By Lauren Moore, Intern London
When I first arrived for my internship in London, I was anxious to immerse myself in the British lifestyle as quickly and as thoroughly as possible. Who knows if you’ll get the chance to live in such a city again? Might as well go for it!
Here are 12 of my London tips:
1. If you’re an avid fan of exercising: Sweaty Betty. They have various locations around central London and offer free exercise classes with awesome music to keep you going. Bring a change of clothes for the tube ride home!
2. Take advantage of your oyster card: The world is your oyster – seriously. Take advantage of the tube. Explore London. Get lost. Have fun. The oyster card will work on the tube and buses – getting you anywhere you want to go.
3. Open an account at a London bank: This is something I wish I would have done. American credit cards differ from the types in the UK, so instead of entering your pin, you’ll be the person holding up the line at Tesco while the cashier tries to find a pen for signature. Brits like their queues, but still – avoid it! My friend opened up an account in London and it made things so much easier.
4. Pret: Pret will become your best friend. They have amazing, yummy food for very low London prices. Hint: It’s cheaper to take your food to go! They charge if you eat in. You’ll find these cafes all over London. You may think I’m joking, but literally, they are on every street corner. Take advantage of them, especially if you’re a poor cook (like me!).
5. Cheap flights: London is world-class city, and you can get where you’re looking to go with relative ease. When I was interning in London, I flew with a friend in the program to Dublin, Ireland and we spent a weekend exploring the city. Ryan Air has great flights for really, really cheap prices! Paris is also just a train ride away, and for just one person, the Eurostar tickets are relatively inexpensive. I think it’s important to get out of London – even if only for one day or one weekend!
6. Find your go-to places: One of my favorite spots in London is Primrose Hill. Check it out and you won’t be disappointed. It’s quite often swarming with British celebrities; the cupcakes from Primrose Bakery will be the best you’ve ever had; dinner at the Queen’s Pub will be the home cooked meal you’ve probably been missing; and then there is the view from the top of Primrose Hill – you can see all of London.
7. Meet the locals: If you’re really looking to immerse yourself in London life, find places off the beaten path and become a bit of a Londoner.
8. Visit The Spaniards Inn in Hampstead: They say it’s one of London’s oldest and most famous pubs, but the tourists never seem to find it. The Inn served people such as Byron, Sir Joshua Reynolds and John Keats – who apparently penned ‘An Ode To A Nightingale‘ in the garden of the pub. There is one waiter in particular who will always tell you his ghost stories, if you ask, over fish and chips… the pub is supposedly haunted.
While you’re still in Hampstead, check out the designer second hand shop… then grab an amazingly fresh crepe from La Creperie de Hampstead just down the street!
9. The Breakfast Club: Best breakfast in London. Be prepared. Customers queue up for sometimes up to 2 hours (but it’s worth it – trust me!)
10. Notting Hill movie theater: It is only £3.50 for current movies. And if you’re a fan of the movie Notting Hill – attempt to grab Hugh Grant’s seat. A scene used in the movie was shot here! If you’re in Notting Hill, eat at the Churchill Arms and dig in on some amazing Thai food!
11. If you have a smartphone that will work in the UK, get some Apps:
- CityMapper will hold the only directions you’ll ever need in the city, breaking your trip down to what lines on the tube you’ll need, when you’ll need to change, and what bus you’ll need to grab. This app got me everywhere I needed to go – a must have!
- YPlan is a fun app that lists great events, concerts, movies,etc. coming up in London within the week. Friends and I would sometimes check out the app the night of to see what was going on in the city. Once we ended up at chocolate convention with free samples galore!
- London Tube Map is a free app so you have it on you at all times.
12. Write down your adventures: I started a blog, posted pictures, and wrote my adventures in posts filled with pictures. It was a great way for me to keep friends and family back home up to date with all of my adventures. Upon return to the US, it was also a great way for me to look back and remember the amazing time in my life – a part of my life where I was living and working in London.