You have decided to holiday in London and want the most from your vacation in our magnificent city. Maximise your time here with a host of apps we find indispensable.
First off – get yourself a weather app. At a glance, see if four seasons are coming at you today or if its safe to leave the brolly at home. I use Weather by Apple, because it is on my phone and more than adequate for my needs. Yahoo also has an easy to use weather app with beautiful photos. For the more demanding users, BBC Weather has a great app which will even tell what the UV and pollution levels are.
So you are out of the door and suitably equipped for the weather. How do you get around this city of 8.9 million people? Citymapper. It is our current go to app for all things travel. Not only will you have maps but all the transport options available near to where you are – bikes, buses, tubes, trains, cabs. The whole shebang.
If you know you will be using public transport TFL map and journey planner is a must. Not only will you have a full colour, easy to reference tube map, but it is interactive too. Tap on a station for full information including accessibility.
If you have decided to drive around London, in our ‘oh so boring’ traffic, then Waze is the must have app. Not only will it plan your route but is also warns you of traffic jams, road works and road closures.
You are on your way and happily spending on Bond Street, but is that new Mulberry bag really such a good deal? You need a currency converter. Although there are many options available, Elk is my current favourite and it is super easy to use. Set it to your currency and swipe away. An alternative is the very well known and more elaborate XE. An old friend, XE also offers charts and alerts.
Occasionally a client who has booked one of our London vacation rentals will ask me if there is a supermarket and restaurants near to their home. It always makes me smile, because you are never far from food in London. Logically, we therefore have an abundance of apps which will get you to food, or vice versa.
Choosing a restaurant need not be hit and miss. Even if you are standing outside the establishment you can quickly check reviews and recommendations on one of these apps. If you are planning ahead, you can book a table via the app and leave your own feedback after your visit. Also check for special offers and discounts offered on the app. Here are four of the most established apps, covering a broad range of eateries. Open Table, Bookatable by Michelin, Zomato and Quandoo.
We also have apps dedicated to specific gastronomic delights. For vegans Happy Cow offers a great app to find you a nearby eatery. You may be surprised at the range on offer.
Although we are best known for drinking copious amounts of tea, there is an app to help you find the Best Coffee in London.
A favourite tipple here in the UK is a G&T (gin and tonic). In recent years gin has developed something of a cult following and so, it is only natural that we need a ginventory.
Sticking with alcohol, a vacation in London is not complete without a visit to a pub or three. The London Pub Crawl will take you to the best of 7000 London pubs. Think of it as a walking tour with pit stops, although we would call it a pub crawl.
Eating In – Groceries Delivered
Touring around London can be exhausting and eventually you are going to want to stay at home and prepare your own meal. After all, your vacation rental does have it’s own kitchen. Our large supermarkets offer home delivery which can be booked in advance so you need not set foot in a shop. Home delivery is also useful if you are looking for particular ingredients not available in your local supermarket. Most Londoners will be using at least one these companies to deliver groceries.
Ocado is purely on-line and does not have stores on the street. It also delivers for Waitrose.
Amazon Fresh is also shop free. Much if it’s stock is drawn from Morrison’s.
Eating in – Takeaways
If making you own meal or going out to eat is not appealing you can have your favourite dish delivered to your front door. Many restaurants have their own delivery service and you can order directly through their website. For a range of takeaways available near to you Deliveroo and Just Eat are the two main players in London.
Visit London is the ‘official visitor guide’. In addition to major attractions it offers information on events, special offers and discounts, hidden gems, theatre and maps.
Lonely Planet is another great generalist sightseeing app and ideal as an introduction to London.
There is an entire genre of self guided, walking tours which are well suited to the independent traveller who prefers to mosey around at their own speed. The best known of these are Rick Steves and Voicemap.
And lastly, there are myriad small apps devoted to informing you about sights, buildings and interesting historical anecdotes which do not make it into the large travel guide. Suggestions are – Spottebylocals, uncoveredlondon , hiddenlondon and London Architecture Guide and Street Art London.
Finding activities on a London vacation is not a problem as you really are spoiled for choice. Timeout is probably the pre-eminent event app for London. You can use a location based search to find exhibitions, music gigs, foodie events, club nights, experiences and even special offers. Whatever is happening in London is usually listed on Timeout.
Dice is largely focused in music gigs but not exclusively. Book tickets via the app and avoid annoying booking charges. There is also the possibility to cancel and receive a refund. Avoid the expensive reseller / booking websites and find a fab show the humane way.
