London is a crossroads of Western civilization's future and past. Covering 600 square miles with thousands of years of rich history, it is wise to plan a well thought-out, personalized itinerary to make the most of your stay. Along with its hundreds of historical and cultural attractions, London is a world-class destination for shopping, sports, and nightlife, as well as an excellent vacation destination for families. The city also offers one of the most enviable public transportation systems in the world. From the ultra-chic London hotels of West End to the budget-friendly B&Bs found in the East, London has a range of excellent lodging options.
Things to See
London is a sightseer's paradise, and visiting the iconic attractions of the capital city is the top agenda for most visitors. Comparable to New York City's Time Square, Piccadilly Circus is a public space in London's West End, offering the city's finest in shopping, dining and entertainment. Visitors can catch a show at the world-class London Pavilion or the Criterion Theatre or enjoy the area's bustling nightlife after the sun goes down. Piccadilly Circus is also home to Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain and the Statue of Eros, both picture-worthy London sites.
London is also a city steeped in tradition and history. Take a guided tour of Westminster Abbey, a breathtaking Medieval church. The church has been the setting for 40 coronations and 16 royal weddings. Bibliophiles should also tour Poet's Corner at Westminster Abbey, the final resting place for famed authors such as Charles Dickens, Geoffrey Saucer and Rudyard Kipling. For history buffs, London is also a mecca for museums. From the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square to the Natural History Museum, these famous museums house some of the world's most important historical and artistic treasures.
Buckingham Palace is also a must-see attraction for most visitors. The home of London's royalty, Buckingham Palace features grand State Rooms, exquisite English and French furniture, famous paintings, and ornate hanging chandeliers. Even if you'd prefer not to pay the fee for a guided tour inside, visitors can still experience the iconic Changing of the Guard at 11:30 a.m. daily in the summer months. History buffs should also see the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London, and kids always love taking a ride on the London Eye, the city's famous giant Ferris wheel.
Hotels in London
From budget-friendly London hotels to historical B&Bs to some of the most ultra-swank hotels in England, the city has hundreds of lodging options to accommodate every budget and taste. London is a year-round tourist destination, but hotel rates do reflect the influx of visitors in the city's peak tourist seasons. Spring, when the temperature is mild and the parks are blooming, is the most popular tourist season, and summer also experiences an influx of international visitors. Although London winters aren't bone-chillingly cold, hovering around 40 degrees Fahrenheit, winter does experience the most rain. If you can deal with a bit of gloomy weather, however, you'll be rewarded with discounted hotel rates.
Choosing the right London hotel may depend largely on where you'd like to spend a majority of your time. Although London's public transportation is excellent, convenient lodging can dramatically improve the quality of your trip. Like any metropolitan city, however, that convenient location will come with a cost. To find the sweet spot of value and convenience, many visitors find that a hotel near a subway station is the ideal solution.
Where to Stay
As a sprawling city, covering over 600 square miles, London is divided into neighborhoods, each with its own charms and character. If you can afford it, the West End offers the most quintessential London experience. With excellent shopping, dining and nightlife steps away, these England hotels in the West End put you in the middle of the city's rich culture. For a more serene experience in West End, Bloomsbury offers tree-lined streets and beautiful Georgian terraces, while Covent Garden is the hip, vibrant area, setting you in the middle of the action.
Many choose West London as a compromise to West End. West London is home to the majority of London's hotels and offers excellent access to public transportation. Paddington and Bayswater may not provide the glamour of West End, but these areas in West London offer a range of London hotels that blend value with quality. Those who'd prefer to stay near the cultural sites of London may wish to consider a hotel on the South Bank. On the banks of the River Thames, you're only steps away from the London Eye, Tower Bridge and Westminster Bridge.
Budget accommodations can be found in East London. Although historically not the most celebrated area of the city, East London is quickly becoming a hip, affordable destination with new hotels opening every day. East London also offers a reprieve from the whirl of action found in the West, but the transportation system offers easy access to London's most famous sites.
How to Get to London
The London metropolitan area is served by six international airports: Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton, City, and Southend. This system of London's airports makes it one of the busiest on the world, offering 14 domestic and nearly 400 international destinations.
Once you arrive in London, getting around the city is incredibly convenient. Known as the "Tube" by Londoners, the city's underground subway system is one of the most famous in the world. The Tube's 12 lines can get you almost anywhere you'd like to go in London easily and cheaply. To fill in any destination gaps, consider taking a ride on one of London's iconic double-decker buses. London also features a river service with multiple stops along the River Thames. Although a bit more expensive, these river cruises provide a relaxing way to experience the city in a new way.
Blending history and tradition with a fashion-conscious sense of modernity, London is one of the most famous destinations in the world. From its bustling West End to its grand palaces and world-famous museums, the city offers a range of must-see attractions. To make the most of your London vacation, browse the InterContinental Hotel Groups' listing of quality hotels in London. With a bit of planning and research, you'll be able to hit all your London itinerary highlights.