Category Archives: Blog

Afternoon Tea Options in London

Afternoon tea is part of British tradition, the perfect gift for a loved one and a must-do on any tourists list when visiting London. We’ve selected our top afternoon tea picks, from the quintessential British to the Oriental version and even an afternoon tea for fashion lovers!

1.    The Dorchester

The Dorchester is one of London's most iconic hotels, serving up an afternoon tea fit for the Queen

The Dorchester is one of London’s most iconic hotels, serving up an afternoon tea fit for the Queen

This iconic hotel has seen a few famous faces or two over the years, and it continues to be a drinking and dining destination for the elite. The classic afternoon tea includes traditional finger sandwiches made with artisan bread and freshly baked scones with homemade strawberry jam, lemon curd and Cornish clotted cream. For added opulence, the Spatisserie Afternoon Tea serves a mini selection of tasty treats in an intimate space- perfect for a romantic afternoon. Celebrating something? Then opt for the champagne version of either and over Christmas, why not enjoy your afternoon tea whilst listening to a local children’s choir.

2.    Claridges

For traditional British afternoon tea, look no further than Claridges

For traditional British afternoon tea, look no further than Claridges

Located in Mayfair, this exclusive hotel offers an array of afternoon tea options, all taken in the Art Deco foyer and reading room. Made with only the finest British sourced ingredients, the classic afternoon tea consists of a choice of over 40 teas, finger sandwiches and apple and raisin baked scones with Cornish clotted cream and Marco Polo jelly. Champagne versions are of course available, and there’s even a children’s option with fairy cakes and brownies! During the festive period, there’s a seasonal option with turkey sandwiches and Christmas cake.

3.    The Berkeley’s Prêt-à-Portea

Food Art! The Berkeley is perfect for fashionistas

Food Art! The Berkeley is perfect for fashionistas

The Berkeley has innovatively transformed the traditional afternoon tea to a feast for the eyes that’s sure to entice any fashionista. Our beloved cakes, biscuits and pastries have been turned into this seasons must have fashion items. A Burberry trench coat never tasted so delicious! Opt for a tea or champagne option and savour every bite of this culinary masterpiece! A great option for ladies who lunch and hen dos.

4.    Grand Imperial

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The Grand Imperial offers a twist on the traditional afternoon tea

The fact of the matter is, that not everyone likes cucumber sandwiches! But for those of you that want the experience of the afternoon tea without the usual accompaniments, then the Oriental afternoon tea at the Grand Imperial is the place to go. Enjoy oriental delights such as crispy duck salad, barbequed honey glazed pork buns and water chestnut rolls, all washed down with a glass of champagne or Oriental tea.

5.    Sanctum Soho

For a true mans afternoon tea look no further than Sanctum Soho. Expect mini rabbit pasties, steak finger sandwiches and chocolate fudge cake with Jack Daniels ice cream among other delicacies. Afterwards, head up to the roof terrace where you can enjoy a complimentary cigar and frothy beer. They also a High Tea for High Heels, including a Sanctum signature cocktail, mini smoked salmon, caviar and lemon crème fraiche bagels and a double baked chocolate brownie.

Check here for the latest afternoon tea deals.

Hotels That Used To Be A Prison

Who doesn’t want to stay the night in a hotel steeped in history and tales of convicts past? Converted prisons aren’t as rare as you might think, here’s our top 5!

1.    The Liberty Hotel, Boston, USA ****

The dining room at The Liberty pays homage to its prison roots

The dining room at The Liberty pays homage to its prison roots

Once upon a time, this luxury hotel was the Charles Street Jail. Dating back to 1851, the jail had a whole host of criminals, from WWII German prisoners of war to suffragettes. Today, guests can expect contemporary décor with the latest technology as well as a choice of five onsite drinking and dining venues such as cocktail bar Alibi and modern American restaurant CLINK. Other amenities include a 24 hour health and fitness center and 10 suites with river views. With its stunning granite exterior, The Liberty really is the only place to go in Boston.

