Ah, London, a city where modernity sits juxtaposed with history. Be it in the pages of a book, on screen, or in real life, London's sophisticated and charming allure is completely justified. Of course, with the things that London has to offer, the worst thing you can do is fill your itinerary with all the stereotypical things that tourists do. So, here are a few things that you absolutely have to do the next time you visit London.
1. How about 'a mesmerizing hybrid of sideshow, vaudeville, and burlesque'?
Those aren't my words, but a glowing recommendation (as far as those go) for the La Soirée by Entertainment Weekly. A wonderful combination of contemporary burlesque, cabaret and circus sideshow, this theatrical delight has won hearts all over the world. Currently on tour, the group has set up shop in London's Leicester Square, but only till January 2017. Get your hands on the tickets now, and make sure you're 18 and above.
2. What about experiencing life in the eighteenth-century first hand?
If the billowing gowns of the ladies on Downton Abbey took your breath away, head on over to Spitalfields, where Dennis Severs' House comes pretty close to living the real thing. Visitors of this ten-roomed Huguenot House get to immerse themselves in the unique experience of still life drama. As you pass through the rooms (in complete silence, which is a requirement) you will come across burning candles, inexplicable smells, half-eaten dinners, and unmade beds. It's as if the inhabitants left the house in a hurry only to accommodate the visitors.
3. 'There's nothing like an English summer, except maybe an English winter.'
Yep, London's winters are famous all across the world for being unforgivingly brutal. That's also, however, what makes them beautiful, and there is no better place to enjoy them than the Berkeley Winter Rooftop Cinema. Each December, The Berkeley Health Club and Spa converts its rooftop terrace into a large cinema where guests can curl up with each other with a bottle of wine, hot chocolate and mince pies. If I could have only one date in my entire life, it would be here.
4. Wanted to be Elsa after watching Frozen? This is the perfect place to realize your Ice Princess (or Prince) dreams.
With lively crowds milling about the area and a plethora of activities to choose from, Ice Skating at the Somerset House is an experience that you shouldn't miss. Glide over the ice as much as you want and top the night off with amazing music by some of the world's most renowned DJs at an exclusive Club Night. Or, if you want to relax, you can lounge in Fortnum's Lodge and shop at their Christmas Arcade. In short, all the makings of a perfect day.
5. Want something better than the revived classics and mainstream plays? Here's a little something.
Of course, if you want to experience the profound words of Shakespeare in full effect, there's always the Globe Theatre. Towering over the Finborough Road, however, is the Finborough Pub and Theatre. Dedicated completely to the fringe arts, this famous theater puts up regular productions of neglected plays of the nineteenth and twentieth century and works by new writers. In short, if it's a coming of age story with a millennial as a protagonist, it's not for this place.
6. What's the best way to take in history? With a pinch of salt, they say.
At least, that's what the folks over at Bullshit London think. Yep, you heard that right. Organized by comedians, this tour provides the generic tourist with a not-so-conventional tour of London's South Bank. Forget all the facts, figures, and statistics; expect improvised jokes and no regard for historical accuracy whatsoever.
7. Hogwarts, Hogwarts, hoggy warty Hogwarts, teach us something please...
For all those who believe that their Hogwarts letters got lost in the mail, here are three words of consolation: Christmas at Hogwarts (*cue squealing*). Till January 29th, the gates of the Warner Bros Studio will welcome Potterheads to experience the magic of the season on the Hogwarts set. Christmas trees in the Great Hall and a Gryffindor Common Room decked in red and green... all we need now is Butterbeer. (Oh, you'll get that too, along with the option of feasting in the Great Hall.) Best. Christmas. Ever.
8. Went to London and didn't experience royalty? Whatever did you do, little cat?
Well, the chances of you running into the Queen may be as much as there are of Hogwarts being real, but you can still watch the changing of the guard at the Buckingham Palace every day. Simply put, it is when one regiment of guards takes over the duties of the sentry from another. The ceremony takes place from 11.15 a.m. to noon every day from April to July, and every alternate day after at the same time. If you want a good view, though, make sure to reach well before time.
If you need any more reasons to pack your bags and shuttle off to London, my friend, you weren't paying attention. To make easier for you and in total English fashion, British Airways is bringing you your personal butler in the form of their new Facebook Messenger Bot. Known as BOTler or British Airways Digital Guide, the Bot will not only act as a traveling guide but also give people live updates and tips on exclusive deals to enjoy 'London for Less.'
Well, what are you still doing here? Hurry up, pack your bags!