Everyone enjoys a great, refreshing vacation, where you get the chance to relax and unwind with friends and family. Allowing you to enjoy that well-earned, quality time, is certainly an important consideration when planning your holiday, as choosing the wrong accommodation can be a recipe for disaster! It can make you uncomfortable and stressed and can often ruin a trip, due to lack of space, comfort and price. So after you have selected where you want to visit, take a little time to select the accommodation that is just right for your needs and budget.
If your intended destination is a large city like London, then you may think that a hotel stay is the only option. Yet hotels are very impersonal with little or no atmosphere. Cramped rooms, especially if you have a family, can make you feel claustrophobic and stressed due to their lack of space. What’s more, hotels can also be incredibly expensive for what you get, which isn’t much! Somewhere to lay your head, yes, but little more!
As an alternative, many people are fast becoming aware of ‘serviced apartments’. These are now a very popular choice for both holidaymakers and business travellers alike. They make the ideal solution to your accommodation needs, especially if you want something far more than just a place to sleep.
So what is a serviced apartment?
They are fully furnished apartments which can be made available for both short/long-term stays. They’ll not only provide all the facilities that hotels do, but give you private, more comfortable surroundings with that ‘home from home’ feeling, which is so popular amongst travellers who intend to stay longer term. Typical apartments will include high quality soft furnishings and self-contained kitchens, along with services such as housekeeping, concierge, etc included in the rent.
If we haven’t yet whetted your appetite regarding serviced apartments as opposed to a hotel stay, then why not consider some of the other benefits listed below?
Probably the major difference between a hotel stay and that of a serviced apartment is price. Many people mistakenly believe that a serviced apartment is expensive compared to a hotel and therefore look no further, considering them to be for the elite! Yet did you know that most serviced apartments are at least 30% less expensive than an equivalent standard of hotel? You’ll get luxury accommodation at an affordable rate, so you’ll avoid that huge hotel bill. What’s more, you’ll also save because serviced apartments come equipped with fully fitted kitchens, allowing you to cut down on eating out, which can be expensive. This could make a huge difference to your holiday budget and for longer term tenants, will represent huge savings. Additionally, telephone, broadband, VAT and utility bills are often included within the cost. With all the conveniences of a hotel room yet with far less expense, renting a serviced apartment makes far more economic sense.
2. More Space
A typical city hotel room can often be particularly cramped, hardly ideal if you are holidaying with children who need space to play. Serviced apartments, on the other hand, are considerably larger, (bedrooms often being over 1/3rd bigger than a standard hotel room), with a spacious living area to rest, recuperate and unwind in your own comfortable, secure private surroundings, making them the ideal solution if you are travelling with others. They also include a kitchen, living room, along with the bedroom area, which can be part of a studio space or in a 1/2 bedroom apartment. So to avoid that ‘shoe box’ of a hotel room, where you can’t move without falling over somebody, opt for the roomier alternative of a serviced apartment.
3. All the comforts of home
Another important reason why people opt for a serviced apartment over a hotel stay is that they get that ‘home from home’ feeling. We all know there’s nothing like the comfort of your own home, although a stay in a luxurious serviced apartment comes very close! Instead of being greeted on your arrival with a cold, impersonal hotel room, with a serviced apartment you’ll be able to relax in a warm, inviting atmosphere, with all the comforts of home. Comfortable, luxurious furniture enables you to fully relax and unwind after a hard day sightseeing, whereas having all the facilities on hand in one stylish space, like a fully fitted kitchen, chic bathroom and high tech entertainment systems, means that your stay will be superb, instead of just the mediocre experience you’ll receive at a hotel. Added to this better security and far more privacy, and you have a win-win situation!
4. Family Friendly
If you intend to have a family holiday when visiting our glorious capital, then a serviced apartment will take much of the stress and hassle out of your stay. With ample space available, you’ll avoid that ‘cooped up’ feeling of hotel accommodation, allowing the kids to have their own space to chill out. As well as the entertainment systems mentioned earlier, you can also have the peace of mind that your children will be totally secure in your own self-contained space.
5. Central Locations
Many of London’s hotels are centrally located, although at a hefty price! Some of the cheaper hotel options, however, will result in you having to travel further to London’s central attractions. Yet obtaining affordable accommodation, close to the centre, can add great enjoyment to your London experience. Having all of the city’s most iconic landmarks on your doorstep, not only reduces travel expenses, but enables you to be in the hub of all the vibrancy of central London. Euracom’s well renowned serviced apartments are based in all of London’s true hotspots, giving you the flexibility to do whatever you desire. From shopping in the very best boutiques, to visiting museums and famous buildings, all our centrally located serviced apartments are very affordably priced- much less expensive than any central London hotel!
6. Excellent Services
Hotels will provide a daily cleaning service and ensure your beds are made/towels are changed, although that’s about it! Yet in a serviced apartment you’ll not only be able to stay in comfort and luxury whilst away from home, but you’ll also receive the added benefits of great housekeeping/concierge services. Cleaning, along with a daily linen and towel service is standard with serviced apartments, so you’ll want for nothing.
7. A Personalised Stay
Serviced apartments provide a stay that is tailored specifically to you. Whatever your needs a customised service makes your stay a truly memorable one. Such personalised service cannot be achieved in a hotel stay, unless you pay top dollar! From providing starter packs of groceries on your arrival to stocking some of your favourite snacks in the kitchen, serviced apartments are often accommodating to such requests.
8. Suitable for Business or Pleasure
Serviced apartments provide both convenience and practicality to travellers, whether you are a family who want that ultimate holiday, to business and corporate jetsetters who want an alternative to a lonely hotel room, which is cold and impersonal. Whilst hotels will simply provide the basics for business travellers, the amenities of a serviced apartment mean that all your needs are covered to enable you to do your work in comfort, with the facility to make conference calls and meetings online. What’s more, if your business means a longer stay, then the serviced apartment option can give you the option to stay for longer periods at a far better rate than a hotel stay.
So a serviced apartment is definitely an excellent choice for every discerning traveller… no wonder so many people, from families to corporates, are turning from hotel stays to these much more affordable options. Interest in these cost effective alternatives is therefore soaring for both short and certainly longer stays, albeit at the expense of the bog standard hotel! The benefits mentioned above are certainly worth bearing in mind, so why not give these Euracom serviced apartments detailed below a try in favour of a hotel? You won’t be sorry!
Luxury corporate serviced apartments London Bloomsbury Tavistock Place, WC1
These luxury five-star serviced apartments provide great accommodation in London, for both leisure & business travellers looking to rent for a longer stay. They provide the perfect central location to enjoy London’s many attractions and are only a stones-throw away from the City of London for our corporate clients. Situated in a beautiful Georgian building and furnished to an exceptionally high standard, with designer furniture, all apartments include, wi-fi access, DVD/ CD player and Freeview TV. Some feature a balcony or terrace area, whilst many have fully equipped kitchens & en-suite bathrooms. If you’re looking for luxury accommodation in London for a long-term stay, then these serviced apartments are for you.
- Baby cot / high chair (on request)
- Balcony / Terrace (upon request)
- Bathroom (En-suite bathroom in some)/ Toiletries provided
- Daily or weekly linen change /Daily cleaning service
- Dining table & chairs/ Central heating/ Welcome pack available
- Fully equipped kitchen(Dishwasher in some)/ Iron / Ironing board/ Tea / coffee making facilities
- Door entry phone/ Lifts/ Meet & greet arrival service/ Safe/ Self check-in
- DVD player /Radio / Alarm clock/ TV / Freeview /Wifi
More about our luxury Bloomsbury Tavistock Place serviced apartments London ›
Luxury serviced apartments London Buckingham Gate, SW1
These luxury serviced apartments are just minutes from many of London’s finest landmarks, including Buckingham Palace and the Houses of Parliament. If you’re seeking a fully equipped, luxury serviced apartment near Buckingham Palace, then these are the apartments for you. Costing from £4914 p/w, each beautiful apartment overlooks a magnificent central tree lined courtyard. With luxurious decoration and furnished to an impeccable standard, these serviced apartments range in size from deluxe junior suites sleeping 2, to lavish superior 3 bedroom suites sleeping 6. These apartments also boast a fully equipped gym and a wonderful in house restaurant. They are close to a vast array of cafes, shops, restaurants and a wonderful roof garden.
