Tag: London

London on a budget

 

People often ask me about ideas on London on a budget.  I recently did a trip to London staying at a low budget hotel and had a great 3 course dinner for less than £12!

The Pavilion Hotel offers rates from £69 including breakfast. I stayed in a single room and  breakfast, served on a tray in your room. It’s located close to Edgware Road, on Sussex Gardens and all rooms are different decorated, very cool and quirky. I stayed in the ‘Monochrome Marilyn’, my friend got to stay in The War & Peace room, which was located towards the street so she had some hard time sleeping from all the noise from the traffic. But what can you expect for £69 per night, right?

And by the way, if you’re on a GI diet or sugar detox…skip the hotel breakfast… :-)

There are a few coffee shops around the corner from the hotel, incl. Starbucks if you are looking for a healthier alternative.

Before going to bed we had a lovely meal at Brasserie Zédel located right by Piccadilly Circus. Great place, really good food at a bargain. You can have a set 3 course meal for less than £12! And I loved the atmospehere, very French, art-deco and very busy. Fully booked on a Wednesday night so make sure you book beforehand.

Earlier in the day I visited some great musuems: Kensington Palace and Victoria & Albert Musuem. All for free except for some of the exhibitions.

London doesn’t have to cost you much, you just have to be smart. Then of course,  I always  wish I had £1000 to shop for…shopping in London is very tempting….I will keep on dreaming….

-Helene-

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Step into the magic world of Harry Potter

I think this is so cool. For the first time ever, you can explore Harry Potter behind the scenes on Google Maps. The intricate set of Diagon Alley at Warner Bros. Studio Tour London. 

I haven’t yet seen the attraction myself so quite fun to be get the chance to see it up close and step into the set.

The 360 degree images include Ollivanders where Harry’s wand chose him, Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes featuring a 20 –foot mannequin above the main entrance and the amazing medicinal world of Mr Mulpepper’s Apothecary with its fantastic collection of jars and cauldrons.

 During production it took the crew more than three months to build the set, while the graphic designers and prop team spent six months creating over 20,000 different items and packages which appear on the shops’ shelves. Amazing!!

See you in Diagon Alley! :-)   

-Helene-

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Super Trouper…

Check out our new darlings at Madame Tussauds in London. Swedish ABBA!!

I haven’t been to Tussauds myself in years so think it’s about time now. Can’t wait to get my picture taken beside these glamorous legends!

The new wax figures are captured in the unique style from their 1975 video for ‘SOS’. I love the outfits!! Agnetha and Anni-Frid are wearing replicas of their striking yellow and blue feline themed mini-dresses teamed with pristine white knee-high leather boots. Benny and Björn wear outrageous white seventies outfits encrusted with diamantes and sequins, finished off with flares and platform boots. 

The group cost an amaxing £600,000 to create and took a dedicated team of sculptors and hair and colour artists four months to create!!

To find them in the musuem, look out for other music legends like Michael Jackson and Lady Gaga. ABBA is positioned close to them, in the interactive Music Zone.

Su pa pa tru pa pa….

-Helene-

P.S Save 20%and get priority access by buying tickets online.

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Live the Bond lifestyle

One week to go until the new Bond film SKYFALL hits the cinema. Can’t wait! Some UK media is reporting this is one of the best Bonds ever.

I recently visited some of the film locations from SKYFALL in London. I’d like to share some of the highlights from the trip and some of the classic Bond related venues that anyone can visit. I mean, who wouldn’t want to live the Bond lifestyle for a day or two? :-)

The best way to start is to do a James Bond tour. Britmovie Tours offers a 3 hour guided  tour that gives you great overviews of what locations have been filmed have been used in the new film and in the past.

Then head off for some Bond action with a rib boat tour, like  the opening scenes of the 1999 film The World is Not Enough, which began with a high speed chase down the Thames.  It’s great fun! Especially when you get up to full speed and hear the classic Bond tune in the background. And you get to see some great attractions on the way, like the M16 building where Bond would be based.

Then the action continues, this time climbing the roof of the O2 Arena! The O2 also features in The World is Not Enough. I really enjoyed this! Very different, very steep and very windy!! :-) Feels like being on a top of a mountain. Wouldn’t recommend it if you are afraid of heights though….

After a day packed with action it’s time to relax over a martini at one of Ian Fleming’s favourite hangouts: The Dukes Hotel. Fleming’s infamous line, “shaken, not stirred” was derived from the barman behind this hotel.

