London is officially the world’s most desirable place to travel for Christmas

London is officially the world’s most desirable place to travel for Christmas


Over Christmas, Londoners tend to flee the city, schlepping back to their family homes in far-flung parts of the UK with much worse public transport, and not a natural wine bar in sight. But what if we told you that the Big Smoke is the most desirable spot worldwide for Christmas tourism? Perhaps Londoners would think twice about heading home for the Yuletide break with all this festive glory right on their doorsteps. 

According to a survey generated using Google search data, London is the place where most people want to travel for a Crimbo holiday. And why wouldn’t they? With tonnes of dazzling Christmas trees, festive theatre shows and light displays, a stint in the Big Smoke is guaranteed to give you all the festive feels. 

In research by Cloudwords.net, ‘Christmas in London’ and ‘things to do in London for Christmas’ were found to be the top searches for Christmas holidays in 20 countries including Spain, Netherlands, Canada, and AustraliaVienna was the second most searched city, being a popular destination for people from Italy, Germany and the USNew York and Paris came in joint third place, followed by Budapest, Madrid and Prague

So there you have it, Brits don’t have to travel very far at all to be at one of the most popular festive locations in the world. Aren’t we lucky?

Did you see that Smithfield Market’s Christmas meat auction is back for 2023?

Stay in the loop: sign up for our free Time Out London newsletter for the best of the city, straight to your inbox.



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Top travel tips from Jake Graf: a couples guide to London

Top travel tips from Jake Graf: a couples guide to London


Just because international travel is still heavily restricted, that doesn’t mean you still can’t experience the joys of exploration and discovery. Like many travellers, my wife and my overseas trips were cancelled last year, so, we began to explore our own backyard, which quickly revealed how little I, a born and bred Londoner, had seen of London’s ‘tourist attractions’.

And so, began a fortnight of (local) travel, discovery, and adventure, that would truly open my eyes to the city in which I was born. Below is my ultimate couples guide to exploring London, including where to go, eat and what to do.

IMG_9409.jpg?1622629740Start your mornings right

In true holiday tradition, start with brunch, which is always a good place to begin when discovering a new place. Historically a US tradition, London is now quite the city for brunches, from wild bottomless Peruvian brunches in Mayfair, to more traditional eggs and bacon at the various fab cafes and restaurants of Clapham, Soho and Hoxton.

One of our favourite spots and visited several times at some of its different London locations, was The Breakfast Club. Smashed avocado on sourdough with extra sausage for me became a staple.

Explore the greenery of London

The beauty of London’s parks is many are free to access, working perfectly for spontaneity. Richmond park was truly stunning, set near the river in West London, Richmond is a beautiful part of the city. It’s leafy, green and has a real ‘village’ vibe, and it also has some great restaurants and bars.

If you can, grab a bike and cycle through the park, if you’re lucky you’ll find some herds of deer, tame after years of human visitors. They were perfectly happy to allow us to take some stunning photos with the sun-drenched park and trees dating back many hundreds of years.

Another gem in West London is the Kew Royal Horticultural Gardens, one of the few gardens for which we had to buy tickets for. The diversity of the flora is hard to imagine in the heart of London. There were huge greenhouses filled with plants from every rainforest and green space in the world. It has different areas for all the varying weather conditions across the globe, whole ‘forests’ of aged pines, and even a tree top walkway for those who like to see things from above. For those with younger children, there’s a huge playground and indoor ‘plant house’ for your little ones to enjoy and learn about.

Hyde Park is another vast and stunning park to explore, set in the middle of many of London’s most famous spots, including Kensington and Buckingham Palaces to Notting Hill Gate and Knightsbridge. For a big city, London has almost interminable green space, and all of it easily accessible via public transport.

IMG_7763.jpg?1622629767Evening adventures

With theatres now opening again with reinvigorated cast members, it gave us the opportunity to indulge in one of my wife’s biggest passions – musicals! Go for the matinee performances, allowing for cheaper tickets and keeping the evening free to enjoy the nightlife.

Or, indulge in a historic pub tour, there are several wonderful tours you can book online, but we chose to make our own way. We discovered countless drinking holes where Shakespeare used to sip his pints, including The George in Southwark, and were able to fully immerse ourselves in London’s history while enjoying a beer and some equally British fish and chips. In London, you are rarely more than a hundred feet away from a pub, and most are friendly, fun, and reasonably priced.