- Central heating/ Secure storage facilities/ Welcome pack available
- Breakfast available/ Onsite restaurants / bars/ Room service available
- Concierge / security / reception/ Conference room available/ Lifts/ Lobby / waiting area
- Daily /weekly linen change/ Daily cleaning service/ Laundry / dry cleaning facilities available
- Desk / workspace/ Dining table & chairs
- Kitchen( Dishwasher in some)/ Tea / coffee making facilities/ grocery starter packs available
- En-suite bathroom in some apartments/ Toiletries provided
- DVD player/ Satellite TV/ Telephone/ Wi-fi
- Spa / health club in building or nearby
If you are looking for luxury apartment rental in London, look no further, call us today to rent one of these luxury apartments.
More about our Luxury Buckingham Gate serviced apartments London ›
Corporate serviced apartments London Camden Road N7
For those on a tighter budget, (prices start from only £728p/w), these newly refurbished corporate serviced apartments are for you. Only one stop from Kings Cross, you’ll have easy access to all of London, great for the business traveller. Situated close to Camden Town, with its eclectic bohemian character and vibrant night life, these apartments are perfectly located, offering something for everyone. They are the ideal serviced apartments for those wanting to live/work in London on a reasonable budget. The Studio apartments provide accommodation for up to 2 people and have been built with pioneering modular technology, making them really energy efficient. There is a private garden for the resident’s use, along with fully equipped kitchens and newly fitted bathrooms. These would be ideal for those living/ working in London, or for those seeking a temporary stay.
- Fully equipped kitchen
- Daily cleaning service/ Laundry / dry cleaning facilities available
- Door entry phone/ Lifts/ Self check-in
- DVD player/ Telephone/ TV / Freeview/ Wifi
More about our corporate serviced apartments Camden Road London ›
at 9 Feb 2018
If you are on a budget, and let’s face it many of have to cut back a little at the start of the year, after all the expense of buying Christmas gifts etc, then London in January is one of the best months to make a visit to our wonderful capital. Not only will you find a multitude of items to buy during the January sales, where you can pick up vastly reduced bargains, but you’ll also be able shop in relative comfort, without the hustle and bustle of last minute Christmas shoppers jostling for any space available. London's top shopping destinations such as Harrods and Selfridges are still resplendent in all their glory, albeit a little quieter after the Christmas rush. So why not enjoy that long awaited stroll through London’s streets and see if you if you can bag yourself a real gem of a bargain?
Now is certainly the time to make the most of London’s quieter areas. Many of the city’s attractions are much easier to gain entry to, and are less busy during January and February, so why not take the time work off that Christmas bulge, get out and about and indulge in a meander around our capital city’s lovely museums. You won’t break the bank at many of these spectacular venues, as many of them have free entry, but you’ll also avoid the usual long queues that you’ll get at other times of the year! A win-win situation!
Take the Natural History museum, The Science Museum and The Victoria and Albert Museums, all based in South Kensington, as prime examples. These superb, ‘hands on’ attractions are fantastic for a day out with the children. They boast a plethora of activities and wonderful displays, although at many times during the year are so popular that that queuing is inevitable. Yet, if you want to see more without feeling squashed like a sardine, then January is the time to go.
January in the Parks
January can be cold in London, so ensure you wrap up warm when you are out and about. Strolling in London’s parks and gardens during the winter brings its own beauty, especially if you combine this with taking refuge in one of London’s very attractive pubs for a hot toddy! Alternatively, London has many heated roof top terraces to enjoy, where you can indulge in a hot chocolate whilst taking in a panoramic view of the city.
There is still time to take in one of London’s temporary ice rinks, as many are still open until the end of January. Canary Wharf’s ice rink is actually open until February, so there is no excuse about losing those extra Christmas pounds!
For a lovely free festival, which takes place between 18 and 21 January, try ‘Lumiere’ London. It’s the UK's biggest light festival, and returns for the third successive year, with more than 40 spectacular installations dotted around the city. International and local artists are invited to create works that light buildings and public spaces, transforming the city’s skyline and changing the way we think and feel about public spaces. During the festival, large areas of the West End, including Oxford Street and Piccadilly are pedestrianised. The festival has attracted more than 1,000,000 visitors to the city in the past, and this year’s extravaganza is likely to be just as successful.
Visit Harry Potter
If you want a day filled with spectacular effects and wizardry, then how about exploring the Harry Potter film studios which have been transformed for winter at Hogwarts in the Snow? Running until 28th January, the magical makeover shows how film-makers create fire, ice and snow that never melts, as you embark on a journey through Hogwarts in the Snow. You’ll witness some of the Harry Potter film series’ most iconic sets decorated for the festive season. The Great Hall will be transformed, decorated as it was for the iconic Yule Ball. Every detail of the Great Hall will be covered in dripping icicles and sparkling snow and the Gryffindor common room will be adorned in all its seasonal splendour. There will be snow-covered Christmas trees, an orchestra of magical instruments. Many of which are painted by the Prop-Making department to match the silver of the Yule Ball.
Catch a last-minute panto
There isn’t much time left so make haste! A few pantos run until the end of January, although to avoid disappointment you will have to book fast! Christmas in London isn’t complete without a traditional panto, and what better place than the West End’s legendary London Palladium to get you into the panto vibe? Don’t miss out on the adventures of Dick Whittington, who is aided and abetted by The Spirit of the Bells, as they combat the dastardly Queen Rat. Amazing sets and costumes really come to life and make this well worth a visit.
Set sail for the London Boat Show
From 10th -14th January the new ‘re-defined and re-imagined’, 5 day London Boat Show celebrates everything you can do on the water. This year’s world-famous show is set to be better than ever. You can spend time with some sailing legends, climb aboard classic boats, modern yachts and pick up the latest marine technology. Bringing inspiration and exclusive deals, the London Boat Show 2018 will be packed with retailers and showcases vessels of all shapes and sizes. Not to be missed!
Visit the London Short Film Festival
From the 12th-21st January why not celebrate the best in UK short film-making talent? The LSFF is an annual event which for several weeks in January, takes over London's best independent cinemas and venues to showcase some great short films. Combine this with a mix of live music and parties and you have a marriage made in heaven!
The London Art Fair
Continuing the culture theme, from the 17th-21st January why not browse or buy, some of London’s contemporary British art? Over the last 30 years, the London Art Fair has given us expert insight into the changing market. The fair invites collectors and visitors to discover works by a range of renowned and up and coming artists.
On the 25th January London gets an excuse to celebrate Scotland's national poet, Robert Burns. Annual Burns night festivities take place throughout the capital, with Scottish foods including haggis and tatties, a wee dram or two of whisky and everyone’s favourite, the bagpipes! From ceilidhs to a fully- fledged Burns Night meal, there's something which will appeal to everyone.
Celebrate Chinese New Year
Chinatown in London comes alive during the city’s huge Chinese New Year celebrations, which occur each year in either January or February. This year is the year of the Dog, and the event takes place on 18th February. Expect dragons and floats full of exotic colour and noise, along with streets awash with Chinese lanterns, music and dancing, marking the start of the Chinese New Year.
So there you have it- a feast of low cost, often free activities that won’t break the bank during the month when most of us tighten our belts. Visiting London during the winter makes perfect sense, not only to avoid the crowds but also on the accommodation front too! At this time of the year accommodation can be far cheaper than in peak season, which adds to the attraction of a winter break.
If you intend to make an extended stay in the capital, then Euracom’s range of affordable serviced apartments could be what you are looking for. Why pay the huge expense of an impersonal hotel when you can have ‘home from home’ comfort in one of our sumptuous apartments?
Take, for example….Kensington Queens Gate serviced apartments, London SW7
Set within a beautiful Victorian building, these luxurious serviced apartments feature contemporary design elements and 4-star service within a spacious setting. With sleek wooden floors and fully equipped kitchenettes, these apartments retain many of the classic features you’d expect in such historical surroundings, yet are finished to a high standard with modern amenities. Ideal for both business travellers and tourists alike, who are looking for a quality apartment to rent within central London, these apartments start from a very reasonable £185p/n. Close to a wealth of museums, exhibition halls, theatres and London's West End, these apartments make the ideal base as everything is so close to hand. They have great transport access throughout London and there are a wealth of fantastic local attractions nearby, such as the V and A Museum, the National History Museum & the Royal Albert Hall. For ample space, great comfort and fantastic flexibility, these apartments make a good alternative to hotels, saving on average 25% compared to a similar standard hotel.
