What to do on a London Break

London breaks are popular for those in the UK and abroad. However, the only problem with a short break within London is that there is not enough time to experience the overwhelming choice of activities. However, this means there is never a dull moment in the city. Depending on tastes and what travellers desire to see, London has so many aspects to it; therefore all tastes and interests can be catered to. If people love a bit of culture, there are a number of museums and galleries to attend. If people love attractions that put a city on the international map then the London Eye and Tower Bridge are just some of the main attractions within the capital. However, for those who to explore something different and an undiscovered part of London, then London has a lot of surprises.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Things to do in London- Attractions and Activities

  1. London Eye

As the UK’s most popular paid attraction, The London Eye, or the official name The Coca-Cola London Eye due to its sponsorship with the brand, gives its visitors the chance to see fantastic views of London. Its official launch was in 2000 and since then, The London Eye has been part of the city skyline ever since. As each rotation takes about 30 minutes, this gives visitors inside the capsule the chance to truly experience London from unique angles. On a clear day, passengers will be able to see Windsor Castle.

  1. Shopping

London is one of the fashion capitals on the globe and whilst exploring the city, visitors to the city will see plenty of fashionistas on the high street. The fashion scene in London is all about styles and trends and celebrated fashion designers such as the late Alexander McQueen and Vivienne Westwood have long been established in London. The department stores certainly reflect the fashion that London is known for with Selfridges and Harrods presenting stunning clothing and accessories from the elite of fashion. However, it doesn’t mean that a big budget is needed to have style. There are plenty of high street stores offering on trend season clothes that are budget friendly.

  1. Museums

There are plenty of museums in and around London that those on a city break can visit. The best part of these museums is that it has free entry. The exhibitions and workshops within museums such as The Natural History Museum and The Science Museum are fascinating and insightful. For example, the British Museum has collections with items that are from 300 AD.

  1. Galleries

Art and culture is very important to London and there are plenty in the city that is well worth exploring. The National Portrait Gallery has collections from artists that include Matisse and Leonardo Da Vinci. However, for those who want more contemporary works, The Saatchi Gallery in West London has paintings, photographs and installations that are fascinating and thought provoking.

  1. Theatres

Another aspect of London is the West End theatres that have award winning productions and shows. Theatre enthusiasts will be delighted by the musicals that have entertained millions, which include The Lion King and Wicked. However, it is not only the West End that can put on a show as other popular theatres like The Old Vic also contribute to the culture of theatre within the capital.

  1. Parks

In such a built up and vibrant city, it may be hard for one to imagine that there are many open spaces and luscious green parks in London. Believe it or not, there are an abundance of parks within London that has wide open space and luscious greenery. In fact, London is home to 8 royal parks in London which include Hyde Park and Richmond Park. Unfortunately, no one can predict London weather but of course when the sun is shining, the parks in London are a lovely place to visit and relax.

  1. Market/Car Boot

Market stalls are very popular within London and are dotted in around the city. City workers on their lunch break will find a quick bite to eat for lunch. A very popular market is Portobello Market. Situated in Notting Hill, it was made famous by the film of the same name. Here is where the market sells items such as antiques and vintage clothes.

  1. Clubs and Bars

London may have to take the title from New York as the city that never sleeps. The amount of bars and clubs in the capital will have visitors partying to the early hours of the morning. Popular times are on Friday (post Friday drinks) and Saturday nights. Therefore, if people are only travelling to London for the weekend, there is a night out to squeeze in. However, the most exclusive clubs will be found within areas like Chelsea and Mayfair. Some clubs are members only!

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Get to know London with an open-top bus tour

There are two kinds of travellers: the independent and the guided. Independent travellers are the backpacker types who like to explore on their own, armed with maps and sensible shoes. They poke around in corners that are off the beaten track, chat to locals and go wherever fortune may take them. They tend not to worry much about schedules; if their train is delayed, or they miss their flight, they see it as an opportunity for another adventure. Other travellers prefer to have expert guidance when they travel to make sure they see the attractions that are truly worth seeing, and have some great pictures to show their friends back home. You wouldn’t want to visit London and miss out on something huge like Madame Tussauds, would you?

