy variety. The best part is, watching the sales staff giving demonstrations on the flying drones to the snapping balls to boomerangs, you really really want to own one of these toys yourself and be a kid again. Visitors of the stores are invited to try out most of the toys on demo and parents watching their kids have so much fun will also feel an urge to buy some toys. It's really an awesome experience.
As a tourist, experiencing the store on the consumer front is only one aspect. I see Hamleys also as a museum for toys with lots of photo-worthy toy displays. Lego royal family, WWE championship belt to crown jewels... it really brought out the kid in me and I actually bought a toy from the store!
5. Watch a Musical
London has many musicals which has gained global acclaim like Phantom of the Opera and Wicked. It's almost a pity if a visitor of London leaves without catching a musical. The musical I watched during my recent visit was Lion King. It's my first time watching a full-fledged animal character show on stage. I must say, the depiction is really good. The service at the theatre is also praise-worthy. They have ushers directing you to your seats and guiding you through the process if you are late. I've never experienced anything like that back home in Marina Bay Sands. Be warned, the show starts on the dot. Do not dally or you will miss the grand opening.
6. Challenge yourself to book Duck and Waffle at earthly hours
By the time I left the restaurant, I was treated to sunrise. Duck and Waffle is obviously famed for its duck and waffle dish. They serve brunch food at affordable prices even though I would say the food quality is decent at best. That said, patrons get treated to an astounding view of the London Skyline while enjoying your food. Try not to go in threes though, they don't like to offer window seats to people going in odd numbers.
7. Visit Harry Potter World
I do believe that Harry Potter World is a must visit for both Harry Potter fans and non fans alike (even if you haven't watched the show before). It's just an eye opener to see how such a massive production is filmed. I'm the one who knows nothing about Harry Potter prior to visiting. I enjoyed myself.
This particular set was what caught my eye and piqued my interest to visit initially. Looking at the set, it changed my perspective on how films are made and gave me new insights into cinematology.
The other part I enjoyed most was drinking the butterbeer and eating butterbeer ice-cream. Knowing nothing about Harry Potter, my initial thought was why they would serve beer in a place filled with kids. I even saw kids lining up for the butterbeers. Turns out that the butterbeer isn't real alcohol, It's butterscotch soda with a layer of ice cream on top. Butterbeer ice cream is basically caramel ice cream. I'd say it's an awesome visit despite knowing nothing about Harry Potter before the trip. It'll be best if you go with a fan so that they can give you some context for some of the scenes.
8. Eat Michelin Star Food
I visited Barrafina during my last trip. It is touted as the best Spanish Tapas in London. I don't have other experiences to compare with but I agreed that my experience at Barrafina was good. Before my trip there, a number of friends who have been there before told me to give it a visit. They mentioned that the Michelin Star food there is cheaper than in Singapore. Honestly, it's still pricey. But I think the presence of chefs with renowned reputations are more compared to back home.
9. Eat Fish and Chips
One classic dish if you must find one to associate London with is Fish and Chips. In my opinion, the type of fish that should go with every order is the Haddock.
There were two fish and chips I shortlisted. The first I tried was Golden Chippy's at Greenwich. It was voted the No.1 Fish and Chips on Trip Adviser.
The next one I tried was Poppy's Fish and Chips. It's probably the most highly recommended place online. Visiting Poppy's really seem to validate that point. The restaurant is full. I tried the Haddock for both places and to be honest, they tasted equally good. The sauce selection is wider for Golden Chippy's and they offered to refill my chips for free. On the other hand, I think I enjoyed the chips better at Poppy's. I'd say if you go to London, it's probably one of the must trys. It's indeed different from the Fish and Chips back home in Singapore.