As the subtle flavours of autumn begin to permeate the air, some of us will look back and begin to miss the endless days of summer. However, a change of the seasons brings about an entirely new kaleidoscope of activities to enjoy for those who may plan on visiting London. What are a handful of attractions and events that will definitely serve to punctuate any time spent here? Let’s list a few of the most popular and interesting.
Historic pubs in London are a dime a dozen, but there’s one in particular that I know will appeal to my fellow Americans. The name kind of says it all for The Mayflower Pub. Nestled in a quiet little corner of Rotherhithe Village, this unassuming public house is thought to mark the site where the famous The Mayflower ship was moored before heading off to Plymouth, and eventually America.
Despite the fact that the pilgrims who made the harrowing journey aboard The Mayflower were English separatists, this bit of history is a point of pride in Rotherhithe. The Mayflower’s captain Christopher Jones is buried just a few blocks from the pub and there is even a statue (albeit a horrific looking one) erected in his honour.
The pub’s history dates back to 1550, and Christopher Jones would have known it as The Shippe Pub. It’s since changed hands several times and was renamed the Spread Eagle in 1780. It’s been operating in its current incarnation as The Mayflower since the 1950s and offers a unique slice of both British and American history.
Today The Mayflower plays up its special connection with America. Photos of ships and other nautical-themed trinkets line the walls and you can even buy American stamps from the bar. Outside the deck, which hovers precariously over the lapping waters of the Thames, an American flag flies side-by-side with the Union Jack.
Inside The Mayflower is pretty standard for a pub of its age. You can tell its dark wooden benches have seen their fair share of patrons over the decades (if not centuries) and a big, welcoming brick fireplace sits off in the corner. The crowded bar lined with draft ales is the centrepiece of the pub and a series of creaky steps leads to an upstairs dining room.
With it being such a nice day outside I opted for a table out on the deck. From here you could see The City of London in the distance, although it felt a world away from this quiet corner of Rotherhithe. The food at The Mayflower is standard pub fare. I had the fish and chips, and my boyfriend chose the burger. Both were fine, but then again we weren’t really there for the food.
While The Mayflower may be a bit guilty of cashing in on its unique heritage, it’s still a proper pub. The atmosphere here is better than what you would find in most pubs around Central London, particularly those within a stone’s throw from popular tourist attractions.
Visiting The Mayflower
If you’re an American history nut and happen to be visiting London, then this is the place to sit back and have a pint. If you do intend to visit, I recommend making a reservation at least a few days in advance. The Mayflower sits right on the Thames, about a 2-minute walk from Rotherhithe Overground Station.
For tourists, I would suggest you visit the Tower of London and/or Tower Bridge in the morning, then head to The Mayflower for lunch. To get there, take the DLR from Tower Gateway to Shadwell. From Shadwell, take the Overground south two stops to Rotherhithe. The total journey time should be around 15 minutes.
It’s not often that I make it to West London these days, and when I do, I scarcely head further west than High Street Kensington (unless I’m off to Heathrow, of course). So visiting my old neighbourhood of West Kensington is a rare treat indeed.
Since moving to the Canary Wharf and Limehouse area almost four years ago, my journeys take me back to West Ken once or twice a year when I pop into the local dentist’s office for a checkup. Normally I have a morning appointment and am off to work straight away. This last time, however, I booked a leisurely 4pm time slot and took the afternoon off.
After getting my teeth thoroughly inspected (they’re in good shape, btw) I decided to take a little walk down memory lane and stroll past our old flat. Long time readers of the blog will know that I wasn’t particularly fond of our old West Kensington flat, but it will always hold a special place in my heart as our first real place in London.
The street, Perham Road, has held up pretty nicely over the years and many of the Victorian-era buildings have received a bit of a facelift since I lived there. The building housing our old flat looks like it still needs some sprucing up though – nothing a little white paint couldn’t fix.
West Kensington is largely a residential area. It’s about a 20-minute walk from High Street Kensington and another 20 or 30-minute walk to Hammersmith. It’s quiet, leafy, and I’ll admit there are times when I miss living there. It feels very “London,” whereas my current neighbourhood has more of a generic urban feel.
Before heading back on the tube I turn onto a street about a block from Perham road and happened across a Blue Plaque I had never seen before. For those who don’t know, Blue Plaques are pretty common around London and mark the place where a famous person (or people) lived and/or worked. This particular plaque marked where Mahatma Gandhi lived as a law student. How cool is that?
Walking through West Kensington brought back a lot of great memories of my first year in London. Hopefully it won’t be too long before I have a chance to visit again.
Nestled on the banks of the River Thames in the heart of Central London, Shakespeare’s Globe is hard to miss. The theatre is a painstaking reconstruction of the original Globe, which stood a few hundred metres from its present location. Between 1599 and 1613, Elizabethan Englanders flocked to the Southwark venue to watch Shakespeare live. Though mainly an attraction for the wealthy, “commoners” were able to purchase standing tickets near the stage for a penny (often a day’s wage). These ticket holders became known as groundlings.
Since 1997, the modern Shakespeare’s Globe has continued in the groundling tradition by releasing 700 standing tickets for each performance. Tickets are just £5 and can be booked online (select Globe Theatre and “yard” tickets). Any remaining unsold tickets are sold at the start of the performance.
Groundling ticket holders are closer to the stage than their seated counterparts and almost all plays at the Globe include interaction with the groundling audience.
This summer the Globe’s schedule is packed with performances of King John, Richard II, Measure for Measure, Macbeth, and more. If you’re visiting London and want to catch a live show without breaking your budget, this £5 ticket deal is hard to pass up!
