Geek Weekend: London

Welcome to the Geek Weekend at Pocket-lint. Every two weeks we'll be bringing you a guide to a UK city designed specially for the discerning geek traveller. Today, we start the ball rolling with none other than the great city of London. So, if you're planning a trip to the Big Smoke or your looking for a little holiday inspiration, then you've come to the right place.

London

Whether you've been to London or not, it probably hasn't escaped your knowledge that it's a very big place. It also happens to be packed with things to do. As Dr Samuel Johnson said, at one point while he wasn't dead, "When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life". Even if you strip London down to its geek attractions, there's till far too much to pack into a weekend but here are some of things you might like to take a look at.

Places to stay

London ain't cheap but that's doubly true when looking for somewhere to rest your head at night. If you want to save money on this part of things then the best options are either to find a friend who's willing to put you up in London or, for the more adventurous, a house swap can work out really well. If you're happy to spend hotel money though, then these are the geeky chic places to stay in town

City Inn
A stone's throw from the Houses of Parliament and with London skyline views, if you ask on booking, the City Inn is an excellent choice for the travelling geek for three simple reasons. Every room has an iMac, free Wi-Fi and a full Sky subscription, so you'll have no need to worry about filling up your SD cards, checking your e-mails, Skype chats to the folks back home or just kicking back to some quality TV. Rooms start at around £100 per night for two people which ain't half bad for the middle of town.
Location: 51.49274,-0.12766 / CoPilot Live Local Search: City Inn

Rafayel on the Left Bank
It's possibly the most pretentiously named hotel you'll find anywhere but it's a five star luxury establishment that does lots and lots of half price accommodation with rooms for two starting at £120 per night. It also happens to be packed with tech.

Rooms come with LED lighting and a touch control glass panel for door opening, air-conditioning, room service, internet access and housekeeping as well. There's also a media hub so that you can plug your laptop, media player, DVD, camera and camcorder to play through the AV system as well as your games console too. Of course, if you didn't happen to bring your Xbox, then the hotel can lend you a console of their own. There's also a pool, spa, rooms with LED-led jet lag recovery systems and a 17th floor roof terrace with view across London.

The issue is that the hotel isn't actually in the middle of town. It's in Battersea in the South West. Now, that's still London but you will need to travel for at least 45 minutes to get to most of the sites. Possibly worth it for this place, particularly as it's a planet conscious establishment saving approximately 20% of the carbon cost of each guest with energy efficient lighting and cooling systems as well as solar heating and rain-water harvesting. How's that for clearing your conscience after a long haul flight?
Location: 51.470344,-0.17767 / CoPilot: Enter postcode SW11 3RF

The Zetter
The owners of The Zetter are self-confessed tech-junkies and they've packed the rooms of this urban central London hotel with as many gadgets as they can think of. There's a huge video and music on demand catalogue, free room Wi-Fi, a CD and DVD player, digital radio, massive TV, iPod docks, rain shower, pink mood lighting and hot water bottles with hand-knitted cozies. There's also swipe card access food and drinks machines for 24/7 snacking.

Rooms start at £180 per night and go up to £420 for the Rooftop Studio Deluxe rooms with roof terraces, sun loungers and a rather urbane feel to them. What's more, The Zetter isn't in the heart of the tourist areas but slightly shifted east to where real Londoners go drinking and close to some of the most fashionable parts of town.
Location: 51.52265,-0.102471 / CoPilot Live Local Search: The Zetter

Big Museums


Science Museum
It doesn't get much geekier than a science museum and London's is absolutely top notch. It's an excellent day out for both kids and adults with hundreds of models, exhibits and experiences and so much of it hands on and interactive as well. There's everything here from experiments demonstrating the basics of physics to steam powered machines and modern day craft as well. You'll see thousands of crazy inventions and some fantastic one off exhibitions as well as hugely entertaining shows on space in the museum's own IMAX cinema.

