No one celebrates Halloween quite like the Londoners. There are a ton of events going on in London this Halloween for both kids and adults. Whether you fancy going to a club or Halloween themed party, or sit back and let a spooky film do the work, or head out with your kids to a kid – friendly Halloween party, there are a ton of events and activities to participate in. Here are some of the best, not-to-be-missed events:
1. Halloween Hocus Pocus:
Wicked goblins, grotesque monsters, cackling witches, vampires and all sorts of creepy characters are awaiting your kids this year at the ‘Chessington World of Adventures’. This Halloween extravaganza transforms the park creating an ambiance that will surely give your little ones some hellish scare. The zoo will let visitors get up close and personal with owls, rats, snakes, spiders and other creepy crawly insects. A haunted house has been set up for kids to solve the Hocus Pocus mystery by revealing some spine-chilling secrets. Lots of scary stories will be told at the famous Market Square and other not to miss attractions include the Castle Dracula the Transylvanian village of Black Hollow. Let your kids enjoy some spooky adventures this Halloween by taking them to the Chessington World of Adventures.
2. Greenwich Market:
The Greenwich Market is one of the best London markets for your Halloween shopping. The whole market will portray an eerie twist to visitors through stalls selling everything you need to have an amazing Halloween this year. Each corner of the Greenwich market will have creepily-carved pumpkins, amazing Halloween costumes, ghoulish music playing and other blood-curdling decorations hanging around to give the Greenwich Market a seriously spooky transformation. Kids can get into the Halloween spirit by getting their faces painted, while other stalls will encourage people to bring in their own skilfully carved pumpkins and participating in competitions held for the best pumpkin. There will be plenty of other shows for you to participate in like a scary fashion show and a best-dressed competition for your dogs. The Greenwich market is a family-friendly event for you to enjoy this year.
3. Torture Garden Halloween Ball:
For all the 18+ looking to have some serious Halloween fun, this is the party to be at. Lots of thrills and chills are promised at this Halloween ball which features burlesque cabaret, amazing performance art and a dress code you cannot skip out on if you want to enter the Torture Garden. This Halloween is exclusively for those looking to enjoy authentic clubbing with friends on Halloween night. Almost 2000 clubbers are expected to join in on Halloween night for fetish filled mayhem.
But the fetish community is not the only people targeted at the Torture Garden Halloween Ball. It will attract several other underground cultures like burlesque, electro and goth. Each room will have its own theme showcasing everything from live music and art installations to fashion shows. So book your tickets now to The Torture Garden Halloween Ball taking place on Friday 1st and Saturday 2nd of November, right after the creepiest night of the year.
4. The London Dungeon:
You can’t get wrong with this one! The home of Halloween is going seriously big this year to celebrate its most loved celebration, Halloween. Some of the major attractions to look out for this year at The London Dungeon is an awesome new Dungeon, 20 live actors, 18 new shows, special effects, state-of-the-art themed decorations, amazing underground rides, story-telling and so much more.
This year’s special new character is The Pumpineer, who is joined by a cast full of blood freezing and terrifying characters like Jack the Ripper, Rat Catcher with a mob of real rats, Sweeney Todd and many more. Along with these ghoulish characters, you’ll be jumping out of your skin to the blood curdling screams of tortured souls. The 90 minute tour in The London Dungeon will put you through many more incredible experiences, thrilling rides, and so much more. Best of all, each visitor will enjoy a special Halloween treat.
So if this is the kind of fun you have in mind for Halloween this year better get your hands on tickets to The London Dungeon soon.
So if your planning on visiting London to enjoy its many gruesome treats this Halloween, make sure your visit is made perfect with Loving Apartments. Book a comfortable apartment with us at by clicking here.
Barcelona: Salon Nautico, 24th-29th September 2013
For all those boating enthusiasts out there, Barcelona will be the place to be this week. The largest and most organized trade show in all of Spain, will take place at Port Vell. All the prestigious marine transport and sporting manufacturers meet and present to international clients. Although this event attracts a specific group of buyers who come to view the latest yachts, it has grown so large that it now includes many exciting activities for everyone like a boat parade, where a selection of the very latest in the boating and water sport world will sail across Port Vell. This event begins at 8:30 p.m. on the 27th and is free to all who come to the trade show, or just happen to be in Barcelona at the time. Another feature of the show is a Fun Beach where guests can learn or practice their skills in a variety of water sports like dinghy sailing, canoeing, paddle surfing, kayaking, and many others.
