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.

st pauls cathedral london

The Ultimate Guide to St Paul’s Cathedral

St Paul’s Cathedral is easily one of the most recognisable landmarks on the London skyline, as the historic church and its iconic dome rise high in the centre of the city.

The cathedral has been the focus of Christianity in London since the 6th century AD. However, St Paul’s went through many different designs and suffered destruction and fires before the dramatic church you see today, which was built by the famous architect Sir Christopher Wren after the Great Fire of London in 1666.

St Paul’s Cathedral is the seat of the Bishop of London. While it’s very much a functioning, working Anglican church, it’s also become one of the capital’s most important tourist attractions and sees millions of visitors every year.

That means that the church can get busy, but with our ultimate guide to St Paul’s Cathedral you’ll be equipped with the best insider tips and tricks to beat the crowds. Discover the best times to visit, how to buy tickets, and you might even learn a few quirky pieces of history, too.

st pauls cathedral

Where Is St Paul’s Cathedral?

St Paul’s Cathedral is located in the City of London, in the centre of the capital. The cathedral is built on Ludgate Hill, one of London’s most prominent hilltops. Given its central location, St Paul’s is easy to travel to.

Driving in the city or even taking a taxi is inadvisable, but public transport to St Paul’s is convenient, although, in peak times both the underground and buses can be busy. The nearest tube station is St Paul’s, which is just a few minutes’ walk from the cathedral. As soon as you exit the station, you’ll quickly spot the dome towering over the surrounding buildings. St Paul’s tube stop is found on the Central Line, in Zone 1.

The nearest train station is the City Thameslink Railway Station, which is just a short stroll away and has several entrances around Ludgate Hill. There are services across the city and further afield to places such as Gatwick and Luton Airports.

There are also plenty of nearby bus stops giving quick access to the cathedral. You can also join a classic Hop on Hop off sightseeing tour and jump off by St Paul’s, before exploring the rest of London’s best attractions too.

The Best Time to Visit St Paul’s Cathedral

St Paul’s Cathedral is open all year round, although sightseeing is restricted during important religious holidays, such as Easter and Christmas. Tourists are allowed to visit the cathedral from Monday through to Saturday. However on Sundays, the cathedral is only open to worshippers and sightseeing is not permitted.

Throughout the day, there are several services held for worshippers within the cathedral, and there are different special events held in the evenings too, such as choir recitals or organ performances. You can check the St Paul’s Cathedral website for details of any upcoming events.

The cathedral is open to visitors from 8.30am, with the last entrance being allowed at 4.00pm. The first service for worshippers is the morning prayer, which is held at 7.30am each day.

If you can, then you’ll want to get here early. Arrive after the first prayer to beat the crowds, and to give you maximum time to explore before any large coach tours might arrive later in the day.

If you arrive late in the day and find that there’s a large queue, you might risk being turned away if you’re still waiting once the last entrance time has passed, so give yourself plenty of time if you plan on visiting in the afternoon.

In summer when London is in the middle of its peak tourism season, the cathedral can be particularly busy, but it does stay open for an hour longer, with last entrance moved back to 5.00pm.

london st pauls

How Much Does It Cost to Visit St Paul’s Cathedral?

While worshippers may join services in the cathedral for free, if you really want to explore everything within St Paul’s, you’ll need to purchase a sightseeing ticket. This will give you access to many different areas during opening times.

Tickets can be purchased on the door or in advance online. It’s recommended to buy your ticket online if you can, as you get a small discount and are given fast track entrance into the cathedral, allowing you to skip the worst of the queues.

As of spring 2019, adults pay £17 online or £20 on the door. A child’s ticket costs £7.20 online or £8.50 on the door. If you are a family, then there are different family tickets on offer that can help you to save money, while there are also special rates for students and senior citizens.

A Brief History of St Paul’s Cathedral

St Paul’s Cathedral is one of the capital’s oldest places of religious worship, although throughout history several different buildings have stood on this hilltop in the centre of the City of London.

For centuries, St Paul’s was the tallest building in London, and its dramatic dome and spires could be seen rising high above the skyline from almost anywhere in the city. It was only in 1967 when modern skyscrapers began to become a feature of London, that other buildings took over the cathedral in terms of height.

It’s thought that there may have been a Roman temple on the same hilltop where the cathedral now stands, although evidence for this is shaky. What is known is that the first Christian church was built on Ludgate Hill in 604 AD. This church was dedicated to St Paul the Apostle. Ever since, subsequent churches or cathedrals in this spot have always been dedicated to this important Christian figure.

When the Normans conquered England, they built a new, much grander cathedral on the hill, which is generally known as Old St Paul’s. Many fires would cause damage and the need for rebuilding and redesign throughout the cathedral’s life, before it was burnt to the ground in 1666.

The architect Sir Christopher Wren designed the elaborate cathedral you see today, with the first service in the new St Paul’s held three decades after the fire, in 1697.

st pauls

Facts About St Paul’s

  • Until 1967, St Paul’s was the tallest building in London, measuring up to 111 metres in height.
  • St Paul’s is an Anglican Cathedral and the seat of the City of London’s Bishopric.
  • Many important historical characters have had their funerals held here, including the likes of the Duke of Wellington and Sir Winston Churchill, as well as the cathedral’s architect, Sir Christopher Wren.
  • St Paul’s Cathedral is designed in the shape of a cross, and it’s the second largest religious centre in the United Kingdom and the largest in London.

What to See at St Paul’s Cathedral

The Cathedral Floor

When you first step through the entrance of St Paul’s Cathedral, you’ll be instantly mesmerised by the beautiful sight of the cathedral floor. This is the main corridor of the cathedral, where you’ll find pews, ornate sculptures and intricate artwork. At the far end, there’s a lavish altar where services are conducted.

Look up from ground level and you’ll be able to see spectacular designs on the ceiling and the dome rising up above the cathedral, which is supported from below by huge, stone pillars.

The High Altar

St Paul’s high altar is the main focus of many religious ceremonies in the cathedral. Walk along the floor, under the dome, and continue past the choir and you’ll find the intricate designs of the altar at the far end of the cathedral.

While the cathedral has had many different altars throughout its history with many being very humble, wooden tables, the current high altar gleams and shimmers in gold. The altar dates only to 1958, as the previous one was destroyed by German bombing during World War II.

The Dome

The dome is the most iconic part of the cathedral’s design, and this massive structure turned St Paul’s into a dramatic feature of the London skyline. The dome is over 80 metres tall and 30 metres wide, and weighs over 60,000 tonnes, while it consists of both an inner and outer component.

The inner dome can even be climbed, with a total of 528 steps leading to the top. Along the way, you’ll pass through the three famous galleries within the dome, the Whispering Gallery, the Stone Gallery and the Golden Gallery. There are platforms built on the outer dome that you can access through the galleries, and that offer exceptional views over the rest of London.

london st pauls cathedral

The Whispering Gallery

The Whispering Gallery is the first gallery that you’ll encounter on your climb to the top of the dome.

You’ll need to tackle 259 steps from the cathedral floor to reach the gallery, which is named for its marvellous acoustics that allow you to hear even the faintest of whispers from afar.

The Whispering Gallery offers great views of the floor below and is one of the most famous parts of the cathedral.

