Every year, I’ve published a “What to get someone visiting London next year” gift guide, and looking back, I think it’s catered to the “basic” traveler a little too much.
What’s a “basic traveler”? Well… he or she is someone who wants to do the usual. The major sights, the classic attractions, the areas of London that locals actively avoid.
If that’s you, or the person you’re getting a gift for, don’t worry, that’s fine! No hate here. In fact you should check out our previous gift guide because it should still be pretty helpful for that type of traveler. But over the last few years here at Love and London, we’ve shifted away from that. We want to help you see the other side of the city, the one with character, the one that Londoners rave about, the one that makes you say “I could totally see myself living here.”
So this year, because of that mission, and because we want to be supporting small businesses over the big guys as much as possible, this gift guide will be for the non-basics, and if you’re getting a gift for someone who fits this description, then you’ll absolutely grab some good ideas from this article.
Right… let’s talk gifts.
*Some of the links in this article are affiliated, which means if you purchase something after clicking it, I will earn a commission. This is at no extra cost to you and helps to support Love and London’s free content.
Give them a unique London experience
Of course, one of the BEST things you can get someone traveling to London is an experience they can do while actually here. People ALWAYS get more out of experiences than actual physical items when it comes to receiving gifts.
There are two ways you can give an experience to someone… book it for them, or give them a gift voucher for it.
Book it for them: Tours and activities
This option is best if you are traveling with the person you’re getting this gift for, as it requires no effort on their part and because well, you probably know their itinerary pretty well if you’re traveling with them.
Book a tour or activity for you to do together, and then pop the confirmation page into a card and BOOM, you’ve got yourself an amazing gift.
Now, because your gift recipient isn’t into those boring ole generic London walking tours, let me help you out with some unique tours and experiences you could book that will impress them with your knowledge of off-the-beaten-path London.
Landmarks & Gems by Vintage Bike Tour
Landmarks & Gems by Vintage Bike
If your giftee has never been to London, he or she probably has a lot of London’s landmarks on their bucket list, so why not gift this fun tour on a vintage bike?
This award-winning London bike tour will pop you on their very own vintage-style bike and you’ll be guided by your very own “hipster historian”. Get an exciting introduction to London’s most iconic landmarks, Royal Palaces and discover many local gems along the way, all while travelling along on two wheels in a small group, following back streets and dedicated bike lanes.
Not only will you cycle to the major landmarks like the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace, you’ll also stop at hidden gems along the way and hear the stories behind them. And don’t worry, you’ll take a pit stop where you can have a refreshing pint at a historic pub. Oh, and have you ever tried your hand at street art? You’ll get to do it on this tour.
Women of London tours
Women of London walking tours
Have you ever noticed that there’s a lot of focus on the contributions MEN have made when we go on the usual walking tour? Well, Women of London instead takes guests around different areas of London and introduces them to the smaller and often missed tributes to the women who shaped London. This female-founded small tour business really knows how to do an interesting, engaging walking tour and even locals will learn and discover so much of the city they thought they knew well.
There are three great tours to choose from, all of which are bookable on Love and London Tours and Experiences.
Jack the Ripper – What About the Women? Tour
Jack the Ripper – What About the Women?
Jack the Ripper is one of the most famous serial killers of all time, and to this day who this person is remains an unsolved mystery. Typical Jack the Ripper tours focus on the killer and the gruesome murders he committed. But it’s time to let the women tell their story; their hopes and ambitions, their moments of joy and of tragedy, as well as their day-to-day life in the notorious Victorian slum.
This alternative tour of London’s East End gives you a chance to hear from the voices that were (and still continue to be) silenced by the Ripper and by history: his victims. You’ll meet these incredibly resilient women and their neighbours, and discover the district that created a monster. This tour is run by an amazing female-founded small business.
See what other tours and experiences we offer at Love and London Tours and Experiences.
