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You don’t just go to London, you live it. It’s fast, it’s furious, it’s expensive, and it’ll give you the best time of your life if you let it. From the might of Westminster to the seediness of Soho, from the opulence of Mayfair to the overbearing self-confidence of the businesspeople clogging up all the great pubs in the City, there’s always something to see, something to do, someone to be thankful you’re not like. ... Read more »

Take in a show or some shopping in the West End, or realise there’s more to London than the postcard scenes and explore further afield. Head north to Wembley and its famous, redeveloped stadium, the home of football, or south to Brixtonand take in a gig at the famous Brixton Academy, where some of the biggest names in music still perform.

And everywhere you go you’ll hear a different, sometimes incomprehensible accent that is tribute to London’s historical development and multiculturalism. London’s ethnic diversity and wacky blend of tradition and trendsetting are putting it back at the cutting edge of music, food and fashion – and making living in the now pretty damn brilliant.

United Kingdom: Explore Multicultural London

How apropos that the first set of data from the United Kingdom’s most recent national census will be made available by July 2012 on the eve of the London Summer Games. After all, as the statistics will undoubtedly disclose, the only city to host the modern Olympics three times is also (with the possible exception of New York) the most multicultural on the planet. To wit, a full 204 National Olympic Committees will participate in the Games of the XXX Olympiad this summer and, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, all have a respective resident community in London keen to wave two flags throughout the 17-day quadrennial event. How many Olympic hosts of the past can strut with the same demographic swagger?

But while the average visitor can pore over stats from the 2001 census that declare that over 25% of Londoners were not born in the United Kingdom and that the top 20 nations of birth (from India and Ireland to Uganda and New Zealand) account for 17% of residents, which boroughs embrace the most diversity? Read on as we chronicle some notable ethnic pockets in the mosaic that is multicultural London.

London embraces its colourful and sometimes bloody history, encourages innovation and heartily complains about the tube system. Like any Brit worth their salt, London knows how to take the piss out of itself, which is a refreshing quality in such a global city.

London's Top 10

10. Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre Theatre junkies gawk over this modern reconstruction of the open-air playhouse erected in 1599.

5. Big Ben If you’re going to take a chunk out of your day to visit a really big clock, make it the one polled as London’s most iconic film location.

9. Natural History Museum You don’t have to be a natural science nerd to appreciate a towering, open-jawed T-Rex

4. The London Eye And you thought the double-decker bus was scenic – London’s Eye is 135m high and allows 40km views in each direction. Go early to avoid the queues. It’s pricey at any time of day, but the views are unforgettable.

8. Westminster Abbey 1000 years old, yet only a cathedral for 10 of them. Recently graced by Pippa Middleton’s bottom (but you have to pay to put yours where hers was).

3. The British Museum One of London’s top museums, it’s also the cheapest. Free, actually, and with over seven million objects it’s worth every penny you didn’t spend.

7. Trafalgar Square One of the red properties on the Monopoly board, it’s a tribute to Britain’s former colonial might. Nelson’s Column is guarded by lions and pooped on by pigeons in what is perhaps a political statement on the dangers of colonialism.

2. Buckingham Palace Don’t make a fool out of yourself trying to rouse the guards into motion – just check the schedule to find out what time the Changing of the Guard takes place.

6. National Gallery Houses over 2300 paintings from da Vinci to Vermeer and van Gogh. Entry is free, so don’t neglect the gift shop.

1. The Tower of London From armory to treasury to menagerie to public records office to the home of a really shiny hat.

London History

  • Buckingham Palace – Built in 1702, Buckingham Palace is the home to Queen Elizabeth II.
  • Tower Bridge – Featuring a drawbridge, the Tower Bridge is 900 years old.
  • St Paul’s Cathedral – St Paul’s Cathedral was built by Sir Christopher Wren after the Great Fire of London.
  • Westminster Abbey – Westminster Abbey is a large Gothic church where 16 royal weddings were performed.
  • Windsor Castle – Spanning 480,000 square feet, Windsor Castle is the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world.

