What does the term ‘historic hotels London city’ bring to mind for you? Maybe it’s the Ritz over near Buckingham Palace, with its famous afternoon tea. There’s the Savoy and Claridge’s, certainly. I used to walk past stunning St Pancras each day on the way to work, it qualifies.
But did you know about Batty Langley’s?
Listed as one of London’s six best hotels in Conde Nast‘s Gold List, it’s time you definitely did hear about it ⭐
Hotels London city: WHY you need to experience Batty Langley’s
Batty Langley’s in London city near Liverpool street doesn’t even look like a hotel from the outside! It’s completely unassuming. To step inside feels precisely like you’ve stepped back in time. Georgian times, to be exact.
I read a piece about this historic hotel in London city that captured it beautifully for me. The review mentioned that while this place is a hotel, it doesn’t feel like one.
It feels more like you’re visiting your [very] rich aunt’s house.
It’s so true, in the most affectionate of ways 💕
We’ve written about staycations in London and accommodation you can try in east London – Shoreditch and Liverpool Street – but we’ve never seen anything like this!
The attention to detail and perfect mix of old meets new is truly something special.
Adventures in the past
The hotel is housed in a restored Georgian building, and is named after Batty Langley (1696–1751) who published guides for the upper class on how to tastefully plan a lavish home.
Inspired by Batty’s work, proprietors Douglas Blain and Peter McKay went to extraordinary lengths to recreate the style of the era. Their labour of love took 20 years to complete, but the finished product is exquisite.
With the exception of a few modern luxuries like smart televisions; furnishings, art, antiques and ornaments from Georgian times have been sourced and decorate the property.
Full of Georgian characters
Our room was on the 5th floor, which we accessed by a little elevator. Cooper and I definitely had a ‘pinch me’ moment upon entering the Kitty Fisher suite. It was like living a past life where we were RICH – we had a balcony with city views, huge four poster bed, a little library and sitting room, and a grand bathroom complete with a genuine Victorian canopy bathing machine.
Kitty Fisher is another Georgian character whose name graces the hotel’s walls. She was a courtesan, known as the subject of a nursery rhyme: “Lucy Locket lost her pocket, Kitty Fisher found it…”.
Ms Fisher came from humble beginnings when she was a milliner (maker of fashionable hats). But the story goes that her beauty, smarts and charm led to her mixing in the right circles and hence she climbed the social ladder of her time.
If we were to ever tire of our own luxurious Georgian suite named after Kitty, we had the rest of the place to enjoy too.
Despite having 29 rooms (all named after interesting Georgian characters) tucked away within the hotel, it’s rare to see another soul. So, off we went, to laze about in the old library, Downton Abbey style; and enjoy a whiskey by the fireplace in the olde-world stylish sitting room.
Facts about Georgian times that add flavour to a stay
While we were at Batty Langley’s, the staff shared some interesting facts with us. Did you know that hotels only really came into being during the first half of the 1800s? Before the Industrial Revolution which began in the 1700s, most people lived and worked on the land, and wouldn’t have ventured very far. In the 1800s things started to change with the Industrial Revolution and the steam locomotive. The middle class – who ran and owned businesses – began to travel, and hotels became their beautiful escape. You can imagine this scenario within the palatial walls of Batty Langley’s boutique establishment.
We also looked at how well made the furniture is from Georgian times. If you examine a wardrobe, for example, you will see the effort that has gone into ensuring the grain is all in the same direction. Evidence of this craftsmanship adorns the hotel.
Finally, did you know that despite the period being entirely romanticised now, the Georgians didn’t have bathrooms? Apparently everyone stank! Very few houses had running water, the streets were filled with rubbish and animal excrement, and chamber pots were often emptied out of windows onto the street. It’s a far cry from the cleanliness and opulence you’ll experience within the hotel and surrounding streets today, but interesting to know about all the same. What do you think?
