London a shopper’s dream come true

If you are a shopaholic London is just the perfect city to indulge yourself. You could go ahead and take one of those well known London breaks from a busy business schedule, when in the city and check out the latest in fashion trends and haute couture that the city has to offer. When it comes to retail therapy London has loads of eclectic offerings to choose from. In fact the city itself is renowned for its diversity in all spheres from culture to cuisine, music to languages. It is this singular aspect that gives the city its vibrancy and own identity.

If you plan to shop then some of the main districts where you could shop till you drop are Oxford Street, Covent Garden, Kensington, Piccadilly and Regent Street among others. It will keep you busy during your trip and all you need to ensure that you have rather deep pockets to splurge on shopping. If you do plan to shop for toys for the kids then your one stop destination ought to be Hamleys of London, which offers an amazing array of toys for kids of all age groups. You will be amazed with the variety of toys on sale and you can bet the kids will love it!

Then of course there are those iconic landmarks which make London a shopping haven. Harrods and Selfridges the names are synonymous with shopping in style and the best bit is you will gt some incredible deals here, especially during the festive season when promotional offers and discounts are galore. With scores of boutiques and retail outlets you will be overwhelmed with options to choose from and places to buy from. London is the epicenter of high fashion and no better place to experience it than Oxford Street with its upscale and trendy shopping outlets.

While you are in the area if you feel like taking a break after a long spell of shopping drop in at Carlyle’s House in London which was home to Thomas and Jane Carlyle. Thomas was a brilliant essayist and historian while his wife was an accomplished woman of letters with their charming home being host to Dickens, Tennyson and Chopin among other celebrities of that era. You will love the quaint and cosy atmosphere of the place with all its original Victorian furniture, belongings and interiors.

A welcome diversion, before you catch up with your shopping spree once again!

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London’s pride – The Shard

London, with its historical buildings, palaces and tourist attractions is the hottest tourist spot, perhaps in the whole of Europe.

What makes the city all the more exciting is that it is a perfect blend of the modern with the medieval and this makes it a magnet to tourists from all over the world.

One of the most breathtaking modern architectural additions to the London landscape has been The Shard. The name is befitting because at first glance the edifice looks like an agglomeration of the shards of glass clumped together. Some other rather interesting facts of this brilliant architecturalmasterpiece are:

It stands an impressive 310 m and has 95 storeys, which help it qualify as one of the tallest structures in Western Europe. It was the brainchild of the renowned architect Renzo Piano who wanted a structure to reflect the changing London vista. The most intriguing part is that it is made of recyclable material with over 95% of construction material and approx 50% of recyclable steel. Its three layers of glass skin minimises heat while allowing light to filter in. This leads to a fall in carbon emissions and makes it one of the most eco-friendly buildings in London.

Despite its positive features it did not find favour with local planners and English Heritage, who were highly scathing and even stated it would be akin to “a shard of glass through the heart of historic London” whence the name was derived. With amazing views of up to 40 miles on a clear day, it offers a most spectacular sight of London’s skyline. There are 72 floors inhabited with offices, shops and restaurants, residential apartments and even a 5 star hotel. Some of the best London hotels cannot offer the unparalleled views that the Shard offers its residents and visitors.

Its pyramidal shape that has approximately 11,000 panes of glass, gives it a most distinct and ritzy look quite unlike any other structure in its surroundings. It embraces a futuristic look that would make it contemporary even in the next century. Although entry fee to the building is a bit steep it is well worth a visit.

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Enjoy an amazing weekend at Hyde Park

If you are in London on a business trip and are on the lookout for suitable accommodation, then the hotels at Hyde Park London are out of the best places to stay.

