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11 Cool Hotels in East London to Book a Room in

By Where to Stay in London

You might have read on the internet or heard from me that east London is an interesting and diverse area to explore. From trendy and not-so-secret-anyone Shoreditch to leafy Victoria Park, you could easily spend a few days *just* in the eastern part of the city. To make that exploration easier, book into one of these hotels in east London so you’re never far from the action.

BTW… when you see (WA) this means that this hotel is fully wheelchair accessible, with select accessible rooms.

Inexpensive hotels in east London

You might have seen my video about my stay at Mama Shelter (fully paid for by me). At the time (2020) I was able to book a "medium" room for just £100 for the night. Even post-Covid, Mama Shelter is a great hotel in east London for those looking to sleep on a budget. The vibe at this hotel is very cool yet casual and fun, with its colourful decor and friendly staff who are happy to help.Image Courtesy of Mama Shelter

Mama Shelter, Bethnal Green

You might have seen my video about my stay at Mama Shelter (fully paid for by me). At the time (2020) I was able to book a “medium” room for just £100 for the night. Even post-Covid, Mama Shelter is a great hotel in east London for those looking to sleep on a budget. The vibe at this hotel is very cool yet casual and fun, with its colourful decor and friendly staff who are happy to help.

The hotel’s common areas are great for eating and drinking as well as getting some work done during the day, and they even host karaoke nights. The rooms offer good value for their size.

Mama Shelter is in Bethnal Green, which is about a ten minute walk from the nearest tube station (Bethnal Green), but Cambridge Heath overground station is just a minute away and there are tons of buses nearby that will take you all around east London. And if your priority is to explore areas like London Fields, Victoria Park, and Shoreditch, Mama Shelter is perfectly positioned for that.

Book Mama Shelter on Booking.com

 

CitizenM offers an inexpensive, yet cool place to rest your head right in buzzy Shoreditch. You'll be within walking distance of all of the street art, vintage fashion and swanky food and drink that your heart desires. The hotel has 216 rooms, all of which are the same size and have an XL king-size bed. It's also known for being a great spot to co-work and have meetings during the day. The link below is for you to book direct, because if you sign up to CitizenM's email list as a "member" you'll get a discount on your stay.Image Courtesy of CitizenM

CitizenM, Shoreditch

CitizenM offers an inexpensive, yet cool place to rest your head right in buzzy Shoreditch. You’ll be within walking distance of all of the street art, vintage fashion and swanky food and drink that your heart desires.

The hotel has 216 rooms, all of which are the same size and have an XL king-size bed. It’s also known for being a great spot to co-work and have meetings during the day. The link below is for you to book direct, because if you sign up to CitizenM’s email list as a “member” you’ll get a discount on your stay.

WA, just get in touch with the hotel after booking your room so they can allocate you an accessible room.

Book CitizenM Shoreditch direct 

 

Qbic is not only an affordable hotel in east London but it's also one of the greenest hotels in the city. It's partially run on energy from their rooftop solar panels, guests guest a free drink at their bar if they skip a room cleaning that day, and they mainly hire staff from the local area. Qbic has a super cool design, both in rooms and in common areas, and the location, as it's slightly off the beaten path, allows for cheap rates while still being not too far from the huge mix of things to do in east London.Image Courtesy of Qbic

Qbic, Whitechapel

Qbic is not only an affordable hotel in east London but it’s also one of the greenest hotels in the city. It’s partially run on energy from their rooftop solar panels, guests guest a free drink at their bar if they skip a room cleaning that day, and they mainly hire staff from the local area.

Qbic has a super cool design, both in rooms and in common areas, and the location, as it’s slightly off the beaten path, allows for cheap rates while still being not too far from the huge mix of things to do in east London.

WA, just get in touch with the hotel after booking your room so they can allocate you an accessible room.

Book Qbic on Booking.com

 

The Royal Foundation of St. Katherine's was founded by Queen Matilda way back in 1147 as a centre for worship, hospitality and service. It's still a foundation and currently has 45 bedrooms around its beautiful green grounds, making it a surprising little urban oasis in the middle of the city. The rooms and the hotel itself have fantastic reviews and are very good value for what you get. The Foundation is also home to London’s only Yurt Cafe that sits around a wildflower and vegetable community garden, with containers being used for social projects to benefit the local community. Book a room at Royal Foundation of St Katherine’s and you'll not only get a good deal but also help support a good cause.Image Courtesy of Royal Foundation of St Katherine’s on Booking

Royal Foundation of St Katherine’s, Limehouse

The Royal Foundation of St. Katherine’s was founded by Queen Matilda way back in 1147 as a centre for worship, hospitality and service. It’s still a foundation and currently has 45 bedrooms around its beautiful green grounds, making it a surprising little urban oasis in the middle of the city.

The rooms and the hotel itself have fantastic reviews and are very good value for what you get. The Foundation is also home to London’s only Yurt Cafe that sits around a wildflower and vegetable community garden, with containers being used for social projects to benefit the local community.

Book a room at Royal Foundation of St Katherine’s and you’ll not only get a good deal but also help support a good cause.

WA, just get in touch with the hotel after booking your room so they can allocate you an accessible room.

Book Royal Royal Foundation of St Katherine’s on Booking.com

 

Flying into or out of London City Airport? Book a room at The Good Hotel, which is within walking distance of the city's small airport. The Good Hotel is a social enterprise that started in Amsterdam, and then was shipped to London, quite literally, as the building the hotel is in was transported by barge. There isn't much else around the hotel besides the airport and the Excel Centre but you can hop on the DLR easily and with nightly rates starting around £79 for a double room, the savings are worth it.Image Courtesy of The Good Hotel

The Good Hotel, Royal Victoria Dock

Flying into or out of London City Airport? Book a room at The Good Hotel, which is within walking distance of the city’s small airport. The Good Hotel is a social enterprise that started in Amsterdam, and then was shipped to London, quite literally, as the building the hotel is in was transported by barge.

There isn’t much else around the hotel besides the airport and the Excel Centre but you can hop on the DLR easily and with nightly rates starting around £79 for a double room, the savings are worth it.

WA, just get in touch with the hotel before booking your room so they can allocate you an accessible room.

Book The Good Hotel direct

 

Hotels in East London for a Mid-Range Budget

Montcalm East (formerly M by Montcalm), located just a couple minutes' walk from Old Street Station and not far from many great areas like beautiful Islington and underrated Hoxton, is in my opinion one of the best value hotels in London. I had a little staycation here once, and without paying an arm and a leg, I had amazing service from all staff members (they even found my expensive necklace I accidentally left in a dressing gown!), a huge room with a view, and access to the pool, sauna and steam room.Image Courtesy of Montcalm East

Montcalm East (formerly M by Montcalm), Shoreditch

Montcalm East (formerly M by Montcalm), located just a couple minutes’ walk from Old Street Station and not far from many great areas like beautiful Islington and underrated Hoxton, is in my opinion one of the best value hotels in London. I had a little staycation here once, and without paying an arm and a leg, I had amazing service from all staff members (they even found my expensive necklace I accidentally left in a dressing gown!), a huge room with a view, and access to the pool, sauna and steam room.

WA, just get in touch with the hotel after booking your room so they can allocate you an accessible room.

Book M by Montcalm on Booking.com

 

Kingsland Locke is apart-hotel which means your room, will come with its own living area and kitchenette, and the Locke hotels are so beautifully decorated that you'll feel like you're living in an upscale Instagram dream. Plus, the Locked properties all have welcoming communal areas for you to co-work in or have something to eat or drink.Image Courtesy of Kingsland Locke

Kingsland Locke, Hackney

Kingsland Locke has been mentioned in a few of our articles, including the one about London’s Best Apart-Hotels to Book That are Better Than an Airbnb. It’s one of the newest properties on this list, having just opened in January 2021, in an area that’s got a lot of character and is a favourite of Londoners because of its eclectic and diverse history, art scene (check out the Rio Cinema) and good mix of bars and restaurants.

Kingsland Locke is apart-hotel which means your room, will come with its own living area and kitchenette, and the Locke hotels are so beautifully decorated that you’ll feel like you’re living in an upscale Instagram dream. Plus, the Locked properties all have welcoming communal areas for you to co-work in or have something to eat or drink.

WA, just select their Accessible room option.

Book Kingsland Locke on Booking.com

 

Stratford is home to many of the Olympic facilities that were built back in 2012, and since then, the area has been undergoing a revitalisation. There isn't a ton to do there yet, so don't expect to pop into a fun local pub or to explore some local shops and restaurants (it's home to the huge Westfield shopping mall). But the upside of staying in Stratford is that MANY tube and train lines stop here, so it's very easy to get to other parts of London.Image Courtesy of Moxy London

Moxy London, Stratford

Stratford is home to many of the Olympic facilities that were built back in 2012, and since then, the area has been undergoing a revitalisation. There isn’t a ton to do there yet, so don’t expect to pop into a fun local pub or to explore some local shops and restaurants (it’s home to the huge Westfield shopping mall). But the upside of staying in Stratford is that MANY tube and train lines stop here, so it’s very easy to get to other parts of London.

Moxy is an affordable boutique hotel brand, under the Marriott group, and Moxy hotels are known for being pretty social and fun. The building has 294 guest rooms with features floor-to-ceiling art wall, free Wi-Fi, 42-inch LCD TV, and MUK bath amenities. There’s also a room option that fits a group of four, with one bed and one sofa bed. And it’s pet-friendly!

WA, just get in touch with the hotel after booking your room so they can allocate you an accessible room.

Book Moxy London Stratford on Marriott.com 

 

High-End Hotels in East London

The Boundary, featured in my XXTop Hotels for Design LoversXX guide, was an incredible project by the late Sir Terance Conran, known for his design empire encompassing world-famous brands like Conran and Habitat. Each room is decorated uniquely and in the theme of a design "legend" or movement, like Eileen Gray and the Bauhaus.Image Courtesy of The Boundary

The Boundary, Shoreditch

The Boundary, featured in my Top Hotels for Design Lovers guide, was an incredible project by the late Sir Terance Conran, known for his design empire encompassing world-famous brands like Conran and Habitat.

Each room is decorated uniquely and in the theme of a design “legend” or movement, like Eileen Gray and the Bauhaus.

Stay at the Boundary and you’ll also be just a lift-ride away from their popular rooftop bar and restaurant, and the fun and unique area of Shoreditch. See my Shoreditch guide for ideas of what to do nearby.

WA, just get in touch with the hotel after booking your room so they can allocate you an accessible room.

Book The Boundary on Booking.com

 

When you envision your trip to London, does "sleeping quarters" ring more of a bell than "tiny cramped room with instant coffee station"? Then check out the Batty Langley, a luxury boutique hotel named after the woman who published handbooks designed to help inexperienced clients plan their Georgian houses and gardens “in the most Grand Taste” in the first half of the 1700's. You'll feel like you're staying in 300-year-old London townhouse filled with antiques while also having the modern amenities we all need (like, running water...)Image Courtesy of Batty Langley

Batty Langley, Shoreditch

When you envision your trip to London, does “sleeping quarters” ring more of a bell than “tiny cramped room with instant coffee station”? Then check out the Batty Langley, a luxury boutique hotel named after the woman who published handbooks designed to help inexperienced clients plan their Georgian houses and gardens “in the most Grand Taste” in the first half of the 1700’s. You’ll feel like you’re staying in 300-year-old London townhouse filled with antiques while also having the modern amenities we all need (like, running water…)

Book anything from a single room to the Earl of Bolingbroke suite, named after the third Earl who developed the land around the area as high-end housing for Huguenot immigrants from France, and complete with a marble tub and terrace with views of Olympic Park. The popular museum Denis Severs House is just next door.

WA, just get in touch with the hotel before booking your room so they can allocate you an accessible room.

Book Batty Langley on Booking.com

 

Part of the Soho House group, known for its members clubs for creatives and top-notch hospitality, Redchurch Townhouse is one of just a small number of their London properties that allows non-members to book rooms. Of course, if you're a Soho House member, you get your usual discount. The boutique hotel in Shoreditch has just 37 bedrooms with sizes ranging from Tiny to Large, and across all of the ratings platforms, ratings are almost PERFECT.Image Courtesy of Redchurch Townhouse

Redchurch Townhouse, Shoreditch

Part of the Soho House group, known for its members clubs for creatives and top-notch hospitality, Redchurch Townhouse is one of just a small number of their London properties that allows non-members to book rooms. Of course, if you’re a Soho House member, you get your usual discount.

The boutique hotel in Shoreditch has just 37 bedrooms with sizes ranging from Tiny to Large, and across all of the ratings platforms, ratings are almost PERFECT.

If you’re a Soho House member, you’ll be just around the corner from Shoreditch House, but even if you’re not, there’s TONS to within just a couple of minute’s walk of Redchurch Townhouse.

WA, just get in touch with the hotel before booking your room so they can allocate you an accessible room.

Book Redchurch Townhouse on Booking.com

Book one of these hotels in east London and you’ll be right on the doorstep of the side of the city that’s diverse, interesting and always has something happening.

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Best apart hotels in london

18 Apart-Hotels in London that are Better than an Airbnb

By Where to Stay in London

Part of the Love and London mission is to show our community of London tourists how to visit the city in a way that makes a positive impact, because when we travel, spending our money in positive ways is one of the best things we can and should do. With that in mind, you might have already read my article about Why I Don’t Recommend Using Airbnb in London. In it, I mentioned some alternatives, one of which is choosing apart-hotels in London.

What’s an apart-hotel?

An apart-hotel is essentially a mix of a hotel room and an Airbnb stay. You book by the room or the flat, and generally you’ll have, in the least, a kitchenette, dining table, and a living room area along with your sleeping area.

Most properties will do daily or weekly cleaning and you’ll usually have access to staff that can answer questions, hold onto your bags after check out, and help you with things like booking a taxi and finding a late-night spot to grab dinner.

