Visit London Blog » Visit London http://blog.visitlondon.com Enjoy the very best of London Thu, 17 Apr 2014 09:00:42 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.3 48 Hour Gay Guide to East London http://blog.visitlondon.com/2014/04/48-hour-gay-guide-to-east-london/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2014/04/48-hour-gay-guide-to-east-london/#comments Wed, 09 Apr 2014 09:00:16 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=38310 A guest blog post by Adam Groffman, author of travel blog Travels of Adam

London’s East End is one of the capital’s coolest neighborhoods. A longtime working class area, East London is now home to some of the city’s best restaurants and bars. And while London’s gay scene is traditionally in Soho, most hipsters have moved further afield to Shoreditch and Hackney. Here’s our guide to a fun weekend in East London, including gay nightlife and tourist attractions:

Shoreditch

FRIDAY NIGHT

Stay at The Boundary Hotel
A former Victorian warehouse, Shoreditch’s Boundary Hotel is a great place to stay if you’re visiting on a romantic weekend as it has a rooftop restaurant and bar, as well as a boutique style which make the place seem homely yet elegant. Rooms from £200 per night.

A Taste of the East
Rather than splurging on a meal at the rooftop bar in the hotel, visit the popular Indian restaurant across the street Dishoom. The garden and laid-back style make it a great place to chill out before heading out for the night.

Loungelover

Cocktails at Loungelover
For a Friday night nightcap, take a short stroll to the trendy Loungelover bar, which has won countless awards for its menu as well as its design. Every room is luxuriously decorated.

Shoreditch grafitti

SATURDAY

Enjoy a food tour
To get a taste of East London, skip breakfast at the hotel and instead make your way to Spitalfields Market. There, at 10am, the East End Food Tour begins. At £59, the walking food tour includes enough food to cover both breakfast and lunch taking in some of East London’s best eateries. It also covers Brick Lane and a bit of history about Jack the Ripper. On a budget? Free Tours by Foot offer pay-what-you-like food and history tours of the East End.

Vintage shopping at Broadway Market
Broadway Market takes place at the foot of London Fields park every Saturday. It’s basically a food market, though some of the shops along the street include bookstores and vintage shops. If you want to visit an authentic London pub, enjoy a pint at The Cat & Mutton.

Dining out in Shoreditch
After a long day of walking through East London, a relaxed dinner near Shoreditch High Street is in order. Keep an eye out for one of the food trucks to grab a light snack. Across the street from Shoreditch Box Park on the High Street is a canopied food hall (inside you’ll want to try Tulum Tacos or Yalla Yalla). Across the street is the trendy Hoi Polloi restaurant inside ACE Hotel. They’ve got a selection of small food plates and great cocktails to go with them.

Gay clubs in East London
For a proper night out, there are a few great options for gay clubs in East London. Dalston Superstore is a classic. Check their website for a calendar of events. East Bloc  is where all the indie boys and girls go — so you’ll be sure to get some good music and fun nights there. But if you’re after a more British setting, go to the George & Dragon pub on Hackney Street for a sample of the Shoreditch hipster scene.

Columbia Road

SUNDAY

Brick Lane and Columbia Road Markets
Sunday is arguably the best day to be hanging out in East London. With the Columbia Road Flower Market in Hackney and the massive Brick Lane market, there are more than enough things to do and see. Here you’ll find vendors selling everything from street food to vintage clothing.

Tramshed

Art gallery in a restaurant basement
To top off the weekend, make your way to the trendy Tramshed Restaurant on Rivington Street. In the basement is a small gallery space featuring a wide range of artists — not just established ones, but local up-and-coming ones as well.

TRAVELS OF ADAM focuses on the most hip and cool things to do around the world. Follow Adam on Instagram and Pinterest to discover his latest cool travel finds.

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London’s Top 10 Bizarre Places http://blog.visitlondon.com/2014/03/londons-top-10-bizarre-places/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2014/03/londons-top-10-bizarre-places/#comments Tue, 18 Mar 2014 10:00:01 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=38137 Guest Post by David Long, Author of Bizarre London

From the time of Boudicca to the Boris Bike, in a sprawling metropolis covering 600 square miles – a city where eight million Londoners speak 300 different languages – it’s only right to expect places which are unexplained, unusual or just plain odd. Here are 10 of our favourites:

The Wapping Project

London Hydraulic Power Company
For more than 100 years the turbines here sent pressurised water through 200 miles of pipes all over London to power hotel lifts, theatre curtains and even dockyard cranes. One of the turbines has now been transformed into a restaurant and art gallery called The Wapping Project.