- Air conditioning/ Concierge / security / reception/ Conference room available/ Lifts/Lobby / waiting area
- Bathroom/ En-suite bathroom in some apartments/ Toiletries provided
- Complimentary grocery shopping service/ Grocery store nearby/ Onsite restaurants / bars
- Daily or weekly linen change/ Daily cleaning service
- Dining table & chairs/ Tea / coffee making facilities
- Fully equipped kitchen/ Dishwasher in some apartments/ Laundry / dry cleaning facilities available/
- Gym in building or nearby
- Satellite TV/ Freeview/ Wifi
- Spa / health club in building or nearby
More about our Kensington Queens Gate serviced apartments London ›
Or, for a slightly less expensive option why not try…Flats to rent in central London, Spitalfields E1
For a nightly fee of £155p/n, these corporate serviced apartments are located in London’s Spitalfields, Bishopsgate, on the edge of London's famous Square Mile. This lively area is famous for its independent shops, boutiques, restaurants and trendy bars as well it’s most stylish markets. These serviced apartments offer flats to rent, comprising of modern and spacious 1 or 2 bedroomed accommodation that has been finished to a very high standard. They are the perfect flats to rent when working or sightseeing in London. Each offers floor to ceiling windows, contemporary furnishings and a fully equipped kitchen. Some feature an en-suite shower room as well a stylish main bathroom. They offer the guest exceptional value for money. With close transport links throughout the capital, these apartments provide a convenient base to London’s shopping areas and cultural sites like St Pauls Cathedral.
- Central heating/ Desk / workspace
- Daily cleaning service/Laundry / dry cleaning facilities available
- Dining table & chairs
- Door entry phone/ Safe/ Lifts
- TV / Freeview/ DVD player/ Telephone/ Wifi
- Ensuite bathroom in some apartments/ Hairdryer available
- Fully equipped kitchen/ Dishwasher in some apartments/ Iron / Ironing board
More about our Central London Spitalfields serviced apartments London ›
Our final featured apartments this month; the Corporate serviced apartment rentals London, Stratford E15 provide exceptional value at only £93 p/n. With easy access to Central London, Canary Wharf, The O2, other exhibition venues and Westfield shopping centre, these apartments were designed by a top architect to meet the increasing demand for top-quality long-stay accommodation in London without the City price tag. This development consists of 111 high-specification apartments, providing space and comfort to suit every guest's needs. Each apartment offers premium quality fittings and soft furnishings throughout and is equipped with the most up-to-date technology including broadband, wide-screen televisions and high-specification kitchens and bathrooms.
- Bathroom/ Toiletries provided
- Concierge / security / reception/Lifts/ Lobby / waiting area/ Wheelchair accessible
- Daily cleaning service/ Anti- allergy bedding
- Dining table & chairs/ Desk / workspace/ Tea / coffee making facilities
- DVD player/ TV / Freeview/ Wi-fi
- Fully equipped kitchen/ Iron / Ironing board/ Laundry / dry cleaning facilities available
- Grocery store onsite / nearby/ Welcome pack available
More about our corporate serviced apartments Stratford London ›
By Another Believer (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Zachi Evenor [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0) or CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
at 8 Jan 2018
Christmas and New Year Celebrations in London
London is an idyllic place to visit at all times of year, but especially during the run up to the festive season. At Christmas time things are truly special, with a plethora of wonderful events on offer. There are attractions galore, from great Christmas pudding races and festive markets, ice skating at some of the world’s most iconic landmarks, magnificent light displays to a range of shows and pantos, (oh no there isn’t!) All of which should combine to put you in the festive mood. So none of your ‘Bah Humbugging’…get your skates on, wrap up warm and brave the chilly London outdoors to saviour some of these unmissable delights.
This month we’ll give you a sample of a few, of what we consider to be, the best festive activities within our glorious capital. This is by no means exhaustive, but should help to whet your appetite and hopefully set you up for a fantastic Yuletide.
Christmas Light Displays
Christmas is a time when London overcomes those dark, dismal winter nights and gives its streets and department stores a festive makeover with the twinkle of millions of Christmas lights all over the city. You know Christmas is almost upon us when London’s greatest shopping area, Oxford Street, transforms itself with sparkly, glowing lights (750,000 lights this year alone) and 1778 decorations!
If you want to combine your ‘light seeing experience’,(get it?) with a market or two, along with a glass of mulled wine into the bargain, then there are a host of other areas to explore with more superb light displays.
The Carnaby Street Christmas Lights for instance, are an ostentatious example of Christmas glitz. This famous street often offers visitors a Christmas 20% discount in many of its unique shops. Or head off to Christmas at Kew Gardens, where you’ll be able to follow a mile long, twinkling path of over 1,000000 sparkling Christmas bulbs, lighting up ancient trees and buildings throughout these spectacular gardens. You’ll also experience giant baubles, a flickering Fire Garden, a kaleidoscopic laser display in the glorious palm house and even experience the trees singing! What more could you ask for? Oh yes! Your Christmas visit won’t be complete without meeting Santa and his elves at the North Pole village, whilst to warm yourself up after this fantastic experience, you could partake in a glass of hot chocolate or mulled wine or toast your toes and some marshmallows by the fire. For those more energetic at heart, you could take the Christmas Lights Bike Tour, which will guide you to some of the best locations to see London’s prettiest Xmas illuminations. On this 2 hour tour you’ll see some of London’s most iconic buildings lit up with thousands of lights and decorations, flickering unforgettably along your route. You’ll discover quieter streets that you’ve never encountered before, along with London’s glorious array of wonderful festive markets and some of the most mesmerising illuminations imaginable, such as the famous Hamleys toy store, whose gleaming array of lights will delight your every thought. During your journey, you’ll also hear hilarious tales of London’s history. Definitely a unique Christmas experience!
Christmas markets and fairs in London
If you’re on the lookout for Christmas gift inspiration, then London’s Christmas markets and fairs are the place to be. Here you’ll not only discover a wealth of hand crafted offerings and foodie gifts, but will also be in the midst of a plethora of festive events into the bargain. What’s more, whilst shopping ‘til you drop, you’ll be able to sample many of the capital’s street vendors, selling every conceivable type of fast food known to man, along with Christmas beverages. Why not try, for example, Covent Garden at Christmas? This London area is truly irresistible at this time of year, with its cobbled piazza, stylish stores and market buildings giving it an air of sheer nostalgia. With over 40 mistletoe chandeliers hanging elegantly above you, you can find that perfect gift, whilst savouring the beauty of Christmas. Combine this with a sumptuous meal in one of Covent Garden’s restaurants, whilst watching a street entertainer and you’ll be able to de-stress after all the hustle and bustle of buying that last minute piece of tinsel!
Great Christmas Pudding Race
If you’re in Covent Garden on the 2nd Dec, try not to miss 150 Christmas puddings tackle a festive obstacle course, in aid of Cancer Research UK. Last year raising over £26,000 for this worthy cause, 2017’s outing will be the 37th in its history. Teams don fancy dress and hurtle around obstacles including foam jets and flour-filled balloons, whilst trying to negotiate and balance Christmas puds on paper plates! You can register teams of 6 and compete, or simply support and have a fun day out. There’ll be entertainment and celebrity guest appearances throughout the day.
Southbank Centre Wintertime Market
If you’re looking for that special something, this market features over 50 wooden chalets brim full with festive food and drink and unique presents. Set alongside the Thames, street food is plentiful, with irresistible smells ranging from Asian cuisine to hot dogs and other traditional fayre. A glorious way to enter into that Christmas spirit, whilst savouring London’s wintertime sights and sounds is to try out the Bar under the Bridge, where you can indulge in your favourite tipple.
