Parliament architecture-London

Everything You Need to Know About the Houses of Parliament

The Houses of Parliament is one of the most iconic sights along London’s extensive skyline. This UNESCO World Heritage Site rises alongside the River Thames in the heart of the capital.

Also known as the Palace of Westminster, this is the seat of British democracy. And it’s a building that has seen tumultuous events decided within its grand chambers.

The Houses of Parliament is where democracy can be seen in action. The public are allowed to watch debates between Members of Parliament and even watch the Prime Minister speaking.

You can tour through the historic corridors of the Houses of Parliament, and learn first-hand the many unique stories that are waiting within the palace walls. It’s one of the best things to do in London. To inspire your trip, here’s everything you need to know about the Houses of Parliament.

Where Is the Houses of Parliament?

The Houses of Parliament is located in Central London. Given its prime location, it’s an easy place to find and to visit.

In fact, you’ll see the huge clock face of Big Ben long before you arrive, as the tall tower stands proudly above the capital, keeping time.

While you can walk through Central London to reach the palace – just head towards Westminster Bridge and look for Big Ben – you can also arrive by public transport. This is much more advisable than attempting to drive, as not only would you need to pay congestion charges, but parking is almost non-existent in Central London. Where it does exist, it’s expensive.

The nearest underground station is the conveniently named Westminster Station. It’s located on the Jubilee, Circle and District Lines, making it easy to connect on the Tube from almost any other destination in London.

There are also plenty of nearby bus stops and, of course, the classic hop-on, hop-off bus tours also call in close to the Houses of Parliament. These tours can be a convenient way to get around the capital, particularly if it’s your first time, as you’ll have transport between all of London’s most famous attractions and you’ll be provided with plenty of information along the way.

Westminster Tube Station

Guided Tours of the Houses of Parliament

It’s possible to join guided tours of the Houses of Parliament. However, they don’t run all year round. When Parliament is sitting – for most of the year while MPs debate laws and motions –there are only tours on Saturdays, so just one day a week.

During summer though, MPs take a long summer recess, during which time Parliament is essentially not sitting, unless there’s an emergency or crisis.

During this summer recess, tours are run from Monday through Saturday. If you are visiting in summer, usually between August and September, this is the best time to join a guided tour of the Houses of Parliament. There are never any tours on Sundays or public holidays, while the dates of summer recess vary each year so be sure to check in advance when planning your trip to London.

Guided tours can be booked in advance, which is a great way to secure your spot throughout the year. Tours last 90 minutes and tickets can be bought online or on the door, although you get discounts for advance bookings. Tours leave at regular 15-minute intervals on the days that they run. Most tours are in English, but there are limited tours in other languages such as French, German, Italian and Spanish during the summer recess.

You can also purchase an audio guide for a self-guided tour of the Houses of Parliament, which is available in multiple languages.

If you are a British citizen, then you can visit the Houses of Parliament free of charge. However, you can’t just turn up at the door; you need to write a letter in advance to your local Member of Parliament, whose office will then make the arrangements.

Tour Costs

Adult Guided Tour Ticket: £26.50

Adult Audio Guide Tour: £19.50

Discounts are available for students, OAPs, children and for families. Ticket prices valid as of autumn 2019.

The Public Galleries

If you are visiting London outside of tour times or if you simply don’t want to pay for a guided tour, it’s also possible to visit the public galleries of the Houses of Parliament free of charge.

The public galleries are the seating areas found behind the main seating areas for the Members of Parliament or the Lords, in the House of Commons and House of Lords respectively.

These are public areas that anyone is allowed to visit, in order to watch the debates and motions in action. It’s an important part of the transparent British democracy system, as technically anyone can view what’s going on inside the Houses of Parliament.

Unfortunately though, in practice, space and seating is limited, so you either need to time your visit well or queue for a long time to get in.

Parliament can run all through the day and well into the night on some occasions. The public galleries can be visited at any time when Parliament is seated.

To enter the public galleries, you must queue up at St Stephens entrance; entrance is on a first-come, first-served basis. Your chance of getting in depends entirely on how busy it is, which can depend on what is being debated in Parliament and who is speaking.

For instance, the most popular time will always be when the Prime Minister is speaking, particularly at Prime Minister’s Question Time, which is held every Wednesday at 12 pm. It’s unlikely you’ll get a seat at this time, but if you turn up for other motions, it’s very possible. You can check what is being debated and who is speaking through the Parliament information services and on the Parliament website.

Inside palace-of-westminster

Security at the Houses of Parliament

This is the seat of government and democracy in the United Kingdom, so you can expect security to be tight when you are visiting.

There are stringent security measures in place. Each visitor has to be checked and their baggage scanned. You cannot take any dangerous items into Westminster Palace. When you’re visiting, just imagine you are about to fly, because security here is very airport-like. It’s best to leave large luggage and bags behind, or you’ll end up slowing down the entrance process.

You’ll also need to bring some form of identification with you. Ordinarily, visitors are also given an ID badge, which must be worn during their tour of the Houses of Parliament.

A Brief History of the Houses of Parliament

The Houses of Parliament were originally built to serve as a palace by the English kings, hence the name the Palace of Westminster, just over the road from Westminster Abbey.

The first palace to be built here was constructed on the orders of Edward the Confessor and would serve as a royal residence from the 11th century through the 16th century. After 500 years of regal use, the palace was caught in a blaze and burnt to the ground. Parts of the palace survived, and the English Parliament used the remaining sections as their meeting area, where they’ve now met since the 13th century.

In fact, the first English Parliament was convened here in 1265, as representatives from across the country were invited to London, to what was then the King’s Palace, to debate laws and to give more power to the people – or, at least to take power away from the monarch. That makes Westminster Palace one of the oldest democratic bodies in the world, and it’s on this site that the Parliament has convened ever since.

Fire again ravaged the palace in the Victorian era, and the complex was completely rebuilt. The current building took almost three decades to complete, finally being opened in the 1870s. In World War II the Commons was the scene of Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s rousing war speeches, but it was also targeted and hit by German bombers during the Blitz, causing much damage.

The Houses of Parliament survived once again though, and today they are still the meeting place of the House of Commons and the House of Lords.

While royalty no longer lives at Westminster Palace, intriguingly it’s still owned by the Crown and is in effect gifted for the use of government. With such a long and convoluted history, this is just one of the many quirks and traditions that surround the Houses of Parliament.

parliament-view over thames

What to See in the Houses of Parliament

The Houses of Parliament is an enormous complex, and not everywhere is open to the public, even on a guided tour. While you can see the galleries without taking a tour, you need to join one to see the best sights listed below.

Big Ben

Big Ben – officially known as Elizabeth Tower – is the tall clock tower that has become one of the most enduring and recognisable symbols of London.

Big Ben is technically the name of the clock itself. It was constructed in 1859 and has been telling Londoners the time ever since.

It was possible to take tours of the tower and to see the inner mechanics of the clock, but in recent years Big Ben has been undergoing renovation, although it’s set to reopen again soon.

The Commons Chamber

The Commons Chamber is perhaps the most important place in British politics. This is where the Ministers and Members of Parliament meet in order to hold debates and to discuss the future of the country.

The House of Commons is known as the Lower House, and it takes its name from the fact that it’s here that democracy is enacted by the common people and not the Lords.

The Commons Chamber is an elegant room with benches on either side rising upwards and facing across the hall from each other. On one side sit the government, while the opposition sits opposite.

The central area is where the Prime Minister or the Leader of the Opposition stand to give speeches, while at the far end you can find the Speaker’s Chair, where the Speaker of the House of Commons to keep order between the different factions in the Chamber.

London-House of Commons

The Lords Chamber

The Lords Chamber is otherwise known as the Upper House. Whereas the House of Commons is for elected Members of Parliament, to sit in the House of Lords you must be elevated to peerage, which is by appointment only or acquired through hereditary means. Most Lords remain Lords for life after appointment.

The Lords cannot stop laws being enacted but they are there to provide an independent check on regulations, as they have the power to delay Acts of Parliament.

The Lords Chambers is far more lavish than the Commons, and there are many strange traditions in place. While visiting you’ll see the Woolsack, where the Speaker of the House of Lords sits. This tradition goes back to the 14th century when wool was an integral part of the English economy.

The Robing Room

The Robing Room is a unique chamber in the palace that’s used by the reigning monarch before they give their speech opening Parliament.

It’s an elegant, stately room that’s been graced by several kings and queens throughout history.

The Royal Gallery

The Royal Gallery is another lavish room found in the palace, which serves as a location for ceremonies, dinners and events.

It’s the largest room in the Palace of Westminster and it’s decorated with portraits of historic royals.

Special Events

The Palace of Westminster hosts regular events and exhibitions throughout the year.

There are often talks within the palace, which you can find details about and sign up for online. These talks generally focus either on the history or architecture of Westminster Palace itself or on the history of British politics. If you want to learn more about the Houses of Parliament from excellent speakers, these talks are wonderful events to attend.

To find out more about Premium Tours’ excellent selection of London tours, including trips to the Palace of Westminster, contact us today or browse our website.

Wahaca London

These Are the Best Family Restaurants in London

Eating out can be a real challenge with the entire family to cater for. Even more so if you’ve got young children. However in London, there are plenty of fantastic options across the capital for families, with lots of excellent restaurants and eateries catering specifically for kids.

Whether you have a small budget and a big family, or you’re looking for a fancy restaurant in a posh part of the city, we’ve got it you covered. To inspire your culinary adventure to the capital, here are the best family restaurants in London.

Budget Family Restaurants in London

Giraffe

Giraffe is a staple restaurant experience for many families across the United Kingdom, as their excellent menu and great prices are a wonderful attraction. With dedicated kids menus for the youngsters, Giraffe also offers great lunchtime deals that are fantastic value. Giraffe restaurants can be found in many locations across the capital, but all of their venues offer open and colourful dining areas that create a welcoming and friendly environment for the entire family.

Giraffe serves food that’s inspired by cuisine from across the world, but they provide the usual kiddie fare too. You can indulge in a katsu curry from Japan or simply have a plate of fish fingers and lots of ketchup on the side.

Giraffe Restaurant

Farmstand

Farmstand is an intriguing, ethical establishment set on Drury Lane in Covent Garden, which is incredibly family-friendly. The menu is mostly plant based, but there are also a few meat dishes that can be ordered too. Everything is sustainably sourced, meaning you can eat with a clear conscience.

It’s the prices that are the real winner though. If you need a budget breakfast, lunch or dinner and want to eat healthily, then this is the place to go. Breakfast options start from £3 for a bowl of porridge, while at lunchtime you can build Farmstand Lunchboxes, including such choices as Thai green chicken or Sicilian aubergine, for less than £10 per person.

Vauxhall City Farm

For a unique farm experience in the city, then one of the best places to visit with kids is Vauxhall City Farm. Despite being in the middle of London, you can feed and pet the farmyard animals and learn all about British wildlife.

At the same time, Vauxhall City Farm is a great budget option for families when it comes to eating out because the cafe here is entirely geared up for family outings.

The Old Dairy Cafe is open from morning until mid-afternoon. As well as being a great place for parents to refuel with coffee, the café offers a range of lunchtime sandwiches and snacks for the family.

Golden Hind

Fish and chips is perhaps the most classic British meal and London is one of the best places in the country to find good old fish and chips. You can choose a greasy spoon or a fast food shop on any street corner in London, but finding quality fish and chips at a good price for the whole family is more of a challenge.

This is where the Golden Hind steps in because this iconic fish and chip restaurant offers some of the best value in the capital. Located in Marylebone, this is classic battered fish and chunky fried chips territory, and you can have all the trimmings too, be they mushy peas or tartare sauce.

