Life in London

Local Guide to London - Four Day Itinerary to London

Local Guide to London - Four Day Itinerary to London

London is the capital of England and it is considered one of the most important tourism destinations in Europe. Now that I have been in London for four years exploring all aspects of the city, I feel like a Londoner. I am glad that I got to know this interesting and vibrant city. It's a city with a lot to offer and I have to agree with Samuel Johnson's famous saying: "when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life." 

Visiting London is a goal for so many travellers, but it can be slightly overwhelming. When I came to London as a tourist I was very overwhelmed and I was so confused on what to do and what to see. Living here has shown me a whole different side to the city that I want to share with you in this post just to give back and share the love I have for this multi layered city. 

Most tourists go to well-known places such as Big Ben, The Queen's Palace and London Eye. There is nothing wrong with that. They are iconic sights of the city. This post however is going to be about more than the usual. It is going to be about what the places I enjoy and actually go to a few times a year. I am sure every Londoner sees London differently and this is just my take. There are many other websites that will tell you about other points of interest and I would advice you to look at everything and see what is best for you in terms of location and interest. Happy Planning! 

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Travel time + best times to visit London

There are several things to consider when planning a trip to London, such as the time of year and the season, as well as British holidays. One of my favourite times is winter especially during the Christmas period. It is one of the most crowded times, but the city is full of life and activities that are only happening during that time of year like the Christmas lights, Christmas markets and ice skating. This period is from 20 November to 24 December. On December 25th most things will be closed. December 26th, known as Boxing Day, is a day of shopping and discounts. Some sales are good but all shops are very crowded, so it's not always worth it. 

Another time I enjoy is the summer time, where the days are long and the sunset is between 9 and 10 pm. There are many summer activities that only happen in the summer period like outdoor cinemas, roof top restaurants and so on

Autumn is one of the most beautiful seasons, especially between September and November, where the colours of the trees change and the gardens are coloured in wonderful autumn shades. 

The weather of the trip + the best weather to visit London

The weather in London and the UK as a whole is very unpredictable. The day may start with a warm sun and end with cold wind and heavy rain. When I leave my flat, I take my umbrella with me whatever the season is. I wear my leather shoes for three seasons so that my feet would not get wet when it randomly rain. Some days I take my sunglasses too. Usually the summer is rainy and the rain ranges from light to heavy. Winter is relatively less rainy, but it gets much colder. The best seasons to visit London weather wise are Summer and Autumn, but whatever season you choose, be aware that it might rain. In addition, London gets very warm in the summer at times and it could reach to 30 degrees without air conditioning in most places. 

Walking around London (Muslim Friendly guide to London)

Booking a flight + Best airlines to London

London is one of the most famous cities and most airlines stop here. London has four well-known airports: Heathrow, Gatwick, London City and Stansted. The last two airports do not go directly to the Middle East. There are fast trains connected to the airports to make the trip faster to central London. A good price if you are coming from the Middle East is 350 GBP and a decent one from North Africa is 150-250GB unless you are coming from Morocco, where RyanAir goes and that will give you a ticket for 20-60GB. If you are coming from Canada or the US, there are budget airlines like wow air that would cost you $400, so there are so many choices depending on your location in the world (Read: How to find cheap flights on Skyscanner?)

Places of interest and activities in London

One of the things to consider in London is the route of your daily program/schedule. London is a big city and some places are about an hour or an hour and a half away from each other. For example, my house is located a full hour from the famous Harrods shop, so I recommend buying a transport card, Oyster. There are offers for a weekly or monthly options that you could buy on your oyster or you can just pay as you go with your credit card if you have the contactless function. Many touristy spots are located in zone 1, but if you want to find places further you should buy Zone 1 to Zone 2 or 3. To check the route or to plan your day make sure to check: Google Maps and TFL: Transports For London.

When planning your day or itinerary for the day, I would recommend staying in one side of London instead of going in all directions and everywhere. For example, when you visit East London, spend the day exploring the whole area instead of going to North London for a meal because your time may be wasted on the tube. 

The most crowded times are from 8 am to 10 am and from 4:30 pm to 7 pm, especially in public transport. During these times it is very difficult to find a place to stand. 

