Make the Most of your Christmas in London

Posted by on Nov 19, 2014 in Tips | 0 comments

Whether you are going back home to the capital for the Christmas break or are staying in your student housing in London, there are plenty of ways to have festive fun this December. Ever since Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and countless snowy stories London has been a city synonymous with Christmas. The English capital goes all-out to show its many visitors the best Christmas possible with lots of special festive events taking place across the city. Here are a few ideas for you to experience a special Christmas in London and take in special pop-up venues, activities and events all being held this year.

Go Ice Skating

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One way to get into the swing of a London Christmas is to go ice skating on one of the pop-up ice rinks which appear in various places at this time of year. Hyde Park, the National History Museum and Somerset House all host outdoor ice rinks for great active fun.

Have a Traditional Christmas Dinner

The highlight of most people’s festive seasons is Christmas Dinner. A large turkey with all the trimmings, crackers to pull and a couple of glasses of wine are a great way to mark this special occasion. If you are planning on cooking your own Christmas dinner you should prepare early before all the turkeys get bought. Alternatively, you could go out for a full Christmas Dinner as many London restaurants stay open on the 25th December.

Walk in a Winter Wonderland

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Hype Park in Central London is transformed during the festive period (21st November-4th January) into a Christmas fairground of seasonal fun. With an ice rink, a circus, giant wheel and magical ice kingdom there is plenty to keep you occupied and get you into the Christmas spirit. The closest tube stations are Marble Arch, Hyde Park Corner, Victoria and Knightsbridge and it’s free to enter.

See a Panto

Another traditional Christmas pastime is the festive pantomime. Usually starring celebrities from the television and often tongue-in-cheek with plenty of innuendo and crowd participation. This is by no means high culture but can be great fun. Amongst the highlights in the West End this year are Snow While starring Jerry Hall, Peter Panto at The Tabernacle and, for adults only, Sleeping Booty.

Explore Winterville

Winterville in Victoria Park is a new Christmas-themed village set up throughout December featuring a roller disco, Cirque du Cabaret and a pop-up events space. If you are living in East London this is a must-visit. The Spiegeltent hosts a variety of entertainment with comedy, cabaret and a night club all taking place in it’s canvas walls. However, it is wise to book the ice skating, roller disco and performance tickets in advance to avoid disappointment.

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10 London Attractions You Don’t Want to Miss

Posted by on Nov 17, 2014 in Museums, Travel Tips | 0 comments

Visiting London can be an overwhelming experience. It’s so large, versatile, and busy – what are you supposed to do first? While you could probably just wonder around and find a plethora of things to do, these attractions shouldn’t be missed:

  • The London Eye

The London Eye is one of the tallest structures in all of London, and you can hop on and enjoy a bird’s eye view of the place! It really is a breathtaking view, and a fantastic photo opportunity. Don’t miss a ride in one of the pods, it can be especially magical at night when everything is lit up.

  • The Tate Modern

The Tate Modern is a fascinating gallery full of artwork. For those who don’t think they’re ‘that into art’, visit this gallery. I bet you’ll change your mind! If you don’t, you haven’t lost anything as it’s free anyway. Some of the secret hotels of London are nearby, so you don’t need to travel far. This is a great activity for visiting on a budget.

  • Camden Lock Market

Camden lock market is like stepping into a whole other world. The stalls are all unique and intriguing, with vintage clothes and jewelry being sold from all angles. You can get some great bargains here, and delicious food.

  • Kentish Town

Kentish town is similar to Camden, except some say it’s better. Full of vintage stores, this is a great place to go if you prefer your purchases with a bit of life in them.

  • Buckingham Palace

Buckingham palace makes for some excellent photo opportunities, and you might even see the Queen! It’s a true sight to behold, so pay a visit if you haven’t before.

  • A Theatre Show

There are theatre shows by the dozen in London. The thing I love most about these shows is that each one has their own special theatre dedicated to it. You can buy all kinds of cool merchandise before settling down to watch the show. It doesn’t matter if you don’t sit at the front either; you still get a great view!

  • Madame Tussauds

Madame Tussauds is a place you can go and have pictures with your favourite waxwork celebrities. It’s definitely worth doing once. Make sure you go through the new ‘Scream’ attraction if you like to get your heart racing.

  • Oxford Street Shopping

Love to shop? There’s no better place than Oxford Street. The size of the Topshop will make your mouth water if you’re a fashionista. There are multiple Pandora stores too for all of your jewellery needs.