With a century of experience frying fish, you can’t really go wrong. If you need a cheap but filling meal, the price won’t set you back too far either. For the adults, there’s even a BYOB policy on alcohol, allowing you to keep costs even lower.

Golden Hind Restaurant

Wahaca

Wahaca is a Mexican-inspired chain that has several restaurants and food trucks across the capital. If you’re looking for a budget family meal but want to take everyone to an eatery with a bit of spice and character, then Wahaca is the perfect choice.

The food here is just about as authentic Mexican as you can find in London and the prices aren’t too dissimilar either! You can order sharing plates of Mexican food to give the kids a chance to try everything or you can opt for a cheap plate of tacos stacked with fillings for just over £5. For the adults, there’s a range of alcoholic beverages and there are many more dishes on the menu to try, from the super loaded burritos to Mexican salad bowls.

Bistro Union

The best budget option for families in London though could well be Bistro Union because if you get your timing right there are certain times of the day when kids can eat for free.

They offer excellent brunch and dinner menus, with simple dishes based on English classics. During the school holidays and if they are running their early dinner happy hour deal, then kids eat free if an adult is paying full price for their meal. The kids’ dishes are smaller versions of the adult dishes, and it can be a refined place to bring the whole family for a meal out in style.

Mid Range Family Restaurants in London

Rainforest Cafe

The Rainforest Cafe is a favoured place for many families to visit in London because this is a restaurant set up for children. This is an experience in itself for youngsters because the restaurant is designed to emulate the rainforest and there are waterfalls and jungle-themed tables that immerse you in a world that’s found far from the streets of London.

There are animatronic animals, bird sounds in the air and, of course, plenty of good food too. The menu is designed specifically with kids in mind, so you can rest assured that they won’t be complaining about the choices on offer at the Rainforest Cafe.

Rainforest Cafe

TGI Fridays

TGI Fridays – Thank God it’s Friday – is an American-themed restaurant that caters well for families and children.

In fact, TGIs is a favourite amongst both kids and adults, and you can find their restaurants in locations across London, be it central London or in shopping centres. The food portions are big, and there are milkshakes, beers, ice cream sundaes and all manner of burgers and ribs to devour. For birthday parties or big family outings, it’s a choice where you can’t really go wrong. Although the food might not be the best-regarded or most inventive in the capital, you always know what you’re getting and that it won’t cost your life savings.

Homeslice

If it’s pizza that the family are demanding, then it’s time for a trip to London’s fabled Homeslice restaurant.

Homeslice has become an icon in pizza-loving circles for the fact that the pizza portions are not only enormous, but the toppings are varied and the food excellent.

The pizza is excellent value given its size and you can order a large pizza for the whole family and even ask for different varieties. You can have half pepperoni and half margarita, so no matter what differences the family might see when it comes to pizza toppings, no one can argue when you eat out at Homeslice!

All Star Lanes

For a fun-filled and action-packed restaurant opportunity in London, then book a table and a lane at All Star Lanes. This is where food meets bowling because All Star Lanes offers both food and bowling in an ever-growing number of locations across London.

You can order from the Lanes Kitchen before, during or after your bowling games, and you’ll find everything from macaroni cheese to halloumi burgers. It’s fun for everyone and the food is great at All Star Lanes, while adults can also enjoy drinks from the bar, including beers and wines from across the world, and specially designed house cocktails.

Sticky Fingers

Sticky Fingers is a restaurant chain owned by Rolling Stones bassist, Bill Wyman. The restaurant has a heavy dose of Rolling Stones memorabilia, a menu full of succulent burgers and juicy ribs, and they actively encourage families with children to visit.

The kids’ menu is perhaps one of the biggest and best in London. For only £8, kids can have a main meal, a drink and a dessert. There are nuggets, cheeseburgers, wraps, mac and cheese, and sticky toffee pudding on offer at Sticky Fingers, and it’s all served in a friendly and welcoming atmosphere in central London.

Masala Zone

For a taste of Indian food in a family-friendly restaurant, then head to one of Masala Zone’s branches in London. The restaurants serve up classic Indian dishes and you can get everything from traditional tikka masala to a scorching vindaloo. They also offer wallet-friendly thalis where you are given a selection of rice and curries on a tray.

For kids, the mini thalis are a great way to feed them for excellent value while also introducing younger children to the diversity of Indian food. As well as this, while the kids are occupied enjoying their mini plates of Indian thali food, grown-ups can try a few cocktails or indulge in some fiery, spicy food at one of London’s best Indian restaurants.

Masala Zone London

Expensive Family Restaurants in London

Bubba Gump Shrimp

If you’re a fan of the Forrest Gump film – and who isn’t? – then Bubba Gump Shrimp will be your number one family restaurant in London.

The themed restaurant is inspired by Bubba Gump Shrimp, the shrimping company run by Forrest Gump in honour of his friend Bubba. The restaurant is light-hearted yet over the top, and it’s a fun place to take kids.

The menu is stacked with all sorts of shrimp goodness, and plenty of other American dishes from burgers to plates of onion rings. It’s not the cheapest outing, but it’s worth it for the atmosphere and the Forest Gump decor.

Hard Rock Cafe

Another American-style restaurant that’s perfect for families is Hard Rock Cafe. The famous brand offers huge burgers and American-inspired shakes and drinks to match, but the real draw is the musical memorabilia, which varies from location to location.

It’s another fun restaurant that’s great for families, with children’s menus and plenty of entertainment around the venue too. For burgers though, it’s hardly the cheapest place in London, but you are really paying for the atmosphere and for the experience when you take the family out to Hard Rock Cafe.

Hard Rock Cafe London

Ottolenghi

Yotam Ottolenghi is the iconic celebrity chef behind numerous cookbooks and restaurants, while his deli outlets across London are famous for their healthy takeaway menus.

There are both restaurants and takeaway options across London when it comes to Ottolenghi. But even a takeaway salad won’t be cheap, given they are all based in the most expensive areas of the city, such as Belgravia and Notting Hill.

The food is wonderful for healthy-minded families who want to indulge and splurge a little on breakfast, lunch or dinner. The restaurants have a communal atmosphere with long tables and friendly staff, and they are happy to cater to the needs of families with children.

Barrafina

Barrafina is one of London’s most sought-after restaurants because this Michelin-starred restaurant offers what’s often claimed to be the best Spanish tapas in the British capital.

While that will always be subjective, what’s not debatable is the price of eating out here – it’s one for a special occasion. But the pure pleasure of an eating experience at Barrafina is unmissable.

For a Michelin-starred restaurant, Barrafina is a surprisingly family-friendly establishment too. There are currently three locations across London, and the premise is that you not only enjoy excellent tapas inspired by the cuisine of Catalonia but that you get to actually watch the chefs preparing it. It’s a great way to keep the younger kids entertained while teenagers and adults will appreciate seeing Michelin-starred masters at work preparing their lunch or dinner.

Although it’s not cheap, it’s a fantastic culinary experience that can introduce the family to the wonders of Spanish tapas.

As London experts, we know a thing or two about the best places to eat in the capital. While you’re in town check out Premium Tours’ fantastic selection of London tours.

 

veggie brunch

14 Brunch Spots You Need to Try in Shoreditch

If you are searching for the best brunch spots in London there are few better places to be in the late morning or early afternoon than Shoreditch, because this eclectic part of the capital has endless opportunities for brunching.

In fact, Shoreditch takes brunch to a new level. This trendy district is home to a range of eateries, offering everything from a casual late breakfast to a full-on boozy brunch on the weekends. The vibrant, multicultural nature of Shoreditch also means that, if you desire, you can eat at a different brunch spot every day of the week, and try a new style of cuisine every day of the week too.

From Bottomless Brunches to Peruvian breakfasts, here are the 14 best brunch spots you need to try in Shoreditch.

  1. The Book Club

Shoreditch is well known for its vibrancy and culture, and one of the best brunch spots in the area that will fuel your love of both food and cultural experiences is The Book Club.

This unique cafe and restaurant serve brunch on the weekends and serves breakfast until midday on weekdays. The menu is potato and egg heavy but, as good as the food is, it’s not just the brunch that’s the main focus here, because the Book Club is also one of Shoreditch’s best events venues.

The Book Club hosts music events and cultural demonstrations, and there’s a different schedule every week. There are art exhibitions strung across The Book Club’s two different floors, and it’s easily one of the most creative places in Shoreditch. As a bonus, after breakfasting or brunching, you can even take to the Ping-Pong tables or challenge your fellow diners to a table tennis battle.

  1. Andina Shoreditch

Peruvian food might not be high on your brunching list, but that’s probably because you’ve never visited Andina Shoreditch. Located on Redchurch Street just off Shoreditch High Street, Andina Shoreditch brings the unique tastes of South America to London.

This innovative restaurant has made a name for itself by fusing British ingredients with traditional Peruvian methods of cooking, brought from the Andes to Shoreditch.

Andina Shoreditch is open all day, serving breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner to anyone searching for new flavours or returning for their Peruvian fix. On the weekends, brunch is served from 10 am until 4 pm, and it’s the perfect way to kick-start your day or to nurse that hangover from the night before.

On the brunch menu at Andina Shoreditch, you’ll find healthy doses of avocado, as well as Peruvian chocolate that’s served on pancakes. The Chicharron sandwich is great if you need more of a lunchtime-brunchtime boost for the rest of the day, while if you want to keep things healthy, nothing beats the Andean granola.

  1. Hoi Polloi

If you’re looking for one of Shoreditch’s trendiest brunching locations, then look no further than a visit to Hoi Polloi. This inspired restaurant is found within the Ace Hotel, a hotel chain that is found in other locales such as New York and which has a reputation for being a hangout for hipsters and trendsetters.

Hoi Polloi means the ‘people’. While this is a modern and sleek restaurant, there’s also a minimalist look and feel to the place, which complements the food exceptionally well.

On weekdays, there’s a breakfast menu that is served until midday where you can choose from a range of breakfast items, from simple plates of seasonal fruits to a full-on English breakfast. You can even start your day with a Bloody Mary if you’re looking to really kick things off at Hoi Polloi.

On weekends, brunch runs from midday until 4 pm, and this is the real deal at Hoi Polloi. On the brunch menu, you can order everything from pancakes or eggs to a hefty roast dinner that includes roast beef and all the trimmings. You can even go for the rib-eye steak and wash it down with a few of Hoi Polloi’s signature cocktails.

Hoi Polloi

  1. The Breakfast Club

With branches all over London and across the country, The Breakfast Club is one of the capital’s most beloved breakfast and brunch spots, and the branch in Hoxton is one of the most popular in the city.

The Hoxton branch was one of the first Breakfast Clubs to be opened in London, and it’s a fantastic place to enjoy a beautiful brunch when you are in the area.

This is a restaurant that specialises in breakfast, and they serve nothing but breakfast all day long in their sleek, modern eateries that have an open and airy feel to feel them. It’s a good place to start the day, no matter whether you’re starting the day at 8 am or 4 pm.

The Breakfast Club menu is extensive, and they take inspiration from across the world. You can order a classic full English, you can go for a vegan breakfast or you can order the Breakfast burrito, to name just a few of the items available.

  1. The Barge House

The Barge House is a fantastic place for brunch if you’re looking for scenic views and outdoor seating because this fabulous eatery is found overlooking the canal in a beautiful waterside location.

In summer especially, there are few better places to enjoy a spot of brunch, as you can sit out and take in the refreshing canal-side air and bathe in the Shoreditch sunlight while it’s there.

The Barge House has a full-service kitchen as well as a popular bar, and they are open all through the day for breakfast, lunch and dinner. You can find classic items such as eggs on toast, or more international breakfasts such as Shakshuka.

The Barge House is famed for its freshly prepared sourdough bread, and on the weekends it’s their exceptional brunch that is the real reason to visit. Their most popular item on brunch days is what they call Breakfast in Bread. A large sourdough loaf is hollowed out and the interior of the bread is filled with all manner of breakfast items.

