Over the past three years of living in London, I’ve discovered how much I actually love the capital city of England. I grew up visiting the city regularly so it quickly grew to be my home away from home and when I decided to go to university, I knew there was going to be no better place than London. But I never realised it was possible to love a city the way I love London. So in celebration of the wonder that is London, I’m going to list ten things I love about London!
1) The cocktail bars
There seems to be a cocktail bar on every single street in London – not that that is a bad thing in the slightest. But it doesn’t help my bank account nor the fact I either had work or university early the next morning.. but that didn’t stop me either. London’s cocktail bars are, without a doubt, the best cocktail bars I’ve been in. Since London caters for everyone’s wants, there are cocktail bars to suit every mood – quiet or loud; expensive or cheap; chain or independent. If you want to go to a more sophisticated bar with quiet music playing so you can have a catch-up with friends, my favourite bar was Christopher’s – Covent Garden. If you want to go to a bar for a ‘few’ (that turns into a nine hour drinking session and ends up with you drunkenly Boris biking through Chelsea and Knightsbridge) cocktails in a bar where they dance on the bar and encourage singing along to the likes of David Bowie, Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston, then any of the Be At One bars are definitely the one for you. If you fancy a bit more of an extravagant night of cocktails, chitchat and some dinner with friends, the Sea Containers at the Mondrain is the perfect setting. And if you want to sit and enjoy the view of London with a mojito, the Sky Garden is definitely worth a visit – book weeks in advance though as the free tickets are gobbled up so quickly otherwise. I just wish I had more time and money to explore even more cocktail bars.
2) The history
If there is one thing London isn’t short of it is the history. I’ve always been quite a nerd when it comes to history. I read all the Horrible History books when I was growing up. I’d always be asking my parents to take me to the local museums. I’d always be researching about what we were doing in history class. I was definitely a little history fanatic so having all of London’s history on my doorstep was amazing. But you don’t even have to like history to enjoy London’s history. So much has happened there and it’s surreal to look at the way it is now and see how far it’s come. The museums were great for realising this – especially the Imperial War Museum – if you can’t afford the thirty odd pounds for entry into the Tower of London.
3) The sights
No matter where you are in London, there is always something to look. In Central London, you have the infamous sights, such as Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, Tower of London, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace etc. etc. etc. but step out a little of the city centre, you come across the not so famous sights, such as Little Venice, Kenwood House and Portabello Road. London is full of the perfect photo opportunities to remember the city with. I found that every time I went for a walk through the city with my friends, I’d be taking photos of everything because everything was so beautiful. It didn’t matter what time of day it was or what the weather was doing, London still remained pretty – but it was even prettier in the scorching sunshine.
4) The views
London is full of places to go to just look out at the view of the city with the amount of skyscrapers that are now being constructed. And although I’m petrified of heights, I love going up to the observation decks to look around the city and realise how little everybody looks as they rush to and from the tube stations. My favourite place to do this is definitely the Sky Garden (https://skygardentickets.com/skygardenpublic_ui/events/). Situated on the opposite side of the river to the Shard means you get the perfect view of London around you with the infamous Shard in the view. I’d always recommend going to the Sky Garden over going the Shard as it’s free but you also get to see the Shard instead of being in it – just like I’d always recommend going to the ‘Top of the Rock’ over the Empire State Building Observatory Deck in New York.
5) The people
In London I met some of my best friends. Obviously if you’re going on holiday to London or for a weekend break you probably won’t meet your best friends for life – unless you get really drunk and end up in a bar’s female toilets as I always seem to make best friends in there. But there are some amazing people in London. Londoners always get bad press as the stereotype comes from the commuters who look like they could stab you if you cough one more time, and people think Londoners are uptight and hate everything about life – and sometimes that it true – but have you ever had to commute with a million+ other people twice a day from a job you only have to afford the house you’re never in because you’re working at said job?
6) The celebrities
Of course this had to be in here. Celebrities. London is probably the showbiz capital of Europe so is is definitely not limited with numbers when it comes to the famous individuals in the city. The royal family live in the heart of the city with Buckingham Palace housing the Queen and Prince Phillip, Clarence House housing Prince Charles and Camilla and Kensington Palace housing Prince William, Prince Harry, Kate, Prince George and Princess Charlotte. Leicester Square hosts premieres on what seems like a daily basis, meaning that celebrities are always swarming through the city. The O2 Arena in North Greenwich seems to be a venue where every artist aspires to perform at. Not to mention many world-famous names call London ‘home’. Within my first ten days of living in London I’d bumped into Rihanna in River Island on Oxford Street. Where else in the world could you do that?
7) The diversity
One of the main things I love about London is how diverse everything is. Going to university in London has given me so many opportunities but the one thing I am truly grateful for is that it has allowed me to make so many friends from so many different backgrounds. I’ve learned so many things about their different cultures and it’s really opened my eyes to the way I live my own life.
8) The thinking places
Over the last few years, I’ve definitely grown to be a fan of ‘thinking’ and I love nothing better than going somewhere to just think about everything and gain some perspective on things. At home, my main thinking place was a forest with a hill that looked over the town and countryside so when I moved to London, I lost my thinking place and needed a new one. At first, I thought London was just a built up city with no open spaces and no ‘thinking places’ so I used to just walk to Piccadilly Circus and watched the people going by instead of thinking about things. It was only until six months after moving to London that I discovered the gems of Parliament Hill in Hampstead Heath and Primrose Hill. Both these hills overlooked the city and the view went on for miles. Looking down on the city became my new favourite thing to do in no time at all and I could easily spend an entire Sunday just sat, looking at the world go by. And even if I didn’t need to think about things, I just went to them for a walk and get some space from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Ah. Shopping. New clothes. New shoes. New bags. New make up. Bankruptcy.. London definitely is the best yet worst place to live if you are a shopaholic like me. No matter where you go, there are shops bursting full of things you need! Chain shops, independent shops, designer shops. London has it all. Oxford Street. Westfields. Knightsbridge. Portobello Market. There’s shops for everything you could ever need – and everything you never knew you needed until you bought it. London takes ‘shop until you drop’ to an entirely different level.
10) The free things
Last but not least, the free things in life. I’m not talking about health, love and family. Whilst they are great, they’re not exactly free concerts, free tickets to watch your favourite television shows being recorded and free movie premiere tickets. (NB: This is a joke. I know health, love and family are more important than those things.) Since living in London, I’ve been fortunate enough to attend Ed Sheeran’s movie premiere, attend the BBC Music Awards, seen numerous of television shows being recorded (celebrity guests including Niall from One Direction, Taylor Swift, Hugh Grant and Ariana Grande) and all of these have been for free. London is full of free opportunities that many would pay good money for.
I’ve been so lucky to experience living in London on my own and I’m so grateful that I had the opportunity to grow into an adult in London. When I first moved to London I was a naive teenager who lacked confidence and depended on my parents way too much, but now I’m a confident, independent young adult with determination, aspirations and perspective. Although it wasn’t London that caused this change, it definitely helped being in such an amazing place.
Everyone should experience London at least once in their lifetime – even if it’s just for a day.