But occasionally even an independent traveller needs a guided introduction to a brand new city. There’s plenty to be seen in unexplored corners, but often the big popular attractions are famous for a very good reason and you’d be crazy to miss them. That’s the philosophy behind Golden Tours, a company that offers open-top bus tours of London. They provide a constant running commentary from a local guide on every attraction you pass as well as the history of the streets you drive through. Although it’s aimed at mainstream tourists, the local guides can tell you anecdotes and trivia that aren’t in any of the guidebooks!

For a comprehensive experience, you can catch the bus near the London Premier Kensington and stay on for a full three-hour tour of its main route. Buses leave every 15 minutes from 9am until 5pm from Victoria Coach Station in central London. Golden Tours also run hop on/hop off tours, where your ticket lets you leave and rejoin the tour whenever you like if you see an attraction that takes your fancy. However for the budget-savvy, the three-hour ticket offers the full tour for a reduced price; the only difference is that you must stay on the bus for the entire trip. Golden Tours is the only operator in London to offer this kind of ticket.

If you see something you want to visit while you’re on the bus, don’t fret – make a note of it! The whole purpose of the tour is to show you around the city so you can decide which parts are worth a closer look. That’s what makes it a great choice for your first day in London, especially if you’re the type of traveller who doesn’t like to do much planning before you arrive. Later on, you can take a few moments to yourself back in your comfy room at the London Premier Kensington and work out a rough plan for the rest of your stay. But if you’re feeling impulsive, you can purchase tickets for several attractions while you’re on the bus and lock your next tour in right away.

Some of the attractions you might encounter include Tower Bridge and the Tower of London, a castle almost a thousand years old full of rich history where the Crown Jewels are stored; Buckingham Palace, still inhabited by some members of the Royal Family, where the Changing of the Guard draws huge crowds every day; St Paul’s Cathedral, whose huge dome towers over the city centre; Trafalgar Square, home to statues of British heroes from bygone days; and Piccadilly Circus, London’s answer to New York’s Times Square, which glitters day and night with giant screens contrasted with beautiful historic buildings.

The route has over 70 stops so you’re sure to see something that grabs your interest during your 3 hour tour, no matter where your interests lie. The easiest way to catch the bus from the London Premier Kensington is from Gloucester Road, where there are two stops for the main or “blue” route. You can purchase tickets from representatives on the ground or pre-book them online to save money and guarantee yourself a seat. It all depends on your signature travelling style.

 

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Theatre is the Beating Heart of London

London is a cosmopolitan city that is culturally rich and diverse. Theatre is one of the areas that make London so attractive to those overseas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are many theatres that populate the heart of the city. There are also a number of established shows that have been running over a decade. Popular theatre shows that Londoners and tourists alike can watch include the award winning Lion King, Les Miserables and Wicked. The draw of London theatres also brings a plethora of international talent such as the Oscar nominated Bradley Cooper, star of Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle. He makes his West End debut in the Broadway production The Elephant Man. Another American star, Oscar winner Kevin Spacey was the artistic of The Old Vic. This attraction of talent also shows how important London theatres are to the international community. However, theatres and its award winning shows do not only populate central London as there are many independent and smaller productions that theatre enthusiasts can enjoy. Theatres in London do not only provide culture and entertainment within the city but there is also a lot of fascinating history behind theatres’ doors as well. Look below to see some of the popular theatres in London:

  1. Shakespeare’s Globe Named after the English playwright, this theatre is dedicated to Shakespeare’s work. However, the globe is not only for the production of his plays which includes Romeo and Juliet and Much Ado About Nothing. The Globe is a place that holds workshops and post play Q&As for audiences to have a better understanding of the work that goes on in the theatre.

  2. The Old Vic The Old Vic Theatre has a rich history that dates back to the 19th century. The theatre was opened on the 11th May 1818. The Vic has shown and produced a number of plays starring exceptional British talent like Judi Dench and due to its temporary closure in March 2013, it has been a creative space with has been turned in to an art exhibition and a pop up restaurant.

