The start of the year is a time for new beginnings and experiences, but how about a fresh look at somewhere you probably know already - the famous street of Piccadilly? One of London's most renowned thoroughfares, it's somewhere you can easily spend all day exploring. So here's our fresh guide to this unique mix of British arts and culture, hospitality and shopping.
Afternoon tea at The Ritz London
We start our stroll down Piccadilly with the world-famous afternoon tea in the timeless surrounds of the Palm Court at The Ritz London. Acquiring its reputation as "the place for tea" in London after World War 1, it's a tradition that has genuinely stood the test of time. Follow in the footsteps of Churchill, The Queen and many more and indulge in finely cut sandwiches with classic fillings, together with freshly baked scones with Cornish clotted cream and strawberry preserve. A mouthwatering selection of cakes and pastries follow, while you can select a pot from 18 types of tea. Surely the most exquisite way to start a one of a kind tour of one of London's most magnificent streets.
Explore the Royal Academy of Arts
Cross over the road and down a little to step inside an awe-inducing courtyard, taking a moment to admire a space that's been run by artists for over 250 years. While you may have visited the annual Summer Exhibition, the largest open-submission art show in the world, did you know there are exciting year-round paid-for and free exhibitions too? It's always worth a wander in its cavernous stone interiors: two big shows not to miss this month are Lucian Freud: The Self-portraits (ends 26th Jan), and Picasso and Paper (starts 25th Jan).
Treat Yourself in Fortnum & Mason
Next on our meander along Piccadilly is the institution that charmingly calls itself the World's Most Famous Cornershop. Its story starts back in the early 18th century, when Queen Anne's household insisted on fresh candles every night, inspiring enterprising footman William Fortnum to sell spare palace wax on. By 1707, his little side-line was so successful he was able to start a full-time business himself. Fast forward to 2020 and Fortnum's unparalleled destination for "extraordinary food, exceptional service and joy-giving things" is as beguiling as ever. And don't forget there's a variety of cafés and restaurants to relax in, including Afternoon Tea at the award winning Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon, The Parlour and The Gallery.
Visit BAFTA's New Piccadilly Café and Exhibition
Now it's time to discover some more of the street's big-hitting culture. While the original home of BAFTA undergoes a revamp, for the first time ever it's opened its doors with an adjoining pop-up featuring café and exhibition (tip: don't miss the costumes from the hit TV show Killing Eve). Afterwards, you can continue your immersion in the worlds of TV and film whilst enjoying one of the café’s home-made salads, sandwiches or cakes with a cup of tea or glass of wine.
Get Lost in Hatchards
Not many shops in London have occupied the same spot for two centuries. And only one bookshop has: Hatchards, established back in 1797. We end our stroll at this lively literary, political and artistic hub, also the proud holder of three royal warrants. With five lofty floors to roam, there are nooks and crannies everywhere to occupy a whole morning; make sure you grab a comfy window seat to watch the world go by.
We hope you enjoyed your St James’s tour of Piccadilly; we’ve certainly loved guiding you through it.