A thriving hub of theater, music and fashion, London is a global capital of culture. Museums and galleries steeped in iconic, captivating artefacts, portraits and installations are always close to hand. A trip to London also means you’re only a brief meander away from a shoppers’ paradise of soap-scented covered markets, funky fashion-laden stalls or designer-laden department stores. Post-splurge, the city’s sensory overload of global cuisines and trend-setting nightspots will be sure to hit the spot, too.
Things to see
London may be one of the world’s busiest cities but a visit to Hyde Park will guarantee you plenty of greenery, with over 2.5 square kilometres of Royal Park to take in as you lick your ice-cream cone. It’s not all grass, however, with the 40 acre Serpentine Lake offering free swimming during summer courtesy of its Lido. If shopping’s more your bag, a visit to Covent Garden is a must. Whether checking out the painted street mimes or impromptu opera in the arcade, or poring over the arts and crafts knick-knacks in the covered market, Covent Garden’s bohemian vibe is hard to better for quirky charm. History comes to life in style in Trafalgar Square, and in the shade of the towering Nelson’s Column sits a pedestrianized square complete with fountain and café for contemplating the finer things. A visit to Buckingham Palace will top it all in royal style.
Hotels in London
London excels at the art of hospitality, with some of the world’s most famous hotels jostling politely for affection. If you want luxury hotels, you’ll find it in top end landmarks where you can expect butler-like service, triangular sandwiches and sumptuous afternoon teas. If your budget won’t stretch to those excesses, a wealth of mid-range London hotels offer a family-friendly environment, central locations and impressive mod-cons and amenities such as WiFi and satellite television, all at reasonable prices. You can cut costs further with a variety of B&Bs and cheap hotels, but may find yourself in a more suburban setting.
Where to stay
Just beyond Marble Arch sit the leafy squares of Bayswater, a hugely popular area for visitors to London thanks to its central location and the attractive Victorian stucco buildings lining its streets. Another convenient tourist hotspot is the area surrounding Kensington’s museums and parks, especially the more modestly priced Earls Court, which is only a short walk away from the glamor of High Street Kensington but considerably less costly. Victoria is a similarly well placed base, offering easy access to both the West End and Westminster, not to mention excellent transport links, but avoiding their more off-putting price-tags.
How to get to
For international visitors to London, Heathrow Airport is likely to be your first port of call. Luckily, public transport links from the airport mean you can catch a Piccadilly Line tube and be in the center of the action within an hour, or quicker if you’re based in West London’s popular neighbourhoods. European visitors may arrive via St Pancras, which is so centrally located a short tube or bus trip will get you to most attractions or landmarks. Gatwick Airport, like Heathrow, is a well-connected hub, with a regular express train travelling to and from Victoria in just 30 minutes.