The Stone Gallery

Above the Whispering Gallery, more steps lead upwards to the Stone Gallery. 378 steps lead from the cathedral floor to this gallery, where you’ll find a beautiful terrace.

That terrace extends around the exterior of the dome, and you’ll be treated to a 360-degree view if you walk around the circumference.

The Golden Gallery

The Golden Gallery is found at the top of the dome. Although it’s the smallest of the three major galleries, it’s arguably the most spectacular.

This gallery offers the best view out over London, as you’ll be atop the highest point in the cathedral, and will have the best panorama of the city.

The Crypt

After heading high up to the top of the dome, on your return to ground level it’s time to go below the cathedral. St Paul’s was designed with a large crypt beneath its floor, and it’s here that you’ll find the grave of Sir Christopher Wren, who made those designs as the cathedral’s architect.

This is the largest cathedral crypt in Europe, and it’s the resting place of some of Britain’s most well-known and important historical figures including Lord Nelson and the Duke of Wellington.

Oculus

In the crypt, you can find one of the latest additions to St Paul’s Cathedral. The Oculus is a unique multimedia experience that allows you to see first-hand the development and history of the cathedral through the ages.

On a 270º large television screen, you can watch the history of St Paul’s unfold before you. You’ll be transported from the early churches to the great fire of 1666, before seeing Sir Christopher Wren’s design and construction of the cathedral you see today, and its iconic survival and symbolism during the Blitz in World War II.

cathedral st pauls

Insider Tips When Visiting St Paul’s Cathedral

  • Arrive early to beat the crowds, and purchase your ticket online to not only save money but to skip the queues with fast track entrance to St Paul’s.
  • Join a Hop on Hop off Bus Tour if you are pressed for time in London, and want to see all the best sights, quickly. St Paul’s Cathedral will always be a stop, and you’ll learn some interesting history while you’re on the bus.
  • If you don’t fancy paying the entrance price, then you can join a service in the cathedral, but you won’t have access to all the other, unique areas in St Paul’s.
  • For a totally free and spectacular view of St Paul’s and the iconic dome from the outside, then head to the nearby shopping centre at One New Change, where you can find a rooftop terrace that’s open to the public and that offers an unrivalled panoramic of the cathedral.
  • Audio tours in a variety of different languages are included in the ticket price. Just remember to pick up your audio guide at the entrance.
  • Free tours are also provided throughout the day by knowledgeable staff, but you’ll need to book on when you arrive, as places are always limited.

As London specialists we offer a superb range of London tours, many of which involve a trip to iconic St Paul’s Cathedral. We visit the cathedral early to avoid large crowds and offer fast-track entry. To find out more or to book your London tour, contact Premium Tours today.

fish and chips london

These Are the Best Places for Fish and Chips in London

Since the 1930s when there were over 35,000 fish and chip shops in the UK, trends in takeaway food have definitely changed. Now, with about 10,500 chippies in the UK there are more opportunities to try other types of takeaway food. But, let’s be honest, nothing beats fish and chips. Even just reading about them makes you want to go out and get some for your dinner, doesn’t it?

Although the UK would like to claim fish and chips as its own, it’s thought that the French were the first nation to fry cut-up potatoes in oil to make chips. And back in the 1800s, Jewish immigrants from Portugal and Spain coated fish in flour then fried it.

Fish and chips are a billion dollar industry in the UK, and to keep up with the competition they’re moving with the times. Chippies are all grown up now, and nowhere more so than in innovative London.

Little beats fresh fish in perfect light batter complemented by crispy, fluffy chips. If you’re heading to the capital, we’ve put together the definite guide to the best fish and chip shops in London. Just make sure you’ve got some stretchy trousers with you!

fish and chips

Olley’s Fish Experience, Herne Hill

Olley’s Fish Experience is the only chip shop in London to make the top ten in the 2019 National Fish and Chip Awards. Located opposite Brockwell Park, they’re in the perfect spot to people-watch while munching your fish and chips.

Olley’s are committed to ethically sourcing the best fish around. Not only do they sell classic fish and chips, they also have a range of other seafood including scampi and mussels, all served with the obligatory mushy peas!

Olley’s is named after the Charles Dickens book Oliver Twist, which contains the first known mention of a fish shop in 1839, calling it a ‘fried fish warehouse’.

Poppie’s, Camden, Spitalfields and Soho

With three locations in London, Poppie’s is named after its owner, Pat ‘Pop’ Newland, who has been in the fish and chip trade since 1952. The shops use fish caught on day boats by third generation Billingsgate fishmonger and friend Joe Bush, while their chips are peeled and sliced on site. No frozen chips here! Serving all the classics including fish suppers, jellied eels and sticky toffee pudding at their retro-style restaurants, this a standout choice when you’re seeking fish and chips in London.

‘Poppie’s is to fish and chips what Muhammad Ali is to boxing – the greatest!’ Pat Newland.

Kerbisher & Malt, Brook Green and Market Hall Victoria

With two outlets and a food truck, there’s no excuse not to try Kerbisher & Malt’s contemporary fish and chips.

They peel and cut their own potatoes then double fry them, giving their chips the perfect crunchy outside and fluffy inside.

If you’re in the mood for something different, try their sustainable mussels in a cream, white wine, leek, onion and garlic sauce, which are, naturally, served like the French with a pile of chips!

You can wash it all down their very own Kerbisher Pale Ale.

fish and chips restaurants

Golden Union Fish Bar, Soho

Open since 2008, Golden Union is a no-frills chippie dedicated to providing the best quality fish and chips in London. They claim that cleaning their oil up to eight times a week gives them the edge over their competitors.

Their fish is delivered fresh daily from sustainable British waters, with their cod and haddock hailing from Peterhead in Scotland. Their potatoes come from the Fenlands of East Anglia.

Homemade pie and chips is also one of their specialties.

Toff’s, Muswell Hill

Toff’s in Muswell Hill is always busy, but it’s definitely worth the wait at this award-winning chip shop.

It’s old school fish and chips at its best, with all the usual suspects like cod, haddock, plaice and skate on the menu. They’ve been open since 1968, so they’ve had plenty of time to perfect their craft. They also do a cracking fish soup!

Bonnie Gull Seafood Shack, Soho and Fitzrovia

Don’t be fooled by the laid-back seaside vibes at this fish and chip shop; the food at Bonnie Gull’s is top class. Try their beer battered North Sea haddock cooked in Japanese tempura batter, accompanied by crispy, beef-dripping chips and homemade ketchup – you won’t be disappointed. Open every day between 4pm and 6pm, come for ‘Bonnie Hour’ where you can slurp £1 oysters, £5 Prosecco and £6 cocktails. What’s not to love?

oysters

Sutton and Sons, Stoke Newington, Hackney and Islington

Serving traditional food with a modern twist in their three locations, Sutton and Sons have specialties like Cromer crab and Maldon oysters alongside the usual classics. Don’t forget to add a serving of Mrs Sutton’s famous homemade pickled quail eggs, picked red onions or balsamic baby shallots.

These guys also have a vegan chip shop with a full vegan menu, including their innovative take on fish and chips using banana blossom as one of the ingredients to make their ‘fish’.

If you’ve got room after your meal, why not try their classic Scottish speciality: deep-fried Mars Bar or Snickers Bar!

