London Pt. 1

Things to do in London

Shoppers heaven!

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by linzeeloulabelle on October 2, 2012

Every time that I go to London, Harrods is one of the first places that I want to visit. The department store is located on Brompton Road in Knightsbridge. To get there, the easiest way is to get the tube to the Knightsbridge stop. As soon as you exit the station you will be able to see the shop as it is so big and takes up so much space.

Harrods is well-known for being one of the largest department stores in the world and also because of the luxury that goes along with the name. Harrods has literally everything that you could ever think of under one roof which makes it a place for shopping heaven. However, while many people think that everything is expensive, some things are very reasonably priced which makes it possible for everyone to buy something. There are seven floors of shopping and restaurants along with a food court and pet shop.

There are always security guards on every entrance to the store which can be a little bit daunting if it is your first visit. Although this has not happened to me personally, I have seen so many people have their bags checked, have been told to remove large coats etc. and other things like that. While Harrods do not necessarily refuse entry to anyone, they are careful about security and risks which is a good thing in my eyes.

So, what can you do or buy in Harrods? The list is endless. At entrance level you can find women’s handbags, jewellery, food and shoes, amongst other items. From here, you would think that everything is ridiculously expensive with bags costing more than I earn in a month sometimes but I just bypass all of this stuff now. The store has men’s, children’s and women’s fashion (both designer and high street). On a higher floor is homewares such as furniture and large kitchen appliances. There is a pet store which I love going to as there are always super cute cats and dogs. Of course, these are always pedigrees and cost a lot of money but they are nice to look at for a while.

Not everything in Harrods is all about shopping though. Harrods offer a lot of in store services which include wedding lists, personal shopping and beauty treatments. There are also plenty of places to eat which cater for everyone. If you want fine dining, there are many restaurants for this. If you want to eat with the kids, there are plenty of restaurants or cafes for this too. Although Harrods can be seen as a place for the rich, they really do cater for everyone which I think is a really nice touch.

Every time I have been here, it has been stupidly busy although Christmas time is always the worst but for good reason. Harrods have a fantastic Christmas selection and some really wonderful gifts and decorations. After Christmas, their sales are amazing and well worth going to London for even if it means fighting through hundreds of people to get what you want. I have heard on the news before that the store or certain floors have been closed off before for celebrities to use in private which I think is a little bit crazy. I have never been around when something like this has happened though.

I love Harrods even though I hardly ever buy anything apart from for Christmas but I will always visit every time I am in London.

== Opening Hours ==
Monday to Saturday 10am - 8pm
Sunday 11.30am* - 6pm

*browsing only between 11.30am and 12 noon
87-135 Brompton Road
London, England, SW1X 7XL
+44 (20) 7730 1234

One of London's gems

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by linzeeloulabelle on July 23, 2012

Until a very recent trip to London, I didn’t even know the Royal Academy of Arts existed. The only reason why I went is because I was meeting my boyfriend’s dad for the first time and this is where he works as the head of security. Not wanting to do anything too formal, his dad met us at the Academy and gave us a private (and free) personal tour.

The Royal Academy of Arts is one of the few galleries or museums in London that do not have free entrance. Fees vary depending on what exhibition is on but as I said, I was lucky enough to not have to pay anything. At the minute, the exhibition on at the Royal Academy of Arts is the Summer Exhibition which costs £10. If you are a ‘friend’ of the RA then admission is always free. This can be achieved by paying a one off fee (price depends on age, how many memberships you want etc.) and this will always gain you free entry. If you live in London and want to visit a lot then it is definitely worthwhile.

The Royal Academy of Arts was first founded in 1768 by George III along with 34 other founding members which were made up of artists and architects who wanted a place to feature British art. Their plan was also to establish a school for the arts which is still running today. It takes a hell of a lot to be accepted into the school of the RA and very few students are accepted each year.

One of the RA’s most famous exhibitions is the Summer Exhibition which runs from June until August each year. The very first Summer Exhibition was in 1768, the year the RA opened which means this year sees the 244th year of this event. If you don’t know what this is, just like I didn’t then I shall explain. The Summer Exhibition is the world’s largest open submission contemporary art show. Submissions are entered by members of the RA, famous artists and artists who are just starting out. Each painting or sculpture is for sale in the Summer Exhibition and they are all numbered so you can check out prices and how many are for sale in the little book of information you get at the front desk.

I loved looking around this collection of very diverse art. It was so nice to have John’s dad explain exactly what the exhibition about and to point out some of the more famous artist’s work. It was so surprising to see how much some of the different pieces varied in price especially considering how small some of them were. However, this isn’t an event where everything is overpriced. A lot of the pieces were extremely affordable and I would have loved a couple for myself if I actually had any money. I do know though that if I ever want to buy some art, I would save up and head to this event to get something really special.

Although my experience of the RA was a bit different to the one that most people will get, I loved every minute of it. I was so thankful to John’s dad for introducing me to a part of London I would have never gone to otherwise. I’m lucky enough to not have to pay entrance fees but even if this weren’t the case, I think the RA is worth paying to see.
Royal Academy Of Arts
Burlington House
London, England, W1J 0BD
+44 020 7300 8000

My favourite place in London

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by linzeeloulabelle on July 22, 2012

My absolute favourite place in London is the Victoria and Albert (V&A) Museum. I don’t care how many times I have been, I still go again every time I’m there and I will probably carry on doing so for a very long time.