Kensal Green Cemetery
This Victorian cemetery with its huge elaborate tombs and beautiful landscaping is the final resting place of Thackeray, Trollope, Brunel and the great showman Blondin. Also two of George III’s children, Princess Sophia and Augustus, Duke of Sussex, were laid to rest here.

Fortnum & Mason
Far from the Highlands, the so-called Scotch Egg was actually invented in 1738 by upmarket grocers Fortnum & Mason. The store also sold Britain’s first-ever baked beans (after buying H.J.Heinz’s entire stock in 1866) and silver-plated ‘sporks’ – a combined spoon and fork – for soldiers to use in the trenches.

Dans Le Noir

Dans Le Noir
The great Victorian engineer Marc Brunel once held a banquet under the River Thames to show his tunnel was safe (it wasn’t and flooded soon afterwards) and in 1843 several stonemasons had supper at the top of Nelson’s column in Trafalgar Square. Today, the Dans Le Noir restaurant offers guests the chance to eat in total darkness, allowing the food’s taste and texture to be appreciated without distraction.

 Burlington Arcade

Burlington Arcade
Opened in 1819, Burlington Arcade is one of London’s oldest shopping centres. Uniformed beadles are still on hand to enforce an old bylaw forbidding visitors to run, sing, whistle or open their umbrellas.

Christchurch Greyfriars Garden

Christchurch Greyfriars
The converted tower of a ruined Christopher Wren is London’s tallest house, with three bedrooms spread over 11 storeys. Christchurch Greyfriars Garden – open to the public and free to enter – is the burial place of no fewer than three queens.

Churchill War Rooms

Cabinet War Rooms
Winston Churchill’s wartime bunker is just a tiny portion of a vast, top secret government complex hidden under Whitehall. In the 1930s, more than six acres of bomb-proof offices were excavated beneath ministry buildings, shielded by a 17’ layer of concrete which can still be seen from the road outside. Visitors can explore this wartime bunker at the Churchill War Rooms.

The Mason’s Arms
This Central London pub was where condemned prisoners could enjoy a last pint free of charge on their way to the gallows at Tyburn. On hanging days it was traditional to deal with highwaymen first, as the ‘aristocrats of crime’, then common thieves and finally anyone convicted of treason. The gallows are long gone but the pub is still said to be haunted by at least one of the poor unfortunates. Enjoy a drink at the pub at 51 Upper Berkeley Street, W1.

The Travellers’ Club
Unique among London’s traditionally secretive gentleman’s clubs, The Travellers’ Club offers occasional guided tours for the public. It was founded in 1819 when new members were required to have travelled at least 500 miles from London.

Berry Bros & Rudd

Berry Bros. & Rudd
This 17th-century wine merchants is a veritable museum of viniculture, and is still family-run after more than 300 years. Giant leather-bound ledgers contain the personal details of distinguished customers. Not just Byron, Beau Brummell and George IV but Frenchmen too, including King Louis-Philippe and Napoleon III.

David Long is author of Bizarre London: Discover the Capital’s Secrets & Surprises

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Top 10 Hot London Nightspots by DesignMyNight http://blog.visitlondon.com/2014/03/top-10-hot-london-nightspots-by-designmynight/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2014/03/top-10-hot-london-nightspots-by-designmynight/#comments Wed, 12 Mar 2014 10:00:23 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=38097 Guest post by DesignMyNight

From the fabulously lavish to the endearingly intimate, there’s a nightspot in London to suit all tastes. Check out our top 10 of the hottest venues in London and try one (or all!) of them out when you next fancy a night out in town.

Mr Fogg's

Mr Fogg’s
Step inside this quirky Mayfair retreat and you’ll need a few minutes just to take everything in. Weird and wonderful artefacts greet you at every turn, as guests sip on Victorian-themed cocktails served up by the team’s expert mixologists.

Portside Parlour
If a stylish rum bar shrouded in secrecy sounds like your kind of thing, then look no further than Portside Parlour. Guests perch themselves on inviting Chesterfield sofas, where they encounter a drinks menu packed to the rafters with delightful rum-based concoctions crying out to be tried.

Opium

Opium
Another hugely secretive retreat situated in the heart of Chinatown, you’ll need one of their stunning cocktails just to celebrate finding your way in! Opium is well worth seeking out though – their killer drinks are complemented expertly by the compelling Dim Sum menu, which is adjusted and updated according to the time of year. Bang on trend.

