I’m writing this because living in London has its ups and downs. I also just came back from holiday in Spain and I LOVED IT, so I have a bit of the vacation blues. I wrote a similar article about Toronto last year when I returned from Martinique, and it really helped me fall in love with the city again. Finding reasons that London is awesome and sharing them with people has really helped me appreciate having the opportunity to live here. Not only do I get to live in a city that a lot of people only dream of living in, I get to be close to the person I love. That person is also sick of my whingeing. 🙂
Last summer, I did a road trip around the US & Canada and visted Manitoulin Island with my aunt. It also happens to be a year ago this month that I came to visit my partner and meet most of his friends and family for the first time. The last time I visited the UK was in March 2005, and it was rainy and cold most of the time. That being said, we spent most of that time in Wales so it’s probably not that surprising!
I realized that London would actually make an awesome summer travel destination! We walked around, took day trips to Cambridge, Windsor (totally crashed the Royal Ascot by accident!), and Horsham, went to a BBQ and relaxed on a rooftop patio at a club in Camden. Don’t let the idea of a rainy vacation deter you – I’m looking out the window at blue skies, sunshine and a cool breeze, so here are some reasons you should send London to the top of your summer travel list:
It’s Super Popular
For many holidaymakers, popularity is a turn off, but in this case it’s not too bad. It means you’ll meet a lot of fellow travellers, or better yet, you probably have friends that live here. The craze for this city comes from the fact that it’s full of life and full of young people – one of which should be YOU!
The Food is Better Than you Think
My partner used to tell me about traditional English dishes that have really weird names: Bubble & Squeak, Eton Mess, Toad in the Hole, Roly Poly… They didn’t really sound very appetizing. But this is London, folks, and there are experimental eateries, Michelin star restaurants, and a surprising number of amazing pop-ups and food trucks.
I wanted to re-live my bokit eating days of Martinique and found Bokit-La at Ally Pally market. There’s a chocolate restaurant called Rabot 1745 that I’ve been dying to go to – there’s chocolate in every dish! My friend Brenna and I went to a restaurant called Open Kitchen where hospitality students at London City practise their skills. We had a gourmet meal at a very low price – in Shoreditch nonetheless! Also near my work is Red Dog Saloon – a diner that serves up awesome American food. After a particularly late night out, I may or may not have eaten a hot dog called The King. It has peanut butter, jelly, and bacon on it. Mouthgasm.
I’ve written about the awesome food tour that helped me discover history and culture in East London and the Korean restaurant cum hair salon in Cambridge Heath. Whether it’s Indian, Chinese, Thai, American, Eritrean, or just plain old English pub food you crave, you won’t be disappointed.
And for the record, Toad in the Hole is pretty damn delicious.
There’s Accommodation for Every Budget
There are really nice hostels you can stay in, in very central locations for much less than you would imagine. I wrote about a couple of them here.
If you have a bit more of a luxury budget, some of the most popular hotels in London come from the group of Accor Hotels. For more of a personal experience, it’s always worth taking a look at AirBnB. It’s a great way to pick a particular neighbourhood and get to know it really well.
Also, I’m sure if you do a quick search of your Facebook friends, at least one of them lives in London! momondo actually has a really cool app called Friend Compass that helps you find your friends locations and calculates the lowest flight cost. I recommend playing around with it because it’s actually pretty fun, and it might just inspire a trip!
You’ve Not Shopped Like This Before
Oxford Street has all of your high street brands and I’ve visited it regularly. Not for myself, because I don’t really like to shop, but my partner does a thorough job of exploring every shop before he buys nothing. Oh, indecision… [He replies: “It’s not indecision, it’s endeavouring to make the right decision.]. Blegh.
Add to that markets like Brick Lane, Notting Hill, and Covent Garden and you’re spoiled for choice.
Culture is Free
As it should be! I’m of the opinion that cost shouldn’t be a deterrent to someone experiencing art and culture. High prices and my budget have often prevented me from going into museums and galleries while travelling and that saddens me. Even if museums aren’t your thing, history is all around in London. The City makes it easy to discovery the past too: they put plaques anywhere that something interesting has happened.
In fact, on a balcony at right next to my building in Finsbury Park there is a sign that says the Beatles played in the flat. Maybe it was once a pub or concert venue before being converted!
See? Visiting London allows you to explore a city with undeniable historical and cultural richness.
London is very accessible
The Tube and buses will take you anywhere you need to go. Apps make your life easier in London, and they can make your visit more interesting – I wrote about some of the best ones here. There are 5 major airports and another just outside called Southend, which is in Essex. You can take the Eurostar from France, Belgium, or The Netherlands. There are buses from all over Europe.
You have no excuses, so just get here!
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