If you’re more the type to mix business with pleasure, than this event is the perfect place for both. The “Espai del Mar” or Sea Space is the site for professional conferences, talks with seafarers, presentations of Regattas, and even prize-giving ceremonies. If you feel like blowing off some steam after a long week of seminars, then head out to the first ever SUP (stand-up paddle) festival, where a race will be held on Saturday the 28th at noon. Places are limited in the race so if you’re feeling competitive, head to firstname.lastname@example.org to register. If you are new to stand up paddle surfing, a demonstration will be held on Tuesday the 24th from noon to 5:00 p.m. The entry fee for the trade show is 12 euros, but visit www.salonnautico.com to register early and receive a 50% discount! Whether you are on vacation or working in the boating business, this annual event has proven itself for 50 years and is sure to send a wave of chatter all across Spain.
Berlin: Berlin Marathon, 29th September 2013
If you feel like mixing exercise with music, literature, and a wide array of activities than the Berlin marathon is something to add to your travel list. This marathon, one of the largest in the world with nearly 60,000 runners, is spread over two days to accommodate those on foot, those in wheelchairs, and even in-line skaters. With the moderate September weather, and the flat landscape, this is one of the fastest marathon courses and there is a good chance you will see a world record broken. And if you’re worried about growing bored with watching the runners/skaters, there is no need to fret because the course is lined with 80 bands at intervals of about 500 meters. Every time your focus starts to wane, a new band with a different sound will be there to give you new life! And if you don’t feel like watching the race, the music festival is a great thing to enjoy in itself with shows like the samba band at Wild Boar, the Turkish rock band Kottbusser Gate and the Jazz Big Band at York castle in Kreuzberg. To see more of the bands that will be performing, visit www.bmw-berlin-marathon.com and look at the interactive route map.
Unfortunately, the registration is closed for this year’s event, but if you wish to run in the future, the application can be found at www.bmw-berlin-marathon.com and you can register on the 30th of September, which is the recommended day because there are many applicants. Despite this, the race attracts a great number of people, and includes many other events in which you do not have to be a participant to attend. If you have general questions about the event you can email the marathon staff at any time at email@example.com and if you wish to be more involved they welcome any help they can get. To volunteer, contact firstname.lastname@example.org at anytime. This marathon picks up the pace of Berlin and is a prime time to be in the city, and definitely something to check out if you’re in the area.
Florence: 26th Intercity Festival- International contemporary drama festival, 29th September to 31st October
For those of you who are addicted to the theatre and cinema, than Florence will be hosting its 26th annual Intercity Festival, which aims to connect Italian theatre and Cinema with international theatre companies and films. It is sponsored by a network of four theatres which are: The Royal Court Theatre, Schaubune am Lehniner Platz, Teatro Della Limonaia, and the Theatre National de la Colline. The festival has a wide array of events to attend and shows the diversity of theatre, film, and books around the world. It runs for an entire month and the activities include new Italian and foreign productions (translated to Italian), meetings and readings with authors, film festivals, seminars and exhibitions. Some of the featured events are a showing of UK cinema which includes classic films like “Life of Brian” and “The French Lieutenants Woman,” “A Tribute to Ping Pong” by Jo Stromgren Kompani which shows ping pong as much more than a sport but as a philosophy. The company presents with a combination of puppetry and voice over, and there will be many other interesting and diverse performances, films, and seminars throughout the month.
Ticket prices for the event range depending on what you wish to attend, and information on advance ticket purchases can be found by contacting Firenze Turismo information center at 055 440582. This Festival promises to offer a wide range of things to see and despite the possible language barrier, many of the productions cater to an international audience.
London: FutureFest, 28th -29th September
If you are one of the many riding the wave of innovation then you must follow it to Shoreditch Town Hall in London where FutureFest will present some of the latest technological ideas known to man. They are basing the event on four major themes which leave something for even those who think they may not be a technology buff. These themes are: “Well Becoming” which will focus on how we can lead healthier and smarter lives, for those of you who have recently gone on a health kick; “In the Imaginarium” which will present the combination of the creative and scientific mind, for all those poets out there; “We are all Gardeners Now” which will focus on taking responsibility for our impact on the earth, for all of you who have been thinking green; and last but not least “The Value of Everything” which will focus on the political sphere of the future, for all of you blooming politicians. Two of the people who will be presenting are Lily Cole, a former model for vogue who graduated with a double first class degree in art history from Cambridge in 2011 and has recently led a team to develop a social giving network called impossible.com, and David Runciman who is a professor of politics at Cambridge University and is the author of two books published by Princeton.
To view a schedule of events, a complete list of speakers, and to buy tickets, visit www.futurefest.org. There will be four three hour sessions and tickets are 36 pounds per session and after purchasing your ticket, be sure to arrive 15- 30 minutes early for registration. This hopes to be a glimpse into a future that includes a wide array of interests and possibly solutions for major problems around the world, so be one of the first to witness history in the making.
