Its fun just to sit and watch everyone coming and going, youll get a real taste of London life here, as this is where residents of the city come to celebrate special occasions in the restaurants. Kaspars is the hotels new seafood dining option; I can fully recommend it and suggest requesting a seat that has a view of the River Thames. The Savoy also serves an excellent afternoon tea, which also brings in affluent guests. Its a stunning setting, all under a glass cupola, truly worth going to have a look even if you dont want to stay for tea. If you do go for tea (I actually making a reservation), youll want to dress up in your finest. You might instead opt for a drink at the snazzy Beaufort Bar, just across the way in the hotel. I have yet to do this but its on my bucket list. Its extremely classy and sophisticated and in the evenings theres always live piano music and sometimes a singer. A martini with my name on it is waiting for me there in my future. For a full report on my stay at The Savoy last year, click here: Outside the hotel theres theatre and shopping at Covent Garden where you can search for vintage and antique goods in the stalls or grab a coffee or glass of wine at one of the establishments. We happened upon a quartet playing Pachelbel Canon in D Major ; it was a magical moment. The musicians were quite entertaining as they knew they were playing a true crowd favorite, and it was a fun London moment that Ill remember for a long time.

London’s Startups Show the Way in Remaking Finance

Both hail from Estoniawhich holds the world record for start-ups per personbut consider London to have the most developed eco-system in Europe for both technology and finance, says Hinrikus. The idea for TransferWise was born organically out of Hinrikus and Kaarmanns frustration at the expense and hidden fees involved in sending money abroad. They market it as a Robin Hood of currency exchange, and its ethos is built on transparency and what they call knabthe word bank spelled rightwards according to their websitebecause it stands for things flipped on their head and finally done properly. Their enthusiasm for challenging the status quo and misspelling words has resonated well with investors: Peter Thiel, the co-founder of PayPal and the first outside investor in Facebook, led a $6 million investment round for TransferWise in May this year. Thiel described it as offering true innovation in banking by enabling its users to retain their wealth across borders. Its his first foray into Europe and an important mark of recognition for Londons tech scene. Not only that, from an investment perspective, its indicative of the huge potential within this sector alone: an estimated $300 billion to $400 billion flows through retail foreign currency exchanges each day, and TransferWise has only gotten started in capturing its chunk of that market, which, admittedly, banks still control a huge percentage of. (MORE: Three Not-So-Crazy Ways Out of the Debt Ceiling Crisis ) The growth in the industry has perhaps been a long time coming. Michael Laven, CEO of the Currency Cloud, a platform for international payments for businesses, says that because of the large, institutional nature of finance, its been resistant to the kinds of disruptive technologies that have dramatically changed industries such as music or retail in the past decade. Hinrikus says that changes in the last five years, including the fact that trust in the banks is at an all time low, has finally created a perfect storm for innovators to change finance. Alex Macpherson, head of ventures at U.K.-based Octopus Investments, says it also stems from what he calls the rise of social economics since the financial crash of 2007suggesting that the huge amount of information now in the hands of consumers has meant that the world of finance has finally opened up to a whole new array of actors. Though the future looks promising for fintech and London, there are still road-bumps ahead. Both regulation and limits to global expansion are areas of concern for entrepreneurs.