Can you tell London is my favorite city? This was my fourth trip to London and although I was there primarily for World Travel Market, I wanted to see the city through the eyes of a resident, rather than my usual tourist self. Here are my tips for seeing London like a local.
I typically stay in hostels when I visit London as it tends to be the cheapest option. I’ve stayed at Palmer’s Lodge Swiss Cottage, Monkeys in the Trees and Palmer’s Lodge Hillspring. But during the conference, I wanted to do something different. A handful of travel bloggers split an apartment in Deptford we found on Wimdu. It was close to the Underground and DLR, which went straight to the Excel Center, and had shops and restaurants nearby. I liked having a place to leave my things and not worrying about locking it up all the time.
Eating and Drinking
Local pubs are a great way to get to know the city, not to mention have a nice pint and meal. On our first day at the apartment, we went to the Royal Albert for a big Sunday roast lunch. And what is a trip to London without a stop at Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, even if it is touristy?
It was nice to have local Dylan of The Travelling Editor show me around and took me and the couples behind Beers & Beans and OverYonderlust to dinner at Tonkatsu ramen in SoHo. And I can’t mention this trip without telling you about the best fish and chips of my life at The Golden Hind in Marylebone. Get thyself there immediately.
I purchased an Oyster card on my last trip to London, so all I had to do when I got there was top it up. I added a 7 day travel card, which got me unlimited travel in zones 1 and 2 for around £30. I then topped up an additional £5 every few days to get me to zone 3. Sammi used a basic Travelcard, which many times wouldn’t read in the machines. The Oyster card can also be used for the Emirates Air Line cable car, but only with top up funds. If you’re in the Docklands, it’s a quick and scenic way to see the city and a nice alternative to the overrated London Eye.
Lack of money prevented me from doing much shopping on this trip, but I couldn’t spend any amount of time there without stepping foot in a bookstore. I absolutely love bookstores and thought I had found my favorite in Porto, but then I found Daunt Books in Marylebone. They organize their travel books by destination, placing relevant narratives next to the guidebooks. It has a balcony that overlooks all the book porn.
I had never been to the Docklands and it’s not somewhere I would have spent time if it hadn’t been for this conference. I’m glad I did look around though, as it’s where most of the Olympics facilities were. I also wished I’d taken the time to go on a tour of one of London’s other neighborhoods, namely Camden or Soho.
Before leaving, I downloaded a few useful iPhone apps to make my trip a little easier. I recommend the TubeMap app, as the map works even if you’re not connected to the Internet. It’s also more discreet than whipping out your paper map and stamping yourself a tourist. The HEX for Heathrow Express app allows you to buy tickets and check schedules. You can also use the code to have your ticket scanned rather than printing it out. The National Rail app is similar and shows you timetables for the regional trains. And VoucherCodes has coupons for chains like Pizza Express and Strada.