Nice: Triathlon de Nice, 29th September
This annual cycling, swimming, and running competition offers you the chance to compete on a world stage, as well as move through the scenic course in Nice which will offer beautiful views and take you far off the beaten path. You will swim in the Bay of Angels, then move to cycling the Col d’Eze which brings you to one of the best views in Cote d’Azur, and finish on Promenade des Anglais right along the beach. Although this event can be physically difficult, it promises to give competitors some of the greatest views and lead them along some of the most enjoyable routes found in the French Riviera.
Registration for this event is still open and runs from 40-80 euros, depending on which category you wish to apply for. You can register at www.triathlondenice.fr and click on the large button on the right which flashes orange and blue. If you are looking for a way to test your fitness against competitors from all over the world and see some of the best sights at the same time, then this competition is more than you could ever hope for.
Paris: Le printemps de la Renaissance : la sculpture et les arts a Florence 1400-1460, 26th September to 6th January
For those art lovers who wish to take a look back into the city of Florence at the beginning of the 15th century, a new exhibition coming to the Louvre on Thursday the 26th of September may interest you. It will be built around the sculptures by Donatello and will attempt to show the amazing cultural enthusiasm of the city that still holds onto their name which still today is closely connected with artistic events of the 15th century.
The exhibition will include sculptures of Ghiberti and Michelozzo, paintings by Brunelleschi, and pottery by Della Robia. Many other masterpieces will be brought together to attempt to retell the story of this amazing time in artistic and cultural history. This is a very important stop for any art lover who wishes to see a stunning collection that will only be together for a limited time.
1. London Fashion Week
This high profile event will once again return to Somerset House with 200 brilliant designers from the UK and all over the world showing off their new Spring and Summer collections. It begins on the 13th of September bright and early at 9:30 with Bora Aksu in the BFC Courtyard Show Space and runs through Tuesday the 17th. The week will be filled with exclusive showcases, the launching of new lines (including jewelry as well), and wonderful parties. Although it will be nearly impossible to get tickets to any of the main events, there are several exhibitions with free admission and many opportunities for people without connections in the fashion world to get the chance to buy not only new collections but to explore up and coming designers. As fashion week approaches, a spark seems to run through the city as everyone starts to show off their finest threads and get in the spirit of style.
2. King’s Place Festival:
The 6th annual Kings Place Festival will take place this upcoming weekend. It begins Friday the 13th of September with the Aurora Orchestra at 6:00 p.m. They will be followed by all music acts with the exception of one spoken word poet named Tom Service. As the event moves into Saturday, the acts and events become more varied, including a wine tasting, interactive theatre, music combined with painting, and even the opportunity to see your own personal concert in a booth with an anonymous artist. Diary of a Wimpy Kid fans will be excited on Sunday as the host, Alastair Watson, leads a draw along, among other activities, to bring the characters from the famous books to life. The last day of the festival will also include many more music acts and will close with the improv comedy group The Noise Next Door.
The festival will feature over 100 acts with a new show starting almost every 15 minutes so it is a perfect event for people of all ages and backgrounds. Whether you are in the mood to laugh, dance, sing, or just drink a beer and relax as you float along Regents Canal on the historic narrow boat Tarporley, Kings Place Festival will be the place to be this weekend.
3. Roger Waters – The Wall:
Since the album was first released in the UK in 1979, ‘The Wall’ live has been seen by over 3.3 million fans in 192 showings, making it arguably one of the greatest rock shows of all time. For those of you who saw the show 30 years ago on the bands first tour, be prepared for ‘The Wall’ amplified by exactly 36. Roger Waters is bringing back this classic show to Wembley Stadium on Saturday the 14th of September with a wall that stands 36 feet tall. Giant projections on the screen move along with the music, and tell a story along with the songs. Waters also includes a six-piece band and several males on backup vocals to add to the musical experience. This show has been long anticipated, and tickets are very difficult to get at this point, but it is worth the trouble to see ‘The Wall’ Live for what is quite possibly its last tour. At the very least, I’m sure those who can’t get tickets will enjoy quite a show even from outside of the stadium. The gates will open at 6:15 p.m., and the concert will begin at 7:45 p.m.
4. Colourscape Music Festival:
This unusual event spans from the 14th to the 22nd of September on Clapham Common’s 220 acres of green space. The festival combines contemporary music with very colourful and interesting visual art. The feature of the festival is what is known as a colourscape. This is basically a walk-in structure of colour and light first created by Peter Jones in the early 70s. More than 35 of these have been made and they come in different types and have different visual effects. Three types were commissioned by Eye Music Trust and they are called festival 1 and 2, which are for large scale performances, events, and workshops. The third is a moonoroni which is for performances or workshops on smaller sites. Then three others were created in collaboration between artists Peter Jones and Lynne Dickens and these are: Mirror Islands and Wings for what is described as experiences of pure colour and light, and Sky Holes for colour and art workshops.