Greenwich London London Red Phone Booth

I am sure that you know the very famous places and you will find information about them in most of the site this post is about the places I personally love and enjoy

Museums and art galleries in London

Victoria and Albert Museum Victoria and Albert Museum

The Victoria and Albert Museum is one of the most famous museums, but some people still skip it!  The museum is very large and in the same area there is the Natural History Museum and other art spaces. My favourite places in this museum are the Abdullatif Jameel Islamic Art Gallery and the Tea Room, which was renovated a few years ago. Admission is free but temporary exhibitions have special tickets and usually last/change every few months. 

Saatchi Gallery

Saatchi Gallery is in the same area is the V&A. It is a large exhibition spaces. Sometimes they host free exhibitions, but temporary exhibitions require a tickets. Check their website before I head there. 

Queen's Gallery

Although the Queen's Gallery is located in the Queen's Palace (Buckingham Palace),it is not that known to people. I went to visit an exhibition about the Queen's jewellery and books and enjoyed it. Exhibitions change every few months. The exhibition is small in size, so it wouldn't take longer than an hour to see. 

Design Museum
The Design Museum is a three-story museum located in West London and has everything to do with design. The building is also beautiful and you can spend two hours there. Two floors of the museum are free but there is a floor for temporary shows. The free section is great and just outside the museum is Holland Park. You can see all the details in the video below. 

Leighton House Museum
This museum was the home of the artist Leighton. During his life life time, Leighton was very intrigued by Islamic art, so he has a lovely room known as the Arab hall. It is designed in the old Arabic style and contains pieces of art and ceramics decorated with calligraphy. The museum is small and an hour is enough to see it. The admission fee is Eight pounds. The museum holds monthly events at night, where jazz is played, dates can be found here.

Rich Mix Gallery
The Rich Mix Gallery is located in East London and has many art shows and activities. Many of them on Islamic art or other art from the Middle East and North Africa. I like their fun programs, which are sometimes comedies, plays and music.

William Morris Gallery
The artist William Morris is one of the oldest British artists who has left a big mark on British art in the UK and the world. Morris was not only an artist and a craftsman, he was one of the founders of the arts and crafts social and artistic movement. He was a social speaker, who respected the rights of artists and traditional art in particular. This museum is in a location far from the centre of London but worth a visit. You can spend two hours there reading information and enjoying detailed illustrations and textiles. 

Graffiti and Street Art in London

The Graffiti scene in London is great and I think my favourite areas are the ones with rich colours and art. If you are interested to find some cool street art. I have four areas for you:  

Waterloo Station - Leake Street - Graffiti Tunnel
Painting/writing there is legal as well if you want to leave your mark. Though, it's very changeable. 

Hackney Wicks
From the overground station you can walk around and see the cool art everywhere. It's such a shame that the area is turning to office blocks and getting gentrified, so catch it before it's gone.

Old Street and Brick Lane Graffiti

This particular area receives a lot of interest and there are regular street art tours that happen from Old Street Station . You can also just walk around if you want to do it on your own. I have noticed a lot near the Old Street station, Shoreditch High Street overground station, Brick lane market area and the Hoxton area. Just wander around and enjoy some art.

Camden Town

Camden also has a good amount of Street art though I am not a local to that area. I found two art Camden tours that you might like: Discover Camden with a Local Host and Camden Art Crawl Small Group Tour.

Theaters and performances

London is famous for its theatres and year-round performances. Some shows are only seasonal and come during the Christmas period and some performances last several years. Going to the theatre is very enjoyable and I usually reserve it for special occasions. The tickets are expensive at times, so plan in advance. You can buy them from the theatre site directly or from Amazon ticketsLast Minute or Love Theatre

During the past couple years I was able to go to some musical performances on occasions and this is a list of the shows that I went to and loved. 

Aladdin the musical

Aladdin is the same Disney cartoon. It was one of the best shows I've ever seen. The costumes and set designs were fantastic. My inner child couldn't stop dancing! The set was very impressive. It was very stylish and luxurious. Genie was very funny too. 

The Lion King Musical

The Lion King is also a play based on the story of the famous Disney's cartoon, but the execution of it was very impressive. The way the animals were depicted with wooden figures and sculptures were very creative. The dances were beautiful too. This play is also suitable for children because Simba and Lana were represented by two children.

The Phantom of the Opera Musical

The Phantom of the Opera musical was beautiful and imaginative. It is also based on the film with the same title. The way they acted and sung was very moving. 

