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10 Things Not to Do in London

by Giovanna Dunmall

Don't…
Have a night out in the West End

By West End, we mean Leicester Square and its environs, which have become rip-off central, with outrageously pricey restaurants and cinemas (up to $30 for a Saturday-night screening)—and pickpockets galore. Piccadilly Circus, a sensory overload of gridlocked streets, packed sidewalks, and neon billboards, fares little better. And Covent Garden is now a touristy shopping and entertainment destination, with mainstream megastores (the biggest Apple shop in the world opened here in August 2010) and street performers on every corner (no more silver-sprayed "living statues," please). Because of these places' tourist status, it's almost impossible to find a restaurant or pub that isn't a chain, or a cocktail that won't cost the price of a meal.

Instead…
Head east (again)

The bars, clubs, and restaurants in London's East End are quirkier, cooler, and altogether more authentic. Construction and face-lifting in the run-up to the 2012 Olympics (most of the event's venues and the Olympic Village will be located in East London) means that some areas will undoubtedly lose character, but on the whole, this neighborhood is bound to retain its gritty edge. Local highlights include the hip and lively four-story Luxe for food, drinks, and live music; Lounge Bohemia for Eastern European beer and canapés; Loungelover (pictured), for eccentric interiors and impressive cocktails; and the Star of Bethnal Green for a laid-back vibe, eclectic live music, and cool DJ sets.

Next: Old magic >

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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