According to many people who have attended, the photographs do not do it justice, it is something that requires your actual presence. They describe it as ‘like flying’ or ‘breathing colour’ and many adults say that it makes them feel like children again. If you’re looking for something interesting to do this weekend, come to London and put on your very own coloured cloak and enter a whole new world.
5. The Herd Debuts:
Rory Kinnear has starred as Bill Tanner in the James Bond films Quantum of Solace and Skyfall, and is also a part of the Royal Shakespeare Company, most recently starring as Iago in the production of Othello, but now he is switching his focus to writing the script rather than performing it. His debut play, The Herd, comes to the Bush Theatre on the 13th of September and will be showing through the 26th of October. His play has been described as, “a witty and heartfelt look at family life when it doesn’t turn out quite the way you imagined.” The cast includes Emmy award winner Anna Calder Marshall from the film Anna Karenina, Adrian Bower, and Louise Brealey. The Oliver award winning director, Howard Davies, will be directing the show. The production focuses on Andy Griffith, the main character, and his 21st birthday, which he seems to care little about. This is contrasted with his mother who could not be more excited and worried about it. The play seems promising and should be good for an unexpected ending, and it’s rare to catch a blooming writer’s first masterpiece.
It’s the year’s last bank holiday and London is smack bang with all kinds of exciting events and festivals. But it seems like all the hype is around The Notting Hill Carnival.
If you don’t fancy heading to the carnival this year, here’s a list of 7 lesser-known yet incredible events that will have you all set for a bombastic long weekend.
1. The HayDaze Weekender, Proud Camden, August 24th
If you want to enjoy your Saturday Camden style, The HayDaze Weekender is the place to be. Proud Camden celebrates the year’s last bank holiday with pop-up market fairs set up in country-style stables, a huge variety of circus performers, daytime performers and so much more. Some of the attractions of the event include a vintage clothes boutique, a Silent film club, a Vinyl Record stall, a Tie-Dye workshop and a Psychic Reading.
Make sure you don’t miss Proud Camden’s own troupe of remarkable circus performers that will have you bedazzled and dazed. Entertainment will be covered by more than 50 bands all across the venue with headlining acts from Laura Whitmore (DJ Set) and London Guns featuring Gary Powell of The Libertines and Babyshambles.
For further details on the event, click here.
2. Bookstock-on-Sea, The Book Club, August 25th
The Bookstock Street Festival is back for its third annual festival this bank holiday. With an oceanic twist this year at Shoreditch’s Leonard Street venue ‘The Book Club’, promises the best of both seaside fun and Shoreditch style entertainment.
With free entry to the festival, expect sea salt cocktails, gourmet ice-cream, Bookstock-on-Sea Sticks of Rock and fish & chips along with live entertainment from legendary bands like Odyssey, Ben Pistor, Princeless,Nextmen, Bad Zuke & more.
For further details on the festival, cick here.
3. Smartie Partie Summer Bank Holiday Boat Party & After Party, August 25th
How about a river-rocking Bank Holiday? Join the legendary boat party organizers, Smartie Partie for an on board raucous day of dance and music followed by an awesome after-party at the Opal nightclub. Soak up the sun, take in the gorgeous views of London, and have a rocking time on one of the most unique London daytime parties.
You’ll have 2 floors of sound to enjoy on the The Golden Sunrise Boat with Tech House playing upstairs and House Classics playing downstairs. DJ line-ups include Ramone, Matty Wells, Poison DJs and more. You’ll have access to cash bars and drinks on both floors, with drinks priced as low as pub prices. From the Tower Millennium Pier to the Westminster Pier you will enjoy almost 4 hours of dance, music and drinks on board after which the party will then continue on in Opal.
For further details on the boat party, click here.
4. Camden Beach, Roundhouse, August 24th
Haven’t booked a beach getaway for the bank holiday? Worry not! The legendary Camden Beach is on for its final week over the long weekend. So, head down to the Roundhouse terrace to enjoy a slice of paradise right in the heart of North London. With 150 tonnes of fine sand spread over 900 square meters, deck chairs, live music, end-of-the-pier amusement, delicious food, beach huts, ice-cold drinks, ping pong and lots more, the Camden Beach is not to miss.
For further details on the Camden Beach, click here.
5. Hush Puppies Darkroom, Truman Brewery, August 23rd – 26th
Are you a budding photographer looking to have a good time this bank holiday? If yes, the Hush Puppies Dark Room is where you should head to. Join Hush Puppies in their celebration of true craftsmanship and traditional methods of capturing beautiful moments. You will get the chance to head out with a rented 35mm analogue camera to take some photographs to develop yourself in the dark room, participate in workshops where you’ll learn the art of street photography and plenty more. On top of all that, it’s totally FREE!
For further details on the event, click here.
6. Street Feast, Dalston Yard, until September 14th
Food Alert for all Foodies out there!