The V&A is located on Cromwell Road, a few minutes away from the South Kensington underground station. Also, if you are heading to the museum from Harrods, it is a 5 minute walk up the same street so the location is very good. If you want to take the bus to the museum then you can get either the C1, 14, 74 and 414 which all stop right outside the entrance. In close vicinity is the Science Museum as well as the Natural History Museum.

== Opening times and admission ==
10.00 to 17.45 daily
10.00 to 22.00 Fridays (selected galleries remain open after 18.00)
Admission is always free although donations are welcomed
Some temporary exhibitions require an admission fee

== The museum ==
The V&A has had many different names over the years since it opened in 1852. Firstly it was known as the Museum of Manufacturers, then the South Kensington Museum and finally in 1899, it was renamed as the Victoria and Albert Museum. The museum is very large in size and the exterior is stunning. As you are walking up to the museum, you can’t miss it because of how big it is and also how nice it looks from the outside. Although you can enter the museum from an underground tunnel, I always choose to enter from the outside just so I can see the building again.

Inside the museum is just as impressive. The V&A is home to a very varied collection of exhibitions and although there are always some temporary ones on show, there are also a large number of permanent exhibitions. Different permanent exhibitions include; Furniture, Textiles and Fashion, Sculpture, Metalwork, Ceramics & Glass and Word & Image. Free maps are available as you enter the museum which I would highly recommend getting as the museum can be extremely confusing. The layout is not that simple and every time I go, I end up missing parts of it due to getting lost.

If you enter the museum from the tunnel, you will hit the sculpture exhibition, which is my personal favourite, Here, you can see so many different amazing sculptures from all over the world and of different things. You can see a sculpture of Einstein and Shakespeare’s head along with some impressive Greek and Roman Gods. Although I have seen this part of the museum so many times, it never fails to impress me and I always spend quite a lot of time looking around this area. While this section is fairly large in size, it could be bigger and I wish that this one was area that could be expanded as some other areas of the museum are huge in comparison.

Another of my favourite areas to visit is the fashion exhibition although I didn’t put my boyfriend through this the last time we went. What I love so much about looking at fashion is seeing how much things have changed over time. Some of the permanent items in this section include contemporary fashion and weddings. The V&A has an amazing wedding collection which includes a suit made for King James II to wear at his own wedding. Some of the pieces here are absolutely stunning although this probably isn’t a section which the men will enjoy so much. This exhibition dates from the Renaissance period up to the modern day.

As the V&A has so many different collections, it can take hours to get round but it really is worth it. As I said earlier, I generally tend to miss something each time I go so I always get to discover something new and interesting with each visit. Along with the exhibitions, the V&A also has a great shop which is very large in size. The shop has a great collection of books, prints and posters as well as other items. Jewellery can be purchased as well as home ware and strange items from British designers. The shop always has some really interesting items on sale which are constantly changing. Prices are also good as they range from quite cheap and reasonable to pretty expensive for the better and more impressive items.

== Overall ==
The V&A is definitely a place worth visiting if you are in London. As admission is free, it is a great cheap way to spend a day or only a few hours if you have been there before. There is so much to see at the V&A that there always seems to be something I haven’t seen before which is why I make a point of going every time I’m in London.
Victoria and Albert Museum
Cromwell Road
London, England, SW7 2RL
+44 (20) 7942 2000

Our capital!

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by linzeeloulabelle on May 31, 2011

Sometimes I absolutely love London, and sometimes i cant even stand being there. I don’t live there but I do like to go at least once a year. People's thoughts about the capital will all depend on when they go and what they do while they’re there.

Last time I went was 2 days after Christmas and I can safely say I will never go there again during the sales!! I was meeting a friend from Canada and a friend from France at the time so I can’t complain about the company at all. Neither of them had been to London before so it was all down to me to entertain them and do the tourist stuff with them. (Not that I complained at the time). I haven’t even done all the tourist things myself but I showed them what I could.

Somewhere I really wanted to take them was Harrods but i really wish I hadn’t now. There were queues all along the side of the shop for the Gucci sale but luckily we didn’t wait in this. Once inside it was manic! You couldn’t really have a good look around because of the amounts of people everywhere, especially in the food courts and the perfume department. We literally had to fight our way through the crowds. I’m sure the sales were fantastic but we never really got to see much of them.

I’m going to do this is 2 parts. Things i love and things i hate!

Great things in London!
1. The shows - I’ve been to a couple of West End shows now including Grease and Dirty Dancing. Tickets can be extremely expensive but shop around the half price shops in Leicester Square and you're bound to get a good deal. You can normally get pretty decent seats for about £25 but can pay more if you want better ones. My advice would be to go early in the day though to get the best deals. From about 3pm everywhere starts selling out and ive had to take what was left just so I could see something.

