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Arts and culture:
London has a strong culture of free museums and galleries for all, with the majority of exhibitions asking for a voluntary contribution and paid exhibits at reasonable prices.
Art lovers will enjoy the Royal Academy of Art in central London exhibit permanent collections from the 18thC to the present including masterpieces known around the world. If you’ve chosen a hotel in south London we recommend a visit to the Tate Britain in Pimlico to see original work from the Pre-Raphaelites including Ophelia by Sir John Everett Millais. After exploring the classics, hop on the Tate’s own riverboat for a short trip up the Thames to the Tate Modern and see exhibits from leading modern artists.
You can even take a piece of art home with you. Independent galleries like White Cube in Shoreditch and The Wapping Project on Bankside regularly feature exhibitions of contemporary art from established and emerging British artists. Many galleries hold affordable art events. After all, think of the money you’ll have saved with from your cheap hotel deal with lastminute.com.
We recommend you cover the big-five free London museums and also consider a few smaller independent places. If you’re picking a last minute hotel in London and you like history, South Kensington features the remarkable Victoria & Albert Museum, the family-friendly Science Museum and the Natural History Museum with their world-famous dinosaur exhibit.
If you’ve picked a central London hotel, be sure to visit the British Museum featuring The Rosetta Stone and some of the finest Egyptian artefacts in the world and the National Gallery, known for a host of global masterpieces.
We love Pollock’s Toy Museum. Situated in a colourful little building in the heart of Fitzrovia, its rooms piled high with antique teddy bears, dolls and other beloved keepsakes. You’ll probably recognise favourites from your own childhood as you take a trip down memory lane.
London has seen an influx of quality coffee shops in the last few years, many stemming from home of the Flat White, New Zealand. Baristas are always keen to offer recommendations and share information about latest blends.
In Covent Garden check out Monmouth Coffee, opposite the Seven Dials Hotel, famed for friendly staff and takeaway coffee. On a Saturday, the queue often snakes around the block, but don’t worry, these baristas are fast. Nearby in Soho, Flat White and Milk Bar both offer curated blends and fresh local food.
North London is great for trendy and cheap hotels and it’s the same for coffee houses. Tina, We Salute You is a Dalston staple and Fingers Crossed in N16 is drawing the North London crowds.
Bars, Clubs and Music
When you’re ready to step out into London’s vibrant nightlife scene you won’t need to wander far from your hotel before you reach one of the city’s renowned venues. In east London, the O2 puts on big shows for even bigger names from Queen of Pop, Beyoncé to rock legends, The Who. And, you can catch the Thames Clipper from North Greenwich back to your last minute hotel and to see London’s illuminated cityscape all the way home.
If you've picked a hotel in west London, the historic Royal Albert Hall hosts big names in classical, pop and beyond. And, the ever-popular BBC Proms takes its spot here each year. Grabbed your ticket but got nowhere to stay? Extend your trip and book a last minute hotel in trendy Kensington to enjoy the neighbourhood’s stylish shops and restaurants.
Take a step down musical memory lane with a trip to Denmark Street, nicknamed ‘the British Tin Pan Alley’. Pop into London’s largest collection of independent music shops; or drop in to Giaconda Café, the city’s famous past hang out for musicians including David Bowie, Jimi Hendrix and Elton John. If you ejoy staying where the action is, we've got lots of London hotels right in the centre of town.
Heading north to vibrant Camden, you’ll find live-music venue and club, KOKO. Indie, rock and alternative bands play here to a young and energetic crowd. Meanwhile, up the road towards Chalk Farm tube station, The Roundhouse packs in live music, circus acts and theatre shows. Hotels within walking distance of these venues are situated on quiet streets so you can get back easily and still sleep well.
With its striking mock-Tudor exterior and ornate décor, Liberty is an iconic store that has become synonymous with luxury goods since opening its doors over a hundred years ago. Anything from cosmetics to jewellery and homeware can be found here, however the store is best known for its haberdashery department, filled with fantastic floral and graphic prints from acclaimed designers such as Ralph Lauren and Timorous Beasties.
Harrods is one of the world’s most famous department stores, with a mouth-watering deli and floors dedicated to luxury designer goods by Giorgio Armani, Burberry, Stella McCartney and others. Kings and Queens shop here and it’s said that you can buy almost anything, from a diamond manicure to a luxury yacht.
Fans of the ITV series Mr Selfridge will want to pay a visit to Selfridge’s flagship store on Oxford Street. It’s innovative, eye-catching window displays are a must-see, particularly at Christmastime, with previous year’s decorations including London cityscapes made of gingerbread and giant snow globes.
Oxford Street is a shopper’s paradise, with all the top High Street chains and designer stores having a presence here, along with some leading hotel chains. Along this bustling street, you’ll find fashion favourites such as Top Man, Urban Outfitters, American Apparel, H&M, Primark, and many more retailers. There are plenty of cafes and fast food options when you want to take the weight off your feet, including Costas, Starbucks, Pizza Hut, and KFC.
When you’re tired of the crowds, Carnaby Street is a more relaxed, pedestrianised area that is perfect for browsing more independent fashion boutiques. Famous with style icons of the 1960s such as The Who and The Rolling Stones, this area is still a haven for mods.