An American in Paris

An American in Paris play is a nice mix of singing and dancing. The vibe is old fashioned. The main dance is Ballet. The story is a traditional love story but I loved watching it all unfold on stage. It is a nice one to go to with the girls. 

The rest of the plays

There are lots of theatrical performances and you can read about them before going and booking online.
Note: Photography and recording is prohibited during theatre performances, so don't be that person they flash!

Markets

London has distinct open markets in every area of the city. Here is a list of the ones I regularly visit. 

Borough Market

Borough Market is located in central London just outside of London Bridge station. It is distinguished by the multi-food shops there that have a lot of various international foods and products. If you want to explore it fully you can check out this Made in London Tour: Borough Market to St Pauls Cathedral .

Old Spitalfields Market

Old Spitafield Market has restaurants and food carts as well as a little market with a selection of clothing and accessories stalls. It is a good-sized market close to the centre of London and Liverpool Street Station. 

Greenwich Market

If you decide to visit this market, I recommend that you go to Greenwich University, Greenwich Park and walk near the river there. You can go all out and try a Greenwich Highlights Half Day Tour . It's really easy to do it on your own with the help of Google maps though! On Sundays, they have the vintage/antique market. (Video about Greenwich below!)

Camden Market

Camden Market is a little strange and very crowded with things that are different from the rest of London. There you can see a huge dragon and a shoe above the shops. There are two markets there the Stables and Camden Lock. You can start from the station and walk around to the markets. There is so much food there too! You can try the Discover Camden with a Local Host as well . (Video about Camden below!)

Parks and Gardens

The best seasons to visit parks and gardens are summer and spring. The fall is also good to visit to see the different colours in the park but the weather starts getting colder. The winter is very cold to enjoy the parks. I enjoy visiting a few parks such as the Greenwich Park in South London, Victoria Park in East London, Holland Park near the Design Museum and the Regent's Park, where the big Regent's Mosque is located. There are so many parks in London and each offers something new. Check the map and see what's close to you and go for a walk. 

London neighbourhoods and choosing a hotel in London

To choose a good hotel you should look at the map and see the places you would like to visit just to get an understanding of how much you will travel. London is very big and has so many choices. My main way of searching is to go to the map on websites like booking or Airbnb. One of the most important things is to find a hotel near the station. Search in Google Maps from the place you want to stay in to the attraction to really get an idea of how far you will be travelling. I have a few suggestions for you below and all are based on the stations around them. I haven't stayed in them, but from my search for other family members and friends who visit, I think they will be good options. 
Baker Street Station

Holborn

Old Street

Paddington

Southwark

You can also try finding other hotels by looking at more options on booking

Booking.com

Muslims in London

London is a very diverse city and you will find many people from all religions and backgrounds. I am very thankful that I did not face any harassment about my headscarf (Read: Travel Blogger in a Headscarf Q&A). London is a safe place to wear a headscarf and I pray that it remains an accepting and loving city because diversity is truly beautiful. You should take the usual precautions, such as not going too late at night (Read: How to stay safe when travelling). By the way, there are many mosques in London, but for a specific list please check the directory. 

Halal Food in London

Halal meat is widely available in London and in all types of restaurants such as Indian, Asian, Arabic, etc. Even big chains would at least have halal chicken on offer. There are two halal food sites that I use frequently for the latest food recommendations in the city halal girl about town and Halal Gems. They both have a map, photos and reviews of all kinds of Halal restaurants and many of them are very tasty. I wrote about my favourite restaurants that I always go to as well; My Ultimate Favourite Food Guide for London (Including Halal)

Dishoom 

Dishoom 

Other cities to visit and combine with your London trip

London is a full on city and can keep you busy for weeks. There are also a lot of country walks from London that I really enjoy going onto. You can see my country walk outings on the Youtube playlist below:

If you want to go to other cities to explore the UK further, I recommend visiting the two university cities: Cambridge and Oxford. They are both near by and can be seen in a day or a weekend. The are is also Bath, a city full of architecture, but you have to pay to enter its museums. You can pair it with Stonehenge or Bristol. There are day-trip options such as Stonehenge, Windsor, and Bath: Day Trip from London or Stonehenge, Bath & West Country: Day Trip from London . I would advice to stay over night in Bath though because half a day there is not enough.

There is also the oceanfront city of Brighton. I haven't been yet, but once I do I will share a full video. I am waiting for the weather to be good first. There lots of tour there as well like the Brighton: Lanes & Backstreets Small Group Tour with a Local .

