Category: (5)

Why self-catering apartments?

Simply put, for the comfort and convenience!  There are quite a few advantages to choosing self catering apartments in London instead of cramming yourself into a dull hotel room. Two obvious reasons are that you get more space for your money and you have more freedom to come and go as you please, but let’s talk about some of the other reasons. Watch TV in ease from your sofa, not sitting on a bed; cook your own meals whenever suits you best;  have a meeting with your colleagues in comfort and style or invite some friends over for a drink on your balcony.  Resting, planning tomorrow, entertaining or working in one of our cared for and comfortable homes is simply better!

The comfort of self catering apartments in London

THAT LITTLE BIT OF EXTRA SPACE

The extra space you will find in fully furnished self catering apartments makes your stay so much more comfortable and pleasing. Relax on your sofa at the end of the day or catch up with some work or correspondence sitting at a desk or dining table. Families and friends travelling in a group will appreciate the extra room to spread out in and be alone for a while. Take a quiet nap or put the little one’s to bed away from the noise of the TV.  Enjoy the fact that it’s also so much more interesting this way.

COOK IN YOUR OWN KITCHEN.

The sheer convenience and flexibility of having a kitchen to cook in on your trip is one of the things that makes a self catering apartment so attractive, especially for families and people travelling with children. In central London you will have access to wonderful food markets, shops and deli’s where you can stock up on produce which is diverse and fresh.  Tired from the previous day’s sightseeing?  Sleep late, then prepare your favourite breakfast with your coffee the way you like it. Or send your teenager down to get some croissants, muffins or English crumpets at the bakery on the corner.

ON SITE LAUNDRY FACILITIES.

Having a washing machine, iron & board and a hairdryer to hand will appeal to all of you, we know, but especially to the one’s travelling with young children or teenagers!  Have fun and don’t worry about clothes getting muddy or wet in the park.  Go running and play sports like you do at home.  Your favourite party dress can be ready to wear again in a jiffy – all it takes is the same organisation and fore-thought that you use at home.

YOUR OWN OUTDOOR SPACE.

Some of our self catering apartments will have their own outdoor space such as a balcony or a terrace and if you’re lucky a garden.  Your own outdoor space is a real treat and it will make your stay in London even more delightful and fun. Whether it’s a small space with a table and chair for two, or the possibility of having access to the communal gardens that belong to your apartment, grab a book and a glass of wine and head out there.  Put your jumper on and take your hot cup of tea with you if it’s cold – the view from the balcony will be worth it!

People choose our short term lets for various reasons. What they all have in common, however, is a desire to enjoy everything London has offer and to look forward to returning to their self catering apartments to rest and relax. We guarantee our short let flats will fit the bill and will provide you with the ease and comfort you are looking for. Whether you’re on a sightseeing trip, an extended working stay, a romantic city break for two or a well deserved week away in London with your family – take a closer look at everything our modern and well presented homes have to offer. We want you to have the best time that you possibly can in our great capital city, with all the comfort and convenience of home.

Free London attractions – museums and galleries

Continuing with our free London attractions guide, this time we have the pleasure of talking about the wonderful world class museums and galleries of London, which are absolutely free!  This is one of the most praise-worthy things about our capital city – that you can spend the day in The British Museum or The National Gallery without paying any entrance fee. Spend those saved pennies on a nice refreshing cup of tea in the museum cafe, or on some postcards in the gallery gift shop.

LONDON’S MARVELLOUS MUSEUMS, BIG AND SMALL.

The British Museum looms large in Bloomsbury and you could spend months here without seeing a quarter of it! This great collection of wonders is dedicated to human history, art and culture from it’s very beginnings and it is one of the largest museums of its kind anywhere on the planet. The works on display number around the 8 million mark, so you can see that you will need time to enjoy your visit here and plan what you want to see carefully.  The permanent collection is free but you may have to pay to see some of the special exhibitions, which is the case in most of the museums and galleries we talk about here.