2.    Karosta Prison, Liepaja, Latvia

This really is the ultimate prison hotel experience- where you’ll actually be treated like prisoners! You’ll check in with a prison guard before handing over your luggage and enduring a medical examination. Then you’ll receive your prison passport and endure anything from solitary confinement to squats and manual labour. Food consists of stale rye bread, a pickle and Russian tea, but at £7 a night this is a bargain! The hotel (if you can really call it that) is a great choice for team building holidays, stag dos and anyone after a feel of prison life! Tours are also available, where you can learn about this former military prison’s past, used by the Nazis, Soviets and Latvians.

3.    Malmaison, Oxford, UK ****

Malmaison may have been a former prison, but its guest rooms ooze boutique elegance and style

Malmaison may have been a former prison, but its guest rooms ooze boutique elegance and style

This luxury four star hotel was not only the Victorian Oxford Prison, but also built on the remains of a Norman castle. Inside, there are three floors of cells, flooded with natural light from the central windows and even then prisoners thought of it as the Rolls Royce of prisons. Due to overcrowding, the prison was eventually sold and today guest rooms are a far cry from the poor conditions- with plush comfy beds, mood lighting and power showers in all ensuite bathrooms. There’s also a chic cocktail bar, Malbar and the Brasserie which serves mouth-wateringly good classic dishes.

Check rates and availability.

4.    Courthouse Hotel Kempinski, London, UK *****

The Courthouse once had the likes of John Lennon and Mick Jagger in it's small jail!

The Courthouse once had the likes of John Lennon and Mick Jagger in it’s small jail!

Situated bang in the centre of London in trendy Soho, guests are just a short walk away from the likes of shopping on Oxford Street, the theatres of the West End and top art galleries such as The National Portrait Gallery. As the name might suggest, the hotel was once a magistrates court and below a small jail where the likes of John Lennon and Mick Jagger were held whilst awaiting trial. Besides the fascinating history and excellent location, the hotel features a Thai spa, indoor swimming pool and the Michelin recommended Silk restaurant serving pan-Asian cuisine.

Check rates and availability.

5.    Four Seasons Hotel at Sultanahmet, Istanbul, Turkey *****

This stunning building looks far from its former prison origins

This stunning building looks far from its former prison origins

Where else do you have the chance to stay in a former Ottoman prison? Formerly, the Sultanahmet Jail, built in 1918, the building once held Istanbul’s political prisoners: intellectuals who opposed Ottoman rule. Located near to top attractions such as the Blue Mosque and Topkapi Palace, it’s the perfect base to explore Istanbul, not to mention the stunning courtyard and luxury boutique feel of the property itself. Other features include a spa and a marble pillar, which still has the etchings of a former prisoner. For drinking and dining, the lounge offers an array of exotic cocktails, whilst the Seasons restaurant uses locally sourced produce with room service available.

Check rates and availability. 

England’s Top 5 Most Romantic Cities

You don’t need to go abroad to find romance, England has plenty of romantic destinations for lovebirds. Here’s our top five:

1.    London

Dine at Galvin at Windows for fabulous food and unrivalled views of the capital

Dine at Galvin at Windows for fabulous food and unrivalled views of the capital

The English capital offers something for everyone when it comes to romance. Take a rowing boat out onto the Serpentine Lake in Hyde Park, watch a show in the West End such as the critically acclaimed Ghost or enjoy a classical music concert or Opera at iconic venues such as the Royal Albert Hall. Immerse yourself in the wealth of markets, from gourmet food in Borough to vintage clobber and antiquities at Portobello Road in Notting Hill. If you’re after relaxation, London offers some of the country’s top spas, including couples massages and Moroccan treatments. For romantic dining, Galvin at Windows enjoys panoramic views of the city, whilst French restaurant La Bouchee serves delicious food in a cosy romantic atmosphere.

2.    Brighton

Walk along the pier with fish and chips

Walk along the pier with fish and chips

For those already based in London, Brighton makes a fantastic romantic destination, with trains leaving from Victoria regularly. Walk along the pier and indulge in your childhood memories as you try out all the fair rides, play the arcade games and finish up with a traditional fish and chip lunch on the beach. In the evening, head to English’s, where you can enjoy the seafood platter for 2 and a bottle of bubbly. The winding alleys of the Lanes will lead you to various vintage and antique shops, whilst the Royal Pavilion makes a great day out for culture vultures.