The second main city in England is Manchester, which is two hours from London by the express train. I lived there for three years and I would recommend it for a weekend. It might be fun to walk around with a local, Welcome to Manchester: Private Tour .


Local Guide to London - Four Day Itinerary to London

Local Guide to London - Four Day Itinerary to London

I really hope that you enjoyed this detailed London post. I can't wait for you to come to London and experience all the things that it has to offer.

You might enjoy these London posts too:

Over to you: What else would you like to see in London? 


More London Posts: 

Things to do in London in Autumn and Winter (Christmas in London)

Things to do in London in Autumn and Winter

The amazing thing about living in London is all the possibilities and the changing plans every season. I feel truly blessed to live here. A good source of inspiration for great London activities is Timeout London,  Le Cool London and the Nudge.  Living in London for the past four years has given me an inside knowledge of what type of events are likely to happen and when. 

Read: How Can You Afford Living in London? 

In this post, I am going to give you a few ideas of things to do in the autumn and winter, which is basically the Christmas period. Although Christmas festivity don't start till mid November. 

One. Things to do in London in Autumn and Winter: Ice Skating

This has been on my list since I moved to London. Every time I pass by an ice rink I get the urge to go, but I change my mind last minute, but this year I am going! There are a few options . The two most popular -over crowded- ones are the Winter wonderland one in Hyde Park and the one outside of the Natural History Museum. There is also the very cool ice rink at the Somerset House. A slightly less crowded one is the Canary Wharf Ice Rink since it is located in the business area of London. Canary Wharf is usually very quiet during the weekend when all the business men and women are in their homes, but who knows about this year.  Full list: Ice skating in London

Two. Things to do in London in Autumn and Winter: Christmas Markets

I know this is very christmasy, but I love markets. Markets are great when it's not raining and you want to just walk around and chat. Many of them popup close to Christmas time to entice people to buy even more gifts. 

There is the usual Winter wonderland market, but I just avoid Hyde Park at all costs. Too many people! A little one in central London is the Southbank market. There is also a high end market in the Design Museum for a weekend in Dec. I personally love the Renegade Craft Fair (second weekend in December in East London)There are many handmade and Etsy sellers there that have unique gifts. 

Three. Things to do in London in Autumn and Winter:Kew Gardens

I know it's a bit too cold for parks, BUT the colours of autumn are too gorgeous to miss! Get those winter boots out and warm coat and go. On my list is Kew gardens for all the beautiful shades of autumn. Some more park ideas: Hidden gardens and green spaces in London

Read: How to find cool events and things to do in London

Four. Things to do in London in Autumn and Winter: International Films

Going to the cinema all together is a very winter activity for me. I am not going to waste a good sunny day indoors. I haven't been to the cinema to watch a normal American or British movies in months. I only watch them on Netflix and Amazon Prime. I go to cinemas now just for international movies that I can't get a hold of otherwise. During October (until the 15th) there is the British film festival with really cool films. End of October is the UK Iranian film festival as well and I try to go to at least two of them. It's worth looking up independent cinemas in London to see more intriguing options of films that you might have not seen before. I usually go to the Curzon Cinema for that and they have a few branches. There is also Greenwich Picturehouse, which can be a good option if you are based in South London. For more quirky options you can go to the Prince Charles Cinema

Five. Things to do in London in Autumn and Winter: Chase up the lights

Winter nights are very long, but thankfully in some parts of London, night is as bright as day! There are a few lit up spots around London. Most lights start popping from end of November in preparation for Christmas. The most obvious lights that you will eventually see without even trying are the light at Oxford Street, Regent Street and a few other street in Central London. Basically keep on walking in central London and you will see lights all over. If you want more street lights then the winter Canary Wharf lights might be fun to see as well. 

There are three gardens that will have lights as well: 

Photo from  Kew Gardens

Photo from Kew Gardens

Six. Things to do in London in Autumn and Winter: Country Walks

If you are done with all the city activities, you can head outside of London and go on one of the possible country walks. It will be worth it especially if you go in October or November where you get to see all the beautiful coloured autumn leaves. I think it's a magical time of the year. If you need ideas of country walks near London then check out the books below, or check some of the walks I have gone on previously! 

Over to you: Are there any events or activities happening in London in the autumn and winter that you are planning on doing? Share away in the comments below! 