If you’re stuck on ideas for enjoying this bank holiday, just head to the Dalston Yard and you’ll be electrified by a market brimming with food, booze and music amidst stunning graffiti, spectacular colours and raw décor.
You will encounter a dazzling array of food traders including some of Britain’s favourite restaurants and chefs like Lardo, Turner & George, Redhook, the Junction Juice Bar, Bloody Mary Buffet, Quality Chop House, and many more. But food isn’t the only thing to enjoy at the Street Feast. You can participate in workshops, activities, and master cocktail classes. To top up the summer fest ambiance, DJ’s will be playing the perfect summer soundtracks throughout the day.
For further details on the event, click here.
7. The Alternative Guide to the Universe, Hayward Gallery, until August 26th
Art Lover or not, this is a show you cannot miss! This brilliant exhibition show cases the vision of 22 artists who have portrayed another image of the universe or another way of living in it through their charming, bewildering and oppressive work of art. The unorthodox perspectives portrayed by these self-taught artists, visionary inventors, fringe physicists, and architects are truly remarkable.
To give you a sneak peek into the exhibition, you will get to see fictional identities, healing machines, imaginary cities, unseen energy flows in the human body, speculations on the mysteries of space and time, devices for communicating with other dimensions, time travel machines, and a lot more.
For further details on the exhibition, please click here.
Enjoy and don’t forget to share your experiences on our Facebook page!
Go down any street in London and you will inevitably find something historic. There are scratches on marble doorways from German bombs that fell during the blitz of the Second World War, churchyards holding graves of victims of the Black Death, and more palaces, cathedrals and former workhouses than your eyes can take in. But it is London’s world famous museums that truly give the city a link to the past – and best of all most of them are free (although they do like the odd donation). Here are five that aren’t to be missed.
1. Imperial War Museum (IWM)
The IWM London is housed in an ornate building in South London that used to be an asylum. The insanity of war is displayed over four levels and the museum has one of the largest collections of military vehicles, weapons, uniforms and other paraphernalia that I’ve ever seen. It’s very interactive, with simulations of a World War One trench and London streets during the blitz that will make you feel like you’re actually there. If military history is your thing there is a reading room where the staff will help you dig through the extensive archives.
2. The British Museum
This is the most popular of London’s museums and it constantly puts on blockbuster exhibitions to pull in the crowds. The highlights of the British Museum’s regular collection are the Eglin Marbles which were taken from the Acropolis in Athens and the mummies – scores of ancient Egyptian sarcophagi and bandage wrapped bodies in glass cases.
3. The National Portrait Gallery
Art as history has never been more interesting than in this gallery at Trafalgar Square. There are floors and floors of classic, quirky and spookily realistic portraits of Britain and the world’s most iconic people. The royal gallery is a must see, if only to trace the family traits passed down the years from generation to generation. Kate Middleton’s portrait is on display now too. The best part is the restaurant on the top floor that serves a high tea in the afternoon where you can munch on scones and cucumber sandwiches while toasting a magnificent view of London with a glass of champagne. Be sure to book early to avoid disappointment.
4. The Natural History Museum
Right next door to the Victoria & Albert in South Kensington, the Natural History Museum does what it says on the tin. Inside its gloriously decorated sandstone wings you’ll find dinosaur bones, stuffed mammals and one of the world’s largest collections of insects housed in a purpose built multi-storey pod. The Natural History Museum is a very inspiring place that tells the story of the British pushing the boundaries of botany – giving special emphasis to the efforts of Charles Darwin. The collections are impressive but the building itself is stunning and rivals the displays.
5. The Science Museum
This museum is definitely the most fun . In the summer the Science Museum keeps its doors open late on the last Wednesday of the month and fills its galleries with DJs and bars so you can have a tipple and learn something at the same time. In normal hours it’s teeming with people shocking themselves on static electricity generators and watching demonstrations of how helium works. Just about everything is interactive and you will come away feeling like a kid again.
David writes the travel blog Double-Barrelled Travel with his wife Carmen. Dave and Carmen hail from Perth but have been living in London for the past four years, travelling around Europe during this time. David is a journalist in his day job but it’s travelling that truly lights his [camp]fire. You can Tweet him @2barrelltravel or find him on Facebook.
London is famous for its weather, and mainly for all the wrong reasons. Fog, rain, snow, sleet and rain again. The city can have four seasons in one day and it’s always advisable to have an umbrella. Don’t let the forecast put you off going outside. London is a maze of amazing things to see and do and a little rain shouldn’t prevent you discovering them. Here are five things to keep you busy outside:
1. Take a walking tour
There are many walking tours on offer, from night time jaunts around central London in the footsteps of Charles Dickens and Jack the Ripper, to more sedate strolls in the wake of royals and poets. One of our favourites is a tour of Soho’s infamous drinking dens with Westminster guide Joanna Moncrieff. You’ll see where the Rolling Stones first met and where bawdy Victorian men used to bet on how many rats a dog could kill for sport.