XOYO crowd

XOYO
Situated in the heart of bustling Shoreditch, XOYO is a must-visit for any given clubbing enthusiast. It’s a great place to take in some live music, but XOYO is most famous for the calibre of international DJs that grace its decks. Ideal for tie off, hair down partying at the weekend.

The View

#TheView
A trip to #TheView on the29th floor of the Millbank Tower is a treat for the senses. The exquisite views of the London Eye and Houses of Parliament are more than matched by the standard of the six course tasting menu, which comes courtesy of some of the capital’s leading chefs.

Drink, Shop & Do
Great drinks, tasty food and hilarious events are the order of the day at Drink Shop & Do. Gems coming up in the near future include Lego Robot building, a Pop-Up Opera and even a ‘Learn to Twerk Dance Class’ (yes, seriously!).

The Toy Shop

The Toy Shop
Boasting a bright, colourful and adventurous décor, this Putney-based retreat includes more than the occasional nod to the blissful simplicity of childhood. Be sure to try out their alcoholic ice cubes carved into lego men, fumigated martinis and homemade absinthe wine gums.

Oskar’s Bar at Dabbous
This classy Fitzrovia cocktail bar specialises in innovative concoctions that leave a lasting impression on palettes of all persuasions. There’s a wide range of fantastic food to match, and the friendly and hospitable staff make it a truly amazing bar that needs to be experienced.

Ruby’s
Situated below the cinema sign on Stoke Newington Road is Ruby’s, an intimate drinking den known for the high quality of its cocktails and the vibrancy of its atmosphere. Perfect for catching up with your nearest and dearest, or suitably impressing your partner on date night.

Steam and Rye

Steam and Rye
Steam and Rye fuses a sense of 1940s glam with the romantic influences of the Wild West to create a unique atmosphere that strikes a chord with revellers from all over. With both a Michelin-starred chef and an award-winning bartender on board, it’s no surprise that the standards of this bar are consistently high.

DesignMyNight is passionate about bringing you the very latest and greatest venues on show in the capital.

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Spotlight On: Richmond upon Thames http://blog.visitlondon.com/2014/03/spotlight-on-richmond-upon-thames/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2014/03/spotlight-on-richmond-upon-thames/#comments Tue, 11 Mar 2014 09:00:17 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=38059 An iconic river view of Richmond upon Thames

One of London’s most attractive boroughs, picture-pretty Richmond upon Thames has for hundreds of years been a favourite retreat for royalty, the rich and famous. Sited 15 miles southwest of Central London, the borough can be reached in 15 minutes via a fast train from London Waterloo.

The River Thames runs through the heart of the borough for 21 miles linking Hampton Court Palace, Richmond town centre and Kew Gardens with central London. With beautiful Royal Parks and historic houses, theatres, museums and galleries rich with exhibits, and town centres bursting with shops and restaurants, there’s loads to do in this picturesque borough. Here, the borough’s tourist board Visit Richmond have suggested five of the area’s unmissable attractions:

Richmond Park deer

Richmond Park
With 2,500 acres of hills, woodlands, gardens and grassland, Richmond Park is London’s largest Royal Park. Home to herds of red and fallow deer, the gated park is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest and Nature Reserve. Adventurers can enjoy a host of activities, such as horse riding and cycling. The park also houses the magnificent Isabella Plantation and the gardens at Pembroke Lodge.

Treetop walkway, Kew Gardens

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Delve into a rainforest, stroll a soaring walkway amidst the tree canopy and explore world-class gardens. Kew Gardens contains the finest plant collection in the world and offers a unique day out. There is also a fantastic year-round programme of festivals which includes workshops and family activities.

Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace
Henry VIII’s favourite royal residence is famous for its maze and plush State Rooms. New for 2014 is the royal Chocolate Kitchen, open to visitors for the first time in 300 years. The 18th century Chocolate Kitchen was once used by Thomas Tosier, personal chocolatier to King George I.

Ham House

Ham House and Gardens
Built in 1610, Ham House is a beautiful and atmospheric Stuart house beside the Thames that’s full of paintings, furniture and textiles that were acquired 400 years ago. Its 17th-century garden is a perfect picnic spot.

Richmond's riverside

River Thames
A total of 21 miles of the River Thames run through Richmond; it is also the only riparian borough to be both north and south of the River Thames. Richmond boasts one of the most beautiful stretches of the riverside in London, together with the historic Richmond Bridge, which is an English Heritage Grade 1 listed structure (as it is the oldest bridge that still spans the River Thames).