If Martini isn’t your cup of tea, I’d suggest you take stroll along Jermyn St and visit some of the shops associated with Bond. Floris, where you can still can buy Fleming’s favourite perfume, NO.89. Contiuing down the street you shouldn’t miss Turnbull & Asser, who have provided shirts for Daniel Craig, and the pyjamas for Judi Dench. They also have a Royal Warrant as shirt makers to Prince Charles.

For pre-dinner drink, try Vertigo 24, a champagne bar with stunning views over the city. Then you can either stay in the building and enjoy an evening meal at Rhodes 24 or try one of Fleming’s favourites, Scott’s Restaurant.

And to end the evening in style, try the new Cigar Room the May Fair. They do fantastic chocolate martinis that you can enjoy in front a fire place. If you like me have a sweet tooth, then you will love it. (They do regular Martinis too, of course). 

Other locations to look out for in Skyfall: M16, The National Gallery, Smithfield area, Old Royal Naval College and The Four Seasons Canary Wharf (the pool scene in the trailer was filmed here and they used the hotel for other sequences too). Outside London,  Glencoe in Scotland.  

-Helene-

P.S Did you know you can win a trip living the Bond Lifestyle for a weekend? Have you got what it takes become a secret agent? Try our game AgentUK, for your chance to win.

In Sweden we are running a promtion with Coke Zero. In Norway you might have seen the promotion in 7 Eleven and in Denmark we are running ads in print media and on TV.

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The city that never fails – part I

We are delighted to say welcome back Måns Zelmerlöw! Swedish celebrity and previous guest blogger on Britain by heart. Last time Måns fell in love with Scotland. This time he spent a weekend in London – and not just any weekend! The last weekend during the London 2012 Games.

Follow Måns in London and his experiences from the city that never fails.

-Helene-

Standing on the table and dancing the Macarena together with 400 others is not very common in Sweden. At Little Italy in London it happens pretty often.

I have been to London many times, most often to watch musicals but also for tennis and football. For the musical enthusiast there is never enough time when you are here. The West End choice is enormous, and each year several new musicals open their doors, one better than the next.

My company on this trip was not a musical enthusiast, and already at departure I realised that it would be difficult to tempt her to go to something like that.

The Olympics were on at the time, the last weekend of the Games. Flags of all kinds could be seen everywhere, and the queues for the tourist attractions looped long. In spite of this, we chose to get into the queue for the most touristic of all, The London Eye.

It was my friend and I, five hundred Orientals and one Russian.

Friday night had consisted of drinking at Kosmopol and clubbing at The Dorsia, so that when we finally left the sun-drenched que and stepped into the air-conditioned London Eye cabin, the relief was great. But the 45-minute queuing was worth the trouble, at least on the voyage up to the top. Dizzily high up you get an overview of London which will almost enable you to find your way later on in this otherwise impossible city!

For that same evening I had fixed tickets for the Phantom of the Opera, something that I had “forgotten” to tell my company. So, as if by coincidence, I insisted that we head for Soho to eat at a restaurant close to Her Majesty’s Theatre. At the restaurant my bluff was called — and half an hour later we sat in the first row and watched Peter Jöback star in the role of The Phantom. Even my friend was impressed!

Every time I’m in London, I try to fit in a visit to The Comedy Store at Leicester Square, and that is where we went after the musical. Here you are never bored; this evening too, we hardly had time to catch our breath between the laughs.

It became one more long night in London. When the lights were turned on at the club, we didn’t want to go home. Instead we drank beer out of teapots in a Chinese restaurant whose license had expired.

On Sunday the Olympic finale in handball was taking place. Impossible to get tickets; we would not have had time to see it anyhow, since we were flying home in the afternoon.

But then the call came. Two cancellations.

I rebooked the flight. We threw ourselves on the tube. We got there 15 minutes late but we still got to see 45 minutes of a finale in which Sweden was not far from gold.

I travelled home with a smile on my lips.

A weekend in London cannot fail.

-Måns-

P.S Stay tuned for my top 10 tips in London.

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Top 20 food and drink reasons to visit Britain

Food is an important ingredient in a holiday. So therefore, we’ve produced a guide with 20 reasons why Britain is a great place to visit for its food and drink!

The  UK boasts 145 Michelin starred restaurants and a further 117 Bibs Gourmands. There are good cafes, restaurants and pubs in virtually every village and town throughout Britain, many of them serving dishes made from locally grown finest ingredients. For example, did you know there are over 700 named British cheeses produced in the UK?

There are also 400 vineyards throughout the British countryside and  850 independent brewers and microbreweries which between them produce over 5,500 traditional ales (for example Bishop’s Finger, Doombar and Fursty Ferret)!

