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17 Important Things to Do Before Moving to London

By Moving to London

So, you’re moving to London from abroad? Big step, but very cool. As an American who moved to London many years ago, I welcome you to this amazing city… soon! I also moved to Italy way back when, so I’ve gone through the process of moving to a foreign country a couple of times, so in this article I’m sharing with you the most important things to do before moving to London.

Complete these tasks before you get here and you’ll have less stressful experience, and maybe even save yourself some money.

Let’s start with things to do a few months out, and then I’ll tell you what you should be doing just a few days before you arrive in London to start your new, exciting life.

BTW, I have a free printable checklist to help you remember all of this, there’s a link for it at the end of the article.

Finally, if you prefer to watch instead of read, here is the video version of this article.

Important things to do before moving to London: a few months out

Calculate your moving costs

Depending on your situation and your expected standard of living when you move to London, your actual move to London might end up requiring quite a bit of cash upfront for various items and services.

So to be extra prepared, you’ll want to know how much these costs will be so you can have cash ready and waiting in your savings account for when you need it.

I have a very thorough video in which I talk about all of the moving costs to think about when moving to London from another country, so watch it (below) for help with your own calculations and planning.

Create your “moving costs” savings pot

With the your goal savings number you’ve just calculated in mind, create a savings pot of cash stashed in one of your bank accounts that you will contribute to until you reach your goal amount. Once you’ve reached your savings goal, don’t touch that pot until it’s time to go to London or a moving-related expense comes up.

Calculate potential salary and monthly living costs

Making an excel spreadsheet (my fave) of your estimated incomings and outgoings of your life in London will help you visualise your London life and what you can expect based on your potential cash flow.

In your budget spreadsheet you will be able to quickly and easily calculate things like how much discretionary money you’ll have left over for travel and other fun stuff, if you should rent on your own vs renting a room in a house share, and more.

Your starting point for this is salary. If you don’t have a job yet and don’t know what kind of salary you can expect, try Glassdoor to find a range for your industry and level, and also search on sites like Indeed and LinkedIn Jobs to see what salaries are being listed for roles that you would be interested in.

Once you’ve got an idea of salary, calculate how much you can realistically spend on rent (the biggest expense, always!) bills, groceries, etc. This number will likely fluctuate once you do the next step, and that’s ok. That’s why we use a spreadsheet, for easy changes and calculations!

Research possible areas to live

With a roundabout idea of how much money you can spend on rent, start to do your research on which areas appeal to you to live in. Do you want to live in Central London, with the hustle and bustle and where you’ll get much less for your money? Or would you prefer further out of the centre, perhaps in a quiet greener area like Wimbledon where you’ll get a bit more for your cash? Do you want to be living near banker-heavy areas like City, or where artists and creatives tend to hang out, like Camden or Hackney Wick?

If you have literally no idea anything about any of London’s areas, I have two tools to help.

17 Important Things to Do Before Moving to London - check the best area to live using Wizard tool

Start with the Where to Live Wizard from SpareRoom. You use this tool to check off which “characteristics” you want in an area and what your budget is, and then it spits out some recommendations for you with some info on the average room rental costs.

Even if you’re looking for your own place, this is a good too to start you off with your research and to get an idea of relative costs and the vibes of certain areas.

17 Important Things to Do Before Moving to London - use the mayor of London tool to see which area suits you

Then check out the Mayor of London’s “London Rents Map” which shows the median private sector rental costs for different sized homes across London, from spare rooms to 4+  bedrooms. It’s updated quarterly, so while it doesn’t reflect short term trends it’s fairly up to date. Again, this will give you a better-yet-general idea of which areas you can afford and what you can expect to spend depending on how central you want to be.

Beyond costs, you’ll also want to research the vibes of each area, what the school situation is if you have children, and of course if you’ll be commuting you’ll want to consider which areas are best connected to where you’ll need to get to vs what you can afford. Use Citymapper to easily find out how much it would cost to commute from a specific area of London you’re considering to live in.

Brush up on your English skills

If English isn’t your first language, that’s ok! But if your English skills aren’t the strongest yet, it can add extra stress to already stressful situations like trying to find housing. I remember when I moved to Italy and my Italian wasn’t very strong yet, and it was NOT fun going flat hunting!

Take the time before you move to London to work on your English as much as possible. I’ve got some friends with English learning Youtube channels that will help, so check out Tom from Eat Sleep Dream English, Aly aka Papa Teach Me, and Lucy from English with Lucy for tons of lessons and practice.

Tom also featured on my channel in a video telling you about some words and phrases to know before coming to London, this is a fab resource even for native English speakers.

Pair down your belongings

The earlier you can start to do this, the less stress you’ll have right before you move to London. My opinion, and many who have moved here from another country would agree, is that you should bring as little as possible with you when you move here. I recommending bringing your clothing and daily-ish living essentials, and then sell or give away everything else.

If your company isn’t going to be paying for your moving costs, shipping your stuff beyond the basics will get VERY expensive VERY quickly. Plus, things like furniture might not fit in the flat you fall in love with (remember they’re very small here) or it might already be furnished. And don’t forget that the plug sockets here are likely different to what your electronics from home take, so anything that isn’t dual voltage won’t work here.

If this process worries you a bit, just know that it actually feels so good to pare down and simplify your life, I promise. Anything you want to hold on to for a return back to your home country you can organise storage for, but again, that monthly cost adds up, so be really brutal about what you keep and what you don’t. You might think you’ll miss it, but you probably won’t… you’ll be too busy having an incredible time in London.

Ship your stuff

If you’ve still got stuff you need to ship over to the UK (as in it can’t fit in as excess baggage when you fly over) then you might need to start shipping it early, as it can take many weeks for it to arrive This does get tricky as you probably don’t have an address yet, so then in that case you might have to ask someone to help with the shipping efforts once you’re settled in the UK.

If you do have someone to help with that, you can apply for Transfer of Residence Relief which gives you some relief on customs charges when sending stuff to your new home. Otherwise, remember that anything you ship from your country will be charged customs and duties fees, which add up VERY quickly and probably aren’t worth whatever you’re shipping.

Ask your bank if you can open a UK account

It’s low chances, but I’ve heard of some worldwide banks like HSBC making it simple to open a UK bank account with them if you’ve already got one in your home country, so do call and enquire about that well in advance.

Otherwise, you can wait until you get to the UK and then open a bank account once you have a UK address, or many foreigners are now opening accounts with digital banks like Starling (what I have for both my personal and business accounts), Monzo and Revolut fairly easily without having a proper address yet.