There are several fillings of Breakfast in Bread, with the most popular being what is essentially a full English breakfast, when your sourdough will be served with bacon, eggs, mushrooms and more. They also offer veggie and vegan Breakfast in Bread, as well as a salmon variety and a spicy chorizo and chilli filling, too.

To accompany these unique bread brunches, the Barge House serves up Bloody Marys and Breakfast Martinis, as well as excellent tea and even better coffee.

  1. Pizza East

A pizza restaurant might not be your first choice for brunch in Shoreditch, but on the weekends Pizza East serves up a fine breakfast and brunch for hungry patrons.

Of course, they are best known for their signature pizzas, as well as their huge range of antipasti, but visit on the weekend and you can delve into the brunch menu. This is Italian breakfast at its best, and while you could just order a pizza for brunch if you’re really hungry, the more rustic brunch items are truly exquisite.

You can try a full Italian breakfast, beef ragu, cured hams, or frittatas, amongst many more breakfast and brunch items on the menu.

Breakfast Pizza

  1. Blues Kitchen

The Blues Kitchen in Shoreditch is renowned for its bluesy vibes, live music and an excellent menu that’s inspired by the soul of the southern USA.

On the weekend, The Blues Kitchen serves up a somewhat infamous boozy brunch, that’s complete with delicious food and endless drinks.

You order your favourite brunch item, be it a brisket burger or the big bluesy breakfast, and then you pick your favoured drink, be it bloody Marys, mimosas or Prosecco. The food is finite, but for two hours, the drinks are unlimited.

  1. Rascals

If it’s a boozy bottomless brunch that you’re after, then spend your weekend enjoying the delights of Rascals, which has made somewhat of a name for itself as being one of London’s most infamous brunching spots.

The food and drink are bottomless at Rascals. While you eat and drink the morning and afternoon away, you’ll be entertained by Rascal’s infamous entertainers. It’s all fun and games and entertainment while you drink and eat, and you’ll be getting stuck into the atmosphere of Rascals for many hours to come.

  1. Dirty Bones

Another great place to enjoy the delights of a boozy brunch is Dirty Bones. Available on the weekends, from 11 am until 4 pm, the Dirty Bones brunch offers you the chance to indulge in New York-inspired food in a heritage-listed London building in Shoreditch.

Dirty Bones has a brunch menu that’s packed with flavour; you can take on the big steak and eggs to set you up for the day or order a huge portion of ribs and crumpets. Of course, at Dirty Bones, as good as the food is, it’s not all about the food, because alongside the brunch items you can order unlimited cocktails.

Drinks to choose from include a Bloody Mary or Uptown Spritz and, for one and a half hours, your drink of choice is endless.

  1. Red Rooster

If it’s American-style food you’re looking for in Shoreditch, then head on over to Red Rooster. This USA-inspired eatery serves up a huge array of American food, ranging from New York to the southern states, but they are best known for their Red Rooster Gospel Brunch.

Held every Sunday, you’ll be able to jump into the delicious brunch menu while a local choir performs Harlem-style gospel to the hungry diners.

It’s a unique experience, and alongside excellent food, you’ll enjoy an excellent performance of gospel songs at Red Rooster.

Red Rooster

  1. The Diner Shoreditch

The Diner Shoreditch is another fantastic restaurant to visit if you are on the search for American-inspired brunch, as this fantastic eatery serves up an all-day breakfast menu.

The Diner Shoreditch is a truly American experience, and the restaurant is set up exactly how you would imagine a classic American diner to be.

All-day breakfast includes such dishes as the Lumberjack Breakfast, and the Hungry Man Breakfast, while you can also order stack after stack of delicious pancakes, with an endless variety of toppings.

  1. Hoxton Grill

One of the best brunch spots to try in Shoreditch is undoubtedly Hoxton Grill. Yet again, this is another restaurant that’s inspired by American-style food, and they serve up a glorious breakfast and brunch.

The brunch menu includes a diverse selection of dishes to order, including simple bowls of muesli or pancakes, to a huge range of different eggs. You can even start your day with a huge cut of steak, while of course there are plenty of cocktails to choose from on the brunch menu too.

  1. Lantana

If you’ve had your fair fill of American-style diners and brunches, then in multicultural Shoreditch you have many more options too. One of the best places to visit is Lantana, a delightful cafe that serves up an excellent Aussie-style breakfast and brunch.

On weekends, they open at 9 am and serve until 4 pm, and you’ll find a vast array of breakfast and brunch items. Expect plenty of halloumi and avocado on the menu, while the coffee is simply excellent as well. There are fruit smoothies too, and you can always start your day out in Shoreditch with a brunch cocktail.

Lanatana

  1. Bird

Our final pick for the best brunch spots in Shoreditch goes to Bird. This simple restaurant is designed with an open-air in mind, perhaps because Bird is proud of their use of free-range poultry.

Bird specialises in two things, and two things only. That’s chicken and waffles, and yes, the two are more often than not combined together. That makes this an excellent brunching spot, combining a waffle breakfast and a chicken lunch or dinner, to set you up for a day in London.

Of course, to complement your waffle and fried chicken brunch, Bird has a wide range of cocktails and other beverages to offer too.

As London experts, we know a thing or two about the best brunch spots across the city, including the trendy Shoreditch area. While you’re in touch, check out our fantastic range of London tours and open-top bus trips to see the very best of the city.

Camden-Rail Bridge

Everything You Need to Know About Camden Market

Camden Market is one of London’s most popular tourist attractions because this bustling marketplace is packed full of trendy stalls, food vendors and photogenic street art.

Found in the heart of hipster Camden, this historic market started life humbly as just a few simple market stalls. Today you can find well over 1,000 different stalls and shops in this vibrant yet crowded part of London.

If you’re looking for vintage clothing, fusion street food and raucous nightlife, then Camden Market is the market for you. If you are searching for street art, funky restaurants and an atmosphere like nowhere else in the capital, then you have to visit Camden Market.

To help you plan your trip, here’s everything you need to know about Camden Market.

A Brief History of Camden Market

Camden Market has a long and fascinating history. Starting from small roots, over the years and decades it’s grown into one of London’s premier, alternative shopping and entertainment areas, while never losing touch with its humble past.

Camden Market has, for the most part, stayed true to itself, and that’s just one of the reasons why it’s become such a popular tourist attraction.

There have been small markets in Camden for centuries. Given its location on the busy Regents Canal, Camden was transformed into a flourishing trade hub that boomed through the Victorian era.

The market you see it today has more recent roots though; Camden Market began to really evolve into its modern self in the 1970s.

In 1974, a small Saturday market comprising just 16 stalls was opened in Camden Town. With Camden’s growing reputation for all things alternative, it proved to be the best location possible for a market place to grow and to evolve into a hipster setting at the forefront of all of London’s unique cultural scenes.

This was really just the beginning though. Camden Market would grow over the following decades into a marketplace housing thousands of stalls, shops and food vendors, and its story is far from over yet.

The market continues to be revamped and redesigned, and there are many areas such as Camden Lock Village, which have undergone massive regeneration projects to keep Camden Market at the forefront. These projects don’t lose sight of Camden’s ethos and history, and you can still find heritage and tradition everywhere you walk.

Camden Market

Where Is Camden Market?

Camden Market is a big and sprawling place to visit. If it’s your first time in Camden, then working out your bearings can be a challenge at first.

The market is technically several different markets and distinct shopping areas, but the majority of the stalls and vendors are found along Camden High Street, which then turns into Chalk Farm Road when you cross over the busy bridge spanning Regents Canal.

It’s a bustling place. To get here, you’ll want to arrive either by bus or by using the Underground, as there’s almost no public parking available and what parking is available will be short term and expensive.

The nearest tube stations are Camden Town and Chalk Farm, both of which are within Zone 2 on the Northern Line.

Chalk Farm Underground station is found at the northern end of the markets, while the Camden Town stop is more southerly. Whichever station you choose stations will bring you out into the heart of Camden Market.

There are also several overground stations, such as Kentish Town and Camden Road, although these are further away from the markets.

The markets are divided into four major areas, but with thousands of stalls, shops, pubs and restaurants, everything spills over into each other and it can be difficult to know exactly where you are at any one time, not that it really matters. The best way to get around Camden Market is to simply walk – or perhaps push – your way through the crowds and to lose yourself in the marketplace. A good idea is to get off the tube at Camden Town, and then simply walk along Camden High Street towards Regents Canal.

The three major reference areas within Camden Market are Buck Street Market, Camden Lock Market and Stables Market.

When to Visit Camden Market

Camden Market is open 7 days a week, even on bank holidays, and most stalls and shops will open around or 9 am or 10 am. The market stalls and shops generally stay open until around 6 pm, sometimes later, but you’ll find that the restaurants, pubs and bars are all open until much, much later.

Camden Market is one of London’s most famous tourist attractions and, unfortunately, that means that it’s always a busy place to visit.

Weekends and bank holidays are when the market is at its liveliest and there’s always something going on. However, on weekends, it can also be absolutely packed, and it can be difficult to walk around and even to find tables at restaurants and pubs. If you don’t mind pushing your way through tour groups and queuing to get into venues, then it’s an atmospheric if busy time to visit. In summer, things are even busier than colder times of the year, particularly when the sun is out.

If you want to enjoy Camden Market without the crowds, then you’ll need to visit during the week. If you want time and space to browse through the stalls and shops then you’re best visiting on Mondays or Tuesdays, as later in the week, it starts to get busier the closer you get to the weekend. In reality though, such as the fame of Camden Market, there are few times when it’s not a crowded place to visit.

Buck Street Market

On the corner of Buck Street along Camden High Street, Buck Street Market is an integral component of Camden Market, and it’s recently been totally redeveloped.

This is the area of the market that’s closest to Camden Town tube station. If you alight here, this is the first part of the market you’ll be exploring.

This is an outdoor market area, and it’s where you can find a few hundred stalls and vendors who are mostly selling clothing and accessories. While the goods for sale aren’t necessarily the most exciting part of Camden Market, it’s the perfect place to visit if you need a few new T-shirts during your stay in London!

In fact, there is a lot for sale here. You can find everything from cult TV clothing to knock-off designer brands. It’s a classic market, and you’ll find good deals and hidden gems stashed away amongst the stalls.

Buck Street Market also has a new addition in that many of its stalls were redesigned when large shipping containers were brought in to house new market stalls and to give the street even more food vendors. It’s an exciting time in Camden, and things are changing yet again.

Camden Lock Market

Continue along Camden High Street, and you’ll stumble upon Regents Canal, where you can find Camden Lock Market. This is the most famous area in Camden Market, and it’s the place that gives the entire market its name.

This was where the market began in 1974; since then it’s grown outwards, along the canal and down Camden High Street.

Nestled around Camden Lock, you can find hundreds of market stalls and vendors, and you’ll find a huge range of products for sale from T-shirts and vintage clothing to excellent fast food.

In fact, the street food is one of the best reasons to visit Camden Market and you can find some of the best near Camden Lock. There’s a truly international range of food available, and you’ll be tantalised by the vendors and cooks offering you tasters before you buy to entice you in. It’s loud, it’s noisy and it’s impossible to walk away hungry.

For sale, you’ll find Indian curries, burgers, classic fish and chips, huge boxes of Chinese food and cuisine from every country imaginable.

Camden-Lock

Stables Market

Stables Market is another part of Camden Market that was previously separate until it joined forces with Camden Lock Market to create a sort of super-sized market.

It was a good move and both markets have grown exponentially and essentially run into one another, as they merge and spillover on both sides of the canal.

Stables Market runs along Chalk Farm Road and, in a previous life, the area was a horse stables, hence its name.