  3. Lyceum Theatre Right in the heart of London, the Lyceum theatre is a stunning and unique building that seats 2000. What makes the space so unique is that the balcony overhangs the circle. The West End theatre is currently showing The Lion King and this has been running since 1999. Past shows have been Jesus Christ Superstar and Oklahoma! The Lion King has resonated with millions across the globe as the production has been seen by 65 million people. The long ongoing show has won many awards including a Tony Award for ‘Best Director of a Musical’ for Julie Taymor who made Broadway history by becoming the first woman to win such a prestigious accolade.

  4. The National Theatre Situated by the Southbank, The National Theatre presents a number of performances however this multi-faceted theatre also presents backstage tours, workshops and exhibitions. The National Theatre also owns three theatres which include the Olivier, Lyttelton and the Dorfman. Popular past performances have included Hamlet, Othello and Frankenstein.

Theatre enthusiasts will certainly want to stay in a hotel that is close to all the delights of the theatre. However, comfort, luxury and great customer service should be high on the agenda. Therefore, what are the best London hotels? This is hard to say but a collection of hotels that is worth a mention is the Shaftesbury Hotel Collection. A number of hotels in London could break the bank but this does not have to be the case. For example, The Shaftesbury Premier London Piccadilly‎ is much more affordable than some of the hotels on offer in the capital. A key advantage is that the hotel is within the heart of London and so reaching the much loved theatre shows will not be a problem.

For those who want to travel beyond London and want to explore the rest of the UK, there are a number of UK travel tips that international visitors can acknowledge to ensure that they have a great holiday within the UK. For example, there are a number of activities and sights that will appeal to those with varying tastes. Stunning architecture, beaches and castles are just some of the places that travellers can visit and see whilst in the UK. For sightseers, the Lake District in Cumbria has breath-taking scenery and is quite a popular holiday destination for those who wish to stay in the UK for a holiday. For a family adventure and thrill seekers there are a number of popular theme parks in the UK with Alton Towers and Thorpe Park in Staffordshire and Surrey respectively. Even though the UK is not known for its sunny climes, there are wonderful beaches situated here. For example, in Cornwall there is no shortage of sandy beaches and a clear blue sea.

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Hotel Bookings Online

Now more than ever, booking a hotel online is fast and convenient. Making calls to book a room reservation is a thing of the past. Now, those considering a last minute weekend break or a business trip that requires a few days away can do so in a click of a button. With online hotel bookings becoming more and more popular, this gives more power to the consumer. Ease of use and flexibility is not something that is a luxury but a necessity.

Whether a hotel booking is for a business trip, a weekend break or an extended holiday, the only fuss of booking a hotel is what to do once you arrive.

Online booking hotels are a wonderful tool that ensures that accommodation can be booked even at the very last minute. On The Shaftesbury collection website (http://www.theshaftesbury.co.uk/) the list of hotels allow for convenient viewing and booking. The Shaftesbury Collection includes Shaftesbury Premier London Piccadilly which is on the doorstep of the West End ensuring a perfect location for theatre enthusiasts. Those who are looking last minute or those who want to book in advance should look for modernity and comfort. Therefore, The Shaftesbury Collection is where discerning travellers should book. With the Shaftesbury Collection, the services that are expected in a hotel is met and exceeded. However, travellers will not have to break the bank, which means there is more to spend on what London has to offer.

With this collection of hotels in London, it gives travellers the chance to easily access the much loved attraction and aspects of London. After booking one of the hotels in the Shaftesbury Collection, be inspired the city and see what you can explore:

  • Attractions

The views of London are fantastic from one of the capsules of the London Eye. Stretching towards Windsor Castle on a clear day, the London Eye has become a popular attraction for millions who have visited the capital. To make the views a little more special, the capsules that make up The London Eye can be booked privately. However, to make the trip to The London Eye an event, special capsules can be booked featuring, champagne tasting or even chocolate tasting with Hotel Chocolat. Other attractions to visit include Madame Tussauds where there are wax figures of celebrities, politicians and other important figures. These are so life like you could actually be taking photographs with your favourite celebrity. There are too many attractions in London to count but one that should not be missed is a visit to the centre of royalty- Buckingham Palace. This is one of the most popular places that overseas visitors like to visit. Many ceremonies have been held at the palace and of course no one could forget the scene from the balcony after Prince William and the Duchess of York became husband and wife.