17 Important Things To Do Before Moving To London - open a bank account with a UK bank

Important things to do before moving to London: Less than a month out

Now let’s talk about the important things to do before moving to London in less than a month.

Sort out temporary housing for arrival

Say with with me now… I will not commit to a flat, or send anyone money, before I go see it myself. That’s getting ripped off 101, ok? So that means you’ll need to have temporary housing while you do your flat or room search.

If you’re on a budget, consider if you know anyone you can bunk up with for a couple weeks while you’re searching. You could also book a bed at a hostel, sublease a room for a few weeks via SpareRoom, or book into an apart hotel (here’s a list of great ones.)

Some people end up booking airbnbs, however I don’t recommend this because it’s further hurting the housing crisis we have here, which you will feel the pinch of as a soon-to-be Londoner! Here’s my article explaining why we should be avoiding Airbnb in London.

The hunt will likely take you around a month from arrival day until move in day, so look to sort out your accommodation for the first couple of weeks and then extend if you need.

Get a UK SIM for your phone

If you’re working with estate agents for your flat hunt, they usually want to speak on the phone with you before booking in a viewing for you, so you’ll want to have your mobile in working condition ASAP when you arrive in London. You can do this by ordering a SIM to your home country and then you’ll have it as soon as you get off the plane. Try this GiffGaff page as they can get a Pay-As-You-Go SIM sent to you anywhere in the world.

Get your finances sorted

Making sure you have your finances in order for your arrival will make the flat hunting process go more smoothly. Mainly, make sure you have enough cash easily accessible to quickly pay a holding deposit and then a full deposit when you find a property you love. Things move very quickly here so speed is of the essence.

Since you might not have a UK bank account yet, sign up for a service like Wise , which allow you to send money from your home country bank account to an account in the UK very easily. Do this before you go flat hunting as it can take a day or two for set up due to verification times.

Also, when you find a place and put in an application to rent it, you will need documents proving your income. That could be payslips from your current job, bank account statements showing savings, etc. Have those ready to access for when you’re asked for them.

Get your CV in order

If you haven’t got a job yet and you plan to start the job hunt ASAP, take some time to polish up your CV (aka resume) in the UK style. It’s different from other countries so make sure you follow some best practices to make your CV as attractive as possible.

English Jade has a really thorough explanation of the structure of a British CV and what you should and shouldn’t include, so have a watch for some help.

Book flat viewings for your arrival

Two to three days before your arrival, you can start contacting agencies and owners of flats you are seeing listed online and would like to go tour in person.

To start your search, if you’re looking for entire flats, look on websites like Rightmove and Zoopla. You’ll likely be contacted by phone or email by an estate agent and when you are, you can give them all of your info of what you’re looking for so they can let you know about anything they’ve got on their books that’s not even on the market yet.

For rooms in house shares, use SpareRoom and stick with the rooms listed by current or former tenants, not agencies. You can start to contact listing posters a couple of days out from arrival as well.

Another option is to join Facebook groups for the areas you’re looking to rent a flat or a room, and keep checking posting to see if anything fits what you’re looking for. For example, there’s a FB group called Hackney Spaces where people share listings for their empty rooms in Hackney that are ready to rent or sublease. Occasionally there are also postings of people who have entire flats on offer, who are trying to find someone to take over their lease.

Things move quickly in London so only book viewings a couple of days in advance, as if it’s more than a few days away then it’s likely it’ll be taken by the time you go see it. That being said, COVID times have slowed this process down a bit, thankfully!

Understand the transport system

You’ll understand how the London transport system works in no time, but if you want one less thing to worry about, watch some videos to see how it all works. I’ve got a few videos on the Love and London YouTube channel, but for a super comprehensive learning, grab my (very affordable) London Transportation, Explained course on Brighttrip. Use my code 5ZHOU and you’ll get 10% off all Brighttrip courses.

17 Important Things to Do Before Moving to London - check Jess's course with BrightTripLondon’s Transportation, Explained

Plan journey from the airport/train station to your temporary accommodation

If you’ve got a long journey to London, the last thing you’ll want to do when you’re tired and lugging heavy bags around is to be figuring out how to get to your temporary accommodation. So a day or two before you depart, figure out if you’ll use public transport or get a taxi or car service. One less decision to make!

If you want to use public transport, check Citymapper to see what your options are and their costs.

If you prefer a car, there are two options I frequently use:

  • GET – an app that mostly uses classic black taxis. Get the app via my link for discounts on your first rides.
  • FreeNow – Similar to Uber, and I like that you can choose fully electric vehicles. Download the app (Apple/Android) and use code mu887she0 for a £4 credit.

Start job hunting

A week or so before you move, you can begin your job search and start making some applications and enquiries. Just be sure to put on your CV that you live in London, otherwise your application will be tossed out.

You could also start reaching out to recruiters that specialise in your industry to submit your CV and have a call before you arrive. BTW… you never need to pay for a recruiter, if one asks for money, then avoid at all costs. To find a recruiter in your field, simply search “INDUSTRY recruiter London” and start contacting.

Get on the plane/train!

The final thing… after months of preparation, leading up to this. And don’t worry… if you’re nervous, its SO normal. I cried the entire plane ride when I moved to Italy and I wasn’t even sure how long I’d be there for!

To help you remember all of the most important things to do before moving to London, get my free Moving to London checklist that covers everything in this article, plus things to do once you move to London to get your life set up. Click the box below to get it.

Moving to London checklist blog link

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unique souvenirs to get in London - looseleaf tea from a small business

8 Unique Souvenirs to Get in London

By Things to Do in London

Listen… I know your type. You’re the type of tourist who isn’t interested in bringing a “Mind the Gap” t-shirt home from your London visit. You want something more inspiring and unique to bring back and always remind you of the lovely time you had in this amazing city. So in this article I’m giving you some ideas for unique souvenirs to get in London, and where you can get them. Skip the plastic mini- Big Ben (Made in China of course) and choose something truly cool.

unique souvenirs to get in London - looseleaf tea from a small businessImage Courtesy of Algerian Coffee Stores

Looseleaf tea

Of course, people around the world associate England with being a tea-drinking nation, and well, it’s one of those stereotypes that are absolutely true. While tea leaves generally come from other parts of the world, like India and Sri Lanka, the English appreciate it in a way that much of the rest of the world doesn’t.