The horses were there for use in Camden’s bustling industrial world and for use on the canal into the early 20th century. With the decline of horse transport, the stables became obsolete until it became the home of a new marketplace.

Today, there aren’t so many horses or stables around, but the Stables Market has become a legendary London attraction.

Here you can find an array of shops and market stalls both indoors and outdoors, and many are set up in the heritage-listed buildings that have been taken over by the retail and hospitality industry.

The most famous shop in the Stables Market is Cyberdog, a unique retail outlet that represents Camden’s alternative side. This is a shop for techno lovers, as you’re greeted by employees whose sole and singular task is to dance on a podium all day. It’s a strange and bizarre place and a tourist site in its own right.

New Developments in Camden Market

Camden Market seems to be constantly in a state of redevelopment, and given the nature of the market things are always in flux here.

Large parts of the market are scheduled for redevelopment, as Camden has become one of London’s most visited tourist areas in recent years. One area that is currently under regeneration is Camden Lock Village. This was once an integral part of the market, until a fire destroyed much of the area. It’s set to be turned into a swanky new development with shops and more market space, and will hopefully retain the character of Camden when it’s open.

Restaurants, Bars and Pubs

As well as the markets stalls and the food vendors, there are plenty of restaurants, bars and pubs to call into when you are visiting Camden Market.

If you’re looking for authentic British pub grub then there are plenty of classic Camden pubs to have lunch or dinner at and to enjoy a few pints of beer too.

At night, Camden comes alive with drinkers and parties, as Camden Town is well known for its excellent nightlife, bars and clubs.

Camden Bar

Music and Artwork at Camden Market

Camden Town has long attracted trendsetters, hipsters, artists and musicians and it truly is one of the most eclectic areas in London. The markets are no exception. As you walk around and make your way through the crowds you’ll soon notice that there is a lot of street art and graffiti in Camden.

It’s one of the best reasons to visit too because the walls have even been used as a canvas by infamous street artists such as Banksy. You can find some of his most iconic pieces hidden around Camden Town.

You might also see a statue dedicated to Amy Winehouse because this was where the famous singer made a name for herself. Camden has a rich musical tradition and in many of the bars and pubs around the markets you’ll find plenty of live music events all through the week.

There are many legendary music venues to check out in and around the markets, and you can enjoy everything from jazz to punk, and all that’s in between. Classic venues include the likes of The Dublin Castle, KOKO and the Jazz Cafe, and all are places where you might just chance upon the next big act before they become super famous and make it onto the world stage.

amywinehouse-camden

This is one of the most happening parts of London. There’s always something going on in Camden. While you’re in town browsing the stalls at Camden Market, checking out the street art and sampling all that tasty street food, check out Premium Tours fantastic range of London tours to see the best the city has to offer.

02 Arena

Here’s Where to See Live Music in London

The United Kingdom has an exceptional live music scene, and London is always at the forefront of the best musical trends. It’s the heart and soul of the country’s musical talent, and it’s a stage where the world’s best bands and artists come to play to packed crowds.

London has some incredible music venues, ranging from the glamorous arenas of the O2 and Wembley where famous stars play to thousands of people, to the grimy and dark back rooms of pubs in Camden or Shoreditch where rising stars begin their careers.

Many of London’s smaller venues have a lot of history behind them too, and there are few other cities in the world that can match the British capital for musical heritage. London is one of the best cities in the world for live music. Here are our favourite venues to see live music in London.

O2 Arena

The O2 Arena is the second largest music venue and indoor events space in the United Kingdom. Since the mid-2000s, it’s been playing host to some of the biggest tours and artists in the world.

This is a huge venue – in the UK, only the Manchester Arena is bigger – and The O2 Arena has become one of the most iconic live music venues in the world, since the old Millennium Dome was repurposed and turned into an events space.

The arena hosts big world tours and can house thousands of screaming fans, both seated and standing, making this one of the best and the biggest musical experiences in London.

The SSE Arena, Wembley

The SSE Arena, Wembley is London’s second-largest indoor live music venue, after The O2 Arena. It’s one of the best places in the capital to see headlining acts from around the world.   

Wembley Arena is one of the city’s most iconic music venues, and it’s found in the shadow of the equally iconic Wembley Stadium, where live music events are held throughout the year.

This is a historic place, as the building dates back to the 1930s when it was originally built as a swimming pool. Since the late 1940s, it’s been used as a music and events venue, and over the years many historic names have been on the bill, from the Beatles to the Spice Girls.

Wembley-Arena

Eventim Apollo

Another classic live music arena to visit in London is the Eventim Apollo. Formerly known as the Hammersmith Apollo, it’s located in the west London district of Hammersmith. Since 1932, the Apollo has been hosting music and other entertainment events to packed crowds.

The Hammersmith Apollo is set in a heritage-listed building, and it’s one of the most classic live music venues in the capital. The Apollo has had various different names and sponsors over the years, but it’s always kept its brilliant atmosphere and feel. With a capacity of only around 5,000 people, the performances here are much more intimate and personal than performances in larger indoor arenas such as the O2 or SSE Arena, Wembley.

The Dublin Castle

Camden Town is well known for its alternative, trendsetting vibes, and the music scene in the north London district is second to none in the capital. Camden is the place to visit for iconic and historic music venues, and it’s the place to visit to find the next big acts before they become famous.

One of Camden’s most famous live music venues is The Dublin Castle. This small pub is hidden away in the heart of Camden Town and is often referred to as the home of Britpop. Many famous bands and musicians have played within the cramped confines of The Dublin Castle, before going on to become world famous.

Madness was the first band to really bring the Dublin Castle fame, while other acts that have passed through the doors here include Amy Winehouse and Blur.

The Dublin Castle

The Old Blue Last

Another London pub that always seems to be at the forefront of the capital’s music scene is The Old Blue Last. Set on the hipster streets of Shoreditch, few other pubs in the capital have such a long history and such a reputation as this.

The Old Blue Last is owned by Vice Media, and they regularly host parties and live music events. The pub dates back over 300 years and has long been serving London’s patrons with round after round of ale and beer.

The pub and venue hosts live music acts almost every night of the week, and many of the shows are free of charge to watch. It’s a great venue to try and catch the next big bands. Big names that have played here before they made it big include the likes of the Arctic Monkeys and Florence and the Machine.

Jazz Cafe

If rock and pop music isn’t your thing, then London has plenty of live music venues catering to different genres. If you’re into jazz, then head on over to Camden Town where you can enjoy the delights of the famous Jazz Cafe.

For jazz lovers, few other places in London can match the Jazz Cafe for soul and performances here are always intimate. The Jazz Cafe can only host around 400 people, and it’s a great experience listening to jazz in such a small setting.

The Jazz Cafe has also branched out into other music genres too, and they host reggae, hip hop and blues artists too, amongst many others.

Cafe Oto

If intimate live music venues are what you’re searching for in London, then look no further than Cafe Oto. Located in the heart of Dalston – a district that’s famous for its music and venues – Cafe Oto is a simple cafe and restaurant during the day, but by night it turns into a beautiful live music space.

Cafe Oto is often voted to be one of London’s coolest live music venues because nothing beats it for either charm or grace. You’ll find jazz artists and electronic acts playing to small crowds at Cafe Oto, while the venue also hosts regular workshops and cultural exchanges when they aren’t hosting performances.

Royal Albert Hall

Located in South Kensington, the Royal Albert Hall is one of London’s most highly regarded and well-known music venues. This is musical history at its finest, because Queen Victoria personally opened the venue in 1871. Since then, it’s played host to many of the country’s best concerts and musical performances.

The Royal Albert Hall is best known for hosting the Proms, a classical music event that’s held every year and is broadcast across the world. The historic building can host around 5000 people, in tiered seating stands, and even if you can’t get hold of tickets to an event here, you can still join guided tours of the fascinating building, to learn more about the intriguing history of the Royal Albert Hall.

Royal Albert Hall

Alexandra Palace

Another classic and historic music venue to visit in London is Alexandra Palace, referred to affectionately as the ‘Ally Pally’. This iconic venue was originally opened in 1875, and it was intended to be a theatre. It was a theatre that was far ahead of its time too, and it revolutionised the Victorian entertainment industry.

The wider Alexandra Palace entertainment complex has several different entertainment spaces, and there are theatres and performance venues within this grand Victorian-era palace. As well as live music events, which are held in suitably Victorian climes within the heritage-listed building.

It’s a beautiful place to see concerts, musical performances and other shows and events while you are visiting London.

Roundhouse

In Camden Town, the Roundhouse is one of north London’s most historic music venues. It might not be as well known as the Royal Albert Hall or have the prestige of Alexandra Palace, but the Roundhouse has history enough to match both. Being in the heart of Camden, the venue is known for hosting artists and festivals throughout the years, including the likes of The Doors and David Bowie, and the BBC’s Electric Proms.

The Roundhouse is a heritage-listed building that dates back to the 1850s. This was never a purpose-built events arena; the Roundhouse was originally built to house a railway turntable. After this was abandoned, the building has been used variously as a warehouse and storehouse, until it was repurposed as an events space in the 20th century. It’s a Camden classic and a fantastic place for live music events.

The Camden Assembly

Camden Town is absolutely packed with excellent live music venues, and another great place to visit in the district is The Camden Assembly. This classic Camden venue has recently had a name change and was formerly known for years as the Barfly.

The Camden Assembly is really just a small pub, but it’s earned its rightful place amongst the legendary live music venues of London for hosting some of the country’s most up and coming artists before they hit the world stage.

There’s a small capacity of just 200 people, and it’s one of the most atmospheric places to experience live bands in London. When it was known as Barfly, the pub hosted such greats as Coldplay and other Britpop sensations when they were still making it onto the music scene.

The Blues Kitchen, Camden

While you’re in Camden, you can also visit The Blues Kitchen, a legendary restaurant that hosts some of the best blues evenings in the capital.

There are several branches around the capital now, in places like Shoreditch and Brixton too, but the Camden branch is easily the most well known. The restaurant focuses on serving excellent food that’s inspired by the culinary traditions of America’s deep south, and you can enjoy everything from slow-cooked brisket to huge servings of chicken wings.

The Blues Kitchen hosts regular blues and jazz artists through the week and on weekends too, and you’ll find many famous and up-and-coming stars playing at the restaurant. If you love good food and good music, then there’s nowhere better to spend the evening than the Blues Kitchen.

Union Chapel

One of the most unique live music venues in London is found in Islington, and it’s unusual because it’s also a fully functioning church.

As a church, Union Chapel dates back to 1874. In recent years, it’s earned fame by hosting music events and also for caring for the homeless through its charity projects.

While regular church services are held here, the building is transformed at night into a beautiful live music space, and bands and performers play within the atmospheric stonewalls of this Victorian-era church.

O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire

Another classic London venue catering to larger crowds and bigger bands is O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire. Dating back to 1903, this was originally designed to be a theatre, before being taken over by the BBC to be used as a filming location for different television shows. In the 1990s, the venue was transformed into a live music space, and since then it’s become a well-known destination for quality bands and performers.

This is still a small venue compared to the big arenas though, and O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire can only hold around 2,000 spectators. That doesn’t stop big bands joining the bill though, with past performances including David Bowie, Pearl Jam and Mumford and Sons. It’s a legendary place and one of the best live music venues to visit in London.

Shepherds Bush 02 Empire

Yoga Pose

These Are the Best Yoga Classes in London

London has no shortage of places to learn and practise the art of yoga. But finding the best yoga classes in the capital can be a challenge, given the fierce competition. You can find classes and sessions in almost any leisure centre or community hall, while there are more and more dedicated yoga spaces opening up each year.

Finding the best yoga classes in London for you will also depend on the style of yoga you are looking for. Across the capital, you can find many different variations of yoga being practised and taught, and you can try out different classes each week to discover which style truly suits you.