Fish House, Victoria Park Village

Perfectly located across the road from Victoria Park, Fish House is certainly not your average fish and chip shop.

Some of their offerings include fish finger sandwiches, fish tacos and loaded fries. But don’t worry, they still have good old-fashioned fish and chips served with homemade coleslaw, if that’s what you’re looking for.

Fish Lounge, Brixton

Fish Lounge in Brixton isn’t a big place, but it is perfectly formed! The shop is spotless and welcoming, the staff are friendly, and the fish and chips are perfection. With a delicate crispy batter and big fat fluffy chips, you can takeaway or dine in at the few tables they have out the back. They don’t have a license, but you can bring your own wine (with no corkage charge) or enjoy your dinner with a big mug of tea!

Join them every Monday for gluten-free fish and chips.

Hook, Camden

Originating from a market stall in Dublin in 2011, Hook brings a fresh look to fish and chips.

Using only sustainable small fisheries and day boats to supply them with all their fish, you’ll love their creative take on fish and chips, with fish cooked in panko breadcrumbs and served with seaweed salted chips with homemade tartar sauce. For something a little different, you can order a mix of their three small plates including fish tacos, sea bass pancakes and calamari hot rings.

You won’t find any plastic around here either. Even the takeaway cutlery is made from biodegradable cornstarch.

fish! Borough Market

You know the saying – if you want the freshest produce, eat at the market. Well fish! in Borough Market, is no exception.

Celebrating their 20th anniversary this year, their motto is still the same as when they opened their doors: ‘best quality fish, cooked in front of you, in simple and classic ways’

Their amazing restaurant started life as a Victorian pea-shelling warehouse. Take your pick to sit out on the heated terrace or at the counter watching the chefs at work, and sample some of the freshest fish and chips in London.

borough market fish

The Fish House of Notting Hill

The Fish House at Notting Hill offers old school fish and chips close to Hyde Park and Kensington Palace. Open all day for takeaway or sitting in, they have plenty of different fresh fish to choose from and excellent portion sizes. Make sure you add a serving of their famous mushy peas and pickled onions.

Fish Central, Clerkenwell

Still the same as when they opened in 1968, Fish Central is a homely fish and chip restaurant that’s always busy, and for good reason. Serving traditional fish and chips for those in the mood, they also have a more unusual range of fish dishes, including sardines and chargrilled squid. They serve a classic fish supper and a three-course dinner, which is prawn cocktail, cod or haddock with chips, and a choice of dessert. If you’re looking for a genuine, unpretentious restaurant, don’t go past Fish Central.

Masters Superfish, Waterloo

Masters Superfish is your typical no frills chippie in the heart of London. It’s welcoming, clean, well priced and the service is great. Oh and it goes without saying, the fish and chips are excellent! They offer takeaway and dine it; if you choose the latter, your meal will come with a serving of bread and butter. This is a true London gem.

North Sea Fish Restaurant, Bloomsbury

Not only is North Sea Fish Restaurant famous for its fish and chips, it’s also one of the landmarks cabbies in London need to know in order to pass their Knowledge test. Taxi drivers get discounts here, so you’ll always see a line of black cabs out the front!

Established in 1977 by Ian Beauchamp, the restaurant is now run by one of his sons, and it continues to serve great fish and chips.

All the classics are here and your meal comes with limitless chips! Try the onion rings they are a standout. Make sure you book a table though, as it’s always busy.

Oliver’s, Belsize Park and Whetstone

The owner of Oliver’s, a Mediterranean-influenced fish and chip shop, wanted to combine fresh, fun Mediterranean food with traditional fish and chips. Here you can choose from original fish and chips or try one of their specialities, like the open ciabatta grills, which is tuna, sea bass or salmon served on a warm ciabatta roll with a house salad, dressing and a handful of chips.

A good selection of wines makes this an excellent spot for lunch or dinner.

If you can’t be bothered going out, you can order online and have your meal delivered.

fish and chips uk

Seafresh, Pimlico

Seafresh opened in 1965, so they’ve had plenty of practice making great fish and chips. Their fish and shellfish is hand picked daily from the famous Billingsgate Market, and their potatoes come from the same source they first used when they opened over 50 years ago. Depending on the weather, they either use Maris Piper or Spanish Agria, which are both considered to be the best potatoes for making the perfect chips.

Their menu isn’t fussy, but I guarantee you’ll have trouble choosing because everything sounds fantastic!

The Sea Shell of Lisson Grove, Marylebone

Close to some of London’s most famous landmarks like Lords Cricket Ground, Madam Tussauds and The London Zoo, The Sea Shell has been serving fish and chips for over sixty years.

Freshly made, generous portions and good service are what they’ve built their reputation on. You won’t be disappointed if you head there for lunch or dinner.

They also offer something different if you are looking for a healthy option. You can have your fish grilled and served with new potatoes or with a side salad. But, just so you know, chips are bottomless when ordered with a main course!

The Chipping Forecast, Notting Hill and Soho

You have to visit The Chipping Forecast just because of its great name!

Their main focus is on sustainable fishing, and they guarantee from hook to plate in 48 hours, with each fish able to be traced back to the ship and fisherman that caught it.

The restaurants are all about a relaxed, casual dining experience. As well as the usual suspects, they have a few different dishes like Lobster and Crab Mac and Cheese, Fish Finger Sandwiches, and Fish Pie.

Obviously, everything comes with a serving of hand-cut, triple-cooked chips, deep fried in beef dripping for the ultimate chip experience!

As you can see, London has a superb range of fish and chips, whether you’re hankering after a traditional chippie or something a little creative and contemporary. With this many restaurants to choose between, you’ll be making several trips to the capital!

While you’re in town, check out Premium Tours’ fantastic range of London tours. As London experts, we know our city inside out and guarantee you’ll enjoy a fun tour, while learning insider tips such as the best place to devour a UK institution: fish and ships!

big ben churchill

The Ultimate Guide to the Churchill War Rooms

World War II is an event that has remained in the memory of Londoners and within the mainstream consciousness of the capital, even several generations after the conflict ended in 1945. Across the city, you can find museums and memorials dedicated to the war, and it’s difficult to visit London without coming across at least some reference to World War II.

One of the best museums to visit in London if you’re looking to learn more about the city’s role in the war is the Churchill War Rooms. This fascinating museum is a branch of the Imperial War Museum, and it’s found directly beneath Whitehall. The war rooms is where Winston Churchill and the rest of the British government made their decisions at the height of World War II, in underground bunkers protected from the Blitz and bombing of the German air force.

The Churchill War Rooms have been faithfully restored and preserved, much in the manner they would have appeared when Britain’s most iconic Prime Minister was giving orders below ground when the threat of invasion from Germany was very real. If you’re in any way interested in London or World War II history, then this is a museum that you just can’t miss!

churchill war rooms

A Brief History of the Churchill War Rooms

The Churchill War Rooms is located directly beneath Whitehall, in central London. Whitehall is the historic home of the British Government – not the Parliament, which sits at Westminster – where you can find the likes of the Treasury and the Ministry of Defence.

For these reasons, in 1938, when hostilities with Nazi Germany were looking more and more likely as Hitler led Europe to the brink of war, the government ordered the construction of a set of war rooms, which could act as a safe haven for the most important members of both the government and the armed forces.

