– During my many stays in London, I’ve been a guest with SACO properties and the Hub by Premier Inn multiple times. This post was not sponsored by them in any capacity, but I do mention them and my opinions are mine and mine alone. –
London, one of my favourite places in the world and at times, it really feels like a second home. I’ve been working on this list for years now, compiled from all the times when friends have asked for recommendations around the city when visiting for both work and for pleasure. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve been to the city, whether for a few days or for weeks. Each time I’m there, rain or shine, I get excited to come back and eventually move for grad school, maybe one day soon. I’ve stayed in central London, East and West, and I’ve experienced so much of the city, that I couldn’t wait to write this up. There will always be new additions because I’m definitely not the end all be all for the city, but I think this is a good place to start!
Where to Stay:
As everyone has seen, I’ve been a pretty frequent flyer at SACO’s properties. From Amsterdam’s The Wittenberg to Leman Locke, I’ve been fortunate enough to experience just about every type of property that they offer. SACO specialises in different types of lodging, but primarily aparthotel style properties or short stay apartments. Across London, there are many different styles of properties you can stay in, and I started with the serviced apartments. They’ve got these across the city and across the UK. The charm of these spaces is that they’ve got everything you would need to stay for a week to a month. The apartments have a kitchen, washers, dryers, a very lovely sleeping area, and more, and as an added bonus, they often leave little treats so you can have a tea in the morning!
The aparthotel style spaces are also just as charming! I’ve stayed in a couple of their properties, The Cannon, Leman Locke, and The Wittenberg (in Amsterdam), and I’ve loved each stay. I’m always in a new area of the city and whenever I stay with SACO and I’ve had yet to have an experience that wasn’t stellar. The staff are always very lovely, helping me with my bags, providing dinner ideas, and so much more. The spaces are always aesthetically pleasing and beautiful and set in areas that make the city super accessible, both on foot and by tube. I always check for availabilities when I go to London and I cannot wait for my next stay back at SACO when I’m back.
The Hub is a bit different from SACO properties and if you’re on more of a budget, this is definitely the best place for you to start looking. Their hotel rooms are a great place for one or two people, especially when you’re not going to spend the entire day in the hotel room. There’s 10 properties around the city and with a smaller and a larger sized room, and for anyone who needs an accessible room, they’ve got those too! I’ve spent my birthday at the Hub, stayed over for Fashion Week, and just for the casual visit and I’ve enjoyed each stay! The tech-friendly rooms make check-in, your stay, and check out a breeze each time and unlike a lot of hotels, it’s equipped so I can manage by myself even with a big suitcase in tow.
The tech at The Hub is one of the best things about the hotel. From their app, you can control the air conditioning, TV, lights, and more with just a tap of the finger. For those late risers like me, it’s also really helpful to have the breakfast add-on. Most of their hotels have a small cafe in the main area and they’ll package up a little bag with breakfast essentials so you can start your day off properly. It’s definitely come in handy on days when I’m going to the airport in a rush because I can grab and go on my way out. The Hub is one of the hotels that I frequent when I’m in London, not only due to accessibility but also because I just really enjoy staying there. I don’t have to sacrifice comfort for price and that’s an essential aspect of my travels.
What to See
London is a city where there’s always something new to do and you can keep yourself entertained at all times. For simplicity, you can walk by the Thames on the quays and explore the city on foot. If you’re a runner, running there is lovely and a lot easier than dodging cars and a million pedestrians. If you’d prefer by boat, the boat tours are actually really nice, and they leave from London Bridge. You’ll get a good glance at the city, and you can avoid taking the Eye, which is expensive, but also harder to get a good view due to high rises. Right on the water is Tower Bridge and the Tower of London museum, which is a really amazing piece of history that remains. There are a million museums in London, and if you want to do museums, the V&A, British Museum, Natural History, are all really nice and FREE.
For the not so simple, go to the Skygarden. You do need tickets, but it’s a really nice way to experience one of the many green spaces in London, and it’s beautiful. If you’re keeping it calm and it’s a nice (warm) day, try and grab a blanket/towel and grab lunch in St. James’ Park or outside of St. Paul’s Cathedral. For those thrill-seekers, you can book into climbing the O2. It’s a bit outside of the city, but still a really amazing space where you can push yourself. If that’s not your thing, take a day trip to Thorpe Park and take all of the rollercoasters you can in a day. It’s a great park and a fun day trip. For those with kids, try finding the Harry Potter set up at King’s Cross! It can be hard to find, but cute if you’re a Harry Potter fan like me! You can also take your little one (or your adult-sized belly) to the M&M’s store and eat your heart out after heading to the Lego store!
Where to Shop
I’m a shopper, I wouldn’t have written about fashion for so long if I wasn’t. While I don’t shop and buy as often as I used to, I still do know some of the great places to shop! Covent Garden is both shopping and activities. Always something going on and a great place! Greenwich Market is in Greenwich which isn’t actually in London, BUT it is a lovely place to take a day trip to if you want to get out of the city, and if you would like to shop in town. In central London, I really enjoy Portobello, which is open every day, but the problem is that it can get quite hectic during the weekends. Covent Garden is also another area of London where you can shop high street stores, and there’s many activities, street performers, and shops to keep you busy all day. This area is right next to Oxford Circus and the area between Oxford Circus and Warren St Station is littered with stores with everything your heart can dream of, from furniture to clothing.