London Art & Culture

  • National Gallery – Houses works from Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Van Gogh, Renoir, El Greco and Rembrandt, to name a few.
  • Tate Modern – Tate Modern is a famous contemporary art gallery.
  • Natural History Museum – The Natural History Museum is home to a towering diplodocus dinosaur skeleton.
  • British Museum – Learn about many different cultures through a number of galleries inside the British Museum.
  • Barbican Arts Centre – The Barbican Arts Centre is the largest performing arts center in Europe.

London Shopping

  • Camden Markets – Stalls selling crafts, clothing and food line the streets to make one big shopping mecca called Camden Markets.
  • Topshop & Topman – Fits all budgets with high fashion, hairstyling session and tips from a shopping expert.
  • Primark – High-fashion looks for a tight budget keeps Primark crowded elbow to elbow with shoppers.
  • Absolute Vintage – Absolute Vintage is a huge barn catering to the vintage shopper.
  • Coco Ribbon – Coco Ribbon is an award-winning boutique.

London Gay & Lesbian

  • Churchill Arms – Churchill Arms is a pub known for its excellent Thai food.
  • Gordon Ramsay at Claridge’s – A popular choice to dine in London is Gordon Ramsay at Claridge’s.
  • G-A-Y Bar – You will find three floors of music videos on plasma screens inside G-A-Y Bar.
  • Candy Bar – Candy Bar is considered one of London’s best lesbian bars.
  • Ronnie Scott’s – Known as Britain’s best jazz club in the late ’50s, Ronnie Scott’s still boasts a great reputation.

London Outdoor

  • Richmond Park – Walk amongst the 650 free-roaming deer in the lovely Richmond Park.
  • Hyde Park – Enjoy the beauty of 4,000 trees, a lake, meadow and rose gardens covering the grounds at London’s beautiful Hyde Park.
  • St Jame’s Park – Situated in the heart of London covering 58 acres, St Jame’s Park is a safe haven for water birds, owls, woodpeckers and bats.
  • Victoria Park – Go for a long peaceful walk through London’s Victoria Park.
  • Greenwich Park – Home to a small herd of deer, Greenwich Park boasts breathtaking views.

London Sports

  • The Summer Olympics will be held in London for the third time in 2012.
  • Football dominates as London’s most popular sport.
  • Rugby holds a big fan base in London.
  • London hosts Wimbledon, the oldest tennis tournament in the world.
  • Rowing competition between Oxford and Cambridge universities takes place annually on the Thames River.

London, England

London, the capital city of England, is the largest metro area in the United Kingdom. Situated on the Thames River, this city is a spectacular holiday destination. History, attractions, food, shopping and so much more can be found here; when visiting the UK, visitors should not miss exploring and discovering all that this city has to offer.

London Attractions

  • London Eye
  • London Aquarium
  • Big Ben

London Activities

  • Enjoy recreation at Regent's Park
  • Photograph the Houses of Parliament
  • Walk on the London Bridge

London Climate

London has a temperate climate in which winters are tolerable, summers fluctuate and spring and fall tend to be rainy. Although summer is one of the busiest times in the city, winters can be quite enchanting and a less expensive time to visit. Known to be a rainy locale, this area of England actually gets less rain than Rome.

Getting There & Around

London’s Heathrow Airport is the best airport to fly into to visit London. Located in the western part of the city, this airport is a major hub that has excellent ground transportation and many flights.

Getting around the city can be done by an extensive bus network, trams or rail. The London Underground, also known as the Tube, is the second oldest and longest metro system in the world. This is a unique way to see the city, as well as experience history.

London Local

Soho

If you stumble upon Soho looking for a cool spot for a cocktail, you’re in luck – though if you search it out expecting a Moulin Rouge-esque red light district you’ll be sorely disappointed. Soho is a multicultural amalgamation of nightclubs, bars, upscale restaurants, and just enough sex shops, peep shows and massage parlours to hint at the neighbourhood’s not-so-upscale history. The former Chinawhite nightclub is your best bet to see one tabloid-frequenting socialite throw a drink in the face of another, while late-night spots like Café Boheme have a more relaxed atmosphere. During the day, Soho’s Chinatown and its gay village on Old Compton Street are both animated.

