One of the world’s most exciting cities is right on our doorstep
THERE is no doubt but we are spoiled for choice when it comes to a city break on this side of the pond, with Europe on our doorstep and competitive prices in the skies.
But if you want the ultimate weekend away there is little point in looking past one of our nearest neighbours and the bustling streets of London.
Brexit aside, London is still one of Europe’s most cultural, historic and fun cities to visit — and with the drop in sterling, it is now more affordable than ever.
It seems to get harder to find any spare time these days but when an opportunity to while away a few days in Mayfair, catch a show and meet up with some old friends came up, I simply couldn’t pass.
I love London and all its airs and graces.
It’s one of those rare places on earth that you just have to go with it — and embrace whatever charms you find around the next corner. Of course there is the added bonus of it being such a short hop across the Irish Sea.
On an early flight you can literally be there on time for breakfast along the Thames.
Ryanair do a good red-eye flight to Gatwick at 7.30am out of Dublin, which leaves a full day free to adventure in the UK capital.
Prices are competitive and if you book on time, a return trip can come in way under the €100 mark, making a weekend trip very affordable.
Of course, there is plenty of budget accommodation in London but if you really want to spoil yourself why not try The Cavendish Hotel right in the heart of Mayfair?
The four-star hotel is modern and boutique with good size rooms and a location that is second to none.
Across the road is the famed Fortnum and Mason shop, while a short stroll gets you to Bond Street and Regent Street and the best (window) shopping London has to offer.
The London underground system is easy to use and efficient but for those who haven’t been before, it seems a pity to miss what is on the streets above.
The closest Underground stations to the Cavendish are Piccadilly Circus and Green Park, both less than five minutes’ walk from the hotel.
But in a good pair of runners, walking can be the better option to explore the sights and sounds of the city, the street performers and the stunning buildings.
Trafalgar Square is less than 10 minutes’ walk from The Cavendish and a great place to start a sightseeing blitz of London.
There, street artists perform everything from fire-eating to dance and gymnastic displays. Buckingham Palace is just a short stroll through Green Park and, if nothing else, is worth wandering past and marvelling on its extravagance.
If you have time it is well worth taking in the pomp and ceremony of the famed Changing of the Guard.
Lunch on the South Bank is a must, passing Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament on the way and then to the famed riverside with the Tower of London and the London Eye in the distance and plenty of choice for dining options.
But to discover what London is really about you have to get back on your feet and keep wandering, through the streets of Soho and Chinatown and the city’s many weekend markets at Spitalfields, Camden or Greewich.
Superbreak is running fabulous trips to the city that doesn’t sleep too much, and which take in a theatre show to boot.
We went to Jersey Boys, which tells the story of Frankie Valli and one of the most successful bands of all time, The Four Seasons.
The story is told through a soundtrack that features some of the band’s biggest hits including Can’t Take My Eyes Off You and Bye Bye Baby.
The musical opened on Broadway in 2005 and has since returned to London’s West End time and again. There is no doubt but the jukebox musical is cheesy, but that is part of its charm and the songs make the performance in themselves.
For those who don’t fancy Frankie Valli there are plenty of other options to choose from including Matilda, The Lion King or Wicked.
The biggest problem with a visit to London is having time to fit it all in – and of course to relax. But if you plan your break carefully, you can pick and choose what it is that most interests you.
And most importantly – don’t ever think you’ve seen it all because the first thing you will want to do is go back.
London Theatre Break – from €410 per person
Price: From €410 per person based on a two night stay at the 4* Cavendish Hotel with breakfast, plus return flights from Dublin and top price saver evening tickets to The Jersey Boys.