Soho is another great area to finish the night, with hundreds of restaurants offering a range of cuisines and great bar hopping choices. As one of the city’s LGBTQ hotspots, you will find many gay and queer bars here, and drag queens running from venue to venue for their various bingo hosting gigs or cabaret performances.

The cultural side of London

Make your way to the Southbank, a part of the Thames River and you will find the British Film Institute. It’s the perfect place for an afternoon screening of some of the hottest new films, and even some more highbrow international offerings. Their riverside restaurant is also a buzzing and vibrant location for great food and even better people watching. Along the river there is also a historic, graffiti covered skater park, with some great eateries.

Travellers will also find The Royal Festival Hall, which has a widely unknown roof terrace which is free to access and features breath-taking views up and down the Thames River. Overlook the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, London Bridge and views of London for several miles. The Southbank is also lovely in the evening, with many of the buildings lit up, the area truly comes alive.

Another great spot is South Kensington, where I went to school, and which is also home to the world-famous Natural History Museum. A free attraction, where you can spend all hours learning all about the plants and animals that make up our history. It is situated right next to the Science Museum, more to the taste of my wife who is an electronic engineer and loves figuring out the machinations and workings of things.

If you walk up Exhibition Road, you will find yourself at Hyde Park and next to the Royal Albert Hall, another one of London’s oldest and most well-known structures. Within central London, so much is in close proximity that a day spent wandering will fly by.

Explore London from the water

Visit the boat ponds in Regent’s Park and Kensington Gardens and hire a rowing boat, it’s the perfect way to spend a quiet moment away from the busy London streets. For those who enjoy being out on the open waves, there are also several guided barge and boat tours of the Thames, where you can see much of London from the safety of the deck. Most also have a cafe on board if you need a tea or coffee for the chillier days.

IMG_6190.jpg?1622629851IMG_3907.jpg?1622629849Shop till you drop

For many travellers coming to London, shopping is one of the main reasons, whether that be clothes on Oxford Street, antiques in Portobello Road or simply marvelling at the extravagances of Harrod’s superstore. Hannah and I were overjoyed to take a break from online shopping and step into a shop in person.

In London, there really is something for everyone, and we even popped up via the Tube to Camden Market where Hannah bought some rock t-shirts for herself and our one year old. Like mother, like daughter!

Top tips for conquering London

Despite doing as much as we possibly could over several weeks, we were slightly dependent on childcare and the kindness of grandparents, but we barely scratched the surface of all that London has to offer. Here are some tips when exploring London:

– Buy an Oyster card upfront for easy, contactless travel
– If you’re on a budget, take a sandwich or similar with you to eat on the go

– Don’t be afraid to ask for directions, most Londoners are happy to help.
– Download the Uber app, it will save you a fortune compared to black taxi cabs.

There truly is an endless variety of attractions, sights, and history to absorb, and much more than we could ever do in our fabulous city.

About the author

Jake Graf is an international multi award winning director, writer and actor based in London known for his roles in ‘The Danish Girl’, ‘Colette’, and ‘Headspace’. As one of the most visible transgender men in the UK, Graf speaks on LGBTQ issues across news and social media with his wife, Captain Hannah Winterbourne, a transgender woman. Jake was listed in OUT Magazine’s OUT100 List, The Independent’s Rainbow List, The Independent’s Pride Power List and The Guardian’s LGBT Power List. Follow Jake’s on Instagram at @jake_graf5 or at https://www.jakegraf.com/

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Top travel tips from Perri Edwards: a guide to a weekend in Lagos, Nigeria

Top travel tips from Perri Edwards: a guide to a weekend in Lagos, Nigeria


Lagos, Nigeria has recently become a second home for my family and me, and we can’t wait for the day when we can travel there again safely! But for now, we’ll enjoy it in our dreams. After spending so much time exploring and discovering the amazing places to see and do, I wanted to share with you my ultimate travel guide (for when we can travel there) of exploring Lagos, Nigeria.

First things first, it’s common amongst visitors to Lagos that they extend their trip. You often find the days just fly by and there is so much to do and see, so if you can, plan a few extra days. However, for those with limited time, here is my guide on how to spend 96 hours in Lagos.