It's free - apart from the cinema - and there's no two ways about it, it's going to be busy. Between that and the fact that it's huge, you'll need to block off a fair amount of time or accept that you'll only scratch the surface. It's right next door to the other Natural History Museum which is just as brilliant and just as popular, so many people take the pair as a day trip together.

Instead of fighting the crowds though, the Science Museum does run a "Lates" night once a month for adults only which is, again, free. Time it right and it gives you a chance to get your hands on the exhibits without having to fight off the kids. You can also have a drink while you do it. Alternatively, a superb event for children accompanied by their parents is one of the Science Night sleepovers where you actually get to camp and stay in the museum until the next morning. That'll cost £35 but, for many geeks, that's a dream come true - even if their children aren't too fussed about it.

Last of all, don't forget about the shop. The Science Museum has its own brand of geeky gadgets which make excellent presents to take back home or play with on your travels.
Location: 51.497469,-0.174193 / CoPilot Live POI: Science, Kensington

Natural History Museum
Less techie this time but if Zoology is your science of choice, then this is the place to go. The Natural History Museum is housed in an absolutely breathtaking building and the entry hall with its full cast of a Diplodocus skeleton towering over all who enter is worth the journey alone. There are the permanent exhibitions of dinosaurs as well as all sorts of other prehistoric creatures and modern day specimens as well.

Head upstairs for view down onto the chaos and a closer look at the stone carvings of little monkeys all over the inner structure of the roof. You'll also find the more anorak geology halls up there as well.

Like the Science Museum, it's stuffed to the gunnels at the weekend but they too do Lates and will also host kids nights in the museum from 2010 with Night Safaris and Dino Snores where, again, visitors get to sleep over. The museum also holds evening debates on occasion on everything from the missing link to alien life in space, so keep an eye on the calendar when planning your trip. 

Again, the museum is free but the paid special exhibits are well worth a look in especially if you come towards the beginning for the year when all the entries of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year are on display. A must for camera geeks. If you miss that one, then the summer months play house to a fantastic butterfly house which you can walk among the beautiful little creatures. Make sure to wear bright clothes if you want them to land on you.
Location: 51.495706,-0.176339 / CoPilot Live POI: Natural, Kensington

Transport Museum
It's nothing like as big or as grand as the others in this section but its convenient Covent Garden location makes the Transport Museum an easy one for the geek tourist. If London buses, old cars and the Tube don't float your boat, then probably best give this one a miss.

That said, as good as the exhibition itself is the museum shop with Tube crockery, clothing, art, homeware and even the opportnuity to get some furniture upholstered in the same fabric as that one the London Underground too. Once you've done all that, head up to the Upper Deck cafe and bar above the museum where you can order cocktails named after Underground lines while sitting on the same furniture as you get on the trains. The last place you can still legally drink on the Tube.
Location - 51.512215,-0.121107 / CoPilot Live POI: Transport, Covent Garden

Royal Observatory, Greenwich
Few things are as geeky as space and time. The Royal Observatory focuses on both. If time was invented anywhere, it's here where the Prime Meridian line marks the middle of the world and the 0 degrees line of longitude. Taking pictures of yourself straddling both sides of the line brings a similar sense of geekiness as to setting your watch to the second by one of the hyper-accurate chronometers so that you know your timepiece will be dead on balls accurate forever more.

Take in one of the excellent shows at the planetarium and don't miss the camera obscura in the Observatory courtyard which plenty of people don't even realise is there. It's located in a small summer house and make sure you give yourself a few minutes in there for your eyes to adjust to the darkness to get the full clarity out of the bizarre inside-out 360 degree views.

The 28-inch lens telescope is an absolute must for space junkies. If you happen to be planning your visit for winter, you can book tickets to the observation evenings which offers guided tours of the stars.