Top Twenty GREAT Food (and drink!) reasons to visit Britain:

1. Gastropubs –well, after all, we invented them!  They started in London and can now be found all over the country. Combining the best of the much-loved British pub, with good value, tasty food, using the best local produce, and in relaxed surroundings.

2. Fish and chips (and maybe mushy peas….).  Another  British institution -  try the Magpie in Whitby, Yorkshire;  Rick Stein’s in Padstow, Cornwall, or Aldeburgh Fish and Chips on the Suffolk coast, to name just three, but you can find them frying away in every town and city.

3. The world’s cuisines in one country – or even one city, London.  Indian food is a British favourite, from takeaways to Michelin starred restaurants, but you can alphabetically eat anything from A (Australian) to Z (Zulu, www.shaka-zulu.com) inspired food in London; or geographically from New Zealand cuisine to that of Peru – one of the latest trends in the capital. Try Ceviche in Soho (www.cevicheuk.com).

4. Stinking Bishop, Cornish Yarg, Stilton, and Cheddar produced in – the village of Cheddar, in Somerset. There are over 700 named British cheeses produced in the UK, with a cheese available for every occasion http://www.britishcheese.com/.   And as well as eating it, you can roll it down a hill, in one of Britain’s quirkier events, the Cheese Rolling Championships held in Gloucestershire http://www.cheese-rolling.co.uk/index1.htm

5. Afternoon tea: think of tea and the Ritz comes to mind, but there are literally hundreds of places to try this relaxing mix of sandwiches, cakes and other delicacies, from thatched cottages such as the Primrose Tea Rooms in Devon, to the grander surroundings of the Royal Deck of the Royal Yacht Britannia, in Edinburgh.   Betty’s Tea Rooms in Northallerton, Yorkshire has just won the top UK award, with The Athenaeum Hotel coming top in London.  All help to contribute to the 165 million cups of tea drunk daily by the British!

6. 145 Michelin starred restaurants.  The 2012 Michelin Guide awarded three stars to four restaurants; two stars to 16, and one star to 125 places. They range from the Isle of Skye in Scotland to St Helier on Jersey, from Rock in Cornwall to Blakeney in Norfolk. For the first time a pub, the Hand and Flowers in Buckinghamshire, won two stars (thehandandflowers.co.uk).

7. 117 Bibs Gourmands, not Michelin stars but awards given to establishments offering “good cooking but at moderate prices”.  If you can’t get into Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck or Dinner restaurants, why not try the Hind’s Head, a Bib Gourmand across the road from the Fat Duck in Bray.  

To read the full list, click here.

Bon Appetit!

-Helene-

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British cupcakes à la Leila

Image from www.leilasgeneralstore.com

Image from www.leilasgeneralstore.com

Have you seen these fantastic British inspired cup cakes with landmarks and icons like the Big Ben, the red routemaster and a London taxi.  I just love them! I recently found them in the Swedish celebrity chef Leila’s generalstore.

We understand Leila is very fond of Union Jack inspired products, and London is one of her favourite cities.  She’s just visited London actually and has got some really good suggestions on what to do and where to go, and not at least, for a great meal of course! Read more about her recent London visit here.

Most Swedes will probably have heard about Leila, but for those of you who haven’t….Leila Lindholm is a Swedish chef, she’s written several cook books and is frequently seen on Swedish Television. She started her careeer in New York, at the Swedish restaurant Aquavit. When she returned to Sweden she worked at leading Stockholm restaurants like Operakällaren and Fredsgatan 12. In 1999 she was honoured the female cook of the year and shortly after that she began her own business.

I’ve got the theme planned for my next party – it’ll be British of course! Now I just need to learn how to make cup cakes, well bake them is the minor problem, the challenge is how I will get them to look as beautiful as above….

-Helene-

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50 years of James Bond

© 2006 Danjaq, LLC and United Artists Corporation and Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc.

© 2006 Danjaq, LLC and United Artists Corporation and Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc.

2012 is a year of celebrations! The 50th anniversary of James Bond for example.

The first movie Dr No, was released in 1962.

So if you plan to visit Britain before this year (which we hope you are!), there are two great exhibitions we can recommend:

Designing 007 – Fifty Years of Bond Style at the Barbican Arts Centre in London and Bond in Motion at the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu (between Bournemouth and Southampton on England’s south coast).

Designing 007 – Fifty Years of Bond Style running from 6 July to 5 September, will tell the inside story of how design and style combined to create the world’s most influential and iconic movie brand.

Exhibits will cover the 50 years from 1962’s Dr No to this year’s Skyfall in a multi-sensory experience that explores the craft behind the screen icons, the secret service and villains, tailoring and costumes, set and production design, automobiles, gadgets and special effects, graphic design and motion graphics, exotic locations, stunts and props.

