LONDON was on everyone’s lips last year when it hosted the Summer Olympics and put on a remarkable show of self-confidence. The city took its place on the world stage with a vigour that may have surprised many and also welcomed visitors with a blast of new hotels, bars and restaurants. Britain’s capital is still buzzing but with so many new places to explore and new things to see in this sprawling city of 8 million people, how do you plan a visit? We asked London lover Rebecca McKee to give us a guide to the very best of her city and she has come up with four itineraries that explore different aspects. From eating and drinking to shopping and clubbing, London has something for everyone.
MEET YOUR HOST: Rebecca McKee
Occupation: Senior Marketing Manager, UK and Ireland at Expedia. Age: 33
What do you love about London?
The fact it is constantly evolving. It never stands still and there is something for everyone. You never stop discovering: I found a tranquil pop-up rooftop garden overlooking the river on the South Bank yesterday and visited a tiny gin distillery at the end of quiet residential street in the middle of Hammersmith last week. Oh, and it goes without saying, world-class shopping.
What’s the best thing about it?
Whatever you love or are passionate about, you will find it in London. There is something for everyone: foodies, fashionistas and music lovers are spoilt for choice. It also has a wealth of wonderful green spaces compared to many other cities and a villagey feel. It is a collection of smaller towns that have been swallowed up and in places like Hampstead you can feel as if you are still in the countryside. They have all retained their character.
Can you describe the people in three words?
Forward-thinking, dynamic and always open to new things. It’s a complete myth that Londoners are rude – we’re just very busy working. The summer Olympics did a lot to get people talking and smiling by taking a break from the daily grind to celebrate everything that is fantastic about this city.
When did you first fall in love with it?
I fell in love with it the first time I came here at the age of 15, from a small Northern town. I have fallen more in love with it the older I have got. Whatever your budget you can experience something fantastic, from the free parks and galleries to the decadence of a private helicopter tour. It is a city of opportunity, where people want to work, which is one reason it has survived the recession. At Expedia we have seen a growth in demand in London as a destination. It’s having a massive resurgence – the visitor numbers are growing every year.
Would you ever live anywhere else?
My other half is American, so maybe somewhere like LA for the weather or New York. I couldn’t live anywhere else in Europe. London really only compares to New York. They are similar in so many ways and visitors from New York love London. But I believe London is the best city in the world right now.
What is the first thing any visitor should do?
Get to understand the Tube and buy an Oyster card. You save money and there is no better way to discover the city. You can get on a TfL bus and
Where is your secret hideaway?
It is Dulwich Village. It is further out but it is quite close to where I live. You can go and have a long lazy lunch in at one of the lovely restaurants, browse the boutiques, visit the Dulwich Picture Gallery or go for a walk in the park. You could be in a country village, albeit a very well-heeled one.
[blockquote1]Did you Know?
- Columbia Road began its life as a pathway along which sheep were driven to the slaughterhouses at Smithfield.
- That the last execution at the Tower of London was in 1942, when a German spy was shot.