As a major travel destination, London has its fair share of hotels. Unfortunately, many are overpriced, dull or a combination of both. To enjoy London like a Londoner, consider a vacation rental in one of these trendy neighborhoods.
Boasting more than 300 high-end shops, Oxford Street is one of the busiest shopping districts in all of Europe. This active street measures approximately a mile and a half long, and intersects with Park Lane, New Bond Street and Regent Street. Oxford Street also has a highly dramatic history. Beginning the 12th Century and lasting through 1782, Oxford Street served as the road taken by prisoners to Newgate Prison. In modern times, it evolved into a street where British chain stores hold their celebrity launches.
This includes the century-old Selfridges, the second largest department store in the United Kingdom. In 2005, the Oxford Street Selfridges hosted a group of Elvis Presley tribute artists, who set the world record for the most Elvis impersonators in one location. The event is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records.
Mention Jermyn Street in London, and the first words that come to mind are "gentlemen's shirts." Jermyn Street is to men's shirts as Savile Row is to men's fine suits. In fact, the shirt makers at the famous Turnbull & Asser store have produced shirts for esteemed gentlemen such as Prince Charles and George W Bush. Jermyn Street takes its name from Henry Jermyn, who developed the neighborhood in 1667. Its residents of distinction include Sir Isaac Newton, Colonel Churchill Duke, and the Duchess of Richmond and Lennox. The street is also home to the 70-seat Jermyn Street Theater.
While fans of custom-made clothing enjoy Jermyn Street for its shirts, steak aficionados rave about the steaks at Rowley's Restaurant. This restaurant is famous for its grilled steak, which is with a tasty herb butter sauce and unlimited supply of chips.
London Travel Tips | Leicester Square
Leicester Square embodies the charm of all things British. It's named after Robert Sidney, who served as the 2nd Earl of Leicester. In 1630, Sidney purchased four acres of land within the neighborhood, and built an enormous house called Leicester House. Much to the local residents' immense disapproval, Sidney enclosed part of the formerly public land around his ostentatious new mansion.
As usual for London, arbitration ensued, and Lord Leicester was ordered to keep part of his land available to local parishioners. Today, a small park ornaments the center of the area. Its features a statue of Shakespeare surrounded by dolphins, as well as statues of other historic celebrities such as Sir Isaac Newton.
The most humorous statue has Charlie Chaplin gaping at Sir William Shakespeare is probably the funniest. The Bard would probably be quite amused, but we're not sure how he would feel about sharing the glory with the modern screen actors, whose hand-prints appear on the mounted plaques that also ornament Leicester Square.
Piccadilly, a major road in the City of London, measures 1.25 miles. It traverses Piccadilly Circus and the southeast corner of Hyde's Park. The name comes from a tailor named Robert Baker. During the 17th-century, Baker owned a shop that specialized in the piccalilli, a large stiff collar known for its scalloped edges and a broad lace border. The money earned from these collars allowed him to build a large mansion. He called it Piccadilly Hill.
The attractions of Piccadilly include Burlington House, home to the Royal Academy of Arts, and Fortnum and Mason, the department store associated with the British Royal family. The store boasts a highly impressive food hall, whose stocks of specialty foods have been known to induce hunger pangs. The store also has a fashionable tea shop as well as a hair salon that specializes in cutting and styling long hair.
London Travel Guide | Piccadilly Circus
There's no circus in Piccadilly Circus. Circus is the Latin word for circle, and Piccadilly Circus is simply a circular open space. Kitsch neon signs and flashy billboards characterize this funky neighborhood but its Tube station is its claim to fame. It starred in a 1986 video for Press TV, which featured Sir Paul McCartney catching a Tube train and chatting with fellow passengers.
An intriguing history inspired tourists to visit and stay near Dean Street. In 1756 a young musician named Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart performed a recital at 21 Dean Street. Fast forward to World War II, and the French House, also located on Dean Street, served as the headquarters for Charles de Gaulle and the French Underground Resistance movement. Karl Marx inhabited Dean Street from 1851 to 1856. His dwellings sat above what is now the upscale restaurant called Quo Vadis.
Before he became an author, Charles Dickens was a regular on Dean Street. As an aspiring actor, he participated in amateur productions at Fanny Kelly's Royalty Theatre, located at 73-74 Dean Street. London captivates her visitors with her rich and colorful history. Why not spend time vacationing within her residential areas, and get to know her better.