Nine Things to do this Summer in London (Ideas for Summer activities in London)

This is my second London summer and I am loving it. It's surprising all the beautiful sunny days that we have had so far! Obviously, there was rain here and there, but it is still a beautiful season in London. It actually got really hot two weeks ago (30 degree) and I had to order a cooling fan! It arrived after the weather cooled down, but I am hoping it will get a little hot during July and August! 

Summer in London

Things to do in London this summer

Every summer, I make a list of things I want to do before the season ends. My list has lots of things and I thought it will be fun to share with you all! Hope you get to try some of these idea!  

Summer in London Activity 1: Park Picnics

I know this is the most obvious one, but it's so much fun! I would recommend that you go to a few this season and make most of your summer outdoors! By the way, forget Hyde Park. I seriously don't go there unless I am forced or there is something extra special happening there! I like: Regent Park, Greenwich Park and Richmond Park. Regent is the most central one of the three, but the other two are out of the way and can be great for a more peaceful park time away. The added benefit of Richmond is the deer you can spot there! There are also gardens that allow picnic like Kew Gardens.   

Find more London parks on: 

The best parks in London

24 quiet London parks and secret gardens to escape to

Ps. You can see some of the Greenwich Park in my Greenwich video below!

Summer in London - Park Picnic

Summer in London Activity 2: Art Festivals

The first one that comes to mind is Shubak Festival and it's an Arab art festival with lots of art related activities happening across two weeks. It only started three days ago, so you have time to checkout the rest of the activities they have on offer! I am planning to go to the art exhibitions they have arranged. 

Summer in London Activity 3: Music Gigs and Festivals

I have to admit. I got this idea slightly late! Most tickets are sold out at this point, but there are still few going! There is a great lineup happening in Somerset House. I am slightly sad I am not spending most of July in London because there is just SO MUCH to see and attend. There are also few music and art events to check in the Barbican Centre.   

More Music gigs and festivals from other websites: 

Music Festivals in London during 2017

Summer in London Activity 4: Rooftop Crawl

I haven't done much of this *yet* but I went to a few spots last. The only rooftop garden I have been to was the Canary Wharf: The Crossrail Place Roof Garden. It's small, but it's nice to chill after grabbing some food from one of the restaurants downstairs!

I have four more places to try this season on evenings with nice weather: 

I would also like to go to the fancy Sky Garden one of those days.

A full list of the best Roof spots can be found (here). 

Summer in London - Golden Tattoo

Summer in London Activity 5: Outdoor Cinema

This is very weather dependent. Although it is technically summer, but with the unpredictable British weather, this could be taken over by rain. It's still worth doing and luckily there are few venues that do that! 

The Luna Cinema has a list of movies that are shown in a number of London venues.

The Nomad Cinema does cinema pop ups at various venue around London too!  

Summer in London Activity 6: Stuffing face with Ice Cream! 

Like seriously this is my favourite thing to do the second I see sunshine! There are lots of great locations to get yummy ice cream from such Chin Chin Labs, Snowflake gelato, Gelupo or even your local supermarket. Doesn't matter where from just stuff your face with as much as ice cream as possible! 

Chin Chin Lab ice cream - Summer in London

Summer in London Activity 7: Lavender Fields

I don't know if you noticed all the instagramers last year posting beautiful photos in lavender fields. My instagram was seriously flooded with those photos and I just had to get one there too! I went to the Hitchin Lavender Fields (45mins from London by train). I still have my full bag of lavenders from last year, so I am not sure if I am doing it again this summer, but it was so much fun! They have a really nice cafe too that is worth chilling in! 

Summer in London Activity 8: Fruit Picking

This is basically the same idea as the lavender field above. I haven't done this yet, but I am planning on going next month! There are a few strawberry and berries farms that are very close to London such as

Stan Hill Farm

Hewitts Farm

Copas Farms

Here are more choices from other websites: 

Ps. I suggest checking google maps for the nearest locations to you! London is huge, but since I am closer to the South I have only focused on that area. There are plenty scattered around.  

Summer in London Activity 9: Day Trips!

Yes this is not technically in London, but very accessible from one of the Central London train stations. Few weeks ago, I went on a country forest walk to Ashridge. Being under the shade, walking and eating ice cream was one of the best things I have done! There are many possible walks all around London. There are beach walks too! Last summer, I went on a beach one to Hayling Island. This summer I want to go to Portsmouth and Brighton!  