  • Galleries

London is home to culture and this is reflected in the number of galleries the city has. The National Portrait Gallery features art stretching back centuries. If art lovers are looking for something more modern, head to West London where the Saatchi Gallery is based. Here, is where art is intriguing and thought provoking as installations, photographs and sculptures are open to interpretation.

  • Architecture

For those who love design, the architecture within London is unrivalled. From St Paul’s Cathedral, The Gherkin, The Shard and Houses of Parliament, there are plenty of stunning and inspiring buildings for those who have a keen interest in design. Not only is the architecture visually stunning on the inside, it is also the same for its interior. What is the most aesthetically pleasing building in London? It would be truly hard to say!

  • Shopping

As London is part of the accolade of the fashion capitals in the world (New York, Paris and Milan) shopping should be on the list of things to do in London. The capital is known to be filled with designers and fashionistas who sets trends and knows the latest styles. Therefore, department stores and shops reflect the fashion that the capital is recognised for. Oxford Street has an array of shops to suit any style. It is also home to Selfridges; just one of the department stores which sells aspirational designer brands. For those who do want to indulge in these kind of brands, Mayfair and Knightsbridge are well known areas in London that provides such a service.

  • Weather depending and London is known for its unpredictable weather, a visit to the park is a lovely way to relax. Even though London is a built up and vibrant city, there are still places where people can relax and enjoy the peace that the city can offer. London in fact has eight royal parks and so it shows the importance of open space and greenery within the city. Hyde Park and Richmond Park are some of the popular parks that people like to visit.
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The UK’s Most Unusual Festivals

From cheese rolling to setting fire to a longship, there are plenty of quirky festivals taking place across the UK every year.  Whilst many of these festivals may, at first glance, appear to be simple madness, the majority actually have their roots in England’s diverse history and have been taking place for centuries.  If you’ve ever had a desire to take part in something truly unusual then here are some of the most unique festivals happening in 2015:

1. Falmouth’s International Sea Shanty Festival
This beach town in Cornwall plays host to one of the biggest maritime music concerts in the whole of Europe each summer.  Held over three days, this free festival has over 50 shanty groups entertaining thousands of visitors.  2014 was the festivals biggest ever year with over 261 hours of shanty singing and this year looks set to be even better.  Taking place on Friday 12th June to Sunday 14th June, this festival predominantly raises money for the RNLI and is held at more than 20 different venues across the seaside town.  Perhaps it is hard to believe that so many different sea shanties exist, but this is certainly worth experiencing if possible.

2. Totnes Orange Races
This August celebration is organised by the local Elizabethan Society to commemorate the day when Sir Francis Drake visited this Devon market town and knocked over a basket of oranges, sending them rolling down the street.  Entrants must throw or kick their oranges along the 450-metre course but in order to win, oranges must be at least partially intact when they cross the finishing line.  This year’s races take place on Tuesday 18th August.  It seems like a small and strange event to celebrate but the orange races continue to prove popular with Totnes locals and tourists alike.

3. Notting Hill, London
Whilst this incredibly well known festival may not, at first glace, strike you as unusual, when you consider the different elements which go into making it, then you may think again!  Since its debut in 1964, this carnival has grown at a rapid rate and now attracts more visitors than ever.  Music, masquerade, fine Caribbean food and colourful parades make up this stunning festival which undoubtedly takes place in one of the 30 most beautiful cities in Europe.  Hundreds of thousands of visitors will descend on the capital city for this August bank holiday festival so if you want to be a part of it, we suggest booking your hotel as soon as possible.  There are many great London Piccadilly hotels which would be an ideal choice.  Notting Hill is very easy to get to, so staying further afield from Notting Hill itself, such as in one of the London Piccadilly hotels would still make it fairly easy to reach the festival; just leave enough time to traverse the crowds of people with similar ideas!

4. Cheese Rolling, Gloucestershire
So extreme is this Gloucestershire celebration, which takes place every May bank holiday that there have even been campaigns for it to be banned.  This 15th century event occurs on the grassy slopes of Coopers Hill and involves contestants chasing a 9lb Double Gloucester cheese.  The cheese, which is released one second before the runners, can reach speeds of up to 70 miles an hour; posing a serious risk to onlookers should it veer off course.  The runners are not particularly safe either, despite usually being significantly behind the wheel of cheese.  Sprains and fractures are not unheard of.  Catching the cheese is very rare so the winner is usually the person who reaches the bottom of the hill first.