Lagos has two parts when you arrive, at the airport you are on the mainland, but if you drive for 30 minutes you are on the island (Ikoyi, Lekki and Victoria Island), which are the central areas where you will find the events, the clubs, restaurants, bars and hotels

Getting around

Getting around in Lagos is easy, you can order a taxi via a mobile app such as Bolt or Uber. The driver will contact you to confirm they’ve received your request and they are on the way, and again once they have arrived. There are two ways of paying the driver, they either they collect cash or card (transfer is what it’s referred to). Tip: The currency used in Nigeria is Naira (N), N500 is approximately the equivalent to £1.00.

5.jpg?1622630229Travel lighter, smarter

Pack no more than 100ml for each product, or better you can pick up your essentials from the local supermarkets, either at Prince ebeano or Shoprite for your toiletries or home comforts. Lagos is known for being hot. It’s scorching hot all year round, temperatures can reach up to 32 degrees Celsius, therefore there’s no need to pack heavy outfits, leave the jeans and jumpers at home! Instead pack light, thin material items, a few pairs of sandals and one pair of trainers just in case you decide to work out or take a walk – but I doubt you’ll be going for long walks in Lagos, instead you’ll want to be travelling in a well air conditioned vehicle relaxing and enjoying the ride while taking in the scenery.

Market

If you want to experience the real hustle and bustle of Lagos, visit a market. All kinds of things are sold there, from fruit and vegetables, toiletries, clothes, materials and jewellery. If you can, grab some material of your choice and get some clothes made, for a truly special memento to take home. There are plenty of tailors in Lagos, and my favourite is Mend in Victoria Island, the tailors work very fast, so come with your measurements and let them create the outfit you desire. I also suggest Lekki arts and crafts market for a calmer market experience or to support the amazing local artists and craftsmen Lagos has to offer.

Night life

The great thing about Nigeria is night life starts late. So, you really can never be late to the party. Grab some food from Black bell, for a tasty Nigerian meal at an affordable price that will leave feeling full and content. Another favourite restaurant of mine is Nok by Alara, where fashion meets fine dining.

Freshen up at your accommodation before heading out. One of my go-to places to stay is Maison Fahrenheit, a beautifully decorated boutique hotel. For added peace of mind, hotels now include health and hygiene measures on the Expedia.co.uk, including enhanced cleaning and social distancing policies, or other considerations to help keep guests safe.

Things to do

Lekki Conservation Centre

If you love the outdoors you must visit Lekki Conservation Centre, which is a nature reserve. Take a walk around and be one with nature. The place is amazing, and you will find lots of greenery, which is a rarity in Lagos. I would advise to wear comfortable clothing and trainers, but if you are afraid of heights, I’d suggest you keep your feet on the ground. Tip: Keep your food in a bag stored away because you will be left foodless. Beware of the cheeky monkeys.

Nike Art centre

Lagos has a lot of amazing artists who are very creative and excellent at creating something out of nothing. The Nike Art Centre is a four storey high building displaying a variety of artwork from Nigerian artists, which includes a wide variety of ancient and modern work. Check it out if you have time.

Sip and PaintIt is what it says. Sip (on a glass of wine or juice) and paint (release your inner creative mind), allow yourself to become an artist for the day. The great thing about this activity is that you can choose where you would like it to take place. Whether it’s painting inside an indoor facility, or to paint outdoors in a garden or on a rooftop with a great view of the island, it’s up to you. Check them out on Instagram to see when and where the next event will be.

As you continue to plan and book your future trips, it’s important to always check the latest government advisories and testing requirements. With the uncertainty of the current climate, it’s also good to choose flexible options for added peace of mind. When booking through Expedia, be sure to find refundable and flexible stays by using the “free cancellation” search filter, or selecting “book now, pay later” rates.

Head over to Expedia’s website and start planning your trip!