Piccadilly Circus

The gaudy neon advertising and stifling streets of Piccadilly Circus are postcard London and, though easy to scoff at, they’re also what give this inner-city hub its endearing vibrancy. At the centre of this circus is the Angel of Christian Charity dedication to child-labour abolitionist Lord Shaftesbury (who gives the theatre-packed Shaftesbury Avenue its name), which is now a meeting place for tourist and rent boys alike (try not to get the two confused). Central to everything, including the high-end shops on Regent Street.

Camden

This formerly industrial inner-city district is strongly associated with alternative culture. So, naturally, it has more than its fair share of markets and music venues, including The Roundhouse Theatre – which, as the name suggests, is a locomotive engine roundhouse, and an indoor market inside the Electric Ballroom. The Devonshire Arms (or The Hobgoblin in hipster-speak) provides a welcome liquid relief from London’s many touristy pubs.

Chelsea

With London designers taking the reins at some of the world’s most esteemed fashion houses, the city is a shopaholic’s paradise. King’s Road was the height of chic in the 90s (and the epicentre of the Swinging Sixties) and still has its finger on the pulse in a more relaxed way with antiques, boutiques and designer stores. But unless your pockets are as vast as the minds of London’s top creatives who work, hang out and say ‘yah’ a lot here, it’s best to restrict yourself to window-shopping. Up Anderson Street is Sloane Avenue with the Conran Shop, which boasts a tempting range of eclectic home décor.

Notting Hill

Hugh Grant might have become a little less trendy since the release of the 1999 film Notting Hill, but Notting Hill itself is still known as one of London’s most fashionable areas. Portobello Road runs almost the entire length of Notting Hill and is known for its Portobello Road Market, one of London’s best, while Westbourne Grove is where established fashion designers share real estate with up-and-coming creative types. Just don’t bug the locals by asking for directions to the film’s iconic blue door – it does exist, but by now they probably wish it didn’t.

London Eat & Drink

Club Gascon A Gallic gem of gastric delight, this is the best place to go for fois-gratification. Clerkenwell

The Gordon Ramsay Exquisite food in a setting far warmer than you might expect after watching the owner’s television show.

Archipelago Not exactly a crowd pleaser, but you’ll never know whether you like chocolate-coated scorpion until you try it.

The Dorchester Afternoon tea is so much more than a snack falling between lunch and dinner. You’ll have trouble nibbling daintily with cakes this good.

Hakkasan Chinese food to most Londoners is a greasy takeaway commonly associated with a hangover, but these people obviously haven’t dined at Hakkasan

Fifteen A pinch of class, smidgen of cool and a big dollop of taste – Jamie Oliver’s recipe to success is simple. Best thing is the size of the portions – big! Islington

Sketch Gallery With décor this mind-blowing it should be hard to focus on the food – but it didn’t win all those awards for decoration alone.

J Sheekey Superior seafood, fine art, and sometimes Angelina Jolie.

St John Real British food done real well. If you do find something not to like here, keep it to yourself – they’re rather fond of St John Smithfield.

The Wolseley The opulent Wolseley is a mix of celebrities getting their 10am champagne fix and food critics desperately seeking something to criticise.

London Events

With more than half a million spectators, London’s New Year’s Day Parade is the biggest event of this kind in the world.

The most quintessentially English sporting event on the calendar, the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race in late March attracts a massive crowd to the River Thames.

May’s Chelsea Flower Show is an English garden tour for lovers of English gardens – and not just octogenarians.

On the second Saturday in June military troops mark the official birthday of Queen Elizabeth II by Trooping the Colour (carrying the flag) through London.

Whether or not you’re a fan of Tom Jones, the English Heritage Picnic Concerts are a good way to make the most of London’s brief summer months.

More than half a million Londoners can’t be wrong – the food and music of August’s African Caribbean Street Fair make for a pretty dynamic atmosphere.