The Natural History Museum in Kensington is another must, of course, and the building itself is a beautiful one.  Delight any dinosaur fans in your family with the enormous cast of a Diplodacus named Dippy, who reigns supreme in the main entrance hall. It’s a heck of introduction to this awe inspiring collection of plants, animals, fossils, insects and rock and mineral specimens. The youngest one’s will be desperate to see the ever popular T-Rex and the latest addition to the museum is a very interesting Human Evolution Gallery which will fascinate everybody.

Still in Kensington, we move onto the equally marvellous Science Museum. Budding scientists and others who thirst for knowledge will have a ball here learning of incredible scientific achievement as well as technological and medical exhibits. This is the place to learn all about space and the cosmos, to marvel at Einstein’s legacy, to perform your own aerial acrobatics and to celebrate over 200 years of communication and information technology.  There are countless thrilling and fun activities, simulators, interactive galleries and events for children of all ages going here every day.

The ever fabulous Victoria and Albert Museum is, conveniently enough, also in Kensington. Simply known as the V&A, this is the world’s leading museum of art and design which spans 5 million years of human creativity, give or take!  Come and peruse the thousands of exhibits concerning fashion, ceramics, painting, architecture, textiles, sculpture, jewellery, photography, book art, glass & ceramics, furniture and theatre. A recently refurbished collection which is always popular is the V&A’s Museum of Childhood which tells the history of toys, dolls, games and costumes.

The Museum of London informs and entertains us with London’s rather impressive history in style and with verve. What was London before it was London? Enjoy finding out with this fantastic museum’s many exhibits, reconstructed interiors and street scenes. Want to know what it was like during the Great Fire of London in 1666, which destroyed most of the city?  What about the bravery of normal Londoners during the Blitz of WW2?  Can you solve the mystery of the Burnt Bible?  From prehistory to punk and beyond – come and remind yourself how great a town this is and why we love it so.

The Imperial War Museum National Army Museum and The Cabinet War Rooms are all fascinating. From Florence Nightingale in the Crimean War, The Charge of the Light Brigade, The Battle of Hastings, to the horrors of the Holocaust, come and learn about normal people’s experiences of war, as well as war from a soldiers point of view. Visit the secret WW2 bunker and museum that shows us how Winston Churchill and his team won the Second World War. The National Army Museum has an imaginative learning environment for children, where they learn about team-work, challenge and exploration.

The Geffrye Museum in Shoreditch is close to the City. This is a very special place and the kind of museum you can return to again and again. It explores and defines the home, from around 1600 onwards.  Come and view beautiful displays of interiors and gardens and learn how fashion, attitude, style and tastes have changed through the centuries in the home and how they define us as a society. The museum itself is beautiful with some lovely gardens attached – it is a restored almshouse and is a good opportunity to view how the poor and elderly were housed in the late 1700’s.

The National Maritime Museum in Greenwich is spectacular. Britain’s great naval and sea faring past and London’s maritime history is on display here in dozens of galleries that are free to visit.  See Admiral Nelson’s coat, complete with the bullet hole from the great sea battle of Trafalgar.  Learn about infamous pirates, The East India Trading Company, Maritime London and there are several special galleries and activities for the younger visitors. Take a riverboat from London and spend the day in Greenwich where you will also find The Royal Observatory, The Cutty Sark, The Queen’s House and Greenwich Market.

WONDERFUL GALLERIES, INCLUDING A TRANSFORMED POWER STATION.

Moving on to the captial’s wonderful galleries, big and small; all of these excellent candidates for our free London attractions guide. Sometimes a gallery is just the thing on a quiet afternoon in London Town.  Whether you’re in the mood for the shock of colour and energy of a modern piece or the darker, more formal dignity to be found in a portrait of a King, you will find what you are looking for below.

The original National Gallery was founded in 1824 on Pall Mall and had 40 paintings on display. Today, art lovers can enjoy a couple of thousand works of art here in one of the largest art collections on display in the world.  All this, plus the marvellous Trafalgar Square with it’s lions and fountains as a backdrop. Wander round at a relaxed pace and find your favourite Van Gogh, Cezanne, Vermeer or Turner. Enjoy the many free talks and lectures that you can join without charge and there are special activities and art workshops on Sundays for families and children.