In my opinion, they are a great compromise for when you’re skipping Airbnbs, and as long as there’s a kitchenette and living area with a sofa, that’s all I personally need. I mean, you ARE in London, you might want to have a meal or two in, but you won’t want to spend too much time in your little apartment. 

Below are some of the best apart-hotels in London to book into.

*FYI, the links below are affiliated which means we will get a small commission if you book something after clicking. This in no way affects the price you pay and is a free way for you to support this free piece of content and the thousands of other pieces of free help we provide for London tourists. Thank you!

Cheval is a luxury brand that has a portfolio of apart-hotels in London and throughout the UK. You’ll find most of their properties around the Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, but they’re also near St. Paul’s and their Three Quays location has incredible views of the River Thames, Tower Bridge and The Shard.Image Courtesy of Cheval Residences

Cheval Residences – Kensington, Chelsea and Tower Hill

Cheval is a luxury brand that has a portfolio of apart-hotel properties around London and throughout the UK. You’ll find most of their properties around the Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, but they’re also near St. Paul’s and their Three Quays location has incredible views of the River Thames, Tower Bridge and The Shard.

Stay in one of the Cheval Residences’s apartments or townhouses (yes, I said townhouses) and you’ll have high-end amenities like a 24-hour reception desk, a fully equipped kitchen, fitness centre, daily cleaning, pet services, and more.

Cheval apartments are child-friendly and you can easily book a spacious flat, penthouse apartment or townhouse for up to six people. Additionally, if you want to book a stay for 90+ days, they have special options for that.

I like recommending Cheval because although they are a high-end brand, I actually think their pricing is reasonable considering the space provided and what’s included. I personally would choose the Three Quays location just for its views!

£££ – ££££
Cheval Gloucester Park, Cheval Harrington Court, Cheval Thorney Court, Kensington
Cheval Phoenix House, Chelsea 
Cheval Three Quays, Tower Hill

The newest additions to the London apart-hotel scene are Locke, and they’re proving to be popular with their reasonable pricing, good locations, and Instagram-worthy interior design. The hotels are also designed to be welcoming to those who want to work communally at their co-working spaces and internal coffee shops. Kingsland Locke even has its own microbrewery!Image Courtesy of Locke

Locke – Dalston, Bermondsey, Mansion House, and Whitechapel

The newest additions to the London apart-hotel scene are Locke, and they’re proving to be popular with their reasonable pricing, good locations, and Instagram-worthy interior design. The hotels are also designed to be welcoming to those who want to work communally at their co-working spaces and internal coffee shops. Kingsland Locke even has its own microbrewery!

Kingsland Locke (Dalston) usually has the cheapest pricing, but I love the location for Bermonds Locke — Bermondsey.

WA, just select their Accessible room option. 

££ – £££
Kingsland Locke, Dalston
Bermonds Locke, Bermondsey
Locke at Broken Wharf, Mansion House
Leman Locke, Whitechapel 

StayCity offers mini-apartments for travelers on a budget and who don’t anticipate spending a ton of time in their rooms. You can book for up to four people (two on a sofa bed, perfect for the kids) without spending too much cash, especially when choosing their Covent Garden location, which is as central as you can get when it comes to apart-hotels in London.Image Courtesy of StayCity

StayCity – Greenwich and Covent Garden

StayCity offers mini-apartments for travelers on a budget and who don’t anticipate spending a ton of time in their rooms. You can book for up to four people (two on a sofa bed, perfect for the kids) without spending too much cash, especially when choosing their Covent Garden location, which is as central as you can get when it comes to London.

They also have a Greenwich location which is more affordable and gives you a chance to explore the lovely riverside neighbourhood. Stick to these two locations of StayCity, as they are the best in regards to booking apart-hotels in London.

££
StayCity Aparthotels, Greenwich
Wilde Aparthotels, Covent Garden (WA, select their Wild Accessible Studio.)

Citadines is an aparthotel brand that’s been around for a while, with properties all around the world. They’ve got seven in London, but the stand-outs are very-central Trafalgar Square and Holborn, and the ones in Barbican and Islington, where you’ll get more of a local vibe. I’d personally recommend Islington, as you’ll be very close to Camden Passage, a very cool lane (little pedestrianised street) that has lovely little shops and restaurants.Image Courtesy of Citadines

Citadines – Barbican, Holborn, Islington, and Trafalgar Square

Citadines is an apart-hotel brand that’s been around for a while, with properties all around the world. They’ve got seven in London, but the stand-outs are very-central Trafalgar Square and Holborn, and the ones in Barbican and Islington, where you’ll get more of a local vibe. I’d personally recommend Islington, as you’ll be very close to Camden Passage, a very cool lane (little pedestrianised street) that has lovely little shops and restaurants.

Whether you need just a studio with a kitchen or a two-bedroom apartment that can sleep six people, you’ll probably be able to find something that works for you at one of the Citadines apart-hotel locations.

££
Citadines Barbican
Citadines Holborn
Citadines Islington
Citadines Trafalgar Square

Space Apart Hotel has 30 furnished self-catering apartments in Bayswater, a great location for getting the Heathrow Express which runs in and out of Paddington, and is not far from the beautiful Hyde Park. This is probably the most affordable option on this list, just be sure to book a Premium or Triple Studio to ensure that you have a stovetop, if that’s important to you.Image Courtesy of Space

Space Apart Hotel –  Kensington 

Space Apart Hotel has 30 furnished self-catering apartments in Bayswater, a great location for getting the Heathrow Express which runs in and out of Paddington, and is not far from the beautiful Hyde Park. This is probably the most affordable option on this list, just be sure to book a Premium or Triple Studio to ensure that you have a stovetop, if that’s important to you.

This apart-hotel is a bit basic (for example, cleaning is done weekly) but it seems to do the job, but read the reviews to ensure it ticks all of your boxes before you book. Also, there’s a little communal terrace on their fourth floor for guests to use as they please.

££
Space Apart Hotel, Kensington

Native has nine modern and stylish apart-hotels in London, and with rooms ranging from “Crash Pad” to two-bedroom apartments, you should be able to find something to suit your budget.Image Courtesy of Native

Native –  Bankside and Hyde Park

Native has nine modern and stylish apart-hotels all around London, and with rooms ranging from “Crash Pad” to two-bedroom apartments, you should be able to find something to suit your budget.

Location-wise, I’d probably pick Bankside, for its proximity to the Bermondsey area and connectivity to the rest of the city, or Hyde Park, which is a great jumping off point for exploring west and central London. Both are great choices for apart-hotels in London.

££
Native Bankside
Native Hyde Park

I hope this helps you on your journey to find the best apart-hotels in London and choose one that will work for your London trip. Do be sure to tag @loveandlondon and #loveandlondon on IG if you share your stay at one of these spots!

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best aparthotels in london not airbnb

I’ve covered this pretty extensively already, but the more demand that there is for Airbnb rentals in London, then Londoners will in effect be dealing with a continued increase on already VERY expensive rents, less power when it comes to shitty landlords (because there won’t be many other flats to move to instead), and neighborhoods that turn from friendly and welcoming to a jumping-off base for tourists who may or may not respect those who still live there.

Why I Don’t Recommend an Airbnb For Your London Trip

By London Planning Tips, Where to Stay in London

As a London travel expert, people quite often ask me for recommendations for good Airbnb rentals in London. I used to think that tourists using Airbnbs over hotels and other options was ok, but after experiencing the rental squeeze as a Londoner and learning more about how Airbnb affects cities and local communities, I no longer recommend tourists to use Airbnb in London.

Keep reading to understand why, and the impact you have when you use the popular service.

Airbnb was unofficially started when its two founders were living in San Francisco and struggled to afford their rent (the irony). There was a conference coming to town, so they “rented out” their flat and acted as tour guides for their guests. And from there, the idea was born, with a vision to allow regular people to make some money letting strangers stay in their house or flat. The site grew quickly, and is probably bigger than anyone could have imagined it would be.

A brief history of Airbnb

Airbnb was unofficially started when its two founders were living in San Francisco and struggled to afford their rent (the irony). There was a conference coming to town, so they “rented out” their flat and acted as tour guides for their guests.

And from there, the idea was born, with a vision to allow regular people to make some money letting strangers stay in their house or flat.

The site grew quickly, and is probably bigger than anyone could have imagined it would be.

How Airbnb changed the travel accommodation industry

According to an article on Forbes.com, back in February 2020, Airbnb was hosting over 7 million listings and is active in more than 100,000 cities across 220 countries and regions. The Airbnb team has huge aspirations for hosting one billion people each year just a few years down the line, so we shouldn’t expect the company to slow down any time soon.

Airbnb has completely changed how many people travel, providing an alternative to the traditional hotel room that doesn’t always work for every sort of trip. A disruptor for such an old industry is usually good, as it keeps everyone on their toes and usually benefits the consumer.

But with so many users and such high demand for Airbnb rentals, both pre-covid and post, there was and still is a lot of money to be made, by both individual hosts and property developers and short term-let management companies. But while Airbnb, property owners, and tourists might be benefitting, studies have shown that this all can negatively impact the local community in more ways than one.

How “the Airbnb effect” negatively impacts the housing market

Those who paid at least a bit of attention in economics class know that when supply goes down and demand stays the same or increases, prices go up. This is why so many cities around the world are experiencing major housing crises, as there is a lack of additional (affordable) housing, while more people are moving to cities and the demand for housing has increased (all pre-Covid). Therefore, prices increase at unmanageable rates, like in London, where rental fees have increased by a whopping 25% in just the last ten years, according to a study by Rightmove.

These crises have been going on for a long time, and the blame can’t fully be put on Airbnb. But the truth is that unfortunately in many of these cities, we’re seeing tons of properties that used to be rented long-term to local residents get pulled off the market and instead are listed as Airbnb rentals, because of the profit potential.

In fact, according to a 2015 article on the BBC’s website, in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, one study found that full-time Airbnb listings earned, on average, two to three times the median long-term rent. And the more properties that are converted to Airbnbs, the more that the long-term housing market shrinks, causing rental prices for locals to increase even quicker.

I’ve covered this pretty extensively already, but the more demand that there is for Airbnb rentals in London, then Londoners will in effect be dealing with a continued increase on already VERY expensive rents, less power when it comes to shitty landlords (because there won’t be many other flats to move to instead), and neighborhoods that turn from friendly and welcoming to a jumping-off base for tourists who may or may not respect those who still live there.

Other negative effects of Airbnb on the locals

It’s not just the market shifts that are a problem. Airbnbs threaten to diminish local communities, displace long-term residents, often cause a nuisance for neighbours, and pose safety issues for housing blocks that have communal entrances and areas. Just a quick Google search will bring up hundreds of articles of people who have dealt with theft, violence, noise violations, and more, all because a neighbor was renting their property on Airbnb.

There’s also the problem of hosts who don’t disclose their Airbnb earnings to the tax man, which means that the local economy gets almost no benefit for the rental. When compared to a hotel stay, which is usually taxed fairly heavily, this represents a significant loss in tax revenue for the local economy. Hotel stays also help to support the jobs of many staff, while an Airbnb rental provides one cleaner a one-off job (if the host doesn’t do the cleaning his or herself) and after Airbnb fees and taxes the rest goes to one company or person.

Eek. So what has the London government done to mitigate this?

Across the world, we’re seeing a ton more regulations placed on Airbnb rentals in cities that are trying to keep long-term rentals from being taken off the market. For example, travel hot spots like Palma, Berlin, and Santa Monica in Los Angeles have outright banned Airbnb rentals altogether.

Other cities like Amsterdam and Barcelona are greatly restricting the ability to get a license to host on Airbnb or limiting the amount of days hosts can rent out their properties.

A few years back, London Mayor Sadiq Khan introduced a 90-day rule, saying that hosts who rent entire properties are only allowed to do so for 90 days per year. Unfortunately according to this 2017 article on BBC.com, this has had no positive impact and it’s very easy for property owners to skate around this rule. In fact I very easily found this highly unethical article describing how exactly to get around the rule in what are absolutely fraudulent ways, yet wouldn’t take the keenest of criminals to implement.

On top of that, there are currently no restrictions on renting just a room in a London home on Airbnb, which is still detrimental to the market as it reduces the amount of room rentals available to low-income Londoners. So many young people and those on low wages rely on renting a room to be able to live in London, so this harms the most vulnerable.

I’ve covered this pretty extensively already, but the more demand that there is for Airbnb rentals in London, then Londoners will in effect be dealing with a continued increase on already VERY expensive rents, less power when it comes to shitty landlords (because there won’t be many other flats to move to instead), and neighborhoods that turn from friendly and welcoming to a jumping-off base for tourists who may or may not respect those who still live there.

What your Airbnb booking does to Londoners like me

I’ve covered this pretty extensively already, but the more demand that there is for Airbnb rentals in London, then Londoners will in effect be dealing with a continued increase on already VERY expensive rents, less power when it comes to shitty landlords (because there won’t be many other flats to move to instead), and neighborhoods that turn from friendly and welcoming to a jumping-off base for tourists who may or may not respect those who still live there.

I also personally worry about how Airbnb rentals give strangers access to my building, meaning they could just walk up to my door and well… who knows what they might do. It’s not their flat or their building, so the consequences are minimal.

Should you stop using Airbnb altogether?

For London? Yes. For the rest of the world? No. Airbnb rentals can make a positive impact on communities, primarily on areas that don’t have housing shortages… which rules out most cities.

For example, last year my friends Iz and Johnny Harris purchased a church dating back to 1872 in a rural area in Virginia and transformed it into a beautiful weekend escape spot, giving guests the chance to explore the beautiful Skyline Drive just fifteen minutes away, and some of the more local community areas that could benefit from a bit of tourism.

So don’t worry, I’m not telling you to cancel Airbnb altogether! Just use it responsibly.

What are suitable alternatives for my London trip?