3.    Bath

Open-air rooftop pool at the Bath Thermae Spa

Open-air rooftop pool at the Bath Thermae Spa

This historic city borders beautiful countryside, including the Cotswolds, so it’s a great option for those after a balance of urban and nature. Pamper yourself at the Thermae Bath Spa, where you can watch the sunset with a glass of champagne and receive couples massages amongst other luxurious treatments, head to the Pump Room for champagne afternoon tea or hire a vintage car to explore the city in style. For the adventurers among us, taking a hot air balloon over this stunning part of the UK is a must.

4.    York

York Minster is one of the highlights of this stunning northern city

York Minster is one of the highlights of this stunning northern city

With winding alleyways and stunning historic architecture, York is the perfect destination for romance. Head to Middlethorpe Hall and Spa, a five star National Trust property, where you can indulge in a champagne afternoon tea, a couples massage and dinner in the 17th century dining room.  The city made its wealth from chocolate, so taking a chocolate trail is a great way to learn a bit about the history and sample a few confectionary delights. For dinner, try the award winning Blue Bicycle or Italian L’antica Locanda overlooking the Shambles.

5.    Oxford

Oxford is renowned for its beautiful architecture- the perfect backdrop for a romantic getaway

Oxford is renowned for its beautiful architecture- the perfect backdrop for a romantic getaway

Oxford, known as the city of dreaming spires, has to be one of the most beautiful cities in England, dominated by the stunning architecture of its colleges and churches and a fantastic base to explore the bordering countryside. Stay in the charming ivy covered Old Parsonage Hotel or the grand Randolph Hotel before taking a tour of the University colleges. Underneath the University Church of St Mary, you’ll find Vaults and Gardens which serves traditional English high tea or if you’re feeling brave climb to the top of the church for panoramic views across the city. The city, like Cambridge, is synonymous with punting, so if the weather permits, punt down the Cherwell River with your loved one and enjoy a gourmet picnic. For a romantic dinner, Pierre Victoire serves delicious French cuisine, whilst Chiang Mai Kitchen is the place to go for Thai and a rustic ambiance in a timber framed building dating back to the 17th century.

The [British] Indian takeaway – don’t expect to find one in India

When I first went to India I was looking forward to nothing more than a chicken korma, pilau rice and peshwari naan so boy was I disappointed when the menus looked decidedly different. I know this was a naïve attitude to go with, but I’m pretty sure I’m not the only English tourist who believed the local curry house in London was an accurate reflection of the native Indian cuisine.

Don't expect your typical Indian takeaway from Britain in India!

Don’t expect your typical Indian takeaway from Britain in India!

The problem is, these well-known ‘Indian’ dishes we’ve come to love are actually western adaptations. The ‘Indian’ peshwari naan is actually from Pakistan- yes the clue was there all along in the name! Actually the British Indian takeaway borrows many flavours from Pakistan, particularly sweet ones! What we’ve come to know as a lamb tikka or chicken masala in the UK varies significantly in India, and this is because the names of these dishes simply refer to how the ingredients are cooked, or the spice palette used.

We take a look at the true meaning behind our best loved Indian dishes, so you can enjoy the authentic flavours of India without a pang of disappointment when your usual doesn’t turn up!

Korma

The mild creamy korma with notes of almond has become a firm favourite in Britain, particularly among those of us who can’t handle spicy food. In India, korma simply means braised, and typically meat or vegetables braised with yoghurt or cream. If you’re a baby when it comes to spice, stick with korma dishes in India!

Masala

This spice market in Mumbai   shows just some of the variants that a masala can be made with

This spice market in Mumbai shows just some of the variants that a masala can be made with

Masala literally means spices, so as you can imagine you can end up with pretty much anything if you order a masala dish in India. When you order your masala chai latte from Starbucks, you don’t get a spicy tomato drink, you get a spiced tea, which is exactly what masala chai means. And for those of you familiar with Indian spices, garam masala literally means a ‘hot mixture of spices’. So expect warm spicy notes when you order a masala in India.

Tandoori 

Traditionally a tandoor is a clay oven, and so any dish claiming to be tandoori should be cooked in this way. If you’re after that smokey, charred flavour, a true Indian tandoori will certainly set your taste buds off!

