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London Calling

London Calling

An idyllic afternoon in Seven Dials.

 With the Olympics, the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, and World Pride, there's no question this is London's year. The U.K. may be toiling through a recession, but London's second-term mayor, Boris Johnson -- BoJo to natives -- has spared no expense in sprucing up the city.

 Most new landmarks are to be found in theOlympic Village (Zaha Hadid's elegant Aquatics Centre is a standout; Anish Kapoor's Orbit is a head-scratching amusement with great views of the city), but the older ones still have pull.

'>Kensington Palace has emerged from a major renovation and offers several idiosyncratic exhibitions. Persevere with the slow service at Queen Anne's 18th-century Orangery and order the warm salad of roasted organic chicken with butternut squash and tarragon dressing. The views from the outdoor terrace are fit for a queen.

 Afterward, use the shared public bikes to cycle through Hyde Park. Once there, pay respects to the statue of Peter Pan (hidden in a glade off the long tail of the Serpentine lake), and thence to Buckingham Palace, throughGreen Park.

 It's worth spending an afternoon in Seven Dials, a meeting of seven streets near Covent Garden. Spruce up with a snip -- and comp beer with whiskey chaser -- at men's grooming salonMurdock before browsing rugged, masculine fashion at the first brick-and-mortar location ofWolsey.

 If chocolate seems like a bad idea for lunch, you haven't been toRoast+Conch, where they use chocolate to infuse and marinate everything from beef to duck. Try the Dipping Plate with cocoa pesto, chocolate balsamic, and cocoa nib butter.

 More substantial fare can be had at theOpera Tavern -- gothic Victorian in décor, but Spanish and Italian on the tapas-focused menu.

 Sleep it off at theRadisson Edwardian, where a $24-million redesign has bequeathed Apple TVs in all the rooms, as well as a swanky restaurant and bar. There's no in-room liquor, so call down to the bar and order the Bramble, made with gin and Crème de Mure, and poured over crushed ice. It's sweet and a little tart, and thoroughly English.

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

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Aaron Hicklin