Other sites like Plum Guide, VRBO, Homeaway and Booking.com’s flat booking feature all are exactly the same as booking with Airbnb, as these platforms are still allowing property owners to list properties for short-term rental that would have otherwise been on the long-term rental market, decreasing demand for Londoners, and therefore increasing rental prices.

Here are your alternatives.

The London Edition was designed by none other than Studio 54 founder and boutique hotelier Ian Schrager, in collaboration with New York architecture firm Yabu Pushelburg. They restored the property, originally built as multiple Georgian townhouses in 1835-ish, to the glory that it is now. The new design somehow takes old-world grandeur that you’d expect from London and makes it more modern.

Image Courtesy of The London Edition Hotel

Hotels

Obviously, we still have hotels. There are tons of really good ones around London at almost every price point imaginable. As mentioned earlier, when booking a hotel, your tourist dollar helps to employ many people, like cleaners and front desk staff, and usually doesn’t just go to one person’s pocket.

Here are some articles to help you with your hotel search:

If you’re keen to have a kitchen, you could opt for a hostel with kitchen access. When doing your search on Hostelworld, choose the filter “self-catering facilities” and you’ll see only the hostels with kitchens that guests are welcome to use. Rent a bed if you’re on a budget or go for a private room if you don’t want to share with strangers.

Image Courtesy of Wombats Hostel

Hostels

If you’re keen to have a kitchen, you could opt for a hostel with kitchen access. When doing your search on Hostelworld, choose the filter “self-catering facilities” and you’ll see only the hostels with kitchens that guests are welcome to use. Rent a bed if you’re on a budget or go for a private room if you don’t want to share with strangers.

More and more apart-hotels are popping up around London, giving you the best of both worlds. You get a kitchen and living space like you might in an Airbnb, while also having the comforts of a hotel with things like front-desk staff that can assist you when needed and daily or weekly cleaning (yay).

Image Courtesy of Locke Apart-Hotels

Apart-hotels

More and more apart-hotels are popping up around London, giving you the best of both worlds. You get a kitchen and living space like you might in an Airbnb, while also having the comforts of a hotel with things like front-desk staff that can assist you when needed and daily or weekly cleaning (yay).

Some options to have a look at for apart-hotels in London are Bermonds Locke, Cheval Residences Three Quays (with amazing views of Tower Bridge and apartments for up to six people), and Tower Suites by Blue Orchid (also with great views and apartments holding up to three people). For more options, read Best Apart-hotels to Stay in in London.

Honestly, I don’t miss using Airbnbs that much. Recently while traveling, I’ve found that when I book an Airbnb because I want access to a kitchen, that I don’t actually use the kitchen, except for the fridge. So booking a hotel with a fridge in the room is usually sufficient for me, as I can keep things like milk and yogurt in there for in-room breakfast, and I can store leftovers from restaurants to eat the next day too.

If you do still want a kitchen however, the links above should be helpful.

What if I book a room in someone’s home, and not the whole flat?

Often, the “host” isn’t actually allowed to do this as per their lease agreement or if they own the property, the building that the flat is in does not allow this type of short term rental.

If it is allowed, as mentioned earlier, this is still taking a room away from a potential long-term tenant, leaving us with the same argument and problem. So I would still recommend not to do this.

If you’re on a budget, you can get a similar experience to renting someone’s room by booking a private room in a hostel with a kitchen.

Remember that where you spend your money matters.

When you travel, your money counts as a “vote” for what you care about and support in the place you are visiting. So if you’re still considering booking an Airbnb in London, it’s important to keep in mind that your booking negatively impacts Londoners, and how would you feel if this crisis was happening in the city or town that you rent in?

Read next:

top design hotels in london

The Best Hotels in London for Design-Lovers

By Where to Stay in London

For some who visit London, the hotel they stay in is purely for sleeping. And that’s totally ok. But for others, perhaps you, the hotel is part of the experience too. It’s another attraction, another activity, another thing to explore during your time in London. So if you’re a design lover and you want your hotel to reflect that, book into one of these top design hotels in London.

BTW… when you see (WA) this means that this hotel is fully wheelchair accessible, with select accessible rooms.

The links in this article are affiliated, which means that if you book a hotel after clicking one of them, I will receive a small commission. This doesn’t affect the price you pay and is a free way for you to support the thousands of free pieces of advice we’ve provided over the years. Thanks for your support!

I chose the Ham Yard property as a top design hotel in London because it has just that little bit more than the other Firmdales. It’s located between Soho and Mayfair, and although those are bustling areas, you almost get a village-like feel at the Ham Yard. This starts with the fact that everything here revolves around a tree-filled garden complete with a bronze sculpture by Tony Cragg.Ham Yard Hotel, Soho

Design lovers might already be familiar with Kit Kemp, who has a distinct style that comes across elegantly in the properties across the Firmdale Hotels brand, with locations in both London and New York.

I chose the Ham Yard property as a top design hotel in London because it has just that little bit more than the other Firmdales. It’s located between Soho and Mayfair, and although those are bustling areas, you almost get a village-like feel at the Ham Yard. This starts with the fact that everything here revolves around a tree-filled garden complete with a bronze sculpture by Tony Cragg.

Once you venture inside, you might not notice when you hunker down in your own room, but you should know that each of Ham Yard’s 91 rooms and suites are individually designed, so no two are the same. Also, within the hotel you’ll find thirteen independent stores, a stunning restaurant and bar, a spa and gym, a drawing room and library, a private rooftop bar, and most uniquely, a bowling alley.

WA

££££ | Book Ham Yard Hotel on Booking.com

The Standard Hotel opened in Kings Cross only in 2019 and it’s one of the most unique hotels in the city. In my opinion, design lovers will either appreciate it, or loathe it. But I love how the group took this outdated town hall building of the Brutalist style, and made it into something not only useable but much more special.The Standard Hotel, Kings Cross

The Standard Hotel opened in Kings Cross only in 2019 and it’s one of the most unique hotels in the city. In my opinion, design lovers will either appreciate it, or loathe it. But I love how the group took this outdated town hall building of the Brutalist style, and made it into something not only useable but much more special.

Book designer Shawn Hausman is responsible for the 70’s-but-make-it-modern feel to the hotel, which offers guests anything from a standard room up to a spacious suite complete with an impressive terrace and outdoor tub.

If you stay at the Standard (or even if you don’t) design lovers should spend time around the hotel’s public spaces, which are also designed in this unique and not-seen-anywhere-else-in-London aesthetic. Hang out at the rooftop bar and restaurant Decimo, run by Michelin-starred chef Peter Sanchez-Iglesias, or one of their equally-cool ground floor bar-restaurant-lounges.

I’ve actually stayed here, I booked myself into a suite with a tub to see what it was like. Have a watch below…

WA

£££ | Book The Standard on Agoda

The Henrietta was designed by Dorothee Meilichzon from Chzon, who endeavoured to incorporate Henrietta Street’s bold history, dating back to the 1630’s, with the modern stylings that many want from a chic city hotel in the Covent Garden area.The Henrietta Hotel, Covent Garden

The Henrietta was designed by Dorothee Meilichzon from Chzon, who endeavoured to incorporate Henrietta Street’s bold history, dating back to the 1630’s, with the modern stylings that many want from a chic city hotel in the Covent Garden area.

The hotel very much has a French feel to it and it makes sense, as The Henrietta is under the Experimental Group, who hail from France and are also responsible for bringing the speak-easy-esque Experimental Cocktail Club and wine bar Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels to London.

The hotel is host to just eighteen rooms, all of which have luxurious and modern features like pastel-pink-tiled bathrooms, impressive arched headboards, and small details like mid-century style telephones and gold brass taps and door handles.

Make sure you plan at least one meal at the hotel’s restaurant Da Henrietta, which is a new open but if it’s anything like their previous restaurant The Henrietta will have great cocktails and beautiful dishes.

I’ve actually stayed at The Henrietta Hotel, so watch the video below to see my stay at one of the top design hotels in London.

WA, just get in touch with the hotel after booking your room so they can allocate you an accessible room.

£££ | Book The Henrietta Hotel on Agoda

The hotel itself is part of the Autograph Collection, which makes sense, considering it was designed by film set producer-turned-interiors architect Dayna Lee of Powerstrip Studios. The look at Bankside is a unique spin on mid-century modern, leaning more on the modern side, while still being aesthetically pleasing and almost… calming. The hotel also touches on sustainability, with features like rooftop beehives and an aim of zero waste to landfill.Bankside Hotel, Bankside

Bankside Hotel is located near the River Thames and a short walk from the famous Southbank area, where design lovers can pop into creative spots like the Tate Modern, the Marcus Campbell Art Books shop, and the charity-based Bankside Gallery.

The hotel itself is part of the Autograph Collection, which makes sense, considering it was designed by film set producer-turned-interiors architect Dayna Lee of Powerstrip Studios. The look at Bankside is a unique spin on mid-century modern, leaning more on the modern side, while still being aesthetically pleasing and almost… calming. The hotel also touches on sustainability, with features like rooftop beehives and an aim of zero waste to landfill.

Choose from one of the 161 rooms, from a “Modest Double” to the “Biggest Suite” and your stay will leave you hoping to replicate the hotel’s beautiful design back in your own home.

WA, just get in touch with the hotel after booking your room so they can allocate you an accessible room.

£££ | Book Bankside Hotel direct

The London Edition was designed by none other than Studio 54 founder and boutique hotelier Ian Schrager, in collaboration with New York architecture firm Yabu Pushelburg. They restored the property, originally built as multiple Georgian townhouses in 1835-ish, to the glory that it is now. The new design somehow takes old-world grandeur that you’d expect from London and makes it more modern.The London Edition, Fitzrovia

The London Edition was designed by none other than Studio 54 founder and boutique hotelier Ian Schrager, in collaboration with New York architecture firm Yabu Pushelburg. They restored the property, originally built as multiple Georgian townhouses in 1835-ish, to the glory that it is now. The new design somehow takes old-world grandeur that you’d expect from London and makes it more modern.

The London Edition’s restaurant, Berners Tavern, under Michelin-starred UK chef Jason Atherton, is also a masterpiece. It has serious Victorian palace vibes, probably due to the 18-foot-high walls adorned with incredible artwork. The name of the restaurant is a homage to its own Berner Street, where Charles Dickens’ mother and mistress both lived.

WA, just get in touch with the hotel after booking your room so they can allocate you an accessible room.

££££ | Book The London Edition direct

Londoners know The Boundary for its pretty rooftop bar and restaurant, often booked out for swanky parties and beautiful-yet-intimate wedding celebrations. But The Boundary is a notable London hotel too, converted from a Victorian industrial building and owned by the late Sir Terence Conran, founder of the Design Museum and world-famous shops like Conran and Habitat.The Boundary, Shoreditch

Londoners know The Boundary for its pretty rooftop bar and restaurant, often booked out for swanky parties and beautiful-yet-intimate wedding celebrations. But The Boundary is a notable London hotel too, converted from a Victorian industrial building and owned by the late Sir Terence Conran, founder of the Design Museum and world-famous shops like Conran and Habitat.

There are just 17 rooms at The Boundary, each individually designed, inspired by a legend in the design world, such as Eileen Grey and the Bauhaus. You really can’t beat the location either, being right in the heart of Shoreditch.

WA, just get in touch with the hotel after booking your room so they can allocate you an accessible room.

£££ | Book The Boundary on Agoda

The hotel has just 21 rooms, in fact it was apparently the first boutique hotel in London. Each room is styled differently, from bold and colourful to more subdued and charming. Be sure to also spend time in The Sitting Room, sipping a coffee or a cocktail from the Honesty Bar while you celeb spot… VERY discreetly, of course.The Portobello Hotel

If you long for London’s bohemian vibes of the 60’s, then The Portobello Hotel is where you should stay the next time you’re in town. It’s one of the most famous places to bunk up in the city because it’s known to have been home to many colourful musicians who recorded some of the most iconic albums in history in the recording studios around the corner.

The owners of the hotel say they want it to live and breathe all things Notting Hill as much as possible, so they continuously update its design with antiques and special items scoured from local markets and antique shops.

The hotel has just 21 rooms, in fact it was apparently the first boutique hotel in London. Each room is styled differently, from bold and colourful to more subdued and charming. Be sure to also spend time in The Sitting Room, sipping a coffee or a cocktail from the Honesty Bar while you celeb spot… VERY discreetly, of course.

£££ | Book The Portobello Hotel on Agoda

Take two Georgian townhouses in quiet-but-creative Clerkenwell (an area that features in our Areas to Stay in for Local Vibes guide), add the Russell Sage Studio, and you’ll get Zetter Townhouse, a 13-bedroom hotel which won 2012 London Hotel of the Year. Design lovers will love the location, as it has the highest concentration of creative businesses in the world, so you can expect to be wowed by the hotels, restaurants and bars nearby.The Zetter Townhouse, Clerkenwell

Take two Georgian townhouses in quiet-but-creative Clerkenwell (an area that features in our Areas to Stay in for Local Vibes guide), add the Russell Sage Studio, and you’ll get Zetter Townhouse, a 13-bedroom hotel which won 2012 London Hotel of the Year. Design lovers will love the location, as it has the highest concentration of creative businesses in the world, so you can expect to be wowed by the hotels, restaurants and bars nearby.

The Zetter Townhouse might be small but its loved by both tourists and Londoners as one of the top design hotels in London. The design vibe is “your crazy aunt’s palatial home”, so you’ll find luxuriously deep colours, lots of impressive antique-like furniture, plenty of velvet, taxidermy abound, and overall maximalist features. This bleeds into the ZSH Cocktail Lounge, which won the Spirit Awards Best Cocktail Bar in the World in 2013. I do love a hotel where world-class cocktails are just down the hall. FYI – There’s also another location in Marylebone.

WA, just get in touch with the hotel before booking your room so they can allocate you an accessible room.