My personal favourite place to get tea that is affordable, good, and supports a small business is Algerian Coffee Stores in Soho. They have a huge selection of both looseleaf tea and coffee beans, of which you tell them how much you want, and they pop it in a bag for you and you pay by the weight. It’s a cool little shop that is also home to London’s cheapest coffee, at £1, so it’s worth a visit even if just for that.

Algerian Coffee Stores makes an appearance in my guide to Soho…

unique souvenirs to get in London - vintage clothing and accessoriesImage Courtesy of Atika

Secondhand or vintage piece of clothing or an accessory

While we have some fantastic and unique fashion boutiques in London, there’s just something so special about finding a vintage or secondhand gem when in a new city. I personally love getting vintage finds when I travel because the hunt for them makes me appreciate them more, and every time I wear the piece back at home, it reminds me of an amazing trip. Plus, it’s better for the environment and my bank account.

London is a GREAT place for vintage shopping as well as for browsing secondhand shops that stock more modern options. There’s just too much to talk about in this article so go read my Where to Go Secondhand Shopping in London guide to plan your vintage hunt.

unique souvenirs to get in London - photography session with the family

Photo session with a professional photographer

Is it me or is it SO hard to get good photos of your ENTIRE group when you travel? There’s always someone missing (taking the photo) or the stranger you ask to take a photo for you takes the most AWFUL pictures.

If you are keen to have some nice photos to commemorate your trip to London, hire a professional photographer who will deal with the wind, crowds, cloudy skies, etc and will tell you how and where to pose for some of the most beautiful shots of you and London. After the photographer takes a few days to edit your shots, you can then share on social media and frame up in your home to always remember your trip by. It’s surely one of the most unique souvenirs to “get” in London.

We work with a fantastic photographer,  so have a look here to find out more about doing a London photo session.

Unique souvenirs to get in London - London-distilled gin from a place like The Distillery on Portobello Road, Notting HillImage Courtesy of The Ginstitute

Spirits from a London-based distillery

Get a bottle of a London-born spirit for yourself or friends back home to bring the local London cocktail experience home with you. In London we have SO many indie distilleries that you can visit, tour, taste and of course stock up from.

A few distilleries you can pick up some unique London souvenirs from:

  • The Distillery, Notting Hill – the home of Portobello Gin. Stop by their teeny gift shop in the back of their space for a bottle or two. The Distillery is also home to The Ginstitute, where you can take various masterclasses relating to gin.
  • Cabbie’s Rum, Mile End – Cabbie’s is the first rum distillery in London and is a Black-owned indie business. The name comes from the founder Moses Odong’s current profession. You can book a “Rum Taxi Experience“, which gets you a drink on arrival, a tour of the distillery, an explanation of how it’s all made, and even a voucher for the gift shop.
  • Victory London, Walthamstow – run by a husband and wife team, Victory London produces its spirits with cutting-edge technology that conserves energy, reduces water waste and guarantees consistently delicious products. The distillery is sat next to the Exale Brewery and the Exale Tap Room, so you’re pretty much sorted for having a few cocktails in the area before you pick up a bottle of gin at their shop.

unique souvenirs to get in London - try a book from an independent London bookshop.Image Courtesy of Gay’s The Word

Books from one of London’s indie bookshops

If you’re an avid reader, I imagine you love collecting books on your travels, and a book can make for a unique souvenir to get in London. Luckily we have so many incredible independent book shops to love and support all around the city where you’ll be able to browse for your next title, whether it’s a beautiful coffee table book or a gripping fiction that comes secondhand.

Some lovely little independent bookshops around London that are personal favourites:

  • Oxfam bookshops – these are run by the charity, selling secondhand books to raise money. Two locations I’ve found amazing selections in are Balham and Portobello Road, but there are quite a few around the city.
  • Gay’s the Word, Russell Square – first opened in 1979, Gay’s The Word was the first bookshop in the UK devoted to LGBTQ+ literature, and is likely one of the last of its kind in the world— a unique-to-London experience. The shop is a hub for community events, all run by just three members of staff: Jim, Uli, and Erica. They are also quite accommodating for various disabilities, as per their “visit us” page. (WA)
  • Broadway Books, London Fields – Broadway Books has a nice selection of fiction and non-fiction books. After stopping here, head down Broadway Market and also have a look at Artwords Bookshop for books and magazines on contemporary visual culture, and Donlon Books, “known for stocking an idiosyncratic range of new and rare titles, periodicals and printed matter, with a focus on photography, art, critical theory, LGBT literature, music, fashion, counterculture, erotica, and esoterica.”
  • Roundtable Books, Brixton – if you’re looking for children’s books, Roundtable Books does an amazing job of stocking titles with children of colour as the main character, of which only 1% of kids’ books have, apparently.

unique souvenirs to get in London - an antique or vintage piece from one of London's spots for antiques shopping.Image Courtesy of Annie’s London

Antiques from London’s best antiquing spots

Portobello Road Market is the most famous place in London for antiquing but it definitely doesn’t mean it’s the best. While there are some great vendors there are also some not-so-great ones, and visiting on a weekend past morning time could mean elbowing your way through massive crowds.

Alternatively, I’d recommend heading north on Portobello Road for about fifteen minutes until you reach Golborne Road, a less crowded and higher caliber antiquing experience. Weekends are best for a visit as that’s when the majority of the street vendors are set up, selling antiques both small and large, like furniture. Then pass through the brick-and-mortar antique shops for absolutely incredible finds. They aren’t cheap, but nothing good in London ever is.

I also recommend a visit to Camden Passage, where on weekends you’ll find tables set up with lots of antiques for sale. There are also some incredible shops to pop into selling all types of antiques, like Annie’s London, with its petticoats and other truly vintage pieces on display, and Oliver Griffith Antiques, selling eclectic furniture and decor.

unique souvenirs to get in London - a piece of jewellery from a London designer or seller, like at Flea London.Image Courtesy of Flea

A piece of jewellery from a London-based maker

Pick up a beautiful piece of jewellery to remember your trip by, or to gift to someone back home. Obviously, something from an independent designer in London is extra special and unique. Markets like Flea at Vinegar Yard (WA), Broadway Market (WA) and Canopy Market in Kings Cross always have stalls run by designers selling their own jewellery (nice pieces, not kitschy stuff like you find at Camden Market).