One of the biggest advantages is that they are centrally located, so travel to different parts of the city is relatively easy. In terms of food, drink and entertainment there are ample restaurants, bars and places to explore so you can have a most enjoyable trip to the city. If you have time to spare on weekends you could spend time exploring the following places:

When you tour Hyde Park you will find the Serpentine, a placid lake that is located spot in the middle of the Park. It was the venue for all the swimming events of the 2012 Olympics and is accessible to the public for swimming as well as boating. The provenance of the lake is a natural spring. For those who are keen about modern art there is the Serpentine Gallery which is located at Kensington Gardens. You will be thoroughly impressed with their vast collection of Modern Art that rivals many of the top galleries in the city.

weekend at Hyde Park
If you feel like indulging yourself you could go in for some luxury shopping at one of the most exclusive districts in London, Mayfair which is synonymous with luxury. It is a short stroll away to the east of Hyde Park and can be accessed via Park Lane. For sheer opulence you can drop in at Harrods, where you can spend the entire afternoon admiring its elegant displays and visiting the numerous shops, boutiques and retail outlets in this most iconic of shopping centres. Its post-Christmas sale is out of the most renowned in the world with some terrific discounts to be had. It lies to the South end of the Park and lies on Brompton Road.

There are other prominent landmarks in the area as well such as Knightsbridge, Buckingham Palace, Kensington Roof Gardens and Constitution Hill among other tourist attractions that will ensure that you will never have a dull moment on weekends.

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Be a part of the Museums at Night Events

For those who are in London this summer there are a wide variety of events lined up, with one of the most anticipated being the Museums at Night events in 2014.

For all those who love to visit museums, this is a once in a lifetime event to experience, especially if you are new to London!

We all have visited a museum at some time or the other during daylight, but visiting it after twilight has a totally different feel to it. It makes things come alive and the experience can be totally unbelievable bordering on the surreal for some. You can take along the kids to what would be a most unique experience and the events that will unfold will leave them mesmerized to say the least.

The Museums at Night Events opens on the 15th of May and is on up to the 17th of May 2014. It has become an annual festival held all over the UK and was started with the idea of promoting the public to visit galleries, museums and heritage sites. It has gained popularity with a large segment of the population who find it extremely convenient to drop in at the events in the evening after-hours as it does not require them to skip work.

London museums night events
The event is mainly supported and funded by the Arts Council of England while additional funding is provided by Grants for the Arts for the special Connect 10 competition that is held.What makes the event period all the more special is that falls just before 18 May which is celebrated as International Museums Day.

From art to architecture, music to archeology there is a vast range of areas that are covered with events lined up for all. A great way to spend one’s evening learning about British heritage and culture and the diversity of cosmopolitan Britain. You could make reservations in a Paddington hotel for your trip, as it will offer you convenient access to different venues in the city and spend a glorious evening enjoying the panorama unfold in a vibrant and cerebrally stimulating atmosphere.

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Making the Most of London

Making the most of a trip to London means planning your days out very carefully, making sure that you’ll be visiting the landmarks, museums and historic places that you truly find fascinating, and seeking out those unusual places off the beaten track. If you’re visiting London for the first time, then the chances are that you’ll want to visit places like Buckingham Palace, the British Museum and Trafalgar Square – the famous landmarks and attractions that are certain to feature on any tourists ‘must see’ list. If you’ve been a few times, however, or even if it’s your first visit and wish to avoid the crowds of tourists, then there are lesser known but equally fascinating places to seek out, places that give a real feeling for the multi-layered life of a city the size of London, and the following are just a few of them:

The Hunterian Museum – this museum is based in the Royal College of Surgeons, at Lincoln’s Inn and offers something a little bit different to the average museum. The displays consist of surgical and anatomical specimens in jars, surgical instruments and, perhaps most bizarrely of all, a set of Winston Churchill’s dentures. Admission to the museum is free.

Davenports Magic Shop – just around the corner from Charing Cross Station lies this fascinating celebration of all things magical – a real life Harry Potter shop would be an accurate way to describe it. Not only is it crammed with magic tricks, props and items, but the members of staff will happily perform tricks to let you see how they work.

Secret Cinema – the Secret Cinema isn’t a place, it’s a concept. When you buy a ticket, you don’t know what film you’re going to see, but what you do know is that seeing it will be an unforgettable experience. The organisers will tell you where to go, and when you turn up you’ll be watching a film in a venue which has been themed to match it. For example, prison drama The Shawshank Redemption was screened in a disused school which had been transformed into a prison for the night.

Angels Costumiers – this theatrical costume agency has been providing costumes for stage and film productions since 1840. An indication of their prestige is the fact that, over the years, their costume design skills have garnered no fewer than 34 Oscars. Contact them to book an in-depth behind the scenes tour, taking in a selection of more than 2 million items.

