Friday Five: My Favo(u)rite London Things

The Houses of Parliament
The Houses of Parliament

I have a well-documented love affair with Paris. It is a city that long ago captured my heart and imagination, and there isn’t anywhere else in the world that fills me with the kind of inexplicable joy I feel as I walk down Paris’ frequently crotte-covered cobblestoned streets.

That was until I made my most recent visit to London. I have visited London more than half a dozen times, and each time, the city has meant something different to me. On my first visit, I was a college senior who inexplicably chose a cold city for my final spring break. Subsequent trips saw me alternately as a lovestruck would-be graduate student, a confused young professional, an actual graduate student, and now as a not-so-young, nor as confused professional. And my view of the city changed and shifted each time I viewed it through a different lens.

London never struck me with its beauty and charm the way Paris did. London requires you

The famous warnings on the Tube to "Mind the gap between the train and the platform."
The famous warnings on the Tube to “mind the gap between the train and the platform.”

to earn your charmingly English experiences. It’s not as obviously beautiful as Paris, and Londoners aren’t particularly friendly. Every corner in Paris reveals a scene that could’ve been plucked from Amelie, but London is not this way–I have never had a moment where I felt like I was living in a Richard Curtis film (and maybe that’s a good thing). But the biggest difference between my respect for London and affection for Paris? I can never quite see myself living in Paris–my American sensibilities are still too strong for me to live in a city where striking is an art form–I could absolutely see myself living in London. It could be because I have friends in London, or that the language is my native tongue. It could be that the quiet, somewhat taciturn people jive a little bit more with my own introverted nature. All I know is that London finally grabbed my heart this time ’round. And here are my five favorite things from my most recent trip.

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The Budget Traveler: London House Hotel Review

I am weirdly cheap about certain things–as much as I love Uber, nine times out of ten, I will take public transportation to/from most airports. In fact, I will bus most places unless absolutely necessary that I take a car (for example, last month, I got hopelessly lost in an area of Seattle that I am deeply unfamiliar with and which does not have sidewalks, so had to summon Uber). When I first started making my solo travel adventures abroad, I eagerly booked into cheap hostels, where I met some great people (some of whom I still keep in contact with) and managed to save a lot of money to keep me in the clear as I ate and drank my way through Western Europe. But somewhere along the line, maybe around 25 or so, I began to let go of my desire to pinch pennies when it came to where I lay my head down. Gone were the days where my body could withstand hours of liver abuse and rally on three hours of sleep that were interrupted by loud snoring from the person in the bunk above me. So, I spent a considerable amount of time scouring the Internet for hostels and hotels that offered single rooms (preferably with an ensuite shower, because I was also tired of packing my own shower shoes) for a reasonable price. And you know what? Those places exist. They’re just very hard to find.

Enter London House Hotel, located in Bayswater, London. It is by no means a fancy hotel–there’s no room service, no on-site restaurant, no bar. But what it lacks in on-site services it more than makes up with in price, location, and room quality.

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