Alternatively, Wolf & Badger in Kings Cross is a great shop to look for some pieces, as they stock a range of designs at different price points, and each line is made with ethics and sustainability in mind. Each brand is different though so be sure to check the label to see what that particular brand does to help the planet and pay its workers a fair wage.

unique souvenirs to get in London - a piece of art from Nelly Duff art gallery on Columbia Road.Image Courtesy of Nelly Duff

Artwork from London artists

I know space can be limited in a suitcase, but bringing home a piece of artwork or a print made by a local London artist would give you a very unique souvenir to get in London. Try one of these spots:

  • Nelly Duff Gallery, Columbia Road – Nelly Duff (partially WA) (the name is cockney rhyming slang for “puff”, or breath, aka, life) is a small gallery on the lovely Columbia Road in east London. Pop in to find colourful and fun artwork from artists all around the world. The gallery is really relaxed and easy going, unlike other art galleries.
  • Well Hung, Hoxton – Well Hung (great name) is an art gallery that hosts exhibitions featuring prints and originals from some of London and the UK’s leading urban and street artists. All for sale, of course.
  • Eye for London Prints, Brixton – A creative studio that designs super affordable art prints inspired by the urban culture of the city around it, with a special love for art deco and architecture appreciation show in its collections. Pick up a unique print or piece here that you won’t find anywhere else.

There you have it, a list of unique souvenirs to get in London, to take home for yourself or your friends and family back home.

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Unique Souvenirs to Get in London

Fun things to do in london in summertime

8 Fun Things to Do in London in the Summer

By Things to Do in London

The sun is shining, it’s warm enough for dresses and shorts, and the vibes are UNREAL. That’s summer in the city for ya, so if you’re looking for some fun and unique things to do in London in the summer, this list will give you plenty to do.

I’ve included ideas for what to do for both when the temps are comfortable and when it’s *really* hot and you actually just want to cool off. The latter is rare, but we usually get a week or two of this every summer here in London.

We've got quite a few public pools here in London (with small entrance fees), and two private ones at swanky hotels (for guests and members only). So if you find yourself needing a refreshing dip, find the pool nearest to you and head there early if it's a hot day, to beat the queues!

Image Courtesy of London Fields Lido

Go for a swim in one of London’s outdoor pools

We’ve got quite a few public pools here in London (with small entrance fees), and two private ones at swanky hotels (for guests and members only). So if you find yourself needing a refreshing dip, find the pool nearest to you and head there early if it’s a hot day, to beat the queues!

Some of the city’s most popular public pools are:

Here’s a list of all of the outdoor public pools in London.

If you're visiting London, you can choose to stay at one of two hotels with a pool.Image Courtesy of Soho House

If you’re visiting London, you can choose to stay at one of two hotels with a pool. Have a look at booking into:

If you’re a Soho House member, the White City, Shoreditch and 180 Strand houses all have rooftop pools.

Additionally, Hampstead Heath has a few swimming ponds, great for summertime and they cost just a couple of pounds to get access to.

Have a pint in a pub garden

If it’s a sunny evening after work or a weekend, London’s many pub gardens will be PACKED with Londoners having drinks with their friends and families. It’s truly one of the best things to do in London in the summer, and most Londoners would agree.

Pub gardens vary in size and “vibe”. Some might just have a few seats in an internal garden, while others can hold hundreds of people. Some pub gardens are family-friendly, while others tend to be more popular with the city’s 20-and-30-somethings in larger groups.

There are SO many great pub gardens around the city, so here are some favourites that are worth a visit if you’re in the area. Don’t travel far to get to these though, because unless you’re in central London, where pub gardens are few and far between, then you’ll never be too far from a pub garden. Londoners call their favourite pub near to their home “my local”, so you might be able to do the same if you find a good pub garden near to where you’re staying.

If it's a sunny evening after work or a weekend, London's many pub gardens will be PACKED with Londoners having drinks with their friends and families. It's truly one of the best things to do in London in the summer, and most Londoners would agree. Pub gardens vary in size and "vibe". Some might just have a few seats in an internal garden, while others can hold hundreds of people. Some pub gardens are family-friendly, while others tend to be more popular with the city's 20-and-30-somethings in larger groups.Image Courtesy of The Duke of Edinburgh

Some fun adults-only pubs with gardens:

  • The Duke of Edinburgh, Brixton – *huge* garden, good for large groups.
  • The Abbey Tavern in Camden – plenty of space in the back patio space for drinks with friends.
  • The Avalon, Clapham South – has a hidden garden at the back of the pub.

There are SO many great pub gardens around the city, so here are some favourites that are worth a visit if you're in the area. Don't travel far to get to these though, because unless you're in central London, where pub gardens are few and far between, then you'll never be too far from a pub garden. Londoners call their favourite pub near to their home "my local", so you might be able to do the same if you find a good pub garden near to where you're staying.Image Courtesy of People’s Park Tavern

Some family-friendly pubs with gardens:

  • People’s Park Tavern, Victoria Park – has mini-golf for both kids and adults.
  • The Crabtree, Hammersmith – on the River Thames and filled with local families during the day.
  • The Scolt Head, Dalston – front patio area framed by greenery, serves a mean Sunday Roast.

Visit one of London’s swanky rooftop bars

Actually, they’re not all swanky, so don’t worry if that’s not your vibe!

Head up to one of London’s many rooftop bars and soak up the sunshine with views of the city.

Actually, they're not all swanky, so don't worry if that's not your vibe! Head up to one of London's many rooftop bars and soak up the sunshine with views of the city.Image Courtesy of The Culpeper

Some suggestions to start you off:

  • Netil 360, London Fields – popular local spot for skyline views and chill vibes.
  • Bar Elba, Waterloo – little rooftop spot with Instagram-worthy cocktails.
  • The Culpeper, Spitalfields – teeny rooftop spot lined with growing herbs and greens that the pub’s kitchen utilises

Check out this article for all of the hotels in London with rooftop bars, and watch the video below for more recommendations for rooftop bars in London.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=80f3JVN05YQ

 

Fun things to do in London in the summer - cool off in the city's fountainsImage Courtesy of Granary Square Fountains

Cool off in a fountain

Even if you’re not that keen to go full-on swimming, there are a few fountains around the city that are specifically for playing in (read: fairly clean). This is a great option for kids as these fountains are usually full of little ones having the *time of their lives* but there’s nothing saying you can’t have a play around in the fountains too as a grown-ass adult.

Here’s a list of other fountains you might want to pretend to be three years old in.

Explore London’s canals

Sometimes the River Thames overshadows London’s beautiful canals that traverse the city. But in the summer, they’re hubs for canal-side dining, boathouse parties, exercising, and the loveliest transportation journey in all of London. You too can appreciate the canals in a few ways.