5. Fireball Whirling, Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire
On the last day of the year, the inhabitants of this small fishing town brave the cold to take part in this risky parade.  More than 30 people take part each year, walking through the town’s streets twirling balls of fire above their heads accompanied by a local band of bagpipers.  The fireballs are made from combustible materials such as coal and wood and are so large that onlookers have to be kept a significant distance away to prevent injury.  After the parade the fireballs are thrown into the North Sea and the entrants go from house to house seeking a dram of whisky; known as ‘first footing’ their neighbours.

If none of these festivals are local to you then why not search your own area to see if there is anything taking place close by?  With such a vast and varied history, you might be surprised to find your own county has its own unique festival which takes place each year.

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Last Minute London Breaks

Although there is a lot to be said for planning a trip well in advance; knowing where you are staying, buying advance tickets for attractions you want to see, the anticipation of the date marching ever closer, there is also something rather exciting about leaving on a last minute break.

You might decide on the spur of the moment to take a break and you simply search for the best value last minute deal or you might have had your eye on a trip to London for a while but decide to make the journey without much thought.  Whatever the reason there are many excellent London last minute hotels and deals to be found on the internet, and quite often they offer you the chance to stay in a higher rated level of accommodation than you might otherwise have been able to afford so it is well worth looking.  After all, even 4 and 5 star hotels don’t benefit from having empty rooms.

There are even websites which offer the opportunity to book a ‘secret hotel’, whereby you book the hotel without knowing the name of it in advance.  You are simply given the star rating, a brief description and the location.  Taking advantage of these secret hotels can result in a significant discount on the hotel rate and can also add another degree of excitement to your last minute trip: not even knowing where you are staying until you have already clicked to book and paid!  Perhaps this is not the type of adventure for the first time last-minute traveller however, especially if your usual mode of operation is to have absolutely everything laid out well in advance of stepping out of your front door.

Although much is often made of being able to purchase entrance tickets in advance of your trip, you don’t necessarily need to have decided what you want to see either.  London is a bustling and vibrant city which always has something going on so whether your interest lies in discovering London’s best urban running trails or exploring the hidden gems of the British Museum, you won’t be left disappointed.

One of the best things about going somewhere last minute is that sense of excitement and elation heading into the unknown.  This might feel like your idea of a worst nightmare but why not give it a try?  You never know, you might find that you thoroughly enjoy not having every single second of your trip mapped out and simply heading where your whims take you.  It can be very freeing to not feel as though you have a set agenda of attractions you need to take a photograph of, restaurants you need to experience and designer store windows you need to wish over.

Of course, leaving things to the last minute does also have its downsides and this is where you will need to let go of your expectations and learn to go with the flow.  The majority (if not all) of London’s very best restaurants are likely to be booked up months in advance so you may find you have to compromise on where you go to eat; of course if you have secured a good deal at one of the London last minute hotels then you may find there is a restaurant attached to your hotel and so it will be a moot point.  You may have to pay full entrance fees if there is a particular attraction that you absolutely have your heart set on visiting (although with the advancement of smart technology you may be able to purchase discounted tickets using your phone or tablet as you travel down to London, no matter how last minute it might be).

But equally, not having a set plan may open you up to experiences you would otherwise have missed out on.  Not having somewhere organised to eat might lead you down a winding London street where you discover that hidden gem all the locals love to hang out at and eat on a Friday night.  You may come across routes around the city which you hadn’t otherwise considered and get to experience the stunning London skyline from a new and different perspective.  Even simply the act of letting go of the structure of your usual trips may change your view on your trip and you never know, you could end up having the very best experience of your life.  It could alter the entire way you consider city breaks and open you up to a new way of travelling locally and internationally.

Alternatively, you may hate every single minute but at least you will have given something new a try and, the next time your partner or friend suggests heading somewhere last minute, you will know without a doubt that you aren’t the kind of person who can do this and enjoy it!

