Hovering somewhere between the clouds and Big Ben, our canary yellow chopper is making its way along the Thames. Aviator shades shield the eyes of the dashing pilot, as they did the group of passengers who alighted prior to I.
As we ascend, the vista stretches to Wembley Stadium in the hinterland, before our helicopter heads to Buckingham Palace, the red dots on the terracotta forecourt marking the Changing of the Guards.
From there, I catch a bird's eye view of the majestic, golden towers of Parliament, then it's over to the City, where the slick black head of The Gherkin stands proud above the capital's financial heart. Next, I survey the majesty of Tower Bridge and the modernity of St. Katherine's Dock with its yachts harboured on the sepia-coloured waters.
Heading south, we hit the O2, where Boris Johnson's famous cable car winds and the Thames Barrier stands in the distance. Pausing for a plane to land at City Airport, we hover over Greenwich and the Royal Observatory. Heading north along the Thames, I encounter two of the journey's highlights – a bird's eye view of the London Eye and flying at building height alongside The Shard, gazing at the visitors on the viewing deck gazing back at me. Moving and viewing within the London skyline is the perfect space for passing an exhilarating twenty minutes of a gilded afternoon.
Flights with the London Helicopter take off from the Barclays London Heliport Battersea, The Pod Building, Bridges Court, Battersea, London SW11 3RE. Tel. +44 (0)20 7887 2626
The Silver Darling is moored at the Savoy Pier – the twelve-person yacht boasts interiors by Matthew Hilton, complete with Damien Hirst artworks and Swarovski lights.The signature sepia waters that have inspired visitors to London since it was settled sweep between its north and south banks before us.
We pass a gloriously leisured afternoon, sitting out on deck, sipping on Champagne as our yacht meanders towards Chelsea. The views of some of the world's most iconic buildings are unbroken from the water: the sweeping golden grandeur of the Houses of Parliament, the modernity of the Southbank Centre and antiquity of St. Mary's Church.
As we hit Chelsea, the vessel turns and we pass under the shadow of the river's bridges from Waterloo to Tower Bridge; float past the City locks, cower below HMS Belfast with her imposing slate-grey body; then the painted brick faces of the wharves pose a cheerful reminder of why the tiny settlement of London grew into a metropolis this large. Rihanna has hired the Silver Darling for a party; the executive passenger boarding after me had chartered the yacht as a water taxi – whatever the weather, you really need no excuse for passing a few hours in luxury on the River Thames.
River cruises on The Silver Darling alight from The Savoy Pier, WC2. Tel. +44 (0)20 7759 1900, www.silverfleet.co.uk
The Dover Street pavement – trodden by elegantly cobbled shoes since the 1600s – is the trajectory upon which we alight for my bespoke Mayfair luxury tour.
It's partly focussed on British heritage brands – from truffle tasting at master chocolatiers Charbonnel et Walker, the locale's oldest store, to a bespoke consultation at Savile Row's original tailor, Henry Poole and a fervent fine art auction at Sotheby's – but with contemporary British and European innovation mixed in.
At Montblanc we are guided through the luminaries that have inspired their Limited Edition pens and, in the VIP consultation room, shown the awesome designs of their on-demand-only Artisan collection. My guide, a personal shopper named Caitlin, shows me around the Blood Concept scents at contemporary design store Wolf & Badger and the cutting-edge luxe of Dover Street Market.
A personal styling consultation at Brown's Focus and a curator-led look at investment art at Hauser & Wirth are just some of the highlights of this up-close-and-personal, no-holds-barred look at luxury and innovation in London's most esteemed and historic shopping locale.
For Insider London Tours contact: Tel. +44 (0) 844 5048 080, www.insider-london.co.uk/