The Observatory can get quite busy at the weekends, so it's probably best to get there for first thing to beat the queues. It's a bit of a journey from central London but come by river and up through the park and the trip itself is almost as glorious as the observatory on a warm sunny day. The views of Canary Wharf across the river from the top of the hill in Greenwich Park are some of the best in London and it makes an excellent spot for a pic-nic.
Location: 51.477775, 0 / CoPilot Live POI: Royal, Greenwich & Park, Greenwich

Small Museums

Royal Institution of Great Britain
To say it's small is to do the RIGB an injustice but the sad fact is that its museum is often overlooked. It houses exhibitions of physics and chemistry experiments that led to incredible invention and discoveries that have taken place within the institute's walls for over 200 years. It's most famous son is Michael Faraday, so expect a heavy emphasis on the work into electromagnetic induction, electrolysis and electricity itself. A very nice homage visit to pay if you happen to own a Palm Pre or a Powermat.

If you're visiting around December, then you're in luck. Book well ahead and you might be able to get tickets to one of the ludicrously good series of Christmas Lectures which the RIGB has performed for students for many years now. They're excellent real life science geekery for children and just as informative and interesting for adults. Admission is free from 9am-9pm Monday to Friday and you can get free Wi-Fi in the cafe if you make a purchase. Luckily they do a very decent cup of tea and a slice of cake.
Location: 51.510145,-0.142994 / CoPilot Live Local Search: Royal Institution

Wellcome Collection
Another of Londons small museum gems is the Wellcome Collection. The focus this time is the exploration of the human condition and it's a superb geek chic blend of science and art with a twist of the ghoulish and the down right bizarre.

There are over 1500 exhibits spanning six centuries in contemplation our changing relationship with our bodies. Nowhere else will you find ancient sex aids, shrunken heads, royal hair, a DNA sequencing robot and a Picasso under the same roof. Good cakes and free Wi-Fi available in the cafe.
Location: 51.525895,-0.133943 / CoPilot Live Local Search: Wellcome Collection

Old Operating Theatre
If you can't bear the thought of traipsing round another packed museum, then the Old Operating Theatre provides an excellent dip in and out cultural experience although at the cost of an entry fee this time.

Hidden in the roof of a church near London Bridge is the a 300-year-old wooden operating theatre complete with wooden slab and gallery for an audience of surgeons to look on as one of their colleagues did their best on patients without any sort of anaesthetics at all.

It's incredibly atmospheric for such a small museum and somewhere that few people would think to stop off. One for real science geeks and their friends to enjoy.
Location: 51.504776,-0.087998 / CoPilot Live Local Search: Old Operating

Hunterian Museum
Not for the faint-hearted, the Hunterian is the museum attached to the Royal College of Surgeons and it houses thousands of whole and dissected specimens of human and animal tissues and organs in rows and rows of pickle jars. You'll also find exhibitions of bones and brutal looking surgical tools. It's Victorian macabre at its finest and an exceptionally good off the beaten track visit.

Like many London museums, it's free and it's also ideally situated by the lovely grassy spot that is Lincoln's Inn Fields which would be perfect for sitting down for a bite to eat, so long as you can stomach it after what you'll have just seen. There are some good take out food places just up by Holborn station including Samurai for good sushi at a reasonable price or My Old Dutch if you'd rather somewhere good to sit in, especially on cheap day Monday. The Princess Louise opposite is also an excellent London pub with good cheap drinks.

Be warned, the Hunterian is close on Sundays and Mondays.
Location: 51.51546,-0.115968 / CoPilot Live Local Search: Hunterian

Freud Museum
The answer is yes. The famous couch is there. The question is whether you want to travel all the way to Hampsted in North London to go and see it. The best way to get around this is by timing your visit to the home that Sigmud Freud made in London from 1938 after he and his family left Austria with one of the talks or lectures at the museum. They're on topics such as childhood, ambition, money and, of course, the science of psychoanalysis itself. The other way to justify it is by heading over to the beautiful Hampsted Heath if the weather is nice as well.
Location: 51.54878,-0.177627 / CoPilot Live POI: Freud & Hampsted Heath