2. Can be done on a very tight budget - Getting to London and paying for a hotel isn’t cheap so i like to do as many free or extremely cheap things as I can while I’m there. Most of the museums etc are free but ask for donations. I don’t mind giving a couple of quid as a donation because i thoroughly enjoy myself looking around and they can easily take up a full day.

3. Places to eat - In the city centre you can get any food imaginable really. Great thing especially if everyone likes different things. There's always something for everyone. Although prices are more expensive than anywhere else in the country it all depends on what you're willing to spend. There are loads of pizza places in Piccadilly Circus which are cheap but of course sit down restaurants will always end up costing more.

Bad things about London!
1. After Christmas sales - As you can see from the start of this review, I’m not a big fan of the sales in London. There are just far too many people around fighting for items in Harrods and the designer shops because their sales are just too good. I’ve been to the sales in Manchester before and would easily choose going there over London any day.

2. When they kids are off school - If you actually want to look around museums (especially the Science Museum) don't go when the kids are off. You wont be able to see much of anything or try out any of the experiments because everywhere is swarming with kids. Choose you're attractions well if you plan to go at these times because there will be huge queues all over London and you'll end up wasting a lot of your time.

3. There's so much to do! - Now I know this is normally a good thing but there's too much choice sometimes. I’ve been going to London for the past 4 years now and I’m still yet to see everything that I want. It's very tiring if you try to fit too much into the time you have and you'll find yourself needing more time off work etc just to get over your trip. My trip at Christmas near enough killed me trying to fit so much into 2 days for my foreign friends. Take comfortable shoes and even a 2nd pair of good ones. My most comfortable shoes even hurt me after walking around from 9am till about 11pm.

Everyone needs to go to London at some point but just make sure you plan your time really well and give yourself time to sit down!

Not worth the money!

Member Rating 2 out of 5 by linzeeloulabelle on May 28, 2012

When staying in London, I hate to pay a lot for a hotel but I also like to be as central as possible. I know this doesn’t sound very do-able but I end up searching for hours until I find something that I think will be ok. I was meeting a Canadian friend and her French friend in London for a weekend so I didn’t want to get lost finding a hotel and as they were getting there a few hours after me, I also didn’t want to drag luggage around for ages so I decided to look in the Kings Cross area. I had never stayed there before so I had no idea where would be good and where wouldn’t.

I ended up choosing the European Hotel for us all as it was by far the cheapest at the time. The hotel is less than a 5 minute walk away from Kings Cross Station so it was the perfect distance for me to drop my luggage off before I went for a wander around. The hotel is extremely easy to find due to the distance from the station. All you need to do is cross over the main road from the front entrance and walk down Crestfield Street (near enough straight in front of you) until you reach the hotel in Argyle Square on the right hand side. There is a sign outside the building along with some lovely potted plants so you can’t miss it.

Although the outside of the hotel looked welcoming, the inside wasn’t nearly as nice. The reception desk is straight in the front door but if there are more than 2 or 3 of you, you will find it hard for everyone to stand there as there is very little space free. The staff was very nice and gave me the key to my room while explaining that as the desk was open 24 hours a day, I had to give me key back in each time I left the hotel and pick it up again when I returned. This seemed like a bit of a pain to me as I would have much preferred to just keep my key on me at all times but I understand that they don’t want them getting lost or going missing.

This hotel has no lifts at all, only stairs so if you have a lot of luggage, you will struggle. Luckily, I only had one small weekend bag but the trek up the stairs was very annoying. Obviously, this hotel is not a good choice for those needing wheelchair access and really, I think every hotel should have at least one lift. Surely this can lose them business in the long run. However, I didn’t need this so I was fine.

My two friends stayed in a twin room together while I opted for a single room. At the time, this room cost about £35 a night which was really good for a single room. After checking more up to date prices, a single room is now £60 a night which I wouldn’t pay. There aren’t too many of these about and I have ended up paying more as I’ve had to book a double room. The problem here though was that while most rooms in this hotel do have en suites, mine did not. The floor that my room was on had a shared toilet which is not the nicest of things to have to share in a hotel. My room did have a shower though but it wouldn’t work so my room had to be changed for one with a working shower. The staff were extremely helpful with this matter and had me moved within 10 minutes.

The room itself was quite small with the shower only a foot away from the single bed. The room also had a very small desk with a TV on and one very small wardrobe (without hangers or shelves) to store your clothes. I would describe the room as cosy. The décor was extremely dated and had it been a little bit more modern, even painted in a plain colour, it would have been a lot more inviting. The room wasn’t too bad though and I have stayed in worse so I wouldn’t complain about that. It also would have been nice to have a little bit more space in the room. The twin room my friends were staying in had a lot more space so it seemed to me that just because I was on my own, I had to have less space to stay in.

The European Hotel does have a breakfast restaurant but we all decided not to eat here. The restaurant, again, was very dated looking with tables that didn’t match at all. We only really had a quick peak into the room before we checked out. While my stay here wasn’t the best I have ever experienced, it was in a good location and a good price at the time. Now that prices have nearly doubled, I wouldn’t choose to stay here again. The standard of the hotel is not high enough to pay £60 for a single room.
European Hotel
11-15 Argyle Square
London, England
020 7278 3408

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