£££ | Book The Zetter Townhouse on Agoda

Probably the most affordable hotel on this list, that doesn’t mean Qbic Hotel London City is boring or understated. The heads of the group started this hotel with a vision of taking empty real estate and turning it into a stylish and affordable hotel that also does good in the community. Over 50% of the hotel’s staff live in the immediate area, and the hotel is part of ongoing charity partnerships that help local people to get much-needed work.Qbic Hotel, Aldgate East

Probably the most affordable hotel on this list, that doesn’t mean Qbic Hotel London City is boring or understated. The heads of the group started this hotel with a vision of taking empty real estate and turning it into a stylish and affordable hotel that also does good in the community. Over 50% of the hotel’s staff live in the immediate area, and the hotel is part of ongoing charity partnerships that help local people to get much-needed work. 

Qbic is also one of the most environmentally sustainable hotels in London through various initiatives and design features. Guests can even opt for less room cleanings and get a free drink at the bar as a thanks for doing so.

Back to the design… it’s bright, colourful, and eclectic, despite rates being budget-friendly. You can even count on features like a wardrobe and desk created by Sander Bokkinga, steam-free mirrors in the bathroom, and functional-but-cool sofas that turn into extra beds. All while being just a 10-minute walk away from popular, buzzy Shoreditch and other parts of east London, this is one of the best value design hotels in London.

WA, just get in touch with the hotel after booking your room so they can allocate you an accessible room.

£ | Book Qbic on Agoda

If you are avoiding Airbnbs (recommended) but still like the idea of staying somewhere that’s more than just a room, look past the clinical-looking Residence Inn-types and book into one of Locke’s stunning apart-hotel locations around London.Locke, multiple locations

If you are avoiding Airbnbs (recommended) but still like the idea of staying somewhere that’s more than just a room, look past the clinical-looking Residence Inn-types and book into one of Locke’s stunning apart-hotel locations around London.

New York designers Grzywinski+Pons are behind the quite frankly very Instagrammable interiors of not only the rooms at Locke but the impressive commons areas as well. Grab a room and you’ll have pastel walls and decor, brass fixtures, leather sofas, and overall interiors worthy of filling up the gigabytes of memory on your phone.

With locations in Aldgate East, Mansion House, Bermondsey, and Dalston (which only opened in early 2021), you might find one of the Locke spaces to be your home away from home.

WA, just select their Accessible room option.

££ | Book Bermonds Locke on Agoda (other properties linked above)

The Laslett is what happens when you take five Grade II listed Victorian townhouses and turn them into 51 stunning rooms and suites fit for the most design-oriented of London tourists.The Laslett, Notting Hill

The Laslett is what happens when you take five Grade II listed Victorian townhouses and turn them into 51 stunning rooms and suites fit for the most design-oriented of London tourists.

A pretty impressive team put together this hotel, with the likes of British architects Waldo Works, Pinch and Race Furniture, local queen Barbara Hulanicki (she founded Biba of all things) and finally Jerome Dodd of antiques and oddities haven Les Couilles du Chien on nearby Golborne Road.

I also appreciate the nod to the local (often white-washed, unfortunately) area history, as the name for the hotel comes from Rhaune Laslett, the founder of Notting Hill Carnival.

WA, just get in touch with the hotel after booking your room so they can allocate you an accessible room.

£££ | Book The Laslett on Agoda

Designed by Manolo and White Architects, this incredibly luxurious boutique hotel in Fitzrovia is unlike any other in London. Book into one of the hotel’s 34 rooms and suites and you’ll first be greeted by the three-story-high surrounding walls of jasmine and passionflower as you enter the building. Then, head to your room, which has been individually designed, to relax and sleep in opulent fabrics and luxurious features, including a unique, exclusive art piece created and curated for your space only. Opt for the Mandrake Suite and you’ll have pure King and Queen vibes.The Mandrake, Bloomsbury

Designed by Manolo and White Architects, this incredibly luxurious boutique hotel in Fitzrovia is unlike any other in London. Book into one of the hotel’s 34 rooms and suites and you’ll first be greeted by the three-story-high surrounding walls of jasmine and passionflower as you enter the building. Then, head to your room, which has been individually designed, to relax and sleep in opulent fabrics and luxurious features, including a unique, exclusive art piece created and curated for your space only. Opt for the Mandrake Suite and you’ll have pure King and Queen vibes.

The hotel is also known for its award-winning terrace, Jurema, which feels like you’re lounging in a gorgeous plant sanctuary, where you’ll have sun pouring in at certain points of the day. You’ll also spot pieces by Salvador Dali, Francesco Clemente and Jonas Burgert across the hotel.

The unique Mandrake Hotel is absolutely one of the top design hotels in London.

WA, just get in touch with the hotel after booking your room so they can allocate you an accessible room.

£££ | Book The Mandrake on Agoda

Have you ever slept in a building that was transported to its location via barge? Well, The Good Hotel’s repurposed structure made it to London’s River Thames on a submersible barge that came from Amsterdam (where the hotel first launched) and navigated through the North Sea Canal to the Royal Victoria Docks. Pretty cool.Good Hotel, Royal Victoria Dock

Have you ever slept in a building that was transported to its location via barge? Well, The Good Hotel’s repurposed structure made it to London’s River Thames on a submersible barge that came from Amsterdam (where the hotel first launched) and navigated through the North Sea Canal to the Royal Victoria Docks. Pretty cool.

The Good Hotel is not just a well-designed, minimalistic place to sleep however, it’s also a social enterprise, so excess profits go to good causes around the world, and each night you stay there, you’re helping a disadvantaged child go to school for a week.

As The Good Hotel originated in The Netherlands, you can expect functional, simple, yet appealing design. Each room is designed to make the most of the space, and some rooms even have a waterfront view. While the location isn’t great, as there’s not much to check out in the immediate area, the prices make up for it with rooms starting from just £79 a night, and your money is put to good use when you stay here.

WA, just get in touch with the hotel before booking your room so they can allocate you an accessible room.

£ | Book The Good Hotel direct

Book into one of these design hotels in London and you’ll feel like you’ve walked into your favourite design magazine.

For more help with booking a hotel in London, have a look at these articles:

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Best rooftop bars in london hotel

13 Cool London Hotels with Rooftop Bars

By Where to Stay in London 2 Comments

Staying in a London hotel with a rooftop bar has its perks. Fresh cocktails just steps away, gahgeousss views over London, and an easy walk home after you’ve had a few too many.

This list covers the top London hotels with rooftop bars, but before you get booking, here’s how to take advantage of a good London rooftop hotel…

*Some of the links in this article will earn a very small commission if you click them and then book a hotel. This helps support all of the free content we produce for you.

When are London’s rooftop bars open?

Most of the London hotel rooftop bars on this list are open all year round. Because we’re used to pretty crap weather here, in order to make the most of these amazing spaces for as long as possible, they’re typically equipped with covered or enclosed areas, heat lamps, blankets, and other warming items so you can enjoy the rooftop even if it’s snowing (which, doesn’t happen often.)

Be sure to check with the hotel if the rooftop will be open when you’re in town.

Are London hotels with rooftop bars expensive?

Some are, some aren’t. If you visit in the off-season (November, Jan-March), you can probably find some good deals on rooms.

The actual drinks at London’s rooftop bars tend to be more expensive than the average city cocktail, but I mean, you’re really paying for the view…

Are London hotels with rooftop bars reserved exclusively for hotel guests?

It depends on the hotel. Some of the hotels listed below leave their rooftop as exclusive for hotel guests, some are members clubs so you’ll find Londoners hanging out alongside you, and some are totally open to the public.

Here are some of the top London hotels with rooftop bars.

Best London Hotels With Rooftop Bars - Ham Yard Hotel in Soho1. Ham Yard Hotel, Soho

The Ham Yard Hotel, located in Soho and part of my favourite boutique hotel chain, Firmdale, has a rooftop bar and garden on its fourth floor. Reserved just for hotel guests, up there you’ll be within a leafy jungle that includes two bee hives, Whitmas benches, and well… a bar. The hotel has over 100 rooms, and includes a library, spa and gym, and bowling alley for its guests, plus more. By the way, all of the Firmdale Hotels in London do beautiful afternoon teas for a really reasonable price.

Book the Ham Yard Hotel on Booking

London hotels with rooftops - ME The Strand2. ME London, The Strand

Located on The Strand, just steps from Covent Garden, this avant-garde luxury hotel has a super-popular rooftop bar and restaurant Radio Rooftop. Book in advance if you want views over Somerset House while you sip your cocktail. In the winter, they typically get winter-y and Christmas-y with the decor. A large part of the rooftop is enclosed so you can keep warm if you need.

Back to the hotel… there’s a wide selection of luxurious rooms to pick from, some of which include a private terrace with views over the city.

Book ME London on Booking

London hotels with rooftop bars - The Rooftop Trafalgar

3. The Trafalgar St. James, Trafalgar Square

The Trafalgar St. James is a Hilton property that’s far more modern and luxurious than most Hiltons I’ve been to. Head up to (the very small) The Rooftop for views over London’s iconic Trafalgar Square. Besides the views, the location of the hotel is very central, and smack-dab in the middle of most of the city’s most famous attractions.

Book The Trafalgar St. James on Booking

4. Sea Containers, Southbank

One of my favourite London hotels with a rooftop bar, Sea Containers’ sexy and futuristic London outfit is located in the Sea Containers building, right on the River Thames. On the ground floor is the award-winning Lyaness bar, run by expert mixologist Mr. Lyan. The real draw of staying at Sea Containers is on the top floor, where you’ll find swanky 12th Knot. Expect views, expensive drinks, and possible celeb sightings.

The hotel itself has a major range of rooms, spanning from standard rooms (still nice though) up to suites with private terraces overlooking the London skyline.

Book Sea Containers on Booking

London hotels that have rooftops - Dorsett City5. Dorsett City Hotel, Aldgate

Stay in east London, at the Dorsett City Hotel, and you’ll be a lift-ride away from one of the city’s newest rooftop bars, Jin Bo Law. From the 14th floor you’ll spot Tower Bridge, the Shard, the Walkie Talkie, the Gherkin and more iconic London buildings.

The hotel itself has 4-stars, located in City of London’s Financial District, and even has a luxe 24-hour restaurant (plus a gym in case you want to work off that 2am meal.)

Book Dorsett City Hotel on Booking

London hotel with a rooftop - The Montcalm Royal6. The Montcalm Royal London House, Finsbury Square

Housed in the former Royal Mail head office, The Montcalm Royal London House’s rooftop bar and restaurant, called Aviary, is one of my favourites in the city. Head to the 10th floor for lovely views of the skyline, and grab a cocktail or choose to eat at the AA Rosette-awarded restaurant. (By the way, Aviary is included in the 3-Day London Itinerary.)

The Montcalm brand is known for good service, beautiful rooms and overall being a great value. Stay here and you’ll also be located close to Shoreditch and Old Street, two great areas to explore and definitely eat and drink well.

Book The Montcalm Royal London House on Booking

Hotels in London with rooftops - The Boundary7. The Boundary, Shoreditch

The Boundary is housed within a converted Victorian warehouse in East London. With just 17 individually designed rooms, each inspired by an iconic designer or design movement of the 20th century, you’ll be in an incredibly unique spot if you choose to stay here.

The Boundary’s rooftop, called the Orangery, is famous with Londoners because it’s very beautiful and is a great spot for a post-work drink whether it’s summer or winter (it’s heated, don’t worry.)

Book The Boundary on Booking

CitizenM is a hotel chain known for being relatively affordable (for London standards) but still chic and cool. Their Tower of London location has a casual terrace bar that overlooks the Tower of London, which looks extra special when looking down on it with a cocktail under the night sky.8. CitizenM Tower of London, Tower Bridge

CitizenM is a hotel chain known for being relatively affordable (for London standards) but still chic and cool. Their Tower of London location has a casual terrace bar that overlooks the Tower of London, which looks extra special when looking down on it with a cocktail under the night sky.

Book CitizenM Tower of London on Booking

hotels in London with rooftop restaurants - The Ned9. The Ned, Bank

The Ned is another London hotel associated with Soho House, but being located in City is a whole different experience to White City House and Shoreditch House. The Ned took over an old bank, and now has 250 1920’s-inspired bedrooms, ten restaurants, a panoramic rooftop bar and pool, plus a basement bar that’s located in an old vault. Only certain rooms get access to exclusive member areas, FYI.

This is the place that the city’s financiers go to blow off some (major) steam on a Friday night. Expect a bit of chaos, or if you need some calm, visit the new (and somewhat hidden) Martini bar on the ground floor.

Book The Ned on Booking

The Hoxton's third London location, its latest is in Southwark, perfectly located close to, well, everything. Take a walk on the Southbank or if you're a longer stroll you can make it to much a central London from this dog-friendly hotel. The Hoxton is known for its modern-yet-relaxing interiors, with room decor inspired by the tanneries and factories that once populated South London. Tip: they offer "cosy" rooms which are ok for one person for say, one night, but go for the larger options for longer stays or when they're two of you.10. The Hoxton, Southwark

The Hoxton’s third London location, its latest is in Southwark, perfectly located close to, well, everything. Take a walk on the Southbank or if you’re a longer stroll you can make it to much a central London from this dog-friendly hotel. The Hoxton is known for its modern-yet-relaxing interiors, with room decor inspired by the tanneries and factories that once populated South London. Tip: they offer “cosy” rooms which are ok for one person for say, one night, but go for the larger options for longer stays or when they’re two of you.

When this hotel opened, it was really popular because of its incredible rooftop bar and restaurant called Seabird. Beautifully decorated, up here you’ll not only have stunning city views but also London’s longest oyster list and an impressive marble raw bar, making The Hoxton one of the best London hotels with rooftop bars.

Book The Hoxton Southwark on Booking

Rooftop Bars at London Hotels - The Curtain11. The Curtain, Shoreditch

The Curtain is a five-star hotel and members club (nope, not Soho House!) with 120 luxurious guest rooms, complete with king-size beds, bespoke artwork, and toiletries with their own signature scent. The Curtain has a gorgeous little rooftop restaurant and heated pool where cocktails can certainly be enjoyed. When you’re all pruney, head to Marcus Samuelsson’s London outpost of Red Rooster, and if it’s a Sunday, definitely check out the Sunday Gospel Brunch, complete with live music.

