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
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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
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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
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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
There is undoubtedly a plethora of relatively new, interesting buildings and structures within London, which have proven to be a large attraction to the many visitors we have to our capital city. Take the London Eye, the Shard and the Millennium Dome to name a few. Yet London is also one of the most historic cities on the earth, dating back well beyond Roman times, boasting landmarks that have given the city a reputation for both splendour and culture.
This month we’ll look at some of these older, yet well-loved tourist attractions, which will hopefully be around for many more years to come. Needless to say, whether you opt for the ancient or modern within London, there is always something of interest to everyone. That’s why London is such an exceptional place to stay and rent a serviced apartment, as you get the best of everything, both old and new, equally contributing to make the city the wonderful city we know today.
One spectacular area of London, hosting an iconic city landmark, is Marble Arch. Now an entirely modern, bustling district, with Oxford Street to the East, Park Lane to the south and Bayswater to the west, the region encompasses much of the City of Westminster, boasting some of the most expensive real estate in the Capital.
The area around the Arch now accommodates a major road junction, yet once, according to the poet John Betjeman, who in one of his poems states, ‘For here where once were pleasant fields and no one in a hurry!’ How times have changed!
This historic arch has had a chequered history. Its original design was supposed to have been a triumphal arch and grand gateway to an expanded Buckingham Palace, celebrating the British victories in the Napoleonic Wars, yet the arch we see today is nothing like as ornate or grand as the one that designer John Nash originally intended. When first commissioned by George IV, Nash was due to have incorporated many imposing sculptures, such as a large equestrian statue of the king sitting above the arch, along with other, more ornate friezes of battle scenes and symbolic panels. Having produced these, unfortunately after the king’s death, Nash was sacked for overspending in favour of another architect, Edward Blore, whose brief was to complete the works in a more economic fashion!
However, what to do with all this jumbled collection of sculptures that were on his hands?
Nash, understandably, would no longer cooperate on the project, so Blore decided to complete the Arch without most of the intended sculptures. The arch we therefore see today has only four symbolic panels with minimal decoration. The ends are blank except for three laurel wreaths.
Marble Arch was finally completed in 1833, minus the central gates, which were added just before Queen Victoria was crowned in 1837. Yet there was one fatal mistake still visible today. The symbolic panels were supposed to represent a "military side", which celebrated victory at the Battle of Waterloo and a “naval side” which commemorated Lord Nelson’s achievements. However, the military side is topped with the portrait of Nelson and the naval side with one of Wellington. What a ‘mistaka to maka!’
Fortunately the other sculptures still survive and were eventually used within Buckingham Palace Courtyard and in the new National Gallery. And what happened to the equestrian statue? It now sits on a plinth in Trafalgar Square!
After all this effort to construct, Marble Arch was eventually deemed unsatisfactory in its original location and moved, stone by stone, to where it currently stands at Cumberland Gate. Its new site would, it was thought, form a grand entrance to Hyde Park in time for the Great Exhibition of 1851. Indeed, this was the case for 50 years, however with progress came additional, widened roads, and in 1908 and 1960 respectively, new road schemes managed to completely separate the Arch from Hyde Park, leaving it in an isolated position…..all the best laid plans!
If you decide to visit this exceptional area of London, you won’t be sorry. Near to Marble Arch, Hyde Park is a wonderful place to relax at all times of the year, whilst for retail therapy why not head off to Oxford Street? There are also a wide range of cafes, bars and restaurants within the neighbourhood, along with other major attractions and theatre land just a short underground trip away.
If you need somewhere to rest your weary head after a hard day sightseeing, why not try Euracom’s George Street, central London apartments? Centred at the heart of London’s West End, this modern, 4 storey town house features several self – catering apartments
These delightful serviced apartments in the heart of London's West End are housed in a four storey town house, designed in a modern style. From five one-bedroom apartments to a double studio apartment, ranging from a reasonable £650 p/w, these offer guests the ideal London retreat.
