“When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.” This quote, by the illustrious 18th century writer Samuel Johnson, may seem like a hyperbole. But to the more than eight million people who call it home (not to mention the millions who make it their vacation destination each year), London is a life force – spanning thousands of years of culture, history, and architecture. Whether you’ve paid a visit to the city known as the Smoke many times or are eyeing your inaugural trip, here is our list of the Top 10 Must-See Sites in London: classic, modern, multicultural, and everything in between.
1. London Eye
The London Eye provides spectacular views of the city
Open to the public since March 2000, the London Eye – also known as the Millennium Wheel — is the UK’s most-frequented paid attraction. And it’s no wonder: with 360 degree views from each of the 32 capsules, the Eye provides what many consider to be the best panorama of London. Unlike most Ferris wheel structures, all of the glass pods are attached to the metal frame; in other words, you won’t feel the swinging sensation associated with most observation wheels. Additionally, each rotation lasts about 30 minutes, so you’ll have plenty of time to take in (and photograph) the scenery, which stretches up to 40 kilometers away.
The Eye is a hugely popular attraction, especially for tourists, so be prepared for a long queue. Each cabin (which can fit roughly two dozen people) has air conditioning, heating, and bench seating. Although the Eye maintains its slow pace for passengers boarding and disembarking, it will stop for elderly or disabled guests. General tickets are £20.95 for adults, £15 for children 4 to 15 years of age, and £17.50 for seniors (discounts are available if you book your tickets online) as of July 2014. We recommend you spend a little extra and spring for the day and night experience, which allows you to view the heart of the city in the midday and nighttime hours. The Eye is open from 10am to roughly 8:30pm year round (extended summer hours apply), with closings for Christmas Day and a week in January. Located on the South Bank of the River Thames, the attraction is accessible via bus, boat or Tube. Take the Bakerloo, Jubilee or Northern trains to the Waterloo Underground station for a short walk to the wheel. Interested in seeing the views from the London Eye before you go? Take a look at the London Eye! Read the entire story here…»
New York is known for its bagels. Coffee? Not as much!
There are two types of foods New Yorkers take extra pride in: pizza and bagels. You’ll find lots of delis, cafes and even restaurants offering the latter across the city, but which should you put at the top of your list? Here at New York Habitat, we have a few suggestions – so when you’re searching for the perfect breakfast treat, this collection of our ten favorite bagel spots should give you plenty of food for thought.
1. Absolute Bagels
Absolute Bagels takes pride in its authentic products
New Yorkers love Absolute Bagels for their authentic baked goods and delicious spreads. Another bonus? Its location on the northern end of Broadway keeps it hidden from tourist traffic. That doesn’t mean, however, that it’s unpopular: between flocks of local Columbia University students and Manhattanites looking for quality food, Absolute Bagels is never short on crowds. Be mindful of overcapacity as you visit the shop – only a handful of tables sit inside the small interior, and lines can wrap around the sidewalk. Unique spreads – including the highly recommended lox – are reason enough to go, as are the main attraction themselves (we suggest ordering whichever bagel is fresh out of the oven).
Prices start around $1 for a plain bagel and increase with added fillings and cream cheese. The cash only establishment is located at 2788 Broadway in a neighborhood now known as Manhattan Valley (or the northern section of the Upper West Side to some) and operates from 6am to 9pm. Take the 1 subway train to the Cathedral Parkway station or the A, B or C to the Cathedral Parkway at 110th Street station. Absolute Bagels is also accessible via public bus. While you’re there, tour the Upper Manhattan districts of Morningside Heights, Hamilton Heights, and Washington Heights using our handy guide! Read the entire story here…»
Brick row houses make South Kensington a picturesque neighborhood
Chic, educational, vibrant: these are just some of the ways you might describe London’s South Kensington district. The neighborhood – part of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea – has long been associated with culture and luxury, spurned by the extensive building of museums and real estate following the Great Exhibition of 1851. You’d be hard pressed to find another enclave of the city with such a dense cluster of cultural and academic institutions, from world-class galleries to prestigious universities. It’s also an elegant residential area, attracting the attentions of visitors and residents alike.