From the sweaty moves of hot yoga and Bikram to the spirituality of Kundalini or the classic moves of Ashtanga, there are a lot of places to practise yoga. Here are our favourite yoga classes in London.

Ashtanga Yoga

Ashtanga Yoga is the most classic form of yoga you can find being practised in London, and there are plenty of different places to try it across the capital. Ashtanga yoga was designed by Indian yogi K. Pattabhi Jois in Mysore in the 20th century. This famous yogi took traditional, historic yoga poses and traditions and created a new form of yoga for the modern era. His techniques helped popularise yoga across the world, while still keeping close to the heritage of ancient yoga.

Ashtanga yoga involves individual poses being linked by Vinyasa, or flowing poses. It can be hot and sweaty, and it’s good for your strength and breathing.

Ashtanga Yoga

Good Vibes

One of the best places in London to try Ashtanga yoga is Good Vibes. This excellent fitness studio has its base in Fitzrovia on Tottenham Street, and they focus on offering positive fitness classes that empower you with energy, positivity and, above all, good vibes.

Some of their most popular classes are their yoga classes. They have a range of different classes catering to different levels, be it beginner lessons or intense sessions for experienced yoga lovers.

Their focus is on Ashtanga yoga; if you’ve never tried yoga before, then this classic variety is the perfect way to ease into the pursuit. You can join their beginner classes, where you’ll learn the basics, and once you’ve got the moves down you can move into their more intense Vinyasa sessions, where you’ll leave sweaty but refreshed.

The Good Vibes yoga studio offers a temperature-controlled space that’s great for Vinyasa. During the cold winter months, they heat the room to the level of an Indian summer’s day where you can escape the chill and practise yoga as it’s meant to be done, amongst the heat and humidity.

Triyoga

Triyoga is one of London’s most well-known yoga centres, and they have excellent classes dedicated to the practice of Ashtanga yoga, amongst many other varieties and forms.

They have studios in Camden, Chelsea, Ealing, Shoreditch and Soho, and they cater to a wide range of clients and abilities. Across their different locations, they teach hundreds of classes each week. If you’re looking to either learn the Ashtanga ropes or to delve deeper into the world of yoga, then Triyoga is one of the best places in London to do it.

Their beginner courses and introductory offers are great. You can have private lessons with one-to-one tuition, or you can join group sessions with like-minded, wannabe yogis. If you’re looking to develop your Ashtanga techniques further, then there are a range of classes offered for mid-level and experienced yoga lovers, while if you truly want to take your yoga skills to the next level, then you can even learn how to be a yoga instructor at Triyoga.

Ashtanga Yoga London

If you’re looking for a more personal studio and smaller classes, then one of the best places to go in the capital is Ashtanga Yoga London. Run by a handful of dedicated instructors, the studio focuses almost entirely on Ashtanga Yoga, and few other places can match it for personalised service and commitment to the practice.

Their studio is called Dharma Shala, and it’s located in King’s Cross. This is more than just a yoga space, as Ashtanga Yoga London has become more of a community than just a commercial enterprise. If you are searching for like-minded yoga lovers, then this is the place to be.

At Ashtanga Yoga London, you can learn the basic moves of the Mysore-style yoga sequences, before moving onto the more experienced, free-flowing Vinyasa classes that are typical of Ashtanga.

There are classes all through the week, and you can pay per session or become part of the Ashtanga community and purchase monthly packages for the different classes.

Hot Yoga

Hot yoga is one of the most popular, modern forms of yoga you can find being practised in studios across London. Hot yoga is so-called because the idea is literally to get hot and to work up a huge sweat during your routines. The idea is to sweat and to sweat hard. Hot yoga is performed in hot and humid conditions, which are designed to replicate those found on the Indian subcontinent where yoga originated.

There are different types and styles of hot yoga, but most originated in the mid 20th century and became popularised as a way to dispel impurities in the body as well as to lose weight and to strengthen core muscles.

Hot Yoga is intense and vigorous, and you need a basic level of fitness at the very least to survive your first few classes, before stepping it up as you progress while you learn the different techniques and styles.

Frame

One of London’s best hot yoga spots is Frame, a yoga company that has six separate locations across the capital offering thousands of classes a week. Frame is an all-encompassing yoga business, and they offer classes and tuition in almost every conceivable style of yoga possible.

Frame likes to focus on getting you hot and sweaty in all their classes, and they really take the meaning of hot yoga to a new level. Whichever classes you choose, be it beginner or advanced sessions or free-flow or power yoga, you’ll be leaving in a sweat, but also leaving revitalised and restored. Alongside traditional yoga classes, they also offer their own unique brand of hot yoga, which is simply called Frame Yoga, where different techniques and styles are combined to leave you with the ultimate hot yoga sweats.

Another Space 

Another Space is one of London’s most infamous hot yoga spots; any class you take at this well-known establishment will leave you painfully sweaty and aching for days.

Their classes aren’t for the faint-hearted, but they are excellent if you are looking to push yourself above and beyond and to take hot yoga to a higher level while improving your strength, stamina and fitness.

With locations in Covent Garden and Bank, this is one of the most intense yoga centres in central London. Perhaps knowing this, they have a great policy with no joining fees and no hidden costs.

Bikram Yoga

Bikram Yoga is a form of hot yoga that has several distinct differences and attributes. This is one of the most popular forms of hot yoga that you’ll find across the world. In London, there are many classes dedicated solely to the art of Bikram.

Founded by Bikram Choudhury, this modern form of yoga follows a specified set of poses and techniques that are performed in sequence in a hot and humid environment.

Bikram Yoga

Fierce Grace

One of London’s best-known studios for bringing the heat, Fierce Grace has seven studios across the capital and is a forerunner of the hot yoga revolution in the city.

Established by a student of Bikram Choudhury, Michele Pernetta, Fierce Grace has eight different classes designed to suit every schedule, level and mood. Standouts include the eponymous ‘Fierce Grace’ class, ‘Wild’ which combines strength poses, and the advanced ‘Fierce’, also known as ‘the Beast’.

If you’re injured, stiff, unfit or in rehabilitation, the S.O.B class – which stands for Stiff, Old or Broken – is a powerful way to get you moving again.

The Hot Spot Yoga

The Hot Spot Yoga is well known for its focus on hot yoga and Bikram yoga, and it’s one of London’s best spots if you’re looking for intense Bikram sessions. Their classic classes include long Bikram yoga routines, where you’ll be immersed in the heat of the Indian subcontinent while never leaving London.

Prepare to get hot and prepare to get really sweaty, because The Hot Spot Yoga can help you take your yoga game to a more intense level than ever before. They offer a heavy schedule of classes through the week, and with sessions lasting for 90-minutes at a time you’ll be left aching, yet thoroughly versed in the techniques and poses that Bikram yoga comprises.

You might want a good grounding in less intense hot yoga techniques before venturing into this yoga centre though, or you’ll leave your first session aching and hurting for the next few days.

Hot Yoga

Kundalini 

Kundalini Yoga is a more niche form of yoga, and there are fewer studios offering classes and sessions across the capital. It’s a more spiritual form of yoga, and the idea isn’t to get hot and sweaty but to focus on breathing and technique in order to awaken the spiritual energy that’s found within you.

It’s a unique and calming form of yoga to practice and a wonderful form of relaxation and meditation.

Joy

Joy is a yoga centre dedicated to Kundalini Yoga, and it’s easily one of the best places in the capital to try it out.

It’s a relatively new studio having only opened its doors in 2018, but they are already the preferred choice for many spiritual seekers in London. You can join their Kundalini and meditation sessions to awaken your own inner spirituality, and to learn more about the meditative and healing processes involved in this particular form of yoga.

Kundalini Yoga London

Located in Fitzrovia, Kundalini Yoga London is another great space to learn all about this meditative form of yoga.

With a focus on small class sizes and a personalised teaching style, this is the place to really begin to connect with your inner Kundalini spirituality and power. Run by a single instructor, there are only a few classes a week, so book in quick to secure your spot if this is the style of yoga you are looking to learn more about.

Free Yoga Classes in London

Yoga is a relatively inexpensive hobby to take up, but most classes, instructors and companies charge fees for their sessions. You can save money by purchasing memberships, once you find the best classes for you and the instructors that suit you best. Many studios offer multiple-session packages or unlimited monthly subscriptions that will give you hefty savings on paying individually.

Group lessons and classes are always cheaper than private lessons too and are a great way to make new friends and delve into the wider yoga community and lifestyle.

If you are looking for free or heavily discounted yoga classes, then many studios offer excellent introductory rates for beginners, where you can join either sample lessons or where you can take advantage of low rates for the first few sessions or even months of your membership.

On International Yoga Day – a day dedicated purely to the pursuit of all things yoga – almost all studios offer free sessions to celebrate the beauty of yoga and to spread its good vibes.

Many new or small-time instructors working on more of a hobby basis will also offer group or community sessions for free or for minimal costs. Many of these classes run in summer, as they take place outside, in parks or public spaces.

Yoga in London

If you’re visiting London to take advantage of the wonderful range and variety of yoga classes across the capital, check out Premium Tours’ fantastic range of London tours. As London experts, we show you the best the city has to offer in terms of major tourist attractions and museums, though we know a good deal about eating, nightlife and lifestyle, too!

london buildings

A Guide to the Best Neighbourhoods to Stay in London

London is a sprawling metropolis, a huge city that stretches for mile upon mile on either side of the River Thames, where millions of people live and many millions more tourists visit each year.

London can be a challenge to navigate. Even if it’s not your first time visiting the capital, it can be difficult figuring out one district from the next and deciding where to base yourself during your stay.

The city has many different and unique neighbourhoods to choose between, from the high-class properties and expensive accommodation in the likes of Chelsea or Kensington, to the boutique and happening streets of Shoreditch or Camden. There’s somewhere to suit every style in the capital. To help you to decide, here’s our guide to the best neighbourhoods to stay in London.

Victoria

If you are planning on enjoying a really touristy trip to London, then one of the best places to stay in the city is Victoria. This is central London, and there are few other neighbourhoods that are quite so conveniently placed as this.

Victoria has excellent transport connections – numerous buses and trains connect you to the rest of the country, while London’s airports are easily reached too. If it’s your first time in London or you’re just looking to see the most popular sights, then in Victoria you are close to classic and iconic landmarks such as Buckingham Palace and Hyde Park.

You’re never more than a short walk away from London’s best places, and you can easily get to Westminster to see the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben or cross over the River Thames to explore Southbank. You can see the Changing of the Guard ceremony outside Buckingham Palace, or stroll through the corridors and stately rooms of Kensington Palace. St James’s Park is always a beautiful place for a walk, particularly when the sun is out, while there are museums and art galleries to browse if the weather takes a turn for the worse.

buckingham palace london

Kensington

Kensington is the famous London district located close to palaces, museums and art galleries, and that’s known for its upscale accommodation and association with royalty.

This historic part of the city borders Hyde Park and is where you can find Kensington Palace, the royal residence of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge amongst other members of the Royal family. Don’t expect to find any budget accommodation here though, as this is the realm of London’s elite, although if money is no object then you can find an exceptional array of both hotels and serviced apartments in what is one of the flashiest parts of the capital.

In Kensington, as well as being able to rub shoulders with royalty, you would also be staying close to London’s best museums. This is where you can find some of London’s oldest institutions. You can visit the Natural History Museum to learn about the world around us and to marvel at the impressive dinosaur skeletons on display here. After that, head down the road to the Science Museum, where you can delve into both the history and future of science and technology. Finally, you can visit the Victoria and Albert Museum, which since the mid 19th century has been amassing the world’s largest collection of exhibits focusing on art and design.

