I’ve got into a new habit of buying travel guides before venturing off on holiday. I strictly planned my New York itineraries for my last trips based on my Lonely Planet New York City guide and I would have been riding the Skytrain around Bangkok in circles without the DK Thailand guide.
There’s something about buying a book in print. I feel secure in its knowledge. Even standing on the street spinning it around to navigate the map, I will stand by it to guide me rather than accept advice from a passerby. When I’m at my most vulnerable, experiencing new and foreign places, I trust it.
London is neither new nor foreign to me; I was born here and have lived here all my life. I don’t need a travel guide because this is my city. I tut at tourists with their travel guides standing on the left on escalators, and I laugh when I see travellers taking pictures outside Westfield. This is my London, and I know everything about it. So why have I done so little here?
I’ve never been to the Saatchi Gallery, or walked the zebra crossing at Abbey Road. I’ve only eaten at 2 of the 5 best food markets in London, and I have never visited a non-Christian place of worship in the city I claim as my own. London received over 17.4 million visitors in 2015, and I think it’s about time that us Londoners realised why.
When was the last time you enjoyed a place without having to do anything at all? Although it may not feel like it on the tube during rush hour, London isn’t one of the most populated cities in the world. It sits calmly down at 22nd position; we’ve got lots of space to do nothing in.
If you’re anything like me on holiday, one of your favourite things to do is people-watch, and I’ve got just the spot.
Get a seat by the window in the Ace Hotel lobby, grab a tea (or cocktail, I won’t tell) and the Shoreditch grime in this design haven. It isn’t the most quiet of spaces, but absolutely no one will bother you or mind if you put your headphones on and let your mind slip away to tranquillity. If you’re one of those weird people who don’t know how to relax, there are tables, sockets and *free Wi-Fi* for you to get on with some work.
Pictures courtesy of acehotel.com
Not only have the genius’ behind Ace Hotel designed a multi-purpose work and play area, there’s a great restaurant downstairs for you to try out too.
There’s nothing like being completely absorbed in a novel on a long flight, and at any quiet moment on a trip. Sometimes I think that without holidays I wouldn’t read. Escape the fast pace of city life, curl up with a novel in a quiet corner and lose yourself at the British Library. Allow yourself that mental break, and hey, it’s free.
Photograph by Mike Peel
There’s more than one way (*ahem* notThe Shard) to view the skyline of London.
Lonely Planet recommends Min Jiang for ‘breath-taking panoramas over Kensington Gardens’ and I have to agree. The menu is probably a little over budget for a casual lunch, but with those views you should make an occasion out of it.
Picture courtesy of minjiang.co.uk
My favourite restaurant in the heart of the City of London is Duck and Waffle. The elevator ride to the 40th floor is impressive enough, but the views from the restaurant itself are spectacular.
Enjoy a weekend away; away from your home but in the familiarity of London. For any non-Londoners, any of the boutique hotels listed below would be ideal base for vacation.
Pictures courtesy of boutiquehotels-london.com
Pictures courtesy of lasuitewest.com
Pictures courtesy of southplacehotel.com
TRAVEL WITHOUT TRAVELLING
Let’s go to Italy without going anywhere! When I think of Italy, I think food. Bread, pizza, pasta, ice cream, bread… oh I said bread twice. You don’t need to travel when we have freshly baked Foccacia almost every day in Borough Market from the dedicated bakers at Bread Ahead=, and London’s silkiest gelato at Gelupo. Ciao bella!
So Londoners, instead of spending hours online searching for your next escape (I’ve still got my eye on Santorini mind you), take a step back and appreciate the amazing city we have right under our noses!
‘A bad day in London is still better than a good day anywhere else.’ – Unknown.