Chiselhurst Caves – situated outside central London, these caves are a 30 minute train journey from London Bridge, but are more than worth the effort.  The 22 miles of cave were created by man, digging out the chalk and stone used to construct the original buildings of London. During the Second World War they were used as air raid shelters, and in the 1960’s were a somewhat unusual venue for rock and pop concerts, with artists such as Pink Floyd, David Bowie and The Rolling Stones playing concerts there.

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Being a Tourist Needn’t Stop You Eating Well

Eating and drinking when you’re staying in London can be an expensive business. The bulk of every day you spend in the city will be spent exploring the various tourist spots, landmarks and attractions, with stopping to refresh yourself becoming almost an afterthought. As a result, visitors often resort to making use of a museum or gallery café – often excellent but almost always very expensive – or, through sheer force of habit, a big high street franchise, which is reliable, but a little bit dull. The truth, however, is that London is packed with excellent cafes serving delicious food from all around the world at highly affordable prices. The following is a list of a few which, conveniently, are placed just around the corner from some of the capital’s most popular tourist attractions:

The British Museum
Abeno, 47 Museum Street. A Japanese restaurant serving delicious and authentic dishes, often frequented by young Japanese people looking for a taste of home.

The Natural History Museum, the Science Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum
Casa Brindisa, 7-9 Exhibition Road. Tapas restaurant on the same road as all three of the museums.
Le Bistrot, 17 Queensberry Place. French café which offers a huge self-service buffet offering 15 different salads, soups, quiches and so on.  Prices start at just £6.75.


Buckingham Palace
Goya, 34 Lupus Street. This may be a short walk away from the Palace, but it’s worth the effort thanks to the menu of delicious Spanish tapas.
L’Arco, 79 Buckingham Palace Road. Traditional Italian family restaurant offering pizzas, pasta and much more besides.  With starters from £6, pizza and pasta from £8 and fish and meat from £12, you can feed the family without breaking the bank.

Tate Modern
The Table, 83 Southwark Street. Modern, canteen style café which is excellent for families looking for lunch.
The Refinery, 110 Southwark Street. Sharing boards and salads are the best things on offer here, along with a highly impressive cocktail menu. Mains start at just £10.

London Eye
Skylon Grill, Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road. Offers the same kind of stunning views you’ve just been enjoying on the London Eye, as well as a menu which includes delicious burgers and excellent options for children.

Inn the Park, St James Park. As well as the food – simple dishes prepared using local produce – this café offers a relaxed scenic setting and a tranquil atmosphere.

Trafalgar Square
Da Polpo, 6 Maiden Lane. This restaurant, in the heart of Covent Garden, is a Venetian bacaro café, which means that it serves small plates of foods such as meatballs or mini pizzas, for approximately £5.

British Library
Eat St Market, Kings Boulevard. This is a selection of mobile food stalls which pops up weekly between Wednesday and Friday. The food available includes delicacies such as burritos, slow cook pork yum buns and bahni mi, all for around £5.

St Pauls
Exmouth Market. The market is about a 30 minute walk from St Pauls but well worth the effort on a Monday to Friday when there is a food market from 12 noon to 3 pm, serving food from all around the world from just £5.

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Four Tips for Your Springtime Trip to London

Plan your trip but be flexible as well

The size of London and the sheer number of attractions you’re likely to want to see will mean that a large degree of pre-planning is imperative. Knowing, for example, which Tube trains to catch, where you can get something delicious but affordable to eat just around the corner from the attraction you’re visiting, and exactly what the opening times of your favoured attractions are, will mean that you get to spend the maximum amount of time actually enjoying yourself. If you plan every single second of your trip down to the smallest detail, however, then you’ll rob yourself of the chance of the kind of surprise discoveries that can make a trip extra special. One of the most rewarding and satisfying ways of exploring London is simply to wander the streets and see what you find – no matter which part of the city you’re in, it’s inevitable that you’ll stumble across a fascinating building, a quiet, hidden garden or an interesting landmark. The way to get the most out of a trip, then, is to divide the days between well organised, pre-planned trips to specially chosen attractions and a couple of hours spent simply wandering at will.