Welcome to South Kensington
Map of the points of interest and our selection of discounted Vacation Rentals in the neighborhood of South Kensington, London.
South Kensington is bordered by equally stylish neighborhoods; it lies north of Chelsea, south of Hyde Park, west of Knightsbridge, and east of Earls Court. Its positioning in London places it in a prime location and near the center of all the action! An abundance of shops, museums, parks, restaurants, and the theatre arts give the area its dynamic character – and make it one of the most popular visitor spots and real estate markets in London. Here abound upscale boutiques, art galleries, antique dealers, and designer furnishing retailers. Any Francophiles in your party? They’ll love South Kensington for its influence française. As well as the many French expats living here, you’ll find the Lycée Français Charles de Gaulle secondary school, the French Institute, and the Consulate General of France in London. Needing a visual to picture the scenery? Our video guide of Kensington covers the region, as well as the bordering neighborhood of Chelsea. Read the entire story here…»
New York City Skyline
Close your eyes and imagine you are waking up from a long, restful sleep in New York City. Not just in any borough, but in a central neighborhood of Manhattan itself. You rub your eyes and stand up, stretching to prepare for another exciting adventure in the Big Apple. When you look through your window, you see an amazing scene in front of you: perhaps it is of the famous towering skyscrapers of Midtown, the iconic Statue of Liberty and the glistening harbor surrounding it or even the Empire State Building! Open your eyes. This is a dream that can come true! There are all types of apartment options available in NYC that offer inspiring views of the city. This assures you the best experience possible – and the best photo ops!
We’d love to help you find the perfect accommodation with our long list of New York City apartments. Take a short break from the stress of daily life with our short-term vacation rentals, or get the full taste of the Big Apple by renting a furnished apartment! With a destination as exciting as Manhattan it’s important to ensure comfort and happiness by choosing the right home. What is more “right” than waking up to a bird’s eye view of famous high-rises, rivers and parks?
Studio Vacation Rental in Midtown West, Manhattan
Studio apartment in Midtown West, Manhattan
Live in the center of the city with this studio vacation rental in Midtown West, Manhattan! Located on broadway, a busy street filled with shops, restaurants and theaters, this charming home boasts floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall windows. From the spacious king-sized bed, tenants will awake to the picturesque view of Central Park and towering midtown buildings. Don’t worry about too much sunshine. The midday sun is sure to illuminate the apartment, while long blue curtains offer coverage and privacy for when you want a more restful atmosphere. The apartment sits in a luxury elevator building with 24-hour doorman, allowing tenants more perks than the usual traveler. A shared laundry facility, fitness center, bar with outdoor terrace and a café bistro are provided in the same building for your convenience. Personal amenities in the studio include a flat-screen cable television, desk with chair and a fully-equipped open kitchen featuring black tiled floors, cabinetry and a dishwasher. There are a wealth of must-see attractions within walking distance, including Rockefeller Center, the Museum of Modern Art and the always-bustling streets of Times Square. Don’t get overwhelmed by the high energy of Times Square. Instead, read our tips on how to make the most of your time at the Crossroads of the World! Read the entire story here…»
Most people travel to escape from the daily grind or to open their eyes to different cultures, geology and scenic views that will be remembered forever. According to search engine reports, searches involving the phrase “best things to do in ___” skyrockets during peak holiday seasons. With London standing at the forefront of the world’s best travel destinations, is it any wonder people want to know what’s happening in the Smoke City? Fear not! Through a careful selection process we have narrowed down the list of London’s best events to the truly exceptional top 10. These events are always internationally renowned, frequently attended by A-List celebrities, and often free or low-cost . If you’re heading to London this season, mark your calendars with these great events, and don’t forget to brush up on your London etiquette!
