London City airport (www.londoncityairport.com) is eight miles away, and runs regular flights to over 30 destinations, including Paris, New York, Edinburgh and Barcelona.
King's Cross St Pancras is less than two miles away, served by Virgin and First Capital Connect (www.nationalrail.co.uk). Farringdon tube station is just steps away (www.tfl.gov.uk).
With such great public transport connections (and bearing in mind the congestion charge), it makes no sense to bring a car; instead, live like the locals and zip around by bus, train or Tube.
Worth getting out of bed for
Explore the two-mile Clerkenwell Historic Trail; admire the mediaeval priory of St John, the nunnery of St Mary, Farringdon Road (which lies above Old Fleet River) and St John Street, which was once the ancient drovers' route down to Smithfield Market. Speaking of which, Smithfield, or London Central Markets, has been the site of a livestock market for over 800 years. Navigate the walk yourself, or join a guided tour. Hop on the bus to Spitalfields Market and trawl the stalls: Thursdays are dedicated to antiques and vintage; Fridays are art- and fashion-focused; on weekends, it’s a mixed bag (no stalls on Saturday). Browse the exhibitions at Rainbird Fine Art gallery at 114 Clerkenwell Road. The Barbican lies to the south, where a vast entertainment complex covers film, dance, art, live music and more. And, Bounce Farringdon is a bar for ballers (ping-pong ballers, that is…).
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Fergus Henderson’s temple to nose-to-tail eating, St John Bar & Restaurant, is set in a former smokehouse just around the corner from Spitalfield’s market at 26 St John Street. Headline dishes include bone marrow on toast, lamb-tongue salad, and chitterling chips. John Torode is famous for his TV appearances, but his London restaurant, Smiths of Smithfield, proves his culinary prowess. The three-floor building opposite the meat market houses a relaxed café-bar, elegant wine rooms serving homemade nibbles, a second-floor restaurant with a Mediterranean influence, and a top-floor dining room that celebrates rare-breed and organic British meats. Mark Hix heads up Hix Oyster & Chop House at 36–37 Greenhill Rents, Cowcross Street. The building was once a sausage factory, then a fish restaurant; plenty of original features remain, including a marble and wooden oyster bar and the wooden flooring and panelling. Don’t leave without sampling the eponymous shellfish, and don’t look too closely at the photos on the toilet door.
You'll feel instantly at home in J + A Cafe, a stylish space in a former diamond-cutting factory, where the breads are rustic and the homemade cakes are of the oozing jam, thickly spread with buttercream sort.
Have a pint at Fox & Anchor, a cosy pub at 115 Charterhouse Street; if you’re feeling hungry, nibble on Scotch eggs with curried mayonnaise or opt for a hearty main (typical offerings include rabbit and cider with thyme and bacon dumplings, and monkfish cheeks with cockles and mussels.) The Jerusalem Tavern is a delightfully ricketty drinkery housed in an 18th-century building; it has impeccable taste in craft ales. Sink a few pints there then stop into the Zetter Townhouse Clerkenwell for a quirky nightcap: perhaps a Woodland Realm with elf oil and Cognac? Or the sparkling Eternal Martini? Amble along to Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese for another historic night out, a 17th-century pub where the likes of Charles Dickens, Mark Twain and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle used to wet their whistles.