I travel to London on work every three to six months for meetings with investors. The first thing, apart from the weather, that you notice is the architectural beauty of the city, and the Underground stations. There is also a very distinguished way of following rules, and the English language itself is different!
The Savoy Hotel has always appealed to me for its Edwardian style and its proximity to the heart of the business centre. The Ritz at Piccadilly, The Connaught in the City of Westminster and The Lanesborough are a few other places that would find a place in my list. I prefer scheduling meetings at business centres or at clients’ premises as at both these places you get time to get acquainted. London has a pace of its own, and it makes sense to pick places that offer you privacy.
For getting around, the Underground service is the best option; once you get the hang of it, the service helps you navigate through the capital city.
As far as dining is concerned, authentic tastes in Indian food take a fresh turn in London. Amaya Restaurant Grill and Bar, Dishoom at Covent Garden and the Gymkhana stand out in this regard. Gymkhana has its chicken dishes prepared in South Indian ways, which make them appealing. The kebabs at Amaya are a true indication of the rich traditional ways in which the dish is prepared.
London has everything—music, art, the Broadway and a fast night life. Come nightfall, London opens up a whole new world of options to first-time visitors and seasoned veterans alike. Redchurch Street in Shoreditch is a place with galleries, bars and bistros, and the occasional cash-and-carry. This East End thoroughfare has been a favourite of mine. Among other things, this is a place for shoe shopping.
On a slightly longer trip, travelling to Scotland is something I would recommend. The drive and the place itself are charismatic. Watching one of the Wimbledon finals is also an experience that will stay on with me. The crowd reaction kept reminding me of grace and passion.
Shopping at Oxford Street and Regent Street are on a ‘can avoid’ list, as pick pocketing is rampant in the crowded market. Also avoid ‘authentic English’ cuisine. Be sure to carry an umbrella or rain gear, unless you are ready to get wet.
Ratul Puri is chairman, Hindustan Powerprojects Pvt Ltd
(Coordinated by Douglas Wallack)
(This story appears in the 05 February, 2016 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)