Chelsea

South of Kensington, you can find the equally flamboyant and high-end streets of Chelsea. This is another of London’s most affluent areas, and you can expect to find a high level of accommodation here although, of course, you’ll also need to pay for the privilege of staying in this swanky part of the city.

In recent years, Chelsea was made famous by the reality TV show, Made in Chelsea, which follows the lavish lifestyles of the neighbourhood’s rich and young, and you’ll quickly find that this is a district of wealth and extravagance. You can enjoy some of London’s most elite bars, cafes and restaurants in Chelsea, as well as some of the city’s most high-end shopping.

The district is also incredibly close to central London, but it’s far removed from the crowds and a welcome escape from the chaos of the city centre and from the city’s most popular tourist attractions. If you can afford the price tag that comes with it, then staying in Chelsea is one of the best options for your trip to London.

Covent Garden

Another fantastically central location to stay in during your time in London is Covent Garden. It’s hard to pin down what exactly counts as central London, such is the city’s sprawl and size, but one of the centres for all things shopping, eating and entertainment is most definitely the Covent Garden area.

This is the perfect place to stay if you are visiting London to immerse yourself in its culture, as if you’re in Covent Garden then you are just a short walk away from iconic locations such as Leicester Square and the Royal Opera House. This is the best place for lovers of the theatre, movies and musicals, and you can spend your evenings enjoying the best of the city’s shows and performances, be it at the cinema or at the opera.

As the home of London’s most important entertainment institutions, Covent Garden also has a huge range of accommodation to go with it. You’ll find an impressive array of international hotels on offer, ranging in price from budget options right through to five-star establishments.

Across the district you have a fine range of dining options too, from historic pubs and taverns serving up traditional English pub grub and plenty of drinks, to fine dining and everything else in between. From Covent Garden, it’s easy to get to the rest of London’s most well-known sights and districts too, with Buckingham Palace just a short walk away in one direction and St Paul’s Cathedral just a stroll in the other direction.

covent garden

Shoreditch

Shoreditch is in London’s East End, and this happening neighbourhood has a very different look and feel to it in comparison to the likes of Kensington or Chelsea.

This is London’s so-called ‘hipster’ district, a place at the forefront of the city’s new trends, be it fashion, food or drink, and it’s always a lively, vibrant place to stay. If you want to be in the heart of London’s contemporary cultural scene, then this is the place to be.

Shoreditch has a great range of accommodation, and being located further out from central London you’ll find that the prices are much more reasonable here, especially given the value on offer. You can find excellent hotels at good prices, and plenty of bustling hostels filled with budget travellers.

Shoreditch is known for its nightlife too. If you are looking for a fun-filled evening, late night parties and great drink deals, then this is the place to stay. Every night of the week you can find something happening in Shoreditch, and it’s a fantastic place if you’re up for a few drinks.

Camden

Camden is also a neighbourhood that has a big reputation when it comes to being at the forefront of trends. This bustling part of London is a fantastic place to stay if you are looking to be immersed in both London’s multi-cultural atmosphere and contemporary culture.

Camden is known for its canals and its markets. The beautiful Regent’s Canal flows through the neighbourhood, and you can walk along its banks and enjoy the local pubs that line the waterway.

Camden Market is a dense collection of lively market stalls and shops, and you can find almost anything imaginable for sale here. The market is also home to some excellent food, from busy restaurants and bars to simple yet delicious street food vendors. You can find food from across the world here, from Jamaican Jerk Chicken to authentic Indian curries, reflecting the interesting mix of communities that call North London home.

Like Shoreditch, as Camden is a little further out from central London, you can expect to find cheaper accommodation here, including plenty of budget hotels and hostels. Camden also has a lively nightlife too and is well regarded for its music scene. You’ll find bands and musicians performing at local pubs and venues all through the week.

camden town

Bermondsey

Located on the south side of the Thames just over the iconic London Bridge, Bermondsey is one of the best neighbourhoods to stay in London if you are looking to be close to the action, but don’t want to spend a fortune.

Bermondsey was traditionally very much a working-class area, and it was historically a place of industry and factories. Much has changed though, and today many of the old warehouses and factory buildings have now been renovated and redesigned as flats, venues and even bars and restaurants, making this very much a revitalised place to visit.

The mix of old and new in Bermondsey is wonderful and you’ll find excellent boutique accommodation as well as budget options, while the area is never too far from central London and from some of the city’s best sights. You can easily walk to the fantastic Borough Market, where you’ll find some of London’s best food. You can explore old cathedrals, the Tower of London is just across the river, and there’s plenty more to do, too.

Notting Hill

One of London’s most famous areas is Notting Hill, the district made world famous by the film of the same name, which brought the neighbourhood to international attention in the 1990s.

Notting Hill is a great place to stay if you love colourful houses, charming cafes and enjoy both the vibrancy and creativity of London. You can explore filming locations from Notting Hill if you’re a movie fan, and you can enjoy the fact that the neighbourhood is far enough out from the city to make it an enjoyable place to stay, yet close enough to still get around easily.

On weekends Notting Hill is the site of Portobello Market, which attracts people from across the city, while once a year the neighbourhood hosts the epic Notting Hill Carnival, a celebration of the area’s incredible diversity, tolerance and multiculturalism that’s become one of the biggest events of its kind in Europe.

There’s a good range of accommodation too, including lots of guesthouses, B&Bs and boutique-style accommodation. Notting Hill can get busy when events are on, particularly the carnival, so make sure to book in advance if the dates of your trip coincide with this.

notting hill

Greenwich

Often overlooked, particularly by first-time visitors to London, Greenwich is a little further out from the centre of the city than other neighbourhoods you could stay in, but it offers you the chance to see a different side of the capital.

Greenwich is on the eastern side of the city, stretching along the south of the River Thames, and it’s one of the capital’s most historic destinations. This is where Greenwich Mean Time begins, where you can find the important Greenwich Observatory, and where you can explore the intriguing Cutty Sark Museum. You can stroll along the banks of the river or take the lengthy Greenwich Foot Tunnel, which runs under the Thames itself and connects both sides of the river together.

As well as the Cutty Sark – an old merchant ship that’s been beautifully restored – you can also learn more about Greenwich’s fascinating maritime history at the excellent National Maritime Museum, where you’ll be given an insight into the area’s long association with the oceans.

Greenwich is also home to the Millennium Dome, the iconic building that was constructed to celebrate the year 2000.  Today it’s one of London’s premier events arenas, where you can watch bands and shows throughout the year.

There are markets, pubs, restaurants and everything else you might need for your stay in London, and with an excellent range of accommodation available, from small family run B&Bs to international hotels, you might find that Greenwich keeps you in the city for longer than you were expecting.

To discover more about the culture, history and attractions of London, check out Premium Tours’ fantastic range of London tours

live concert

Here Are the Best Places to See Live Music in Shoreditch

Shoreditch is London’s classic entertainment district, a historic part of the city that has been the domain of theatregoers and play lovers since the days when Shakespeare first began holding performances in the 16th century.

These days the scene might be a little different, but the heart and soul of Shoreditch have never really changed. Shoreditch has always been at the forefront of trends and it’s always been at the forefront of the music scene.

While you won’t find huge music arenas or sell-out stadium tours in Shoreditch, you will find iconic venues tucked away down narrow alleys and intimate performances in packed-out pubs. This is where the best up-and-coming acts play to be discovered, and where those that have already made it return for nostalgic performances.

From the Old Blue Last to the Queen of Hoxton, here are the best places to see live music in Shoreditch.

  1. The Old Blue Last

The Old Blue Last is one of the most iconic pubs in Shoreditch, and it’s a venue that has become legendary over the years. This is a pub that has done more than anywhere else to give Shoreditch its hipster image; The Old Blue Last is actually owned by the infamous trendsetters that run Vice magazine.

This is a pub that’s steeped in history too, being over 300 years old. But despite its age, it attracts one of the younger crowds in Shoreditch. Over the last decade, since Vice turned a dilapidated pub into a stellar music venue, The Old Blue Last has seen the likes of Arctic Monkeys, Amy Winehouse, the Klaxons, Florence + the Machine, and many, many more famous acts play when they were trying to break into the music scene.

If you are looking to see the best up-and-coming artists, then visit The Old Blue Last on one of their gig nights. Any other time, it’s still a great pub for a night out, even if there’s no music on!

Hipster Beers

  1. Queen of Hoxton

The Queen of Hoxton is another legendary Shoreditch venue that’s one of the best places to catch some live music. Found on Curtain Road in the heart of the district, this is a multi-level and multi-purpose venue that’s always hosting interesting events and nights out.

The Queen of Hoxton is both a bar and a pub, and there are three different levels, including an open-air rooftop that gets packed out in the summer evenings. The venue hosts movie screenings, dance nights and even ukulele lessons, and there’s always something different going on any night of the week.

It’s best known for its club and live music nights though, and parties on the weekends go on well into the early, early hours of the morning.

  1. Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen

Tucked away in Shoreditch, the Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen is a famous venue that puts on both club nights and live music events through the week. Hoxton Square has a solid reputation on the party scene in Shoreditch, and it’s one of the most popular venues in the area.

Despite this, it’s actually a rather laidback venue too. The outdoor terrace gives you the chance to sit out in the sun or to enjoy the cool evening air, while the first room is perfect for simply relaxing with cocktails or with some food in a great ambience.

The real fun happens in the second room though, as this opens up late at night for clubbing or is used for live music in the evenings. Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen has it all really, and it’s perfect for any kind of night out that you’re looking for in Shoreditch.

  1. Village Underground

Village Underground is a venue and cultural space that is just about as quintessentially Shoreditch as you could imagine. This is East London at its best, and the entire place screams hipster from the rooftops.

The venue is housed inside a renovated warehouse that dates back to the 19th century, and on the roof, there’s an iconic Shoreditch sight. Decommissioned tube trains that have painted and covered in murals and graffiti have been installed on top of the building, and have become somewhat of a landmark in the area.

Inside the warehouse, there is a large concert area that hosts DJs and live music events in what is an atmospheric and loud venue. A huge array of different genres and artists play here, and every night can be totally different from the last.

  1. 93 Feet East

Located on Brick Lane, one of Shoreditch’s liveliest streets, 93 Feet East is a popular bar, club and live music venue.

For two decades, 93 Feet East has been entertaining crowds with its excellent array of events, ranging from intense DJ sets to up-and-coming music nights. 93 Feet East is part of the Old Truman Brewery complex, which is the most comprehensive events and entertainment venue in East London.

The old brewery was converted into a business and artistic space. As well as 93 Feet East, there are regular markets, events, shows and exhibitions held here throughout the year.

  1. Oslo

No, not the Norwegian capital, but a bar and restaurant in Hackney that puts on great live music events. Oslo claims to be inspired by Nordic traditions and culture, and that shines through in the chic surroundings and innovative drinks and food menus.

What really makes Oslo great though is its unique location within a disused train station. The venue is next to Hackney Central Station, in a Victorian-era building that was put out of service and left to crumble many years ago, until it was taken over and redeveloped into Oslo.

They have live music several times a week, and if there are no bands playing on the weekends, they host club nights too on their cavernous music floor.

  1. Cargo

Cargo is located just off Shoreditch High Street, and it’s a fantastic place to spend your evenings and weekends if you are looking to find new bands and music acts to listen to.

While Cargo originally earned itself a reputation for being primarily a clubbing venue with late-night DJ sets and big parties, it’s also begun to earn a reputation for its excellent live music nights.

Of course it’s still very much a club venue too, but on live music nights, you can find a big music scene, and many up-and-coming acts performing. Cargo is found in an old railway yard and is a fantastic example of repurposing. As well as the event space, there are bars, a restaurant and a popular outdoor terrace. You can even find modern art on display at Cargo, including the odd Banksy piece.