Bond in Motion  is an exhibition of 50 iconic James Bond vehicles – the largest of its kind staged anywhere in the world – opened in January and will run until the end of the year.

Vehicles will include the 1964 Aston Martin DB5 and the 1937 Phantom lll Rolls-Royce from Goldfinger, the Lotus Esprit S1 nicknamed ‘Wet Nellie’ from The spy who loved me, the Bede Acrostar jet flown in Octopussy, the BMW 750iL from Tomorrow never dies, the original Parahawk (powered parachute) featured in The world is not enough and the original SFX Cello Case Ski navigated by Timothy Dalton in The living daylights.

Time for some action!

-Helene-

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Top tips to save money at the 2012 Games this summer

Watching the Olympic sailing in Weymouth and Portland is free.

Watching the Olympic sailing in Weymouth and Portland is free.

Did you know there are several non-ticketed events that you can experience for free during the Olympic Games this summer? Take a look at our list below.

There will also be 22 live screens spread across the country, as well as all the pubs of course. Visiting a pub is always a great way of engaging and getting to know the locals, as well as taking in the festive atmosphere.  

Non-ticketed Events

1.) Olympic and Paralympic Cycling Road Races
July 28 – August 1, 2012
There are lots of ways to enjoy the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games without a ticket. Some of the most iconic events will be able to be viewed from great vantage points at no cost. The men’s and women’s Road Races will begin on The Mall, a popular backdrop for formal ceremonies and major sporting events throughout the year. From The Mall, the riders will head southwest through London, cross the famous River Thames at Putney Bridge and continue out through Richmond Park past Hampton Court Palace. Before the riders make it back to The Mall for a dramatic finish, they will head to Surrey, travel north through Leatherhead, Esher and Kingston. 
www.london2012.com/cycling-road

2.) Olympic Marathons
July 5 and 12, 2012
The Olympic and Paralympic marathons will start and finish at The Mall, an iconic location in central London most recently famous as part of the wedding route for the marriage of Prince William and Catherine, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Each race will have around 80 athletes taking part, making it a heart-pumping spectacle worth watching.
www.london2012.com/athletics

3.) Olympic Sailing
July 29 – August 11, 2012
The deep sapphire blue waters of Weymouth Bay and Portland Harbour will play host to 10 sailing events over the course of 14 days during the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. These free events will offer fans excitement and drama as they watch teams race in the beautiful but testing waters on the southern coast of England.
www.london2012.com/sailing

4.) Olympic Race Walks
August 4 and 11, 2012
Known for its regal beauty and nature, visitors can watch the Race Walks which begin and finish at The Mall in St James’s Park. Along the 2 kilometer race loop, visitors can take in the sites of Buckingham Palace, the official residence of the Queen, and the Commonwealth Memorial Gates.
www.royalparks.org.uk/London2012.cfm

5.) Olympic Live Sites
With large screens carrying live broadcasts of the Olympic events, visitors in 22 locations around the UK will have the best seat in the house to watch their favorite event. Screens will feature a broad range of UK-wide and local content in partnership with community, arts and media organizations.
www.london2012.com/get-involved/live-sites/index.php

And as London is less than three hours away from all our major Scandinavian airports, it’s even possible to go to experince the Olympic atmosphere in London, just for the day!!

Or why not take the chance to experience some of the other destinations in which the Olympics is taking place: Cardiff, Glasgow, Coventry and Manchester for football, for example. Or Eton-Dorney (near Windsor) for rowing.

-Helene-

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Royal hats on the menu

The Berkeley hotel in Knightsbridge, is celebrating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee by offering visitors a Prêt-à-Portea – The Royal Collection afternoon tea.

I love the Berkeley’s fashion inspired bakery, it’s one of my favourite places  for afternoon tea in London. And now, for a limited time, (29 May-9 June) to mark The Queen’s 60th anniversary on the throne, the hotel’s special afternoon tea will include biscuits, fancy cakes and choux buns made to resemble the most memorable hats worn by the Royal Family. They look adorable, don’t you think?

The fashionable edibles will include a praline profiterole inspired by the much-talked-about Philip Treacy fascinator worn by Princess Beatrice at last year’s Royal Wedding and a vanilla biscuit with icing and sugar diamonds resembling the crown Queen Elizabeth wore for her coronation in 1953.

There will also be a strawberry pannacotta macaroon made to look like the Canadian maple leaf hat designed by Angela Kelly and worn by Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge when she visited Canada.

It is believed that Elizabeth II has worn more than 5,000 hats since she became Queen in 1952!!

Quite impressive!

-Helene-

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