Greenwich Wintertime Festival
Located near the famous 19thC Cutty Sark, this venue combines our 17th C architectural legacy with an unforgettable wintertime festival experience. Situated in the stunning grounds of the world heritage listed Old Royal Naval College, this inviting, yet intimate market/festival still delivers a great experience which will appeal to everyone. You’ll taste London’s finest festive food/drink and be entertained by theatre, street performers, children shows and live music. You can find that last minute gift at the Winter Market and for the tots why not make their visit more magical by visiting Santa and his Greenwich launch pad, as he gets ready for his Christmas journey? With a mixture of contemporary and traditional activities, amidst over 500 Christmas trees, this festival is becoming a unique and distinctive Christmas destination. So try boogieing at the silent disco, or marvelling at the amazing ice skating performance from world class skaters, for this venue seems to have it all!
Ice Skating in the Capital
During the ‘Little Ice Age’ during the 17th C to the early19th C, it was common during some winters to ice skate on the River Thames. Alas, the river freezes over no longer, however London still boasts several venues where those energetic enough, can ice skate in enchanting surroundings to their hearts content.
Take, for example, the Natural History Museum Ice Rink. This famous museum is home to one such ice rink. With the elegant Waterhouse building as a backdrop you can skate, surrounded by the magical trees laced with fairy lights, weaving like Bambi or a real professional around the majestically adorned Christmas tree. There’s an indoor café, bar and viewing balcony overlooking the ice to enjoy all the falls and scrapes that will inevitably happen, whilst enjoying a restful drink or a toasted marshmallow!
Another grand setting for an ice rink is Somerset House, whose stunning 18thC courtyard is the setting for winter fun. This 900 sq m outdoor rink is the perfect venue for a real escapade. Ideal for families, you can combine your skating with winter dining at the renowned Fortnum Lodge, which offers champagne and mulled wine, or watch from the Skate Lounge. There is the Fortnum’s Christmas Arcade to peruse whilst new this year, are the ‘Skate Lates’, a range of programmed events throughout the winter period.
If you want something different this Christmas Day, you could celebrate like never before on a spectacular panoramic tour of London. You’ll experience all the amazing city landmarks including Westminster Abbey and Houses of Parliament during your festive tour and learn about London’s fascinating history whilst you soak up the festive atmosphere
Take in a panto or show
No Christmas visit to London would be complete without taking in one of the seasonal extravaganzas within the capital. Take the Magic Circle Christmas Show, for example, where you’ll experience The Magic Circle in all its glory. Featuring superb magic tricks, entry also gives access to The Magic Circle museum. Or go and see Peter Pan - Wembley Arena, to follow Peter Pan’s adventures in this interpretation of J.M. Barrie’s classic. Martin Kemp is the baddy Captain Hook and Matt Knight plays Peter Pan. This dazzling panto features a full size galleon along with a 7m long crocodile! Meanwhile Disney on Ice presents Passport to Adventure at the 02. You’ll enter magical world of many famous, yet timeless Disney characters like Simba from ‘The Lion King’, Elsa from ‘Frozen’ and Peter Pan. Toe tapping music abounds in this mesmerising ice-skating spectacular. Or head off to follow Dick Whittington’s adventures at the London Palladium. For ballet lovers, why not take in and be thoroughly enchanted by a lovely presentation of The Nutcracker (Royal Opera House).
Pay a visit to Santa
The magic of Christmas isn’t complete until you and your little terrors have visited Santa in one of his many gift-filled grottos around the capital. We know he’s ultra-busy at this time, yet Santa always makes time to visit some iconic places within the capital to hear if you’ve been naughty or nice! His grotto at London Zoo for example or his hideaway at the WWT London Wetland Centre, are 2 examples of where you can meet the big man himself. You could even set sail for a sightseeing tour on the Thames with Santa, when he’ll dish out all kinds of goodies to children on board. Adults can enjoy mulled wine and mince pies as you glide by many of London’s famous landmarks. Or head to Santa's Grotto at WWT London Wetland Centre to go on an exciting sleigh ride with huskies. In the forest you may find a hidden cabin in this winter paradise and if so you’ve discovered Father Christmas’ grotto!
Sing Christmas Carols
Often many people are so wrapped up in their Christmas preparations, they forget the true meaning of Christmas. So why not take part of traditional Christmas carols at the historic St Paul’s Cathedral, where there is also a Christmas day church service? Or join in at the Albert Hall with their Carols by Candlelight? There are many other such services throughout the capital, including the carols sung around Trafalgar Square’s enormous Christmas tree, where you’ll hear choirs performing carol concerts in the run up to the special day. Whichever iconic venue you choose, you’ll be sure to soak up the atmosphere and be able to reflect on what Christmas is really about.
Experience the Christmas of long ago.
If you want to experience a Christmas of yesteryear, then there’s nowhere better than an Elizabethan Christmas complete with live dance at Hampton Court Palace. Here they have a series of yuletide activities, ranging from an Elizabethan Christmas to singing carols in the courtyards. As well as a magnificent ice rink, the BBC Good Food’s Festive Feast will get the taste buds going with more than 50 food stalls within these historic courtyards. On specified dates, there will also be a themed ‘Elizabethan Christmas’, with Tudor-style courtyard entertainment along with live period music/ dance, epitomising what the Christmas of 1592 was like. Alternatively, try Christmas at Kensington Palace where you’ll experience what Christmas would have been like during Victorian times. There’ll be a host of 19thC activities to experience along with the 8m tall Victorian styled Christmas tree where there will be occasional workshops enabling you to make decorations to take home.
New Year Celebrations
After all the excesses of Christmas time, why not see the old year out by celebrating with family and friends at some of the wonderful New Year festivities on offer within the capital? Choices are endless, with fireworks, parties, dinner cruises and clubbing to name a few! Whatever your plans though, be sure to book in advance as it’s unlikely you can just turn up on the night!
Central London’s Firework Display
This event has become a dazzling spectacle of world class proportions over recent years. A ticketed event, this pyrotechnic display will dazzle and delight, although if you aren’t lucky enough to get a ticket, you can always see the spectacle on TV whilst enjoying a pint or two! There is a wealth of other activities also on offer to see out the old year. A dinner cruise aboard a vessel on the Thames is one such choice, as you’ll still enjoy the fireworks whilst enjoying a lovely meal in the warmth of the cabin. Champagne/live music are available on some of these cruises, allowing you to dance the night away. You could opt for an exhilarating speedboat ride, a traditional boat trip or welcome the New Year whilst overlooking London’s skyline on the London Eye. Or perhaps watch The Shard light up the sky with a special New Year's Eve light show.
For those who enjoy more cultural experiences, try being transported to 19th C Vienna to enjoy New Year's Eve’s music/dancing in ‘The Magic of Vienna concert’ (Barbican). Experience memorable music by Strauss, whose waltzes and polkas provided the entertainment to the Viennese of yesteryear.
Alternatively, join the Southbank Centre's Vintage New Year's Eve Party, which offers a quirky, yet stylish way to see in the New Year. With 5 pop-up ‘vintage’ nightclubs, the music ranges from the ‘20s to the ‘90s, incorporating swing, rock’n'roll, disco, soul and cabaret. There is walkabout entertainment, good dining options and a private river terrace to watch the London fireworks.
If you want something more modern then the Ministry of Sound Electric (Brixton) could be for you. This flagship all-night club attracts many followers of the global dance and house music brand.
New Year’s Day
So the New Year beckons, although January 1st is often overlooked by those with hangovers and those who didn’t get to bed until 5am! However, there are numerous things to do for those who can manage it.
New Year’s Day annual Parade
This spectacular parade, mixes entertainment and traditional pomp with dancers, marching bands, historical vehicles and more, all descending upon central London to enthral the crowd. This colourful celebration starts at Green Park Tube station at 12pm, finishing at Parliament Square at 3.30pm. Over 10,000 performers will feature, with colourful floats representing countries from around the world, whilst over 500,000 spectators will witness the glorious spectacle, with music and confetti wafting through the London streets.
New Year Sales
If you still have money to spend you could hit the sales in some of London’s top shopping hotspots and pick up bargains in the January sales.
Time for a stroll?
Why not walk off the excess pounds you’ve gained over Christmas with an amble around London’s beautiful parks? Beautiful any time of year, but on a crisp January day they can be even more stunning!
So get planning your wintery stay in London so that you don’t miss a thing. If you decide to extend your visit to our fabulous capital then Euracom can help! We provide a range of reasonably priced serviced apartments within London, making your stay in the capital a memorable one.
