A visit to London- should you head East or West?

You’ve probably heard that old proverb ‘there are two sides to every story’, and the tale of the city of London is no exception. When the city first become inhabited, the wealthier folk settled in the west where there was plenty of lush green scenery for sports, and gardens in which to picnic, with the less fortunate staying in the East side of the city. The class divide has softened over the years as wealth has become more widespread; however the divide between the east side of London and the West is still very much prominent in many ways even today.

As a first time tourist visiting London, you’ll probably have no prejudice towards either side of the city, and so there are a few things to bear in mind when deciding which direction to visit first. High on the top of any travellers list of priorities is usually food and drink, and rightly so, when you are exploring a new city, the best way to do so is to immerse yourself in the culture and cuisine of the locals. If you like Michelin starred restaurants and complex dishes then head west, whilst if you prefer authentic street food that’s bursting with flavours and colour, then east is most definitely where it is at.

With regards to sightseeing, both the east and the west have their strengths, but where you decide to visit will depend vastly on your interests and preferences, and perhaps even the reason for your trip. If you are a fan of the Royal family, then you will probably be hoping to catch a glimpse of Her Royal Highness in Windsor castle or Buckingham palace. In all honesty, this is extremely unlikely, although Buckingham palace will have its flags flying if the Queen is in the vicinity during your visit. Don’t forget that the royals have many duties to fulfil, trips to other countries being a big part of this, so it might even be possible that the Queen is away on Royal business during the time you have chosen to visit her. If that happened with any of your friends, you’d probably be more than a little agitated, especially if you’re an overseas traveller who has flown in especially, however, obviously pardons can be made for the Royal family in such an instance. In any case, if you are hoping to tour the Royal Parks, visit the palace or even spend a small fortune in London’s famous ‘Harrods’ store, then you’ll want to go in the west direction to do so. This is also where many of the city’s famous attractions are located, such as the London dungeons, the London eye experience and Madame Tussaud’s waxwork experience. If you are thinking of spending the majority of your visit on this side of the city then booking accommodation here would probably be best, the Shaftesbury suites London Marble Arch are a great option offering both style and comfort for the duration of your visit. Be sure to check out their hotel rewards programs if you intend on re-visiting in the future to start collecting points to use towards future stays.

However, if art and cultural diversity is more of your thing, then you won’t want to miss out on what the east side of the city can offer you. Street art is rife in east London and with the rise in popularity of contemporary artists like Banksy; east London street art has seen a rise in popularity, and brightening up street corners there are many creative bursts including some from Banksy himself. If you’re a creative type then you’ll be enthralled by the many forms of art on display here, true enough it’s not your traditional Monet exhibition, but it’s a whole lot more fun with a lot less snobbery attached to it.

The east side of London also houses the best markets in the city, the Brick Lane market is not to be missed for creative kinds of people who will adore the incredible mix of stalls that include independent fashion designers, handmade fares and of course fantastic and fresh street food. Brick Lane is famous for being where Jack the Ripper lurked, but this lively and colourful marketplace has turned the grey tone of Brick lane upside down, in the best kind of way of course.

Another market not to miss is the Colombia one, all you need to do is turn up and let your sense of smell guideyou to where you need to be. The scents of the traditional international cuisine are truly exquisite and you’ll be left wondering which dish to try out first. Don’t worry, most stalls will offer you a taste before you buy so you can’t really go wrong with your choice. After you’ve purchased you lunch, find a kerb side spot to sit in and indulge in a little people watching as you digest your food. You’ll be looking like a local in no time at all!

If it’s a trendy bar that you’re hankering after during your visit to the big city, then although the west side of London has its fair share of expensive and chic cocktail bars, the east is also starting to catch up. For a quirky twist on an afternoon tea party, round up your friends and head for the Hoxton Pony for an infusion cocktail jar that will serve up to six of you and your friends for an afternoon tea with a difference. However, head to the west end of London for a bar with a bit of history behind it, Gordon’s wine bar is said to be the oldest wine bar in London, so if you feel guilty about enjoying a tipple with no substance behind it, a tipple in Gordon’s could be just the remedy.

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