About the author

Perri Edwards is a British retired track and field athlete who rose to fame when she won the 400m hurdles at the 2008 Olympic Games. She was the third fastest in the world in the run-up to the 2013 World Championships, but finished seventh in Moscow after damaging her knee ligaments during the final. Perri went on to marry former Big Brother Naija housemate Mike Edwards in 2018 after several years of dating. They recently welcomed their son Matthew in August 2020. Follow Perri on Instagram at @itspsd or at https://www.youtube.com/mikeandperri

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Top travel tips from Rosie Londoner: how to make the most of your trip to the Cotswolds

Top travel tips from Rosie Londoner: how to make the most of your trip to the Cotswolds


Whatever the season, whatever the weather, you just cannot beat the Cotswolds. The unspoiled, natural beauty of the lush rolling hills, and the pretty stone villages, there’s just nowhere quite like it.

To help make the most of your visit, I’ve included some of my top tips on where to stay and what to do.

Nestled in the beautiful Lower Slaughter, I recommend staying at The Slaughters Country Inn. A tiny village on the banks of a babbling stream.

1.jpg?1622630764Wake up and enjoy breakfast beside the river, with the 100-year-old oak trees rustling overhead.The name “Lower Slaughter” comes from the Old English name for wet land ‘slough’ or ‘slothre’ (Old English for muddy place). Thankfully, it’s not quite so muddy now! And there are two old footbridges for crossing to either side of the river that runs through its heart.

A sroll through the village will bring you past the little chocolate box houses and to the old mill which was listed in the Doomsday Book of 1086. So, it’s fair to say that this village has seen its fair share of history.

4_%281%29.jpg?1622630809A short walk out of town (make sure to pack your boots), you’ll find the beautiful countryside, ripe for walks and picnicking.

For those who would like to visit Upper Slaughter, which is also very beautiful. Take these directions:

– Take the footpath hidden next to the old mill. There should be a sign to ‘Wardens Way’. Follow it along the river’s edge and cross three fields.
– Take the little stone bridge over the river, and once you find the road, turn right.
– Cross the river again and turn left when you see a sign that says, “unsuitable for motors”.
– Keep walking until you come across a ford (where the road is submerged beneath the river) and cross over (wade through in your boots or keep dry on the little footbridge, depending how adventurous you’re feeling!)
– Walk all the way to the top of the hill until you find the village square and take the road to the left.
– Walk on until you find the footpath sign and head back to Lower Slaughter the way you came.

5.jpg?1622630843The Cotswolds was designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in 1966 – the largest in England and Wales. With its extensive limestone grasslands, ancient woodlands, and pretty villages, it’s not hard to see why.

The beautiful green hills are heaven for grazing sheep, which is how the area came to be known as the very best place to source wool in Medieval times. People would flock (excuse the pun!) from all over Europe to trade for the highly prised fabric. This success is visible in the grander towns like Chipping Campden and in the sheer number of stately homes in the surrounding areas.

I highly recommend renting a car to venture a little further afield. Within just a short distance, you’ll find some of my favourite villages including, Stow On The Wold, Chipping Norton, Bourton on The Water, Kingham (home to my favourite pub, The Wild Rabbit) and so many more, just waiting to be discovered.

There are lots of stately homes to see, along with their rambling grounds for exploring. Just to get you started, a few favourites include Snowshill Manor, Upton House, Chastleton House, Charlecote Park, Blenheim Palace, Kelmscott Manor, Buscot Park, Hanbury Hall, and the spectacular Batsford Arboretum.

Of course, you could always take the pressure off and book a tour with a local expert. Who will whisk you away to see all the very best bits, in comfort and style.

No trip to the British Countryside would be complete without a visit to a pub or three. You won’t find a village without one. In the colder months you’ll be able to spot them a mile away, with a plume of smoke rising from the chimney. Step across the cold stone threshold and into the warm embrace of a proper English pub. The sweet smell of cider, the waft of warm bread, the sound of boisterous banter and the inviting glow of a warm fire.

Local favourites dishes include pie & mash, bubble ‘n’ squeak, beef Wellington, shepherd’s pie, toad in the hole, ploughman’s lunch, potted shrimp, fish ‘n’ chips and of course, a classic Sunday roast. Order up a storm, and don’t forget a pint! Then find yourself a snuggly spot beside the fire to while away the afternoon.

7.jpg?1622630709

Just be sure to top it all off with a generous helping of my all-time favourite British dessert, sticky toffee pudding. Or maybe a good crumble, with lashing of custard, or bread and butter pudding. But then you’ll want to save room for an afternoon tea of scones, clotted cream and jam.