Why not try our Short stay studio apartments London, Bayswater Kensington Gardens W2?
These short stay apartments are situated in Bayswater, near to Hyde Park & Whiteley’s shopping centre. With the West End’s many shops, restaurants and theatres nearby, they’re an ideal base for exploring our lovely capital. Apartments range from £140p/n and each is decorated to a high standard, complete with air con, LCD TVs and fully equipped kitchens and bathrooms. They are also close to some of London’s beautiful parks, such as Hyde Park and its Winter Wonderland.
- Air conditioning
- Concierge / security / reception Daily cleaning service/ Lifts Nearby/ Secure storage facilities
- DVD player/ Telephone TV / Freeview Wifi
- Fully equipped kitchen/ Iron / Ironing board/ Laundry / dry cleaning facilities available Bayswater
More about our Bayswater Kensington Gardens Short Stay serviced apartments London ›
Alternatively, the Short stay apartments London, Earls Court Road, SW5 provide an excellent base and are close to Sloane Square and Harrods. These Edwardian styled serviced apartments are beautifully furnished boasting traditional, high ceilings & sizable rooms, ranging in size from studios, (£153p/n) to apartments which sleep 8 people. Their proximity to popular destinations like Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea make them ideal for a spot of Christmas shopping. The famous Royal Albert Hall and Natural History Museum are nearby sights and landmarks worth visiting.
- Baby cot / high chair (upon request)
- Breakfast available/ Concierge / security / reception/ Daily cleaning service Desk
- Workspace Dining table & chairs
- Fully equipped kitchen/ Laundry / dry cleaning facilities available/Dishwasher in some apartments/ Tea / coffee making facilities
- Door entry phone/ Lifts/ Welcome pack available
- DVD player/ Telephone TV / Freeview/ Wi-fi
- En-suite Bathroom in some apartments
More about our Earls Court Road Short Stay serviced apartments London ›
For an even more spectacular, luxurious stay, with everything you could possibly need in the way of 5 star living, the Luxury serviced apartments Green Park, London W1 Mayfair, are for you.
Located off Piccadilly, these apartments are part of a 5 star hotel, so offer the same amenities you’d expect from a luxury London hotel, with all the added benefits of being self-contained, fully equipped luxury serviced apartments. More expensive than the last examples, (prices start from £765p/n for a 1 bed apartment) yet you get what you pay for, as these luxurious apartments are finished to the highest possible standard, featuring marble bathrooms, spacious lounge, dining area and fully fitted kitchen along with a gym, spa, room/ concierge service. You even have the option of a private garden or penthouse! With Oxford Street and all London’s shops and festive lights nearby, this apartment could be a real ‘dream come true’ of a holiday.
- Air conditioning
- Breakfast available/ Room service/ Radio / Business centre available/ Onsite restaurants / bars /
More about our Green Park luxury serviced apartments London ›
By Tony Hisgett from Birmingham, UK (Christmas Lights 2 Uploaded by tm) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
jeffwarder [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Simeon87 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
at 28 Nov 2017
It goes without saying that the build up to Christmas is a magical time for both adults and children alike. If you are a kid at heart like me, then there is nothing better than scouring the shops for that perfect gift for your loved ones. With this in mind, our great capital city has some of the most well renowned stores in the world for first class retail therapy. There is something for everyone, from the spectacular array of toys available in Hamleys toy store, to that extra special something from the exquisite, jewel in the crown of London’s stores, Harrods.
This month we’ll take a look at these, and several more stores which are well worth a visit, giving you a potted history of how they were first conceived, through to why they have become so famous today. Together they all contribute to make London one of the finest shopping venues in the world.
Harrods - Knightsbridge
Perhaps London’s most famous store, attracting millions of customers annually, is Harrods. Opened in 1834 by a 25 year old grocer and tea merchant, Charles Henry Harrod, this world renowned shopping empire is steeped in history. From its humble beginnings in a small room in Stepney, East London, with just two assistants and a messenger boy to help him, Mr Harrod initially only sold tea and groceries. Yet this canny grocer expanded his enterprise by taking over a shop on the site of the current Harrods in Knightsbridge in 1849 and the present legend of Harrods was born. Charles capitalised after the 1851 Great Exhibition in Hyde Park, which increased trade within the area and so the store became a very successful asset. Since then it has expanded to more than 1,000,000 sq ft of floor space, whilst employing over 4,000 staff. It is as much a major London landmark as it is a store and has developed into one of the most distinguished names for luxury goods.
Did You Know?
- England’s first ever escalator
In 1898 the first moving staircase was installed into Harrods. Customers were overawed by this new piece of technology. So much so that Harrods staff were on hand at the top to provide brandy and smelling salts for those who found the ordeal too traumatising!
- Tiara Triangle
The immediate 3 mile square area surrounding Harrods has become known as ‘The Tiara Triangle’, as it’s believed that over 60% of its custom comes from those who live in this very affluent area.
- Silver replica
Looking closely on the lower ground floor of today’s Harrods, you’ll see a silver replica of Harrods on display. This was presented by Harry Selfridge whose store was a major rival to Harrods at the time. He set a wager with the managing director of Harrods, as to who’d make the most profit in 1927. Ever the gentleman, on losing his bet, Mr Selfridge commissioned a silver replica which he awarded to the store.
- Pet Shop
The store boasts a pet shop that houses numerous animals. Once a large cobra’s main purpose was to protect a £62,000 pair of sandals because of the diamonds and other gems which were encased in them. Also, a regular customer to the Harrods pet shop, the famous actor Noel Coward, once bought an alligator for Christmas!
- Customers Galore!
Around 100,000 shoppers descend on Harrods each day, rising to over 300,000 during the Christmas season.
- “Omnia Omnibus Ubique”
With 330 departments over 7 floors, Harrods Latin motto meaning, “All things for all people, everywhere,” can certainly deliver, as it provides every possible thing that the discerning shopper could ever want!
- World at War
During this period of its history in WW II, the store transformed itself from selling luxury goods to making uniforms, parachutes and even parts for Lancaster bombers.
Hamleys - Regent Street
Another iconic shop, Hamleys, is a must visit destination at this time of year. The oldest toy shop in the world, (it’s over 255 years old) the store was originally named Noah’s Ark, and was conceived by the Cornishman William Hamley. First opened in Holborn, it later moved to its present site in Regent Street, eventually being renamed ‘Hamleys’, after its founder. William Hamley’s dream of opening the best toy shop in the world certainly came to fruition, as the shop was crammed with every toy imaginable, delighting young and old alike. By Queen Victoria’s reign it had already become a London landmark. The 'Joy Emporium', as it was once nicknamed has had its fair share of hardship, however. The picture looked bleak during the 1930s, as due to the Great Depression toy sales fell dramatically and the shop was forced to close. However, after the store was later taken over, it was given a new lease of life and customers eventually returned, resulting in the toy shop being awarded a Royal Warrant by Queen Mary and then a second by our present Queen Elizabeth.
Did You Know?
- Bear Mascots
The two Hamleys mascot bears are called 'Hamley' and 'Hattie'.
- Bus Stop
In 2014, Hamleys created a bus stop made from Lego bricks in front of their Regent Street store to commemorate Transport for London’s (TfL) Year of the Bus.
- World War II
Even after being bombed significantly (5 times during the Blitz), this didn’t stop service. Donning their tin helmets, Hamleys staff managed to serve at the entrance to the store, rushing in to collect orders and then handing them over at the door.
- Something for Everyone
The store has seven floors covering 54,000 sq ft of space. There are over 50,000 lines of toys on sale, ranging from life sized stuffed giraffes to squeaking, bleeping, whizzing and chiming toys. No wonder it has more than 5 million visitors each year.
Selfridges - Oxford Street
Second only to Harrods in terms of largest retail space in the UK, this great example of one of London’s finest shopping scenes opened its doors in 1909. Originally situated at what was deemed to be the ‘unfashionable end of Oxford Street’, it was the last of London’s best known department stores to be built. The founder, Harry Gordon Selfridge, knew exactly what he wanted… a purpose built extravaganza, rather than a building which needed adaptation and extending from a previously existing structure.
