Let’s face it, London is undoubtedly one of the most famous capital cities in the world. It is the home of the British royal family, it is the where British politics are debated; it has incredible shopping experiences and it has evolved from an incredibly rich, sometimes turbulent, history. There have been many comments that have questioned the quality of the experience that London offers to families in particular because all the major sights aren’t family friendly but that just isn’t true. Many of the museums in the city cater for children as well as the Tower of London’s guides the Yeomen and, not only that, London is home to the world’s oldest toy store so…London is perfect for the family.
London has so many different levels to it, for example, on the surface you have the tourist spots that people see when they visit and stay at places such as the Park Grand Hotel in Lancaster Gate London, such as Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, St Paul’s Cathedral, the Tower of London, and the London Eye. Lying underneath the tourist layer is what regular visitors see such as Regent Street, Piccadilly, Harrods, Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens and, of course, Oxford Street. The last layer is what live-in Londoners experience which is the business side of the city and places such as Canary Wharf, Fenchurch Street, the City of London and there are those who know the city like the back of their hands and know all of its secrets such as where the best pubs are and where the best, quiet parks and beautiful views can be found. As you can see, London offers a different experience for absolutely everyone and one that will never ever become boring.
One of the best things about London is its history and how wonderfully diverse it is. It all began in AD43 when the Romans deemed it Londinium and began their livery businesses which continued for another 600 years. It is where the clever Italians gave us our banking system and where William the Conqueror was crowned in Westminster Abbey in 1066, just before he started work on the White Tower of the Tower of London which can still be seen and explored today. From this time, London grew and went through a whole stream of monarchs that each left their mark on the city, most notoriously of all being Henry VIII’s dissolution which greatly affected Britain, London and the North taking the hardest hits. The Tower of London is possibly the most closely associated with the Tudors, mainly due to the fact that 2 of Henry’s wives were killed there, Sir Thomas More, Oliver Cromwell and Elizabeth I was imprisoned there as was her cousin Lady Jane Grey before being beheaded.
One of the most famous historical cases happened in London, in the district of Whitechapel in 1888. Jack the Ripper haunted the streets in the latter part of the 19th century, preying on prostitutes, dissecting them, disfiguring them and almost leaving them unrecognizable. It is still one of the greatest mysteries in British history as Jack was never caught despite contacting the police and coming incredibly close to being caught by witnesses. Visitors to London can take a walk through history and visit the spots where Jack killed his victims with one of the many Jack the Ripper tours that are held in the city nightly.
The city is known for its culture; whether you enjoy art, the theatre, ballet or opera, London caters for it all. The West End is a beacon to all theatre lovers and hosts classic shows such as Les Miserables, Wicked, the Lion King and The Phantom of the Opera, as well as more modern shows such as Avenue Q and The Book of Mormon. If you’re looking for a more classical approach, you can take a stroll along Bankside to Shakespeare’s Globe where you can watch Hamlet regale his ‘To be or not to be’ muse or see the star-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet bind themselves together forever in death, or head to the Royal Opera House for breathtaking ballet performance or an emotional opera. There are limitless things to see and enjoy because, even if you have seen every show on offer in the city, there are the art galleries, such as the Tate Modern and National Gallery, and museums to explore.
The best way to see a different side to London is to simply walk through it; travelling by public transport and even by bike can stop you from seeing the smallest yet incredibly significant part of the city. The Blue Plaque walk is a fantastic way to not only see London but to learn about its inhabitants, for example, you can see the very place where Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin, where Samuel Pepys wrote his famous diaries; where Charles Dickens lived and wrote his influential novels and where Charles II mistress Nell Gwyn lived. It is a long walk but a great one for the family as it can be turned into a game; this way everyone will learn something new and something important about British history. Simply by taking a stroll around London, you will find hidden lanes and backstreets just waiting to be explored, especially by budget accommodation London, and you will be amazed at what you will find.
Even though London is a built up, concrete jungle, there are hidden oasis’s if you know where to look. Richmond Park is often overlooked in favour of Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens or Regents Park with the world-famous ZSL London Zoo is, however, it is one of the most breathtaking places to visit. There are wild buck and deer that still roam the forest, much like they did in the reign of Henry VIII who used to hunt them in that very park, and the silence that surrounds it will make you forget that you are in the heart of the city. There are a few pockets of paradise in this amazing city if you just look for them.