For more than 100 years, busy days have begun at E Pellici, at 332 Bethnal Green Road in the East End, and we can think of no better place to start ours than in this honeyed art-deco-style Anglo-Italian cafe. If possible we’ll take a seat at the rear by the serving hatch and enjoy breakfast with the accompanying back-and-forth banter between customers and staff.
From here we walk to Liverpool Street, we catch the 214 bus to Camden Town, and head to Regent’s Park (royalparks.org.uk/parks/the-regents-park), entering at Gloucester Gate. Our goal is Queen Mary’s Gardens, with its fragrant, formal rose plantings, the varieties named after dimly remembered actors and newscasters. Beyond this lies a lake well-supplied with ducks and swans, and a gently cascading waterfall, at the summit of which are conveniently placed benches, a tranquil resting place with a watery soundtrack.
Our next stop is The Wallace Collection (wallacecollection.org), just across the arterial Marylebone Road. This grand 18th-century house is home to a wonderful art collection, among which is Frans Hals’s The Laughing Cavalier, whose grin we always find disconcerting. Despite its location, The Wallace Collection is rarely overly busy, and to prowl its quiet corridors lined with suits of armour has a frisson of trespassing.
We are hungry again, so head to Paul Rothe & Son at 35 Marylebone Lane). This tiny little cafe feels something like a village shop, its shelves full of biscuit tins and preserves. It is an old-fashioned, courteous place, where your simple egg and cress sandwich will be cut into four and brought to your table.
Then it’s onward to Hyde Park (royalparks.org.uk/parks/hyde-park): probably the least painful route is up Wigmore Street and via a subway. It is not a glorious entrance, but the park itself is, and warrants dawdling and dilly-dallying. We head vaguely for the Serpentine, veering east into Kensington Gardens and to the Albert Memorial, which gleams magnificently whatever the weather.
It is a short ride on the number 9 bus from here, Kensington Gore, to 99 Kensington High Street and the entrance to the Roof Gardens (roofgardens.virgin.com). At the summit of what was the Derry & Toms building, and also home to the ill-fated big Biba, are a series of three gardens – Moorish, Tudor and English Woodland, through which, incongruously, pink flamingos totter. There’s a restaurant here, for which you are advised to book, but it’s possible to come just to see the gardens, provided no private events are booked. From this vantage point you can look west and back east over the day’s sights.
• Find Ben’s guides at herblester.com