Ever the business entrepreneur, Mr Selfridge took shopping to a whole new audience. He enticed customers by being one of the first in Britain to introduce ‘window dressing’. This change of approach, (previously, shopkeepers would stand in the shop’s doorway trying to lure customers into the store), not only attracted new customers, but also served an educative purpose too. Displays often portrayed the latest ideas and inventions, which huge crowds would stop to inspect. Take for example, French aviator Louis Blériot’s intrepid flight over the English Channel. Selfridge cannily displayed Blériot’s plane in his store window which attracted over 150,000 people to the shop.
Today, Selfridges boasts one of the largest shoe departments in the world and has also revolutionised the sale of make-up, perfume and beauty products, due to the way it was marketed, at the front of the store, rather than pushed unnoticed, to the back! Its success is due to the willingness to keep up with changing trends and fashions. Miss Selfridge, for example, was opened within the main store in the 1960s when the store recognised it needed to attract a younger, more fashion-led customer base.
Did You Know?
- Air Raid Shelter
During WW2, the basement of Selfridges was used as an impromptu air-raid shelter. During raids, employees took turns to fire watch and be on the lookout for incendiary bombs. The US Army also took up residence here, as it gave safety from bombing, was near to their embassy and easily accessible for VIPs like Churchill and Eisenhower.
- The rooftop
Although now part of annual tradition, Selfridges summer rooftop had been closed for 70 years, due to damage during WW2. However in 2009 a ‘pop up’ restaurant run by famous Michelin-starred chef Pierre Koffmann restored it to its former glory. In its heyday, the roof hosted many forms of entertainment such as in 1913, when dancers Florence Walton and Maurice Mouvet entertained the high and mighty.
- Queen of Time Clock
This may go unnoticed as you enter the store entrance, yet is well worth a look. To commemorate the store's 21st birthday, this 3.3m tall, exquisite bronze sculpture was designed by Gilbert Bayes.
Fortnum and Mason - Piccadilly
Another enterprising businessman is responsible for the success of this famous Piccadilly store.
William Fortnum, the store’s joint founder, was once a footman in Queen Anne’s royal household. This family’s demand for fresh candles each night was to the benefit of said Mr Mason, as due to their wastefulness there was a lot of surplus half-used wax. Fortnum managed to develop his business knowledge by selling this wax on, thus making a sizable profit into the margin. Not content with this, he also had a side line business as a grocer. On persuading his landlord, Hugh Mason, to be his associate, they founded the first Fortnum & Mason store in Mason's small shop in St James's Market in 1707.
Although Fortnum and Mason’s main focus now is selling high end, luxury, exotic speciality food and drink, back in the late 19th C it was credited as being the first UK store to sell baked beans. Legend has it that the store purchased the entire stock of the newly produced, Heinz Baked Beans, from a US sales rep, and managed to sell them all. Entrepreneurism at its best! Further to this, they also claim the very dubious award of being the inventors of the Scotch egg, marketing it as ‘the travellers' snack’, in 1738. Staff apparently created this travel friendly food using hard boiled eggs wrapped in a parcel of sausage meat. The Piccadilly site was well situated as it was en-route for westward heading travellers, making it the ideal location to sell this new delicacy! In recent year’s homeware, beauty and fashion have been successfully added to the Fortnum and Mason brand. It is also the location of a fabulous tea shop and several restaurants.
Did You Know?
- The clock
This said masterpiece sits at the front of the building and weighs in excess of 4 tonnes. At the top of each hour, it quaintly comes to life to enable you to see the co-founders Fortnum and Mason religiously bowing to each other.
- Napoleonic Wars
During this era, the store supplied a range of dried fruit, spices and other preserves to British officers on the front line. It also provided food for many of Queen Victoria’s court functions, along with, at her own expense, shipments of Fortnum and Mason’s own branded, concentrated beef tea to hospitals during the Crimean War.
- A post office before it was invented!
Before the foundation of the GPO (General Post Office) in 1839, sending letters was, to say the least, a nightmare. Seeing an opportunity, Fortnum and Mason provided letterboxes which were emptied six times a day- long before our current postal service began.
- A connection to Primark?
What, I hear you ask has this to do with the world renowned Fortnum & Mason who deal in some of the most luxurious goods in the land? Yes, they do seem worlds apart, however, I’ll let you into a little secret…they are both owned by the same parent company! So why not also head off to Primark for a bargain?
If you intend to make a weekend, or longer out of your shopping experience in London, then look no further!
Euracom can find the accommodation that is just right for you. We have a range of affordable, luxury, serviced apartments available, to make your stay in London unforgettable.
Take for example… Bayswater Studios, London W2
For a modest fee from £97pn, these serviced apartments are perfect if you’re visiting London for a short stay. They provide a welcoming personal, professional service and boast a private garden for residents. These newly refurbished apartments range from 1 bed studio simplicity to a 3 bed, luxury space. Each features a lounge area with TV/ DVD, and a fully fitted kitchen. With close proximity to the amazing Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park and the Oxford Street and Knightsbridge stores, staying here will certainly make your access to all of London’s attractions easy and pleasurable.
Other features include:
- Concierge / Security / Reception / Door entry phone
- Daily cleaning service / Laundry / Dry cleaning facilities available
- DVD player / Telephone / TV / Freeview / Wifi
- Kitchen / Kitchenette / Dishwasher in some apartments
More about our Bayswater Studios Short Stay serviced apartments London ›
Alternatively, if you are looking for a more luxurious option you could try…..our Serviced apartment rentals in South Kensington, Gloucester Road SW7
These holiday apartments are situated within South Kensington and are well situated within the capital. They provide the perfect, central venue to stay, whether your intention is to shop ‘til you drop or relax in luxury. From £125p/n, these self-catering, serviced apartments are comfortably furnished with a small, well-equipped kitchen and bathroom with separate shower. Close to Hamleys and Selfridges, along with a host of other central London attractions, they allow easy access to Europe’s largest shopping district, so if you love shopping & luxurious living, these apartments are for you!
Other features include:
- Concierge / Security / Reception / Door entry phone / Lifts
- Daily cleaning service / Laundry / dry cleaning facilities available / Dishwasher in some apartments
- Duplex-style apartment
- Telephone / TV / Freeview / Wifi
More about our South Kensington, Gloucester Road SW7 serviced apartments ›
Our final featured apartments for this month are our Luxury serviced apartments London Bond Street, W1, offering luxury in the heart of London's West End. If you’re looking for a luxury serviced apartment at a great price, then this luxury serviced London apartment is perfect for you. From £208p/n, these serviced apartments vary in size from a 1 bed to a larger 2 bed apartment. They are tastefully furnished in a contemporary style, giving them a ‘home from home’ feeling. Each apartment has a comfortable lounge, fully equipped kitchen and bathroom. They allow easy access to Europe’s largest shopping district, the perfect way to combine your love of shopping with luxurious living.
Other features include:
- Air conditioning/ Central heating/ Door entry phone / Lifts/ Safe
- Bathroom- (some en-suite)
- Complimentary grocery shopping service
- Daily or weekly linen change / Daily cleaning service / Laundry / dry cleaning facilities available
- DVD player / Radio / Alarm clock/Satellite TV / Tea / coffee making facilities / Telephone / Wifi / TV / Freeview
- Fully equipped kitchen/Washing machine
- Spa / health club in building or nearby
More about our London Bond Street W1 serviced apartments ›
So there you have it…a range of the most splendid stores in the world for Christmas shopping. Miss them, especially at this time of year, at your peril, although don’t leave London without exploring a few of the other thousand retail outlets, boutiques and often quirky corner shops which often go unnoticed! Whatever you do – have a great shopping experience and don't forget, the best way to make the most of any visit to London is to extend your stay by renting one of our fabulous London serviced apartments. Happy shopping!
By Michael Caven from Stockholm, Sweden - Glowing Harrods, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24318570
By DAVID HOLT from London, England [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
R Sones [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Andrew Meredith (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons
at 6 Nov 2017
Most people visiting our wonderful capital city will probably take in London’s most famous sights. The London Eye, Buckingham Palace and The Tower of London are just 3 of the superb attractions on offer to the discerning tourist, enabling them to experience the very best of London. People visiting London for the first time may find it difficult to stray off the beaten track and will understandably stick to all these famous haunts.
