It’s a fact – everyone in London runs everywhere. This is exactly what made my first experience of rush hour on the tube probably one of the scariest ordeals of my adult life to date. And heaven forbid you try to strike up conversation with a fellow commuter – even eye contact is a risky business. This faceless attitude is completely alien to us Northerners – being from Liverpool, one of the friendliest cities in the UK, nothing makes me more homesick than going to London. I’ve been many times and the big city can definitely be daunting – it’s difficult to know where to stay, what to do, and even how to navigate the tube!
However, recently I had to go down to our capital to secure a working visa for my summer in California (post on that coming very soon!) and I found myself looking around and completely re-evaluating all of my previous thoughts on the big city. While we were exploring, I couldn’t help comparing it with my home city – and to my surprise, London didn’t disappoint! By no means am I a London expert, but this short guide should help any Northerner’s out there get through a few days in the city without too much of a culture shock…
Where Should I Stay?
We touched lucky in that the hotel we stayed at was right in the heart of London – the Hub by Premier Inn at Convent Garden. Minutes from the dynamic Leicester Square and quirky Convent Garden market, I would struggle to find a better place to stay in terms of location – plus the hotel itself is lovely and ultra-modern. For us Northerner’s who want to avoid the confusion of the tube (being able to fathom Merseyrail hardly compares), this hotel is just a short walk from many of London’s famous attractions.
What Should I Do?
Yes, up North we have theatres. Pretty good theatres, in fact. But if you’re a proper musical theatre-lover like me, London is the place to go. The glittering West End is the stuff dreams are made of, and nothing compares to seeing you’re favourite show in its own theatre – it just adds to the magic.
For me, the shopping in London is very reminiscent of Liverpool – however, if you think the Topshop on Church Street is big, wait until you see the one on Oxford Street..
Plus, no trip to London is complete without a visit to Harrods and/or Selfridges (despite the fact that you rarely buy anything and come out feeling slightly underwhelmed).
Being the nerds that we are, we spent a whole afternoon in the Imperial War Museum on Lambeth Road. Again – the stuff dreams are made of (bear in mind half of my degree is History, so I am v. biased). This museum is SO interesting, and totally trumps Manchester’s version – I would highly recommend it to anyone with some time to kill or an afternoon off (I promise you don’t have to be a total nerd to enjoy it).
Where Should I Eat?
The main question I always get asked after a weekend in London is “how much did you spend?”. Yes, London is hella expensive. Yes, we got caught out on our first night when we decided to eat in a renowned steakhouse in Leicester Square (not gonna lie, it was totally worth the expense). However, after a recommendation from one of my best friends Abi (you can check out her travel blog here) we discovered Franco Manca in Covent Garden – a gorgeous little pizzeria which, in comparison to many of the other restaurants we had considered, was very decently priced.
I left London Euston late in the evening feeling that I’d been a little harsh in my previous judgements. Don’t get me wrong, Liverpool has my heart and it always will. The London lifestyle doesn’t quite suit me, but it did get me thinking – maybe going “down the smoke” for a few years after graduation wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world..
Are you a Northerner in London? Let me know what you think in the comments below!