Known as the Cabinet War Rooms – because they would shelter the cabinet ministers – the underground bunkers were built to withstand bombing and were completed with communication channels and accommodation. Everything that was needed to run a war could be found here. Once Winston Churchill became Prime Minister in 1940, he would make decision after decision in the Cabinet War Rooms, effectively running an entire war from beneath London until the conflict ended in 1945.

The War Rooms played a pivotal role in the ultimate Allied victory over Nazi Germany in World War II, and this fact hasn’t been forgotten. Even so, for several decades the Cabinet War Rooms were off limits to the general public, despite the fact that they had been left almost in the same condition as when the war ended, stocked with old maps and what would be intriguing historical artefacts. By the 1970s, it was decided that to save this underground treasure trove of World War II history, the war rooms would need to be turned into a museum.

The Churchill War Rooms, run by the Imperial War Museum, were finally opened in 1984. Since then, the site has seen millions of visitors passing through its underground doors.

How to Get to the Churchill War Rooms

The Churchill War Rooms are located in central London. Being found in an important, busy part of the city, it’s incredibly easy to get here by public transport.

The entrance to the museum is on King Charles Street, in Westminster. The Houses of Parliament are just a short walk in one direction, while St James’s Park is just a short walk in the other direction.

The most convenient method of public transport to reach the museum is the London Underground. The nearest tube stations are Westminster and St James’s Park. Westminster is located on the Circle, District and Jubilee lines, while St James’s Park is located on the District and Circle Lines. Both are an easy stroll away from the entrance to the Churchill War Rooms.

There are plenty of bus stops nearby too, including Hop-on Hop-off bus stops. If you are pressed for time, then these Hop-on Hop-off tours of London can be a great way to see a lot of the city in a short timescale, while also learning about the history and culture of the capital at the same time.

london bus tour

The Best Time to Visit the Churchill War Rooms

The Churchill War Rooms is more of a niche tourist attraction in London – at least in comparison to such sights as the London Eye or Buckingham Palace. But that doesn’t mean it won’t be busy.

The summer, particularly between June and August, is the busiest time to be in London, and all attractions in the city can be overflowing, with queues stretching well out the doors. If you can, you might want to consider visiting the Churchill War Rooms in the off-season, when the capital is quieter. As this is an indoor – well, underground – attraction, then the weather won’t exactly affect your experience of the museum.

If you can, avoid public holidays and weekends too, as the war rooms can be busy all through the year on these days. If you can’t avoid this, then get here early to beat the crowds, or you might find yourself queuing.

The Churchill War Rooms are open every day of the year, except for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Doors open at 9.30 am and close again at 6 pm, with the last entrance at 5 pm. In summer, between 1 July and 31 August, the doors are open later until 7 pm, with the last entrance permitted at 5.45 pm.

War Rooms

How Much Does it Cost to Visit the Churchill War Rooms?

Tickets can be purchased on the door or in advance online. It’s highly recommended to purchase tickets online if you can, as this gives you priority entrance to the museum. When it’s busy, that means that you can skip the worst of the queues on the door, but you do need to specify your date of entry and a specific time slot when you purchase tickets.

As of spring 2019, an adult, single entrance ticket purchased online costs £22 per person. A children’s ticket costs £11, while concessions for students and seniors are £17.60. There are also family tickets, which can work out to be great value.

If you plan on visiting more than once or on visiting other Imperial War Museums, then you can buy year-long membership that gives you unlimited access to the Churchill War Rooms and other sites run by the IWM.

What to See at the Churchill War Rooms

The Churchill War Rooms is split into two main, permanent displays. These are the Cabinet War Rooms and the Churchill Museum. There’s also a third, minor permanent exhibition, the Undercover: Life in Churchill’s Bunker display. All three touch on different aspects of World War II and life within the bunkers and war rooms during the conflict. All three are included in the ticket price.

Cabinet War Rooms

The Cabinet War Rooms are the most important aspect of the museum, as this is where Churchill, his ministers, staff and generals lived and worked during World War II. The Cabinet War Rooms are an extensive set of underground bunkers, which were built out of the existing basement beneath what was the Treasury, in Whitehall. It’s a maze of different corridors and rooms, each of which had a different function or purpose during the war.

The war rooms are dimly lit, very dull looking and very cramped and confined. This is exactly how they would have looked at the time, as the museum has tried to keep a high level of authenticity where possible. When you are walking through the underground corridors, you’ll be instantly transported back decades to World War II, as you’ll feel immersed in the sights and even smells that the people working here would have experienced.

The Cabinet War Rooms consist of many different areas, as they were designed to accommodate hundreds of people at any one time. You can visit the map rooms, where operators would have permanently staffed the different world maps that showed the strategic process of the war. It is here that Churchill and his generals would have studied the course of the war and watched it play out in the dimly lit room, and where they would have begun making decisions too, that would affect thousands of people, if not more, each time.

You can see where Churchill would have slept, where his wife and daughter would have stayed, and where the different ministers and generals had beds too for when they needed to stay in the bunkers. Much of the furniture is authentic, and it’s a really unique insight into what happened behind the scenes during World War II.

Churchill Cabinet War Rooms

Churchill Museum

The second major component of the Churchill War Rooms that you have to see is the Churchill Museum. This is dedicated to Winston Churchill, arguably Britain’s most iconic Prime Minister.

This wonderful museum is filled with unique pieces of memorabilia and personal items that have been collated and put on display for the public to learn more about Churchill. The museum tells the story of his life, from childhood through to World War II and beyond, but of course, the primary focus is on his actions as Prime Minister.

There are rousing World War II speeches to hear, old photographs to see, and much, much more to learn about the great man himself.

Undercover: Life in Churchill’s Bunker

This unique exhibition takes visitors on a journey into the lives and stories of the ‘real’ people who lived and worked in the Cabinet War Rooms, alongside Winston Churchill.

Hundreds of people would have been living underground during World War II, and this display will give you an insight into their individual lives, from their day-to-day tasks as the war raged around the world, to their thoughts and emotions during pivotal moments in the war, and when pivotal decisions were made that they saw first-hand.

It’s a very personal and insightful exhibition, which adds to the museum a uniquely human aspect that is perhaps lost in the other sections of the Churchill War Rooms.

churchill war bunker

Insider Tips for Visiting the Churchill War Rooms

  • Visit on a weekday to avoid the crowds, as on weekends and public holidays, the Churchill War Rooms can get very busy!
  • Book your ticket in advance to get priority entrance and to beat the queues. Advance purchases are limited to time slots though, so you’ll still need to book in advance if you want a prime spot on the weekend.
  • Included in your ticket price is an audio guide, which can be played back in several languages. If you want to learn more on your way through the museum, this is a great way to enjoy a self-guided tour.
  • Check on the Imperial War Museum website for any temporary exhibitions that might be on now or in the future, as they usually commemorate big events – such as D-Day – with fascinating new displays that shine a new insight on World War II.
  • The underground war rooms really are a dense and at times confusing network of rooms, corridors and different displays, so if you are travelling with family or in a group, try to stick together or you can easily end up getting lost in Churchill’s labyrinth!
  • There’s a lot to see, but even more to read in the Churchill War Museums, so make sure that you save plenty of time for your visit. It’s recommended that you spend at least 90 minutes exploring the museum, but you might even need more if you are particularly interested in World War II history.
  • The museum is in a fantastic central location, so after visiting the Churchill War Rooms you can make the most of your time in London by visiting nearby sights such as the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace and Hyde Park, which are just a few of the classic attractions within easy walking distance.

