What can the solo traveller in London expect? Although Olympic fever has long gone, London is still Western Europe’s most populated city, with about 8 million residents.
With its cosmopolitan culture, buzzing nightlife, plethora of museums and galleries, and its long and rich history it’s not surprising that London is one of the most popular destinations for solo travellers.
It’s a city where you won’t feel out of place; there are plenty of other single travellers, a wide choice of accommodation and an incredible number of sights to visit. And most locals are easy to talk to too and very helpful if you get lost.
However there are some facts that you should take into consideration before you travel.
- Pack Light
Pack light in a sturdy piece of luggage, as the journey from the airport to the hotel could be crowded and you will have to carry the luggage yourself. Unless you take a taxi you may have to carry the luggage through number of stairs at underground stations.
Do not forget to take England’s weather into consideration – it tends to change on a dime – an umbrella, a light waterproof jacket and waterproof shoes/boots could be very useful.
- Which Airport?
London is served by 4 major airports – Stansted, Luton, Gatwick and Heathrow.
Most long haul flights land at Heathrow, which has good access to the city. The other 3 airports are mostly served by regional and low cost airlines such as Ryanair and Easy Jet.
To get to London from Heathrow you could take a tube but remember it will be overcrowded at peak times. If you go for the underground, get an oyster card and a tube map – it will make your journey much more convenient.
The quickest but also the most expensive, is by train (Heathrow and Gatwick Express being the most popular). If you are on a budget consider Easy Bus – the prices start from £2 and will take you to London in about 45 minutes.
- Where To Stay
When it comes to accommodation for singletons, there are plenty of options. If you like to meet new people and don’t mind sharing a room, you should consider a hostel. There are many in central London on hostelworld.com, some as good as 3 star hotels. During college holidays, many universities let out single rooms at great rates – check out City University or London School of Economics.
As already mentioned, many hotels are offering large savings for late August and September – go to a specialist site such as laterooms.com or lastminute.com. There are also many hotels in London that offer excellent value for the solo travellers. Among them is Strand Palace Hotel located in the West End part of the city. If you are a single travelling women The Darlington Hyde Park Hotel could be ideal. It has been voted number one by safetravel4women.com for its comfort and safety.
For those single travellers who like to expand their horizons and are fans of luxury, Sanctum Soho Hotel offers an amazing experience. This boutique accommodation is also known as the London’s current semi – official rock’n’roll hotel.
- Going out
London offers many singles events where you could enhance your social life and party with other like-minded people. The best guide to the events, culture and going out could be found on timeout.com/london/. Another of the best reasons for visiting London are the free attractions including the National Gallery, the Victoria & Albert Museum and the British Museum (don’t miss the Elgin Marbles which were spirited – rightly or wrongly – out of Greece in 1806 by Lord Elgin).
If there are any special shows you are interested to see while in London remember to book them ahead as the best tickets always sell out quickly and you can reduce the time you spend waiting in line. You could book your tickets and get some useful advice on goldentours.com.
And don’t forget you can visit the Olympic Park – take a river cruise there for a fantastic day out.
- Dining Alone
London has an incredible range of worldwide cuisine to choose from – it is somewhere to try something different and expand your senses! Definitely check out Timeout.com which has a section on solo dining. Some restaurant chains, such as Wagamma (Japanese/Asian fusion) and Masala Zone (Indian), feature bench tables – great for meeting others.
Most importantly, you won’t be glared at if dining alone. It is not uncommon in London. So be brave and try out that cuisine you have always wanted.
- Safety First
London is known for its safety but as with any world city, if you are travelling alone, be street wise, sensible and look after your belongings. Also, make sure your bags are zipped up at all times. If you are in the busy tourist areas you should be safe, however try to avoid secluded places, especially at night.