- Fully equipped kitchen/ kitchenette with dishwasher in some apartments
- Laundry / dry cleaning facilities available/ Utilities included
- Close to amenities
- Door entry phone/Property supervisor nearby
- Radio / Alarm clock/Telephone/TV / Freeview/ Wi-Fi
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Another unmissable, yet historic area of London is that of Trafalgar Square, a must stop for any visitor to London. This public square, completed in 1844, is regarded to be at London’s centre and was built around the area once known as Charing Cross. However, the district has been well renowned since the 13th century. It once housed the King's Mews, although when these were relocated to Buckingham Palace by George IV, its redevelopment took place, resulting in the splendid square that we have today. The name ‘Trafalgar’ celebrates Britain’s naval victory in the war against Napoleon.
At the centre of the square sits the 52m high Nelson’s column, surrounded by four statuesque lions sitting on plinths, each weighing seven tons. Originally called The Monument to Lord Nelson, the column is built of Devon granite and commemorates Nelson’s victory at Trafalgar. Interestingly, when being refurbished in 2006, it measured over 4 metres less than people had first thought! On a more sinister note, in 1940 the Nazis developed secret plans to move Nelson's Column to Berlin when Britain lost the Second World War! Thankfully, this didn’t happen!
Fountains and sculptures have adorned the square, throughout the years, whilst since 1947, a Christmas tree, donated by Norway, is erected in gratitude for Britain's support during World War II. The square is also the centre of New Year's Eve celebrations. For years the square was renowned for its pigeon population and a popular pastime in Victorian times was to feed them. Pigeon feed sellers became famous for trading at inflated prices, whilst the pigeon population also inflated to around 35,000 and was deemed to be a health hazard. In recent years, feeding the pigeons has been banned and birds of prey have been introduced to discourage them.
Nearby are the National Gallery, featuring masterpieces from the past, along with Her Majesty’s Theatre, Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament.
This area of London is a tourist’s dream! If you require a central location to enable you to experience all the famous landmarks and soak up the history of our great capital then look no further than Euracom’s Central London serviced apartments in Trafalgar Square WC2.
These modern, newly refurbished serviced apartments are within a minutes’ walk of all the areas mentioned above. Ranging from £987 p/w, they make the perfect spot for exploring our capital city. Sleeping from 2 to 6 persons, all apartments and studios are well furnished and air conditioned. If café culture is your desire, you’ll find plenty of coffee shops, pubs & restaurants at nearby Pall Mall and Trafalgar Square.
- Air conditioning/central heating
- Fully equipped kitchen/ Breakfast available/ dishwasher in some apartments
- Laundry / dry cleaning facilities available/ daily or weekly linen change/daily cleaning service
- Concierge / security / reception/ Lifts/ Safe
- Desk / workspace/dining table & chairs
- Radio / alarm clock/ satellite TV/ tea / coffee making facilities/ telephone/Wi - Fi
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A rather more modern attraction than those previously covered is The Barbican. Opened on the 3 March 1982, to a very excited public, this performing arts centre in the City of London is the largest of its kind in Europe. Celebrating its 35th anniversary, the centre gives theatre goers, a range of contemporary and classical music concerts, theatre performances, film screenings and art exhibitions. Declared by the Queen as a ‘modern wonder of the world’, this was the first arts centre ever to provide music, theatre, visual arts, film with a tropical conservatory all within one venue.
Once a World War 2 bomb crater, the Barbican rose out of the rubble to become a world-class multi-arts centre.
From the opening ceremony, this iconic theatre has shown innovation, vision and ambition to push boundaries in in the art world, welcoming the finest artists in the world to come and perform. From new interpretations of Shakespeare, from distinguished directors like Thomas Ostermeier, to celebrations of Nordic and Japanese culture, the centre encourages people to create innovative work that takes risks. This centre has really raised the game in theatre, and for this reason it attracts the best international artists around, along with home grown talent.
The Barbican’s initial conception came as part of London’s post war vision to rebuild an area of London which was devastated by bombing during the Second World War. Its name comes from a street situated in the area of Cripplegate, which was, during the 19th century, home to a wide variety of tradesmen including furriers and glovers, and was the centre of the rag trade with fabric and leather merchants in abundance.
Yet during the 1940’s the area, and indeed the whole of London, succumbed to a prolonged aerial attack by German bombers, leaving in its wake a flattened, devastated landscape of bomb craters and fire damaged warehouses. By 1945, very few buildings within the area remained standing, leaving Londoners keen to rebuild. Careful plans were instigated throughout the capital, resulting in the London we have today.