While you’re in London, check out Premium Tours’ excellent range of London tours, designed to give you an insight into the culture and history of this iconic city.

london in june

London in June: Everything You Need to Know

London is an amazing city to visit at any time of year. However, June is a month that has everything on offer, with (mostly) great weather and long evenings to enjoy. Whether you’re into foodie events, the natural or art worlds, or if you want to see some of London’s famous pomp and ceremony, June has got you covered. Here’s everything you need to know about visiting London in June.

Important Dates in June

The last Monday in May is a bank holiday, leading into the summer half term. It’s worth bearing this in mind when booking a June holiday to London, as accommodation may be more expensive and events and attractions will book up quickly.

British Father’s Day also falls in June, making it a great reason to enjoy a special treat if you’re visiting with your family. You may see specific events or set menus on this day and, as with any special date, places will be busier and restaurant reservations may be necessary.

A benefit of visiting in June is that you should enjoy some summer weather without the summer crowds.

London’s Weather in June

As you may be aware, England is famed for its temperamental weather and inconsistent weather trends. While London isn’t known for having endless days of summer, you’ve still got a good chance of catching some rays in June and enjoying the outdoors lifestyle of pavement cafes and parks for which London is renowned.

June marks the start of the summer months, meteorologically, so you should expect long, mostly sunny days – but pack an umbrella, just in case! Temperatures average around 16° Celsius, although it can be much warmer during the day, sometimes peaking in the high twenties.

June 21 is Midsummer’s Day. With sunset occurring around 9.20pm, the long evenings are a great excuse for a leisurely evening stroll, picnic dinner in the park, or late-night beer garden visit. Temperatures tend to dip around sundown, so make sure you have a light jacket or wrap to keep cosy if you’re expecting a late night or two!

Festivals and Events

For festivals and special events, June has got you covered. With the weather warming up, it’s a great time to spend your days outdoors at some of London’s famous events, with the option of finding indoors entertainment if the weather doesn’t quite go to plan.

Whatever the weather, London’s social calendar is jam-packed for June. Here are our top picks for your visit to London this summer.

Royal Ascot

Whether it’s the dream of placing the right bet and watching horses thundering around the track or simply the excuse to put on a fancy frock, Royal Ascot is world famous as the place to be seen.

Royal Ascot races attract some major celebs, so if people-watching is more your thing you’ll be kept interested too. If you don’t fancy the races, you can enjoy the horse-drawn procession that travels from Windsor Castle to Ascot Racecourse daily – a fantastic way to enjoy the great outdoors in the sunshine and soak up the atmosphere and anticipation.

royal ascot

Household Division’s Beating Retreat at Horse Guards Parade

If you want to observe a bit of traditional pomp and ceremony mixed with music and fireworks, this is for you. Traditionally held in Whitehall before the Queen’s birthday, this evening ceremony is fun for all the family and a great introduction to royal celebrations.

Including a military precision drill, cannons and horses, this event has a long history, dating back to the 1690s. Originally the drum beating signalled the end of fighting for the day, before the troops were to retreat into the safety of camp for the night. These days, of course, it’s purely symbolic and ends with the lowering of the regimental flag at sunset.

horse guards parade

Trooping the Colour: The Queen’s Birthday Parade

June is a great month to visit London if you are a Royal Family fan, with the Queen’s official birthday on the 8 June. If the Household Division’s Beating Retreat isn’t enough, you can watch the special parade of over 1,400 officers, 200 horses and marching bands on this special day.

Tickets in the dedicated seating areas sell out fast, but without tickets thousands of spectators still line The Mall and edge of St James’s Park to catch a glimpse of the action, as the Queen travels past in her carriage.

London Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival

With previous years’ attendance topping 10,000 people, this unusual celebration of Chinese culture is a great day out. Based at the Royal Docks in East London, you can expect races of all different calibres, from professional right down to first timers, whilst enjoying traditional dance and music performances.

With an abundance of tasty Asian food to try, this free festival is as family friendly as it gets. Just pack up a picnic blanket and enjoy a wonderful day of Far Eastern delights.

All Points East

Started in 2018, All Points East is a popular newcomer on the live music scene. It’s held in Victoria Park, South Hackney over two weekends and the intervening week, spanning the end of May and beginning of June. Attendees enjoy an eclectic mix of music with past and upcoming artists including Bon Iver, The XX, James Blake and Dizzee Rascal. Alongside the music, there are community art and cinema events, as well as street food stalls to enjoy throughout the week.

Festival of Eid

Celebrating the end of the fasting period of Ramadan, the Muslim festival of Eid is a time for fun – and food! The date of Eid changes each year, as it is based on the lunar cycle as opposed to the calendar date, and can vary by over a week.

With celebrations across the city, including a great get together in the famous Trafalgar Square, expect deliciously tempting food stalls of tasty dishes for the whole family to try. Biryanis and other curries, couscous, meat and vegetarian savoury dishes are popular, as well as an array of traditional sweets, such as Seviyan, similar to rice pudding but with added tastes of India like cardamom and rose water, or Lapis Legit, a spiced cake originally from Indonesia. It’s a colourful, musical and tasty celebration to get involved in, and a great way to spend the day.

Mighty Hoopla

If pop music is more your thing, Mighty Hoopla might be just the ticket for your June visit to London. Held in Brockwell Park near Brixton in South London, it’s an over-18s festival and a pure pop music festival of fun and colourful performances, plus it’s an important part of the LGBT+ calendar held during London Pride, which runs across June and July.

With over 40 street food and drink stalls, and events like Drag Queen Lip Sync Battles, it offers great entertainment value. Splash on the glitter, wear your best sparkles; this event is nothing less than fabulously flamboyant, with past and future headliners including Chaka Khan, Artful Dodger and Lily Allen.

Taste of London in Regent’s Park

June is official London Food Month, and this is an event for the eyes and taste buds. Taste of London spans across four days in the magnificent surroundings of Regent’s Park. Around 40 of London’s top restaurants showcase their best dishes, and with over 200 food and drink stalls to purchase ingredients from, you can go home and recreate their masterpieces – or at least give it a try! There are demonstrations, masterclasses and celeb chefs to entertain you, and with plenty of tastings to sample, you’re sure not to go home uninspired or hungry!

regents park london

Open Garden Squares

Open Garden Squares runs across a June weekend, and offers the general public an opportunity to get some major green-fingered inspiration from the city’s hidden green gems. Private gardens of residential, historic and commercial settings open their doors for a good old nosy around, some providing tours, music and information guides. Don’t just think of typical English gardens either – there are rooftop oases, urban terraces, community gardens and grand formal gardens to delight and intrigue. Visit the Open Squares website for ticket information and to download your map, so you can start planning your route for maximum enjoyment.