Gift Cards for London experiences
Ok so if you can’t book the tour or experience directly for them, that’s totally fine. Let them choose their experience and when they do it by gifting gift card for Love and London Tours and Experiences. We offer a range of tours from walking tours, cycling tours and food tours, but we will be adding new ones frequently, so there will be more and more for your giftee to choose from. We have a range of different gift card prices, starting from £35, which are valid for one year.
London Photo Session
It’s so hard to get decent photos of the whole travel group when you’re dealing with cloudy skies, a stranger holding your (very expensive) camera, and people bobbing in and out of your shots.
If you want to have some professional-grade photos from your trip that you can frame and admire for years to come, gift your recipient a professional photo shoot. A photographer meets you and takes incredible photos of you with the London sights, without you having to worry about anything. Good photogs can even make rainy days look beautiful!
We work with a wonderful photographer named Ewa, and if you go through this page, you’ll find out how you can get extra photos by mentioning that we referred you.
Clothing to gift someone visiting London in 2023
There are two things that I think people would definitely appreciate being given as a gift in anticipation of their trip… a beautiful London-inspired jacket, and stylish-but-walking-friendly shoes.
For anyone visiting London in the spring or fall, a classic coat makes for a great gift, as receiving a nice new coat can feel quite luxurious, and of course, it helps keep your giftee warm, duh. If the visit is planned for summer, a light trench coat will work too, as evenings can still get quite cool.
This trench coat (shown above) from sustainable and ethical coat company Noize doubles as a vegan leather raincoat too.
Walking shoes for London
I am always searching for shoes that are comfortable for traipsing around London but that still look good and don’t ruin the planet. So a while ago I picked up a pair of Allbirds’s new flats and well, they are SO comfortable…
On top of that, they are made more sustainably than most shoes. The Women’s Tree Breezers are made with renewable eucalyptus tree fibers and have a Brazilian sugarcane outsole, which is made with the world’s first carbon-negative green EVA.
For men, I’d recommend the Men’s Tree Loungers, a slip-on made with similar materials and again they are machine washable, so when they start to get smelly or dirty, just chuck ‘em in the wash.
Allbirds makes quite a few different types of comfy and sustainably-made shoes that are great for travel, so check out the Allbirds site for some more gift ideas. They also have a really great return policy in case your giftee isn’t a fan.
Want more London-friendly clothing and shoe suggestions? Check out the London Packing Guide, which also makes for a instant, affordable gift.
Image Courtesy of Treehouse
Make their flight or hotel stay more special
A little bit of luxury is SUCH a treat for someone with a big trip planned, so it would be such a lovely surprise to be gifted a flight upgrade or a more luxurious hotel stay than was originally expected.
If the giftee hasn’t booked their flight or hotel yet, this is your chance! Just make sure they don’t book anything before you actually get to give your gift.
If they HAVE booked it already, a flight upgrade might be a bit tricky if you aren’t on the booking yourself, but give the airline a call to see if there’s anything they can do to help you pay the difference for an upgrade from say, economy to premium economy.
The hotel is a bit easier, as you can likely call them directly, ask for the upgrade, and pay the difference via a payment form sent to your email.
Do something fun to “gift” this to your giftee… like print out a picture of the view from their upgraded room and put it in the card you give them on exchanging day.
If you want to book the hotel for them, I have some resources to help you find a great one.
- 8 Cool Budget-Friendly Hotels in London
- Cool Hotels in Central London to Book a Room in (or South, North, West London)
- Best London Hotels for Families
I have a whole video series sharing my stays at six different hotels in London, from budget up through to one of the most luxurious suites in London. Watch the whole series here on Youtube, and see one of the videos below.
Gifts to Get Them Excited About Their Trip
Here are some things you can make or get your future London visitor to help build the anticipation for their trip.
No, not just any old guidebook for London… a beautiful coffee table book filled with both beautiful images and London info will help build the excitement for what they will see when here. It can then sit on their coffee or bedside table ready for them to browse as they wait for their trip to happen.
We’ve got a great list of the best London-related coffee table books, have a read and you’ll find at least a couple of lovely options for your giftee.