Tikka

Chicken tikka simply means chicken pieces

Chicken tikka simply means chicken pieces

You might think you’ve got tikka dishes sussed, but did you know that tikka just means ‘bits’ or ‘pieces’. Chicken tikka therefore simply refers to pieces of diced chicken, often on a skewer, cooked with variable herbs and spices. If you’re after something boneless- tikka is the way to go!

Vindaloo

Often the spiciest curry on the menu, vindaloo is an essential dish on Britain’s Indian menus, but this Portuguese inspired Goan dish is a far cry from its origins. The dish is derived from the Portuguese ‘carne de vinha d’alhos’ which means meat with wine and garlic. The Goans then evolved this recipe, substituting the wine with palm vinegar and adding spices and red chillies. Traditionally the dish is made with pork, although this is almost unheard of in British curry houses. In India, expect a spicy curry with sweet and sour notes.

Secrets Of The London Undergound

The London Underground carries a whopping 1,229 million passengers each year, so it’s no wonder that people, especially Londoners, have a lot to say about it. We take a look at some of the juicy gossip below:

High praise for the Jubilee line

The Jubilee was voted the best line on the underground, encompassing popular stations such as London Bridge

The Jubilee was voted the best line on the underground, encompassing popular stations such as London Bridge

In November of this year (2013), the Jubilee line was affectionately named as the city’s favourite tube line, with 24% of Londoners casting their vote to soar it to the top spot. So what’s so special about it? With its futuristic stations and trains, the sleek carriages welcomed an upgrade in 2012 meaning the line not only runs faster, but the increased number of trains now means you’re waiting for just 2 minutes before the next one arrives- pretty slick! The line runs from Statford in the east to Stanmore in the north, and includes London’s busiest station Waterloo and other popular stops such as Westminster and London Bridge.

Steer clear of the Northern Line

In contrast to the Jubilee Line, the Northern line was voted the least favourite in the same survey. 20% of Londoners cast their vote to declare it the worst out of the 11 lines, but why? The line runs from High Barnet and Edware to Morden, serving 50 stations. This split line, means annoyingly that despite Old Street and Charring Cross both being on the same line for example, to get to one from the other is a bit of a nightmare! And it’s not just the split line that causes confusion, it’s the fact that because the line spreads over such a distance (36 miles to be precise), its packed with both commuters and tourists. So if you fancy being packed in like sardines in a tin, look no further! Oh and one more thing…its reliability, or lack of. Yes it’s becoming quite a regular sight to see the signs ‘disruptions to the northern line’ or ‘partial closure on the northern line’, so if you do need to take this treacherous journey- please plan ahead!

Stations to Avoid

A staggering 82 million passengers pass through Waterloo Station every year

A staggering 82 million passengers pass through Waterloo Station every year

It’s always worth avoiding some of the busier stations as best you can because being stuffed onto carriages is never pleasant, let alone sometimes not even being able to fit on one it’s so busy! Waterloo is the busiest station, with 57,000 people passing through during the three hour peak morning period, and a total of 82 million passengers using the station each year. If you’ve got the time, take the tube to Embankment or Lambeth North and walk to waterloo from there. Another schoolboy error is taking the tube between central stations, when it’s often quicker to walk. Don’t bother with the hassle tubing between Covent Garden and Leicester Square or Oxford Circus and Bond Street. These four stations are prime tourist hot spots, so beat the crowds and navigate your way on foot. 

Beautiful Stations

Canary Wharf station looks like something from a James Bond film

Canary Wharf station looks like something from a James Bond film

It might sound strange, but some of the London Underground stations really are quite beautiful. Canary Wharf and Southwark are both futuristically modern with stunning glass panels, whilst Art Deco enthusiasts should head to St James’s Park and East Finchley. Gants Hill is another interesting station; inspired by the Moscow metro it’s been designed with Soviet-era architecture.

Haunted Stations

Dating back to the late 19th century, it comes as no surprise that some of the stations on the London Underground are said to be haunted. If you ever hear wails and cries echoing through Farringdon station, it just might be the screaming spectre, otherwise known as Anne Naylor, a 13 year old trainee hat maker who was murdered in 1758 and at Elephant and Castle the sound of the invisible runners footsteps have been heard for years. Meanwhile in Covent Garden, the murdered actor William Terriss has been sighted pacing the tunnels since the 1950’s. It’s said he used to frequent a bakery that once stood where the tube station is now built.

