London is a major capital and global city, full of art and culture. In fact, it’s probably THE major capital and global city. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read or heard from friends that have declared “London is over.” But these critics miss the true beauty of London, the fact that there is just so much to see, do, eat, and explore in the city. New things every day, every week, a never-ending array of events, festivals, and yes, even the odd underground party.
One of the reasons I love the British capital isn’t just the free museums (yes, yes, I know about the fact you’re supposed to leave donations) or even the West End musicals. In fact, it’s just a street: Brick Lane.
Brick Lane is a mixture of what I love about cities: trendy shops, cheap places to eat, Indian restaurants, history, diversity, crowded sidewalks. And then every Sunday, the street comes alive with a market unlike any I’ve seen elsewhere around the world.
It’s easy to get lost in the smells of food—from Mexico, Japan, Germany. The neighborhood bursts with the sounds of a hundred different languages, scents, and accents.
Even without the market, Brick Lane looks and feels like another place. Graffiti covers the walls and most of the storefronts. On any given day, you may even spot street artists putting up new works in broad daylight.
The graffiti themes vary—everything from “art for art’s sake” to political statements. Both local and foreign street artists come to London’s East End, and to Brick Lane especially, to leave a mark. The environment is regularly changing, though it has kept its urbanity.
While Brick Lane has held onto a lot of its independent spirit, there are still a lot of tours that help tourists discover the neighborhood. Graffiti tours often pass through Brick Lane and the surrounding streets. Plus, you’ll even find tours dedicated to the East End’s historical past, retracing the footsteps of figures like Jack the Ripper, who once roamed these same streets.
Taste the best of Brick Lane on a food tour through its cultural heritage
The Brick Lane Flavours of India and Beyond food tour visits different Indian and Bangladeshi restaurants (including my absolute favorite: Tayyabs) on a short, lunchtime tour through the neighborhood. It’s the perfect type of tour that mixes food, history and local culture into an unforgettable experience. Check prices from just £46.
There’s no secret that London has always been a place of inspiration for many artists, writers, and other bohemians. The East End and Shoreditch areas, with their long history of international diversity, have always had their own unique personalities thanks.
Today, in addition to the historical immigrant populations that have called Brick Lane home over the decades, there are more and more people calling the area home. Tech startups and artists have flocked to the area for its creative spirit.
The neighborhood is close enough to the more modern, downtown parts of the city, but also close to London’s more ancient history. Walk around East London at night and you’ll feel the mystical past, the silhouettes lurking in the dark.
From Turkish barber shops that give you tea while waiting, to modern and luxurious hotels and trendy restaurants, the East End is an area that represents the best of urban London. While many like to talk about Shoreditch and its (admittedly genuine) problem with gentrification, just take a look at Soho and Oxford Street in central London, and you’ll realize East London is still very authentic, very raw, and very, very cool.
Local shops sell vintage memorabilia and alternative products, and many of the businesses—even those curry houses along Brick Lane — are still independently owned. So don’t give up on London just yet. The Brick Lane area, even with all of its commercialization, is still very independent. Support the local artists, the local community, and be sure to visit Brick Lane.
The director of the Florence Nightingale Museum has said fighting to reopen after the pandemic has been an “emotional roller-coaster”.
The London museum celebrating the most famous figure in nursing history will open again on May 12.
It marks the 202nd anniversary of her birth and International Nurses’ Day.
David Green said it has been a “long and tiring time” fighting to save the legacy of Florence Nightingale, who became known during the Crimean War as The Lady With The Lamp, because she would check on British soldiers throughout the night.
He told the PA news agency: “It has been a real emotional roller-coaster.
“Certainly for me, I’ve never worked so hard in my life, especially those first few weeks after we closed, it was just so strange.
“We had to accept the fact that ultimately, as a central London location very reliant on international tourists, that market had collapsed.
“But also as the leading nursing museum in Europe, it also means we attract a lot of nurses and clearly they were just so busy with the pandemic, it meant they weren’t visiting us.
“Then the real work kicked in with the fundraising to keep the place going, even with grant applications, they’re hard work, you’ve got no guarantee of success.
