Clerkenwell, United Kingdom
Clerkenwell is ancient; just on the border of the City of London (the neighbourhood’s under the Islington umbrella) hidden historic monuments, such as the slightly anomalous, Tudor St John’s Gate, remain between hip coffee shops and warehouses turned creative agencies. The proximity of Smithfield and Exmouth markets have helped turn the area into London’s foodie hub, and Farringdon has some very fine dining at St John, Moro, Club Gascon, Polpo and a host of hotspots. Traditional pubs have a Dickensian air (after all, he was a former resident), and Clerkenwell’s quieter than most London neighbourhoods, which makes for peaceful brunching and biking over cobbles come weekends However, there is a cultural scene: Sadler’s Wells showcases excellent modern dance, petite galleries are crowded throughout, and club behemoth Fabric livens things up after hours.
When to go
Clerkenwell doesn't really have an off season, but if you're averse to cold visit from May to August.
PlanesStansted airport (www.stanstedairport.com), the landing point for many budget airlines, is an hour's taxi ride from the area. Heathrow Airport (www.heathrowairport.com) is under an hour's drive away, but to avoid the battle of wills that is London driving, ride the Heathrow Express train to Paddington and take a leisurely Tube ride to Farringdon on the Circle line; Clerkenwell proper is just a 10-minute walk from the Tube station.
TrainsThere's a frequent train service direct from London Gatwick to Farringdon overground station. Many National Rail trains and the Eurostar arrive at St Pancras International; from the station Farringdon is just a 15-minute overground trip away. Farringdon and Barbican Tube stations both service the Metropolitan, Circle and Hammersmith and City lines.
AutomobilesIf you decide to take the plunge and get behind the wheel in London you should be aware that driver hordes and ninja traffic officials aren't the only annoyances you'll face, because Clerkenwell lies within the Congestion Charge zone. On weekdays from 7am to 6pm, there’s a £10 daily payable to drive into and around central London (www.cclondon.com).