The English capital is always full of all kinds of attractions and activities throughout the year. With summer fast approaching, it’s time to take advantage of the beautiful British sunshine, breathe in some of the great fresh air, and utilize some of the stunning parks London has to offer.
This is a guide to the top 5 parks to visit in London this summer:
St James’s Park
St James’s Park is the oldest of London’s royal parks. Spanning over 23 hectares, these beautiful grounds are surrounded by three palaces; St James’s Palace, Buckingham Palace and Westminster.
Surrounded by trees, beautiful lakes and two islands – Duck Island and West Island, and landmarks such as the London Eye in the distance, St. James’ Park is the ideal place for a picnic on a warm, sunny day.
The park also boarders one of the most beautiful neighborhood to live in London, and makes it a very pleasant area to live. Castle Estates offers accommodations around this area, as well as other letting agent services around London, just in case you visit and never want to leave!
Regent’s Park is another one of London’s royal parks. Located in North West London, this park covers 166 hectares of land and is so big that it occupies two different areas of London – the City of Westminster and the Camden district. Features you’ll find at Regent’s Park this summer include beautiful rose gardens, as well as:
- London Zoo, one of the oldest of the world. It’s the perfect opportunity to discover more than 20,000 animals from750 different species.
- Open air theater; opened form May to September itis the onlyprofessional open air theaterexistingin the UK.
- Queen Mary’s Gardens; with more than 12000 roses from 85 varieties, this garden is named after the wife of King George V and houses the largest collection of roses in the world.
- Sporting activities; Regent’s Park is the best place to take part in London’ssports because it has the largest outdoors sport area including pitches for football, softball, rugby and cricket
Hyde Park is an historical and royal park located at the heart of central London. It is one of the biggest parks in the capital covering 140 hectares of greenery and over 4,000 trees. The Serpentine Lake divides the park into two parts. Hyde Park is open every day from 5am to midnight. There are many sporting activities to do in the park such as horse riding, running, tennis, swimming and football. There are also many children’s play areas for the little ones to enjoy this summer. In terms of cultural activities, Hyde Park has also been known to host many music festivals and concerts in the past, so keep an eye out for any taking place in the upcoming months.
London’s Greenwich Park is an active park which has grown in popularity and visitors since the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, as well as the exposure this park gets through the London Marathon each year. Located on a hill, it offers a beautiful view on the River Thames, the Old Royal Observatory, The National Maritime Museum, and only minutes away from the Cutty Sark ship. Greenwich Park is well known for its variety of activities such as cruises on the lake, playing areas for children and its tennis courts, as well as Greenwich Village which offers a range of great outdoor restaurants and bars, making for a fun family day out.
Victoria Park is described as the local’s favourite East End park, boarding Bethnal Green, Hackney, and Bow. Victoria Park houses canals, ponds and a pavilion, as well as tennis courts and sports fields which you can make great use of during the summer. Victoria Park is also used as a location that participates in many music festivals such as the famous Lovebox, especially during the warm seasons where you are able to listen to the best current bands such as the Clash and Radiohead.
A few months back I had the opportunity to interview Charlie Marshall, founder of one of my favourite London-based furniture companies, Loaf.
The native Londoner shared with me his inspiration for creating Loaf, his design inspiration, and his personal tip for things to see and do in Notting Hill.
Where did the idea for ‘Loaf’ come from?
Frustration really! I once lost a whole Saturday trying to buy a bed so I decided to make the shopping experience as hassle free, affordable and speedy as possible. Two years, 187 mattress factories and some seriously comfy beds later, Loaf was born. The idea is that we’ve done all of the testing so that the customer doesn’t have to. We’re now a one-stop shop for the whole home offering characterful, handmade furniture and accessories that look darn good.
You’re a Notting Hill native. What do you love most about the neighbourhood?
Yes, I’m a born and bred Londoner. I’ve got early memories of sitting with my Dad in his Mini Metro watching rioters make petrol bombs on All Saints Road for the Notting Hill Riots! Luckily the area has transformed into a well-integrated society with a real melting pot of cultures and characters which has resulted in interesting shops and a wicked vibe.
Are there any special spots around Notting Hill that you’d recommend to visitors?
I’d recommend heading off the tourist track a bit and visiting Golborne Road market instead of Portobello as its got really good antique shops and interesting market sellers to chat to. The streets are full of quirky coffee shops and artisan bakeries but Falafel King and Pizza East are two of our favourites. Or try sitting on plastic chairs and eating from the Moroccan fried fish stalls on Golborne Road itself. Make sure you swing by our Notting Hill showroom too, we’re tucked just off Ladbroke Grove so it’s a good way to escape the hustle and bustle.
Read the full interview on LondonPerfect’s blog.
Unless you’re rushing to make an appointment, getting lost in London is rarely a bad thing. The city’s twisting streets and alleyways hide a treasure trove of residential gems. Last weekend, on a bungled attempt to get to Camden Market, I ran into an absolutely swoon-worthy little residential street just outside Camden Road Overground Station.
In a sea of pretty, but otherwise uninspiring flats was an unmistakable pop of colour. Pink, green, yellow, and blue, each vibrant hue more delectable than the previous. It was like standing in front of a massive ice cream counter and I couldn’t choose a flavour.
When I made it back home later that I day I took to Google Maps to track down exactly where this deliciously colourful part of London was. Not only did I discover that this little road was called Bonny Street, but I also learned that it was painted pretty recently. As it turns out Google’s street view team caught the paint job in progress last summer, revealing what the building looked like before it’s candy-coloured layers were slathered on. What a different a fresh coat of paint makes