With so much to see, eat and do, you’ll just have to stay a little longer!

Hotels now include health and hygiene measures on their info pages on Expedia.co.uk, including enhanced cleaning, social distancing policies, or other considerations to keep guests safe. So be sure to check those out and adhere to any local travel restrictions, COVID-19 guidelines, and respect social distancing measures.

With everything being so unpredictable, Expedia can also help you find refundable/flexible stays by using the “free cancellation” search filter or selecting “book now, pay later” rates, providing some added peace of mind if changes need to be made.

About the author

Lifestyle blogger, Rosie Londoner runs the very successful blog, The Londoner, where she shares her thoughts on everything from travel and style, to some of her favourite recipes and London hot spots. Follow Rosie on Instagram at @rosielondoner or at https://www.thelondoner.me/

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Expedia Travel Week serves up massive travel discounts starting 8th June 2021

Expedia Travel Week serves up massive travel discounts starting 8th June 2021


Mark your calendars, because Expedia’s first-ever Expedia Travel Week sale is right around the corner. Running from 8th to 12th June, our biggest savings event to date will be available on the Expedia Mobile App and Expedia.co.uk, offering travellers up to 40% savings on select hotels and activities.

The Expedia Travel Week Sale will feature savings on more than 30,000 hotels and 800+ activities around the world, to help holiday-deprived travellers plan their next well-deserved trip.

Not ready to travel just yet? Fear not. Offers will be open to bookings as far out as January 2022, and most include flexible cancellation policies, making it the perfect time to lock in travel plans to look forward to for the rest of the year.

Here are all the different ways to save:

EXPEDIA TRAVEL WEEK DEALS

Beginning Tuesday, 8th June, Expedia will launch five days of deals to some of the most dream-worthy destinations. Whether it’s a relaxing summer trip to explore the surf-ready shores of Cornwall, or an international bucket list holiday to roam the vineyards of Tuscany, there’s something for every kind of traveller.

The Expedia Travel Week deals are for travel dates 8th June 2021 – 31st Jan 2022, and most include flexible cancellation policies, making it the perfect time to lock in travel plans to look forward to for the rest of the year.

Cornwall_Kynance_Cove.jpeg?1622631832CURATED DAILY GETAWAYS

In addition to the extensive deals, Expedia has partnered with a diverse group of travel and lifestyle trendsetters to personally curate itineraries based on their favourite travel destinations. Itineraries will be released each day with a limited-time 20% off coupons to be used on the selected hotels.

Preview them now and set a reminder when your favourite Daily Getaway goes live:

TUESDAY, JUNE 8: @Itspsd reveals the best places to stay and see in Grenada and Nigeria for when the time is right.

WEDNESDAY, JUNE: Discover the hidden gems of Portugal and Cotswolds with @Rosielondoner

THURSDAY, JUNE 10: Learn @Jake_graf5‘s tricks to enjoying the city life in London and the secrets of Mallorca.

FRIDAY, JUNE 11: The perfect staycation getaway in London and Manchester with @Sheikhbeauty.

SATURDAY, JUNE 12: From beachside to cityscapes in Brighton and London with @Livpurvis.

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TIPS AND TRICKS FOR GETTING THE MOST OUT OF EXPEDIA TRAVEL WEEK

DOWNLOAD THE APP: Expedia’s award-winning mobile app also makes it easier to plan and keep track of travel plans, with handy push notifications alerting travellers to itinerary changes, easy messaging with your hotel, and a map feature to find nearby things to do.
KEEP TABS ON THE LATEST TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS: With restrictions changing by the day, it can be tricky to stay up to date on the latest COVID-related guidelines. Use the Expedia Travel Advisor which lets travellers search by their origin and destination to see what travel advisories or COVID-19 restrictions are in place.
BOOKMARK IT: Do a little pre-shopping and save hotels to your ‘favourites’ list, then set a reminder for when the sale kicks off and your favourite Daily Getaway goes live.
BOOK FLEXIBLE RATES: Many of the deals featured will have flexible cancellation policies. While many destinations are open, choosing refundable rates allows travellers to bag a great deal without worrying about plans needing to change. Filter search results for ‘free cancellation’ or ‘reserve now, pay later’ and select a refundable room type.

Happy shopping and safe travels!

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