Sometimes the River Thames overshadows London's beautiful canals that traverse the city. But in the summer, they're hubs for canal-side dining, boathouse parties, exercising, and the loveliest transportation journey in all of London. You too can appreciate the canals in a few ways.Image Courtesy of GoBoat

Drive a canal boat

My preferred way to do this is through GoBoat, they lend you a motorboat to steer yourself and your party down the Regent’s Canal. Don’t worry, it’s super easy to do, and the non-drivers are welcome to host picnics with booze during the ride. There are also various kayak rental companies like Moo Canoes that lend out kayaks, SUPs, and canoes.

Go to The Canal Museum

No better way to learn about the history of the city’s canals and appreciate them in all their glory. The Canal Museum is located in Kings Cross.

Walk or cycle, and make a day of it

Regent’s Canal is the most famous of the London canals and if you wanted a very summery thing to do, you could start your day near The Waterway pub in Paddington and work your way east along the canal, passing parks, cafes, pubs, and markets where you can stop off and explore. Take your time and make a day of it!

Pop inside a museum for a couple of hours of learning and cooler temps. You already know the obvious choices like the British Museum, but I've got you covered for more obscure and interesting museum options.Image Courtesy of The Canal Museum

Visit a museum

Pop inside a museum for a couple of hours of learning and cooler temps. You already know the obvious choices like the British Museum, but I’ve got you covered for more obscure and interesting museum options.

Read: 15 Unique Museums to Visit in London

Go to the theatre or cinema

Is it too hot to function? You might have noticed that we aren’t super keen on air con here in London, and that’s because we only need it a week or two a year usually. But if you happen to find yourself with a hot-as-balls day, you would not be judged if you spent some of it in a dark, cold theatre.

Book last-minute theatre tickets on a site or app like TodayTix.

See a film at local cinemas like Rich Mix in Shoreditch or Peckhamplex in Peckham.

Have a picnic in a park

You know what’s fun about parks in London? For the most part, you can drink without getting arrested 🙂 When the weather’s agreeable, Londoners LOVE to take some wine, beers and nibbles to their local park and have a picnic with friends.

Where to picnic (a few favourites):

  • London Fields – you can grab drinks and food from local shops and food stalls on Broadway Market and from Netil Market when it’s open.
  • Primrose Hill – there are plenty of various food shops and cafes in the immediate area, then head up the hill for beautiful views of London. Go early on the weekend as it gets busy with people doing the same.
  • Victoria Park – if going on a Sunday, get some hot foods and nibbles from the Victoria Park Market and then park up on the grass nearby to enjoy it.

Get a preview of Victoria Park in my video guide.

Whether you’re visiting London or are a local, this list should give you PLENTY of ideas of things to do in London in the summer. Now grab a drink and your sunglasses and go enjoy this amazing city.

Read Next:

Fun things to do in London in the summer, for both tourists and Londoner locals

Where to go thrift shopping in london

Where to Go Thrift Shopping in London (Best Secondhand Shops)

By Things to Do in London

Want to do some shopping for clothing and accessories in London that is environmentally conscious and maybe sorta affordable? That’s my type of shopping. I love browsing secondhand shops in London to see what gems I can discover and take home with me. Below I’ve listed my top recommendations for where to go secondhand shopping around London.

Vintage Shops in London

London is GREAT for vintage lovers, and we have WAY too many shops to name them all. So I’ve curated a list of some top ones to check out when you’re in the mood to pick up something new (to you, not the planet!)

FYI – vintage in London is generally NOT cheap. We can totally overlook that though, as it’s more green than buying new, and because the higher prices usually is related to the fact that the shop has taken a lot of time to curate a selection of really great pieces in top-notch condition, making shopping there more enjoyable and faster.

Beyond Retro started with a shop in Shoreditch and now has locations in Dalston and Soho as well. The stores are huge, so there's a good selection of pieces in various styles and sizes. Everything is very organised and easy to see, which is helpful after you've been at the vintage shopping for a few hours already (we've all been there.) Beyond Retro also produces its own clothing made from upcycled materials, of which I have a few of their pieces. They even have a huge selection of leather jackets made from upcycled leather.

Beyond Retro

Beyond Retro started with a shop in Shoreditch and now has locations in Dalston and Soho as well. The stores are huge, so there’s a good selection of pieces in various styles and sizes. Everything is very organised and easy to see, which is helpful after you’ve been at the vintage shopping for a few hours already (we’ve all been there.)

Beyond Retro also produces its own clothing made from upcycled materials, of which I have a few of their pieces. They even have a huge selection of leather jackets made from upcycled leather.

WA.

Shoreditch | Dalston | Soho |  Brixton | Website

Atika claims to be Europe's largest vintage shop, but because of the design and organisation of the two floors of this shop, it doesn't feel like you're being swallowed up by walls stuffed with pre-loved clothing that will take you days to go through. If you're after some vintage jeans, this is the place to go, as they've got a big selection.

Atika

Atika claims to be Europe’s largest vintage shop, but because of the design and organisation of the two floors of this shop, it doesn’t feel like you’re being swallowed up by walls stuffed with pre-loved clothing that will take you days to go through. If you’re after some vintage jeans, this is the place to go, as they’ve got a big selection.

Spitalfields | Website

Rokit is very similar to Beyond Retro, and I've scored great pieces in both shops. They've been around for 30 years so they definitely know where to get top-notch vintage stuff that Londoners love. Like Beyond Retro, they have a Rokit Originals range where they upcycle old pieces and fabrics into something new.

Rokit

Rokit is very similar to Beyond Retro, and I’ve scored great pieces in both shops. They’ve been around for 30 years so they definitely know where to get top-notch vintage stuff that Londoners love. Like Beyond Retro, they have a Rokit Originals range where they upcycle old pieces and fabrics into something new.

Brick Lane | Camden | Covent Garden | Website

The last time I was in Rellik, filming for Qantas, there was a celebrity stylist looking for something to dress Tanya Burr in for a magazine cover shoot... it's a popular spot for celeb stylists. This is THE place for designer vintage, so expect big, beautiful and unique clothing and accessories, and big prices too. The staff are lovely here and are happy to help with anything you need.

Rellik

The last time I was in Rellik, filming for Qantas, there was a celebrity stylist looking for something to dress Tanya Burr in for a magazine cover shoot… it’s a popular spot for celeb stylists. This is THE place for designer vintage, so expect big, beautiful and unique clothing and accessories, and big prices too. The staff are lovely here and are happy to help with anything you need.