  • Harrods

Harrods is a ridiculously expensive department store, but you must go there even if it’s just to window shop. They have violin players and everything!

  • Big Ben

Big ben is the affectionate nickname of the bell inside of the big clock tower. It’s over 90 metres long, making it a great attraction when you’re in the area.

If you see these 10 attractions, you’ll have a great trip. If you don’t, don’t worry; you’ll find other great things to do. London is the perfect place for an adventure!

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Our Pick of the Top Theatre Productions to see this Christmas

Posted by on Nov 3, 2014 in Tips |

Matilda

This show is based on the children’s novel by Roald Dahl, which was later turned into a feature length film. Both of these have been very successful with both children and adults across the globe. The stage show is no different, with the Guardian rating it a 5 star performance. For those who don’t know, it tells the story of a young girl who wakes up one day to find herself with amazing magical powers. She uses them cause mischief in the school whilst teaching her neglectful parents and horrible head teacher a lesson or two! Of course, this all comes with the accompaniment of music and songs, which are sure to get your feet tapping along. This heartfelt production is must- see for every family with smiles, laughter and fun guaranteed the whole way through! Matilda is showing at The Cambridge Theatre, as well as other nationwide venues. 

Disney on Ice

This is another great one for you and the kids! To celebrate 100 years since Disney began, this show brings you 18 mesmerising stories from your favourite characters. Micky, Minnie and Donald Duck will definitely be making an appearance, alongside some of Disney’s most beautiful princess’. You can come and enjoy this brilliant performance at The O2 Arena anytime between Christmas Eve and the 4th January. This would make a great gift for your little one but is set to sell out so you will need to book ASAP to avoid disappointment!

Les Misérables

Set in the 19th Century, this play tells the story of Jean Valjean’s journey for redemption, after serving nearly two decades in jail. His crime was not for murder or violence, but for stealing food for his sister’s starving child. With this in minds, you can tell that the show will have emotional performances and tear jerking moments. It has been given 2014’s BBC Radio 2 Audience Oliver Award, along with a number of other high achieving awards. This is great for a girly night out or weekend away with your other half. Remember to take a pack of tissues, just in case!

Mama Mia!

If you haven’t already seen this musical production then you definitely should! The story follows a young girl who lives on a Greek Island with her fiancée and mother. She wants to invite her Father to her wedding but the only problem is, she doesn’t know who he is! So what better way to address the issue than invite the three potential Dads along! Mama Mia invites you to see a story of love, passion and laughter. Filled with Abba’s greatest hits, this show will definitely getting you singing and dancing along to the music. It will be playing at the Novello Theatre in London over the Christmas period, so why not treat a loved one to this must-see musical!

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Another show based on one of Roald Dahl’s best novels, this show is great for those looking for a special outing for the family. Delicious sweets, singing Oompa Lumpas and mystery golden tickets are just a few things that this show includes. Take a journey to the fantasy world of the Wonka Factory for a fun-filled evening which all the family can enjoy!

There are many other shows that will be playing over the Christmas period, so there will be something for everyone. If you are worried about the cost of the tickets then there are plenty of discount sites which can help. Hello Darling advertises upto 70% off RRP and has a number of offers including no booking fee, dine and show deals and much more!

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Halloween – Top 5 Spooky Attractions in London

Posted by on Oct 28, 2014 in Tips |

You may visit London for its exquisite attractions such as Buckingham Palace, London Eye, football stadiums, British Museum, Hyde Park or the National Gallery, to name some. Few know that this regal and vibrant city also has a dark and spooky side to it. For those who enjoy getting that chill down their spine, here is a low down on the top 5 spooky attractions in the city –

1. SCREAM at Madame Tussauds

In the far end of this infamous wax museum is SCREAM, a lesser known inner chamber where things take a goosebumps raising turn. Visitors will be escorted into a maximum-security prison that has been taken over by a bunch of unbalanced inmates. This interactive experience is extremely popular among people who enjoy scary things.

2. The Clink Hostels

If you are looking for a unique option as a hotel, then consider moving into the Clink Hostels during your time here. This 19th century courthouse consists of 7 genuine prison cells that now serve as hostel rooms. Each one features heavy doors and barred windows. Guests have a choice between sharing a skinny space with your “partner in crime” or live in “solitary confinement”.

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3. 50 Berkeley Square

Home of Maggs Brothers, the antiquarian book dealers, this address is worth a visit during your time in London. It is believed that the attic of this house is haunted by the spirit of a woman that killed herself by jumping off the top floor window. The spirit is often spotted in the form of a white figure or a brown mist. Back in the days, a number of unexplained deaths were reported from this very same address. Each one occurred in the attic.