August’s Notting Hill Carnival is the second largest street festival in the world – one of the many boons of London’s diverse culture.

Arguably the most popular classical music concert in the world, the Last Night of the Proms in September was so popular in 2010 they did it twice!

Unlike other European film festivals, October’s London Film Festival is not just for celebrities and film industry insiders.

The second Saturday in November is a light-hearted combination of British pageantry and carnival elements, when the Lord Mayor swears his allegiance to the Crown at the Lord Mayor’s Show.

When To Go

If you’re seeking to avoid getting wet, avoid visiting in November – although London rarely sees big downpours

It may be coldest January through March, but the city doesn’t shut down. The winter season is cheaper and includes some of London’s best events.

Many people are surprised to find how wet August can be. The most enjoyable time, weather-wise, is probably the end of September.

What To Miss

The London Trocadero is the epitome of gaudy and crowded Piccadilly Circus – and not in a good way.

Public phones. The red boxes are iconic, but once inside you’ll find them covered with some pretty graphic calling cards from prostitutes and suspicious toilet-like smells.

While Oxford St is a must-see, save your shopping for less touristy areas to get better prices and more original pieces.


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The Landmark Hotel London
Reviewer score
4.8
out of 53 Reviews
222 Marylebone Road London NW1 6JQ

Boasting a location next to Regent's Park, The Landmark Hotel London is an ideal place to stay when enjoying London tr... More hotel details

Award Winner 2011 : Outstanding Afternoon Tea
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The Cumberland A Guoman Hotel London
Reviewer score
4.4
out of 523 Reviews
Great Cumberland Place Marble Arch London W1C 1LZ

The Cumberland A Guoman Hotel London offers quality accommodation and a fine location close to London's popular attrac... More hotel details

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Four Stars Hotel London
Reviewer score
2.8
out of 512 Reviews
26-28 Sussex Gardens Hyde Park London W2 1UL

Four Stars Hotel London welcomes travellers to plan their vacation stay at this hotel and enjoy the modern lodging off... More hotel details

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Corus Hotel Hyde Park London
Reviewer score
4.6
out of 52 Reviews
Lancaster Gate London W2 3LG

Corus Hotel Hyde Park London offers quality accommodation as well as friendly atmosphere being close to the famous Ken... More hotel details

Award Finalist 2011 : Top Views over London
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Copthorne Tara Hotel London Kensington
Reviewer score
3.9
out of 516 Reviews
Scarsdale Place Kensington, London W8 5SR

Copthorne Tara Hotel London Kensington offers quality accommodation and services for a relaxing stay in Kensington. Gu... More hotel details

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Studios 2 Let London Apartment
Reviewer score
3.7
out of 57 Reviews
36-37 Cartwright Gardens London WC1H 9EH

Business and leisure travellers looking for chic comfortable accommodations set in a central location find an ideal ba... More hotel details

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Shaftesbury Premier Hotel Paddington London
Reviewer score
4.0
out of 52 Reviews
55 Westbourne Terrace Paddington London W2 3UY

Shaftesbury Premier Hotel Paddington London provides comfortable accommodation and quality services for its guests. Gu... More hotel details

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Strand Palace Hotel London
Reviewer score
4.3
out of 59 Reviews
372 Strand Covent Garden London WC2R 0JJ

Surrounded by London's well known places such as Courtauld Gallery, Covent Garden and National Portrait Gallery, Stran... More hotel details

Award Finalist 2011 : Best in Theatreland
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Grand Plaza Serviced Apartments London
Reviewer score
1.7
out of 52 Reviews
42 Princes Square Bayswater London W24 AD

Being identified as one of the largest apartment complex in Bayswater, Grand Plaza Serviced Apartments London is an id... More hotel details

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Hilton Tower Bridge Hotel London
Reviewer score
4.6
out of 52 Reviews
5 More London Place Tooley Street London SE1 2BY

Hilton Tower Bridge Hotel London offers a central location that is suitable for visitors on a leisurely vacation or a ... More hotel details

Award Winner 2010 : Outstanding Service | Outstanding Value
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