The river has a special magic in Richmond upon Thames, offering an opportunity to spend tranquil hours exploring its banks on foot or by bike, which can be hired from one of the boathouses near Richmond Bridge.

This blog post was provided by Visit Richmond, which offers information VisitRichmond_Logoof what there is to see, do, explore and experience in Richmond upon Thames. Follow Visit Richmond on Twitter @Visit_Richmond1

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Spotlight on: Kingston upon Thames http://blog.visitlondon.com/2014/02/spotlight-on-kingston-upon-thames/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2014/02/spotlight-on-kingston-upon-thames/#comments Wed, 12 Feb 2014 10:00:40 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=37714 Kingston's falling over phone boxes

The picturesque riverside town of Kingston upon Thames is just a 30-minute train journey from Central London and is well worth the short journey.

Here’s why:

For messing about on the river

Kingston’s stunning location on the River Thames is a big part of its appeal. In summer watch the world go by while dining al fresco in Charter Quay or enjoying a health bite at The Terrace Eatery or drink on the terrace of the ever popular Woody’s pub.

Alternatively experience the river up close on a cruise. Turks Launches has 300 years of boating heritage and operates regular cruises between Kingston, Hampton Court Palace and Richmond.

Jack Wills in Kingston

To shop until you drop  

No trip to Kingston upon Thames is complete without a spot of shopping. With over 500 stores the town has something for every taste and budget, ranging from designer brands and high street fashion in large retail outlets like the The Eden Walk Shopping Centre and The Bentall Centre, to independent boutiques that appeal to those seeking one off or unique finds.

A great area for more unusual purchases is Old London Road – marked by Kingston’s famous falling over phone boxes (officially named ‘Out of Order’ by artist David Mach).

Old London Road is also home to the Kingston Antiques Centre, one of the biggest, liveliest and most affordable destinations for collectors in the South-East of England with more than 100 dealers offering a startling array of antiques and quality vintage items.

For its rich history

Kingston is a town steeped in history. In 1208 it was granted its first Royal charter by King John and it is said that seven Saxon kings were crowned here – the Coronation Stone remains to this day.

Discover the town’s rich history at the fascinating Kingston Museum. Housed in a beautiful, custom-built building, the museum has three permanent exhibitions. Two tell the story of the borough from Saxon times and the third details the life and work of renowned Kingston-born Victorian photographer Eadweard Muybridge.

See its historical sites up-close on a guided walking tour. Tours take place every Sunday during summer and on the first Sunday of the month in winter and depart from All Saints Church.

Rose Theatre

To see a show

Catching a show in the 900 seat Rose Theatre is a real treat.  Its circular design brings great intimacy and epic scale to all the productions that appear here.

The Rose works with internationally-renowned theatre companies and many West End stars appear here. The theatre even has a pit area where audiences can sit on cushions to watch performances, a popular option for families or those on a budget.

For fabulous food

Visitors to Kingston are spoilt for choice when it comes to eating out. Choose from homely pubs, like the Druids Head, and riverside restaurants to al fresco cafes and stylish and even stately venues for afternoon tea.

The ancient market place is home to a six-days-a-week market, featuring a fabulous range of fresh fruit and vegetables.

Also choose fresh fish at Webster’s Fishmongers, pick out delicious meat cuts at Jimmy’s Meats or sample the flavours of Morocco at Exotic Tagine and tasty fresh sushi at Namu.

This blog post was provided by Kingstonfirst, which is branding for the Business Improvement District (BID) of Kingston Town Centre. The branding is used for the delivery of all events, services and marketing undertaken.

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visitlondon.com Guest Editors: Marianela Nunez and Thiago Soares http://blog.visitlondon.com/2014/02/visitlondon-com-guest-editors-marianela-nunez-and-thiago-soares/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2014/02/visitlondon-com-guest-editors-marianela-nunez-and-thiago-soares/#comments Tue, 04 Feb 2014 17:07:41 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=37374

Royal Ballet dancers, and husband and wife team, Thiago Soares and Marianela Nuñez tell their London Story in the video above.

During our interview the two dancers, who are both South American but met at London’s Royal Ballet told us about their life and work in London. We’ve used some of their favourite London experiences to populate our homepage www.visitlondon.com from 4 to 6 February.

Here’s Marianela and Thiago’s London top five:

Covent Garden and the Royal Ballet

T: We have a really strong connection with Covent Garden. Because really, that’s where the dreams came true, isn’t it – both onstage and offstage.