Parks and Gardens
If you’re visiting London in the spring then there’s a chance that you’ll get to enjoy some sunshine and if you do then it’s imperative that you take advantage of the opportunity to enjoy some of the city’s green spaces. The common conception of London is of a large and bustling concrete jungle, the skyline peppered with ever more spectacular skyscrapers, and this is what large parts of the city are indeed like, but it is also a place with more than its’ fair share of parks and gardens, offering a sense of tranquillity and a break from the relentless pace of city life. Parks such as Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens are pretty hard to miss, thanks to their size and central location, but it’s also well worth taking the time to experience smaller, more intimate spaces such as Holland park in West London, which has its’ own Kyoto Japanese garden, Victoria Park in Hackney, which is the oldest purpose built park in the city and Barnes Green, to the south west of the city, which has all

Lunch in Style
London contains some of the world’s finest restaurants, many of them with one or two Michelin stars. An evening meal at a place like this may be beyond the budget of most people, but a good tip is to look out for the special lunchtime deals many restaurants run, with set two or three course menus available at a much reduced price.

Pack for the Weather
Even though you’re visiting during the spring, it would be a mistake to assume that you’re going to be enjoying warm and sunny weather. The British weather is notoriously changeable, so it would be wise to pack items such as a lightweight waterproof jacket.

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6 Tips For Making the Most of Your Trip

One of the challenges facing anyone enjoying a trip to London is making sure that you get the most out of the visit. The truth is that there is such a thing as too much choice, that a city like the UK capital offers so many options and choices that, if you’re not careful, you can end up spending all of your time dithering between different possibilities and end up only doing half of what you want to. Procrastinating in this manner can impact hugely upon the pleasure you derive from your stay in London, so it’s vital that you adopt some tactics, such as those listed below, to make your decisions quickly and decisively:

1.    Focus – think about what you’ve come to London to enjoy and focus sharply upon making this happen. It could be visiting historical buildings, touring the many world class galleries or taking advantage of some business or employment issues. Whatever it is that you’re seeking to get out of your trip, make sure that it is at the centre of your planning.

2.    Write it Down – thinking about something for too long can lead to it becoming muddled and over complicated in your head. Write down the things you wish to prioritise and it will be much clearer, and a written document will give you the basis of a plan for your visit which can be referred to at any time.

3.    Break it Down – organising a visit to London from scratch can seem like an epic task, with multiple issues such as transport, accommodation and attractions which need to be booked in advance piling up on top of you. Keep things manageable by breaking the whole trip up into smaller ‘mini-tasks’, concentrating on one – booking a hotel room for example – before moving on to the next.

4.    Plan each Day – make sure that you know, when you get out of bed in the morning, what you’re going to be doing on any given day. Monday could be museum day, for example, while Tuesday is the day you spend in the park and Wednesday is put aside for shopping. Remain flexible, however, since circumstances could get in the way. If it’s raining on Tuesday, for example, then spend that day indoors and make another day the day you spend in the park.

5.    Early Start – a trip to London can be an exhausting business, due to the size of the city in general, the sheer numbers of people you have to share the streets, buildings, trains and busses with and the many attractions you’ll be hoping to visit. Resist the temptation to sleep in, however, since you’ll regret the time wasted when you get back home. A comfortable hotel offering a good night’s sleep will mean you’re far more likely to rise early feeling refreshed and ready to start again.

6.    Slow down – the temptation to rush from one place to another can be very difficult to resist, but slowing down a little will mean you appreciate the places you do visit much more. It may seem counter intuitive, but hurrying can sometimes result in you actually achieving less in the time.

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Let the Locals Show You Around London

There are literally thousands of guide books written about the city of London, detailing the history of the city as a whole, or zooming in on certain facets of its’ story or particular districts. Reading books of this kind is an excellent way to prepare for your stay in London, and to make sure that you don’t miss anything, but there is one way of getting to know London on a much deeper level, and that’s to go on a walking tour guided by a local. The kind of tours in question concentrate on small corners of the city, and are given by people who have lived there for years, and so will be able to tell you about the quirky facts, secret corners, hidden side streets and cunning shortcuts which only a local would know about, and which the guide books so often ignore. Walks of this kind, what’s more, can be tailored to suit your individual needs, pairing you with a local who has personal knowledge of a subject you might be interested in, such as history, sport, architecture or street art.

