London Area Guide
While London lacks the towering skylines of New York or Hong Kong, it makes up for it in the multitude of impossibly grand and unmistakably British architecture that has been there in some cases for many hundreds of years. London is home to royal palaces, cathedrals, Roman ruins, ancient theatres and other famous landmarks. The vast wealth derived from thousands of years of monarchy and empire building are evident everywhere in the grand facades of London’s streets. Even if you aren’t architecturally inclined, London doesn’t fail to impress.
History and the influence of the Monarchy are tightly woven throughout the city, whether it be the major checklist items like Tower of London, Buckingham Palace or the less obvious places names that have become taken for granted. For example, Soho used to be the king’s hunting ground and was so named because of the cries the hunters would make when giving chase. Knightsbridge, now home to Harrods, was at one time exactly what it sounds like, a river crossing for knights. The famous Kings Road in Chelsea was once a private road for the king.
When you need to escape from the hustle and bustle of London, it has around 1700 parks to stroll, have a picnic, ride a horse, rent a boat or watch a movie, concert or play. And sometimes, you may even get a chance to do some sunbathing.
Alternatively, you have the other traditional British escape, the pub! The public house (pub) has been at the centre of British life for as long as it can remember and there are pubs still serving in London that date back to the 1600s. If you went back 50 years, the pub was one of the few places you could eat out. And it wasn’t good! Fortunately, Britain learned to cook over the last 50 years and now many pubs serve extremely good food. And of course, London has some of the most varied and excellent restaurants in the world. If you pluck a country from the air, you will be sure to find a restaurant serving that nation’s cuisine.
London has many different areas to explore, each with a slightly different feel. Whether it’s Chelsea, Knightsbridge, Camden Town, Soho, Portobello Road or Chinatown you will find a place that feels right for you. A great way to explore is to rent a Boris bike, named after a slightly eccentric member of parliament, Boris Johnson, who introduced them to London. On some Sundays the Mall, the street leading up to Buckingham Palace, is closed and you can ride along there, through St James Park and up to Hyde Park and since the traffic isn’t too bad anyway on a Sunday, you could also cycle the other way, through Covent Garden and past the Inns Of Court, quite an impressive old building where barristers (lawyers that go to court) have their offices. If you are feeling energetic, a little bit further takes you past St Paul’s Cathedral and into the City. The City, or Square Mile, is home to the Bank of England and the possibly slightly more impressive LIFFE building and our few skyscrapers. Just a little bit further and you can take in the Tower of London and cycle across Tower Bridge.
We are sure your stay in London will be special. Renting an apartment through Hampstead Apartments will certainly make a great base from which to explore. Click on the two area guides for a few useful tips on the areas close to our apartments and have a look at some of the web sites below for more ideas.