London city stay: what to expect in the area
We don’t need to be sold on east London (we’re fans!), although staying at Batty Langley’s gave us renewed appreciation for our surroundings.
Convenience wise, the hotel’s perfectly located for any kind of stay in London. You’re within walking distance of Liverpool Street and Shoreditch stations, so can get anywhere, easily.
Just up the road is Spitalfields, which houses markets, foodie delights, pubs and shopping. You can walk to famous Brick Lane for a curry in about 15 minutes.
Back to the history: it’s all around you, inside the hotel and outside. From cobbled streets to elegant old churches and imaginative architecture: go exploring in this exciting corner of old London.
Spitalfields itself was originally the site of the Priory of St Mary Spital, or Hospital, established in 1197! Part of the hospital’s kitchen lies under the hotel building and more substantial remains can be seen in a floodlit underground chamber just around the corner in Spital Square.
Residential development of the area began when King Henry VIII renounced the Pope’s authority and seized all English monasteries in 1540, selling off to loyal subjects. The area became attractive to immigrant settlers who were not allowed to live or work in London city itself. At that time, this area was just outside the city walls.
We spotted evidence of different period buildings as we wandered the streets here. Of course Georgian architecture is obvious too, known by its red brick and symmetrical shape.
Exclusive accommodation in east London
What can we say other than this hotel is absolutely beautiful? It’s cosy enough that you feel at home, yet luxurious with quality touches and service expected in a fine hotel. The staff were perfect as well. (thank you!).
Batty Langley‘s website says:
Our quiet, characterful bedrooms are furnished with genuine antiques, and every one is different. Our bathrooms are so extraordinary, guests often ask if they can take them home. Your surroundings here are civilised: old fashioned hospitality, friendly, efficient staff, and a location second to none.
We have to say, it’s all true. This bit of web copy is absolutely not fake news. If you’re looking for a wonderfully London experience and prepared to splash a little extra cash for a once in a lifetime stay, Batty Langley’s is for you. It’s truly like living in an opulent period film – and who doesn’t want to try that for a night? Book your stay
Cooper and I were sponsored by Hazlitt Hotels for this stay.
Images: battylangleys.com. Video: Cooper Dawson
London is simply sublime at Christmastime. It’s Christmas party London-style season, November through December. There’s London Christmas lights and many Christmassy experiences. Here’s a few things you shouldn’t miss:
Christmas party London
You can go to hotels, clubs, bars, markets – just about anywhere for a Christmas party London experience.
We were lucky enough to be invited over to Camden for the launch of FEST’s Christmas party London events. Take a look:
More places to relish in London’s Christmas spirit:
Harrods Christmas Grotto
A Christmas escape for Children, that leaves parents free to also escape… to do some shopping! It’s festive, magical and very Harrods. Various events happening throughout December. More at: harrods.com
Hyde Park Winter Wonderland and Santa Land
Marble Arch tube
This gorgeous, annual one-stop Christmas spectacular includes rides, circus-like attractions, markets that sell sweets, Christmas treats and traditional German crafts and of course an ice rink. More at: hydeparkwinterwonderland.com
Westfield ice skating and grotto
Shepherd’s Bush tube / Stratford tube
There’s nothing that feels more like Christmas than spending a day in the warmth, shopping at Westfield London or Stratford City. Santa’s in store too, and there’s an ice skating rink – makes for a wonderfully spirited day out.
Southbank Centre Christmas Market and Winter Festival
A traditional German-style wooden hut market along the river – so charming! Toys, gifts, food, drinks – internationally inspired. Also features the Designers Makers Christmas Market, with over 50 British designers selling jewellery, ceramics, textiles, homewares and prints. More at: southbankcentre.co.uk
A Covent Garden Christmas
Covent Garden tube
The historic market piazza plays host to innovative digital installations, a super-sized LEGO snow globe, entertainers, festive lights and displays. More at: coventgardenlondonuk.com
Christmas Arcade at Somerset House
Temple or Covent Garden tube
The divine Somerset House‘s West Wing overlooks a lavish ice skating rink, and the setting features a Narniaesque corridor bedecked in lights and foliage. Dozens of airy rooms are occupied by pop-up-shops with an emphasis on British-made wares, so you’ll find the likes of Brora cashmere, Murdock grooming products, BoBelle London bags and leather goods.