The organisation which runs guided walks of this kind is known as Global Greeters and was founded in 1992 in New York, when a woman named Lynn Brooks decided that there should be a way of showing visitors to New York the city as she knew it, which meant introducing them to smaller shops, friendly locals and quirky neighbourhoods. The idea caught on to such a degree that it is now active all over the world, with every walk being hosted free of charge by a local volunteer who is proud of their city and wishes to show it off in the best possible light.

When you book a walk with a global greeter, you are able to tweak and alter it to exactly meet your needs. The walks can cater for groups of up to six and, when booking, you can detail any particular interests you might have in order to ensure that these are covered in the walk. It’s also possible to highlight ant accessibility issues you or a member of your party might have, and also to ask for a walk which is guided in a language other than English. In short, you can work with the Global Greeter organisation to create a walk which is exactly what you want it to be.

The areas of London which are currently covered by the Global greeting network include Camden, Stratford, Greenwich, Epping Forest, Woolwich, Green Street, Eltham, Canary Wharf and the Docklands, Hackney, St Katharine’s Dock and Wapping, Hoxton and Shoreditch, Brick lane and Spitalfields, Newham and Walthamstow. As can be seen from this list, the scheme covers many and varied parts of the city, from the woodland and bridleways of Epping Forest to the multicultural vibrancy and street art of Brick Lane. After going on a walk guided by a local who has been steeped in the atmosphere of a certain district for years, you’ll genuinely feel as if you know the place like someone who has lived there.

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London through the Ages

One of the many facets of London which draws in visitors from all over the world is its’ rich and deep sense of history. This can be seen in the very layout of the streets themselves, which is eclectic, haphazard and mixed in a sharp contrast to the straight lines and grid patterns to be found in more modern cities such as Paris and New York. Simply walking the streets is a lesson in history in its’ own terms, before even mentioning buildings such as the Tower of London and the Palace of Westminster.

London has changed immeasurably over the centuries, since it was first established as a trading post by the Romans, and these changes are detailed in countless books, and articles which chronicle the dramatic social, architectural and financial upheavals which have led to the city’s modern status as one of the most important in the world. One excellent and more entertaining way of delving into the London of the past, however, is to enjoy some of the literature which has been set in the city over the years. In many of the examples, the city becomes almost a character in the story being told, and the fact that the examples date back as far as medieval times means that a complete picture of the development of London can be pieced together.

Samuel Pepys Diary – Samuel Pepys. Pepys was a naval Administrator and Member of Parliament in the 1600’s who, for a decade, kept a detailed and highly readable account of life in London. As well as the details of day to day life in the capital, Pepys was on hand to record eyewitness accounts of events such as the Great Fire of London and the Great Plague. It’s possible to read his descriptions of certain streets whilst still walking along those same streets and noting that very little has actually changed.

Vile Bodies – Evelyn Waugh. Set in 1920’s London, this novel revolves around the lives of a group of people described as ‘Bright Young Things’. These were the rich and feckless young men and women who were the equivalent of today’s It Girls and Party Animals and the novel captures the essence of London as it started to become a truly modern city.

Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens. Almost all of Dickens novels are set in London, and the city becomes a character in the stories being told, with Dickens determined to chronicle and attack the terrible conditions which poor people of the time were forced to live in. Oliver Twist, with its’ workhouses, gangs of thieving children and squalid drinking dens is an excellent example of his work.

The Secret Agent – Joseph Conrad. This is a tale of spies and terrorists set in 1886, but which has strong contemporary resonance. The agent of the title is attempting to infiltrate and undermine a gang of anarchists determined to wreak havoc on the streets of the city.

Sherlock Holmes – Arthur Conan Doyle. Probably the only fictional character to have his own museum in London, the detective Sherlock Holmes is as popular today as he has ever been, and though Doyle’s London of swirling fog, horse drawn carriages and cobbled streets has changed beyond recognition, the image of the city which he created endures and appeals.

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