Banksy

  1. Rich Mix

If you’re looking for a truly alternative and creative hub in Shoreditch, then head down to Bethnal Green Road, where you can find Rich Mix.

This popular events space is much more than just a live music venue. Rich Mix is best described as a cultural hub. It’s an art space, a creative centre, and even a charity, and they help to support Shoreditch’s rich diversity through their venue and initiatives.

At Rich Mix, you can enjoy new galleries and alternative exhibitions from local artists, catch screenings of both new and classic movies at the cinema, and listen to fantastic live acts in the entertainment venue. Many of the musicians and artists are from London’s more marginalised communities, and it offers a fantastic chance to learn more about the area’s incredible multicultural makeup.

  1. The Macbeth

The Macbeth is a more traditional Shoreditch pub that also hosts plenty of live music evenings. With a name alluding to Shoreditch’s Shakespearian past, The Macbeth has been here for well over a century, serving drinks and providing entertainment in the East End of London.

A century of drinking and partying has left The Macbeth with a sterling reputation in London, and it has a rich cultural history that few other venues in the area can match, apart from perhaps the infamous The Old Blue Last.

The darkened exterior might seem a little run down from the outside but don’t worry, it’s all part of the rustic charm. Inside, you’ll find a modern bar serving a surprisingly cosmopolitan selection of drinks and cocktails, rather than just the pints of ale you might expect from first impressions.

Cocktails

  1. The Blues Kitchen

Located on Curtain Road, The Blues Kitchen is the place to go if you’re looking for Deep South style food and an evening of blues music.

The restaurant has live acts playing blues, country music, soul and funk every single night of the week, and you’ll find the decor and atmosphere will transport you instantly to the southern states of America. On weekends, the music goes on late into the night, too.

You could be in Louisiana or Tennessee, not in the middle of Shoreditch. While the musicians do their thing on stage, you can order from the extensive food and drink menus. The Blues Kitchen serves up everything from lobster and brisket, to southern fried chicken and bean burgers.

  1. The Shacklewell Arms

If the culture of America’s Deep South isn’t quite your thing, then head to The Shacklewell Arms where you can have a taste of something a little closer to home.

Found on Shacklewell Lane close to the Dalston Downs, this is a classic London pub that hosts regular live acts in intimate surroundings. The pub serves up a selection of burgers and hot dogs, keeping things simple on the menu front, and they have a solid range of drinks too.

There’s nothing too fancy about this venue, but that’s part of the draw. Most importantly, they have a surprisingly packed schedule of bands and artists from the local area playing all through the week.

  1. The Auld Shillelagh

Just north of Dalston in Stoke Newington, you can find what’s often claimed to be one of the best Irish pubs in London. The Auld Shillelagh is stereotypically Irish. There’s Guinness on tap, Jameson Whiskey behind the bar, and green decor everywhere.

It’s a great place to enjoy plenty of drinks and to eat some hearty, traditional Irish pub grub too. The pub has a huge reputation but, surprisingly, it’s actually a rather small venue. That doesn’t stop them packing the place in with musicians though, and you’ll be able to dance your night away to traditional Irish folk songs and ballads while you drink Guinness after Guinness.

  1. Cafe Oto

Cafe Oto forms the heart of the Dalston music scene to the north of Shoreditch High Street. If you’re searching for a unique venue and unique place to listen to music, then head here.

During the day, this is a simple cafe serving up coffees and light lunches, but come evening time the space is transformed into an intimate music venue. Cafe Oto is a community project, and the venue helps to showcase and to fund local musicians from a variety of backgrounds, who offer a variety of styles and genres.

Tickets can sell out for the evening events, so grab then when you can!

Jazz Club

  1. Vortex Jazz Club

If you’re looking for an evening of jazz entertainment then head to Dalston and call in at the Vortex Jazz Club.

This classic jazz venue has been around since the 1980s and has hosted some of the very best in both British and international performers over the last three decades. This is a place to see both established and up-and-coming jazz acts, and the company that runs the venue frequently signs performers to their own record label as well.

There are regular events all through the week from a variety of groups and artists, and there’s always a great atmosphere. If you’re into jazz, then there are few other venues anywhere in London that have as good a reputation as the Vortex Jazz Club amongst jazz fans.

As London experts we know a thing or two about where to find the best live music in Shoreditch – and around the capital. While you’re in town, check out Premium Tours’ fantastic range of London tours to get more inside information on this superb city.

london-eye

These Are the Best Restaurants Near the London Eye

The London Eye is one of the British capital’s most enduring attractions. Built in the year 2000 to celebrate the start of the new millennium and to represent a modern London, in the two decades since it opened the London Eye has become an icon of the city’s skyline.

It’s an unmistakable landmark, and it’s an unmissable attraction for anyone visiting the city. Book yourself a ticket and enjoy an unrivalled experience as you soar into the sky in the unique 360-degree viewing capsules that slowly spin around above the River Thames.

Once you get back down to earth, you’ll find that the London Eye is in a prime location on the Southbank, with Westminster just across the river and many more famous attractions a short walk away. Before you wander away you might want to hang around for a bite to eat, be it time for breakfast, lunch or dinner, because there are some excellent restaurants nearby.

From floating pubs to street food markets, here are the best restaurants near the London Eye.

  1. The Library at County Hall

After an incredible trip around the London Eye, you might be feeling in the mood for more classic London antics. There’s nothing more quintessentially English than enjoying a spot of high tea.

Located just before Westminster Bridge is the shamelessly upmarket Marriott Hotel County Hall, and inside this elegant building and classic hotel, you’ll find The Library. This is perfect for anyone looking to indulge in some excellent afternoon tea especially as, on the upper floors, The Library offers wonderful views over the River Thames.

While you dine on a platter of cucumber sandwiches, pastries and some excellent English tea, you can gaze out across the water and marvel at the Houses of Parliament on the banks opposite. Dress well and book in advance though, because high tea at The Library is truly an experience you don’t want to be turned away from.

County Hall

  1. Tattershall Castle

On the opposite side of the River Thames to the London Eye, you’ll see an old passenger steamer floating on the water. This is Tattershall Castle, a boat that dates back to the 1930s that’s been uniquely preserved as a restaurant and pub.

That’s right, you can board this class steamboat that lies moored in the shadows of Westminster and Southbank, and enjoy a drink or a meal as you watch the river traffic cruise past on the Thames.

This is one of the best spots to visit in the summer when the sun is out because you can sit out on the deck with cold drinks and enjoy the warm weather. The food menu is classic British pub grub – you can order steak and ale pies, fish and chips and much, much more at the Tattershall Castle.

  1. Gillray’s Steakhouse & Bar

If you’re looking for a solid steak after you step off the London Eye, then look no further than Gillray’s Steakhouse & Bar. Found in the County Hall building overlooking the Thames just a short stroll from the London Eye itself, Gillray’s serves up some of the capital’s finest steaks.

Gillray’s Steakhouse prides itself on using locally sourced ingredients from across Britain. In particular, they are renowned for their marvellous Aberdeen Angus steaks. Surprisingly, although the plush decor and reserved 19th century furnishings would make Gillray’s appear as if it’s been here for generations, the steakhouse only opened a few years ago. Already though, it’s earned itself an unprecedented reputation for quality.

As well as serving up supreme steaks, Gillray’s also has an extensive gin bar, stocking well over 100 different types of gin – as well as other drinks too of course – from all across the world.

  1. Terrace Restaurant at the National Theatre

Southbank is home to many more iconic London institutions aside from the London Eye. Just a short walk along the riverside will bring you to the National Theatre.

This is one of the premier locations to catch a play, but you can find an excellent restaurant – Terrace Restaurant – here too. You don’t need to be waiting for a performance to dine here either, plus you’ll find that the setting, overlooking Southbank, is rather grand.

When the weather is good you can eat out in the sun too, making the Terrace Restaurant a great spot to eat and drink in summer. There’s a mix of contemporary cuisines available and a wide selection of cocktails and wines, too.

National Theatre

  1. Bao Fa Garden Chinese Restaurant

For a taste of something a little bit more international, head to Bao Fa Garden Chinese Restaurant, which is a short stroll from the London Eye, again located in the County Hall building.

This flashy Chinese restaurant not only has a fantastic ambience and setting, but they have fantastic food to match too. The open kitchen adds a sense of intimacy to the proceedings, as you can see, smell and hear the sizzling sounds and sights of the cooking process.

There’s a wide range of dishes on offer from the Orient, including classic stir-fries, dim sum and the ever-welcome bao buns. Alongside the food, there’s an extensive wine list too.

  1. Ping Pong Southbank

If dim sum is your thing, then head to Ping Pong Southbank, which is tucked away by the Royal Festival Hall. This is one of London’s most popular dim sum restaurant chains, and you can find outlets in the city’s most vibrant neighbourhoods.

The restaurant in Southbank is as good as any, and it’s perfect if you’re visiting the London Eye and looking to indulge in a heavy quantity of dim sum.

Ping Pong tries to be as authentic as possible, and their dim sum is all hand made. There is classic Hong Kong-style dim sum, a wide range of Chinese dumplings, Japanese gyoza and much more, including bao buns too. You can mix and match and, on certain days of the week, you can even enjoy bottomless dim sum.

As well as the dumplings, Ping Pong has an impressive and creative cocktail menu, making this a great place for a few drinks too.

Ping pong

  1. Crust Bros

A 10-minute walk from the London Eye towards Waterloo Station, you can find one of the best pizza joints in the area. Crust Bros started life as a humble food stand in Shoreditch, but quickly grew a huge following and moved to a permanent location close to Southbank.

Using truly authentic Italian ingredients and inspired directly by Italian cooking, Crust Bros serves up enormous pizzas with extravagant crusts. These aren’t the greasy, deep-pan pizzas that you might find at a takeaway though; these are light, airy and fresh pizzas.

The pizzas are cooked in wood-fired ovens the classic way, and there’s a wonderful range of toppings on offer. You can even mix and match the fresh toppings to create a pizza tailored to your tastes. The pizzas are great value and they’re served up quickly, too. If you’re looking for a fast but delicious lunch for less than a tenner, then Crust Bros is the place to go.

  1. Southbank Centre Food Market

If cheap eats are what you’re looking for, then the Southbank Centre Food Market is where you need to go. If you’re visiting the London Eye on the weekend, then your timing is perfect, because this street food market is only open from Friday through to Sunday.

It’s well worth timing a trip to coincide with the market though because the range of food on offer is simply astonishing. The entirety of London’s diverse culture is represented at the Southbank Centre Food Market, and you’ll be utterly spoilt for choice.

You can choose from Indian curries, Turkish kebabs, Israeli falafel, or Caribbean jerk chicken. You can gorge on katsu curry from Japan, devour huge burgers inspired by the deep south of America, or go for a hefty portion of paella. There’s much more than this too, and you’ll find it difficult deciding just what, exactly, you want to try.

Everything is great value, the food tastes great and it’s all served up instantly.

  1. Tandoor Chop House

For an excellent Indian-inspired meal, head across the river to Charing Cross where you can find the spicy aromas of the Tandoor Chop House.

From the London Eye it’s just a 15-minute walk over Jubilee Bridge, and it’s easily one of the best Indian restaurants in the area. The Tandoor Chop House fuses Indian tandoori styles with British meat chop cooking to create a uniquely London establishment

They use tandoor ovens to cook the meat and naan dishes, and the spices and flavours are simply superb. There’s a great range of sides to go with the meat too, from masala-flavoured fries to black dhal. If there’s a group of you, you might want to order the impressive thali sets, which are huge sharing platters that give you a chance to try almost everything on the menu!

  1. Skylon

Located in the Royal Festival Hall a short walk from the London Eye, Skylon is a fantastic restaurant with excellent views over Southbank and the River Thames. The restaurant is on the third floor and with wide windows, Skylon has a really open and atmospheric feel to it.