Got some secrets about the London Underground to share? Have your say in our comments below! 

Amsterdam – Activities For The Family

Amsterdam isn’t just about the red light district, raucous sex shows and cafes serving hash brownies, there’s a whole host of family friendly activities to immerse yourself in! Check out our top five below.

1.    The Amsterdam Dungeon. Discover Amsterdam’s dark past with a trip to the Amsterdam Dungeons. In groups of no more than 30, visitors will walk through 11 live shows with seven trained actors telling gory tales from over the past 500 years, such as the horrors of the Spanish Inquisition through the Dungeon’s own court of law, the burning of witches at the stake and the deadly plague that swept Europe. At the end of the tour, there’s even a roller coaster for anyone after a few extra thrills! The dungeon provides a fun and educational day out for the whole family, with a balanced mixture of comedy and horror.

2.    Artis Royal Zoo.

With daily feeds and talks, there's plenty to see and do for the whole family

With daily feeds and talks, there’s plenty to see and do for the whole family

Animal lovers and families with young children should definitely include a trip to the zoo during their stay. Located in the centre of the city, the zoo is home to over 900 species of animals including giraffes, elephants and lions. The zoo is also celebrated for its beautiful gardens, containing over 200 species of trees, and the 19th century Aquarium. There are also daily zookeeper talks and feeds, including the sea lion show and penguin feed. Younger children will also love the designated play areas here and with many interactive displays, they can learn more about the conservation and protection of some of the worlds rarest and exotic animals.

3.    Explore the city by bike or boat.

Cycling and the canals are synonymous with the city

Cycling and the canals are synonymous with the city

Due to the flat landscape, characteristic of the Netherlands, cycling your way through the city is easy and safe for the whole family. You can hire bikes from companies such as MacBike and Amsterbike. Alternatively, a canal cruise is a unique way to see the city, as you meander through the 165 canals. Tour operators such as Blue Boat and Holland International offer an array of packages, including evening dinner cruises. If you’re visiting with little ones however, look no further than the Pannenkoekenboot (the pancake boat). Whilst you cruise around the city, you’ll be able to indulge in all you can eat pancakes with a selection of tasty toppings-delicious!

4.    Vondelpark. This 19th century park spreads over 120 acres, and is the largest park in Amsterdam. Whether you’ve decided to hire bikes or not, there’s plenty to explore in this tranquil haven. In the summer, an open-air theatre hosts a variety of events, some of which are free, whilst the landscaped gardens and lakes provide a stunning backdrop for a picnic. There are also plenty of play areas for little ones as well as cafes and restaurants dotted about. Before you leave be sure to check out The Fish sculpture by Picasso.

5.    Van Gogh Museum. Housing the works of Vincent Van Gogh and his contemporaries, this must visit museum is amongst the top most visited in the world. As the largest collection of Van Gogh paintings on the planet, there are many well-known works such as Sunflowers and The Potato Eaters. Other highlights include works by Monet and Toulous-Lautrec. And don’t worry if you’re visiting with younger children, they can get involved too with the Van Gogh treasure hunt. Pick up a free copy of the treasure hunt at the information desk and children between 6 and 12 can see if they can find all the answers in order to win a prize at the end!

For the latest deals on accommodation, check out our handpicked selection of Secret Hotels.

Why You Won’t Find London’s Best Pubs In The Centre

It’s the classic scenario. Tourists coming to London and visiting places like Piccadilly Circus and Covent Garden, only to have their heart set on the idea of finding a traditional British pub for a spot of lunch and a locally brewed ale. The worst part is that because so many of the central London pubs are still housed in historic buildings, this gives visitors the illusion that a historic pub equates to a good one! So why is it that none of London’s best pubs are in the centre?

1.    Continuous passing trade. This is definitely the main reason why pubs in the centre fall short of the mark. Their customers aren’t locals, they’re tourists and this means a steady influx of new faces every day of the week. Even if they haven’t enjoyed their meal or experience, they’ll be back off to Timbuktu the next day so who cares?