London Tech Week

If all things technology is more your thing, London Tech Week is for you! Hosting over 300 industry and consumer events over a four-day period, this is the go-to spot for discussions on how access to the latest technologies means brighter futures for us all. Think artificial intelligence and robotics, to the best systems and processing for businesses. With speakers from companies like British Airways, Twitter and Sony Pictures Network, it’s sure to be an eye opener.

West End LIVE at Trafalgar Square

If you’re ready for some razzmatazz and jazz-hands, West End LIVE is probably where you should be headed. Casts perform snippets of some of the best current shows from London’s West End stages; it’s free to come and go, so is a great family option if your little ones might not make it through an entire musical performance. With past inclusions from smash hits such as The Lion King, Annie and Kinky Boots, you’re sure for an amazing experience. This event is free to attend, so is sure to draw large crowds. Check the listings online ahead of time and make sure you arrive early to get a good spot for your favourite.

Things to See and Do

ICC Cricket World Cup 2019

What can be more classically British than taking in a day’s cricket match, while enjoying the sunshine, light evenings and perhaps a cold beverage or two? While the ICC Cricket World Cup is not held in London every year, it is in 2019, with matches taking place at the iconic Lords and The Oval. Tickets sell out way in advance, but there is an official resale website for tickets to be sold at face value, so you might still be lucky. If you can’t make it to see a match live or on the years when London is a host city, there are still plenty of places to watch the action across the city and soak up some of that match-day atmosphere.

cricket world cup 2019

Masterpiece London Arts Fair at Royal Hospital Chelsea

Held every year, this is a world-renowned gathering of over 150 global dealers of the finest furniture, sculpture, art and jewellery, from antiques to the modern day. Set in the stunning Royal Hospital in Chelsea, this event makes sure London is at the forefront of elegance and design. With talks and discussions from industry experts it’s the perfect way to spend the day, whether you’re looking for a new piece to add to your home or collection or just a lover of all things beautiful. Tickets need to be purchased in advance and can be bought online.

The Sky Garden

While it might sound like the name of a children’s book, the Sky Garden is pretty incredible for the whole family! Located at 20 Fenchurch Street in the city of London, you might find it more easily if you go by the building’s local name – the walkie talkie. Book free tickets and you can visit the highest public garden in London for incredible views and enjoy the bright colours and blue skies of June. There’s also a restaurant at the top; bookings are essential but would make a memorable meal, whatever the occasion.

Open Top Bus Tour

To do some major sightseeing, tick off a classic London experience, and make the most of the summer weather, why not choose an open top bus tour? Take in the sights while being guided through the characterful streets of London by a knowledgeable guide – it’s a great opportunity to see the city and take some instaworthy snaps!

open top bus tour london

Queen Mary’s Garden

Located within Regent’s Park, Queen Mary’s Garden is a great spot to visit if you’re a keen gardener. June is the best month to see and smell the plethora of stunning roses on display, while the well-kept and beautifully designed gardens are the perfect place to stop and have a peaceful moment or two amongst the busy rush of city life. The whole of Regent’s Park is free to visit, so you can easily while away the hours and bask in the early summer sun, surrounded by grassy knolls, mighty trees and floral displays – bliss!

Anniversary of D-Day

The 6 June marks the anniversary of the Normandy landing operation of World War II, known as D-Day. 2019 marks 75 years since the war, so special events are planned right across the city. Whichever year you visit, the Imperial War Museum – a family of five museums across England with three located in London – is a great place to view some thought provoking displays, artefacts and stories. With interactive sections to keep the kids entertained too, this is an interesting day out for all the family.

Why not add one of our amazing London tours to your June trip to London? Contact Premium Tours to book your spot.

Everything You Need To Know About Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey is one of the most historic and important places of worship in London, because for centuries this has been the site of the coronation of the country’s monarchs.

The dramatic abbey has long held pride of place in Westminster, and every English King or Queen has been crowned inside its walls since William the Conqueror. Westminster Abbey has gone through many changes throughout its long and at times turbulent life, and the history surrounding the church is as long as its spires are tall.

Few other sights in the city have such a prestigious heritage. The abbey has survived for hundreds of years, through Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries and even through the ravages of the Blitz.

It’s a grandiose London attraction to visit, and you can walk where Kings and Queens have stood, explore ancient crypts, marvel at glorious artwork and pay your respects to some of the country’s most historical figures in the cemetery.

It’s a must-visit London attraction. To help you to plan your trip, here’s everything you need to know about Westminster Abbey.

How to Travel to Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey is found in central London, in the City of Westminster for which it’s named. This prominent location gave rise to the church’s importance to the British monarchy and public through history, as just over the road is Westminster Palace, which for centuries was a royal residence until it eventually became home to the Houses of Parliament.

The abbey can be reached easily using public transport – it’s inadvisable to drive into this part of London, due to lack of parking and congestion charges, to name just a few of the obstacles – with nearby bus and tube stops that are within easy walking distance.

The closest tube stations are St James’s Park or Westminster. St James’s Park is located on both the District and Circle lines, while Westminster is found on the District, Circle and Jubilee lines.

If you are exploring more of London, you can also consider purchasing a ticket for the hop-on hop-off buses that stop close to Westminster Abbey, as you’ll be able to travel easily between London’s best attractions, while learning more about the city while on board.

getting to westminster abbey

The Best Time to Visit Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey is one of the most popular tourist attractions in London and, unfortunately, it’s always going to be busy. The queues at the entrance can be long, so always ensure you plan your day accordingly, leaving enough time to allow you to explore the inside fully and to avoid any disappointment. You can purchase priority tickets beforehand to allow you to skip the worst of the lines.

It’s best to arrive here early to be first in line, rather than later in the day when there may be the chance that you are turned away at closing time. There’s not a particularly best time of the year to visit Westminster Abbey, as you can explore no matter the season, however, be aware that summer is peak season in London and all the attractions across the city are always busiest between June and September.

Westminster Abbey is open to tourists from 9.30 am until 3.30 pm Monday to Saturday. On Wednesdays, there are also late afternoon openings when the abbey stays open until 6 pm. Services are held Sundays, when the church is only open to worshippers.

Tickets can be bought in advance online for £21 per adult, or on the door for £23, although prices are subject to change. There are discounts available for children and senior citizens. There are also separate tickets available for special events, which are often held on select evenings during the week.

A Brief History of Westminster Abbey

The location where Westminster Abbey is found has long been the site of important places of worship through London’s history. Archaeological excavations and research have revealed that there has been a Christian church here since at least 960 AD when the Saxon King Edgar ordered the construction of the first abbey.

The abbey was originally built for Benedictine monks, before Edward the Confessor built St Peter’s Abbey on the same site, which was to serve as his burial chapel in 1066. That same year, the Normans would invade England and take over the country after defeating Edward’s successor, Harold, at the infamous Battle of Hastings.

William the Conqueror was the first monarch to be crowned in the abbey when he held his coronation here in 1066. Little of these first religious sites remain however, as in the 13th century a new abbey was built in the Gothic style that you see today. The church continued to be the location of coronations, however, and every monarch since William the Conqueror has been crowned inside, while many have also been buried here.

Over the following centuries, additions were made and the abbey grew, even surviving the dissolution of the monasteries enforced by Henry VIII, when the king gave it official status as a ‘cathedral’ rather than an abbey.