Close to the National Gallery you will find the every popular National Portrait Gallery. It was founded in 1856 in order to gather portraits of famous British people and it was the first of its kind in the world. There are thousands of portraits to view here from the 16th century onwards, some easily recognisable; others less so.  The portraits appear in the form of drawings, prints, photographs, miniatures, paintings and sculptures. From the stuffy and serious, to the cheeky and cool, from royalty of old, to modern pop icons and media personalities – this is a fun and friendly gallery.

Tate Britain on Millbank by the river has been the home of British art from the 15th Century onwards and it is formidable. You get a real sense of anticipation and excitement just climbing the great stone steps to the gallery.  These buildings were expanded and refurbished in 2013 and both the exterior and interior are awe-inspiring. This is the place to come to see Turner, William Blake or Constable and iconic modern British artists such as Francis Bacon,Tracy Emin and Damien Hirst. Make one of your days a Tate Gallery day: there is the handy Tate Boat which sails down river from Millbank Millenium Pier to Tate Modern every half hour or so.

It’s hard to over state the sheer fabulousness of Tate Modern on Bankside, a little further down the river. This amazing transformed power station is a triumph of space and design and is now home to international modern and contemporary art. The wonderful Turbine Hall runs along the whole length of the building and this huge open space is perfect for displaying large artworks and sculptures. For colour and vibrancy teamed up with space and energy, this gallery is hard to beat. It certainly wins the prize for Coolest Gallery with the best views of the River, in this free London attractions guide.

The small and delightful Serpentine Gallery and The Serpentine Sackler Gallery (the latter opened in 2013 in a former gun powder store) sit prettily on either side of the Serpentine Bridge in Kensington Gardens, a few minutes away from each other. What a magical location!  They are home to a collection of international and contemporary art, architecture and design.  Come and enjoy some art in this lovely outdoor spot, that offers the The Serpentine Pavillion, a shop, restaurant and social space.

The Saatchi Gallery is housed in a beautiful building at the Duke of York’s headquarters by the King’s Road in Chelsea.  It aims to bring contemporary art to the masses and likes to be a springboard for artists seeking further recognition.  It works hard to promote and display unknown artists, or artists that have not been seen in Britain before. Come along and see something totally new and original and enjoy the pretty Duke of York’s Square with it’s cafes and shops.

The Wallace Collection close to Oxford Street is often overlooked by those not in the know about this marvellous gallery which is also a museum.  This building was the former home of the Seymour family and it has some wonderful art on display in rooms that are styled as they would have been in the 19th century.  Two of the most famous and popular paintings here are The Laughing Cavalier by Hals and The Swing by Fragonard. There are also statues, furniture and miniatures on display, as well as a marvellous armoury. A little gem of a gallery to escape to right in the heart of the West End.

We hope you agree that it’s an impressive collection of museums and galleries that make up this chapter of our free London attractions guide. It’s a lovely thought that there is so much art and culture out there just ready to impress, delight and inform without leaving you out of pocket. Come rain or come shine – a few hours spent in a free gallery or museum in London Town is a few hours well spent.

 

Free London attractions – wander by water

Continuing with our London guides of the many free London attractions, this time we are down by the riverside!

Ah, the River Thames – beloved by Londoners and visitors alike and such an iconic and important part of present day London and her past.  Nothing beats walking by a river in a big city – somehow you become part of the history and magic that it carries with it.  The many walks and rambles to be enjoyed along the Thames or by London’s charming canals are among the most interesting walks you can take in the capital. These free London attractions involve outdoor fun and activity at its best. Keep the kids and all the family absorbed and delighted by riverboats on the canals, opinionated swans and ducks on the river, busy barges and lock workers, fun bridges to cross, tow paths to explore and riverside cafes to rest and refuel in.

LONDON’S CANALS AND SURROUNDINGS.

