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CNN city tips: A very British London

  • Try the old-fashioned Spaniards Inn pub on Hampstead Heath for skyline views
  • Quest recommends a classic British tea at the newly renovated Savoy hotel
  • A pair of knickers from Marks & Spencer is a truly English souvenir, Quest says

London (CNN) -- Whether you were riveted by the royal wedding frenzy or can't wait for the 2012 Olympics to start, there's no denying the host city's multifaceted appeal makes it one of the most exciting destinations in Europe. asked Richard Quest and our colleagues in London for their best local tips.

Where can you get the best view of the city?

Quest: Go to The Spaniards Inn on Hampstead Heath. It's an old-fashioned pub, and from there you can look out over the London skyline. team: The seventh-floor bar at Tate Modern has great vistas over St Paul's Cathedral and the river Thames. It's particularly romantic (though particularly busy) at sunset.

Which restaurant would you take your loved one to for an anniversary or other special occasion? team: Galvin at Windows in Mayfair has wonderful views -- though you'll pay for them. Andrew Edmunds in Soho serves up local, seasonal food with a quirky British twist -- it's cozy, cute and sweetly romantic. At Clos Maggiore in Covent Garden, book a table in the conservatory -- it's decked out with blossom and fairylights for a magical touch to your evening.

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Are there local specialty dishes or drinks that visitors must try?

  • Tourism
  • London

Quest: Go to the Savoy for a classic British tea and to see what a $350 million renovation can do for a hotel. If beer's your thing, have a pint of British ale. London Gold, by Young's, or London Pale Ale, by Meantime Brewery are popular local choices.

Where is the best place to people watch? On a fine evening, it's definitely Soho, especially Old Compton Street, Frith Street and Greek Street. You'll see clubbers, couples, theater-goers, tourists and celebrities all mixed up together -- it's a colorful and eye-catching combination!

What is your favorite neighborhood? London is a melting pot full of contradictions, it's always changing and it's also a lot more friendly than people think. Brixton is a great neighborhood, because it sums up all of London's best and worst bits -- it's culturally vibrant, fashionably edgy and economically and socially diverse -- into one big, boisterous, rapidly developing city-within-a-city.

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How do tourists stick out and what's the best way to blend in? Tourists and Londoners rarely occupy the same areas at the same time. So to blend in, stay away from Buckingham Palace and Green Park, Leicester Square and Oxford Street. Instead, put on some London-look clothes (pick them up at Topshop, Whistles or AllSaints) and go north to Camden or Islington, east to Shoreditch, Dalston or Hoxton, or south to Brixton.

What's the biggest misconception about your city? That the food's bad and expensive. London has cuisines from all over the world, all of them great and many of them very reasonable. Markets are a great place to pick up great-value bites -- try the stands at Portobello Market, the foodie heaven that is Borough Market or the buzzy restaurants and cafes at Brixton, Greenwich or Exmouth markets.

CNN's Richard Quest presents his show from the London bureau
CNN's Richard Quest presents his show from the London bureau

Where do you go to relax? Primrose Hill is a nice spot at the top of Regent's Park with a great view of London. Richmond Park is beautiful with views of the city and lots of deer. If the weather's poor, head to a local pub and find a cozy spot near the fire.

What essential thing should visitors see/experience if they only have a few hours? team: Take a walk through Soho to people-watch and grab some streetfood. If you can, squeeze in a show -- you'll be close to theaterland.

What's the biggest tourist trap? Is there a "tourist trap" that's actually worth seeing? Madame Tussauds is a major tourist trap and Leicester Square can get pretty horrible. But even Londoners like a stroll on the South Bank, a ride on the London Eye or a boat trip from Waterloo to Tower Bridge -- complete with typically cheeky British commentary.

Where's your favorite place to spend a night out on the town? The area around Brick Lane is a fun area to go out, especially in the summer. People flit from bars to restaurants, just hanging out and enjoying themselves. It also has an impressive cluster of curry restaurants, but make sure you don't settle for the first one you see as they usually offer different deals and freebies.

What is a good local souvenir? London's rightly famous for its music scene. There are currently lots of great female singer-songwriters based in the capital, so head to a record store (we love Sister Ray's) and pick up the backing track for your visit. Try Ellie Goulding's "Lights" for sparkling British pop or Anna Calvi's eponymous album for something altogether more dramatic.

Quest: Buy one pair of knickers or underpants from Marks & Spencer. Then you'll truly be like a Brit!