Yet aside from the glorious crown jewels within The Tower, there is a vast array of less well known, hidden gems throughout the capital that will interest you just as much. These often beautiful places are sometimes off the main tourist paths, so you may have to discard the guide book and start exploring! From underground tours of London’s disused tube stations, to ancient, well hidden ‘Roman’ Baths; from a labyrinth of man-made caverns at Chislehurst Caves to a former Victorian toilet, now lovingly transformed into a unique eatery. These are just a few of the places which will thrill and delight you by their quirkiness!
Below, you'll discover some of the secret corners of London, often hidden-away amongst the side streets. They probably aren’t part of the traditional tourist agenda for the most famous London attractions, but they won’t stay relatively unknown for much longer, so visiting them now is a must, before they become too touristy! So to discover more of the capital, why not check out these fun things to do in London, and experience a different side to the city with our guide to the secret and hidden spots in London?
West London Hidden Gems
Scale an ice cliff
The Vertical Chill ice climbing wall, WC2E 7HA will thrill both beginners and the more advanced climber. Here you can brush up on your mountaineering skills and become a master climber, all in the centre of London. There are lessons for beginners, or you can just turn up on the day and climb your personal Matterhorn. Not quite as good as Everest, but as near as.
See the last remaining ‘fart-powered’ lamp, WC2R 0EU
Hidden behind the Savoy Hotel in Carting Lane, you’ll discover the last remaining Webb Patent Sewer Gas Lamp. These lamps were, during the 19th C, widespread throughout London, and provided low-cost street lighting. Also used as a means of clearing the noxious, unpleasant smells coming from London’s sewers, this replica takes you back to a bygone age.
Have lunch in a toilet - Attendant Fitzrovia, W1W 6DY
This quirky coffee bar, where you can rest for coffee, breakfast or a light lunch, is (wait for it), situated in in a restored Victorian public convenience. Built in 1890, this unique space has been lovingly transformed and restored from a gent’s toilet into one of the most unexpected gems of London. With urinals (clean, obviously), providing some of the seating, this compact eatery, has everything…good food, great atmosphere and the quirkiness that only Britain can offer. I’d go on to make a joke about the Attendant’s previous functions, but I think you may get ‘peed off’! (Get the pun?) Whilst on the subject of toilets, why not try the London Loo Tour? According to the website, the route ‘explores the potty politics of public loos. From stories of intrigue to practical tips, this tour is an investment in your bladder future! Never be caught short again!’ Sounds interesting huh!
Discover Ancient 'Roman Baths' WC2
Head off towards The Strand, and you could be taken in, as Victorian Londoners were, by the Ancient 'Roman’ Baths. Hard to find, they’re situated halfway along Surrey St, so keep your eyes peeled for an old National Trust sign above a gated archway. This leads into Surrey Steps, from which you emerge into Strand Lane. Turn right and then look for number 5. Interestingly, the baths are probably not Roman. In fact they probably date back to the 16th/17th C, but the gullible Victorians believed they were much older when ‘discovered’ in the 18th C, especially when the owner of a little-known plunge pool promoted it as being Roman in origin. Nearly everyone was duped, including respected writers, who soon claimed that it was “without doubt a veritable Roman structure”.
Certainly, the brickwork bears resemblance to Roman architecture, and although we’re now certain that the bath dates from the early 17th C, there was little evidence at the time to contradict the story of its ancient beginnings. These 'Roman Baths' were used by the Victorians for their health benefits and remained operating throughout the 19th C. This is a great piece of hidden London history, and well worth exploring.
Visit Kyoto Garden, W11 4UA
For a lovely, tranquil setting, this 55 acre paradise boasts an array of beautiful trees, stone lanterns, winding paths, trickling waterfalls, peaceful ponds with koi carp and splendid statues. This garden, situated within Holland Park, was a gift from Kyoto in 1991 and is hidden within busy Kensington. So why not experience a little piece of Japan and visit one of the most beautiful places in London? With free entry it’s a paradise at any time of year, but particularly in the Autumn, when the garden’s foliage is stunning.
Visit Stafford Terrace - A house stuck in a time warp, W8 7BH
If you’d like to visit a house which has been frozen in a time warp, then this is it! From the outside it looks pretty unremarkable, yet as you enter the house it’s like travelling back in time to the late Victorian period. Going into this freeze frame of Victorian middle class elegance, you’ll realise the house has been largely untouched since Punch cartoonist Edward Linley Sambourne lived there from 1875 with his family, until he died in 1910. The entire original decoration still exists, along with many of the family’s personal possessions and furniture. Original diaries, bills and papers make up a huge archive of daily life during the period. The house is open on various afternoons for guests to visit.
Take a trip to Venice! W9 2PF
For a peaceful walk or boat trip, away from the hustle and bustle of the Thames, try Little Venice. Situated where the Grand Union and Regent’s canals meet, this lovely area is where you’ll discover quirky waterside cafes, charming pubs and eateries and even puppet shows! This is London’s answer to Italy’s famous city. The area comes alive in the Summer, when people meander along the riverside to nearby Camden or Regent's Park. If you want atmosphere in a very gentle setting, then this is for you.
Where to stay in West London?
To get the most out of all the above attractions, Euracom have a range of serviced apartments within this area of London. One example is our Luxury serviced apartments Green Park, London W1.
Luxuriously furnished and finished to a high standard, these superb serviced apartments are located near to Piccadilly. They form part of a five-star hotel, offering all the amenities of a luxury London hotel whilst also providing all the benefits of having your own self-contained, fully equipped luxury serviced apartment. For a nightly fee of £765p/n , you’ll get an opulent marble bathroom, spacious lounge/dining area, and fully fitted kitchen. These apartments also have access to a gym and spa and also have the option of a private garden or penthouse! They are a perfect base to explore all London’s hidden gems, as well as the more famous ones.
- Bathroom/ central heating Concierge / security / reception/ Laundry / dry cleaning facilities available/ safe
- Daily or weekly linen change/ daily cleaning service/ room service available
- Dining table & chairs/ tea / coffee making facilities
- Fully equipped kitchen/ breakfast available/ dishwasher in some apartments
- Lifts / lobby / waiting area / telephone / satellite TV / Wi-fi / radio / alarm clock
- Onsite restaurants / bars/ spa / health club in building or nearby
More about our Green Park Luxury serviced apartments London ›
North London Hidden Gems
The Parkland Walk Finsbury Park N4 3EY
Stroll along the course of the old railway that once ran between Finsbury Park and Alexandra Palace. If you want a decent walk, in a serene setting and the chance to experience some greenery at the very centre of London, then this local nature reserve is for you. The walk boasts a huge variety of habitats and wildlife, with 200+ species of wild flowers. Here you’ll see orchids alongside dandelions, hedgehogs, foxes, butterflies and a plethora of bird species, along with muntjac deer, which can occasionally be seen.
Head to Chin Chin Labs’ Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream parlour, Cambden, NW1 8AF,
This ice cream parlour is a must for connoisseurs who like something more unusual than the Mr Whippy! Here you can indulge in original ice cream mixtures, thanks to the use of liquid nitrogen! You’ll watch the process unfold while waiting for service, savouring the mystical chemical clouds in the shop’s laboratory. Served in many different flavours, such as red velvet and water melon, Chin Chin Labs’ delicious creations are not to be missed.
Visit Camden Passage, Islington, N1 8EA
If antiques are your passion then a novel place to browse is hidden away from the bustling streets of Islington. Camden Passage hosts regular street antiques markets, selling curios and bric a brac, along with superb antique shops where you could bag a bargain. Unusual cafes abound, along with a range of other quaint shops.
Relax at London’s only bookshop barge, N1C 4LW
If you enjoy a relaxing read, whilst gently idling on the canal bank, then head to London’s only second-hand bookshop barge, Word on the Water. The barge moors at several sites and has a range of excellent novels to peruse. This welcoming venue boasts a wood-burning stove to toast those toes, live music and you may even get to cuddle the resident cat!
Platform 9¾ at King’s Cross, N1 9AP
Harry Potter fans will be overjoyed at this little gem. Situated at Kings Cross Station, you may not think this next feature could be included as a hidden gem. Yes, this station is a busy, bustling area, although many travellers aren’t aware of Platform 9¾. Thanks to the recently revamped railway station, it now boasts a new platform, nestled snugly between platforms 9 and 10. It’s easy to find, as there are always queues of muggles waiting for photo opportunities. Luckily, if you want to replenish your wizard supplies and wands, then there is also a wonderful souvenir shop!