Grant Museum of Zoology
If you can't face the crowds at the Natural History Museum, then the little-known Grant Museum of Zoology attached to University College London is a superb alternative. It houses of 62,000 preserved specemins covering the entire animal kingdom including extinct species such as the Tasmanian Tiger and the Dodo. It comes off like walking into a horror film but it's an absolutely excellent experience. It's free to get in but, be warned, it's only open Monday to Friday between 1pm-5pm. Don't forget to scare your friends with some of the post cards you can pick up in the shop.
Location: 51.524399,-0.132877 / CoPilot Live Local Search: Grant Museum

Brunel Museum
One for mechanical purists this, and certainly not to every geeks taste but the Brunel Musuem is a worthy look at the work of the great engineer who built much of the UK's railways as well as the Thames Tunnel still in use today. If you're not a fan of steam engines and Victorian industry - and plenty of people aren't - then give this one a miss, especially as there's not an awful lot else for the tourist to do out in Rotherhithe unless you fancy taking a trip up to the cafes and street stalls of Brick Lane.
Location: 51.501149,-0.052228 / CoPilot Live Local Search: Brunel Museum

Viewfinder Photography Gallery
This small art space in Greenwich may not be something to go out that far east for but, if you're heading over to the Observatory, it's a real must stop off point. The gallery houses some excellent exhibitions from up and coming photographers. It's quiet, it's free and it's a good place to pick up photography tips and ideas. It's open 9am-5pm Monday to Friday but just 12pm-4pm over the weekends. Good gifts to be found here too.
Location: 51.477494,-0.010664 / CoPilot Live Local Search: Viewfinder

Other attractions

The Thames Barrier
It's highly unlikely that you'll catch anyone else going along to visit the Thames Barrier. It's at the far eastern reaches of London and its surroundings are not that pretty. You can view the 520m wide mechanical flood barrier from either the North bank of the Thames at Thames Barrier Park by Pontoon Docks or on the South at Charlton but, in truth you'd probably do best to avoid the journey to both places and instead take a boat from Greenwich.

It's a good looking piece of engineering excellence that stops London from getting flooded by surges from the Atlantic and it's comprised of several sets of hollow gates which move up and down between shining structures that looks like a row of mini Sydney Opera Houses. Worth a look if you're in the neighbourhood but the visitor centre is one to miss.
Location: 51.49763,0.036993 / CoPilot Live POI: Thames Barrier

Westminster Abbey
What can be geeky about an old church, one might wonder? Well, the answer is that Westminster Abbey is where you'll find the final resting places of one of the godfathers of geek, Sir Isaac Newton. There's also some dead royals and poets lying around the place as well. If you're just here for the physicist, then ducking in and out is no problem. If you fancy a little history, then a tour by one of the Abbey's vergers is a better option than an audioguide.
Location: 51.499366,-0.128639 / CoPilot Live POI: Westminster Abbey

IMAX Waterloo
Located on the South Bank, the IMAX at Waterloo is the largest cinema screen in Britain. It's the height of five double decker buses and 26m wide. It also has an excellent 11,600-watt sound system and is simply the best place around to watch a 3D film. Check to see what's on before you go to make sure you time it for a good flick and buy your snacks at either Waterloo station or from over the river, if that's where you walk from, otherwise you'll be at the mercy of the insanely expensive popcorn and rip off fizzy drinks prices.
Location: 51.504896,-0.113661 / CoPilot Live POI: IMAX

Funland
Funland is an incredibly sad place that takes up a few floors of the Trocadero centre at Piccadilly Circus. It's the remnants of a huge video games arcade from when the Trocadero was something serious on the tourist map rather than the hall of tatt it is today. All the same, if you're in the West End and you fancy a quick gaming geek out, it's the best place around.

The selection fluctuates a huge amount but the last time we were there, there was still a really good mix of 80s and 90s arcade action with the House of the Dead-style shooters and racing games that followed in the next wave. Best of all, the machines are fairly cheap per credit. There'll hardly be anyone in there and, whatever you do, don't bother with any of the bowling or dodgems or anything like that but we're sure you'll get the picture as soon as you walk in.
Location: 51.510439,-0.132802 / CoPilot Live Local Search: Funland

Gamerbase
Once you get tired of the coin-ops, head to the very bottom on the Trocadero centre to the basement of HMV where you'll find the self-professed most advanced gaming centre in the world known as Gamerbase.