The Regent’s Canal Walk has it all. There are many variations on this particular route, especially where you want to begin and end, but that’s all part of the charm.  You could start out in pretty Little Venice (as picturesque as it sounds) and walk along The Regent’s Canal to Regent’s Park (with London Zoo) into Primrose Hill (great cafes, shops and views of London) and ends up in Camden Lock. There are many delights along the way, including some excellent pubs, The Blue Footbridge, an aqueduct to cross, the aptly named Waterside Cafe and all the charm and energy of Camden lock and the market.  The energetic and enthusiastic can simply turn and go back the other way again and the lucky, slightly more weary ones can catch a riverboat back to Little Venice.  What a treat!

Another recommended version is from Paddington Basin to Primrose Hill. Paddington canal basin has recently been completely redeveloped under the Paddington Waterside scheme. There are some lovely cafes and restaurants by the water to enjoy here, as well as towering glass skyscrapers, incredible sculptures and shops.  The Rolling Bridge is a marvel of design and innovation and children love to watch as it curls up, caterpillar style, to allow a boat to pass through and then quietly uncurls again.

Or start in Islington (good restaurants, shops and the best theatre outside the West End) and end up in Little Venice.  One thing is for sure, whichever way you walk the Regent’s Canal, you will be charmed by the boats and barges, the locals on their houseboats (complete with flower boxes), the birds and wildlife, the bobbing rowboats and some pretty historic taverns and pubs.

RIVERWALKS, EMBANKMENTS AND BRIDGES.

The Thames Path is certainly a free London attraction that is seeped in history. The London section of this famous river path takes you through it’s very heart, with cultural landmarks and river scenes at every turn. The path splits up, taking you either along the North or the South bank of the river.  This must be one of the most beautiful urban walks by a river that exists.

The delightfully named Queen’s Walk takes you over Westminster Bridge, along the Southbank with The London Eye to Tate Modern, and then over the Millenium Footbridge to St Paul’s Cathedral. This pedestrianised walk is a popular one with visitors as it takes you past so many of London’s most interesting attractions, such as Tower Bridge and The Tower of London.

If you prefer a shorter route without any particular destination in mind, Chelsea Embankment is lovely in the early evening with the glittering lights on the water and on Chelsea Bridge and Albert Bridge. The famous Chelsea Psychic Garden is along here, and you may want to join other walkers or runners who are heading over the always lovely Chelsea Bridge into Battersea Park, just across the river.

The embankments in London and some of her most famous and historical bridges can certainly be included under free London attractions. Victoria Embankment runs from Westminster Palace to Blackfriars Bridge in The City. The famous statue of Queen Bodicea sits at the start of the embankment by Westminster Bridge.  This was the first street in London to be converted from gaslight to electricity in 1878. There are several riverboat services that sail along various points all along this embankment.

We hope we have given you an idea of how wondrous and interesting it is anywhere in London where the Thames runs close by. It’s hard to think of a free London attraction that is as invigorating and fun as this, and one that is so family friendly. Whether you take a proper, pre-planned river route, amble pleasantly along at your own pace by the canals or embankments, or walk briskly over the bridge of your choice, there will be plenty to entertain and interest you as you go.

Another post in our free London attractions guide is free and green London spaces.

Free London attractions – green parks

Visit London with our free London guides and find the best and most interesting free London attractions. We all know that London can be an expensive place to visit, especially for larger families, so let’s celebrate the fact that there are many fabulous things to do in our wonderful capital city that won’t cost you a penny!

The many marvellous parks, big and small.

When it comes to free London attractions, the many marvellous parks, big and small, are hard to beat. These fabulous and magical green open spaces are many and impressive, each with it’s own character and charm.  There’s a park or garden for every mood in London, it seems. Whether you are strolling through at your own pace, getting some exercise, picnicking in the summer, or enjoying a crisp winter morning walk, spending time in them is restorative and relaxing. People are usually familiar with the eight Royal Parks, most of which are dotted around the centre of London like emeralds, but read on to find out more about some of the lesser known parks, perhaps a little further afield, that are worth a visit.

