is frequently likened to a collection of villages. Clusters of local shops,
markets, parks, leisure centres and other venues help foster a feeling
of local community within a conurbation of seven million people. Some areas
have a particularly strong identities and associations making London a
world in one city. The capital continues to draw newcomers all the time
and it is a city that is always changing.
In spring and autumn temperatures
drop to between 11° and 15°C. In winter they hover just below 6°C;
it very rarely freezes in London these days and snow is a very infrequent
visitor. It may seem mild, but the dampness can often make it feel much
The old adage that ‘London
doesn’t have a climate, it has weather’ refers to the fickleness of the
atmospheric conditions in the region. Plan a picnic in a park in the morning
and it will be raining by noon; go to a film to escape a wet and dreary
afternoon, and you’ll emerge to bright sunshine in a blue, cloudless sky.
You just never know.
But London does have a climate
in fact, among the mildest in England known as ‘temperate maritime’, with
mild and damp winters and moderate summers. It’s wise to expect cloudy
weather and rain even in the height of summer.
In July and August temperatures
average around 18°C but can occasionally soar to 30°C or more.
During most summers, however, you’ll be lucky if the mercury tops the mid-20s.
Even so, the summer of 2003 was one of the hottest ever on record for Britain
and much of Europe. London sizzled at a record-breaking 37.9C in August,
breaking once and for all the stereotype of the mild English summer.
London is one of the most
interesting and exciting capital cities in the world attracting millions
of visitors each year. It's also one of the safest.
As in any large, busy city,
however, crime can sometimes be a problem so you do need to take care about
personal safety and looking after your belongings. These pages give advice
on what you can do to make your visit to London safer and more enjoyable.
In your hotel
• Avoid leaving valuables
in your room - keep them in the hotel safety box or safe. Keep a record
of your personal belongings such as cameras, credit cards, passports and
travellers cheques. Note down the numbers - it may help police to identify
them if they do get lost or stolen.
• When you leave the hotel,
make sure the door of your room is firmly closed. Always hand your key
in to the reception staff or use the key box - don't leave it on the reception
• Remember that hotel lobbies
and reception areas are open to the public so don't leave your bags or
any valuables lying on the floor unattended at any time.
Out and about
• Keep your bag or camera
where you can see them by wearing them in front of you, not over your shoulder.
This is especially important if you are in a crowded area such as on a
bus or an underground train.
• When in restaurants, bars,
theatres or cinemas never leave your bag on the floor or over the back
of your chair. Keep it where you can see it.
• Only buy theatre or concert
tickets from reliable sources and not from 'touts' in the street.
• If you're out and about
at night on foot try to keep to busy, well-lit areas.
• When travelling by bus
or train try to avoid using stations in isolated places. When possible
sit near the driver on buses, and on trains try to make sure you sit in
a compartment where there are other people.
• Only use taxis that have
been licensed by the police. These are easily recognised by a licence on
display and the driver wearing a badge.
• Take extra care when crossing
the road. Always remember to look both ways as traffic may be coming from
a different direction than you are expecting.
Weapons and drugs
Be aware that it is a criminal
offence to carry weapons such as knives and guns in the UK.
Unlike some other European
countries it is also illegal to carry CS spray.
Remember that it is against
the law to be in possession of 'classified' drugs this includes cannabis,
marijuana and hashish.
• Although few in number
there are some types of bars in the Soho area of the West End that you
may wish to avoid. These bars sometimes advertise sex shows and may charge
very high prices for non-alcoholic drinks, often served by hostesses. In
addition to the cost of your drinks you may also be charged for the company
of the hostesses and the drinks consumed by them. So be aware of what sort
of premises you are entering and if in doubt don't go in.
• You may be approached
by persons offering sexual services for money. They will ask for money
first and then make an excuse to leave telling you to meet them shortly
at a nearby address. You should have nothing to do with them. You will
most likely never see them or your money again. If you do get caught, report
it at once to the local police who will deal with the matter sympathetically.
Remember the police are
there to help you. If anything does go wrong and your possessions are lost
or stolen then contact the police at the earliest opportunity.
IN AN EMERGENCY REQUIRING
POLICE, FIRE OR AMBULANCE SERVICE DIAL 999
Whether you want to plan
a special celebration, impress someone with your knowledge on the latest
hang outs, or simply have a cracking night out with the girls/lads, these
are the coolest places to drink in London. Officially! (OK not officially
but just the ones we like best.)
Book your slot, don your
poncho and settle down for a nice-cold, ice-cold vodka cocktail at the
Ice Bar. Everything in this bar is made entirely out of imported Swedish
ice, including the stools, tables and glasses. This novelty bar is the
first of its kind in London and perfect for those needing to chill out
Le Pigalle Club
If you’re looking for sophisticated
elegance, you can’t go far wrong with Le Pigalle Club. This new supper
club will take you back to the glamorous era of the 1940s. Dine on home
cured salmon with gravalax sauce and pan seared gingered tiger prawns with
crab rice, and listen to live acts from up-and-coming artists to big named
veterans like Shirley Bassey and Van Morrison.
OK, listen up: this bar
is seriously cool. Loungelover is the sister bar to the lavish Les Trois
Garcons (which is just around the corner). The beautiful lounge is adorned
with unique pieces of antique furniture and colourful details that will
have you marvelling all the way to the cocktail list, which is also superb.
Sip on Eastern Promise made with Sputnik rose petal flavoured Russian vodka
and lychee liqueur, and Thai Breakers, made with coriander, ginger, passion
fruit, kalamansi juices and coconut liqueur.
