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If you go: London

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September 12, 2004

How to get there

The lowest round-trip air fare between Boston and London at press time was $438 on American Airlines.

Where to stay

The Savoy, Claridge's,The Connaught, The Berkeley

800-63-SAVOY (637-2869)

www.savoygroup.com.

The Savoy Group's four legendary hotels in London are expensive, to be sure, but they want their American clients back. Hence, their ''Great London Weekend" deal. Stay at a much-reduced rate Friday and Saturday nights, and Sunday night is free. Rates start at about $243 per night at The Savoy. Divide the total of $486 by three, and you get $162 a night.

The Savoy, on The Strand, was the creation of Gilbert and Sullivan impresario Richard D'Oyly Carte, and there's still a theater attached to the hotel, where Gilbert & Sullivan operettas are performed.

Claridge's, on Brook Street in Mayfair, is your best bet for spotting royalty.

The Berkeley, Wilton Place, Knightsbridge, built in 1972, has a 1920s' jazz feel about it, and a rooftop pool.

The Connaught, Mayfair, is the clubbiest, a London base for generations of country families coming to town.

Where to eat

The Portrait RestaurantNational Portrait Gallery

St. Martin's Place, London

011-44-20-7312-2482.

www.npg.org.uk/live/portrest.asp

On the top floor, with rooftop views through Trafalgar Square to Big Ben. Snacks and lunches are typical of the light but elegant cuisine London now offers. The restaurant is open for dinner Thursday and Friday. Entrees $5-$25. Reservations recommended.

The Connaught Carlos Place, London

011-44-20-7592-1222.

The Connaught has become so unstuffed that it has hired its first woman chef. Angela Hartnett, a protge of celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey, who controls all Savoy Group dining rooms, is making miracles there. The main dining room serves international fare with a Mediterranean influence. Service is impeccable. Fixed-price lunch about $40. Reservations recommended.

Benares Restaurant and Bar 12 Berkeley Square, London

011-44-20-7629-8886

www.benaresrestaurant.com

Benares is around the corner from the Connaught -- and a world away. In just a year, it has become the most elegant Indian restaurant in London, with handmade furniture and pools filled with lotus blossoms. This is the first independent venture for chef Atul Kochhar, also the first Indian to win a Michelin star. Dinner about $35.

What to see

National Portrait Gallery011-44-20-7306-0055

www.npg.org.uk.

St. Martin's Place

''Off The Beaten Track: Three Centuries of Women Travellers." Through Oct. 31. Free.

The National GalleryTrafalgar Square

011-44-20-7747-2885

www.nationalgallery.org.uk.

Next door to the National Portrait Gallery, this is one of the world's greatest treasure troves of painting, where admission, except for special exhibitions, is free.

Comedy TheatrePanton Street

011-44-870-060-6637

If you're an art addict, especially one from Boston, you'll want to see Simon Gray's new play, ''The Old Masters," about the contest of intellects and ethics between the dealer Joseph Duveen and Bernard Berenson, the Italian Renaissance art expert who helped Isabella Stewart Gardner put together her collection in Boston. Tickets $19-$46.

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