Enjoy the vast expanse of popular Hyde Park with it’s fountains, statues and and horse-riders.  Speaker’s Corner is up near the Marble Arch end of the park and the great space all around is ideal for the many festivals and concerts held throughout the year.  You will find a fun and festive Winter Wonderland to entertain and delight the whole family in the winter time.

Kensington Gardens run into Hyde Park and this lovely park has a tranquil, pleasant feel to it. This park, perhaps more than any other in London, is associated with the delights of childhood.  Enjoy the pretty boating pond, the Serpentine Gallery, the Albert Memorial and the famous statue of Peter Pan.  Visit the beautiful Kensington Palace with it’s gardens, galleries and royal apartments.

Regent’s Park has not only London Zoo but a popular open air theatre.  This is a wonderful, large park divided into outer and inner circles, ideal for walking or playing sports in.  Primrose Hill on the north side of the park has spectacular, open views out over London.  William Blake wrote: “I have conversed with the spiritual sun; I saw him on Primrose Hill.”

Battersea Park has a fabulous children’s play park, tennis courts and of course, The River Thames!  Enjoy the ancient trees dotted throughout the park and ample open space to walk in.  There is a lovely old fashioned bandstand and the famous Pagoda for Peace.

St James Park is pretty and pleasing with plenty of old fashioned charm.  It is the oldest of the Royal Parks and is home to The Mall, The Horse Guards Parade and hosts the annual Trooping the Colour.  Rent a striped deck chair and enjoy the wildlife all around you, especially the many ducks and geese gliding carelessly on the pond, ignoring the bustle around them.

The Green Park lies very close to St James Park, by Buckingham Palace.  It is the smallest of the Royal Parks and this little gem has character and charm all it’s own.  It is known for its peace and tranquility and has some fine, mature trees.  Some Londoners walk through the park on their way to work and it is a popular spot for sunbathing and picnicking in fine weather.

Holland Park is magical, with lots going on. There are two Japanese Gardens to visit, a lovely children’s playground, a giant chess set and plenty of squirrels and peacocks around to keep an eye on. You can play tennis here and there is a cricket pitch.  The Belvedere Restaurant inside the park is attached to The Orangery.

Beautiful Bushey Park lies to the north of Hampton Court Palace and this wondrous space has a rural charm all of it’s own. The famous statue of the goddess Diana lies on Chestnut Avenue, which is equally well known and well named. There are woodland gardens, water gardens, a playground, sports facilities and lots of wildlife all around you to enjoy.

Kew Gardens needs no introduction. This world famous botanical garden lies just half an hour from the centre of London, and it is astounding. Marvel at the landscape, the glass houses, the historic buildings and of course, the incredible range of rare and wonderful plants, flowers, trees and herbs.  Children love the Treetop Walkway and the Sackler Crossing Bridge.

Jubilee Gardens is right by The London Eye on the Southbank, not far from the Houses of Parliament. This small and attractive spot is perfect for picnicking on in the summer by the children’s play area.  The local street artists perform in the background, adding to the fun and vibrant atmosphere of the area, while the great River Thames rolls peacefully alongside.

Victoria Tower Gardens are in Westminster, by the River Thames, close to the Houses of Parliament. This small park is known for it’s charming children’s playground and two memorials to freedom. The Buxton Memorial celebrates the abolition of slavery and there is a wonderful statue here of the suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst, who campaigned for women’s right to vote. This sculpture is by A.G. Walker, who also sculpted Florence Nightingale, who stands in Waterloo Place.

Lambeth Palace Gardens belong to Lambeth Palace, which lies on the Southbank of the river and is the home to the Archbishop of Canterbury. Spreading out over 10 acres, they are the oldest cultivated gardens in London. The public are admitted to view the gardens on certain days of the year only, so it’s worth checking before you head off.