*The Curtain has closed but will reopen as a Mondrian property in 2021. And yes… they’re keeping the pool!

Book The Curtain on Booking

12. The Berkeley, Knightsbridge

This is the swankiest spot on our list of London hotels with rooftop bars, which, if you know anything about London, you would have already known after seeing its Knightsbridge location.

The Berkeley’s 7th-floor rooftop and swimming pool is lined with white and gold mosaic tiling and is more of a spa than a place for some sky-high beer swigging, but they do offer wine along side juices and other healthy treats so this definitely counts as a rooftop bar, IMO.

Book The Berkeley on Booking

Best rooftop bars in london hotel

13. Treehouse, Marylebone

Treehouse opened in 2019 and is a stunning hotel right in the centre of London, just a couple of minutes walk from Oxford Circus tube station. The rooms are super modern but a mix of concrete and natural elements, and the hotel has TWO sky-high spaces to check out. Start with the Madera, the restaurant that serves modern Mexican for breakfast, lunch and dinner along side its views over Oxford Circus. The head up one more floor to The Nest, the rooftop bar and terrace with 360-degree views of Central London. It’s open year-round because it’s partially enclosed, and it’s one of the only public rooftop bars in the area. 

Book Treehouse on Booking

These are the best London hotels with rooftop bars… which will you stay in?

More London Tips:
3 Great Areas to Stay in London For a Local Experience
8 Stylish London Hotels That Cost Less Than £150 Per Night
When do you tip in London? A London tipping guide

Pin this to your “London Hotels” board…

Best London Hotels with Rooftop Bars. Find out which London hotels have rooftop bars or terraces that you can see the London skyline from all year round.

cold weather activities for london

50 Cool Things to Do in London in the Winter (when it’s cooooold)

By Things to Do in London

As a native New Yorker, I think London has fairly mild winters, relatively speaking. But having been living in London for a few years now, I’ve noticed that there always seems to be at least a couple of very cold spells that creep in before the weather starts to warm up.

However, Londoners don’t let that stop them from doing all of the fun stuff that this city offers, and so as a tourist, it shouldn’t stop you either. You just need to know what things to do in London in the winter that will let you enjoy it without freezing your butt off. This list gives you a bunch of great ideas for what you should put into your London itinerary.

*BTW– when you see (WA) this means that this venue is fully wheelchair accessible. Also, COVID closures will affect most of these things, so check with the venue before you plan anything.

Do some indoor sports in London

London has had tons of indoor “sports” venues pop up over the last few years, and most of them are combined with a bar, naturally. So you can sip a cocktail or two while you participate in your chosen activity. It makes us Londoners feel better about drinking all the time…

Here are a small selection of the venues that you should check out for some fun drinking + activity. These places tend to be popular for group gatherings, so I recommend booking in advance to make sure you don’t show up on the day and get turned away.

If you’re into ping pong, Bounce (WA), located in Farringdon and Old Street, is your spot. It’s also a bar, so don’t worry, if you aren’t good at ping pong, expectations are usually VERY low...

Image Courtesy of Bounce

Bounce

If you’re into ping pong, Bounce (WA), located in Farringdon and Old Street, is your spot. It’s also a bar, so don’t worry, if you aren’t good at ping pong, expectations are usually VERY low… 

For a very low-impact, low-speed sport, visit Swingers (WA) near Oxford Circus or Bank for fun games of mini golf (they call it crazy golf here) plus lots of cocktail and street food options on offer. There’s also Junkyard Golf in Shoreditch and Plonk Golf that has four venues around the city.

Image Courtesy of Swingers

Swingers

For a very low-impact, low-speed sport, visit Swingers (WA) near Oxford Circus or Bank for fun games of mini golf (they call it crazy golf here) plus lots of cocktail and street food options on offer. There’s also Junkyard Golf in Shoreditch and Plonk Golf that has four venues around the city.

Only in England would it be considered a great idea to pair drunk people in a bar with some pointy darts… just kidding, don’t worry, it’s totally safe. If you want to get competitive with some dart throwing, head to one of Flight Club’s (WA) four locations and book you and your group an oche (pronounced like ‘hockey’) for some play time. The cocktails here are good, and strong… just the way I like them.

Image Courtesy of Flight Club

Flight Club

Only in England would it be considered a great idea to pair drunk people in a bar with some pointy darts… just kidding, don’t worry, it’s totally safe. If you want to get competitive with some dart throwing, head to one of Flight Club’s (WA) four locations and book you and your group an oche (pronounced like ‘hockey’) for some play time. The cocktails here are good, and strong… just the way I like them.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Dabbers

Maybe you don’t classify Bingo as a sport, but this is my website so imma do it. Dabbers is a bar and restaurant that does super fun bingo events, where you can win prizes, sing songs, and more, all while you eat and drink. They do brunches, dinners and themed bingo events. They even do one that’s dog friendly.

Go on a food tour

Food tours are so fun in London, and the good ones support small food businesses during quieter times of the day and teach you a ton of history at the same time that you’re stuffing your face with a delicious treat. They tend to be inclement-weather-friendly as they pop in and out of warm food establishments, so a food tour can be one of the best things to do in London in the winter. You might find yourself outside at a market at one point but it’ll be worth it.

Image courtesy of Devour Tours

Food tours are so fun in London, and the good ones support small food businesses during quieter times of the day and teach you a ton of history at the same time that you’re stuffing your face with a delicious treat. They tend to be inclement-weather-friendly as they pop in and out of warm food establishments, so a food tour can be one of the best things to do in London in the winter. You might find yourself outside at a market at one point but it’ll be worth it.

I have two companies that I recommend for food tours in London.

Devour Tours does a London Bridge & Southwark Food Tour, which packs a whole lot of British food history in with yummy dishes. One of the stops is at a beautiful restaurant that trains vulnerable young adults in the food industry, and you’ll also visit Borough Market and one of the oldest pubs in London.

Eating Europe also does some great food tours in London, with my favourite being the East End Food Tour, where you’ll learn about East London’s eclectic history, how it became so popular for street art, and of course, quite a few facets of England’s food scene.

Go to a London theatre or cinema

Cold weather is a great excuse to book yourself in for a couple of theatre shows or cinema experiences while you’re in London. I do love a cultural experience that requires me to just sit still and watch

London theatre

London’s most famous theatres make up the “West End”, and you can find tickets for those shows on sites like LoveTheatre. But I recommend going a bit more niche for more unique shows and experiences as well as cheaper ticket prices. These smaller theatres, sometimes called Fringe theatres, often host shows that eventually transfer to the West End, so you’re seeing them for cheaper and before they get the hype.

Image Courtesy of Bush Theatre

London’s most famous theatres make up the “West End”, and you can find tickets for those shows on sites like LoveTheatre (WA). But I recommend going a bit more niche for more unique shows and experiences as well as cheaper ticket prices. These smaller theatres, sometimes called Fringe theatres, often host shows that eventually transfer to the West End, so you’re seeing them for cheaper and before they get the hype.

There are tons of small theatres all around London that are still internationally known, including The Almeida Theatre (WA) in Islington, The Yard (WA) in Hackney Wick, and the Bush Theatre (WA) in Shepherd’s Bush.

Check out this list from the Evening Standard of London’s best independent theatres for theatre buffs for more inspiration.

Sure, there are the typical multiplexes around London, but you’re here for a unique experience, right? Choose an independent theatre and you’ll also be supporting local Londoners and sometimes be contributing directly to charity.

Image Courtesy of Rich Mix

London’s independent cinemas

Sure, there are the typical multiplexes around London, but you’re here for a unique experience, right? Choose an independent theatre and you’ll also be supporting local Londoners and sometimes be contributing directly to charity.

For example, Rich Mix (WA) is a Shoreditch cinema run as a charity and that often has art exhibitions and other unique events and things to see. Plus, prices are cheap! There’s also the Lexi Cinema (WA) in Kensal Green which gives 100% of its profits to charity.

But of course there are many other unique, independent cinemas around London. Here’s a list of ones to check out from Conde Nast Traveller.

Drink (…for warmth, of course)

The default thing for Londoners to do when meeting up with friends in the winter is to meet at a pub, and remember that until around 8ish in evening, most pubs are family-friendly too (and for dogs!) making pubs great for casual gatherings.

So join in with the Londoner way and keep warm in a cosy pub while drinking a pint or having a glass of red wine.

In my opinion, the best pubs to do this are ones that aren’t in popular tourist areas like Covent Garden, Trafalgar Square, and Westminster. If you head to areas like Notting Hill, Hackney, and Hampstead, which are more like local neighborhoods and totally worth exploring anyways, you’ll find pubs that are more suited for families and longer, relaxed pub hangs. For example, they may have a fireplace or sofas to curl up on, and a delish food menu to order from.

There are tons of great pubs all around the city so you shouldn’t have to travel too far to get to one. But here are a few personal favourites of mine that are great for winter visits.

The Hemingway near Victoria Park in East London feels a bit like being in someone’s home, and they have beautiful lights strewn across the dining and drinking area which add to a cosy atmosphere as the sun sets. Sunday Roast here is fantastic!

The Hemingway near Victoria Park in East London feels a bit like being in someone’s home, and they have beautiful lights strewn across the dining and drinking area which add to a cosy atmosphere as the sun sets. Sunday Roast here is fantastic!

Watch this video to see what else you can do in nearby Victoria Park, voted the best park in London many years in a row. Make a day of it!

The Spaniards Inn (WA) on the edge of Hampstead Heath is in a beautiful 16th century building, most of which is sectioned off into different areas, making it super intimate and cosy. On days that aren’t really cold, you can sit out on their winterised patio, complete with twinkle lights and space heaters to keep you warm while you have one of their cask ales or craft beers on tap. 

Image Courtesy of The Spaniards Inn Facebook page

The Spaniards Inn (WA) on the edge of Hampstead Heath is in a beautiful 16th century building, most of which is sectioned off into different areas, making it super intimate and cosy. On days that aren’t really cold, you can sit out on their winterised patio, complete with twinkle lights and space heaters to keep you warm while you have one of their cask ales or craft beers on tap. 

I’d recommend stopping at The Spaniards Inn for a lovely pub lunch after a winter walk around Hampstead Heath. See what you can do in this beautiful part of London…

The teeny tiny The Gunmakers pub in Clerkenwell is a hidden gem in the area, sitting between Exmouth Market and Leather Lane Market in Chancery Lane. You can sit in their winter garden, beautifully and intimately decorated, or venture upstairs with your drink to sit on one of the comfy sofas or armchairs. You’ll feel like you’re in someone’s Victorian-era home.

Image Courtesy of The Gunmakers

The teeny tiny The Gunmakers pub in Clerkenwell is a hidden gem in the area, sitting between Exmouth Market and Leather Lane Market in Chancery Lane. You can sit in their winter garden, beautifully and intimately decorated, or venture upstairs with your drink to sit on one of the comfy sofas or armchairs. You’ll feel like you’re in someone’s Victorian-era home.

Visit one of London’s most unique museums

In the winter, the city’s most popular, free museums, like the Natural History Museum and the British Museum, get INSANELY crowded with both tourists and locals looking for something indoors to do that doesn’t cost money. Certain times of the year, like the week between Christmas and New Year, can get so bad that it honestly ruins the experience.

Leave those museums for another time and instead use this London visit to explore the city’s more unique and underrated museums.

In the winter, the city’s most popular, free museums, like the Natural History Museum and the British Museum, get INSANELY crowded with both tourists and locals looking for something indoors to do that doesn’t cost money. Certain times of the year, like the week between Christmas and New Year, can get so bad that it honestly ruins the experience.

Image Courtesy of The Garden Museum

Some of my favourite unique museums in London include:

The Museum of Brands and Packaging (WA) in Ladbroke Grove is a fun, alternative way to learn about English history. Walk through the museum displays that start a couple of centuries ago and work their way to present time, seeing the history of fashion, consumerism, trends and more in this country. It’s quite interesting!

The Fashion and Textile Museum (WA) in Bermondsey is great for anyone who appreciates fashion or design. The museum is quite unique in that it only has one exhibition at a time, which remains for a couple of months or so, and then it shuts for a couple of weeks, then unveiling a brand new exhibition. This means that you can visit multiple times and always get to experience and learn about something completely new.

The Garden Museum (WA) in Lambeth was opened in 1977 to help rescue the abandoned church of St. Mary’s at Lambeth which was due to be demolished. Instead, Rosemary and John Nicholson turned it into the Garden Museum, as the church is the resting place of John Tradescant, the first great gardener and plant-hunter in British history, way back in the 1600s. Explore the stunning building to learn about Britain’s history with gardens (they love ‘em!) and see some beautiful plantlife. The Garden Cafe is also worth making a lunch reservation at.

Watch this video to preview some of the museums mentioned plus see a few more…

Go to an art gallery

If you’re more into art exhibitions than museums, choose one of London’s many art galleries to bumble around. Yes, everyone knows the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery, but we’re going to go more local and off the beaten path…

If you’re more into art exhibitions than museums, choose one of London’s many art galleries to bumble around. Yes, everyone knows the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery, but we’re going to go more local and off the beaten path…

Image Courtesy of SPACE

The Whitechapel Gallery (WA) in Whitechapel calls itself “the artists’ gallery for everyone”. The contemporary art gallery has been around for over a century, and according to the website it “has premiered world-class artists from modern masters such as Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and Frida Kahlo to contemporaries such as Sophie Calle, Paul Noble, Thomas Struth, Sarah Lucas and Mark Wallinger”. Impressive. The Whitechapel Gallery is completely free to visit, just be sure to leave a donation to help support their efforts.