Runners cover the final stretch in the London Marathon
Founded by previous Olympic Champions, the London marathon is a long-distance running event spanning over 26 miles (42+ kilometers). The majority of the route is over level ground along the Thames River. The course begins at three different points – the “red start” in southern Greenwich Park, the “green start” in St. John’s Park, and the “blue start” on Shooter’s Hill Road. All three routes converge in Woolwich and the finish line is on Birdcage Walk in Westminster. The London marathon is one of the top six world marathons that form the World Marathon Majors (for which there is a $1 million dollar prize). As such, it regularly attracts world-famous athletes and Olympic champions. The event is free and is usually held on a Sunday in April. Read the entire story here…»
Think Paris is best experienced in the summertime or Christmas season? Think again! The French capital is a perfect complement to the changing seasons, so you are guaranteed a wonderful trip no matter what time of year you visit. Here are some of our favorite annual events to guide your itinerary in the City of Light!
International Agricultural Show
and other livestock are the stars of the International Agricultural Show
It’s the largest week-long farm tour you’ll ever experience. Since its origins as the General Agricultural Competition in 1870, the International Agricultural Show has grown to not only showcase France’s livestock, but the best regional, dairy, organic, and wine products from dozens of countries! Four separate sections make up the exhibition: horses, sheep, cows, dogs, cats, and other farm animals; gastronomic delights such as produce and wine; gardens of crops and greenery; and professional discussions on the ever-changing business of agriculture.
In order to accommodate its extensive display, the International Agricultural Show moved to the Porte de Versailles Exhibition Centre and has remained there since 1925. As if in accordance with the approaching spring, the fair is generally held in the last week of February, sometimes encompassing the first few days of March, from 9am to 7pm. Access to the venue is easy via public transportation; the Metro (line 12 has a station called Porte de Versailles), tramway, or bus will get you there! Tickets cost 13€ for adults, 6€ for students and children between the ages of 6 to 12 years old, 9€ for disabled individuals, and free for children under the age of 6. While you’re there, snap a photo with the expo’s current animal ambassador! Read the entire story here…»
Aerial View Of London
We all know how fulfilling it can be to escape the daily grind of full-time jobs and responsibilities through relaxing vacations, perhaps even more so during summer months when sun rays remind us just how much we have to live for! What some do not realize, however, is the ease and simplicity of booking short-term destination vacations, perfect for people on a budget or time constraint. Well, don’t fret – we’ve got a tip that might just make your weekends a whole lot better!
Short stays in the city of London are ideal for quick breaks from the hassle of real life, and many Europeans visit for a long weekend with help from high speed trains called Eurostar, located only two hours from the center of Paris. Looking to plan an itinerary? You can read all about the free events being hosted in London on our blog about the Top Ten Free Things to do in London. For a look into the neighborhood highlights of London’s many communities, check out our blog featuring London travel videos.
New York Habitat wants to help you find the home-away-from-home that best suits you from our long list of vacation rental apartments! Unlike hotel rooms, which can feel cold and empty, these furnished apartments aim to maximize the authenticity of your trip. After all, it can be overwhelming to find oneself in a foreign place – why come home to a foreign hotel room? Each vacation rental apartment presents an authentically local environment complete with nicely equipped kitchens and unique styles that offer personality and comfort. Find which one is best for you by scrolling through our list of London vacation rentals. Or continue reading to find six of our favorite, hand-picked homes! Read the entire story here…»
You’ve finished the paperwork, you’ve talked to the agents, and you’ve finally received the call with a request. Congratulations on your new booking! Not only do bookings mean a little extra income, (which is all yours by the way; unlike some vacation rental agencies, listing your apartment with New York Habitat is both free and non-exclusive) they also give you the opportunity to connect with and meet interesting people from all over the world. But where do you go from here? Many owners, both new and veteran, have questions about what is expected of them during this process. So we’ve come up with the following cheat sheet on how to be a great host after listing an apartment or room with New York Habitat.
Introduce yourself and schedule arrival times
When’s the best time to contact your guest? As soon as the booking has been arranged by New York Habitat. It’s best if you introduce yourself right away and bring up a few points relevant to their stay. Now’s the time to give them as much information as possible about their new apartment and city, including any information they may find helpful for their arrival.
