4 things you need to know about London
We love London and think you will too, if you give it a chance. New York might be the city that never sleeps, but London follows pretty close behind. London: globally significant for being a central hub of finance, culture, history, not to mention shopping. However in case you have doubts about London, the following four things you need to know about London, will, we are sure, win you over:
London is not only cheap, but most of it is free!
It’s the stereotype that we hate the most: “London is super expensive”. If you really know where to look, London is actually cheaper than other European capitals. At the National Gallery, you can admire work by Picasso, Monet, Manet, Van Gogh, and Renoir; and that’s just in one exhibit! At the Tate Modern, the most popular modern art museum in the world, you can see works by Dali or Liechtenstein, and then have fun exploring the installments around the gallery itself, housed in a massive old power station. Head to the Victoria and Albert Museum (picture above), the Natural History Museum, the National Portrait Gallery, or even The British Library, where you’ll find the Canterbury Tales, the Rosetta Stone and the Magna Carta. All of these spots are world-class, and all of them are free. And the rest of London’s most famous attractions are best viewed from the outside, so you can admire St. Paul’s Cathedral, Trafalgar Square, the Tower Bridge, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace and the sprawling Royal Parks without paying one pence.
London cannot be “done” in a few days!
One of the greatest things about London is that all of its main attractions are in the centre and within walking distance or a few stops from each other. But that’s only the London of the guidebooks: the real spirit of the city is found in its local boroughs, spend a night partying in Camden Town (picture above), where everyone from Dylan Thomas to Amy Winehouse have lived and played. Take a stroll along the riverbanks of Putney or Kingston-Upon-Thames, or search for a Banksy mouse painted onto a wall in Shoreditch. Ride a bike along the canals of Hackney, play football in Richmond Park, and have a Sunday Roast in Wimbledon while you chat with the locals. After all, they’re the ones who make this city so special, and they’re not hanging out in Trafalgar Square; so once you check a few sights off your list, venture a stop or two further on the tube to discover everything else that London has to offer.
Transportation: it might be hot and crowded, but it’s efficient!
In order to get out to the local boroughs, you need to take public transportation. Fortunately, London has one of the best systems in Europe, despite what locals, fed up with tube strikes and engineering works, might say. It is relatively quick, easy to navigate and reliable. Buy an Oyster Card to quickly touch in and out of buses and tubes. The best part of the London transport system is that it’s an experience in itself: who hasn’t dreamed of riding past Trafalgar Square in a red double-decker bus? Or hearing a proper British accent advising people in tube stations to “Mind the Gap” or “Alight here”? Or emerging from the depths of Bond Street Station to the wonderful chaos of Oxford Street? You can even make your own tour out of it: pick a random station on the tube map and go exploring. It will take you to places you’ve never heard of, and you’ll end up finding a little part of the city that feels like it belongs just to you.
You don’t have to visit any other city in the world!
Fancy an authentic Indian curry? Visit Brick Lane in London’s East End. Want to experience a quaint British village? Check out the pubs and boutiques of Hampstead Heath. Want to eat plantains and visit a bustling Jamaican hair salon? Head straight to Peckham Rye. Want to take a boat ride along a shady canal? Look for little Venice (picture above) near Camden Town. The world’s best literature, history, and architecture, the most progressive restaurants, shopping and nightlife, and the most beautiful parks, churches and monuments, can all be found in London. Yes, there’s something to suit every taste. There’s no better way to express what this city has in store for you than to quote the stereotype that we love the most: “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.
Where to stay
Located just off the square of the same name, Leicester House is wonderfully set in an elegant Georgian townhouse. These storied walls can tell a tale or two, with a history as one of the city’s favored seafood restaurants, after a stint as the Hotel du Commerce, which welcomed the likes of Karl Marx and Johann Strauss. Today at Leicester House the boutique artfully fuses contemporary charm with historic elegance, with just 14 guest rooms and three suites that create a decidedly intimate atmosphere and epitomize grown-up style. At the hotel bar, experienced mixologists whip up cocktails with homemade ingredients. Relax over a leisurely breakfast while you watch the chefs at work in the the open kitchen. Or just head out to the 200-odd bars in the Leicester Square area alone, not only do you have a vantage point into history here, but you’re right in the center of town.