SPACE’s (WA), erm, space in London Fields is part of a wider project around London. Their mission is to provide affordable creative workspace and various support programmes to help artists grow their career sustainably. Many people don’t know that on the ground floor of this building there’s a revolving program of exhibitions open to the public and completely free to visit. I once visited to see an exhibition on local typography, and as I’m writing this, they’re preparing for an exhibition involving ghosts!

There is also currently an exhibition called Dialogue in the Dark (WA), which is completely in the darkness and brings you “through London” without the use of images, as someone without sight would experience it.

I’ll wrap up this curated list of galleries with Proud Central, a photography gallery in Charing Cross. According to their website, “Proud Galleries stages compelling shows by legendary photographers who continue to capture the most iconic people, moments and trends defining Pop culture”. Pop in for free to admire some incredible photography, and check out their upcoming exhibitions.

By the way, many of the places I mention throughout this article are included in my 3-Day London Itinerary. Have a look if you think it’s way too overwhelming to try to figure out how to pair all of the stuff you want to do together into one itinerary for your trip.

Be super bougie and book yourself in for a spa day at one of London’s most luxurious hotel spas. Some of the highest-rated in the city include the Four Seasons Park Lane (WA) (with its incredible views over the city), Espa Life at the Corinthia (one of the largest spas in London) and Akasha Holistic Wellbeing at Hotel Café Royal in Piccadilly Circus (they have a treatment that uses 23-carat-gold minerals). For more affordable and laidback spa options, there’s Cowshed (WA) (a Soho House brand with multiple locations), Linnaean in Embassy Gardens (Swedish-insired Medispa and beauty salon), K West Hotel and Spa (it has a snow room!), Hula in Hackney (Tiki-themed, vintage-loving), and Yemaya London in Streatham (luxurious but not insanely expensive).

Image Courtesy of Four Seasons Park Lane

Go to one of London’s luxurious spas

Be super bougie and book yourself in for a spa day at one of London’s most luxurious hotel spas. Some of the highest-rated in the city include the Four Seasons Park Lane (WA) (with its incredible views over the city), Espa Life at the Corinthia (one of the largest spas in London) and Akasha Holistic Wellbeing at Hotel Café Royal in Piccadilly Circus (they have a treatment that uses 23-carat-gold minerals).

For more affordable and laidback spa options, there’s Cowshed (WA) (a Soho House brand with multiple locations), Linnaean in Embassy Gardens (Swedish-insired Medispa and beauty salon), K West Hotel and Spa (it has a snow room!), Hula in Hackney (Tiki-themed, vintage-loving), and Yemaya London in Streatham (luxurious but not insanely expensive).

Finally…. You can find some good spa deals on sites like Lastminute.com and Virgin Experience Days. Just be sure to check venue reviews before choosing a deal.

If it’s between November and February, then there’s one outdoor activity that I DO recommend doing in London during the winter… going ice skating. It’s easy to find ice rinks in Central London, like Somerset House and the Natural History Museum. But for something a bit more laid back and cool, head to Skylight London, a rooftop bar in Wapping that transforms into a cosy winter retreat complete with ice rink, winter igloos for eating and drinking, and an amazing view of the city.

Image Courtesy of Skylight London

Go ice skating

If it’s between November and February, then there’s one outdoor activity that I DO recommend doing in London during the winter… going ice skating. It’s easy to find ice rinks in Central London, like Somerset House and the Natural History Museum. But for something a bit more laid back and cool, head to Skylight London, a rooftop bar in Wapping that transforms into a cosy winter retreat complete with ice rink, winter igloos for eating and drinking, and an amazing view of the city.

See some live music or comedy

Ugh I LOVE seeing live music and comedy in London, I think it’s a GREAT night out that’s a bit more fun than just having a drink and staring at each other all night…

The Piano Bar in Soho is a sexy little cocktail lounge in an old townhouse. There are live musicians playing every single night here, and they are incredibly impressive artists so you won’t be disappointed. This is a private club so one of you in your party will need to buy a membership, which is £50 and gives you 50 £10 off ticket discounts, which can be used all at once when booking tickets for you and your party, or over multiple nights or across the year.

Image Courtesy of The Piano Bar

A few venues to check out:

The Piano Bar (WA) in Soho is a sexy little cocktail lounge in an old townhouse. There are live musicians playing every single night here, and they are incredibly impressive artists so you won’t be disappointed. This is a private club so one of you in your party will need to buy a membership, which is £50 and gives you 50 £10 off ticket discounts, which can be used all at once when booking tickets for you and your party, or over multiple nights or across the year.

The Bedford (WA) in Balham is awesome. From the outside, it looks like a normal pub. But insiders know that there’s a small theatre in there too, where you can see comedy shows and up-and-coming music acts. They have been hosts to stars early in their career like musicians Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith, and London Grammar, and comedians such as Catherine Tate and Michael McIntyre. The comedy shows are just £15 a ticket and the live music shows are FREE!

Image Courtesy of The Bedford

The Bedford (WA) in Balham is awesome. From the outside, it looks like a normal pub. But insiders know that there’s a small theatre in there too, where you can see comedy shows and up-and-coming music acts. They have been hosts to stars early in their career like musicians Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith, and London Grammar, and comedians such as Catherine Tate and Michael McIntyre. The comedy shows are just £15 a ticket and the live music shows are FREE!

Head to the Sebright Arms in Bethnal Green, hidden away just off of Hackney Road, for live music, good food and drinks, and very local vibes. Their claim to fame is hosting early shows for now-huge-acts like Charli XCX and Catfish and the Bottlemen.

Image Courtesy of Sebright Arms

Head to the Sebright Arms in Bethnal Green, hidden away just off of Hackney Road, for live music, good food and drinks, and very local vibes. Their claim to fame is hosting early shows for now-huge-acts like Charli XCX and Catfish and the Bottlemen.

Have a read of this article on The Culture Trip for more indie live music venues to check out in London.

Shop at local independents

MMMMM… shops are so nice and warm, and so are the fuzzy feelings you get when you find a gem to take home with you at an independent business, knowing that you supported a local biz and found something unique. That makes shopping one of the best things to do in London in the winter.

Vintage and secondhand shopping in London

London is big on vintage, and there are big and small shops around London, but the best area with a large concentration of vintage shops is Shoreditch. You can hop from shop to shop without having to spend too much time outside, while digging through all the vintage vibes to hopefully uncover a special item or two to take home with you.

I share some good vintage shops to visit in Shoreditch in this video…

Charity shops are where you’ll find lots of secondhand pieces that people have donated and then charities sell them for donation money. You can find these all over the city, with prices varying depending on the wealth level of that neighborhood.

My favourite place for charity shopping is Notting Hill, as the charities send their most high-end stuff to their Notting Hill outposts, but this means you’ll also pay quite a bit of a “premium”. That being said, I don’t mind, as the selection is curated and so it’s more likely you’ll find something great. Other good areas for charity-shop-hopping include Northcote Road in Battersea and all around Chiswick.

London’s independent shops

When I want something new, I love supporting independent shops. Some favourite areas to find a lot of shops to hop back and forth to are Broadway Market, Columbia Road in Hackney, Brixton Village and Market Row, and Westbourne Grove in Notting Hill.

Watch this video to see some of the top underrated shops I recommend checking out…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6qpj-MIQieQ

Markets are also great for shopping for clothing, accessories, beauty products, and more. Check out the top markets to visit in London that you never heard of…

Do a food or drink-related workshop

Book ALL the (indoor) activities when it’s cold in London and you’ll be entertained for as long as you need. You could find a class or workshop for just about anything you might want to do, no matter how niche.

Here are some recommendations to start you off, beginning with food and drink.

Book ALL the (indoor) activities when it’s cold in London and you’ll be entertained for as long as you need. You could find a class or workshop for just about anything you might want to do, no matter how niche.

Image Courtesy of Workshop Coffee

Workshop Coffee (WA), a London roastery with intimate cafes around the city, does Coffee Masterclasses on the weekends for anyone who wants to learn more about how they can do better coffee on their own.

Neal’s Yard Dairy hosts various events, dinner parties and workshops for those interested in cheese. They’re a great way to learn about England’s history with cheese… it’s an interesting one. Like… did you know Cheddar is a place?

Cabby’s is London’s first white rum distillery, and they now make gin too. Head to their Mile End distillery for “The Rum Taxi Experience”, where you’ll be greeted with a Rum and Cola or G&T and shown how the magic is made.

Learn how to make an afternoon tea experience yourself at Leith’s School of Food and Wine’s The Leiths Ultimate Afternoon Tea class. You’ll be taught how to create everything you need for a classic afternoon tea with a bit of a twist.

Learn to make something

Book into a workshop or class where you come away feeling creative and accomplished, armed with a unique and special souvenir to take home.

The Experimental Perfume Club in London Fields has one hour to full day perfume making workshops where you’ll find the scent that works best for your nose, and then learn how to make a bespoke perfume yourself.

Blackhorse Lane Ateliers, the only denim producer in London (and they do it sustainably) has a shop in Coal Drops Yard where they hold denim masterclasses. You’ll get to work on their vintage-looking but uber-professional sewing machines to create a denim masterpiece, like a bag. Find out more about the brand and the shop in our video showcasing them in our Sustainable London series.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o32Y34QUlQg

Graffik Gallery, an urban art gallery in Notting Hill, runs graffiti classes suitable for both kids and adults. You’ll learn how to do stencil work, on a canvas that you’ll get to take home, and then you also get free reign to spray whatever you want on their gallery wall.

For couples, Anatomie Studio hosts Shibari rope skills classes. Shibari, aka Japanese Rope Bondage, is “the occasionally sexy art of tying yourself up in knots”. Join a beginner class to try something new and different! Anatomie is a sex-positive and kink-positive venue, and offers unique things to do in London in the winter.

Lots of pubs around London draw people in on slow weekdays by hosting a weekly pub quiz. The idea is that it’s usually a small fee for each team to join, and the team with the most correct answers wins the cash prize. If you have at least two of you, it’s a super fun and casual way to spend a Sunday evening or weekday evening.

Join a pub quiz

Lots of pubs around London draw people in on slow weekdays by hosting a weekly pub quiz. The idea is that it’s usually a small fee for each team to join, and the team with the most correct answers wins the cash prize. If you have at least two of you, it’s a super fun and casual way to spend a Sunday evening or weekday evening.

Even if you’re a solo traveler, you could absolutely walk up to a small team at your chosen pub and ask if you can be one more body… most teams will welcome the extra brain juice and will love that you had the courage to ask … Londoners aren’t used to that!

Honestly, the best way to find a pub quiz is to just keep an eye out for pubs with signs outside advertising their pub quiz night. A huge majority of them do quizzes so as long as you aren’t looking in the touristy areas (Covent Garden, Tower Bridge, Westminster, etc.) then you’ll find one easily. You could also ask at your hotel to see if they know of any quizzes happening nearby. They usually happen Sunday to Wednesday.

If you’re struggling to figure out how you’ll plan your first few days in London and want to include some of the stuff in this article, some things mentioned are included in the 3-Day London Itinerary. Grab that and your first three days in London will be sorted with locally-approved recommendations for what to do, see, eat and drink, all put together in a flexible, walkable plan.

Are you still looking for things to do in London in the winter? This list wasn’t enough? Well, check out these articles for more ideas for things to do in London.

Pin this to your Winter in London board…

what to do in london in the cold

What to do in London on Christmas day

What to Do in London on Christmas Day

By London Travel Tips, Winter in London 4 Comments

Visiting London on Christmas Day? This guide will help you figure out how to have a lovely 25th of December, despite closures and empty streets (which actually sounds amazing to me!)

*Some of the links in this article are affiliated, which means I may earn a small commission if you buy something after clicking. 

**2020 is obviously a very odd year for Christmas Day activities. We’ve tried to make notes where things are/aren’t offered this year but things change quickly.

London transportation options on Christmas Day

It’s very important to note that the tube, trains and buses don’t run on Christmas Day. I recommend walking as much as you can, as you’ll enjoy a very quiet London that only happens once a year. Also consider going to one of London’s parks, or just walk around admiring the city’s architecture, outdoor artwork, and Christmas lights.

Traffic is also super light, so rent a Santander Cycle (Boris Bike) and cycle around the city in a way you’d never be able to do the rest of the year! Watch the video below to find out how they work.

You can also take Ubers and black taxis but just note that they’ll be limited in number, so give yourself extra time to call one, just in case it takes a little longer than usual.

Where to get a Christmas meal in London

Select restaurants and pubs will be open for Christmas lunch and/or dinner. Most places will have a set Christmas menu, and the offering on that menu, as well as price, will vary. Book early!

Here are some restaurants and pubs serving up Christmas meals:

Chiltern Firehouse

Grazing Goat

The Rondo at The Hoxton Holborn

Cinnamon Bazaar  (vegan meals available)   

Gilbert Scott (veggie and vegan meals available)

Dean Street Townhouse

Duck and Waffle (veggie menu available)

Ham Yard Hotel Restaurant  (gluten-free, veggie and vegan meals available)

City Cruises will be doing a Christmas river cruise, which includes a Christmas lunch on board the boat while cruising the River Thames. (gluten free and veggie menu available on request, child-friendly)

Where to go to church on Christmas Day in London

Many churches and cathedrals around London host Christmas Day services, even the big ones like St. Paul’s Cathedral and Southwark Cathedral.

If you have a favourite church you’d like to worship at on Christmas Day in London, check the church’s website to see when services are being held.

Since public transportation is closed, I’d also recommend asking your hotel concierge about nearby churches and cathedrals that they know are having services that are within walking distance.

*Obviously, many 2020 services will be closed or be taking place virtually, so again, check online to see what your church of choice is providing

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Where to get Christmas afternoon tea on Christmas Day

A few festive afternoon teas are available on Christmas Day too. Again, book ahead.