2. Go to a park
The British use the word ‘bracing’ to describe that menthol cool feeling you get taking exercise outside. So even if it’s snowing you can be assured there will be people in the parks walking the dog, running, or even going for a swim in an outdoor pool. It’s great rugging up, slipping on some wellies and going for a ramble in one of London’s many beautiful parks. When the sun is out there is nowhere better to be – expect shirtless everyone, ball games and melted ice-cream everywhere.
3. Go on the River Thames
The River Thames cuts through London west to east and is the city’s heart and soul. Thousands of boats ply up and down its fast flowing currents every day and the fastest are the RIBs, Rigid Inflatable Boats. There are a few companies that offer high speed jaunts on these super manoeuvrable craft. I had the opportunity of going on one earlier this year on a freezing cold day. By the end of the 30 knot run my face was numb and my eyes were streaming tears but it was exhilarating. If you don’t fancy going fast there are plenty of cruise operators to choose from too, including one where you can ride on a truck that turns into a boat.
4. Ride a bike
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, is determined to make the city a cycle friendly place. He pushed through a scheme to provide cheap bikes that are now set up in racks all over the city. They have a corporate sponsor that has the naming rights but people just call them ‘Boris bikes’ instead. They are free for the first half an hour, then cost a pound for an hour and slide up in price the longer you use them. They are a brilliant way of getting around and having a bit of fun at the same time. If you’re more adventurous you can go on biking tours of landmarks further afield such as Windsor Castle or the Surrey Hills.
5. Go to the zoo
London Zoo has one of the world’s best collections of wildlife. A big highlight is the Africa section where giraffes frolic in a specially built enclosure. There’s also a reptile house full of killer pythons and other slithering snakes. Some scenes from the first Harry Potter movie were filmed there. The Zoo hosts Zoo Lates in the evenings in summer, where adults can come and have a drink and a dance while they tour the grounds.
Dave writes the travel blog Double-Barrelled Travel with his wife Carmen. Dave and Carmen hail from Perth but have been living in London for the past four years, travelling around Europe during this time. Dave is a journalist in his day job but it’s travelling that truly lights his [camp]fire. You can Tweet him @2barrelltravel or find him on Facebook.
London can be a bit of a concrete jungle with endless rows of buildings, bitumen and barricades. Over the centuries however, the city’s architects have always made sure to include green space, even if it’s just a tree sticking out from the footpath! Here’s our pick of the best open spaces to be found in London:
1. Richmond Park
A short commute south-west, a visit to Richmond Park is almost like going to the countryside. The park itself is huge, covering nearly four square miles, and is listed as a National Nature Reserve. Its sprawling fields and woods are home to more than 600 deer and it’s criss-crossed with bike and running trails that are always teeming with dogs and tweed jacketed ramblers. It’s a magical place. World renowned wildlife presenter, Sir David Attenborough lives close by and even films there occasionally!
2. Kew Gardens
Most parks in London are free to visit, but you do have to pay a fee to get inside Kew Gardens. Don’t let this put you off – Kew Gardens is sublime. It’s officially known as the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and has the world’s largest collection of living plants dotted throughout its grounds and classically styled greenhouses. A highlight is The Palm House, a very ornate iron and glass structure that was built in the Victorian era to house tropical plants. Climb the spiral stairs to get a feel for the humid jungle canopy – quite a treat on a cold English day.
3. Regents Park
Situated in North London, Regents Park is one of the best places to be in London on a sunny day. Imagine perfectly manicured flower gardens and lush lawns flowing around a lake, like it’s straight out of Wind in the Willows. You can hire a paddle boat and muck about on the water, or if you’re feeling classical you can hop in a row boat. I recommend the latter; it’s romantic and requires a degree of skill that you can show off to the crowds sunning themselves.
4. Greenwich Park
The best way to get to Greenwich is by ferry. Try to grab a seat near the front and you will be treated to a river tour of some of London’s most famous landmarks including Tower Bridge and the Tower of London. The park is a former hunting ground that was used as the equestrian venue at the 2012 London Olympics. Its lawns flow up a hill which hosts the Royal Observatory and the prime meridian, the line from which longitude and Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) is calculated. The sprawling view of London from the hill is truly spectacular.
5. Green Park, Hyde Park and St James Park
These three parks are all within walking distance of each other in central London and can be considered the city’s lungs. Green Park is a rather plain reserve close to Buckingham Palace dotted with lots of trees and memorials. St James Park is close to the Houses of Parliament so is a popular spot for government workers to have lunch. Then there’s Hyde Park which hosts Speakers’ Corner where anyone can get up and rant on about something they’re passionate about. There are also statues, gardens, fields and the Serpentine recreational lake where you can take a swim amongst the swans and ducks. All three of these parks are great spots for a stroll or picnic and without them London would be a poorer place.