“I think we’ve got a real sense of achievement that we’ve pulled it out of the bag, we’ve managed to keep it going.
“We’ve been closed a while but I’m pleased to say that we’ve fought back and May 12 we go again.”
The museum, which opened in 1989 and is in the grounds of St Thomas’ Hospital, will be open five days a week.
“We want to give it a go and on Florence’s 202nd birthday, what better time to do it.
“It is celebrated throughout the world as international nurses day so literally every country in the world will be honoring their nurses on that day.
“The whole legacy of a professional nursing career comes down to what Florence Nightingale started back in the Crimean War. So ultimately, it’s a huge day for the profession.
“We thought it would be a great opportunity to actually celebrate nursing by getting the museum open again, which nicely fits in with the tourist calendar,” Mr. Green added.
The Florence Nightingale Museum, an independent charity, had begun to celebrate the 200th anniversary of her birth when the pandemic hit in March 2020.
Celebrations of the bicentenary, which had been years in the making, had to be scrapped but will now resume, including the Nightingale In 200 Objects, People And Place exhibition.
Highlights will include the “lamp”, in reality, the Turkish lantern she carried during the Crimean War, her medicine chest, containing glass jars of homemade remedies, and her writing case.
Mr. Green said: “At the time of the forced closure, we were at our busiest, in the early stages of bicentenary celebrations.
“The closure stopped us in our tracks and was immensely costly, and the extended lockdown put the museum at risk.
“We are now on a surer footing and absolutely delighted to open our doors again, hopefully for good this time.”
Among new features of the museum will be a celebration of Nightingale’s legacy in statistics, featuring Sir David Spiegelhalter, and her certificate into the Statistical Society of London marking its first female member in 1858.
One of London’s most hipster hotels is also one of its most affordable, cool, gay, trendy hotspots — and it’s just so much fun!
What is it about a holiday where you sometimes just talk a little more? Or how while on holiday you might be a little bit extra outgoing, a little more friendly and inquisitive of strangers? I didn’t always notice this strange travel habit, but during my most recent weekend in London, I found myself confident and outgoing in just about every encounter. And especially so at the hotel I found myself in for the weekend: arguably one of London’s most hipster hotel brands, The Hoxton.
I’ve been to the Hoxton at Holborn before. I’d heard it was a good place to work and since I’m pretty much writing wherever I can these days, I’d stumbled into the hotel lobby looking for a place to get some work done. If you haven’t been to the Hoxton before, you’ll know that this was a fruitless endeavor.
The Hoxton is literally one of the best spots in London to work from, and because of that, the lobby is often crowded. When you walk through the simple sliding glass doors (so chic!), the first thing you see are a set of couches—crowded with people of all ages, either hunched over their laptops or engaged in conversation (probably a business meeting).
To the right, a bar. To the left, more tables, couches and bookshelves. In the back corner, the hotel check-in. You’d almost think this wasn’t even a hotel. The check-in desk is buried in some far off corner.
The Hoxton has two locations in London—one in Holborn and the other (the original) in Shoreditch. I’ve now stayed in both hotels and, without question, it’s my favorite place to stay in London. Room prices can be pricey (prices from about £120/night), but I booked my last visit on the HotelTonight app for a last-minute discount (for less than £90!).
I’ve praised The Hoxton hotel brand countless times before—it’s one of my favorite brands because of a number of reasons. I can’t speak for all their locations (there are new hotels in Amsterdam and Paris, and they’re apparently soon launching hotels in the USA). Here are my top reasons for why I just really love The Hoxton London hotels…
Why I Love the Hoxton hotels in London
This is generally my number reason on how/why I choose a hotel, and The Hoxton wins with both their London properties. The Hoxton Holborn location is right in the heart of the trendy Seven Dials shopping district, steps away from Soho with all of its gay bars and theaters.
The Hoxton Shoreditch is just down the street from the Old Street underground location and walking distance to Shoreditch High Street (again, near plenty of gay bars and some of London’s trendiest restaurants—not to mention the East London markets on Brick Lane, Broadway, and Columbia Road.