The Barbican itself took over a decade to complete and is today seen as a famous London landmark due to its scale and ambitious design. It has become internationally recognised as one of the most significant architectural achievements of the 20th century. It also demonstrates that good can rise from adversity, showing us what is great about London and its people, which are both innovative and outward looking. It has certainly played its part in making London the great diverse, cultural city it has become, encouraging a sense of community and unity, by making us see the world from different angles.
Not only is the Barbican a centre for outstanding arts but over the years it has become a valuable local resource, bringing communities together. This has contributed considerably to East London’s vibrant and thriving cultural life. If you’d like to experience this sensational part of London, then why not extend your stay in the capital by trying Euracom’s Central London serviced apartments, Barbican EC1?
For a weekly rental cost starting from £875 p/w, this collection of modern serviced apartments range from newly refurbished studio apartments to deluxe 1-bedroom apartments. They are located within easy reach of the Barbican Centre and St Paul’s Cathedral, making them the perfect retreat within central London. With clever designs to maximise space, all apartments are equipped with a fully fitted kitchen with dishwasher, microwave and bathroom with shower.
- Central heating/radio/alarm clock/telephone/TV/Freeview/Wi-Fi
- Concierge / security / reception/ lifts/lobby / waiting area
- Fully equipped kitchen/ dishwasher in some apartments/daily cleaning service
- Laundry / dry cleaning facilities available
- Onsite restaurants / bars
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Brian Balfe [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Wordsworth Donisthorpe [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
By James Pollard (died 1867) - Berger Collection: id #21 (Denver, Colorado), Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6436449
By Diliff (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Riodamascus (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Alan Simkins, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9112425
at 19 Sep 2017
Amongst the growing trend of latest technologies and ideas, there is certainly one that has escaped my attention, (and possibly yours)… that of the appropriately named, ‘listicle!’ ‘What on earth’, I hear you ask, ‘is that?’ Well, for the uninitiated, and those who haven't been on the internet for some time, ‘listicles’ have recently become popular with people who enjoy reading lists instead of a good novel! A "listicle," is generally defined as a phrase for any article which is presented in the form of a list. So this month we present the top ten things to do in London as a listicle…
Let’s look at what many people would consider to be the top 10 things to do in London our wonderful capital city, also discovering a few which are free.
Unusual facts that may surprise you about the top ten things to do in London as featured in this article!
- The London Eye
- The Tower of London
- The Shard
- Buckingham Palace
- The London Dungeon
- Madam Tussauds
- Take a walk
- Science or Natural History Museums
- Explore the Parks
- Stroll the Markets
1. The London Eye
This iconic, giant Ferris wheel is a masterpiece of engineering, located along the Thames. Officially known as the Coca-Cola London Eye, it is over 200 times larger than the average cycle wheel and is Europe’s tallest Ferris wheel, rising to 135 meters tall. There are 32 capsules, one for each of the London boroughs, each weighing 10 tonnes. Capsules are numbered 1 to 33, with interestingly no capsule 13, for superstitious reasons! The Eye can carry 800 passengers, (equivalent to 11 London double-decker buses), and welcomes over 3 ¾ million visitors annually.
Did you know?
It was once turned into a rotating nightclub, along with becoming a ‘pop up’ restaurant during the London Restaurant Festival! An unmissable venue!
2. The Tower of London
Despite once renowned as a place of torture and death, this 1000 year old, working monument has been a royal palace, jewel house, royal mint, fortress and armoury. Legend says that the ghost of Anne Boleyn walks the Tower accompanied by her head, placed, appropriately, under her arm. With over 2½ million visitors each year, this is an attraction not to be overlooked.
Did you know?
For 600 years it accommodated a range of wild creatures, making it the first London Zoo. Exotic animals, ranging from kangaroos to a polar bear, hunting for fish in the River Thames on a lead! All long gone now, although legend has it that if the Tower’s ravens leave, then this spells doom for Great Britain. So let’s hope they stay!
