If, like me, your bank balance is seriously lamenting the hammering it took over the festive period then you’re probably not going to be taking advantage of the air line sales this January. I mean, does anybody really have £1,000+ for a break to Grenada two weeks after Christmas? I didn’t think so.
I’m a strong advocate for using these slightly skint months as an opportunity to explore the UK instead, as believe it or not our little island does have a lot to offer. While it can’t guarantee the sunny weather we’re all craving after what feels like six months submerged under a storm cloud, it does have it’s fair share of brilliant cities and gorgeous countryside in both the North and the South. For you Northern monkeys out there, I fully recommend a shopping trip to Manchester, a cultural experience in Liverpool, a cute day out in Chester, or if you feel like going a little further North why not consider checking off all the above and more with a trip to Edinburgh?
If your heart lies in the South however, the city I now call home is the obvious choice for a staycation. I’ve lived in London for almost a year now and I still don’t feel like I’ve even scratched the surface of what this city has to offer. While famed for being expensive, I truly believe that you can have a break in the city no matter your budget – travel is fairly affordable if you ensure you travel by bus or tube (or even Boris Bike for those who know the layout of the city a little better!) rather than relying upon Ubers or black cabs, and with the huge choice of accommodation across the city you’re guaranteed to find something for your money.
I do sometimes think that trying to find accommodation in London can be quite intimidating due to the sheer number of hotels – occasionally it can be quite difficult to tell what exactly you will be getting for your money, which is why I’m now recommending my friends and family to Urban Retreats Apartments. These apartments are situated in Mayfair – a stones throw from everything that Central London has to offer and each one is designed with comfort in mind, including king sized beds, 55″ TVs and full maid service available in each apartment, and therefore they are a perfect home away from home! The beauty of staying in an apartment like this is that you don’t have to worry about other noisy guests, or what time you want to return after your evening outings, just kick back, relax and do your own thing!
So you’ve got your accommodation sorted, but what should you do while you’re here? For the fan of the theatre, London’s West End has it all, from smaller productions and ‘serious theatre’ to famous musicals and more. For my top picks on what to see on the West End, check out this post that I published in December. Handy hint: for tickets on the day, try apps such as Today Tix or the ticket booth in the centre of Leicester Square – these will occasionally do tickets at a discount too, but don’t get stung by other ticket booths offering discount prices. These are not officially affiliated with the theatres.
Oxford Street has it all if you’re after a shopping trip – home to the Topshop HQ, several Urban Outfitters stores, New Look, River Island and any other high street store you can think of it is a shopaholic’s heaven. Just a stone’s throw away from Oxford Street is the slightly pricer Regent’s Street too, home to brands such as Burberry and Karl Lagerfeld this is where to visit if you want to pick up some goodies with a designer tag. Feeling peckish after your shopping trip? You’ll be pleased to know you’re in the right area for some top quality food too! There are an absolute tonne of restaurants around London’s West End and considering you can walk from Oxford Street to Leicester Square in 20 minutes or so you’re completely spoilt for choice – handy for a quick post-shopping meal and really affordable is my personal favourite ‘The Diner’ located just off Carnaby Street (although you will find it in other locations around the city too).
Carnaby Street itself is one to check out if you like something different – the gateway to Soho as I like to call it – is home to all things love and sparkles with gorgeous decorations up all year long. It is also home to a great selection of shops and restaurants, with iconic London department store Liberty holding residence on its corner.
If however, like me, you find the busy city a little bit too much sometimes, don’t forget to pay a visit to one of its many gorgeous green spaces. A personal favourite of mine is Regents Park, although I would also recommend a stroll around Hyde Park too – it forever amazes me that these huge expanses of nature exist in the middle of the concrete jungle. The air feels fresher, there isn’t a siren to be heard and it’s a great way to take in a bit of nature while still enjoying the city.
Other places I’d recommend in London are: Shoreditch, Brick Lane, Portobello Market, Spitalfields, Kensington and Chelsea but as you can see, I still have a lot of exploring left to do.
So there we go, where to stay and what to do in London this spring! Of course, I’ve tried to be as generalised as possible (without writing a post the length of an academic essay) so there are plenty of other things to do and see while you stay in the city. Let me know in the comments below if you’d consider staying in an Urban Retreats apartment, and don’t forget to give me your recommendations on what to do in London this spring!
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This post is a collaboration with Urban Retreats Apartments, however all opinions are my own.