Inside the 2,200sqft space they've packed 65 top end Dell XPS PCs with Quad Core Intel chips 8800GTX GPUs and a library of over 150 games that you can play on your own, with others in the centre or with anyone else around the world. There's super comfy leather chairs, good peripherals and plenty of space at each desk.

Take you're own snacks in if you're planning on spending a while there. Cyber Candy on Shelton Street in Covent Garden is a 10-15 minute walk away but is well worth the effort for quality international chocolates and sweets. Make sure you try the Atomic Sours.

For savouries, the Japan Centre is just 5 mins away on Lower Regent Street where you can get all sorts of take out rice and fish based treats. If you don't do Japanese, then there's a billion and one sandwich shops in the area. Just avoid buying food right by Piccadilly Circus or Leicester Square.
Location: 51.510623,-0.133317 / CoPilot Live Local Search: Gamerbase

iPilot Flight Simulator
For some high end arcade action, you'll have to go further a field, to Westfield in fact which is Europe's largest urban area indoor shopping centre. Among the endless rows of shops, you'll find the iPilot Flight Simulator on the ground floor towards the back of the main hall. For £65 you get lessons from a flight instructor of how to fly a jet aircraft through this simulation which is used to train professional pilots. You can pick any two airports to take off an land from. While San Francisco and Honk Kong's runways provide some hair-raising as you fly in over the sea, there are other places like Innsbruck where you'll have to avoid the mountains.
Location: 51.507193,-0.221443 / CoPilot Live POI: Westfield

Big Ben
Anyone can go and and take a picture of Big Ben but if you happen to be a UK citizen, you can write to your MP and arrange a trip inside the clock tower up to the great bell itself set in the enormous clockwork mechanism. Tours take 75 minutes which means that you will get to hear Big Ben strike at least once during your visit.
Location: 51.500568,-0.124626 / CoPilot Live POI: Big Ben

POIs

Faraday's statue
Located just behind the Strand on Savoy Place and in front of the Institution of Engineering and Technology stands the father of electricity. Well worth a paying your respects.
Location: 51.509904,-0.11909 / CoPilot Live Destination: Savoy Place

Brunel's Statue
Sitting reclined at the terminus of his work is a bronze of one of the most visionary engineers ever to exist. Head over to Paddington station and wave hello to the man with one of the most grandiose names in history and ever since - Isambard Kingdom Brunel.
Location: 51.516087,-0.177112 / CoPilot Live POI: Paddington

London's Last Sewer Lamp
It may be a dull yellow flame powered by the gases passing up the hollow metal tube from the city's collective effluent but the sewer lamp just off the Strand on Carting Lane is Victorian engineering at its finest. Worth marvelling that something good can come from something so nasty.
Location: 51.510278,-0.121279 / CoPilot Live Destination: Carting Lane

Space Invaders
Keep your eyes open on the streets of London and you might start noticing that the city is, in fact, under attack. A French street artist, known as Invader, has targeted London many times in the past with his army of pixelated space invaders. He's put up a total of 101 of these pieces of street art made from coloured tiles.

Sadly, many of them have been ripped down as the authorities take notice but there are still plenty around. There are no Space Invader maps for London as there are for other cities but we know for a fact that there is currently one you can see at the bottom of West Central Street not far from Tottenham Court Road and next to The End nightclub. If you're in East London, then there should still be one on Bishopsgate; on St John's Court, EC2 and on the Foundry at the corner of Great Eastern Street and Old Street. Happy hunting.
Location: 51.516605,-0.125393 / CoPilot Live Destination: West Central Street

Shopping

Tottenham Court Road
There's two things you go shopping for on Tottenham Court Road. At the top end between Goodge Street Tube and Warren Street, you'll find furniture but at the bottom end, from Oxford Street north, it's wall to wall consumer electronics shops. They all sell similar kinds of stock and it's hard to know whether you're getting a good deal or not, especially when the price drops 25% after the first sign that you might be thinking about it.

