One of the most vibrant and exhilarating cities in the world, London has something to offer everyone. With almost 8 million people, the city is laid out in a vast urban sprawl. With that in mind, it can be a good idea to plan to stay in the area that you would like to spend most of your time. We’ll take a look at some of the best districts to stay in London and the major attractions they hold.
The West End
Originally developed in the 17th Century as an area containing extravagant palaces, trendy shops and spectacular entertainment, modern day visitors will see that not much has changed! Known worldwide as a theatre district to rival New York’s Broadway, The West End is perfect if you plan to take in a show or three on your visit and you will find over 40 theatres right on your doorstep if you choose to stay here.
Not surprisingly, The West End tends to attract the creative types and the area has a pleasingly bohemian feel to it. Quirky market stalls line the streets and the many charming cafes provide a superb location to soak in the atmosphere and watch the ubiquitous street performers. Plus with a host of great theatres on your doorstep, you’ll have no excuse not to pick yourself up a ticket from one of the many theatre ticket sellers, and head out for a night of entertainment. A highly recommended box office is LSBO, situated at 42, Cranbourn Street, London, WC2H 9AH, offering many of the cheapest tickets you are likely to find in the city.
City of London
This is likely to be the location of choice for those wishing to spend most of their time sight-seeing. It is home to some of the most iconic landmarks the city has to offer and they range from the historic to the ultra-modern. The manner in which St Paul’s Cathedral and the Old Bailey share space with modern skyscrapers, such as The Gherkin and the under construction Leadenhall Building (The Cheesegrater), illustrates just how seamlessly London integrates its remarkable past with its future.
If sight-seeing is indeed your thing, a trip to the Waterloo Bridge will definitely be worth your time. Its location on a bend in the River Thames affords it spectacular views of Westminster in one direction and St Paul’s Cathedral in the other.
Home to one of the most famous department stores in the world in Harrod’s, clearly, shopping is the major allure in Kensington. Harrod’s is the largest store in the UK by far and, with over 330 departments, you are sure to find whatever you’re looking for. Many of these departments are celebrated for their elegance and stylishness and, if you’re travelling to London during the Christmas period, the seasonal Christmas department is a true must-see.
Shopping is not the only attraction of Kensington though. The combined grounds of Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens form a parkland area larger than the Principality of Monaco. It is a huge oasis of tranquillity within the humdrum city atmosphere and a great place to take a stroll and unwind after a long day spent in retail therapy.
As you can see, many of these areas have distinct characteristics and attractions that will endear them to different people, depending on what you hope to spend your trip to London doing. Fortunately, London has one of the most extensive public transport networks in the world, so you should be able to make your way around the city relatively easily. However, if you wish to make the most of your time in London, it is advisable to stay in the area that will best cater to your interests.