Tea & Biscuits?  We must be in London!

Tea & Biscuits? We must be in London!

Here are some resources if you’re moving to London or just here for a visit.  These are Julie & Drew approved, which is saying something given our diabolically high standards and hatred of ugly and unhelpful websites, especially those that don’t load well on phones.

Transportation:

Citymapper – quite simply the best app for if you need to go anywhere.  Shows best routes and times for buses, tube, taxis and walking.  Or you can just use the ‘Slingshot’ and get anywhere in 1 minute.

Tube Map – essential.  Fortunately they’re everywhere (in all tube stations for free).

Hailo, Addison Lee, Uber – taking a taxi in London is a unique experience.  First, the price may put you in some kind of mild shock, but the knowledge of London cab drivers is the thing of legends.  If you don’t want to deal with a regular taxi, these three services allow you to order and pay for private cars online.  For our US friends, Uber is just picking up steam here so stick with the other two for now.  Apps for all.

National Rail Service – for travel outside of the city.  They also have an app to track times and routes.  Used by Julie all the time for her commutes.

www.london2airports.com – reasonable airport transportation.  Get a quote and use either cash or credit card to book.  They are prompt and reliable, essential qualities when it comes to airports.  Note: going to the airport via public transportation or one of the many express trains makes sense financially if one person is travelling.  For 2 or more travelers, the cost of a private car is basically the same as Heathrow Express, Gatwick Express, etc.

Accommodations:

In addition to the normal sources you’d go to when looking for a hotel, here are a few options we weren’t aware of.

Trivago, Booking.com – normal, hotel booking sites.  Trivago has a cool feature where it shows the prices on all the other booking sites too, which is nice.  We use Booking.com regularly for European travel because it does not require pre-payment, which is nice when you’re booking several hotels before making a final decision just before you travel.

Mr. & Mrs. Smith – nicer accommodations, heavy on the UK but also listings from elsewhere in Europe (and the world)

VRBO, Homeaway, AirBnB – home and flat rental options.  Our favourite way to travel if we’re anywhere for a week or more.  Seriously.  We’ve had successful rental experiences in France (twice), Spain, New York (twice), Italy (twice), Portugal and Turkey.  Love love love.

Eating:

Don’t get us started.  So many restaurants, so little time.  When in doubt, eat Indian food or fish and chips.  Drink lots of tea.  Order a flat white in a fancy coffee shop.  Drink cask beer.  Eat lots of cheese.  And bacon.

Top Table – the UK version of Open Table.  Not QUITE as representative as Open Table is in the US, but they’re getting there. (side note: you can’t download the app unless your country of residence is listed as UK.  The website will work if you don’t want to go to the trouble.)

Supper Club Listings – Supper Clubs are a huge thing in London.  Individuals or small groups will host a dinner party in a home or rented space.  You pay for a ticket, and go and eat food they’ve prepared.  Usually it’s BYOB.  Lots of options, loads of variety and a wide price range.  Really fun.

A Few Local Blogs – We like to read restaurant reviews by bloggers before visiting a city.  A few are linked to here (just hover over each of the words).  Depending on if the blogger is compensated for their review, we find that the brutal honesty factor varies, but it’s a good starting place!

To Do:

Time Out London – a great starting point.  This free weekly magazine (Tuesdays, check any Tube station) lists all of the big events for the week.  They also release nice compilation articles on the website (Top 100 Things to do this Summer in London) which always get the imagination going.

London Walks – the first and best walking tour company in London.  All walks are £9, all last about 2 hours and cover hundreds of topics and neighbourhoods.  The highly trained guides are wonderful, and there is certainly something for everyone.

UK Walking – one of our favourite things to do in the UK is to walk the many managed trails that criss cross fields and farms and tiny villages all over.  There are lots of sites dedicated to walking in each individual region, but start here, or here.

National Trust/English Heritage – again, this is a resource for the entire UK, but these two trust systems help maintain the many manors and run-down castles that dot the landscape.  You can become a member of each, and spend weeks or months visiting hundreds of sites, or just pay for single entry into a site. There are plenty of sites within London proper – the church in our square is a Heritage site, in fact.