Where to Eat & Drink
Food is super easy to find in London, there’s a place to eat on every street corner. No that’s not a McDonald’s on every corner, but they do have that as well. If you’re in the mood for dim sum, you can go two ways: first, Ping Pong is a restaurant chain around the city that has really great dim sum and also great drinks; Secondly, if you want authentic Chinese food, go to Westminster around Gerrard Pl and Little Newport St and you’ll find the greatest authentic food there! In addition, I’ve been to The Hoxton, where I enjoy their Mac & Cheese and the location is also great. Treves & Hyde is the restaurant at Leman Locke, which is a fantastic kitchen that I loved so much the first time that I went back for more. That restaurant is located near Aldgate East, which is near Shoreditch and Liverpool St, which have a million holes in the walls, BUT you will find amazing food and even more amazing people!! I like going to Grind for a midday coffee/snack/avocado toast etc, but they also turn into a bar at night, which is super handy! Markets in London are a great place to get a bite to eat, shop, and drink and I love going to them, Spitalfields Market, Brick Lane, Portobello, Camden Market are just a few you can choose from! For anyone with a sweet tooth, Milk Train has that fancy cloud ice cream to fulfill all IG dreams! Finally for all my people looking for something for bloggers, head to The Mad Hatters Tea as an adorable breakfast spot, or head to Peggy Porschens for adorable sweets and to fight through a line of bloggers!
I’m getting to the part everyone likes, drinking. There are lots of opportunities to grab a drink in London, because the city is massive. Canary Wharf is not too far from central, but it’s a great place to grab dinner and drinks by the water. If you want to do the London Eye, know it’s expensive and not that long, but the view is really amazing if you do it on a clear day. If you don’t want to spend that money, go to the shard for drinks! You go SUPER high up and get an amazing view of the city, which is a fantastic way to grab a drink.
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How to Get Around
Getting around London is not only fairly accessible but also super easy. The easiest path would be walking and the tube. Walking is super easy in London due to the access to continuous sidewalks around most of the city. I’ve spent an entire day walking around the city and it’s one of my favorite ways to see new parts of the city and explore. In addition, if you think you’re a good biker, I still wouldn’t recommend biking around London. The rules are very particular and the people of London will flick you off if you interfere with their commute. Play it safe and don’t do it, but if you want to, there are lots of bike rentals around the city. The tube is one of the most comprehensive metro systems in the world. You can get around the city very easily with the Tube and while it can get very hot and packed, it will get you where you need to go, no matter if you’re going out to Shepard’s Bush to shop at Westfield or if you need to take the Piccadilly line to Heathrow airport. If you’re up to pay the fees, you can also take a cab/uber, but that’s very expensive and racks up quickly. In addition, Uber is in a big fight with the City of London because they’ve driven taxis out of business, so it’s not as easy to find Ubers, but the black cabs are everywhere (and expensive).
How to Get There
There are 6 airports that service London, Heathrow, City, Stansted, Gatwick, Luton, and Southend. They’re all very well connected to the city, so you won’t have a problem getting into the city via the Gatwick Express/Heathrow Express/Tube/Bus/Cab/etc. In addition, there are many trains that come into the city, like the Eurostar, into the many train stations that come into the city, such as Paddington, St Pancras, King’s Cross, and more. In addition, there’s buses and you can drive into the city if you’re nearby. The city is very accessible and it’s one of the best parts about it.
What to Pack
Pack as you like, but London is one of the easiest places to pack for. You can opt for ankle boots or sneakers/trainers, depending on how much you expect to walk during your time there. Definitely bring a light jacket (in the spring/summer/early fall) or a coat (during the late fall/winter) because it’s a great city to layer for. I highly suggest a backpack or crossbody bag to hold all of your essentials, but also easy to swing on and off when you’re going into crowded spaces to prevent pickpockets. Jeans are my best friend on my time in London, especially with just one blue and one black pair. Universal adapters, sunglasses, and a good pair of headphones (I actually own these and they’re great), and a little sandwich bag will go a long way. The sandwich bag is for toiletries as the bag will hold the same amount of space as the security bags will that you’ll need in order to make sure you don’t have to chuck anything as you go through security.
What Not to Do
For the most part, London is a free-spirited cities there aren’t many explicit don’t do’s. There are a couple though, such as don’t stand on the left of an escalator but stand on the right. You’ll get told off for doing so. Also, don’t buy a week tube pass, instead, get a regular Oyster card and top up as needed, unless you plan on taking the train 7-8 times a day. I go for about 10 days and between walking/tube, I put around £40-£50 and I’m good to go. Also, everyone knows it rains a ton in London, but opt for a raincoat instead of an umbrella so you don’t have to worry about poking someone in the eye during peak hours going into a tube station to escape the rain.
Just like my international guide to travel, these posts will be updated the more I travel! I’m very excited to go back to London sooner than I expect, so I can explore this beautiful city more and add more for you all to see!