The wild and mesmerising Hampstead Heath is a popular destination and no wonder. This huge ambling open space lies high up in north London.  It’s undulating countryside is rich in wildlife, with two famous swimming ponds, plenty of sporting and recreational  opportunities, as well as a small zoo and other facilities for children. Historical poets and artists were always in love with the Heath and it’s surroundings, just as Londoner’s still are today.

Talking of large, enclosed spaces,  Richmond Park is the largest of the Royal parks and it is magnificent. With it’s glorious woodlands and ancient oak trees, unchanged for centuries, this park is a nature reserve and a site of special conservation. Happy herds of red and fallow deer call this beautiful place home.  Take your pick between two children’s play areas and a range of sports and leisure activities.

Brompton Cemetery is a mystical, magical cemetery managed by the Royal Parks. Stroll around and find the monuments and graves of the famous and infamous, surrounded by ancient trees and wildlife. This is one of London’s so called Magnificent Seven Historic Cemeteries and it is the oldest.  The intention was for these 40 acres to be a place for public recreation as well as a place of burial, and this end has been achieved most wondrously.  A real haven for people and nature.

Greenwich Park has a rich and impressive Royal history.  It can trace its origins back to Roman Times and was enclosed in 1433.  It is one of the eight Royal Parks and is home to the Prime Meridian Line, The Royal Observatory, The National Maritime Museum and The Olde Royal Naval College. There are beautiful gardens and landscapes to enjoy here, such as The Herb Garden, The Queen’s Garden and the Royal Orchard.  Also 13 acres of grasslands which are home to foxes, deer and birds.

SOME CHARMING SQUARES AND A GARDEN IN THE CITY

We can’t talk about free London attractions without mentioning London’s many squares. They add immensely to it’s unique charm and character, especially the garden squares with their benches and greenery.  These little urban havens are usually located in fashionable areas and while some of them are still private, most of them are open to the public and serve as small parks to rest in.  Any tourist or visitor walking around London will come across one of these squares quite by chance and it’s a delightful thing to pop in to have a look around.  Can’t you just picture Virginia Woolf sitting, deep in thought, on a bench in Bloomsbury Square?  There are scores of square, garden or otherwise in London and we can’t mention ’em all, but here are some of the better known to whet your appetite.

Bloomsbury Square and Russell Square are two of the most well known London garden squares and Bloomsbury Square is the oldest.  Lying close to the British Museum and The British Library, this area and both squares will always be associated with culture and art. Russell Square has fountains and a cabman’s shelter, a small building where hansom cab drivers could rest in days gone by.

Belgrave Square and Eaton Square in Belgravia conjur up visions of the rich and privileged and old English nobility. The white buildings and architecture that surround both of these noble squares are beautiful indeed.

Soho Square is popular with locals and tourists and it plays host to free open air concerts in the summer. There are many well known media corporations that have their offices on the square, such as Sony Music, 20th Century Fox and Paul Mc Cartney’s MPL offices.

Grosvenor Square in London’s prestigious Mayfair has been associated with America in modern times and the US Embassy lies here/  During the 2nd WW, Eisenhower established military headquarters here, and the US navy now uses this site. There is a memorial here to Franklin Roosevelt and The September 11 Memorial Gardens. Oscar Wilde lived on this square in 1883 and refers to it in quite a bit in his writing.

Finally, The Inner Temple Gardens are definitely worth a mention.  These lovely gardens lie by the Royal Courts of Justice in The City and it is pleasing to find such peace and tranquility in London’s judicial heart. The Inner Temple is just one of the famous Inn’s of Court. Neither a park or a square, this delightful garden is seeped in history and famed for it’s roses and a rookery. Shakespeare chose this very place as the setting for the beginning of The War of the Roses.  https://www.thelondonagent.co.uk/free-london-attractions-river-walks/Vey fitting.

We hope you have enjoyed our guide to some of the best free London attractions, all of these in the great outdoors. Our aim is to inform and inspire and remind visitors of the many delights and benefits of London’s green spaces. We certainly are spoiled for choice when it comes to parks here.  Another post in this free London guide is about London’s canals and river walks.