M: Covent Garden definitely is a very special place for us.

T: We’ve spent so many nights here, visiting restaurants and doing things for the Royal Ballet Company, and of course, so many nights on stage at the Royal Opera House, here, so whenever we are walking around the piazza, it feels like home to us.

London Restaurants

T [It's hard for me to surprise Marianela because] she’s not that keen on surprises and we work so hard that she knows exactly what she wants to do when she’s not dancing, whether that is go to a restaurant or go to her favourite shops. We very much like Roka, the Japanese restaurant on Charlotte Street.

Islington

M: We bought our first flat in Highbury & Islington and we’ve been living there for two years now. We fell in love with the area straight away. It feels very ‘homey’ and we are only 10 minutes from Upper Street which I love – it’s full of great restaurants, beautiful little boutiques and we are so happy there. We are only 20 minutes door-to-door from the Royal Opera House, so it’s very handy too.

T: A great nightlife as well, some great pubs and small clubs too.

M: Close to our flat we have Highbury Fields as well and I love it there. I also like to go to Columbia Market on Sunday mornings, I love it and could spend hours there.

London in 24 hours: Start at Portobello Market 

T: I would take them to maybe Portobello Market in the morning, walk around, get some cool stuff and look at the funky shops.

M: I would take them to see all the big sights like Big Ben, St Paul’s Cathedral. The Underground means you can get round the city in just one day. I would take them to my favourite shop, Liberty’s. So, see all the main spots and then finish your day by coming to the Royal Opera House to see us dance.

The National Gallery

M: We are very lucky to have the National Gallery right here near the Royal Opera House. I remember when we started going out together, he would call me and say, ‘Hi, I’m on a lunch break and I’m at the National Gallery.’ It’s amazing for us from where we come from as we don’t have that free entrance. We go there and get inspiration from all that incredible artwork.

T: There is so much going on in London, a lot of culture and a lot of art, and the real tradition that there is in this city in theatre, which is our field, is really amazing. You can just walk from here and see a number of high-class performances at so many places. I really believe that art makes all of us better people.

Discover more stories and enter a competition to win a fantastic stay in London at www.visitlondon.com/story #TheLondonStory

What would you recommend to visitors to London?

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Top Five Accessible Experiences in London http://blog.visitlondon.com/2014/01/top-five-accessible-experiences-in-london/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2014/01/top-five-accessible-experiences-in-london/#comments Thu, 30 Jan 2014 10:00:56 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=37382

From sky-high bars to treetop walkways, London is bursting with accessible attractions. Here are a few of the best:

Cocktails at 350 Feet

Less able people often consider multi-storey buildings to be the enemy but once a building reaches a certain height, as is the case here, there’s no way anyone could make it up the stairs so you’re guaranteed that there will be a lift. The Paramount Bar at Centre Point gives you two experiences for the price of one: come for the outstanding cocktails and stay for the spectacular views. If you’re feeling really flush then you eat at the restaurant too.

Churchill War Rooms

See Where the War Was Won

A museum named after the former Prime Minister rather than one sponsored by that insurance peddling bulldog, The Churchill War Rooms let you into the bunker from where World War Two was coordinated. Considering its size and original use, it’s surprising that this is one of the more accessible London attractions. We get sick and tired of hearing venues say that buildings are too old to be adapted and this helps highlight why it’s such a feeble excuse. If you can adapt this, you can adapt anything.

Above the Trees at Kew Gardens

“Treetop walkway” and “wheelchair accessible” are two things you don’t expect to be found in the same sentence (again, altitude is a traditional nemesis for wheelchair users) but this 18m-high attraction is completely step-free for those who can’t manage the stairs. There’s a lift up to the walkway for less able visitors and once you’re up, the walkway is flat and lets you see Kew Gardens in a whole new dimension.

Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection

One of the capital’s most underrated and most accessible museums, The Wallace Collection is full of hidden gems. The Laughing Cavalier painting by Frans Hals is something of standout, even in a collection featuring works by Rembrandt, Titian and Gainsborough, but the building is grand enough in its own right to make it worth a visit. One of the best collections of the arts in the world – and it’s all accessible and free.

Climb the Dome

It might come as a surprise that the chance to climb over the roof of any building would be accessible to all but that is precisely the case at the O2 Arena. We’ve even been told by the guys who designed it that, while making sure that Up At The O2 is accessible, they wanted to make it as much of a thrilling experience as it is for able-bodied participants. The experience opens in Spring, but you need to get on the waiting list now for a realistic chance of making a booking in 2014.

