International hospitality from Iceland to Bosnia
No matter which tube line your next London meeting is near, put aside a little time for exploration: chances are one of the city’s treasures is awaiting you just a few short London Underground stops away.
On the Central line:
Notting Hill Gate station: browse the shops and stalls filled with antiques and vintage treasures along vibrant Portobello Road.
Holborn station: drop into the British Museum, where you will find some seven million ancient treasures - enough to fill several rainy afternoons - including the Rosetta Stone, the controversial Elgin Marbles, and a piece from the beard of the Great Sphinx.
On the Circle line:
South Kensington station: Kensington's Big Three museums - the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Natural History Museum, and the Science Museum - are all within easy walking distance of "South Ken" Tube, as is Carluccio's (1-3 Old Brompton Rd), the perfect Italian trattoria to grab a plateful of pasta in preparation.
Tower Hill station: up close, it is as mighty as it is memorable: check the website of Tower Bridge, built in 1894, to ensure you are there for its next lifting to allow big ships passage up or down the Thames.
On the District line:
Mansion House station: stop off here to visit the Christopher Wren-designed St Mary-le-Bow church; real Cockneys, tradition dictates, are only those born within earshot of its bells.
Kew Gardens station: home to a staggering one in eight of the world's plant species, Kew's Royal Botanic Gardens is one of the world's most fragrant and finest.
On the Jubilee line:
Westminster station: visit both the neo-Gothic Palace of Westminster housing the handsome Houses of Commons and Lords and ancient Westminster Abbey, where almost all monarchs since William the Conqueror have been crowned.
On the Northern line:
London Bridge station: if you are peckish, go straight to delicious Borough Market, known as "London's larder," where a market of some sort has stood for the last seven centuries.
Hampstead station: Roam, swim or cycle expansive Hampstead Heath, which covers 320 hectares of wooded, meadowed, flowered land. Its cool, calm bathing ponds are particularly nice on a hot summer's day.
On the Piccadilly line:
Russell Square station: drop in on the home of London's most famous novelist at the Dickens House Museum, in which the inimitable author penned both Oliver Twist and The Pickwick Papers.
Leicester Square station: marvel at everything from El Grecos to Van Goghs at the expansive but inexpensive (indeed, entrance is free) National Gallery.
On the Victoria line:
Pimlico station: experience the wonders of British art, from Reynolds and Constable, through Turner, to Hockney and Francis Bacon at the Tate Britain yet another of the capital's stunning, and stunningly free-of-charge, art collections.
Victoria station: take a ten minute walk to view the modernest of modern art at the Saatchi Gallery then browse the boutiques and design stores of Chelsea's chic King's Road.
On the Waterloo and City line:
Waterloo station: get a bird's eye view from the world's tallest (and highly leisurely) Ferris wheel, with a revolution on the landmark London Eye.
Bank station: glimpse a remaining slice of Victorian London at the stunning covered Leadenhall Market, stopping for charcuterie at Butcher or a pungent Camembert at Cheese.
On the Hammersmith and City line:
Barbican station: The Barbican, with its two theatres, three cinemas, Barbican Gallery and resident London Symphony Orchestra, is one of London's pre-eminent cultural centres: check the website before you set out to catch a show, concert or flick.
Liverpool Street station: shop the stunning selection of vintage clothes, crafts, furniture and artisanal produce at Old Spitalfields Market, then grab a salt beef bagel at Brick Lane's 24-hour Beigel Bake (159 Brick Lane).
On the East London line:
New Cross Gate station: ramble the crumbling Nunhead cemetery, the most forgotten of London's "magnificent seven" cemeteries. Pick blackberries and discover the mossy monuments and memorials to Victorian London's notables.
On the Metropolitan line:
King's Cross St Pancras station: secure a reader's card in advance, or book a spot on a guided tour, to experience the British Library, home to the Magna Carta, Shakespeare's first folio and some of the Beatles' original hand-written lyrics.