VisitBritain Presents Top 10 Tips for a Presidential Trip to London

Mar 30, 2009, 17:04 ET from VisitBritain

While in town for the London Summit 2009 this week, President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle will have plenty of sightseeing options, if their busy schedules allow it

NEW YORK, March 30 /PRNewswire/ -- This week, President Barack Obama will join other world leaders at The London Summit 2009 to discuss the global financial crisis. He is traveling with first lady Michelle Obama and while they're sure to have some busy days ahead, they should have some downtime to see London's wealth of tourist options. And with the current exchange rate making a trip to Britain 25 percent cheaper than this time last year, all financial discussion can be left in the meetings. VisitBritain, the official tourism office for England, Scotland and Wales, has pulled together a list of top 10 experiences fit for a president but also available for all visitors.

1. Afternoon tea at Brown's Hotel

The Obamas would surely feel at home at Brown's, as this luxurious London hotel has a rich presidential history. Theodore Roosevelt stayed at the hotel for his marriage to Edith Kermit Carow and Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt honeymooned here. The English Tea Room serves traditional afternoon tea, complete with finger sandwiches and scones. Brown's also has plenty of rooms and suites for visitors to London and is currently offering special rates on weekend visits and an Easter package.

2. A meal at Jamie Oliver's Fifteen restaurant

Jamie Oliver has been tapped to cook for the London Summit and President Obama is sure to want to share Jamie's inspired recipes with the first lady. For more of his innovative tastes, the Obamas can go to Fifteen restaurant, run by Jamie and staffed by young chefs, and dine on the restaurant's dinner menu of pork with fennel or lamb with lentils. Aside from Fifteen, they have lots of restaurant choices in the city, with a number of Michelin-starred restaurants promising everything from traditional British meat pies to spicy Indian curry.

3. A look inside a royal residence

The Obamas will head to Buckingham Palace this week to meet with Queen Elizabeth II. While tourists won't be granted such an honor, they will be able to look around Her Majesty's London residence this summer when the palace annually opens its doors to visitors. From July 26-September 28, the State Rooms will be on display, allowing a look at the lavishly decorated rooms where members of the royal family entertain visiting heads of state. The tour will also include an exhibition of dresses, jewels and gifts presented to Her Majesty. And guests are always welcome to see the ceremonial Changing of the Guard, happening daily from April through July.

4. Cheering for the home team

President Obama is known to be a sports fan, and London is a sporting capital. Gearing up to host the Summer Olympic Games in 2012, London has plenty of athletic attractions and events year-round. There are plenty of opportunities for behind-the-scenes look at sports in the capital, with tours offered at Stamford Bridge stadium, home of the Chelsea soccer team, the courts at Wimbledon and Twickenham Stadium, home of English rugby. President Obama might not have time to take in a soccer match while over, but sporty visitors to London can plan ahead and book tickets to see their favorite teams in matches through VisitBritain's online shop at

5. Going organic

The first lady has been planting an organic garden around the White House recently to get healthy, fresh vegetables for the dinner table. While in London, she can look for more ideas at organic food markets, such as Berwick Street and Borough markets. She and other organic-minded visitors can also stop by the world's first organic gastropub, The Duke of Cambridge, located in Islington, serving organic wine and ale alongside locally produced food. The pub even generates its own power!

6. Shopping for the whole family

London is a top shopping destination, with options for everybody, including America's first family. And with the current exchange rate, shopping is much easier on American wallets this year than last. The first lady can find glamorous styles from British designers Stella McCartney in Mayfair and Vivienne Westwood in Kensington. She can then stop by London's famed Topshop for some younger, funkier styles for daughters Sasha and Malia. And the president is sure to look sharp in a bespoke suit from one of Jermyn Street's renowned tailors.

7. A visit to Benjamin Franklin House

Though Ben Franklin was never a U.S. president, President Obama is sure to gain leadership inspiration with a tour around the Founding Father's London residence. Ben Franklin lived in this house near Trafalgar Square for nearly 16 years and today, guests can tour the rooms where Franklin explored Daylight Saving Time and invented bifocal lenses.

8. A wander around Docklands and the East End

Next week's meetings are scheduled to take place in the Docklands area of London, and there is plenty for President Obama to explore once the work has ended. Near the new financial center of Canary Wharf, Docklands has loads to offer visitors, such as the Museum in Docklands, charting the history of the area from Roman times until today. And it's a quick journey from Docklands to the East End for a look at London's trendy arts scene, including the reopening of the expanded Whitechapel Gallery on April 5.

9. Getting cultural

While President Obama is in meetings all day, the first lady will have plenty of choices to keep her entertained in the city. She can visit a number of London's free museums and galleries, taking in classical works at the National Gallery, including current exhibit "Picasso: Challenging the Past." She can balance that with more contemporary styles at the Tate Modern and check out the exhibit of American Roni Horn's works. And she and other visitors shouldn't leave the city without enjoying a West End show. The most buzzed-about musical in the city right now is "Oliver!" featuring Rowan Atkinson as Fagin. Those looking for more drama can see Dame Judi Dench in the Donmar West End's production of "Madame De Sade."

10.Taking a day trip to Cambridge

Recently genealogical research suggests President Obama's maternal roots make him a descendant of early Pilgrim settlers, and that his direct ancestors are buried in England. Two English parishes are now claiming to be his ancestral home, one being just outside of Cambridge. President Obama can go investigate this on his own, with Cambridge just an hour train ride from central London. While there, he and other visitors can explore famed Cambridge University or Christ's College, where Charles Darwin was a student more than 170 years ago. They can also go punting down the River Cam or walk amid more than 8,000 plant species at the Cambridge University Botanic Garden.

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SOURCE VisitBritain