This post was written by Max Sunter, chief ‘wheeler’ for Blue Badge Style, a ‘Michelin-like’ guide for the less able, their friends and families. Blue Badge Style offers information on what to do, where to go and what to buy to maintain your sense of style whatever the disability.

 

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London’s Top 10 Coolest Hostels http://blog.visitlondon.com/2014/01/londons-top-10-coolest-hostels/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2014/01/londons-top-10-coolest-hostels/#comments Wed, 29 Jan 2014 10:00:13 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=37427 Safestay

A stay in London doesn’t have to be expensive; it is possible to live it up on a budget in the capital. If you’re looking for an ideal location, comfort and (most importantly) fun, there are plenty of hostels dotted around the city just waiting to show you a good time; you just have to know where to look.

Hostel booking website Hostelworld has selected 10 of the coolest hostels in London:

The Dictionary, Shoreditch

Welcome to Shoreditch, the birthplace of London’s hipster scene, and what better way to enjoy the trendy area than staying in the first youth hostel ever to be built there? More than just a place to stay, The Dictionary offers a self-catering kitchen and super-friendly bar and café, making it impossible to leave here without new friends.

Safestay, Elephant and Castle

Just minutes away from London’s biggest tourism hotspots – including the South Bank, the Houses of Parliament and Borough MarketSafestay hostel gets top marks for convenience. It’s also a fine example of elegance on a budget; the chic Georgian building and artwork from up-and-coming British talent will add a touch of luxury to your budget stay.

Palmerslodge

Palmers Lodge, Swiss Cottage

With a free breakfast, funky décor and just 11 minutes from the centre of London by tube, Palmers Lodge is ideal for budget travellers with an upmarket taste. The historic building and committed staff have helped the hostel chain win numerous awards over the years, including one for Best Accommodation in the UK.

Clink78

Clink 78, King’s Cross

This Victorian beauty was once the home of Charles Dickens – Oliver Twist was penned within its walls – along with being a former courthouse, where The Clash stood trial in 1978 for shooting a prize pigeon. Besides a seriously colourful history, Clink 78 is also a famed party hostel, ideal for impoverished backpackers in need of new friends and a good time.

Astor, Hyde Park

Kensington used to be an exclusive playground for the elite, but thanks to the budget-friendly Astor, shoestring travellers can now set up camp just minutes away from Kensington Gardens and The Serpentine. The townhouse boasts a stunning layout and free Wi-Fi.

The Walrus Hostel, Waterloo

Free breakfast, free Wi-Fi and right above a traditional English pub – what more could you ask for? The Walrus is just a short walk from the city’s main attractions and provides a booking service for tours around the country – Stonehenge is a popular choice.

Pride of Paddington, Paddington

Choose from a comfy private or shared dorm above a pub that serves some of the most delicious food in London. Not only does Pride of Paddington offer a free full English breakfast – with all the trimmings – but as a guest you are entitled to a discount on everything on the pub menu. Put that together with Portobello Road market, Oxford Street and Covent Garden all within a 30-minute walk, and you have everything you need to enjoy all the capital has to offer.

The Gallery, Hyde Park

Within easy reach of the central, circle and district tube lines The Gallery is perfectly positioned to explore London’s centre. If shopping on Oxford Street or dining in Mayfair doesn’t suit your budget, have no fear. Hyde Park is right on The Gallery’s doorstep, perfect for long scenic walks and people watching, and it won’t cost you a penny.

Generator London

Generator London, Bloomsbury

If you’re into eccentric interiors and have a healthy appetite for partying, stay at Generator Hostel. Their facilities are extensive – including a bar, travel shop, lounge, café – and the location is probably as central as is possible to be in London. With hostels across Europe, the Generator attracts tourists from all over, so you’re guaranteed to make friends with some seasoned travellers.

Destinations at The Rose and Crown, Borough

The Rose and Crown is the perfect way to experience old fashioned English pub fun, with regular quiz nights, karaoke and hearty real ale. The warm and cosy atmosphere right below this Destinations hostel is ideal for a touch of homeliness in the big city.

Hostelworld.com is the world’s number one hostel booking website. As well as featuring independent and official youth hostels, the site now features campsites, self-catering accommodation, B&Bs and budget hotels. It currently lists over 27,000 properties in more than 180 countries.