The rule of thumb is to check in another shop first before you commit but be wary that the one next door might be owned by the same manager or a friend or family member. The best thing you can do is check the prices with us or with a shopper app of some sort. Whatever you do, don't be afraid to haggle and ask if you can buy ex-display models for a lower price - so long as having one of those wouldn't bother you.
Location: 51.517302,-0.131192 / CoPilot Live POI: Tottenham Court Road

New Oxford Street
While the Tottemham Court Road shops are better for laptops, just around the corner on New Oxford Street is a small clutch of excellent camera shops. Some give you a feeling that you might get a good deal while at the same time looking a bit dodgey but if you'd rather play it safe, there's always squeaky clean Jessops in and amongst them as well.
Location: 51.516848,-0.127974 / CoPilot Live POI: Tottenham Court Road

YoYo Tech
If you're looking to build your own gaming PC or just buy some computer parts, you can't beat YoYo Tech. It's a stone's throw from the sharks of Tottenham Court Road but this time the staff are incredibly helpful and both an enthusiast or a beginner is in good hands with them. Just mind you don't end up having to carry a new PC case back in your suitcase.
Location: 51.519092,-0.133595 / CoPilot Live Destination: 30 Windmill Street

Computer eXchange
Another good refuge from the cut throat dealers on Tottenham Court Road is Computer eXchange. There's a branch on the same road just by Goodge Street Tube but a bigger store with a quieter footfall can be found around the back on Rathbone Place. If you haven't been to one of these shops before, it's an excellent place to trade in your games, DVDs, Blu-rays, software and even mobile phones and laptops as well for cash. You can then use your receipt to pick up all sorts of cut price second bits and pieces that other customers have exchanged. Perfect for those DS games you might have completed or got tired of a long time ago.
Location: 51.517676,-0.134475 / CoPilot Live Local Search: Computer exchange

Game Focus
Similar deal as to Computer eXchange and not far away on Goodge Street either. Probably better for old school PC titles but still plenty of pre-owned console games and DVD stock as well.
Location: 51.519345,-0.135312 / CoPilot Live Local Search: Game Focus

Apple Store
It's like any other Apple Store of the world but in pounds. If, however, you don't happen to have one where you live or you're just a Jobs fanboy, then you'll enjoy bathing your eyes in London's temple to all things white, shiny and ever-so-slightly smug.
Location: 51.514191,-0.141921 / CoPilot Live Local Search: Apple Store

Forbidden Planet
Forbidden Planet is the UK's leading megatore for cult entertainment. There's a huge range of graphic novels, toys, collectables, statues, busts props and replicas with all the favourites represented including Marvel, DC, Gentle Giant, Kotobukiya all kinds of things from Hollywood, the UK and Japan. It's a decent place to finish your shopping trip as it's open till 7.30 or 8pm most nights and it's also conveniently close to a rather good bar called Freuds which you'll find down some iron steps on Shaftsbury Avenue.
Location: 51.515099,-0.127201 / CoPilot Live Local Search: Forbidden

Brick Lane
Brick Lane has been a popular street for geeks and non-geeks alike for 10 years or so now. There's all sorts of interesting shops down there but if you go down on Sunday you'll find people lining the streets selling all sorts of knackered, stolen and salvaged wares. Very often in all that are old big box VHS tapes - films, TV series, workout videos and one off comedies. It's an excellent place to pick up a few classics either to watch or use as samples or just to create some tech art with. You also get a great feel for London life.