Dave writes the travel blog Double-Barrelled Travel with his wife Carmen. Dave and Carmen hail from Perth but have been living in London for the past four years, travelling around Europe during this time. Dave is a journalist in his day job but it’s travelling that truly lights his [camp]fire. You can Tweet him @2barrelltravel or find him on Facebook.
The dining scene in London can be overwhelming, as there’s so much to choose from it can be hard to pick the gourmet from the not-so-great. Plus if you’re paying top dollar, you want to get it right the first time around. To help you, I’ve outlined my top five fancy restaurants to dine in when in London.
1. Chez Bruce
Chez Bruce is a French restaurant a little outside of central London in Wandsworth Common. It’s worth the train ride to this Michelin starred restaurant, however, as the food is delicious. When we went, the service was impeccable and we were served by charming French waiters. I had the pork belly for my main and salted caramel and hazelnut tart for dessert. I was pleasantly surprised to discover it was only £45 for three courses – not too expensive for a Michelin starred restaurant.
2. Dinner by Heston
Celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal is well known for his restaurant The Fat Duck, out in West Berkshire. But the set menu costs £195 per person, and that’s before adding the service charge or any drinks to the bill. If you don’t have that kind of budget, but still want to try Heston’s fascinating recipes, try the restaurant Dinner by Heston at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. Main courses are much more reasonably priced at around £30 per person. Make sure you taste Blumenthal’s ‘meat fruit’ which is chicken liver and foie gras parfait wrapped in a soft orange casing to make it look like a mandarin. Delightful.
3. Dans le Noir
If you’re looking for a unique experience in London, Dans le Noir is the place to come. You eat completely in the dark – which is why there aren’t any photos for this restaurant – and are served by waiters who are blind. If that’s not unique enough, you choose from four types of menus – vegetarian, meat, fish or ‘surprise’ menu – and are kept in the dark (excuse the pun!) about what they are. I found out I’d eaten zebra at the end of my meal, which was a first for me. Be careful though… you end up eating with your hands because you can’t poke your food with fork because you can’t see it. And don’t drink your cocktail with a straw, as it might end up poking you in the eye.
4. Locanda Locatelli
The Italian chef behind the restaurant, Giorgio Locatelli, has won many Michelin stars and it’s easy to see why. Unlike other fancy restaurants, Locanda Locatelli has an extensive menu so there’s something for everyone. Also unlike other fancy restaurants, certainly for the main dishes, the focus is more on creating homely Italian dishes, rather than creating a visual masterpiece on a plate. That’s not to say the restaurant’s without style. Stepping into the space you’ll know at once you’re in one of London’s top notch restaurants.
5. OXO Tower
We went to the OXO Tower for our wedding anniversary recently and would recommend it for any special occasion. The view from the restaurant’s floor-to-ceiling windows is spectacular, as it overlooks the Thames River and St Paul’s Cathedral. We found the sharing dishes were the best because they were served with flair. If you order some of the meat plates that are eaten between two, they will carve it at your table. And if you pick the cheese platter they will bring out the cheese trolley and give you an overview of each cheese to help you make your choice. It’s a great place for foodies.
London truly offers a spectacular culinary experience and is one of the top destinations for ‘Fine Dining’. Loving Apartments has a wide variety of accommodation available throughout the city, providing a perfect base to discover London’s best restaurants.
Carmen writes the travel blog Double-Barrelled Travel with her husband Dave. Carmen and Dave hail from Perth but have been living in London for the past four years, travelling around Europe during this time. Carmen is a communications executive in her day job but it’s travelling that truly lights her [camp]fire. You can Tweet her @2barrelltravel or find her on Facebook.
London – THE fashionable and trend-setting capital for food fanatics! To have London on your CV is the accolade sought by every ambitious chef. The result? A fabulous array of eateries to suit every palate.
Here is a sample of the excellent eateries you can experience on your Loving Apartment holiday.
Currently the hottest ticket in town is Fitzrovia’s Dabbous (30 Whitfield Street W1). A booking can take months to achieve, but the food is superb. Thrillingly innovative menus recently made this BMW Square Meal Restaurant of the Year.
But for more spontaneous eating, try Les Deux Salons (40 William IV Street, WC2). This French brasserie-style restaurant is ideally located for pre-theatre dinners, delivering consistently delicious food, chicly creative in a lively atmosphere. Or another theatreland option is Brasserie Zedel (20 Sherwood Street W1). Right next to throbbing Piccadilly Circus, enter a bustling basement 1930s Parisian brasserie to find quality food at good prices, with long opening hours.