4. The Haunted Tube Stations

London is known for a number of allegedly haunted Tube stations. Several spotting have been reported at Bank, Convent Garden and Farringdon Station over the years. This includes the spirits of black nun looking for her brother, an actor that was murdered near the Adelphi Theatre and a 13 year old trainee hat maker.

5. The Jack the Ripper Tour

One of the most popular serial killers of all time, it is estimated that within a span of 3 years he murdered anywhere between 5 to 11 women. Jack the Ripper was never caught and his identity remains unknown even today. This tour includes a walk through many locations where his victims were found.

In addition to this, you can also visit other spooky sights such as the British Museum, the London Tombs and the Dungeons and you never know who you will find breathing down your neck.

 

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Happy frightening!

Posted by on Oct 27, 2014 in Travel Tips |

You must have been fancying some creepy, not-so-creepy ideas to pull off this Halloween. Well, why not go beyond the frightening movies, spooky junkie, hilarious costumes and other quirky funky stuff this time?

Take a refreshing tour this fall and redefine the concept and taste the pulse quickening experience! Here is a list of some of the most haunted places on earth that would definitely flatter the paranormal-lover you are!

Tower of London

The name might paint a pleasant picture of castles and fortified spaces in your mind. In reality too, it reflects the warmth of the old world charm, until you get introduced to its bloody history!

History buffs to fairy-tale lovers, this is one such place you must visit. The formidable Tower of London has savagely fierce stories to tell, of kings, queens, conquerors and their kith and kin who lived and died here centuries ago. Some were beheaded; some assassinated or smothered to dead.

Located on the north bank of the mighty River Thames, Her majesty’s place is one of those major attractions of Central London.

St. Augustine light house, Florida

Sincere apologies if this sounded anywhere close to a place of pilgrimage or the like. Calling it a light house is an underestimation, for it is known as the haven for those who want to indulge in a ghost tour.

Ghostly sightings like weird sounds in the dark, cigar smoke swirling aimlessly were reported by visitors here. Also, the structure is mired in stories and rows since its inception.

There is no dearth of activities one can do here. If you have genuine interest in archeology, this is one such perfect place to be.

Island of the Dolls, Mexico

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Remember the scary haunted dolls from Child’s Play, Dolls or Puppetmaster? Here is an island in  Mexico, believed to be possessed by the soul of a girl who drowned and died. According to the locals, the sole inhabitant of the island, who found the body of the girl, started collecting discarded dolls. He used to hang them on trees to honour her spirit.

However, he was eventually found dead at the same spot where the girl’s body was found. Enough said, right? So when are you leaving for Mexico to have a look at those dolls?

Kilmainham Gaol, Dublin

The inner walls still echo the moans and whispers of those unprivileged souls who were crammed into the cells here. This former prison located in Kilmainham in Dublin is now a museum. Built it 1796, the prison was decommissioned by the Irish Free State government in 1924. Many Hollywood flicks including the The Escapist were shot at this harrowing structure that stands tall in the suburbs of Dublin.

Poveglia, Venice

A picturesque island in the Venetian Lagoon would be an ideal place for a romantic couple on their honeymoon. But it tops the list of most haunted places due to obvious reasons! Its twisted past and dark and damp ambience sets the ground for a spine-chilling adventurous experience. The forbidden island lies half a mile from the land of lagoons.

So have made your choice?

 

 

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5 Alternative Things to do in London

Posted by on Oct 19, 2014 in Travel Tips |

London has always been a cool place to visit. With such a vast amount of history in action, within the Capital, little wonder people love to visit the coolest place in the UK. But, there is a lot more to London than the Natural History Museum and Buckingham Palace. In fact, there are some perfect places that are slightly off the tourist trail. After all, you don’t want to become yet another tourist, wearing an I Love London t-shirt and a giant comedy hat.

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Simon & His Camera

1.    Head to East London

East London has always had something of a bad rap. But, if you want to spend your time conversing with bohemian, arty types, East London is the place to be. Yes, Hackney is a little rough around the edges. But, it’s a great place to go. Bars, clubs and shops are abundant. Plus, you are more likely to submerge yourself in local life. The East End is an excellent place to visit unusual art galleries and eat some great cuisine. What’s more, it’s one of the cheapest places in London to visit. So, if you are on a limited budget, the East End is perfect for you. Head to Dalton and check out the myriad of street art. It’s nothing short of provocative.