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Heathrow Layover

There are many reasons why you may only be stopping off in London for a short period of time.  You may be attending a business meeting with a short turnaround time, have an extended layover between connecting flights or are simply stopping overnight on your way to somewhere else in the UK.  Whilst a short trip may not seem like the best of London breaks there’s no reason why you should be cooped up inside your hotel room or the airport lounge if you don’t need to be.

The key to making the most of short London breaks is to visit attractions which are local to your hotel or the airport.  London is a vast and sprawling city and it would simply be folly to choose an attraction on the opposite side of the city if you only have a couple of hours to spare before you have to head back to the airport.

Heathrow airport is situated just 15 miles from the centre of London and is well connected with the Heathrow Express, numerous bus services and the tube but when planning to visit the city from the airport you need to bear in mind the time it will take you to pass through security, and allow yourself enough time to get back and through airport security on your return.  On average it takes an hour to pass through immigration and security, an hour to travel into the city and an hour to travel back.  You then need to ensure that you have factored in enough time to pass back through security which could be 1 to 2 hours.  In total this equates to 5 hours which may be the total length of your layover time!  If you have longer than this then of course, it is entirely feasible to spend some time sightseeing in the capital but it is worth having this information to hand so that you aren’t caught on and accidentally miss your connecting flight: not even the promise of Buckingham Palace should be worth missing your ongoing flight.

A popular option with travellers is to ensure that their layover is overnight so that they can book themselves into one of the many hotels surrounding the airport.  Even if your flight is first thing in the morning it is entirely possible to secure a Heathrow hotel with breakfast starting early 6am and many hotels close to the airport will even offer a wake up call so there is no risk that you will oversleep and miss your flight the following morning.  If you are travelling long-haul then having a break to allow you to rest and recuperate may be the ideal option and with Heathrow having over 1,000 flights a day it should be entirely possible to have a prolonged gap between your incoming flight and your departure.

If you don’t fancy travelling into Central London then an option which many visitors opt for is to visit Windsor Castle; a 40 minute bus journey or a 20 minute taxi ride away from Heathrow Airport.  First time visitors to the UK couldn’t fail to be awed by the iconic round tower and huge walls.  Not to mention the history surrounding the Castle; it has been home to England’s Royal Family for almost 1,000 years.  It was built by William the Conqueror and is the largest, and oldest, occupied castle in the world with The Queen often in residence at weekends.  A typical visit to the Castle can last between 2 and 3 hours although if you simply want to escape the confines of the airport you could just take a look at the impressive exterior of the Castle and take in the fresh air in the 13 acres which make up Windsor Castle and the grounds.

If you desperately want to head into Central London then we would suggest choosing just a couple of attractions that take priority.  Depending on the time you are travelling you may get caught up in commuter foot traffic, find large queues for the tube and so on which can all add time on to your allocated layover period.  Whilst you can’t always factor these in, if you try to cram too much into your trip into the city then you may find yourself delayed and risk missing your connecting flight.

Of course as we mentioned above, all this can be negated if you ensure that your connecting flight takes place the following day.  Not only will you be able to get a good night’s sleep in a real bed but you will also open up a whole section of time for exploring the fascinating and diverse city of London which is a real must, especially if you are a first time visitor to the UK.  There are many wonderful attractions such as the Coca-Cola London Eye, the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace and so on which all feature on ‘must see’ lists across the world!

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Staying Outside London

There are lots of reasons why a traveller may want to secure a hotel at a budget rate.  You may have a limited amount of money to spend on your adventuring, or you may simply enjoy knowing that you haven’t paid over the odds for your hotel accommodation.  Whatever the reason, if you are looking to come to London and want to save some vital pennies then you might want to consider the possibility of staying outside of Central London.

There are lots of debates about whether staying away from Central London hotels is a false economy and really, this comes down to what your plans are once you are in the capital city.  If you want to play the tourist game and visit attractions which are all within the City of London then you may find that the cost of your travel outweighs the savings you have made on your hotel rate.  However, you may be surprised at the number of interesting attractions which are outside of Zones 1 and 2 and so your travel may not cost as much as you think.  To weigh these two things up, it may be worth using the Transport for London website to compare fares before booking your hotel.