2.    The menus are for tourists.

Don't expect traditional fish and chips in central London pubs

Don’t expect traditional fish and chips in central London pubs

We all know that you won’t find ‘traditional fish and chips’ in a pub, but because this classic British dish is sought after by tourists, it means that you’ll see a great big sign in most of the central London pub windows offering battered fish, mushy peas and chips. Unfortunately, the majority of establishments are actually serving classics like these straight from the freezer to the oven, as opposed to the hand battered, deep frying methods that make them so damn tasty!

3.    There are no locals. Part of what makes a pub so nice is walking into a community. Think of those village pubs where you walk in and the barmaid knows all the locals names and everyone is in high spirits hanging out with their loved ones. Now reverse that image and that’s what the atmosphere is like in a central London pub. Most of central London is devoted to retailers and office space and fewer residents means that these pubs don’t benefit from much local love. Head up to Hampstead however and you’ll find that village pub feel within seconds.

4.    They’re expensive. Everyone knows that London is an expensive city anyway, but who wants to pay £6.00 for a pint of lager? And it’s not just the booze, the food menus are often the same prices if you went to a restaurant and yet the quality is much poorer. The more residential the area, the cheaper you’ll find the pub prices, so expect to pay through the nose for a round in somewhere like Oxford Circus.

The Spaniards Inn, in Hampstead Heath, is one of the best traditional London pubs

The Spaniards Inn, in Hampstead Heath, is one of the best traditional London pubs

So, as a rule, any area that doesn’t have a local community probably isn’t going to have a local pub with cheap beer and homemade food. If you’re set on finding a traditional British pub, you’ll need to step outside zone 1! Our favourite has to be the Spaniards Inn, in Hampstead Heath, dating back to the 16th century and eternalised in writing by Charles Dickens.

 

Street Food: Fresher and better for you!

Despite its often bad reputation, street food is emerging as the dark horse in the competition for delicious and often unusual food. Below are our top reasons why you should give it a go!

Street food in China

Street food in China

1.    It’s cheap! Ok so this probably isn’t something you’ve not heard before, but during these dark and difficult times this has got to be the main reason why people should give street food a chance. Street vendors can afford to slash their prices because they’re not paying for bricks and mortar, and you the customer aren’t paying for a table and waiter service. Even if you can afford to eat at the Ritz, street food makes the ideal lunch on the go for a fraction of the price. Places like Thailand and India have such a wide selection of street food for often less than £1, so you can have even more dough to spend on excursions or fancy hotels. It’s a no brainer!

2.    It’s more hygienic.

Street food in India- everything is cooked fresh in front of you

Street food in India- everything is cooked fresh in front of you

Many people say they are put off by street food because food that’s made on the street can’t possibly be clean and fresh. Quite the contrary. Street vendors have nowhere to store their dishes so everything has to be made fresh in front of you. This means you can see exactly what’s going into your dish and the cleanliness of the chef and cooking equipment. You’ll also get your food served piping hot, killing off any chance of germs. Stick to veggie options and you can’t get much safer than that!

3.    It’s more authentic.

Enjoy authentic dishes made by locals like these tasty Mexican marquesitas

Enjoy authentic dishes made by locals like these tasty Mexican marquesitas

Some of the best food I’ve tasted has been street food because its been made by people who are passionate about cooking and often specialise in a small amount of dishes, with recipes that have been passed down from parents and grandparents. When you’re visiting a foreign country, one of the best ways to immerse yourself in the culture is to immerse yourself in the food. Take Mexico for example. Many of the Mexican restaurants there are run by Americans and therefore have a more western influence on the dishes. The street food on the other hand is made by locals, with homemade sauces and inherited techniques, to produce authentic Mexican cuisine- delicious!

4.    You can walk and explore. Once you’ve got your street food, you can find somewhere iconic to enjoy it, whether that’s overlooking the Serpentine Lake in Hyde Park or sat on the beach in Thailand. Especially if you’re visiting somewhere hot, enjoying the lovely weather in beautiful surroundings is essential- and a dark café doesn’t really cut the mustard! Think of street food as a posh picnic.

 

Why Airport Food Sucks!

Let’s be honest, when you know you’ve got a flight ahead, you know your next few meals are going to be pretty questionable!

