Planning a trip to London in the near future? This guidebook contains all the essential information you need to make it truly special.
Here are the answers to all the questions you should ask before you start packing your bags.
When to visit and how to prepare?
London is quite amazing whenever you arrive, but there is the small matter of infamous British weather to consider.
You are never truly safe from the rain in London, although by visiting during the summer you can probably avoid the worse of it. In fact, during July and August, you have an excellent chance to enjoy several consecutive sunny days without any interruption, allowing you to walk around the city and enjoy afternoon tea near Paddington under the blue sky.
Regarding your preparations, the most important thing to consider before coming to London is its sheer size – this sprawling metropolis is the permanent home of millions of people and welcomes huge crowds of visitors every day.
It’s imperative that you have a map with you at all times, and preferably you should also research the areas you intend to visit in advance. Another important tip is to change your money to British pounds as soon as you arrive (if not before) since you won’t be able to pay for goods or services with dollars or Euros.
On the other hand, you can find ATM’s, Wi-Fi connection and other high-tech amenities virtually everywhere, so it’s easy to stay in touch with your business and private life while you are in London.
Where to stay in London?
Greater London is huge, so the choice of location to stay in has a great impact on all of your plans.
For example, people who are just changing flights in London usually stay close to the airport, business visitors prefer accommodation close to the convention they are attending, while those who intend to tour the historical monuments typically prefer hotels in the city centre.
Furthermore, every neighbourhood has a distinct feel, which may or may not appeal to your sensibility.
Some of the areas most beloved by visitors include Paddington, Hyde Park and Chelsea, but there are many other parts of the city that leave a strong impression. Of course, location is just one factor to take into account when selecting your hotel – the quality of accommodation, level of service, financial conditions and the reputation of the brand are also very important.
Park Grand Paddington Court London is an example of a hotel that meets all of the aforementioned requirements, especially if you are interested in London’s traditions and history.
Where to dine and shop in London?
In such a large city, it can be tricky to find the best restaurants and retail stores.
To make matters worse, shopping or dining in the wrong place could be very expensive and ruin your budget planning. Of course, if you’re not up for exploring the many restaurants in the city, tourists can choose to eat their meals in the restaurant of their hotel. In the case of The Park Grand Paddington Court London, you’ll be spoilt for choice.
But, if you do feel like venturing out, the best dining areas generally include Mayfair, Soho, King’s Cross and Shoreditch, although you can find suitable food spots in other neighbourhoods as well. If you are staying in the city centre, the Grand Restaurant is a place that offers great food at reasonable prices.
Shopping is another popular activity for tourists, and likewise, it requires a plan if you want to stay within your budget constraints. Of course, Bond Street is world-famous as a luxury shopping zone, so if you are looking for top global brands this is where you want to go.
Airport shopping should be used only as an option of last resort – while there are many brand outlets at the Heathrow Airport, you can likely find the same items at a better price in central London.
Which are the most important London attractions?
The main reason why people come to London is to see some of its unique cultural monuments, which are mostly concentrated around the historical old town.
Royal palaces are probably the most popular London attractions, with Buckingham Palace, Palace of Westminster and Kensington Palace among the properties that most tourists want to see. St. Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey are just as impressive, while visitors with more time on their hands might decide to spend a day in one of London’s magnificent museums and art galleries, such as Natural History Museum or The British Museum.
If you are more impressed with modern architecture, you might be tempted to visit The Shard or climb the observation tower at the ArcelorMittal Orbit.
London also has numerous green spaces ideal for a family picnic or a moment of solitude, with St. James Park, Hyde Park and The Regent’s Park standing out as must-see locations of this type. Some of those sites inspire amazing pictures – views from Tower Bridge are something that must be seen to be believed.
How to explore London on your own?
Some tourists prefer organised tours around the city, with a tour guide that speaks their native language. This is definitely a great way to learn a lot about London in a short time, but you will be limited to major sites and will see some interesting features of local life only in passing.
When it comes to exploring London non-tourist attractions can be equally impressive, which is why many visitors choose to leave some time for strolling the streets at their own pace.
If you decide to be your own tour guide, you need to pick a few areas not too far from your hotel and stay in the general vicinity. Straying too far away could result in wasting a lot of time looking for directions and trying to find your way back. Of course, with a smartphone in your hand, you can always consult online maps or discover nearby attractions without anyone’s assistance.