You’ve been working hard all week and now it’s Saturday morning and an opportunity for some downtime. Being away from home can make it difficult to know what to do with these precious weekend hours, but if you’re staying in The City you couldn’t be better placed to chill out on a Saturday morning.
Here are five great ways to start the weekend in the heart of the best city in the world.
Have a leisurely brunch
First things first, relax and indulge yourself a little. Brunch is a great way to do this, as it means you can really enjoy a meal slowly – something you might not have been able to do during the week. Ban any electronic devices, including your phone, tablet and laptop. Grab a paper or magazine if you want to occupy yourself while waiting for your eggs to arrive or simply do a spot of people watching and let your mind drift.
When it comes to great brunch options you are spoilt for choice in The City. You can’t go wrong with a visit to The Breakfast Club, however, which is tucked away on Artillery Lane, close to Liverpool Street Station. The weekend brunch menu is immense, with everything from veggie breakfast burritos and full Englishes to four types of eggs Benedict and various styles of pancakes on offer.
To really spice up your Saturday morning brunch, tell a member of staff you are “here to see the mayor”. This unlikely phrase will grant you access to The Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town speakeasy, which is accessed through the Smeg fridge in the restaurant. Here, you will be able to add a bloody Mary or other tipple to your meal.
Take a stroll by the river
People don’t come to The City for large open spaces, as there simply aren’t any of these. While there are various public gardens and smaller green spaces, there is a much greater asset for those wishing to take a walk – The Thames. The river snakes its way along the southern boundary of The City and is the perfect place to wander.
Make your way down to the river at any point and join the Thames Path, which has been developed to ensure better walking access for pedestrians. You can make your walk as long or as short as you like. It can be restricted to just the stretch of river that goes past The City or you could end up walking to a whole other part of London.
Another option is to take the Tube to a station further upriver, such as Embankment or Pimlico and aim to finish your walk conveniently within the limits of The City. Along the way you will see all sorts of sights on both sides of the waterway, including the London Eye, the Temple Gardens, Tate Modern and several iconic bridges.
Browse a gallery
There’s no need to leave The City to see world-class art, as the Square Mile is home to the Guildhall Art Gallery. This fantastic collection can be found in a specially created building that was finished in 1999. It occupies the footprint of an earlier construction that was destroyed during the Blitz in 1941.
What is brilliant about this gallery as it really is of its place, telling the story of The City and the art-lovers within its boundaries that collected together some stunning pieces. It was originally started in 1886 as a Collection of Art Treasures worthy of the capital city and has grown ever since.
Inside you can see everything from 17th century portraits and Pre-Raphaelite masterpieces to more modern additions. A series of temporary exhibitions is scheduled throughout the year, so you never know what might be on when you’re visiting. The gallery is open between 10am and 5pm on a Saturday, giving you plenty of time to browse. What’s more, general admission is free.
Grab a bargain at a themed market
Every Saturday the Old Spitalfields Market takes on a different theme. Sometimes it might be vintage items and other times designer-made goods, while collectable pieces also appear. This helps to keep everything fresh and interesting, making it a great place to go and check out on a Saturday morning.
Meet the people behind the products and purchase things that can’t be found elsewhere. Alternatively, just soak up the atmosphere and window shop. Many of the regular stall holders also turn out on a Saturday, so there’s plenty to see and eat every week.
Things kick off at 11am – perfect if you’ve been for brunch beforehand – and continue until 5pm. It’s easy to stretch the definition of the morning when it’s Saturday and you have no strict plans!
Get up high
Learn more about one of the most important events in the history of The City and get great views of the entire area at the Monument to the Great Fire of London. It is located at the intersection of Monument Street, Fish Street Hill and Pudding Lane, where the fire famously started on September 2nd 1666.
You’ll know when you get there, as the fluted Doric column is quite distinctive with its golden urn representing the flames sat on top. It stands at 62 metres tall, which is also the distance from the monument to the site of Thomas Farynor’s bakery. He was charged with baking for the king and it was in his shop that the fire began.
Climb the 311 steps up the winding staircase to get to the viewing platform. Be warned, it’s quite narrow, so anyone not keen on small spaces may wish to give this a miss. From the top you can see many interesting landmarks including The Gherkin and Tower Bridge further along the river.