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visitlondon.com Guest Editor: Twiggy http://blog.visitlondon.com/2014/01/visitlondon-com-guest-editor-twiggy/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2014/01/visitlondon-com-guest-editor-twiggy/#comments Tue, 28 Jan 2014 10:52:33 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=37372

We asked Twiggy, the world’s first supermodel and a born and bred Londoner, to share her London Story. Watch the video above.

During our interview Twiggy  mentioned more of her favourite London experiences and  we’ve used this to populate our homepage www.visitlondon.com from 28 to 30 January.

Here’s Twiggy’s top five London experiences:

24 Hours in London? Visit South Bank

“Start at Waterloo Bridge, walk along the South Bank, because you get all the views of the other side of London which is the lovely old part. Then you can walk past The National Theatre and all the little cafes and most weekends there are street fairs and it is brilliant. Then you go along to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and before the Globe is Tate Modern and the OXO Tower, there are so many things to do. Then cross over the Millennium walking bridge and you’ve got that view of St Paul’s. I’ve done filming of London for America and we always do a shot on the Millennium Bridge because of the view of St Paul’s Cathedral. You’ve got to visit St Paul’s and then in the evening go to the theatre and a restaurant – we’ve got some of the best restaurants in the world.”

Royal Albert Hall

“I have lots of very fond memories of lots of wonderful places in London. One has to be the Royal Albert Hall because (you won’t believe this) but I played it one night. I did a concert tour in the 70s and the Royal Albert Hall was one of the dates, and that was scary! To walk out on the stage of the Royal Albert Hall is quite awe inspiring and I live very near there so every time I walk past, the memories are extraordinary, I’ll never forget that night as long as I live.”

Shopping: Established areas and emerging talent

“What girl doesn’t love shopping and London is the best. We’ve always been the best in fashion, I think. You’ve got everything here, whatever your budget is and we’ve got amazing shopping streets; Bond Street, Regent Street, Knightsbridge. I go walking to Kensington, Chelsea and the little shops. Then you’ve got all the new shops in Brick Lane, Shoreditch, all the lovely markets, it’s brilliant.

I think London is a brilliant place for giving new, young talent a chance. I think that is how the Brick Lane, Shoreditch area grew up, really. Young designers and artists moved there and that has grown up out of that world. It’s still the lovely old part of London which is the bit I love, all the Georgian and Victorian houses and streets.”

The V&A

“The Victoria & Albert Museum in Knightsbridge is probably my favourite museum because it really is extraordinary and for me, because of my designing and my love of clothes, this museum has got everything. One of my memories is of the Indian Jewellery room. I remember coming in 25 years ago and there was a pale pink rock and it was an uncut ruby and I’ve never forgotten it.

You can come into this museum and lose yourself for hours and [it's great] if you want to do research on fashion and clothes. I’ve worked with great designers in the past and they’ve made clothes for me that have been shown here. The V&A does wonderful special exhibitions and the Museum itself is free to everyone – what more could you ask for?

The House Of Leonard, Mayfair

Twiggy got her big break in modelling in the mid 60s at the age of 14: “Somebody saw me who worked on a magazine and they sent me to have my hair done at a very posh salon in Mayfair, The House of Leonard. Leonard cut my hair in that very short, boyish cut and said he wanted to photograph the haircut. He got Barry Lategan to photograph me. He hung the picture in his salon. I went back to school and that’s all it should have been. A journalist who was also a customer in the salon, saw the picture and said, ‘who is the girl?’ and Leonard said, ‘it’s a young schoolgirl, her nickname is Twiggy’. She said ‘I want to meet her’ and two weeks later she wrote a huge article about me naming me the Face of ’66. That was the day my life changed forever.”

The House of Leonard was in Upper Grosvenor Street, Mayfair, W1, next door to which you’ll find the Moroccan Embassy today. Although the salon itself is long gone, you can still walk around the area and see where the magic happened.

You’ll discover more stories and enter a competition to win a fantastic stay in London at www.visitlondon.com/story #TheLondonStory

What are your recommendations for visitors to London?

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visitlondon.com Guest Editor Boris Johnson http://blog.visitlondon.com/2014/01/visitlondon-com-guest-editor-boris-johnson/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2014/01/visitlondon-com-guest-editor-boris-johnson/#comments Thu, 23 Jan 2014 12:36:01 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=37272

To celebrate the release of our latest London Story video featuring Mayor of London Boris Johnson, we asked Boris to be our guest editor on visitlondon.com’s homepage from 23 to 25 January 2014, populating it with some of his favourite London experiences.