The food is great too, with Skylon focusing on serving contemporary British cuisine using fresh ingredients. You’ll find such dishes as Suffolk pork chop and Devon monkfish on the menu, while you can share a lamb rack or even split a beef wellington.

Skylon stays true to British heritage and you can also book in for an excellent afternoon tea if you want to feel particularly English after your jaunt on the London Eye.

st-pauls

  1. OXO Tower Restaurant

If you haven’t been satisfied by the views from the London Eye, then head down the river to the OXO Tower Restaurant, which is a 15-minute walk along the Thames. This is one of London’s most iconic towers, and for decades it’s stood over the city and formed an integral part of the skyline.

Located high up on the 8th floor of the OXO Tower, this is a restaurant with marvellous views across to St Paul’s Cathedral and all along the Southbank. There’s a beautiful open-air terrace, while the interior has wide windows that help to turn the entire restaurant floor into a viewing platform.

You can enjoy afternoon tea high above London, or you can partake from the extensive restaurant menu that focuses on British and European cuisine with more than a dash of fusion involved.

If you aren’t looking for a full meal though, then you can just call into the ever-popular OXO Bar, where you’ll find the same views and a huge list of expertly crafted cocktails to work your way through.

  1. Florentine Restaurant and Bar

Just a short stroll towards Waterloo Station and you can dine at the Florentine Restaurant and Bar, a seemingly normal European-style eatery that serves up one of the more peculiar breakfasts in London.

The Florentine is far from normal though. It has one of the most extensive European menus in the city, which is simple but certainly a little eclectic! Their unusual breakfasts are aimed at groups of four people, so get your friends together, head to the Florentine, and try the intriguing ostrich egg breakfast. This involves a giant ostrich egg to share, accompanied by all manner of other breakfast items.

  1. Le Pain Quotidien

Head to the Royal Festival Hall, where you can find a taste of Belgian baking at Le Pain Quotidien. The name translates into English as The Daily Bread, because everything about this restaurant revolves around bread and pastry.

You can enjoy a huge range of baguettes and different styles of baked bread, as well as jams and marmalades to go with them. They also serve waffles, scones and brioche, as well as classic eggy breakfasts. For lunch and dinner, you can enjoy light, seasonal salads and fresh quiches, or you can dip into pies or the open-faced tartine-style sandwiches.

If you’re heading to London, check out Premium Tours’ fantastic selection of tours that include a trip on the London Eye. As London experts, we’ll ensure you’re entertained and that you eat well when you visit the capital, as our guides have the lowdown on the best places to eat near the London Eye and around the city.

Garden Maze

These Are the Coolest Mazes in and around London

England has a long history when it comes to mazes. These mind-boggling attractions have for centuries amused, confused and baffled those brave enough to enter their twists and turns.

A maze is designed to confuse and to entertain, and they became popular amongst royalty and the rich in the 16th century. Indeed, many of the best mazes around today are still found in old country estates. Some of the best are found in and around London, including the iconic hedge maze at Hampton Court Palace that has been there for 300 years. It is undoubtedly a great thing to do whilst in London.

But in London, you can also find a new wave of labyrinths and mazes aiming to test your nerve and your intellect. Escape rooms are well and truly booming across the capital, while you can even enter the revered Crystal Maze, for an experience like no other.

Here are the coolest mazes in and around London.

  1. Hampton Court Palace Maze

Hampton Court Palace Maze is easily the most well known maze in the United Kingdom. Over the centuries it’s confused and baffled many an intrepid maze-goer with its high hedges and elaborate design.

In fact, as far as mazes go this one is legendary because Hampton Court Palace Maze has the distinction of being the oldest hedge maze in the world. It claims to be the most famous maze in the world too, and they probably aren’t wrong about that either.

The maze began life in the late 17th century, meaning that today it’s well over 300 years old. For centuries, people have been trying to find their way around the maze. It was originally designed for William III of Orange, the King of England at the time, and, in the beginning, only a select few royals and guests would have been allowed to enter this labyrinth.

It’s now open to the general public. While you can purchase maze-only tickets, you will want to explore the palace itself too, if you’ve never visited before. Hampton Court Palace is one of the most fascinating royal palaces, particularly given its association with the infamous Henry VIII and his many wives.

The maze has around half a mile of different pathways, all surrounded by expertly maintained hedgerows. It generally takes around 20 minutes to half an hour to reach the centre point from the entrance, but that, of course, depends on your maze talents.

green-tunnel Hampton Court

  1. Crystal Palace Park Maze 

Not the Crystal Maze – we’ll get to that one later – but the Crystal Palace Park Maze, which is one of London’s best, and easily a competitor for the title of coolest maze.

This is another legendary hedge maze. Although it’s not quite as old as the one at Hampton Court Palace, it still dates back to the 1870s and can claim to be one of the largest of its type in the United Kingdom.

It’s located within the lovely grounds of Crystal Palace Park and is a throwback to the Victorian Era. The Crystal Palace area was named for the Crystal Palace Exhibition Building, which formed the centrepiece of the Great Exhibition in the 1850s. The maze became another addition to the park, as it entertained and amazed the Victorian citizens of London, alongside life-size statues of dinosaurs that were also placed – and can still be found today – in Crystal Palace Park.

The maze is free to explore, and it covers an area of around 1,500 square metres, being 50 metres across in diameter. This is a true labyrinth of hedgerows, so be prepared to get lost time after time, as you turn the corner only to find dead end, after a dead end.

Crystal Palace Park is located in southeast London, an easy train or bus ride from London’s city centre.

crystal-palace

  1. Brent Lodge Park Millennium Maze

Head into the suburbs of London, west of the centre towards Wembley, and you’ll find the little known Brent Lodge Park Millennium Maze.

The maze was commissioned to commemorate the start of the new millennium in the year 2000, and for the past two decades, it’s been successfully confusing and frustrating those who enter its rows.

This is a modern hedge maze, but it’s one that’s really designed for kids because the hedges have yet to grow to the same high heights as those of Crystal Palace or Hampton Court. Tall adults can easily see over the top, which, of course, is perfect if you don’t actually want to get lost!

The twists and turns are still confusing enough to disrupt your sense of space and judgement though. Even if you can see over the hedges, you might still find yourself more perplexed than you imagined possible. Don’t be too confident when you start making your way through the maze!

Within Brent Lodge Park you can also find a range of other activities and sights aimed at kids, including the charming Hanwell Zoo, a conservation area where you can find exotic animals from around the world, including marmosets.

  1. Hall Place and Gardens

On the opposite side of London in the far eastern suburbs, you can find the glorious grounds of Hall Place and Gardens. This is a little known county estate that was eventually surrounded by the ever-expanding mass of London, but it’s still a welcome retreat from the outside world.

The maze here is a small affair – and in all honesty, it’s got nothing on the likes of Hampton Court Palace – but it is still a lovely place to visit, especially given the expansive grounds and gardens. You’ll also find that few people visit Hall Place, especially in comparison to Hampton Court Palace.

Hall Place dates back to 1537 and is an often-overlooked piece of history in the London suburbs. This is a heritage-listed house and it’s remarkably well preserved. Inside the house, you can find an eclectic collection of exhibits telling the tale of the house and the former lords and ladies who lived within its walls.

The gardens are the crowning achievement of Hall Place, and you can find some marvellous topiary hedges, shaped into the form of heraldic lions, as well as the beautiful maze.

  1. Blenheim Palace Maze

Take a day trip from London and head out west to Oxfordshire, where you can try out your maze navigation skills at Blenheim Palace. Jump on the train or take the bus from London to Oxford, then make your way into the countryside to one of England’s grandest stately homes.

Blenheim Palace is the home of the Duke of Marlborough and his family, although much of the estate is open to the public. The palace dates back to the early 18th century and its historic importance has led the estate to be listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The grounds are marvellous and the history held within the palace walls is fascinating, but the real draw of a visit here is, of course, its maze.

Within the vast grounds, you can find the Marlborough Maze, which could be one of the most complicated hedge mazes in the country. The maze stretches for at least two miles, covering many turns, dead ends and false routes towards its elegant centre.

There are even several viewing platforms that you can climb up for an overhead view if you get stuck, which is very common in this maze. When you’ve been wandering around lost for what seems to be an eternity, you’ll welcome a bird’s eye view of the maze!blenheim-palace maze

  1. Hever Castle and Gardens

Just outside London, you can find the historic grounds of Hever Castle and Gardens, which lies close to Tunbridge Wells in the county of Kent.

This wonderful castle dates back over 700 years to the 13th century, and over the years was the home of many infamous characters, including the unfortunate Anne Boleyn, the executed wife of Henry VIII.

There’s a lot of heritage waiting to be uncovered at Hever Castle but, more importantly, there are also two mazes to be completed. You’ll certainly get your money’s worth at Hever Castle, with a Yew Maze and a Water Maze.

The Yew Maze is a classic English hedge maze, and it dates back over a century to when the wealthy owner of the castle decided he needed some outdoor entertainment. It’s marvellously well trimmed, and you’ll need around half an hour to get from the entrance to the centre, and then to find your way back out again.

More impressive even than the Yew Maze is the fabulous Water Maze. This is about as unusual as it gets when it comes to the world of mazes, and the Water Maze at Hever Castle is often sought out by maze enthusiasts. Found on an island, stepping stones and walkways have been raised above the water and lead to a small stone ruin in the middle.

The aim is to get to the stone ruin without getting wet because if you step on the wrong stone you’ll unleash jets of water that can soak the unwary maze-goer. It’s an unusual maze concept, and it adds a whole new level of excitement to the game. Be sure to bring a towel though, and be careful taking your children over the water too!

  1. The Crystal Maze Live Experience

For many years, through the 1990s and now again in its rebooted form, audiences have been mesmerised by the eccentricities of the Crystal Maze, a TV show that forces teams to solve puzzles as they make their way through an exotic labyrinth.

The cult TV show had a huge comeback recently when a live version of the maze was created in London. Fans can now immerse themselves in a real-life Crystal Maze, and try to complete what could easily be the coolest maze in London.

Just like in the TV show, you’ll need a team of friends with you to complete this maze, and together you’ll need to work your way through the different zones while you complete the different challenges to score points.

Each zone has a different theme – Futuristic, Industrial, Medieval and Aztec – and each zone is faithful to the original. You’ll be timed as you enter the different rooms in search of the crystals, and at the end of the maze, you’ll even get to enter the famous Crystal Dome, as you hurry to collect the tokens needed to win the game.

The Crystal Maze has become hugely popular in its live experience form, and can currently be found in the West End. You will need to make reservations in advance though, and ensure that you’ve assembled the best team that you can to complete the maze!

live-escape-game

  1. Escape Rooms

Mazes, while being a lot of fun, might seem outdated to some, a vestige of the Victorian Era and of day’s past. But the spirit of the maze never gets old. It lives on, and the challenge and intrigue can be found in its most modern form in Escape Rooms.

Escape Rooms have surged in popularity in recent years, and the concept is very much the same as a maze, just with more narrative and with more problems to solve. Escape Rooms can be found all over London, and the concept is simple. You are locked in a room, or indeed a maze of different rooms, and you have to escape within an allotted time period. To get out, you have to solve clues and figure out puzzles, while navigating your way around the room, and any other rooms that might be attached too.

Escape Rooms have different themes and backstories, and you have to work as a team to get out. They are modern-day labyrinths, and they couldn’t be more fun. Plus, being inside you don’t need the sun to be shining to complete an Escape Room, as you might want it to be for an outdoor hedge maze!

While you’re in London, getting lost in mazes and seeking a way out from Escape Rooms, check out Premium Tours’ fantastic selection of London tours. As London experts, we know how to make your London experience truly memorable.