Eventbrite is an extremely comprehensive event listing app. Alongside the big events – gigs, shows, it even includes lectures, conferences, Ted Talks and local art fairs. Tickets can be bought via the app and there is also a nifty ‘free’ category to search for interesting activities that you could attend free of charge.
If you are looking for activities for, or with, children, try Hoop. Search by age and location to find local clubs classes and get-togethers. Bookings can be made via the app and there is also a ‘free’ category.
Would your vacation in London be complete without a jaunt to the theatre? London theatre is world class and superbly varied. Today Tix offers a slick app devoted purely to theatre and ticket purchase. You can search by useful categories such as ‘just opened’ or ‘closing soon’ and it has a section devoted to tickets under £25.00. The app also offers a filter for rush and lottery tickets which is useful if you want to save £’s and are comfortable with last minute planning.
Both Timeout and Visit London – mentioned above – offer theatre booking and occasionally some worthwhile deals.
Whilst our theatre is fantastic it can also be a tad pricey. We know your holiday in London may not be a cheap adventure so it seems only fair to let you in on a few strategies to acquire your theatre tickets at a discount. Our next post will be devoted to acquiring cheap theatre tickets so keep an eye on our site or your email.
This is an easy one. Whats App or We Chat. Both apps offer a means of communicating either by messaging or voice calling. As they function by using your phones internet connection they are a very cost effective method to communicate. If you are travelling internationally do not rely on text messages as they can easily go astray. With Whats App you can see that the other person has received your message and you can also see that they have read it. WeChat sadly does not have this function. But WeChat does have a stellar selection of animated images that are great fun to use in place of words.
As they say if you want to save money don’t spend it in the first place. But that is very unlikely on a London holiday. Fortunately there is an abundance of apps dedicated to reducing your total spend.
Voucher shopping is one way of benefiting from great discounts. There are numerous apps which offer special deals on a huge range of goods and activities. You can find special offers at restaurants, clothing shops, concerts, beauty treatments, household furnishings, activities and experiences – the range is astonishing. Groupon is probably the best known and thereafter Wowcher. But there are more, too many to list. You could also investigate Vouchercloud and VoucerCodes.
If you do find yourself accumulating items on your London holiday, remember that you can claim VAT back if you do not live here. WeVat streamilines the process so that you do not have to spend ages at the airport filling out forms. The forms are already completed and all you have to do is print and take with you to the airport. You can use the app for any items under £250 – even that £3 fridge magnet. For more expensive items they recommend you claim the VAT back in the store.
If you find food costly in London there is a nifty app which enables you to get huge discounts. Toogoodtogo allows you to book delicious meals and treats, that would be disposed of at the end of the day. It takes a bit of pre-planning but there are many quality eateries participating so it may be worth your while to check it out.
Londonpass is the best known of our discount apps. Buy a pass for however many days you will use it and you will have free entry to most of the top attractions in and around London. The app also offers discounts on theatre tickets plus a London guidebook. It is worth remembering that our museums are free to enter – British Museum, V & A, Science Museum, etc. So the London Pass covers the other place you may want to visit which do charge an entry fee – for example the Tower of London, St Paul’s Cathedral,etc.
Your London vacation rental will have Wifi. When you are out and about, it would be difficult not to find WiFI! But if you prefer a little assistance there are numerous apps which will show you WiFi hotspots near to where you are. Wifi Map and Wifi Finder are two examples. The app will display a map with the nearest establishments providing WiFi. The speed of the Wifi is usually given and on WiFi Map the password is also provided.
We have our own handy guide to toilets in London. But if you simply want a nifty app to keep on your phone there are several out there and Flush or Toilet Finder are two options. The apps usually provide a map and route to the nearest loo. They may also let you know if it is a free or paid wc and also if there is wheelchair access.
If you have mobility constraints London can be a challenging place to navigate. But with a little research you could avoid frustrating venues and journeys. AccessAble is an app which offers information on shops, restaurants, cinemas, theatres, hospitals, universities etc. It offers many different filters, including ramps, parking, hoist, guide dogs, step free – the list goes way beyond the usual ‘does it have a lift?’.
Transport for London (TFL) offers a useful map app. Tap on the station of choice and it will display all the access arrangements for that station. It is available for Android and Apple. TFL also offer handy information on their website – wheelchair access and avoiding stairs.