To call the numbers below from the U.S., dial 011 (the international dialing code), 44 (the country code for England) and 20 (the city code for London).
WHERE TO STAY
The Goring, 15 Beeston Place, 7396-9000, http://www.thegoring.com. This 100-year-old family hotel just round the corner from Buckingham Palace is run by fourth generation Jeremy Goring. It has a peaceful garden and famous afternoon teas. The hotel's website is so discreet that it doesn't mention that Catherine Middleton and her family stayed there the night before she married Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge in April. Rooms from $438.
The Athenaeum, 116 Piccadilly, 7499- 3464, http://www.athenaeumhotel.com. A small, chic, modern hotel overlooking Green Park with very friendly and informed staff. Rooms from $361 a night.
WHERE TO EAT
Inn the Park, St. James's Park, 7451-9999, http://www.innthepark.com. The ideal place for English food cooked by Amanda Wilson, overlooking the lake with a fountain, swans and pelicans. Open Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-6 p.m., Saturday-Sunday 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Breakfast until 11 a.m. Lunch from 12-3 p.m., Afternoon tea 3-4:30 p.m. During December after 6 p.m. on Mondays-Saturdays, special $31 three-course set menu; reservations required.
Portrait Restaurant, St. Martin's Place, 7312-2490, http://www.npg.org.uk/visit/food-and-drink/restaurant.php, on top of the National Portrait Gallery, all day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; dinner 5:30-8:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, with wonderful rooftop views over Trafalgar Square down toward Westminster Abbey. Main dishes from $13.
WHAT TO SEE
Westminster Abbey, 20 Dean's Yard, London, http://www.westminster-abbey.org. Open 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Mondays-Tuesdays, Thursdays-Fridays; 9:30 a.m.-7 p.m. Wednesdays; 9:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Saturdays. Open Sundays for worship only. Admission is about $25; free for children under age 11. The abbey gardens are open Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays; free.
TO LEARN MORE
"Westminster Abbey" by Richard Jenkyns. A handy paperback that will tell you everything you ever wanted to know about the abbey in a friendly, accessible style.
Visit London, http://www.visitlondon.com.