Central London Hidden Gems
Churchill’s Secret Station and other Most of our Hidden London tours
If you’re uninspired by a visit to the London Eye or Buckingham Palace, there’s a new experience below the London streets that could appeal. The London Transport Museum has devised the very popular Hidden London tours, including a ‘secret station’ used by Churchill during the war, a World War II shelter, a disused underground station at Aldwych and a tour taking you along the disused rail lines. Tours are in great demand so often sell out quickly, but these are a rare opportunity to take an intimate peep into London’s hidden historical past, where the warren of tunnels were often used to save the lives of many during the Blitz.
East London Hidden Gems
Chislehurst Caves, BR7 5NL
Slightly further afield, but worth the effort, are Chislehurst Caves, a maze of man-made caverns, dating from the Druids, Romans and Saxons. They have had varied uses over the years, including serving as an air raid shelter during WW2, when people travelled daily from the bomb ravaged East End of London, to a safer place to sleep. For a brief time, they have also been a successful music venue, hosting artists like David Bowie and Jimi Hendrix.
Encounter a Soviet tank, Old Kent Road, SE1
Bringing Russia into London, a rather novel piece of social history can be seen. This materialised due to an argument between a prospective developer, Russel Gray, and Southwark Council. Denied planning permission for his house, the resident waged war on the council by buying a decommissioned T34 Soviet tank for his child and plonked it on the disputed plot! Prior to this act, this canny local had the forethought to apply for new planning permission, not for a building but for a 'tank'. The council granted this request, mistakenly thinking that it was for a storage container of some kind. The council’s error is to our benefit, as the tank is now a popular attraction for graffiti artists, who regularly change its facia. Legend has it that the tank’s turret is aimed towards the council offices! So should you fancy climbing over a part of cold war history, you can make a visit to this symbol of two great struggles, the first between communism and capitalism, and another between a local man and a council planning department.
St Dunstan in the East, EC3R 5DD
An excellent picnic spot, this area boasts a church dating from 1100. It has seen significant damage in past times, the first being inflicted during Great Fire of London in 1666, whilst more recently during the heavy bombing during the Blitz. Some parts survived though, in particular the steeple built by Christopher Wren. This is certainly an atmospheric place to have lunch.
Wilton’s Music Hall
If culture is what you crave, then look no further! Taking a trip to the oldest surviving music hall in the world, tucked within London’s East End is an experience you won’t forget. Wilton’s Music Hall hosts a wide range of theatrical and musical events is being gradually restored from its dilapidated state, whilst retaining its classic, original features.
Originally a traditional Victorian music hall, parts still lie crumbling, which add to its appeal. The ‘shabby chic’ effect also contributes to its character and intimacy, enabling you to either enjoy a drink in the Mahogany Bar, or take a tour around this great historic venue.
Enjoy lunch in a power station, E1W 3SG
For something which may give you a buzz, (another pun), you may fancy lunching in the unique and eccentric setting of Wapping Hydraulic Power Station. Situated in the old hydraulic power station and surrounded by original disused machinery, pumps and turbines, you can experience the quirkiness of this laid-back restaurant. After lunch remember to visit the impressive art gallery.
Where to stay in East London?
After a hard day’s sightseeing, you’ll want to rest your weary heads. We have a range of delightful serviced apartments within this area of London. One example is our superb, beautifully furnished apartments at Bishopsgate Liverpool Street, Corporate Serviced Apartments London, EC2
These corporate serviced apartments offer both studios and 1 or 2 bedroom apartments. Starting from £138p/n, these apartments feature modern furnishings and lovely solid oak flooring. They are equipped with the latest technology, including individual internet access, ISDN and digital telephones, making your stay more ‘home from home.’ They’ll provide the perfect spot for some peace and quiet from hectic city life.
- Baby cot / high chair (upon request)/ welcome pack available//daily cleaning service/
- Concierge / security / reception/ air conditioning/ door entry phone/lifts/lobby/waiting area/safe
- Fully equipped kitchen/breakfast available/laundry/dry cleaning facilities available
- Satellite TV/ telephone/ wi-fi
More about our Bishopsgate Liverpool Street corporate serviced apartments London ›
South London Hidden Gems
Fulham Palace, SW6 6EA
For a range of art, architecture and history, this beautiful palace is an unsung gem within London. With free entry, Fulham Palace has and a varied programme of events throughout the year. Paintings, archaeology and an array of artefacts trace the history of the Palace site from prehistoric times.
Mercato Metropolitano and Maltby Street
Two markets off the tourist trail that tend to appeal more to locals, yet are close to the bustling Borough Market, are those of the Mercato Metropolitano and Maltby Street. With their tantalising food selection, the Mercato Metropolitano food court specialises in dishes from Venezuela to Italian favourites. Within the 2 courtyards there are also regular cinema screenings. Alternatively Maltby Street lies under the railway arches in Bermondsey and is close to Tower Bridge. Here, street food is enjoyed by Londoners and visitors alike. With its ‘low-key’ atmosphere great food producers combine with craft brewers. So pick up a beer from The Southwark Brewing Co whilst dining. It’s a real treat.
Discover the House of Dreams, SE22 8RG
If you love discovering forgotten and previously unloved objects, then The House of Dreams is the place to go. This museum has been dedicated to those objects that would usually be thrown away. As you step over the threshold you’ll be treated to a home transformed into an extraordinary environment that is a shrine to….junk! Each surface, wall and ceiling is covered with every object imaginable, from such things as old Christmas crackers, china, broken toys and other odds and ends. There are intricate mosaics and life-sized sculptures of incredible characters which add to the amazing atmosphere of this wonderful place.
The King of Ladies Man, London, SW11 1HG
You’ll find this ‘speakeasy-style’ bar The King of Ladies Man, hidden at the back of a café behind a false wall in a launderette, believe it or not! Based on a 1970s bachelor pad, it is filled with golden light, pink flamingo wallpaper, gold lamé curtains and specialises in “beer, cheese and disco drinks”. The laundrette is a nod to the iconic 80’s advert for Levi Jeans and was transformed into a dining and drinking area. The proprietors will even allow you to perch on the washing machines! Then on sliding back the false wall, you’ll discover the hidden bar with its cocktail shaking staff in Hawaiian shirts!
Old Operating Theatre Museum, SE1 9RY
To see how our ancestors coped with 19th C surgery, and to recognise just how lucky we are to have today’s NHS, for all its faults, the 32 steps up an ancient, spiralling staircase are the stairway to an unmissable spectacle. This museum boasts a frightening array of implements for amputating body parts, reflecting the rather ruthless way that surgery was practiced during the 19th C. Each Saturday they even have a special demo of Victorian speed surgery at its best, a sight definitely to behold!
Where to stay in South London?
Should you decide to visit any of these great venues in South London then Euracom have a range of very affordable serviced apartments for both long and shorter stays.
The Luxury serviced apartments South Kensington Collingham London SW5 for example, have recently been stylishly refurbished as self-catering apartments for rent. Here there is space to relax, unwind and even entertain in luxurious accommodation. At £186p/n for a studio apartment, this Edwardian styled house will make you feel truly at home. They are perfect for families who are seeking all the comforts of home.
- Cot / high chair (upon request)
- Central heating/ concierge / security / reception/ lifts/ safe
- Daily or weekly linen change/ daily cleaning service
- Desk / workspace/ dining table & chairs
- DVD player/ telephone/ tv / freeview/wi-fi
- Fully equipped kitchen/ dishwasher in some/ iron / ironing board/ laundry / dry cleaning facilities available
More about our South Kensington Collingham luxury serviced apartments London ›
So there’s our pick of venues of secret London – a treasure trove of places that currently fly under the radar despite being really amazing. So why not try a few of these hidden gems for that ultimate day out? You won’t regret it.
For information on when & where to stay in London and which serviced apartment is right for you & your stay contact us today.
Kbthompson at English Wikipedia [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons
Nigel Chadwick [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Wiltonsfan (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
at 16 Oct 2017