While making his London Story video for us – which was filmed in a pod on The EDF Energy London Eye – Boris waxed lyrical about some of his top things to see and do in London.

British Museum

“As I kid, because I was a bit of a nerd, I used to love going to the British museum where I would spend hours loitering in  the Duveen galleries,  looking at the Elgin Marbles – the ‘ta Elgíneia Mármara’, as they are called in Greece.”

The British Museum in Bloomsbury is the UK’s most visited tourist attraction, welcoming millions of people each year. Entry is free and provides access to an enormous wealth of historical artefacts, paintings, sculptures and scriptures from across the world (8 million in total) that make up the museum’s stores. These include the Rosetta Stone, The Elgin Marbles, the Easter Island Statue of Hoa Hakananai’a, and The Vindolanda tablets. As well as permanent exhibits, the museum curates temporary displays, and the Great Court and Reading Room are particularly popular with visitors due to their impressive architecture.

Regent’s Canal

“I cycle a lot but I also particularly like walking down the canal. There’s a fantastic walk just near us along the Regent’s Canal where you see these ancient bits of industrial architecture with new dwellings springing up among them.
“The buildings have got all this glass and steel and it’s the combination that’s so attractive. It’s 18th and 19th century industrial architecture that’s been brilliantly renovated with 21st century technology. It’s a fantastically vibrant area and so unlike any other city.
“We walk down the canal for a purpose – not just because it’s romantic and beautiful but because there is a pub, called The Narrow Boat, that sells fantastic sausage and mash.”

The 8.6-mile (14km) Regent’s Canal links the River Thames in the Limehouse Basin with Little Venice in north-west London. Along its route the canal bisects ZSL London Zoo, curves along the edge of Regent’s Park, passes through the busy shopping district of Camden, and then on to Islington and on to East London’s developing landscape, such as the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. When it was built in the early 19th century, the canal’s primary function was for carrying goods; today it mainly provides a conduit for relaxation and leisure time.

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

“I love getting on my bicycle and riding all the way through Hackney. It is an area changing very, very fast with all these bars being opened and new startup businesses. I then go through Victoria Park, right the way to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park which is connected up in the most extraordinary way. I recommend that for a day out and particularly when we reopen the whole park this year.”

Once London secured the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, work began on this piece of land in East London to turn what was previously wasteland into a hub for Londoners and visitors alike. The initial phase saw the creation of Europe’s largest shopping mall, Westfield Stratford City, next door, followed soon after by the Olympic Stadium and its sister sporting arenas. When the London 2012 Games finished, the park closed for refurbishment but the north section has since reopened for sporting events and festivals. Incremental new openings will occur throughout 2014 including parklands featuring new plant life, affordable homes, plus a variety of public-use sports and event venues.

Riverbus / Boat to Greenwich

“[My family and I] go to Greenwich and hang out there because it has such a beautiful park. You can have a wonderful afternoon having a picnic, feeding the ducks, hiring a boat – which you can also do at the Serpentine – and all that kind of stuff.”

London’s River Thames has a number of river bus services available. To get to Greenwich you can board one at Embankment, head east past the London Eye, Tower of London, Canary Wharf, and onto Greenwich where you disembark to enjoy The Cutty Sark, the National Maritime Museum, the Royal Observatory Greenwich and Greenwich Park. As well as hosting the Prime Meridian Line, this 183 acre (74 hectare) Royal Park dates back to 1427 and offers a stunning vantage point from which you can look across London at landmarks such as The O2 Arena, Canary Wharf and The Gherkin. There is also an enclosure for wildlife including deer and foxes.

24 Hours in London: Food & World-Class Attractions  

“London has a superb range of places to eat and you are spoilt for choice for Michelin starred restaurants – not that I go to Michelin Star restaurants! I love this café called Frank’s in Southwark Street, where you can get one of the best fry-ups in the world or I can recommend a Turkish joint in Islington, called Pasha.
“It is very, very important to see the British Museum and the Tower of London. The Tower was built in Norman times and is the most interesting example of how London thrives on alien imports because every stone of that initial structure came from Caen in France.  Visitors should also go and see the crown jewels.
“There are so many unbelievable hidden jewels in London, like the Wallace Collection for instance.
“Then you’ve got the Tate Modern – which is not only the biggest but has the most number of visitors of any modern art museum in the world.”

Discover more stories and enter a competition to win a fantastic stay in London at www.visitlondon.com/story #TheLondonStory

What would you recommend to visitors to London?

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