World War II proved to be the biggest threat to Westminster Abbey, when German bombs ravaged the capital and the Blitz caused extensive damage to the historic church. Again though, it survived, and today it continues to be both a popular tourist attraction and an important place of worship.

westminster abbey london

Coronations, Weddings and Burials at Westminster 

Since William the Conqueror, the abbey has held coronations for kings and queens through British history, making this the most important church for the royal family in the country. The last coronation to be held here was that of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, which to date is the only coronation that has ever been televised.

While coronations have been rare in recent years, the abbey has also proven to be a popular location for royal weddings. Countless marriage ceremonies have been performed here for the Royal Family, with many in recent years attracting huge crowds in the city and also being shown live on TV. The last royal wedding was between Prince William and Kate Middleton, held in 2011.

As well as celebrating coronations and weddings, Westminster Abbey has hosted many more sombre occasions, as royalty and important national figures are buried here. Within the grounds, you can find the tombs and the graves of many of the country’s most iconic historical characters.

visit westminster abbey

Things to See and Do at Westminster Abbey

The Nave

The central hallway of Westminster Abbey is known, as in most cathedrals, as the nave. As you enter from the western entrance, you’ll have the sight of this long, elegant hallway laid out before you, and you’ll be treading in the footsteps of the kings and queens who walked along the Nave to be crowned.

Tall pillars stretch high to the ceiling, and you are free to stroll through the nave and to admire the ambitious architecture of Westminster Abbey as you do so.

Westminster abbey

The Coronation Chair

In the nave you’ll encounter one of the most iconic sights within Westminster Abbey and one of the most important artefacts in royal history. The coronation chair is where monarchs sit as they are crowned, and it’s an incredibly historic piece of furniture.

The chair is wooden and was carved from English Oak in the late 13th century on the orders of King Edward I. As well as being one of the oldest items in Westminster Abbey, the chair is one of the oldest pieces of wooden furniture in the entire country that’s been in continual use since its creation. It appears a rather simple chair when you first lay eyes upon it, but the wooden structure hides a wealth of history in its cracks. Most notably, the chair was designed to hold the Stone of Scone, the famous stone upon which Scottish kings were crowned. In recent years, it was returned though to Scotland, after being held here for hundreds of years.

The Quire

Found right in the middle of Westminster Abbey, is the archaically spelt quire. This is the area reserved for the choir and for certain members of clergy during services and ceremonies, and it’s an important part of the church’s layout.

You’ll find the quire after the nave and before the high altar at the far end of the church. Westminster Abbey has its own resident chorus of choirboys who study and train at the Westminster Abbey Choir School, located within the grounds.

The Organ

To accompany the dulcet tones of the choirboys, Westminster Abbey is also home to an extravagant organ piece that is played during recitals. The pipes stretch high towards the grand ceiling of the abbey, and if you are here during a church service you’ll hear them in action.

The organ is a masterpiece of craftsmanship, as it was specially designed and built for the coronation of King George VI in 1937.

The Royal Tombs

One of the original intentions of Westminster Abbey was that it would serve as the burial grounds for English kings, with Edward the Confessor being the first to be entombed here in 1066.

Edward the Confessor’s tomb is still found behind the high altar, on display for all who visit Westminster Abbey to see, and his burial chamber became somewhat of a shrine when the English king was canonised. His effigy is found adorning the outside of the tomb and, as he was the first monarch to be interned here, he has pride of place in the abbey.

Many more royals were buried here in later years too. Behind the high altar surrounding Edward the Confessor’s Shrine, you can find several tombs holding the remains of famous English kings, including Henry V, who won the Battle of Agincourt.

The Lady Chapel

The Lady Chapel is an integral addition to the central area of Westminster Abbey, as it was built by Henry VII at the eastern end of the church to serve as his final resting place. The Tudor king built what was at the time one of the most lavish chapels in Europe and today you’ll be mesmerised by the glorious 16th-century architecture that’s been preserved here through the centuries since its construction.

There are over 30 royals and nobles buried under the chapel, with Henry VII having the most visible tomb and effigy. After he was interred here, many monarchs that followed his reign were also buried here, including Elizabeth I, James I and William III to name just a few. Oliver Cromwell was buried here for a time until his body was taken out after the monarchy was reinstated after the English Civil War.

lady chapel westminster abbey

Poets’ Corner

Westminster Abbey is not just the resting place of monarchs, because as early as the 1400s, poets and writers began to be given lasting memorials in the church, and many were buried here in recognition of their work.

Found just off the nave, Poets’ Corner is a microcosm of British literature, as you’ll see some of the country’s most iconic wordsmiths commemorated here. Chaucer was the first English writer to be buried at Westminster Abbey, but the tradition still continues today.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

To remember all those who fell fighting for Britain in wars across the world, you can pay your respects at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. During World War I, many soldiers fell in battle and were never identified, and many more were lost forever with no known graves or final resting places.

In 1920 an unknown soldier who was killed in France was buried in Westminster Abbey, on equal footing with the country’s kings and queens, to represent the huge sacrifice made by people from all classes and walks of life. It’s a moving tribute to loss and conflict.

The grave and plaque, found in the nave of Westminster Abbey, have since been the scene of many a commemoration, as memorial services led by royalty are held to mark important anniversaries, particularly those related to the First World War.

To find out more about visiting Westminster Abbey or to book one of our fantastic London tours, contact Premium Tours today.

london in october

London in October: All You Need to Know

The days might be getting shorter and the weather might be taking a turn for the worse, but London doesn’t slow down in October. The sun is fast disappearing, but there are plenty of activities and events scheduled throughout the month, although most of them have by now moved indoors.

You can find food and drink festivals across London during October, from the London Restaurant Festival to London Cocktail Week, while the British Film Institute holds its annual film festival this month. Of course, you can’t forget Halloween, and the city also goes all out for the German Oktoberfest too.

If you do want to get outside, then London’s parks are resplendent in their autumnal shades of red, brown and orange, and it’s a beautiful time of the year to explore – just remember to take a jumper and a raincoat along.

To inspire your trip to the capital, here’s our complete guide to visiting London in October.

The Weather in London in October

Summer is officially over by October, but although the weather is never the best this month, don’t let it put you off visiting the city, as there’s still so much to see and to do. The days are getting shorter and the clocks go back at the end of October, as the time shifts away from British Summer Time.

You can expect mild weather, with things turning decidedly cold through the month. There will be the odd day of sunshine, but don’t expect temperatures to be higher than the mid-20s, if you’re lucky. What you can expect is lots of rain, so be prepared with a raincoat and umbrella at all times. In the evenings you might need to start wrapping up warm too. While you can get away with a jumper during the day – as long as it’s not raining – you’ll want a big coat by the time the sun sets.

visit london in october

Festivals and Events in London in October

In October, there are some wonderful events and festivals scheduled across London. Locals are beginning to move inside and so most of these events are found inside too, with a huge focus on food and drink. It’s a great chance to immerse yourself in the multicultural nature of the capital, and you’ll find great food festivals and awesome film events to visit.

London Restaurant Festival

Every October, London hosts a citywide event that celebrates the enjoyment of dining out. The London Restaurant Festival is held over the entire month and sees hundreds of restaurants across the capital putting on special menus and giving big discounts to draw in the public.