For even more ideas here is a list of activities for July and August from the London Time Out website:

Over to you: What's on your summer activities list? 

How Can You Afford Living in London?

How Can You Afford Living in London?

This is the million dollar question that I get at least once a week or whenever I meet new people. Let me start by saying when I say I live in London, I am no where near Big Ben, London Eye, Harrods or anything in Central London really. I live an hour away and that's still considered London. This city is expensive no doubt, but here is how I can afford living in London

  • Being a Full Time Student in London is GOLD

I think being a student in London gives you so many possibilities and DISCOUNTS! I have a discounted Oyster card, which means I pay 125GBP a month for a travel card from zone 1 to 4 and that includes all forms of transportation in London (Bus, DLR, Tube, Trains and the Overground). I also get a student train card (Rail Card) to travel in the UK  for a significantly cheaper prices. Plus, I get 10% off in most stores with MyUniDays or you can get the NUS card

As a full time student, you don't pay council tax too, which makes rent cheaper as well. 

  • Give up Central London for Zone three or four

As I said in the introduction, I don't live in Central London. I live between zone three and four, which happens to be on the other side of the River Thames that you probably would not have visited. It basically takes me an HOUR to get ANYWHERE. That's a sacrifice you have to make if you want to stay in an affordable place that is slightly bigger than a shoe box. With my discounted Oyster card mentioned above, it makes sense to live further.

  • Meal Planning and Home Cooked Meals is a great method to SAVE MONEY!! 

This saves so much you have no idea! Those supermarket sandwiches and crisps you buy at lunch for 3-5 pounds add up and become crazy! Think of this: A whole loaf of bread is 80p and humous is 1 pound and a bag of spinach for another 1 pound you can even treat yourself with 6 small bags of crisps for 2 pounds max. There you just made 5 lunches for 5 days for the cost of one! You see what I mean. Another thing, plan your meals before you get groceries, so you don't waste. Each meal I cook has two portions, so I have it for two dinners. Try a few vegan meals a week and that saves loads if you are using one type of vegetable, a can of chopped tomatoes and rice that's like 3 pounds for a filling meal. You can get very creative here and there are like a bazillion pages on instagram and pintrest to help you with that!    

  • Meet Your Friends At Art Galleries or do other free activities

The wonderful thing about is London is the amount of free activities! (Read: How to find cool events and things to do in London). Big museums and art galleries are my default meeting point now. It gives you something to do and it is a fun. If the weather is good, you can also go to parks for picnics and catch ups. 

  • Only Go out to Cafes    

I am a social butterfly and I love hanging out with my London pals. As a Muslim, we can't meet at Pubs, so I used to meet my friends for restaurant meals (Read: My Ultimate Favourite Food Guide in London). That started costing me so much!! Now, I try to meet at cafes in the afternoon for tea or a just desserts. We sometimes only get tap water and stay there for two hours or more. Even buying a cup of tea or coffee is much more affordable than a main course.

Neal's Yard London
Vegan Dessert in Wild Food Cafe London

Over to you:

How Can You Afford Living in London? Are there any other things you are doing I haven't mentioned above? Please Share your thoughts in the comments below! 

More Posts from London: 

My Ultimate Favourite Food Guide for London (Including Halal)

You will probably find me in one of these! These are the places I choose from when I go out for food in London. These are purely based on my taste and what I like to eat. Thankfully, my friends love them as much as I do. I surly need to expand the list. I tried loads more, but I only put the ones I really enjoyed here. 

For Arabic food: you are really spoiled for choice. There are so many options in Edgware Road and I only tried a few. I like Beirut Express for breakfast. I love the Green Valley to get some fresh or frozen Arabic special food. Maroush and Abu Zaad are also yummy! 

For Burgers: Stax, Burgista Bros and Guanabana for chicken burgers: GBK

Indian Food in London

For Indian: Hands down Dishoom. It's just so so good! There is also Roti Chai. It's in a similar goodness range. 

For Turkish: Iskele (Barbican area) and Babaji Pide

For Mexican: I still haven't found the prefect Mexican place in London, but Wahaca is nice. It's not halal, but I get their veggie or fish tacos.