Ladbroke Grove | Website

The name Mero Retro come from the word Mero ['mare-o'] which means 'my' in Nepalese - the shared language of the shop's founders, Sanju Tamang and Ro Rai, who hail from Bhutan and Nepal respectively. So... "My Retro." The Dalston shop is loved by east Londoners because not only does it have a huge selection of vintage, pre-loved items but they also have their own line of Asian-inspired pieces, all of which are fairtrade.

Mero Retro

The name Mero Retro come from the word Mero [‘mare-o’] which means ‘my’ in Nepalese – the shared language of the shop’s founders, Sanju Tamang and Ro Rai, who hail from Bhutan and Nepal respectively. So… “My Retro.” The Dalston shop is loved by east Londoners because not only does it have a huge selection of vintage, pre-loved items but they also have their own line of Asian-inspired pieces, all of which are fairtrade.

Dalston | Website

Brick Lane

If you head to Brick Lane in Shoreditch on a weekend, you’ll see a bunch of signs pointing you in different directions for vintage popups and markets. Pair those with all of the vintage shops in the area and you’ve easily got a full weekend of vintage browsing.

Want to see some of these shops before you head there? This video shows you some the shops mentioned above located in Shoreditch.

Charity Secondhand Shops in London

I personally love exploring London’s charity shops because they tend to be more affordable than vintage shops and honestly, I tend to find my style more in these types of shops, as I tend to lean towards more classic looks. London’s charity shops are filled with items that have been donated to be sold by the charity, so you can find clothing from popular high-street brands like TopShop and H&M, as well as some higher-end pieces in select stores.

Charity shops are really the best places to get secondhand clothing in London if you don’t feel the need to go the vintage route. There are charity shops in so many neighbourhoods, in fact if there’s a high street, there’s guaranteed to be a charity shop, and in some areas you can hop around to a few near to each other.

The pricing and the “quality” of the items in the shop tend to increase when in a more affluent area. The list below is of areas that fall into that category, but if you prefer lower prices but maybe not as good quality, head to an area that’s less popular and browse those shops instead.

Here are my favourite streets and areas that are great for charity shop-hopping.

I personally love exploring London's charity shops because they tend to be more affordable than vintage shops and honestly, I tend to find my style more in these types of shops, as I tend to lean towards more classic looks. London's charity shops are filled with items that have been donated to be sold by the charity, so you can find clothing from popular high-street brands like TopShop and H&M, as well as some higher-end pieces in select stores.

Westbourne Grove and Portobello Road, Notting Hill

Notting Hill is one of the most affluent areas in London, so most of the charity shops here have a curated selection of high-end items, some of which are behind glass because of their status! I have scooped up some incredible gems around here, mostly from the Oxfam on Westbourne Grove and the Fara on Elgin Crescent. There are a few other charity shops to browse in the immediate area, as well as plenty of run-of-the-mill vintage shops, so you could easily spend the day shopping here. I recommend going during the week for much less crowds.

Turnham Green Terrace and Chiswick High Road, Chiswick

The secondhand charity shops in Chiswick feel almost endless in number. Start your day of shopping at Turnham Green station, head left towards Chiswick High Road and you’ll hit three charity shops right on top of each other, including Boutique by Shelter (high-end curated selection only), Fara, and Barnardo’s.

When you make it to Chiswick High Road, turn right and you’ll find a few more options, like Cancer Research. These shops are more affordable and have a less curated selection than the shops on Turnham Green Terrace, and include some homewares.

When you’re done with your shopping, head to The Lamb, a great pub to enjoy a pint on their lovely (heated) terrace.

Northcote Road

Northcote Road, sometimes called “The Northcote”, starts at Clapham Junction station, and you can just make your way down the road hitting up shop after shop.

Head to Traid for the best prices and the biggest selection to comb through. Then go to the two Royal Trinity Hospices (there are two within one minute’s walk!) and then make your way to the Fara charity shop near the Bollingbroke pub, which you should definitely stop at for lunch, as their food is delicious and they have a beautiful dining room.

If you want to take a trip secondhand shopping with me in London, watch the below video, which includes many of the shops listed in this article.

There are tons more secondhand shops in London but this list is curated with the ones that I personally think are some of the best in London, and where you’ll have the best chances of finding a secondhand gem to take home with you and cherish for a long time.

Read next:

Pin to your London shopping board…

Best secondhand shops in London | Where to go thrift shopping in London

Unique Museums in London

15 Unique Museums in London to Explore

By Things to Do in London

I honestly think a huge mistake that London tourists make is to only visit the city’s most popular museums, like the British Museum and the Natural History Museum. Don’t get me wrong, they have some interesting items there (albeit, many stolen, but that’s for another article) but you’re missing out on plenty of unique museums in London that are absolutely worth a visit.

This list covers some of the most interesting and unique museums that you should add to your itinerary.

Prefer to watch instead of read? A few of the museums mentioned below are featured in our YouTube video, showing you a good look inside of each.

BTW… when you see (WA) this means that this museum is fully wheelchair accessible.

It’s purely coincidental, but two very famous musicians inhabited two side-by-side properties in Mayfair, also separated by a couple of centuries. Jimi Hendrix and George Frideric Handel’s homes are now museums dedicated to the life and work of both musicians. Hendrix’s flat has been set up to recreate what it actually looked like back in 1968-1969, and you can walk around Handel’s grand home to see what it might have looked like back when he was one of the most famous people in London.

1. Handel and Hendrix in London

It’s purely coincidental, but two very famous musicians inhabited two side-by-side properties in Mayfair, also separated by a couple of centuries. Jimi Hendrix and George Frideric Handel’s homes are now museums dedicated to the life and work of both musicians. Hendrix’s flat has been set up to recreate what it actually looked like back in 1968-1969, and you can walk around Handel’s grand home to see what it might have looked like back when he was one of the most famous people in London.

WA, just get in touch with the museum before arrival so they can best accommodate your needs.

£ | Mayfair | Handel and Hendrix’s website

The Garden Museum is so underrated! Set in the stunning church of St Mary’s at Lambeth, which had been abandoned and was saved by the museum’s founders, it showcases and celebrates British gardens and gardening through permanent and temporary exhibitions. Of course, there’s a beautiful courtyard garden to visit and the museum’s cafe is regarded as one of the best places for breakfast or lunch in the area.