As an independent hotel company, the brand utilizes its location to impact its design. The Shoreditch location has a huge fireplace in the main lobby (which doubles as a café and bar) which seems to be older than the building itself. You’ll find local photographers’ works on the walls and rooms are all well-designed for their space with pops of color amid fun and funky patterns. It’s simple but stylish and just what you’re looking for when you need a place to crash in London’s coolest areas.
While the Hoxton is more upscale than many hotels, if you plan it right (and use hotel comparison sites like hotelscombined.com or even last-minute booking apps like HotelTonight), you can usually score a relatively decent deal. For a hotel in downtown London, it’s relatively affordable and the perks of the location and style make it well worth the spend.
Okay, who doesn’t love a good mirror? I can’t tell you how many selfies I took in front of these things in the rooms—because, well, you know. It’s just another touch to the design and it makes the space really feel more-than comfortable.
Takeaway breakfast bags
Like any good one-night stand, one of The Hoxton’s signature moves is its breakfast game. In your room, you find a small door hanger which lets you check off how many breakfasts you need (one or two), any special requests, and what time you want it delivered. It shows up outside your door on a hook at the pre-determined time and you can enjoy it at your leisure. Easy.
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Listen, I don’t gush over hotels very often but The Hoxton is just so good for what you pay.
It will take years for Heathrow to get back to carrying as many passengers as before the pandemic, bosses have revealed.
The UK’s largest airport is expected to carry between 60 million and 62 million passengers this year.
It is a quarter fewer than 2019 – the year before Covid-19 hit the global economy.
This summer, airlines and airports faced major problems as they opened up after two years of lockdowns.
Canceled flights and massive queues forced the companies to take unusual measures. Heathrow said that it would only accept 100,000 passengers per day.
The passenger cap will come to an end on October 31, but that will not be enough for the airport to get back to its former levels.
“Headwinds of a global economic crisis, war in Ukraine and the impact of Covid-19 mean we are unlikely to return to pre-pandemic demand for a number of years, except at peak times,” the business said.
But there was some good news for the business. It managed to turn a heavy £1.4 billion loss in the first three quarters of last year into a £643 million profit this year.
Revenue grew 200% to £2.1 billion in the same period.
Heathrow said it needs to build back its systems so they can meet demand at peak times. This will involve hiring 25,000 new staff which is “a huge logistical challenge.”
There are also signs that passenger numbers are improving. In September, 5.8 million passengers chose the airport, just 15% below 2019 levels and the highest since the start of the pandemic.
Chief executive John Holland-Kaye said: “We can be proud that everyone at Heathrow pulled together to serve consumers this summer – ensuring 18 million people got away on their journeys, more than any other airport in Europe, with the vast majority experiencing good service.
“We have lifted the summer cap and are working with airlines and their ground handlers to get back to full capacity at peak times as soon as possible.”
It seems like there are no boundaries when it comes to musicals these days. Just last week, they announced a ‘Great British Bake Off’ musical. Now more brain-soothing television is coming to the stage, in the shape of a Spongebob musical.
If you can’t get enough of the square-headed yellow fella, next year you’re going to be able to sit through an extended all-singing, all-dancing episode of your favourite underwater sponge.
‘The Spongebob Musical’ will do a limited five-week run at the Southbank Centre in July 2023. The basic premise of the plot will follow Spongebob and pals as they attempt to save Bikini Bottom from the ultimate peril – an imminently erupting underwater volcano. Expect to see surreal sights like pineapples under the sea, singing starfish and a four-legged Squidward.
The Tony Award-nominated show, based on the cartoon by Stephen Hillenburg, has already been a major hit on Broadway. The really intriguing part of this musical is the star-studded rock soundtrack, which includes original songs written by Cyndi Lauper, John Legend, musicians from Aerosmith, Panic! At The Disco, The Flaming Lips and even David Bowie. The musical director is Pullitzer Prize-winning Broadway composer Tom Kitt.
As wacky as it all sounds, the calibre of the songwriters makes us think the soundtrack, which includes sea shanties, sweet friendship love songs and psychedelic rock anthems, might actually be pretty good. There’s only one way to find out. To Bikini Bottom we go!