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picture of Big Ben in winter Big Ben on a snowy London Day

There’s nothing quite like seeing the joy in children’s faces as they frolic in the snow. Of course, wintertime cannot be entirely devoted to those white flakes. The answer? London. Centuries of history spread out across 3 districts offer countless activities for you and your family during the winter season. Some of these activities take advantage of snowfall, while others are best for chilly days where you cannot bear to be anywhere besides indoors. Here is a list of our favorite things to do for families in the wintertime.

1. Visit the city’s museums

Image of the Natural History Museum The National History Museum is just as famous for its architecture as it is for its exhibits

The metropolis of London is not short on museums, many featuring priceless artifacts! For marine fanatics, the HMS Belfast stores nine decks worth of history, from the ship’s mechanics to the ways in which sailors lived aboard the vessel. Want to know more about London’s iconic double-decker buses and black taxis? You’re in luck: The London Transport Museum seeks to educate the masses on the importance of London’s public transportation system. The National History Museum, one of London’s most prominent galleries, boasts exhibits dedicated to geology, ecology, zoology, paleontology as well as a wildlife garden. (And don’t miss the most complete Stegosaurus known to humankind.) For astronomy, engineering, and medicine, the Science Museum cannot be matched. A day of kitschy fun can be found at Madame Tussauds, where you and the kids can pose with the lifelike wax figurines of your favorite celebrities! And for the child in all of us (or the children in your party), there’s the V&A Museum of Childhood, which displays toys and other playthings as a testament to the boundless imagination of kids. South Kensington is home to many other museums; check out our guide to the district here. Read the entire story here…»

 

Canary Wharf is to London what Lower Manhattan is to New York – a financial powerhouse characterized by towering skyscrapers and finely pressed suits. Global banks and media houses attract some 100,000 workers daily. It is actually one of two main financial centers, sharing the title with the City of London. (See our video tour of the City of London here.) In fact, the second tallest building in the UK, One Canada Square, calls Canary Wharf home. Canary Wharf has historical roots in shipping, and for 160 years was one of the busiest docks in the world. The docks were finally closed in 1981 after the port industry began to decline. Its current iteration is the vision of Michael von Clemm who first came up with the idea to convert Canary Wharf into a bank office and business district in the late 1980’s. As one of the poshest districts in town, be sure you’re caught up on our basic tips for London etiquette.

Canary Wharf and London from above Canary Wharf in London on the horizon of the Thames

Located on a little peninsula along the north of the River Thames, Canary Wharf and Docklands can be found in the east of London on the Isle of Dogs. Its northern borders stretch from Limehouse in the west to London City Airport in the east. For information on what else is in the area check out our video tour of Hackney and the East End. This article will discuss the places in Canary Wharf and Docklands mentioned in the video, including Cabot Square, the West India Quay, the Thames Barrier, Island Gardens, and the Greenwich foot tunnel. Read the entire story here…»

 

Welcome to one of London’s best-kept secrets – the East End! In this video tour we’ll show you a glimpse of all that this thriving neighborhood has to offer, including a bit of the history, culture, and of course the local hot spots. Starting as a series of villages outside of the City of London, local docks brought high demand for workers and with them the seed of urban development. This has blossomed in the last few decades, making London’s East End and the greater neighborhood of Hackney a haven for art and culture.

Canal in the East End Take a walk along one of the East End’s many canals

The East End can be found (understandably) in the eastern section of London. It’s bordered by Bishopsgate to the west, the River Thames in the south, the River Lea in the east, and Regent’s Canal in the north. This article will discuss the places mentioned in the video, including Shoreditch, Hockston, and Spitalfields. Not sure how your London street smarts compare? Our tips and etiquette guide for visitors might help you out. Read the entire story here…»

 

Image of Trafalgar Square Trafalgar Square is an iconic – and popular – open urban space for Londoners

With centuries’ worth of history and the arts across 32 boroughs and the titular City, London truly earns its distinction as Europe’s financial and cultural powerhouse. Covering over an estimated 600 square miles, there’s an infinite number of places to explore the full depth of London’s vibrancy. The West End of London, including the neighborhood of Bloomsbury, packs much of this energy into a relatively compact area – perfect for exploring! (Another neighborhood worthy of exploration? South Kensington, of course!)

Welcome to Bloomsbury / West End

An unofficial designation, The West End used to refer to the region west of Charing Cross in the 19th Century but now refers to the entertainment district and shopping areas from Covent Garden across to Oxford Street. Considered to be the epicenter of London’s commercial and entertainment industries, there are plenty of shopping opportunities and live theatre here. Many UK film premieres take place in the region’s Leicester Square, while Covent Garden entices tourists and locals with its shops and marketplaces. For a better picture of the area, take a look at our video guide of the West End! Read the entire story here…»

 

London streets light up for Christmas The city of London lights up for the holiday season

It’s that time of year again! Snow is glistening and Jack Frost is nipping at your nose. Christmas spirit has settled over London like fresh snow as the city lights up like a Christmas tree. In this article we’ve compiled all the best things to do for the holiday season, including holiday markets, outdoor ice skating, seasonal must-sees, and of course all those great Christmas activities you can’t live without.

Holiday Markets:

Hyde Park holiday market, with rides and ice skating The Winter Wonderland holiday market in Hyde Park

Hotly anticipated every year is the first day the holiday markets open. Glittering little shops spring up throughout the city, all of them great places to pick up a hot cocoa or a present for that difficult-to-shop-for relative. But of all the markets in town we’ve tracked down the very best. So be sure to visit one or two this holiday season!

  • A gorgeous park any day, Hyde Park looks like it’s straight out of a snow globe around Christmas. For that reason it has one of the best holiday markets in the country. The whole attraction is called Winter Wonderland but the market section is known as the Angels and Yuletide Christmas market, known for its unique stalls offering handmade gifts and hot cider. You can buy tickets to Winter Wonderland’s Christmas circus and ice sculpture garden, as well as to the biggest outdoor ice skating rink in the whole United Kingdom. The Angels and Yuletide market itself is, of course, free of charge. It runs every day from November 21st to January 4th, but the best time to come is just before dusk so you can watch the sun set over the park as the shops light up one by one. Read the entire story here…»
 

Picture of Tower Bridge The sun sets behind Tower Bridge

Sunsets are as unique as snowflakes – you’ll never watch the same one twice. A vibrant sunset between the towers of New York City or a soft sunset over the banks of Paris is are all well and good, but nothing beats the restrained glory of a red London sunset. Fortunately, London also has some of the best places in the European Union from which to see the sunset. From the towering Shard to the Victorian glamour of Primrose Hill, you simply can’t beat these top 5 spots to watch the sunset in London.

1. Primrose Hill at Regent’s Park

Picture of Primrose Hill The sunset from Primrose Hill is a riot of color. Photo: Matt Brock.

There’s a reason this area is home to some of the most exclusive and expensive residences in London. From the top of Primrose Hill you can see all of central London splayed at your feet. With the sky above you and the city below, it’s no wonder that those who visit feel as if they’ve reached the top of Mount Olympus. Turn northward for an unrivalled view of Belsize Park and Hampstead, or explore the seven English Heritage blue plaques in the park itself commemorating famous residents. Or go for a stroll around the lovely Victorian neighborhood and pick out your future furnished rental apartment. Read the entire story here…»

 

“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

Image of the 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…»

 

Image of South Kensington row houses 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…»

 

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!

London Marathon

Photo of the London Marathon finish line 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…»

 

Picture of London from an aerial perspective. 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…»