2. The Garden Museum

The Garden Museum is so underrated! Set in the stunning church of St Mary’s at Lambeth, which had been abandoned and was saved by the museum’s founders, it showcases and celebrates British gardens and gardening through permanent and temporary exhibitions. Of course, there’s a beautiful courtyard garden to visit and the museum’s cafe is regarded as one of the best places for breakfast or lunch in the area.

WA, use the Cafe entrance to avoid the gravel.

£ | Lambeth North | Garden Museum’s website

Located in Spitalfields, Dennis Severs’ House is like a time capsule, taking you through the lives of a Hugenot family of silk-weavers from the 1720’s right up to the beginning of the 20th century. Dennis Severs is the American creator of the house, and his wish was for visitors to feel as if they’re experiencing a “still-life drama” as they take their escorted tour, which is conducted in complete silence. This is truly one of the most unique museums in London.

3. Dennis Severs’ House

Located in Spitalfields, Dennis Severs’ House is like a time capsule, taking you through the lives of a Hugenot family of silk-weavers from the 1720’s right up to the beginning of the 20th century. Dennis Severs is the American creator of the house, and his wish was for visitors to feel as if they’re experiencing a “still-life drama” as they take their escorted tour, which is conducted in complete silence. This is truly one of the most unique museums in London.

£ | Spitalfields | Dennis Severs’ House website

I always recommend the Fashion and Textile Museum in Bermondsey to anyone interested in fashion or design. The unique thing about this museum is that it has one exhibition at a time, which remains for just a few months, and then the museum shuts for a couple of weeks in order to create a completely new one. This means that you can visit multiple times and see completely different displays and learn something new.

4. Fashion and Textile Museum

I always recommend the Fashion and Textile Museum in Bermondsey to anyone interested in fashion or design. The unique thing about this museum is that it has one exhibition at a time, which remains for just a few months, and then the museum shuts for a couple of weeks in order to create a completely new one. This means that you can visit multiple times and see completely different displays and learn something new.

WA.

£ | Bermondsey | Fashion and Textile Museum’s website

I like this museum because it gives us a unique way to learn about British history and pop culture. Walk through the corridors of the Museum of Brands and Packaging and you’ll see how poignant elements of history impacted consumerism, fashion, packaging and other parts of British life throughout the centuries. The museum also has a cute little cafe and garden where you can enjoy a post-visit pastry and coffee.

5. Museum of Brands and Packaging

I like this museum because it gives us a unique way to learn about British history and pop culture. Walk through the corridors of the Museum of Brands and Packaging and you’ll see how poignant elements of history impacted consumerism, fashion, packaging and other parts of British life throughout the centuries.

The museum also has a cute little cafe and garden where you can enjoy a post-visit pastry and coffee.

WA.

£ | Ladbroke Grove| Museum of Brands and Packaging’s website

Leighton House Museum was the home of Victorian artist Frederic, Lord Leighton from 1830 to 1896. It’s the only studio-house open to the public and beyond just the incredible beauty of the home, it also houses a large collection of fascinating paintings and sculptures created by both Leighton and his contemporaries such as Burne-Jones, Millais, Stevens, Alma-Tadema and the Cecil French Bequest. The most unusual-yet-breathtaking feature of the house is the Arab Hall, which is lined with over 1,000 mosaic tiles that Leighton collected on his travels around Syria, Turkey, and Persia.

6. Leighton House Museum

Leighton House Museum was the home of Victorian artist Frederic, Lord Leighton from 1830 to 1896. It’s the only studio-house open to the public and beyond just the incredible beauty of the home, it also houses a large collection of fascinating paintings and sculptures created by both Leighton and his contemporaries such as Burne-Jones, Millais, Stevens, Alma-Tadema and the Cecil French Bequest.

The most unusual-yet-breathtaking feature of the house is the Arab Hall, which is lined with over 1,000 mosaic tiles that Leighton collected on his travels around Syria, Turkey, and Persia.

£ | Kensington | Leighton House’s website

Charlie Chaplin fan? The Cinema Museum in Kennington is actually housed in the old Lambeth Workhouse where Charlie lived for part of his childhood. As you can expect, this unique museum in London celebrates the art of cinema by housing a collection of artefacts, memorabilia and equipment that preserves the history and grandeur of cinema from the 1890s to the present day. You can only visit the museum via a guided tour or by attending a screening or event, so be sure to check their website to book yourself in for your visit.

7. Cinema Museum

Charlie Chaplin fan? The Cinema Museum in Kennington is actually housed in the old Lambeth Workhouse where Charlie lived for part of his childhood. As you can expect, this unique museum in London celebrates the art of cinema by housing a collection of artefacts, memorabilia and equipment that preserves the history and grandeur of cinema from the 1890s to the present day.

You can only visit the museum via a guided tour or by attending a screening or event, so be sure to check their website to book yourself in for your visit.

WA.

£ | Kennington | Cinema Museum’s website

To many, a museum on the history of anaesthesia seems a bit odd, but if you’re in the healthcare profession, this might be of interest to you. Through the museum’s over 4500 objects, you’ll see everything from the first demonstration of ether in 1846 to equipment that’s still used today. All of the volunteers at the Anaesthesia Heritage Centre are retired Anaesthetists, and if you’d like to do a guided tour with one, you can choose from themes like wartime, chemistry and paediatrics. Be sure to book this in advance!

8. Anaesthesia Heritage Centre

To many, a museum on the history of anaesthesia seems a bit odd, but if you’re in the healthcare profession, this might be of interest to you. Through the museum’s over 4500 objects, you’ll see everything from the first demonstration of ether in 1846 to equipment that’s still used today.

All of the volunteers at the Anaesthesia Heritage Centre are retired Anaesthetists, and if you’d like to do a guided tour with one, you can choose from themes like wartime, chemistry and paediatrics. Be sure to book this in advance!

WA.

£ | Fitzrovia | Anaesthesia Heritage Centre’s website

The founders of the Vagina Museum set it up because there was a penis museum in Iceland but annoyingly, no equivalent for vaginas. So they created one right in London’s Camden, which is very fitting, and absolutely makes it a must for the unique museums in London list. Visit the Vagina Museum to learn and appreciate the vagina in a way you may never have before. To get the most out of the museum experience, book into one of their “experiences”, which include crochet classes, quizzes, night-time comedy, and more.

9. Vagina Museum

The founders of the Vagina Museum set it up because there was a penis museum in Iceland but annoyingly, no equivalent for vaginas. So they created one right in London’s Camden, which is very fitting, and absolutely makes it a must for the unique museums in London list.