Pan Asian: Busaba and Pho

For Pizza: Homeslice and Zizzi

For Noodles: Shoryu Ramen (be careful though. About 95% of their menu is pork. I go for the one vegetarian noodles that they have. It is so good!)

For Sushi: Sticks n Sushi (beware! It's really pricey, but so yummy!)

For Persian: There are so many amazing Persian restaurants in London. These are my favourite. I really enjoyed eating in all four: Behesht (Kensal Green),  Alounak (Bayswater), Kish (Maida Vale) and Kabab Mahdi (Hammersmith). 

Halal Stake in London

For Stake: Steak and Co (they have a special halal stake) I haven't found another good halal stake in London, but the search continues. 

For General/Please everyone classics: Jamie's Italian. It's not halal, but their prawns linguine and vegetarian dishes are nice.

More favourites on the London map: 

 

Over to you: what are your ultimate favourite halal spots in London? 

How to find cool events and things to do in London

London Events

I love being in London. It's an amazing city with so many things to do. You can even plan every night of the week to be out doing something entertaining. I keep getting asked how I find all the cool events I go to. I also get responses to my Snapchat story that say "oh wish I knew" "how did you even find that?" The answer is simple, I look for interesting things to do with my time because interesting events lead to interesting people. Sometimes I go alone and sometimes I take my friends. Either way, I make sure I go there and enjoy myself! Here are my go-to places to find events

Events at museums and galleries

The start of the month, I take a look at my favourite museums, art centres and venue just to check what's on. Some events are free, but others are paid. Usually they are reasonably price and under £20. The places I check are:

Barbican Centre, British Museum, National Gallery, Vitoria and Albert Museum, Leighton House Museum, Prince's School of Traditional Arts, Somerset House, Saatchi Gallery, Fashion and Textile Museum and The Design Museum.   

Live Music in London
Barbican Exhibition in London

Events at cool London venues

There are so many trendy venues around the city that host events. The ones I check are The Book Club in Shoreditch, The Forge in Camden and Soho Theatre

Events via Meetup groups

I mentioned meetup.com in a pervious post "Ten Ways to Make International Friends". It's not only good for meeting new people and making friends, but there are so many groups that are based in London that do all sort of events from drawing at galleries  to socialising at new London spots and etc. 

Events from event websites

There is always the dependable Timeout London. I also like Le Cool London and the Nudge. I am sure there are other cool ones, but these usually fill up my schedule and notify me with the major London events.   

Street art in London
The book club in London

I hope you find these locations and links useful. By the way, you should also ask your friends to share cool events that they might have heard of from work or other friends. This city has lots to offer and you will surly find something you enjoy. You can mix it up and go to events that you aren't sure about. It is fun to experiment! 

Over to you: How do you find cool events in London? Do you know any cool venues and websites that I didn't mention? Please feel free to share them in the comments below. 

 

London After Midnight

When my friend suggested to keep walking around the river in South Bank and cross the main footpath bridges in London at 11pm, I jumped at the opportunity! I always wanted to experience London at night, but I never felt comfortable doing it on my own. The weather has been warm and glorious. I haven't spent a July in London before. I am usually away during that time, but this year I came right when summer started. It was surprisingly busy, but when the weather is good in London people stay out longer. I only had my Canon G 7X mark 1 with me and I thought the photos turned out really well for a point and shoot. Here are some of the photos I took on the walk.  

How to protect yourself from horrific flatmates in London?

horrific flatmates in London

After seeing endless ads from Airbnb about renting the extra space to other travellers, I convinced my landlord to clean up the extra bedroom. By "convinced" I actually mean I took matters into my own hands and was on endless calls asking him if he needed all the old things in there that no longer worked. Thankfully, the landlord is somewhat of a friend so it was not painful to convince him. Once the room was emptied (as best as I could), I bought few extra things like a hanging rack, hangers, sheets, towels and the usual room essentials. After I listed it on Airbnb, a "friend" saw the listing and contacted me and asked if she could stay. She only wanted to stay a couple of weeks at first and I wanted to help her out so I agreed. I thought at least I "knew" her and she is probably better than random strangers. Little did I know. It turned out to be one of the most horrific experiences ever. Of course it was all flowers and rainbows in the trial period then things got wrong really fast. I actually still wonder what went wrong, but I am treating it as a learning experiences and sharing five ways to protect yourself from similar experiences.    

Tip: Let the payments and bookings be via Airbnb at least that way you get the payments and get to leave a review for the person. I removed my listing and privately lend it to her. BAD IDEA!