If staying in Central London is unavoidable because of your plans then worry not; there are plenty of cheap London hotels deals to be found if you know where to look.  This might mean scouring the internet looking at third party websites, it could be calling hotels directly and seeing what special offers they have or it might be waiting until the last minute and booking whatever hotel comes along at the right price.  Even a simple internet search for cheap London hotels deals may throw up some interesting results.

Of course if you plan to explore further afield, and the attractions on your list all happen outside the City of London then it could be that staying outside of areas within Central London is the right choice for you.  Heathrow Airport Hotels are a real boon for travellers and often have fantastic deals running, even if you aren’t planning on catching a flight anytime soon.  Staying close to the airport will put you within easy reach of Windsor Castle, which is well worth exploring, and you will also be situated on excellent transport lines.  There is the Heathrow Express which takes you direct to Paddington Station as well as numerous bus and tube services which can allow you further explore the rest of the city.

Another great reason to stay outside of Central London would be if you are planning on taking any day trips, such as to Bath, Cambridge or Oxford.  As long as choose a hotel which is situated close to a train station you should have no issue with exploring a wider area.  The Cotswolds and Bath in particular are favourite day trips from those staying near to, or in London, and don’t necessarily require hiring a car.  In fact, they are very easy to access by public transport and it is entirely possible to visit and return in one day, although you may find that you prefer to book overnight accommodation to fully allow you to enjoy your time in the area.  If you want to hire a car then staying outside of Central London will mean you miss the terrible traffic the city is famous for as well as avoiding having to pay the congestion charge.

If you are still unsure about whether to stay within Central London or not then consider that the ‘Commuter Belt’ of London is made up of a 60 mile circular radius around the city.  Many people do this journey every single day, twice a day so you can surely do it for a short break!  If you choose to stay somewhere within the Commuter Belt then you could stay in such picturesque places as Amersham, Brighton, Arundel and even Oxford or Cambridge.  All these places would be significantly cheaper to stay in and all have excellent transport links to the capital city.  You could even arrange to stay a few days within the heart of the capital city and a few days somewhere else, giving you plenty of time to explore the best of both worlds.

Ultimately, whether you choose to stay within the heart of London or elsewhere will be determined by your plans and whether you are happy with a fair amount of travelling.  To really get a good deal you may find you need to stay an hour’s distance away from the capital which may not be at all what you are looking for in which case it might be better to increase the amount you are willing to spend on your accommodation so that your daily travel is reduced.

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Go Antique Hunting in London

Shopping for antiques can be a wonderful way to pass the time, whether you are looking for a specific item to furnish your home or you simply enjoy the atmosphere of the markets and find browsing an enjoyable way to spend the day.  There’s nothing better than discovering a beautiful trinket or treasure and taking it back home with you, especially if you have managed to secure it for a bargain price.  London has to be one of the best cities in which to go antique hunting, there are plenty of flea markets, antique malls and hidden gems to explore and discover; just make sure you have your bartering head on!

If you’ve never been antique shopping before and would like to give it a go, then here are our top tips, as well as our advice on the best places to head when in London.  You could even make a weekend of it, and spend your time off work exploring all the different options.  Just make sure you have got yourself booked into one of the best London hotels so you have a great base in which to house the goodies you will no doubt come home laden with at the end of the day!

Firstly it might be worth discussing what makes an item ‘antique’.  Typically, an item must be at least 100 years old to qualify for the term.  If it is less than 100 years, it may be referred to as ‘vintage’.  Another term which is often bandied about is ‘collectibles’; these can be any age and simply refer to an item which is popular.  Unless you are particularly bothered about buying an antique these labels shouldn’t matter too much, especially for first-timers but it is worth bearing in mind so that sellers don’t attempt to bamboozle you.  Don’t pay a higher price tag for an antique unless you are absolutely certain that is what you are getting!

Do Your Research
This is important if there is a particular item you are in the market for.  If there is a certain vintage pattern you are looking for, or a type of china tea set then have a quick look online before you go to any fairs and compare the sort of price you might expect to pay.  This will put you in a better position for bartering, and will make it less likely for you to end up paying over the odds.  If you are a complete novice or you don’t have anything particular in mind then maybe spend some time wandering around the stalls and seeing what is on offer before you jump in and start making purchases.