Visit the Vagina Museum to learn and appreciate the vagina in a way you may never have before. To get the most out of the museum experience, book into one of their “experiences”, which include crochet classes, quizzes, night-time comedy, and more.

WA, although the museum is located on the Stables Market which has a cobbled floor, it may be difficult for some people with mobility needs.

£ | Camden | Vagina Museum’s website

Canals are big in London. For many Londoners they’re a daily part of life, some live on a canal, and well, plenty of Londoners and tourists alike just love to visit them. At the London Canal Museum, you can learn more about the history of these London staples, the people and animals who have impacted them, and why you might see a lot of painted flowers and castles along them. The museum itself is housed in a former ice warehouse built around 1862 for Carlo Gatti, the famous ice cream producer. The museum runs monthly evening talks, activities for families, guided towpath walks and guided trips through the Islington Tunnel, so check their website to find something fun to participate in.

10. London Canal Museum

Canals are big in London. For many Londoners they’re a daily part of life, some live on a canal, and well, plenty of Londoners and tourists alike just love to visit them. At the London Canal Museum, you can learn more about the history of these London staples, the people and animals who have impacted them, and why you might see a lot of painted flowers and castles along them.

The museum itself is housed in a former ice warehouse built around 1862 for Carlo Gatti, the famous ice cream producer. The museum runs monthly evening talks, activities for families, guided towpath walks and guided trips through the Islington Tunnel, so check their website to find something fun to participate in.

WA.

£ | Kings Cross | Canal Museum’s website

The quirky Horniman Museum is a favourite of Londoners. The museum is home to the collections of the well-traveled Frederick John Horniman, a Victorian tea trader and philanthropist who picked up some very unique anthropological gems on his jaunts around the world. Also unique for a museum is that visitors are encouraged to pick up artefacts and even try them on!

11. Horniman Museum

The quirky Horniman Museum is a favourite of Londoners. The museum is home to the collections of the well-traveled Frederick John Horniman, a Victorian tea trader and philanthropist who picked up some very unique anthropological gems on his jaunts around the world.

Also unique for a museum is that visitors are encouraged to pick up artefacts and even try them on!

WA.

Free | Forest Hill | Horniman Museum’s website

Another super-niche option, the Sewing Machine Museum in Tooting Bec is the personal collection of Ray Rushton, a sewing machine salesman who opens up a public viewing once a month, on the first Saturday. It’s relatively unknown and isn’t advertised, so this is absolutely one of the most unique museums in London to go to if you can manage to plan a visit. The collection houses over 600 sewing machines from many moons ago up until more recent, including one that was given to Queen Victoria’s eldest daughter as a wedding gift.

12. London Sewing Machine Museum

Another super-niche option, the Sewing Machine Museum in Tooting Bec is the personal collection of Ray Rushton, a sewing machine salesman who opens up a public viewing once a month, on the first Saturday. It’s relatively unknown and isn’t advertised, so this is absolutely one of the most unique museums in London to go to if you can manage to plan a visit.

The collection houses over 600 sewing machines from many moons ago up until more recent, including one that was given to Queen Victoria’s eldest daughter as a wedding gift.

Free | Tooting Bec | London Sewing Machine Museums’s website

Another one for medical nerds! The British Dental Association Museum began back in 1919 when Lilian Lindsay, the first woman to become a qualified dentist in the UK, donated a bunch of her old dental instruments to the association. These days, there are over 30,000 items to check out, including various instruments, equipment, furniture, photographs, and archive items. Interestingly, the museum also has a unique collection of oil paintings dating back all the way to the 12th century.

13. British Dental Association Museum

Another one for medical nerds! The British Dental Association Museum began back in 1919 when Lilian Lindsay, the first woman to become a qualified dentist in the UK, donated a bunch of her old dental instruments to the association. These days, there are over 30,000 items to check out, including various instruments, equipment, furniture, photographs, and archive items.

Interestingly, the museum also has a unique collection of oil paintings dating back all the way to the 12th century.

WA.

Free | Fitzrovia | British Dental Association Museum’s website

For some fun and nostalgia, head to the Cartoon Museum in Fitzrovia. You’ll see ever-changing displays of British cartoons, comic strips and animations, from artists like Gillray, Giles and Steve Bell. The curated collections are put together by the Cartoon Art Trust, a UK registered charity. The museum’s revenues support new work by cartoonists and comic artists, so your ticket price does some good!

14. The Cartoon Museum

For some fun and nostalgia, head to the Cartoon Museum in Fitzrovia. You’ll see ever-changing displays of British cartoons, comic strips and animations, from artists like Gillray, Giles and Steve Bell. The curated collections are put together by the Cartoon Art Trust, a UK registered charity. The museum’s revenues support new work by cartoonists and comic artists, so your ticket price does some good!

WA.

£ | Fitzrovia | The Cartoon Museum’s website

The oldest Toy Museum in the UK, Pollock’s Toy Museum in Fitzrovia was started in 1956 by Marguerite & Kenneth Fawdry and is run by the Fawdry family to this day. It’s home to a unique collection of toys, dolls, puppets, and curios from all over the world, arranged in colourful display cases. One of their most notable pieces is “Eric”, one of the world’s oldest teddy bears! It’s said that David Bowie would visit Pollock’s Toy Museum for some outfit inspiration, and the museum has been featured in some notable written works. The museum almost had to shut due to COVID restrictions but fans of the museum were able to save it due to a successful crowdfunding campaign.

15. Pollock’s Toy Museum

The oldest Toy Museum in the UK, Pollock’s Toy Museum in Fitzrovia was started in 1956 by Marguerite & Kenneth Fawdry and is run by the Fawdry family to this day. It’s home to a unique collection of toys, dolls, puppets, and curios from all over the world, arranged in colourful display cases. One of their most notable pieces is “Eric”, one of the world’s oldest teddy bears!

It’s said that David Bowie would visit Pollock’s Toy Museum for some outfit inspiration, and the museum has been featured in some notable written works. The museum almost had to shut due to COVID restrictions but fans of the museum were able to save it due to a successful crowdfunding campaign.

££ | Fitzrovia | Pollock’s Toy Museum’s website

After being closed for so long due to COVID (most are due open around 17th May 2021) these unique museums in London definitely need your support more than ever, so do consider booking a ticket or planning a visit the next time you’re after something interesting to do in London.

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Unique Museums to Visit in London

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.

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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.

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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?

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8 Stylish London Hotels That Cost Less Than £150 Per Night
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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.