You can eat out at some of the best restaurants in the city, and you’ll find great deals at some of the fanciest and most expensive venues, giving you the opportunity to delve into London’s culinary scene like never before.

London Cocktail Week

London has a big reputation when it comes to drinking, and the London Cocktail Week is a celebration of the more refined side of the city’s drinking culture. The October event will see bars across London putting on excellent deals and mixing some new and unusual cocktails, alongside the classics too.

While the festival is citywide, the hub of the action is found at the Cocktail Village, which is hosted by the Old Truman Brewery on Brick Lane. You’ll find pop-up cocktail stands and plenty of drinking through the week here.

london cocktail week october

London Frieze

London Frieze is an annual festival that’s held in Regent’s Park at the start of October. It’s an international event, and through the year there are other Frieze festivals held in the likes of New York and Los Angeles too, although the one in London could be considered the best.

This is one of the biggest displays of contemporary international artwork in the world, and temporary exhibition halls are set up in the park to accommodate hundreds of different artists’ work from across the world.

British Film Institute London Film Festival

For two weeks in October, the BFI – British Film Institute – host their annual film festival in the capital. Hundreds of films are screened during the event, at many different venues across the city, including iconic locations such as Leicester Square.

The festival has a huge focus on international and foreign language films, as it aims to highlight lesser-known productions that would otherwise not make their way to the UK. It’s a great chance to see alternative documentaries and powerful films, while there are also Q&As, lectures and glamorous opening and closing ceremonies.

London Literature Festival

If you’re more of a book lover than a film lover, then don’t fear because the Southbank Centre hosts an 11-day literature festival during October. The festival features many of the world’s most renowned authors, with past speakers including such novelists as Salman Rushdie and Margaret Atwood.

There’s a big focus on poetry too, and you’ll be able to listen to readings from top poets, including the Poet Laureate. It’s a great chance to be immersed in the literary world, and to meet likeminded people and, perhaps, your favourite writers too.

Trafalgar Day Parade

Trafalgar Day is the annual British celebration of Admiral Nelson’s victory over the French and Spanish fleets at the Battle of Trafalgar on 21 October 1805. On the Sunday closest to the anniversary a parade is held in Trafalgar Square, where you can see the armed forces and other institutions marching.

It’s a decidedly British celebration and a great chance to be patriotic or to learn more about Britain’s quirky traditions.

Diwali Festival

Also held in Trafalgar Square, the annual Diwali Festival is a rather more international event and one that is a testament to the modern, multicultural nature of London. Thousands of people fill the square at the end of October, as London’s Asian community celebrate one of the biggest events on the calendar.

Diwali is a celebration of light, so you can expect this to be a joyous occasion, including shows, cultural performances and live music alongside great food, that continue late into the night.

diwali festival london october

Africa on the Square

Africa on the Square is a great event that’s also held in Trafalgar Square in October. For one day, the iconic London square is transported across continents, as a celebration of African culture and heritage is held here by local communities.

It’s another great tribute to London’s multiculturalism, and you’ll find an array of different stalls and stages set up across the square that will give you a real insight into the wide variety of African people who have moved to the city over the years. There will be cultural displays of dance and music, alongside some excellent food from across the continent.

Tequila and Mezcal Fest

Another great international event that’s held in London during October is the increasingly popular Tequila and Mezcal Fest. Held over a weekend in October for the last few years, the festival is going from strength to strength, as Londoners become more enamoured with Tequila, Mezcal, and Mexican culture and food.

There will be plenty of tequila and Mezcal to sample, as well as an insight into Mexican culture, and plenty of after-parties too.

Oktoberfest

While Oktoberfest might be a traditional German festival, London, with its international flair and love of beer has in recent years been hosting its own version in the city. From the end of September into the first week of October, you’ll find bars and pubs across London putting on deals and German-themed nights, but the real highlight is the huge event that’s held at Finsbury Park.

There’s an enormous recreation of a German beer tent, offering you the chance to drink great beer and enjoy great food in an authentic Bavarian setup.

oktoberfest in london

Halloween

The 31 October is Halloween, and the city goes all out to celebrate this ghoulish tradition. You’ll find plenty of events happening in the week leading up to Halloween, while the day itself is usually celebrated with fancy dress parties.

You can take ghost tours through the capital, find special events being held at the London Dungeon and Tower of London, and enjoy screenings of horror movies at local cinemas.

Things to See and Do in London in October

As well as all these excellent events and festivals, there’s much more to see in London throughout October too. It’s a great time to visit the museums and galleries, as they begin to put on special exhibitions, while if you love the outdoors you can enjoy the autumn scenery in one of London’s many parks.

London Dungeon

With Halloween at the end of the month, there couldn’t be a better time to visit the London Dungeon than October. As well as all the regular spooky rides and attractions found here, adults can visit the popular Dungeon Lates, when the gates open after dark

As well as exploring the dungeons, you have the chance to enjoy dungeon-themed cocktails and visit a pub frequented by Jack the Ripper. It’s an unusual evening out, and one that will terrify and enthral you in equal measure.

The Imperial War Museum

The Imperial War Museum is one of the best history museums in London, and entrance is totally free. October usually sees the museum putting on different exhibits and displays, such as artistic poppy memorials in the lead-up to Remembrance Day Sunday in early November.

You can learn more about the wars fought by Britain and the Empire across the world, and learn more about the armed forces too.

National Portrait Gallery

The National Portrait Gallery is a great London institution that displays some of the finest portraiture from across the world, including photography and artistic works, both historic and contemporary.

October is a great time to call in, not only to escape the cold weather but because there are some intriguing exhibitions on, culminating in the incredibly prestigious BP Portrait Awards, which are held here. The exhibition showcasing the winners and contenders usually runs until the end of the month, so get in now to see some of the most captivating portraits in the capital.

Six Days of Cycling

London hosts a unique cycling event in October, as the six-day cycling series heads to the capital for epic racing. This is track cycling at its best, as teams of two compete for six days straight – yes, for six days – as they race all through the day and the night to be crowned champions.

It’s more than just a cycling event though, as the arena has a party-like atmosphere with DJs playing loud music over six days while the athletes compete on the track. It’s an incredible sporting event to watch, and quite unlike anything else you might see in London in October.

London Ice Rinks

It might only be October but already the city is beginning to gear up for the festive season, which begins with the opening of London’s iconic outdoor ice-skating rinks. While you might associate these with Christmas, by the last week of October many of the most famous ones are already ready for business and you can get a head start on the crowds by skating at the end of the month.

There are ice rinks across the capital, with some of the most well known being found at the Natural History Museum, Oxford Street, and Canary Wharf. It might seem early, but it’s a lot of fun!

ice skating london october

Autumn in London’s Parks

The weather might be colder than it has been in previous months, but embrace autumn in London by visiting one of the city’s many great outdoor parks. As summer ends, the trees begin to change from green to shades of red, orange and brown, creating beautifully colourful scenes across the capital, before they shed completely come winter time.

There are some wonderful parks to choose from to catch the autumn scenes, from Richmond Park in the suburbs, which echoes to the sounds of deer rutting, to Hyde Park in the centre.

If you’re planning a trip to London during October, check out Premium Tours’ great range of London tours.