Afternoon teas on Christmas Day in London:

The Sanderson Hotel’s Mad Hatter’s Festive Tea (mentioned on the 3-Day Itinerary) *not available in 2020
The Savoy
The Dorchester

Click for more afternoon teas that are available to book on Christmas day.

London attractions and activities open on Christmas Day

Unfortunately, not much is open beyond some restaurants and pubs. However, here are some options for things to do and see.

Go swimming in Hampton Pool

Hampton Pool is heated, and on Christmas Day they’re welcoming brave souls to go for a dip. Make sure you book tickets in advance!

Watch the Peter Pan Cup

If you’d rather watch some swimmers from the comfort of your down jacket and thick mittens, go watch the Peter Pan Cup. The Serpentine Swimming Club holds an annual swimming race (every year since 1864) in the Serpentine Lido in Hyde Park. Show up at 9am to see these brave souls do their thing. *This might not happen in 2020, no info out there yet about it.

Visit one of London’s incredible parks

All royal parks (which covers most of the major ones in London) are open on Christmas Day, so be very British and go for a brisk winter walk. Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens are a great combo for Central London, or head to East London and explore Victoria Park, frequently voted London’s best park by Londoners. Find out more about Victoria Park in the video below.

Go on a Christmas hop on hop off tour

Big Bus Tours has a special Christmas tour on Christmas Day. Book tickets here.

*Not available on 25th in 2020 but you can book on for the 26th!

Go for a Christmas boat ride along the Thames

Even if you don’t want to go for the City Cruises’ Christmas lunch cruise you can still book yourself in for a classic Thames river sightseeing tour. Christmas Day on the River Thames… what a treat… 

*This year, it’s only the Christmas lunch cruise that’s available.

Go ice skating at JW3

The Jewish Community Centre in London has an ice rink that’s open on Christmas Day. What a fun thing to do! It’s pretty popular so book your tickets as far in advance as you can.

Go experience spookily quiet London

There’s truly no day like Christmas Day in Central London, the quietest day of the year. So grab a Boris bike or just put on your decent walking shoes and explore the city while it’s in this almost spooky state. It’s GREAT for taking photos without crowds of people blocking the way. If you go at night, all of the Christmas lights can be enjoyed in the quiet too.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Enjoy Christmas Day in London! Be sure to tag @LoveandLondon and use #LoveandLondon on Instagram so we can see what you got up to around the city.

Gifts for London lovers

30+ Unique Gift Ideas for Anyone Who Loves London

By London Planning Tips

Buying a gift for your favourite London fan? I’ve compiled a list of gift ideas for London lovers that should make your shopping experience much easier, especially if you’re buying for someone who loves beautiful, unique items. If you’ve already done a “London gifts” Google search, you’ll have seen that many London gifts are very kitchy and cheesy… so I’ve sifted through the junk to help you choose from the best out there.

Also, most of the recommendations in this London Lover Gift Guide are from small businesses and artists, because well… we should all be supporting them over the big guys, ESPECIALLY this year.

Read on for lots of gift ideas for London lovers, even if they have no plans to visit any time soon.

*Many of the links in this article are affiliated, which means we earn a commission if you make a purchase after clicking. Thank you so much!

British Food and Drink Gift Ideas for London Lovers

British Food and Drink to give as gifts

British food hamper

As mentioned in my gift guide for anyone visiting London in 2021 and that doesn’t want to be basic, a “London-y” or British food and drink hamper (aka gift basket) is a great gift idea for London lovers that you can DIY or buy ready-made.

If you want to make a hamper yourself, find a beautiful basket and load it up with some yummy English treats.

Some suggestions for your DIY British Food Hamper:

Some other fun things you could add include Christmas Pudding (or make it yourself with this BBC Good Food recipe) English Sparkling Wine and English Cidre.

For those of you who are not looking to spend an hour finding the perfect basket for your hamper items and wrestling with wrapping paper, iGourmet in the US makes a “A Little Bit of Britain Gift Box” that does it all for you for $99. They have a couple of other British-themed options as well.

Alternatively, you can order something from Fortnum & Mason in London. They’re world-famous for their luxurious hampers, with ones that go upwards of £1000… WOAH. Their F&M wicker hampers (the baskets themselves) are also collectors items.

Two Fortnum & Mason hampers that ship worldwide (not the only ones!):

Traditional English tea for London Lovers - gifts

English Tea

If your London-loving gift recipient came back from London appreciating good tea more than previously, they’ll love to receive beautiful, high quality teas as a gift. There are a few ways you can go about this.

If your giftee has watched my Londoner’s Guide to Soho, they’ll remember Algerian Coffee Stores being featured, and it’s where I recommend London tourists to go for affordable but still high-quality loose leaf tea in London, as well as coffee beans. It’s also home to London’s ONLY £1 coffee but that’s a whole other thing…

Algerian Coffee Stores is a fantastic small business that could use the support, plus their stuff is great and it ships worldwide. I’d recommend getting some loose leaf tea and a perhaps a classic teapot, which paired together would make a lovely gift, and the fact that it’s from this fab little shop in Soho makes it that much more special.

If you prefer something in fancy packaging you could instead opt for Fortnum & Mason’s tea selection, which is world-famous.

 

London-Themed Art and Homewares

London lovers would like a bit of their favourite city around the home, so here are some recommendations for cool London homewares (remember… we’re going for not cheesy!)

Prints and artwork

Etsy has some of the best prints featuring various bits of London, all designed and printed by artists and small business owners. I’ve compiled some of my favourites, that are beautifully designed or show more “local” nooks and crannies of the city… or both!

LONDON England UK Canvas Map Print Art Decoration to offer to London lovers3-Panel Art Deco London Map on Canvas, see it on Etsy

London Prints: Beigel Bake Brick lane bakery // East London Print // Illustrated Wall ArtBeigel Bake on Brick Lane, home of the world-famous Salted Beef Beigel. See it on Etsy

Reprint of a 1930s London Transport to WimbledonReprint of a 1930’s London Transport Sign for Wimbledon, great for tennis fans. See it on Etsy

Best gifts for those who love london and gardens - Kew Gardens Palm House London Retro Style Art PrintKew Gardens Palm House London Retro Style Art Print, see it on Etsy

Print of famous central spot in London - London Prints/ Bar Italia Soho // West End London Print // Illustrated Wall ArtBar Italia Soho, a very famous spot in Central London, featured in my Soho Guide. See it on Etsy

The best London Art to present to people who love Britain - Brixton Market Art, Colourful Neon London PrintBrixton Market Art, Colourful Neon London Print. If they’ve been to Brixton, they’ll love it, but even if they haven’t, the colours are beautiful. See it on Etsy

Pictures of London parks - The Pavilion Cafe, Victoria Park London Art PrintThe Pavilion Cafe, Victoria Park. Victoria Park, in East London, has been voted “London’s Best Park” for many years, and this cafe is a favourite of Londoners who live nearby. See it on Etsy

An incredibly in-depth map of London's History and Culture - so intricate the map took artist Cally Lathey over a year to complete!London Map of History and Culture. An incredibly in-depth map of London’s History and Culture – so intricate the map took artist Cally Lathey over a year to complete! See it on We Built This City (my fave London souvenir shop, now online and shipping worldwide)

 

Christmas Tree Ornaments

It’s hard to find Christmas tree ornaments that aren’t made of plastic, geez! But Selfridges is now selling London-y ornaments made of plaster, which is slightly better for the environment as it doesn’t take thousands of years to degrade…

Christmas Tree Ornaments to get for London lovers
Big Ben Christmas Tree Decoration, see it on Selfriges.com

 

Christmas decorations to gift to UK loversTelephone Box Christmas Tree Decoration, see it on Selfridges.com

Decorations to add to your house this Christmas to keep the memories of your London trips aliveDouble Decker Bus Christmas Tree Decoration, see it on Selfridges.com

UK memories to add to your Christmas tree this yearBlack Taxi Christmas Tree Decorations, see it on Selfridges.com

 

Other London-y homewares that would make great gifts

Unique metal bookends - London bridge - // decorative book holders // perfect housewarming gift // modern home decorTower Bridge Bookends. It does annoy me that the seller wrongly calls it London Bridge but hey… it’s cute. See it on Etsy

Rocks Whiskey Old Fashioned Glass Urban City Map London, UKRocks Glass with London Map. See it on Etsy, or check out the pint glass version or wine glass version.

Cool London Tube Coasters - these are plastic freeLondon Tube Map Coasters. There are a lot of London-y coasters online and many are bleh. These are cool, and plastic-free.See them on Etsy

 

Books about London

Books are a lovely gift idea for London lovers. The links for the recommended books go to an Amazon alternative in the US and Bookshop.org in the UK, which is a new site that is supporting the UK’s small bookshops.

Coffee Table Books about London

People love those big beautiful coffee table books but we rarely buy them for ourselves, which is why they’re great to get as gifts. Give your London lover one of these London-y coffee table books…

Beautiful London Themed Coffee Table Books To Get

Portraits of Britain (Vol 3) – Hoxton Mini Press and British Journal of Photography

The most recent volume of Portraits of Britain contains stunning imagery reflecting much of what Britain has dealt with in 2020. See Brits protesting in the streets for the Black Lives Matter movement after George Floyd’s murder, dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, and more.

Get it from Books-A-Million (US)
Get it from Bookshop (UK)

All On The Board was started by two Transport for London employees who wanted to use the whiteboards in tube stations to do more than tell people to “stay to the right.”

All On The Board: Inspirational quotes from the TFL underground duo

All On The Board was started by two Transport for London employees who wanted to use the whiteboards in tube stations to do more than tell people to “stay to the right.” So they started writing inspirational quotes, jokes, statements and more on the boards, and started sharing them to an Instagram account called All On The Board. It’s turned into a beautiful movement that helps to add a little happiness into Londoners’ commutes, with thousands of people sharing photos of the boards they spot each day, during normal times.

Their book is brand new (launching 26th November 2020) so you can tell your giftee that they’re one of the first to have it!

Get it from Bookshop (UK)

Elle Croft has put together a great list of London-inspired coffee table books for us, so for more ideas, have a read of the list.

Cookbooks from London restaurants to give as gifts

Cookbooks from London restaurants to give as gifts
Dishoom: The first ever cookbook from the much-loved Indian restaurant by Shamil Thakrar, Kavi Thakrar, and Naved Nasir

Dishoom is one of the most popular restaurants in London, known for bringing affordable but absolutely delicious Bombay-inspired cuisine to the city. The Dishoom cookbook is a Sunday Times Best Seller, from which you will learn how to make some of their most popular Indian “comfort food”, including their famous black daal.

Get it from Books-A-Million (US)
Get it from Bookshop (UK)

Perfect gift for afternoon tea lovers
The National Trust Book of Scones: 50 delicious recipes and some curious crumbs of history by Sarah Merker

If your gift recipient loved going for afternoon tea while they were in London, they probably had the famously British scone. And well… I bet they loved it, especially right when it comes out nice and warm…. Mmmmm…. ok anyways, this book in collaboration with The National Trust is a collection of various scone recipes from around Britain, and stories to go along with them.

Get it from Books-A-Million (US)
Get it from Bookshop (UK)

For more London-inspired cookbook ideas, read Ashley Chalmers’s list of top London restaurant cookbooks to get inspiration from.

Fiction/Non-fiction books

Finally, if your giftee would appreciate some page turners stuffed into their stocking or wrapped up for Hanukkah, I’ve got a few to suggest…

Fiction/Non-fiction book ideas to gift to someone

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

Even though it only came out about a year ago, Queenie has sweeped tons of awards and accolades, and was named one of The Times, Guardian, Sunday Times, Daily Mail and Evening Standard’s Best Books Of 2019.

Queenie is the main character, a 25-year-old Black woman living in London, straddling Jamaican and British culture. After a messy break up from her long-term boyfriend, Queenie finds herself seeking comfort in all the wrong places. The story is entertaining while also diving into subjects like racism, sexism, and mental illness.

Get it from Books-A-Million (US)
Get it from Bookshop (UK)

If your giftee would appreciate some page turners stuffed into their stocking or wrapped up for Hanukkah here are some perfect ideas

The 392 by Ashley Hickson-Lovence

Taking place on the (fictional) 392 bus in a period of just thirty-six minutes, the cast of characters travelling from Hoxton to Highbury is as varied and diverse as you’d expect to find on any East London bus, and each is beautifully portrayed in their own words.

Get it from Books-A-Million (US)
Get it from Bookshop (UK)

For more ideas, browse these two articles written by Elle Croft:

History books
Books about London/UK

London Colouring London Colouring Book - great gifts for people who love londonLondon Colouring Book

If your London lover likes a bit of mindless colouring to end the day, get them my London Colouring Book. It’s filled with London scenes ready to be printed or uploaded to their iPad and coloured in in a creative way. Our favourite local London illustrator Jen from Jen and Jennifer illustrated it! And at just £11, it makes for a great small gift that can be delivered by email instantly (or you can schedule the delivery date.)

Get the London Colouring Book

London-inspired jewellery to gift a London lover

Still need more gift ideas for London lovers? Give them a little something to wear that will remind them of the city they love.

Present ideas/ Sterling Silver London Skyline Disc Pendant NecklaceSterling Silver London Skyline Disc Pendant Necklace. Comes with free engraving. Find it on Etsy

London-inspired jewelry to gift a London lover - Statement Recycled Oval Stones Earrings, Drop Earrings, Yellow, Red by Enna JewelleryStatement Recycled Oval Stones Earrings. The colours are the same as the tube trains, and the speckled bottom shape looks so similar to the speckled floor in the carriages. Find it on Etsy

Jewellery ideas to gift/ City London Sterling Silver Ring, Skyline Ring, London Ring, Travel Ring, Wanderlust Jewelry, Travel Jewelry, City Scape Ring, London MapCity of London Skyline Sterling Silver Ring. Find it on Etsy

One pound coin pendant - choose your year 1984-2008 - rose gold platedOne Pound Coin Pendant. Choose the year! Find it on Etsy.