There's plenty of good bars in the area. There's the bigger ones in the shape of the Vibe Bar, 93 Feet East and The Big Chill bar but some of the more amusing ones are the smaller establishments such as Casa Blue at the north end of the road where you can order massive cocktails served in fish bowls. If you're peckish, then there's simply no option other than to visit the famous Beigel Bake (the white shop front, not the yellow one) and order yourself a hot salt beef bagel with plenty of mustard. Unbelievably good. If you can't find it, just ask. Everyone there will know.
Location: 51.52299,-0.071561 / CoPilot Live Destination: Brick Lane

Eating & Drinking

You'll be hard pressed to find any eateries or bars with a specifically techie slant, so if you're just looking for something good, our only rule would be to stay away from the restaurants on at the Piccadilly Circus end of Shafstbury Avenue and on Leicester Square. Any subsiduary roads off these streets are absolutely fine otherwise you'll probably be sitting in a terrible tourist trap of some kind. However, if it's a geek feast you're after...

Inamo
There's not a lot of restaurants out there that can claim to be geek-friendly but Inamo in Soho is as good as it gets. The food isn't astounding and the service is nothing to speak of but the twist to this eatery is that every table has a touch surface that you can browse the menu and order your food from direct to the kitchen as well as select the table pattern. There's also a projector that casts a picture of what each meal looks like onto your virtual plate, so that you know what it is you're about to choose.

And the fun doesn't end there. You can play computer board games while you wait for your food, split your bill with a calculating app and call up a map to work out where you need to get to next.
Location: 51.514431,-0.134497 / CoPilot Live Local Search: Inamo

Yo Sushi, Poland Street
The fast food conveyor belt sushi restaurant chain may not have the best food in the world but it's decent and at a decent price too. The branch at Poland Street in Soho is particularly worth a visit as you get beer pumps at the table. Enough said. If you're after a better taste of the East though, you might want to try the Japan Centre on the Haymarket in Piccadilly or Taro on Brewer Street or Ten Ten Tei a few doors down if it's busy.
Location: 51.514231,-0.137115 / CoPilot Live POI: Yo

Lantana
If you happen to have a laptop with you or want to check the internet on your smartphone, the Lantana is an excellent antidote to the Starbucks of this world. Tucked away down on Charlotte Place, round the back of Tottenham Court Road, this is an award winning coffee shop which also has an open Wi-Fi network.

The food is good, the drinks are better and it has a few tasty antipodean delicacies on the menu inlcluding Banana Bread and bottles of Bundaburg Ginger Ale. If you're there in the morning, then try the very English Marmite on toast and if it's cod, grab yourself a pot of steaming porridge and ask them to add cinnamon, bananas and vanilla sugar. Delicious. It's only a small place, so try to avoid lunchtimes or you probably won't get a seat.
Location: 51.518958,-0.135913 / CoPilot Live POI: Lantana

Apps to download

The most important software to have on your smartphone is going to be about travel while in London. Avoid the paid for official TFL (Transport for London) apps and pick something like these three depending upon what platform you're on. Most of all though, watch those roaming charges.

Where's the Tube?
This one's going to use data but not too much. Uses your GPS to tell you how to get to the closest Underground station.

Oyster Catcher
Make sure to pick up the RFID travel card that is the Oyster. It'll cost you a refundable £3 and, if you want to know the nearest place to top up more money for it, then this app is great for that.

London To Go/Get Me Home
Both apps are an alternative to the official TFL one and allow you to punch in your location and destination for results of how to get from A to B using buses, trains, Tubes and foot power too.

London Underground
Nice and simple and no data cost here. It's a Tube map for your phone.

Time Out London
Criminally only available on iPhone at the moment but it's the best way to find out what's going on around town during your visit. If you don't have an iPhone, you can always wander into the lobby of the Time Out offices just next to Tottenham Court Road Tube. There's usually a stack of Time Out magazines for free there. Not sure that the idea is for the public to come in and take them but act like you're meant to be there and no one will bat an eyelid.

Your Tips

The true geekiest sights and sounds are often the hardest to find and there's no way that in a city like London, that this guide can have covered them all. So, whether you're a local or someone back from a visit, do let us know your tips and ideas in the comments for how to get techie in town.

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