2.    Get on a Party Boat on the Thames

Party boats used to be commonplace in mainland Europe, but now they have come to the Thames. Nightclubs can be dull, heaving places. It’s time to part of the boat. The boat party in London has become something of a revelation. It’s an excellent way to see more of the Thames and the gorgeous London scenery. Plus, you get to relax and unwind with a drink or three. What could be better?

3.    Greenwich Market: Foodie Heaven

Yes, Camden and Portobello markets are heavily featured in the tourist magazines. But, have you considered heading to Greenwich Market? Greenwich is not just famous for its clock. It also has an incredible market that is sure to appeal to the most ardent of foodies among us. The market itself is located in the UNESCO Heritage Site, so it’s not only amazing, but it’s got a little bit of culture thrown in too. You can find every kind of food to suit every kind of palate.

4.    Soak in the Urban Culture in South Bank

South Bank has become increasingly popular in recent times. This is due to the Avant Garde urban culture that exudes from every pore. With street graffiti, installations and stencils in abundance, it’s a brilliant way to get a real sense of London. Wander around the streets and take it all in. While the Tube is a great way to travel, you can see so much more than the usual tourists by going round London on foot.

5.    Ditch Camden and Head to Kentish Town

Yes, Camden is cool. But, with only one tube stop away, Kentish Town is where it’s at. Kentish Town is like how Camden used to be. Cool, bohemian and not filled with tourists. Vintage shops and unusual nightlife is apparent in Kentish Town. It’s a neat alternative. Plus, you’ll beat the crowds too.

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Top 5 Historic London Landmarks You Have to See

Posted by on Oct 6, 2014 in Travel Tips |

London is often described as the most beautiful city in the world, and when you’re viewing its many splenderous sights there are certain locations you cannot afford to miss.

But of all the eye-catching buildings across the city there are some historical landmarks that you simply must see, and in the age of new extravagant London structures such as the Gherkin and Shard buildings, they remain an irreplaceable part of the capital’s wonder.

Tower of London

The Tower of London is a fantastic castle that has had a huge impact on English history, having served multiple uses since its construction in 1066. This includes evolving from a prison into a home for royal residence and then into a Zoo!
The Tower is located on the north bank of the River Thames in central London making it an excellent place to visit on a day out in London.
The Tower has an unpleasant reputation for being a place of torture and death, however there are so many more tales associated with it that you are probably not aware of. A visit to the tower will grant you the chance to hear many of these incredible stories courtesy of a tour guide.

Buckingham Palace

When in London, visiting Buckingham Palace is a must. The palace can be viewed from the comfort of a luxury chauffeured car, which can also be parked nearby to allow you to walk the short distance to the palace and take pictures of one of the most iconic of British life.
Be sure to check whether the Union Flag is flying, because if it’s not the Queen will be actually in the residence somewhere!
When the Queen is on her holidays (from the end of July to the end of September) you can see first-hand what living in the palace is like with a tour of 19 state rooms and its breath-taking gardens.

Big Ben

Big Ben is an iconic landmark recognised the world over and is one of the first things that comes to mind when thinking of the London sights, therefore anybody embarking on a London tour should make it a definite part of their journey.
Big Ben boasts the largest four-faced chiming clock in the world, and is often the focal point of British cinema and other UK art that relies on an expression of quintessentially British iconography.

Houses of Parliament

The Houses of Parliament, also known as the Palace of Westminster, is 900 years old and was originally a church made by the Saxons.
The church was then part of a monastery named West Minster, with St Paul’s, located east of London, known as the East Minster.

However, throughout its history the houses of parliament has changed dramatically and is well worth a tour in order to learn more about its amazing story of the past and present, such as modern day politics, stunning art and architecture.

St Pancras Station and Hotel

St Pancras Station and Hotel is truly breath-taking and it’s easy to see why this grade 1 listed building on Euston Road in the Borough of Camden is considered one of the UK’S most beloved landmarks.

St Pancras was damaged by German bombs during the blitz in 1940 but underwent a £800m restoration in 2007.

This is a perfect place to stay when travelling through London thanks to its close proximity to the Eurostar and high-speed rail among other thriving social events. Needless to say, it is an ideal location for filming and photography.

Finding your way around to London to these amazing sights is easy when you book a luxury chauffeured tour. You won’t have to worry about awkward transport arrangements when you’re in the company of an experienced and reliable chauffeur. Book your dream London tour now with TotalChauffeurs.co.uk.

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