First: Is it really worth it? 

I was out of the country/city for about 60% of the time when I had a flatmate so I though it is worth getting some money especially that I am not even there. I did not consider how I will feel when I am back though. I realised the hard way that sanity is more valuable than money especially when the flatmate is loud, inconsiderate and uses your resources when you are not there. The rent I charged was not even enough to tolerate the inconvenience she caused. In the trail period it was 90GBP/week and then 120GBP/week. Keep in mind it was a flat in London (end of zone three) with a station that's 5mins walk that takes 20mins to get to London Bridge (Central London). I did not want a profit, all I wanted was to cover the necessities. You might need to consider the emotional sacrifice and the price of the area when you are setting the rent price. 

Second: Be firm and be cautious especially if the new flatmate is a friend  

The flatmate who moved in with me was kind of a "friend". I "knew" her from mutual art classes we took and we had few friends in common, so I thought that was enough. The fact that I knew her made me go easy on rules and payments because that's what friends are for; to be supportive to each other. On the contrary, you really should be firm from the start because some people will take advantage of you. 

Third: Get a GOOD deposit

I was so naive and I did not take a deposit. I know rookie move, but I really wanted to help her out because she constantly said she had no money and her payments were delayed and I thought I did not need it. Obviously I was mistaken, she broke my chair, the toilet roll holder, broke a bowl, used my drinking cups to paint and almost broke my expensive juicer too. I was so shocked and so Arab to ask for any money. A deposit would have solved that issue and I could have deducted the cost of the broken items from there.    

Fourth: Have a written and signed agreement from a lawyer

Another mistake! I thought it was only a short term thing and there was no need to hassle myself with a lawyer and a contract, but seriously you need one with set dates. After the initial agreement with the flatmate to the end of June, she extended the dates to end of July and later on to end of August. When I had a problem with her dates and told her that I was expecting her to leave end of July because the landlord wanted to bring another person in August, she snapped. I really don't like dealing with aggressive, confrontational people. I really wished I had a contract then.   

Fifth: Write all the household rules and agree on them before the move

When this flatmate first moved in she told me this and let me quote: "I am so tidy and neat, I think I have OCD." When someone makes such statements you kind of believe them. I know I am not the tidiest person. I have piles of papers and clothes in my room, but at least I am hygienic and clean especially in the kitchen and the bathroom. So, I expected her to be the same and even better since she claimed she is OCD clean. Sadly, that was not the case, I came from a trip and I saw plates of half eaten food left in the living room, dirty W/C, blocked drains from her hair and a total mess. I was only gone for a week. 

Remember Sheldon Cooper from the Big Bang Theory and his roommate agreement detailing every little thing from who sits on the couch to everything else?

Yes you should do something similar (not as insane) BEFORE the move. I was really upset when I saw the disgusting mess (the type that get rats into your house) and I wrote a paper for her with Dos and Don'ts. Such as please don't eat my food especially the food I brought with me from abroad that I can't replace. I also included the usual common sense things like please don't leave your clothes in the living room, please put your leftovers in the fridge, throw your rotten food in the trash an take the trash out when I am not in town since it's yours. She was so offended she did not even speak to me. 

The end of the story:

I didn't even have to speak to her face to face because she decided to leave the flat without notifying me or paying the rent. To top it off she purposefully stole my really nice cloth grocery bags and pay-as-you-go/top-up gas card and electricity key just to make my life difficult. This should give you an indication of the type of person she is. Without them, I could not get gas or electricity in the flat. I found out all of that after coming from an international trip. I was already exhausted after ten hours of travel and all I wanted was to sleep instead I spent a stressful cold dark night. I kept trying to contact her but she did not respond and then blocked me. I asked a mutual friend to intervene. I did not want the money just the card and key. The flatmate lied about having them and was out of touch.

It was one of the worst experiences of my life. It still sounds bizarre to me. Even my friends were in disbelief when I told them. I know why I was upset, but every time I was annoyed I stayed in my room either tired or working. I was never rude or out of order with her. I am sure she had her reasons but stealing and behaving like that was immature and silly. I am just glad it was over and really sad it ended this way. 

Hope you guys don't have similar experiences just make sure you follow the advice above and you will be alright. Some people ended up with really good relationships with their flatmates. It's just a matter of clarity and luck.  

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