Or if you think they’d prefer something with less pictures and more words, there are tons of fiction and non-fiction books that are based in London and the UK that would be great to gift a bookworm. Give them a goal to finish them all before they head to the airport… book nerds love that kinda stuff.
We have two lists to help you with this:
London Itinerary or Guide
Your giftee would probably LOVE for a Londoner to sit down with them and give them a walkthrough of all of the best things to do in the city. You can give them the next best thing with the 3-Day or 6-Day London Itinerary, a digital itinerary made by a London expert (me) with a flexible plan for three or six days in the capital. It’s not completely linear, it has tons of options that will suit various different travel styles, tastes and budgets, so it’ll feel like your giftee has their very own custom itinerary.
If your giftee has already been to London, then they probably would enjoy more The Casual Tourist Guides, a bundle of guides to different London areas focusing on hidden gems and the areas where the locals actually hang out.
London Packing Guide, Hotel Guide or London Colouring Book
Need a little extra something to give? The London Packing Guide helps take the guesswork out of packing for such a big trip. It comes with a London weather guide, clothing and shoe suggestions (with links!), printable packing lists for each season, and more. Grab the London Packing Guide, or if you prefer you can give them a gift card to purchase their favourite products from our shop.
And if they need an extra hand at picking their hotel, you can gift them the London Hotel Guide.
There’s also the London Colouring Book, which has a bunch of London-themed colouring pages which can be coloured in by printing them out or by uploading them to your iPad to colour digitally. The colouring book was illustrated by Jen and Jennifer, a local illustrator who’s also a friend of mine. Check out the London Colouring Book.
Make a London-inspired food hamper
Hampers, or you might know them as gift baskets, are very popular to give as gifts in the UK, and you can pick up some very swanky ones depending on where you order from. I recommend making or buying one for your recipient, and filling it with English treats that they can enjoy before they’re able to make it over to London. Hopefully you’ll also get in on some of that snack action…
If you want to make a hamper yourself, find yourself a beautiful basket and load it up with English treats.
I’d recommend (with some links to where to order from if you’re in the US):
- English cheeses like Cheddar, Wensleydale with Cranberries, Red Leicester and Stilton (all links bring you to where you can buy them on iGourmet)
- Cheese crackers, like these ones
- Chutney. You put the cheese and chutney together on the crackers. YUM.
There are of course many other fun things you could add, like Christmas Pudding, English Sparkling Wine, English Cidre, and more.
If you’re like ermmmmm I don’t want to DIY a gift, iGourmet makes a “British Luxury Gift Box” that does it all for you for $299. They have a couple of other British-themed options as well.
Or if you want to go PROPER London and super fancy, you can order a hamper from Fortnum & Mason in London. They are world-famous for their incredible hampers, with ones that go upwards of £1000. Their F&M hampers, the baskets themselves, are also collectors items.
Two Fortnum & Mason hampers that ship worldwide (not the only ones!):
Gifts to help preserve the London memories
How about a couple of cute things to help preserve the memories your recipient will make on their London trip?
I love this cute travel journal made by an independent craftsperson on Etsy. It’s made with recycled paper and the cover is made from textile industry waste, so it’s incredibly eco-friendly. They can use the journal to record their experiences and thoughts after each day of their trip, so they can always remember the small details of it.
Sometimes it’s hard to know what to do with all of the ticket stubs, flyers, and small items you accumulate on a trip that you can’t seem to toss in the trash as they’re associated with your amazing time away. Gift a lovely little box for them to keep those bits and bobs in for the next few years, and to help them remember all of the fun they had.
Ok… I’ve given you a pretty good list. If you can’t find something for your London-loving giftee well then I might not be able to help you 😉 But again these gifts are great if you’re buying for someone that wants to avoid the overhyped and overdone, and who like GIFTS that are out of the ordinary too.
If you’re after something for someone who wants the touristy London, check out our previous gift guide.
Happy gifting and let me know how it goes!
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