3. The Shard
This superb vantage point is twice as high as any other in the city. As Western Europe's tallest building, (309m), The Shard allows visitors to see up to 40 miles away. The impressive 95 storey
structure was designed as a vertical city, enabling people to work, relax and live. Its ‘Neo-futuristic’ design was based on the shape of a shard of glass, derived from the architect’s description during planning. Incredibly, 95% of the construction materials are recycled, and the 11,000 glass panels have a total area of 8 football pitches, around 56,000m2. It’s wiring amounts to 320km and would stretch from London to Paris, whilst the swimming pool on the 52nd floor is Europe’s highest swimming pool. An apartment in this fabulous space would set you back around £40 million, so best just to visit!
Did you know?
Near the end of construction, a fox, nicknamed Romeo, was found on the 72nd floor. Later released into the wild, it is thought it survived on food left by construction workers.
4. Buckingham Palace
This unmissable, working royal palace, gives you a glimpse into royal life. The superb state rooms boast palace treasures and masterpieces from fine artists like Rembrandt and Rubens. Originally named Buckingham House, and the Queen’s official London residence, the house comprises of 775 rooms, including 19 state rooms, 52 main suites, 188 staff bedrooms, 92 offices, and 78 bathrooms! There are also 760 windows and 1,514 doors, 350 clocks and watches, along with a post office, police station, doctor’s surgery, ATM, cinema and pool.
Did you know?
There is an exciting set of passageways running beneath the palace, connecting it to the outside world. Many royals, including HM Queen Mother and King George VI, enjoyed exploring these. On one occasion, they encountered ‘a very polite man from Newcastle,’ who was living down there.
5. The London Dungeon
This thrilling attraction transports you back to Britain’s gory past. The macabre setting lets your senses explore all the sights, smells and sounds of London’s horrifying crimes. Not for the faint hearted and with a surprise round every corner, you’ll encounter an array of frightening characters, from torturers, judges and infamous rogues and villains, played by fine actors. So stay alert for the shocks, special effects and rides and become entwined in the world of horror. Embark on this thrill-filled journey at your peril, through 1,000 years of London's dark past.
Did you know?
Figures like Sweeney Todd and his sidekick Mrs Lovett, are only fictional, as no public records exist which substantiate the existence of a barber named Todd. Yet stories of shocking criminal deeds were often embellished as they were told and were therefore asserted to be true.
6. Madam Tussauds
This fine museum, founded in 1835 by wax sculptor Anna Maria Tussaud, has been enthralling visitors for almost 200 years. Typical figures included in today’s displays range from historical to royalty, film stars to sporting legends and famous murderers. Originally holding around 400 exhibits, some of these were damaged irreparably during the war, although many have been remade using the original casts. Each sculpture takes four months to produce, costing £227,000. Accuracy is paramount, so 250 precise measurements, along with 180 photographs are taken to ensure this.
Did you know?
The singer Ozzy Osbourne once posed in the museum as himself and scared unsuspecting visitors. Mother Teresa decreed that her ‘work was more important than her physical being.’ She was therefore one of the only people to refuse to be sculpted.
Free Activities in the Top Ten
7. Take a walk
Head off to admire the lions in Trafalgar Square and take in the famous Nelson’s Column. Cast in bronze, the lions were designed by Edwin Landseer, who worked from real corpses and the cast of a lion statue. After this, head inside the nearby National Portrait Gallery to view some fabulous artwork and drawings from Leonardo to Rembrandt.
Did you know?
Although he strove for great accuracy, Landseer made a big error. In reality, lion’s backs are convex when laying down, not concave as he depicted them. Many thought they looked more like a sphinx!
8. Science or Natural History Museums
The NH museum boasts a huge collection relating to life and earth science specimens. It holds over 80 million items within five main collections, including; botany, entomology, mineralogy, palaeontology and zoology. It has excellent research facilities, specialising in identification, conservation and taxonomy. Many specimens have significant historical value as well as scientific, like those collected by Charles Darwin. The museum is particularly popular amongst younger children for its exhibition of dinosaur skeletons.