1.    Lack of competition. Whether you’re flying from a big airport like Heathrow or a smaller one, there are only so many restaurants and cafes to choose from and therefore minimum competition between them. In a town, restaurants have to keep up a good reputation so they can survive during quieter periods, but in the airport there never really is an off peak time. Many people are strapped for time and will choose a restaurant based on its proximity to the departure gate, or it’s genre of food. There’s no time to have a relaxed browse of all the menus in the airport!

2.    Continuous passing trade. Cafes and restaurants really do have it easy in the airport. They know that every day more hungry customers are going to come through their doors and wolf something down before catching their flight- many will never set foot in the restaurant again, or even the airport. And as soon as one family heads off, another one swoops in to claim the coveted table. Don’t expect to find a smiling waitress at the entrance tempting you in with offers, these guys are comfortably smug in the knowledge that your stomach will make the decision- and probably a pricey one!

3.    The hefty price tag. It’s no secret that airport food is horrendously expensive- the worst crime in my opinion being the cost of a bottle of water. People expect to pay over the odds for a pint of beer in the airport bar or a meal in the restaurant but when the service makes you feel like you’re part of a factory, just churning out the meals and achieving a quick turn over of custom, and the food is nothing to write home about, that whopping bill at the end really does add salt to the wound.

Stick to well known chains to ensure good food and a good service

Stick to well known chains to ensure good food and a good service

Unfortunately there’s nothing we can do other than accept the fact airport food really does suck. Your best bet of having a good meal is to stick to the well-known chains. Not only can you select the chain where you enjoy the food, but they also have a reputation to uphold. If you get rude staff in somewhere like Pret or Eat, even if you never return to that branch again, you can still complain to head office. These types of chains will have been briefed to deliver a good service in the hope that customers continue their loyalty to them outside the airport.

London’s Most Overrated Tourist Attractions

With so much to do and see in London, you’ve got to be selective with what you choose. We’ve handpicked our top five most overrated London tourist attractions below.

1.    The London Eye.

The London Eye

The London Eye

The tallest Ferris wheel in Europe is one of the capitals biggest tourist attractions. But what’s all the fuss about? If you turn up on the day you’ll have to brave a long queue and for a family of four it will cost you £63. If you decide to book a fast track ticket however, you’re looking at shelling out almost double that. Besides the extortionate entrance fee, you’re only on the wheel for 30 minutes, and as each capsule holds up to 25 people you might have to fight your way to actually see anything!

2.    Madame Tussauds.

Jackie Chan unveiling his wax figure at Madame Tussauds

Jackie Chan unveiling his wax figure at Madame Tussauds

Am I missing something or is paying to go and see wax models of celebrities a bit strange and errr…boring! For a family of four, you’ll have to fork out £108 on the day, and this includes a long queue. Once inside, the novelty of having your picture taken with wax members of the royal family really does go quite quickly. If you actually walk around London, you might even spot a real famous person! Now that’s surely more exciting.

3.    Ripley’s Believe It or Not. If there was a clubhouse for London tourists it’s got to be this overrated modern freak show in Piccadilly Circus. Pay the excessive £75 for a family of four and then be disappointed by rather believable items and displays. A model of the Titanic made of matchsticks and a prehistoric sharks jaw might not be everyday objects you come into contact with…but what can you do other than observe for a couple of seconds and walk on.

4.    The Prime Meridian, Greenwich. I’m still dumbfounded as to why tourists trek to Greenwich to pay £7 just to stand with one foot on each side of the Meridian line and actually become excited that they are half in the western hemisphere and half in the eastern. Do they not know that the divide carries on north of the terrace, where you can take as many pictures as you want for free!

5.    London Sightseeing Bus Tour.

London Sightseeing Tour Bus

Don’t waste your money with a tour bus when you can use the public buses for a fraction of the price

Just because you’re in a designated tour bus, you’re not going to get to the sights any quicker than if you take the public buses for a fraction of the price. And it’s not just the £25 per head ticket that makes this attraction so dire. Who wants to be given generic information about London’s landmarks by some guy? Get yourself a days bus pass ticket and explore the city by yourself. A good guidebook will enable you to tailor your visit to your interests.