As a complete contrast, rural Sussex meets urbane London in Notting Hill’s The Shed (122 Palace Gardens Terrace W8). Here the Gladwin brothers produce daily changing menus of fresh Sussex produce from their family farm in a selection of quirky but utterly delicious dishes.
Muriel’s Kitchen near South Kensington tube station (1 – 3 Pelham Street SW7) is a gem. The café restaurant with its newspaper and book strewn homely interior is the place for breakfast, lunch, light dinners and snacks. A short well-priced menu includes utterly delicious salads, soups, and mouth-watering cakes. Ideal for vegetarians, and just the place for a refreshing pause en route to South Ken museums.
If you crave a steak, then head for a Hawksmoor branch (Seven Dials, Spitalfields, Air Street and Guildhall). This British Steakhouse and cocktail bar delivers sumptuous steaks – but at a price. As a contrast try MASH in Soho (81 Brewer Street W1), a Danish steakhouse. Located in a 1930s Art Deco interior and centrally located near Piccadilly Circus, the restaurant is also open on Sunday evenings.
If you’re a fish enthusiast, The Angler (South Place Hotel, 3 South Place) will deliver the ‘best fish in the City’. A true celebration of fish, this rooftop restaurant commands stunning views of iconic London landmarks.
Bistro cooking is the signature of Garnier (314 Earl’s Court Road SW5) with simple French cuisine in an uncluttered yet chic interior. The 2 course set lunch and dinner menus are excellent value. ‘Contemporary bistro’ is the tone of the Pollen Street Social (8 – 10 Pollen Street), a stone’s throw from Regent Street. Highlights are themed tasting and set lunch menus. Expensive but the meal will be memorable.
Another food lover’s paradise is Soho’s Michelin starred Arbutus (63-4 Frith Street W1). Relaxed in atmosphere, by contrast dishes are contemporary and sophisticated with fresh seasonal ingredients.
Finally a Gordon Ramsey restaurant is a London essential. For a truly exciting dining experience, try the fusion of French and Asian cuisine at Mayfair’s Maze (10 – 13 Grosvenor Street W1). Sushi and sashimi are outstanding, and there’s a vegetarian menu too. The 4 course set menu is excellent value.
Bookings at popular restaurants are always advised, and do check opening hours. A discretionary service charge will usually be added automatically to your bill.
It’s the time for Valentine’s Day red roses. Could it also be the month for a romantic visit to London? Could this be the opportunity to pop the question . . .? So if you feel romance in the air, seize the moment and plan your trip to London now!
If you want a unique spot to go down on bended knee, then London has an abundance of choices. The newest fashionable venue is the Shard’s viewing platform. Set on the 72nd floor of this stunning landmark building, with London laid out around you, who could fail to feel inspired? Or the London Eye at night, with the spangled Thames below you?
If you’d prefer somewhere less public (or if your loved one suffers from vertigo), why not stroll through St James’s Park to find a secluded niche against the majestic backdrop of Buckingham Palace?
. . . She said yes! Congratulations! But what about a ring? The Queen’s jewellers, Garrards in Albermarle Street, will surely offer something suitable. Or for individual designs, visit Hatton Garden, London’s jewellery quarter.
So now you can start day-dreaming about the great day. If you’d like some inspiration for the service itself, pop into St Paul’s, the awe-inspiring Wren church chosen by Lady Diana and Prince Charles for their nuptials. Or for a more recent Royal connection, is a bus ride away, and as you walk down the aisle admire the soaring Gothic columns and vaulted roof of this ‘coronation church’. But you’re hoping for a more intimate ceremony? Visit ancient St Bartholomew the Great in Smithfield, featured in countless films.
But what about music to add atmosphere and inspiration for a wedding? Mayfair’s Handel Museum echoes with the strains of this revered English composer’s works. Or enjoy a blissful evening at the Wigmore Hall, home to some of the world’s best classical musicians.
Did I hear you say you’ve always dreamed of arriving at church in a horse drawn carriage? The Royal Mews at Buckingham Palace is the place to visit then, where you can day-dream amongst the gleaming equipages including the Queen’s gilded State Coach, and the Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding carriage.
Exhausted? Take tea at the nearby Goring Hotel, run by generations of the same family, and offering the quintessential English afternoon tea – and another Royal connection!
But your stay is almost over and you need a celebratory cocktail. The American Bar at the extravagantly refurbished Savoy Hotel is perfect. Sit back, relax and absorb the romance of the occasion as the pianist tinkles the ivories. Then onto dinner at the Savoy’s River Room with its stupendous river views.
Did you mention a honeymoon? The answer’s here – Loving Apartments can provide the perfect love nest in Europe’s most romantic cities – Venice, Florence, Paris, Prague, Budapest . . . ah dream on, but be sure to return to London for your wedding anniversary and happy memories!