Choose from over 5,000 classic
songs, and sing in your own plush, private booth with your favourite (and
most out of tune to make you sound better) friends at Lucky Voice. This
is London’s coolest karaoke bar by far. It features nine individual rooms,
each with an ‘I’m Thirsty’ button to hail the waiter and order drinks like
Ginseng Margarita, Love Hotel and Lucky Destiny. But make sure you plan
in advance. This place is popular.
The Play Room
This Piccadilly watering
hole features showgirls, comedy, cabaret and drag queens who perform in
your midst while you relax with tasty cocktails or even a meal if you fancy.
To picture the luxurious surroundings at the Play Room think: zebra print
chaise longues, velvet curtains, mirrors and chandeliers. And late at night
there’s live music and DJs so that those who like to flaunt it can shake
their burlesque tail feathers.
Underneath Roka, you’ll
find the chic Shochu Lounge. This bar is a cut above the rest. You can
even have a bespoke shochu cocktail mixed up from all of your favourite
fruits, scents and colours. Ask at the bar for details (but only if you’re
Chic and elegant, Sketch
has an egg-shaped bar with a bit of a retro feel. The venue is made up
of a number of different bars and restaurants so, from luxurious opulence
to informal fun, there's a setting to suit every mood. Something of a temple
to food, drink, music and art, there's even a gallery thrown in for good
Self titled as ‘a retro-sexual
haven of cosmopolitan kitsch and faded trailer park glamour’, Trailer Happiness
is a great little hideaway on Portobello Road. The cocktail menu is kicking.
Try the rum-based Scorpion Bowls and Zombies, both designed for sharing.
You can even purchase your own tiki shot mug and keep it at the bar.
This sexy burlesque cabaret
club will jazz up any night out. Drink Japanese Slippers and French Martinis
then kick back and enjoy fabulous cabaret acts. And best of all (we think)
are Volupte Lounge’s afternoon teas made up of apricot scones, frosted
lemon butter cakes, mini raspberry custard tarts and double chocolate and
New Bond Street (W1)
|Top Shopping Destinations
London has a number of distinct
shopping districts, some of which have their own themes or specialities.
The descriptions below will help you find what you’re looking for, whatever
it may be.
Oxford Street (W1)
Bustling Oxford Street has
about 300 shops and landmark stores. Home to the legendary Selfridges,
it also has a range of recognised department stores amongst every well-known
high street chain imaginable.
Slip into a side street,
however, and it’s pretty easy to leave the crowds behind. Check out St
Christopher’s Place, South Molton Street and Berwick Street for some real
Nearest tube: Oxford Circus
If you have plenty of money
to spend and want to sport the very best in designer clothes then Bond
Street is the ideal place to go for some expensive retail therapy. Often
chosen by celebrities on a spree, it is one of London's most exclusive
Nearest Tube: Bond
Regent Street and Jermyn
Street (W1 and SW1)
An impressive shopping street,
Regent Street offers a good range of mid-priced fashion stores including
some of the city's oldest and most famous shops. Jermyn Street has long
been renowned for its men's clothing shops, particularly bespoke shirtmakers.
Nearest Tube: Piccadilly
Carnaby Street (W1)
The birthplace of the fashion
and cultural revolution of the Swinging Sixties, Carnaby Street is still
home to some of the world's most exciting fashion and design talent. Filled
with shops selling urban and street clothing, it is the place to go for
a trendy atmosphere.
Nearest Tube: Oxford Circus
or Piccadilly Circus
Covent Garden (WC2)
Covent Garden is a great
place to shop, packed with speciality stores and quirky finds. You can
stock up with the latest urban street wear or buy some gourmet food. Check
out the arts and crafts at Covent Garden Market.
Try the stores in Floral
Street, Monmouth Gardens, Shorts Gardens, Seven Dials and Neal’s Yard for
a taste of how hip the neighbourhood can be.
Nearest Tube: Covent Garden
or Leicester Square
Kings Road (SW3)
The Kings Road is a more
leisurely shopping option, with new stores and cafes and a good blend of
high street and designer shops thrown into the mix. With unique labels,
it is also home to some top designer stores, and a great place for inspirational
Nearest Tube: Sloane Square
Visitors from around the
world flock to Knightsbridge and Brompton Road to see the illustrious shops
and department stores. This is the place to head to if you are looking
for prestigious brands and up-to-the-minute trends from the world's fashion
Nearest Tube: Knightsbridge
Notting Hill (W11)
If you’re in search of unusual
or vintage clothing, rare antiques and a vibrant, multi-cultural atmosphere,
then Notting Hill is for you. It has a good selection of eclectic and alternative
shops, but is also famous for its market which takes place along Portobello
Nearest Tube: Notting Hill
Gate, Ladbroke Grove or Westbourne Park
Canary Wharf (E14)
Canada Square in the heart
of Docklands is home to many of the UK’s leading businesses, but also has
a great shopping centre open seven days a week. Sleek and modern, it has
over 200 shops, cafes and restaurants offering a relaxed shopping experience
with a good combination of high street and designer stores.
Nearest Tube: Canary Wharf
Bluewater (DA9, Kent)
An enormous shopping and
leisure complex, Bluewater is located just outside of the Greater London
area. The largest of its kind in Europe, it has over 330 stores and 40
cafés, bars and restaurants plus a 13-screen cinema. It is the ideal
haven for any shopaholic.