Don’t Be Afraid to Haggle
This is practically expected an antique fairs and flea markets so don’t be afraid to give it a go.  Some things to bear in mind:

  • Be fair; remember that this is probably the seller’s livelihood.
  • Don’t be a cheapskate; there’s a marked difference between being frugal and appearing like a cheapskate.  You want the seller to like you, and want to sell to you which they are unlikely to do if they just think you are out to grind them down to their bottom line.
  • Don’t take the first price; despite the above, remember that the seller will expect a certain amount of negotiation.  If a seller isn’t happy with the amount of profit they will make from your offer then they won’t sell, simple as so why not ask?

It’s Okay to Be Excited
Something which is often touted at people heading to their first antiques fair is to not appear too excited otherwise the seller will try and take you for a ride.  Whilst this is true to some extent, appearing too cool can also be off-putting.  You don’t know the story of the item and it may be that the seller is looking for someone who knows what they are buying.  It is perfectly acceptable to show interest and a small amount of excitement if you find something that you want.  Not to mention that it will come in handy when you begin to haggle as the seller will think you are genuinely interested in the item and simply want to get the best price and you are not just a cheapskate (see point above).

As we mentioned above, London is a wonderful place to experience antique shopping.  Once you’ve got your accommodation at one of the best London hotels sorted, get ready to jump right in.  We would recommend the following places:-

Alfie’s Antique Market
Located in north Marylebone, Alfie’s has over 100 dealers and has been open for over 30 years making it a well respected and reputed market.  It is ideal if you want to hunt out some real treasures.  Whilst this is a place for serious sellers and dealers to gather don’t be put off; the more experienced sellers are usually the friendliest and most helpful.

Portobello Road Market
This Notting Hill market is probably one of the most famous markets in the entire world.  The antiques market takes place on a Saturday and although often busy and crowded it is well worth a wander.

Grays Antiques
Grays Antiques is housed in two buildings in London’s Mayfair.  There is plenty on offer here from vintage fashion to fine antiques.  It may feel like a maze but spend some time getting your bearings and you find much to delight and discover here.

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Shaftesbury Suites and Easter Events

Shaftesbury Suites are ideally located to a number of events taking place throughout the year in London. Tourists swarming in from different countries, in particular, tend to gravitate towards the range of festivities due to the holiday mood they’re in. During April, visitors to the capital will be ecstatic to know that the Easter periodhas an exciting range of special occasions. And so, staying in the Shaftesbury Suites during this month presents you with a delightful opportunity. One of the events taking place during this period is the famous London Marathon.The 26 mile running event has been a mainstay in the capital since the 1908 Olympics. You won’t necessarily have to take part; you can simply mill the surrounding streets on the day to get a sense of what it represents. It’s been going on for so many years, and is a cherished national event and so we whole heartedly recommend you take part just by being outside on the day on the April 26th 2015.

In a way, a number of events taking place in London don’t necessarily need active participation. Sometimes it can be enough to take pleasure in the pervading atmosphere. For instance, between the 3rd of April and the 6th of April, the country is treated to a whole four days of holidays and the weather tends to be a little warmer. You can simply take a stroll through the parks, streets and avenues, taking delight in the more casual atmosphere. After all, it’s not often that the urbane, cosmopolitan city of London takes a pause. Frantic, passionate, and dynamic are the words that best describe the city. In the break, you’ll find that everything seems to imbue a greater sense of relaxation. And so, it’s a wise decision to visit the Shaftesbury suites in the capital in April, especially if you’re after a more peaceful, serene holiday.

Many London attractions will have family friendly events. And you might very well find that the Shaftesbury suites will provide you with Easter Packages worth booking in advance. Either way, it’s clear so far that there are a host of benefits to visiting the city during April. The sun begins to shine a little more, and the daffodils begin to bloom, while the quaint royal Parks suddenly become more attractive to visit, as the cold winds of the past few months begin to settle.

Other events taking place during this period include the WWE Raw &Smackdown at the o2 Arena, perfect for a family outing for a thrilling, fun time. You’ll also find that Canary Wharf during the bank holiday weekend early April will have face-paintings, costumed characters, and family games while Kew Gardens will be hosting a traditional Easter Egg Hunt. In short, the Shaftesbury suites pit you right in the centre of it all.

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