Alternatively, the incredible Science Museum is another of the city's major tourist attractions, attracting 3 million visitors annually. Major interactive exhibitions, such as ‘Exploring Space’, are always excitingly displayed and of great interest to young and old alike. The museum now holds a collection of over 300,000 items, including such famous items as Stephenson's Rocket and Puffing Billy (the oldest surviving steam locomotive)
9. Explore the Parks
Hyde Park is just one of eight Royal Parks and is well worth a visit to see such sights as the Serpentine, Speakers Corner and the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain. Start from Marble Arch tube and stroll around.
Did you know?
Each Christmas Day, a few mad bathers dive into the Serpentine, competing for the Peter Pan Cup. It’s aptly named, by the Peter Pan author, JM Barrie, who donated the cup. Worth noting though, that participation is for Serpentine Swimming Club members only, so maybe just focus on cooking the turkey!
10. Stroll the Markets
Why not feast on delicious food at the Borough Market, or watch the street performers whilst dining in Covent Garden? These are some of the oldest and most charming London areas, with superb cheese and bread stalls, along with a memento or two to take home.
Did you know?
The name of ‘Covent Garden’ was a spelling mistake. It was supposed to be CONVENT GARDEN, the market garden of the convent of Westminster Abbey!
So there you have it…a ‘listicle’ showing some strange facts about the top ten attractions in London. Whilst weighing up your choices why not consider staying a while longer to tick some others off your ‘bucket listicle!’ You’ll be glad you did!
Euracom has a range of serviced apartments to suit your every need, from budget studio flats to luxurious sprawling apartment suites.
Take, for example, the Luxury corporate serviced apartments in London E1, Bishopsgate, these stunningly spacious, recently converted, luxury serviced apartments are bright and well furnished. Perfect for business travellers and tourists alike, they give easy access to the City and its main attractions like Covent Garden, Spitalfields Market and the Museum of London. From £1034 pw, these apartments offer a range of luxurious services & facilities that cater for everyone.
Services & facilities include
- Baby cot / high chair (upon request)
- Bathroom/ toiletries provided
- Concierge / security / reception/ door entry phone/ lifts/ telephone/TV / freeview/wi-fi
- Daily or weekly linen change/ daily cleaning service/starter packs of groceries/ toiletries available
- DVD player/ radio / alarm clock
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- Gym in building or nearby
More about our luxury corporate serviced apartments in London E1, Bishopsgate ›
Slightly more expensive, at £1071pw, are the short stay apartments London, Earls Court Road, SW5. These lovely, Edwardian styled apartments, feature high imposing ceilings and comfortable, well- proportioned rooms. Close to Kensington Palace and the Natural History Museum, the four bedroom apartments can sleep up to 8 people, making them the perfect apartments to rent for a short stay in London.
Services & facilities include
- Baby cot / high chair (upon request)/ daily cleaning service
- Breakfast available/ dishwasher in some apartments/ welcome pack available
- Concierge / security / reception/ door entry phone/ Lifts
- En-suite bathroom in some apartments
- Desk / workspace/ dining table & chairs
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- Fully equipped kitchen/ laundry / dry cleaning facilities available/ tea / coffee making facilities
- Telephone/ TV / Freeview/ DVD player/Wifi
More about our short stay apartments London, Earls Court Road, SW5 ›
Alternatively, you could opt for our corporate serviced apartments, Holborn Lambs Conduit Street WC1, which are set in a quiet street in the heart of London's Holborn district. Close to Covent Garden, The British Museum and the City, these apartments make an ideal base for both holidaying and business. Each apartment has been individually designed and furnished to a high standard, featuring Italian furniture, king-sized beds and comfortable living and dining areas.
Services & facilities include;
- Baby cot / high chair (upon request)/ daily cleaning service/ welcome pack available
- Balcony / Terrace (upon request)
- Central heating/concierge / security / reception/ door entry phone/ lifts/ safe
- Dining table & chairs/ fully equipped kitchen/ dishwasher in some apartments
- DVD player/ hairdryer available
- Grocery store onsite / nearby
- Kitchen / kitchenette/ iron / ironing board/ laundry / dry cleaning facilities available
- Radio / Alarm clock/satellite TV/ telephone/TV / Freeview/ Wi-fi
More about our corporate serviced apartments London, Holborn Lambs Conduit Street WC1 ›
By Bob Collowân (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
at 4 Aug 2017