Right so you’ve got quite a few gift ideas for London lovers now… I think you should be sorted. Happy gifting and let me know what your giftee’s reaction is to their London-y gifts.

Read Next:

Pin this to your “gifts to buy” Pinterest board…

unique gifts for london fans

Gifts for People Going to London

Gift Ideas for Anyone Visiting London in 2021 (who doesn’t want to be basic)

By London Planning Tips

Every year, I’ve published a “What to get someone visiting London next year” gift guide, and looking back, I think it’s catered to the “basic” traveler a little too much.

What’s a “basic traveler”? Well… he or she is someone who wants to do the usual. The major sights, the classic attractions, the areas of London that locals actively avoid.

If that’s you, or the person you’re getting a gift for, don’t worry, that’s fine! No hate here. In fact you should check out last year’s gift guide because it should still be pretty helpful for that type of traveler. But over the last couple of years here at Love and London, we’ve shifted away from that. We want to help you see the other side of the city, the one with character, the one that Londoners rave about, the one that makes you say “I could totally see myself living here.”

So this year, because of that mission, and because we want to be supporting small businesses over the big guys as much as possible, this gift guide will be for the non-basics, and if you’re getting a gift for someone who fits this description, then you’ll absolutely grab some good ideas from this article.

Right… let’s talk gifts.

*Some of the links in this article are affiliated, which means if you purchase something after clicking it, I will earn a commission. This is at no extra cost to you and helps to support Love and London during a very difficult time.

Clothing to gift someone visiting London in 2021

There are two things that I think people would definitely appreciate being given as a gift in anticipation of their trip… a beautiful London-inspired jacket, and stylish-but-walking-friendly shoes.

London-approved jacket

For anyone visiting London in the spring or fall, a classic coat makes for a great gift, as receiving a nice new coat can feel quite luxurious, and of course, it helps keep your giftee warm, duh. If the visit is planned for summer, a light trench coat will work too, as evenings can still get quite cool.

This trench coat (shown above) from sustainable and ethical coat company Noize doubles as a vegan leather raincoat too.

Gift Ideas for Someone Visiting London in 2021 (and doesn’t want to be basic)

For men in need of a coat that’s a bit warmer, the Everlane ReWool Overcoat has a very Londoner-approved shape and texture to it… quite sophisticated. In addition to looking great, this coat is made with recycled wool!

Walking shoes for London

I am always searching for shoes that are comfortable for traipsing around London but that still look good and don’t ruin the planet. So over the summer I picked up a pair of Allbirds’s new flats and well, they are SO comfortable…

Best walking shoes for London

On top of that, they are made more sustainably than most shoes. The Women’s Tree Breezers are made with renewable eucalyptus tree fibers and have a Brazilian sugarcane outsole, which is made with the world’s first carbon negative green EVA.

Best presents to get to someone visiting London soon

For men, I’d recommend the Men’s Tree Loungers, a slip-on made with similar materials and again they are machine washable, so when they start to get smelly or dirty, just chuck ‘em in the wash.

Allbirds makes quite a few different types of comfy and sustainably-made shoes that are great for travel, so check out the Allbirds site for some more gift ideas. They also have a really great return policy in case your giftee isn’t a fan.

Want more London-friendly clothing and shoe suggestions? Check out the London Packing Guide, which also makes for a great, affordable gift.

Make their flight or hotel stay more special

A little bit of luxury is SUCH a treat for someone with a big trip planned, so it would be such a lovely surprise to be gifted a flight upgrade or a more luxurious hotel stay than was originally expected.

If the giftee hasn’t booked their flight or hotel yet, this is your chance! Just make sure they don’t book anything before you actually get to give your gift.

If they HAVE booked it already, a flight upgrade might be a bit tricky if you aren’t on the booking yourself, but give the airline a call to see if there’s anything they can do to help you pay the difference for an upgrade from say, economy to premium economy.

The hotel is a bit easier, as you can likely call them directly, ask for the upgrade, and pay the difference via a payment form sent to your email.

Do something fun to “gift” this to your giftee… like print out a picture of the view from their upgraded room and put it in the card you give them on exchanging day.

If you want to book the hotel for them, I have some resources to help you find a great one.

This article gives suggestions for less touristy areas to stay in, and great hotels in those areas at different price points. Or find out which London hotels have their very own rooftop bars.

I have a whole video series sharing my stays at four different hotels in London, from budget up through to one of the most luxurious suites in London. Watch the whole series here on Youtube, and see one of the videos below.

https://youtu.be/ziYaKUqViDE

Finally, if you happen to have the 3-Day London Itinerary, there are tons of great hotel recommendations in the London Hotel guide, which you will have gotten if you opted for the bonus package.

Give them a unique London experience

Of course, one of the BEST things you can get someone traveling to London is an experience they can do while actually here. People ALWAYS get more out of experiences than actual physical items when it comes to receiving gifts.

There are two ways you can give an experience to someone… book it for them, or give them a gift voucher for it.

Book it for them

This option is best if you are traveling with the person you’re getting this gift for, as it requires no effort on their part and because well, you probably know their itinerary pretty well if you’re traveling with them.

Because of COVID times, it might not be possible to book some tours out very far, but it’s worth a look, especially if you’re reading this well into 2021.

Tours and activities

Book a tour or activity for you to do together, and then pop the confirmation page into a card and BOOM, you’ve got yourself an amazing gift.

Now, because your gift recipient isn’t into those boring ole generic London walking tours, let me help you out with some unique tours and experiences you could book that will impress them with your knowledge of off-the-beaten-path London.

Unique London experience, Tours and activities

Black History Walks

A ton of Britain’s history is completely whitewashed, and therefore, most tours don’t cover the actual reality of what happened. Enter Black History Walks, which does walking tours around the city that will open your eyes to various parts of Black Britain.

I once did a walking tour of Notting Hill, which was truly eye opening. I thought I knew Notting Hill inside and out but I learned SO much about the impacts that the Black community have had on the area.

See what tours are available on the Black History Walks website.

Women of London tours

Women of London tours takes guests around different areas of London and introduces them to the smaller and often missed tributes to the women who shaped London. They currently have two tours to choose from, one that covers women’s history around Westminster, and one about working women’s impact on East End history.

Book a tour with Women of London

Uncomfortable Art Tours

Due to the UK’s (frankly horrifying) colonial history, a huge portion of the artifacts displayed around London’s major museums were actually stolen by the Brits from various countries around the world. But… well you rarely read about that when you stroll around the British Museum reading their plaques…

So get clued up on the true history of the pieces with an Uncomfortable Art tour. They currently run at six sites: the National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, British Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum, Tate Britain and the Queen’s House (National Maritime Museum). You can even buy a “Display it Like You Stole It” badge on the tour, which is a call for museums to start being more honest about how their pieces were acquired.

Book an Uncomfortable Art Tour

Book a London Photo Session to get great pictures in London

London Photo Session

It’s so hard to get decent photos of the whole travel group when you’re dealing with cloudy skies, a stranger holding your (very expensive) camera, and people bobbing in and out of your shots.

If you want to have some professional-grade photos from your trip that you can frame and admire for years to come, gift your recipient a professional photo shoot. A photographer meets you and takes incredible photos of you with the London sights, without you having to worry about anything. Good photogs can even make rainy days look beautiful!

We work with a wonderful photographer named Ewa, and if you go through this page, you’ll find out how you can get extra photos by mentioning that we referred you.

There are of course a ton of other experiences and tours you can book as a gift for a London visitor, here are two articles that will give you more options:

12 Unique Experiences You Should Totally Try in London
11 Unique Tours to Take While Visiting London

Gift vouchers for London experiences

Ok so if you can’t book the tour or experience directly for them, that’s totally fine. Many indie tour operators and vendors sell vouchers, so you can pay for the experience for them but they can pick when they do it, or if they offer a few different tours, they can choose which tour they want to do.

Gift vouchers for London experiences

Devour Tours

My favourite food tour operator in London is Devour Tours, I rate them a bit better than the second one on this list because they incorporate a non-for-profit stop into their tours. Their first London tour takes guests around London Bridge to find out about the history behind many spots in the area and the food that is special to London in various ways.

Devour also does tours all over Spain and in Italy, plus they’re doing a ton of virtual experiences right now, so their gift voucher could be used in a ton of different ways.

Get a Devour Tours gift voucher

Eating Europe Food Tours

Eating Europe also does great food tours, they started in Italy and now have tours all over Europe and they now have multiple tours in London, including a cocktail tour around Soho and a food and street art tour around East London.

You can buy a gift voucher, called a “Flexi Pass” from Eating Europe, which has no expiration date and can be used all over Europe, not just London.

Get a Flexi Pass from Eating Europe

small businesses, tours and experiences in London

Other tours and experiences

With so many small businesses in London struggling this year, so many will be offering gift vouchers for future spending, including restaurants, shops, tour companies, experienced-based companies and more. So if your gift recipient has a few “must do’s” on their itinerary, check all of their websites to see if they’re offering gift vouchers, and I think you’ll be in luck.

Some other small vendors in London giving gift vouchers:

  • Women of London tours
  • Carousel – a venue with constantly rotating chefs from around the world putting on supper clubs. Great for discerning food lovers.
  • Hayman’s Distillery – head to London’s Balham to see how Hayman’s gin is made with a distillery tour.

Many of the experiences in this list of unique experiences to take in London link to a Virgin Experience Days page where you can buy vouchers for the experience suggested, so I recommend having a browse of that for more voucher ideas.

Gifts to Get Them Excited About Their Trip

Here are some things you can make or get your future London visitor to help build the anticipation for their trip.

11 Beautiful London Themed Coffee Table Books To Get
London-y books

No, not just any old guidebook for London… a beautiful coffee table book filled with both beautiful images and London info will help build the excitement for what they will see when here. It can then sit on their coffee or bedside table ready for them to browse as they wait for their trip to happen.

We’ve got a great list of the best London-related coffee table books, have a read and you’ll find at least a couple of lovely options for your giftee.

Or if you think they’d prefer something with less pictures and more words, there are tons of fiction and non-fiction books that are based in London and the UK that would be great to gift a bookworm. Give them a goal to finish them all before they head to the airport… book nerds love that kinda stuff.

We have two lists to help you with this:

Get the 3 Day Itinerary, it makes a great gift for london lovers
3-Day London Itinerary

Your giftee would probably LOVE for a Londoner to sit down with them and give them a walkthrough of all of the best things to do in the city. You can give them the next best thing with the 3-Day London Itinerary, a digital itinerary made by a London expert (me) with a flexible plan for three days in the capital. It’s not completely linear, it has tons of options that will suit various different travel styles, tastes and budgets, so it’ll feel like your giftee has their very own custom itinerary.

The 3-Day London Itinerary will relaunch with the 2021 version in February, but from mid-November you can gift someone the itinerary, and it will land in their inbox on launch day. If you’re reading this after February, you can still give the itinerary to someone as a gift, just select the “gift” option at check out.

Are you struggling to know what to pack for your London Trip?
London Packing Guide or London Colouring Book

Need a little extra something to give? The London Packing Guide helps take the guesswork out of packing for such a big trip. It comes with a London weather guide, clothing and shoe suggestions (with links!), printable packing lists for each season, and more. Grab the London Packing Guide for just £9.99, and you can opt to give it as a gift at checkout.

There’s also the London Colouring Book, which has a bunch of London-themed colouring pages which can be coloured in by printing them out or by uploading them to your iPad to colour digitally. The colouring book was illustrated by Jen and Jennifer, a local illustrator who’s also a friend of mine. Check out the London Colouring Book.

Popular to give as gifts in the UK, like gift baskets
Make a London-inspired food hamper

Hampers, or you might know them as gift baskets, are very popular to give as gifts in the UK, and you can pick up some very swanky ones depending on where you order from. I recommend making or buying one for your recipient, and filling it with English treats that they can enjoy before they’re able to make it over to London. Hopefully you’ll also get in on some of that snack action…

If you want to make a hamper yourself, find yourself a beautiful basket and load it up with English treats.

I’d recommend (with some links to where to order from if you’re in the US):

There are of course many other fun things you could add, like Christmas Pudding, English Sparkling Wine, English Cidre, and more.

If you’re like ermmmmm I don’t want to DIY a gift, iGourmet makes a “A Little Bit of Britain Gift Box” that does it all for you for $99. They have a couple of other British-themed options as well.

Or if you want to go PROPER London and super fancy, you can order a hamper from Fortnum & Mason in London. They are world-famous for their incredible hampers, with ones that go upwards of £1000. Their F&M hampers, the baskets themselves, are also collectors items.

Two Fortnum & Mason hampers that ship worldwide (not the only ones!):

Gifts to help preserve the London memories

How about a couple of cute things to help preserve the memories your recipient will make on their London trip?

Gifts to help preserve the London memories
Travel Journal

I love this cute travel journal made by an independent craftsperson on Etsy. It’s made with recycled paper and the cover is made from textile industry waste, so it’s incredibly eco-friendly. They can use the journal to record their experiences and thoughts after each day of their trip, so they can always remember the small details of it.

Get the journal on Etsy

Cute things to help preserve the memories made on your London trip
Keepsake box

Sometimes it’s hard to know what to do with all of the ticket stubs, flyers, and small items you accumulate on a trip that you can’t seem to toss in the trash as they’re associated with your amazing time away. Gift a lovely little box for them to keep those bits and bobs in for the next few years, and to help them remember all of the fun they had.

Get this Keepsake Box from Not On The High Street

Ok… I’ve given you a pretty good list. If you can’t find something for your London-loving giftee well then I might not be able to help you 😉 But again these gifts are great if you’re buying for someone that wants to avoid the overhyped and overdone, and who like GIFTS that are out of the ordinary too.

If you’re after something for someone who wants the touristy London, check out last year’s gift guide.

Happy gifting and let me know how it goes!

Pin this to your “Gifts to Get” Pinterest board…

What to get someone going to London