London is a city of contrasts: modern yet historic, bustling yet quaint, quintessentially British yet home to people from places far and wide. To live in London is to immerse yourself in opposites, and for that reason (among countless others) it’s an incredibly wonderful city to explore.
There are dozens of well-known tourist attractions in London, and of course they’re all worth seeing, but there’s something special about experiencing London like the locals do – forgoing the usual tourist traps in favour of places that are treasured by those who know the city best. Seeing a city through the eyes of its citizens puts an entirely different spin on things – you not only start looking at the city differently, you start to feel differently about it too. Live like a local in London for a few days and before you know it, the city will start to feel less foreign and a lot more like home.
Luckily, your M Residence in London is literally at the heart of the city – ironically, just minutes away from one of London’s biggest tourist attractions, Buckingham Palace. Everything that makes London unique and enjoyable is within easy reach of where you’ll hang your hat.
The first thing you should know about Londoners is that they do a lot of walking. Traffic in this busy metropolitan centre is notoriously bad, so very often the fastest way to get from point A to point B is on foot. The trick to looking like a local when you walk the streets of London is to put purpose in your step. Londoners walk fast and with determination, so even if you’re not sure where you’re going, make it look like you do and you’ll blend right in.
The London Underground (known to locals as the Tube) is an intricate web of rail lines that sprawls out under the city in every direction, and serves as a major means of local transportation. Stations dot the landscape all over the city, so no matter what your final destination might be, you’re bound to get within close proximity taking the tube. Victoria station is the one closest to your M Residence and is within easy walking distance.
Pubs are a staple of London life and every Londoner has their favorite “local”- the pub they frequent the most. Short for “public house”, an English pub is a hub of social activity, and everyone, including children, are welcome. No matter what local haunt you stumble upon, the beer will be plentiful and the food tasty – especially on Sundays when most pubs serve up roast beef with all the trimmings. Guaranteed you’ll have the best Yorkshire pudding you’ve ever tasted in your life! When the barman or barmaid rings the bell (there’s always one on the wall somewhere) closing time has come (usually 11:00pm; 10:30 on Sundays). First bell is last call, second bell means the bar is closed. English law allows for a twenty-minute drinking up time though, so no need to guzzle things down.
Most London tourists are unaware that there are a series of canals snaking through the central part of the city. Peaceful and well hidden by buildings that line the street, these serene waterside walkways are a place where locals love to wander. Regent Canal is a favorite. Grab a coffee to sip while you stroll.
While you’re out and about, you should make your way to one of London’s legendary parks – but instead of visiting the most popular one – Hyde Park, where absolutely every tourist goes – explore one that locals frequent. Regent’s Park, Victoria Park and Hampstead Health are lush, beautiful, and quiet green spaces to walk, reflect and enjoy.
If you want to get a dose of culture, many London museums keep their doors open well into the night, offering drinks and finger foods to art lovers who prefer to practice their appreciation free from school tours and the stroller-set. You’ll be hard pressed to find many tourists at these evening events – they’re a well-kept secret among the citizenry.
With a little creativity and a sense of adventure, you can get to know London on your own terms, and learn to live like a local in no time!