One of the most important subjects to discuss at this stage is check in time and arrival. If possible try to be flexible when it comes to check in and checkout times. Airline delays in particular are a common occurrence, especially for international or connecting flights, and your guests will be hugely appreciative if you’re sensitive to such travel mishaps. Read the entire story here…»
The City That Never Sleeps is a rather apt moniker for New York, given its constant activity. It’s also the perfect locale to observe the changing of the seasons in all their glory. Here’s a list of our favorite yearly events in New York – must-see items whether you’re here in the spirited spring, bright summer, golden-hued autumn or sparkling winter.
Chinese New Year (a.k.a. Spring Festival)
There’s no better way to celebrate the beginning of the Chinese calendar than in New York, home to the largest population of Chinese-Americans in the United States (sneak a peek at our guide to Chinatown here) Traditionally the merriment was established around the lunisolar Chinese calendar; with the adoption of the Gregorian calendar in China, the Lunar New Year fell into late January or early February, changing annually. Initially a feast to honor customary Chinese values (ancestors, deities, duty to family) and prepare for the coming year, it now is a time to commemorate Chinese culture.
In New York, the free Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade and Festival (along main thoroughfares in Chinatown, from Mott Street to Forsyth Street) and the New Year Firecracker Ceremony and Cultural Festival (in Sara Roosevelt Park) are the biggest celebrations. The former mesmerizes parade-watchers with colorful floats, acrobatics, and larger-than-life dragon dances, while the latter sends firework displays into the sky. Don’t forget to wear red – the color symbolizes joy and good fortune in Chinese culture.
Saint Patrick’s Day Parade
Celtic pride abounds at the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade in March
New York truly is a city of immigrants, and this is never more apparent than at the massive turnout for the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade, often cited as the largest in the Big Apple. Every year on March 17th (in the case of a Sunday, the event is moved to Saturday the 16th) thousands of spectators descend upon Fifth Avenue (from 44th Street to 79th Street) to enjoy the procession, which includes thousands of bagpipers, marching bands and dancers, often dressed in traditional Celtic garb. Read the entire story here…»
Considering its role as an intellectual epicenter, it should come as no surprise that New York abounds with world-famous museums. Whether your interests lie in art, history, or culture, you’ll find an exhibition to satisfy every curiosity. Why not start at the most prominent stretch of galleries in New York City, known as the Museum Mile?
A few blocks longer than its titular distance, the fabled Museum Mile runs from East 82nd to East 105th streets along 5th Avenue in the Upper East Side (take a closer look at the Upper East Side) and Spanish Harlem districts. Coined in the 1970s, the strip was rebranded to emphasize the cultural significance of its nine museums. Today, the Mile still is home to those nine institutions (a tenth, the Museum for African Art, opened in 2012 several streets north of the East 105th Street boundary) and is also popular for shopping and dining. Public transport, including bus lines and the 4, 5, and 6 subway trains, will get you to the various stops on the Museum Mile. There may be less than a dozen museums on the 5th Avenue stretch, but don’t let that fool you: it will take you more than a week to get through them all. Thankfully, our New York vacation rentals will have your NYC living space covered.
1) El Museo del Barrio
El Museo del Barrio teaches visitors with centuries’ worth of Hispanic art. Photo: Luis Camnitzer.
With 6,500 permanent objects, El Museo del Barrio has made itself a preeminent museum, grown from the very community that championed its opening. A celebration of Puerto Rican, Caribbean, and Latin American art, El Museo houses everything from pan-Caribbean artifacts to contemporary Hispanic works. The gallery is notable for its compendium of Puerto Rican printmaking, inspired in part by Mexican and Chicano prints (another exhibit at the museum). Don’t miss the extensive Taíno collection, home to ceramics and stonework of the indigenous Caribbean natives, and the Latin American folk arts collection. Read the entire story here…»