Harry Potter Walking Tour
Indulge in a magical Hogwarts Christmas with a guided walking tour (also includes a boat ride) that takes you through Leadenhall Market and other Potter filming locations.
Christmas at Kew Gardens and Hampton Court Palace
Christmas at Kew Gardensis family friendly in a magical woodland setting, includes a Victorian carousel and vintage rides, Santa’s grotto, boutique Christmas market and live music. Over at Hampton Court Palace, Henry VIII’s favourite ‘haunt’, not to mention a fabulous place to visit, there’s a divine ice skating rink in the front courtyard.
Christmas lights in London
Christmas lights by night
Famous throughout the world, each year there is a different theme throughout the city’s festive streets. Brave the chill and jump on an open bus sightseeing tourduring the evening, taking in all the classic sights including Harrods, Oxford Street, Piccadilly and the Tower of London all dressed up in their Christmas finery.
Where to stay: The Wellesley, for a little Christmas luxury
The Wellesley is set within prestigious Knightsbridge, and provides easy access to all the Christmas experiences listed above, and much more. It is not yet a year old following extensive renovations which transformed the property from musical venue to luxe townhouse hotel. Gatsbyesque glamour sets the tone, and this boutique property is worth the dollar outlay if you’re seeking luxury alongside unparalleled service while in London.
The Roaring Twenties carry on at The Wellesley through cleverly considered interiors like crystal chandeliers, original artwork, mirrored panelling and lavish cream and gold colour scheme. It’s also a romantic building for anyone keen on being immersed in history − indeed it used to be the site of the original Hyde Park Corner tube station in the 1920s, and telling architectural signs are evident upon the exterior of the property and from within.
The Wellesley attracts a high calibre of clientèle, but is accessible for anyone seeking a night or more of pure indulgence. The hotel is conveniently situated for shopping, up-market bars and a wander around Hyde Park. Beautifully restored in Art Deco style with a contemporary twist, The Wellesley is a feast for the senses, offering the discerning traveller copious luxury surprises and outstanding personalised service.
What we loved!
Live jazz that was in the hotel’s divine Jazz Lounge which boasts brilliant acoustics thanks to the venue’s musical roots.
The delicious cocktails on offer in the Crystal Bar.
Marble bathrooms and Hermès toiletries.
Courtesy Rolls Royce chauffeur service.
Fast, free WiFi and dozens of free movies available on-demand.
Dining and recreation
The Wellesley features several spaces for indulging, including the enthralling Jazz Lounge with its grand piano centrepiece; the award-winning Crystal Bar which boasts a large selection of fine cognac, champagnes and whisky, and the opulent Oval Restaurant where a delectable Italian-inspired menu is on offer.
The spacious 4-bedroom penthouse set across levels six and seven, with scenic views of Hyde Park, and featuring heated marble floors, heavenly bathrooms, balconies and a fire place.
“You know I love a London boy, I enjoy nights in Brixton, Shoreditch in the afternoon…”
It’s no secret Cooper and I are Swifties (the collective term for ‘fans of Taylor Swift’). He might not like me mentioning it too much in public, but trust me, we’re up there dancing with the best of them at her shows 😁
You’re likely to know by now that she’s released a new album – the 7th studio album in her excellent collection. Taylor Swift London Boy – we love this track on Lover! Don’t get your hopes up about running into her in the UK capital though. The song tells a story about where she spends time with her ‘London Boy’ Joe Alwyn. And they’re known for not advertising where they are.
But you can still take a wander around places that are obviously close to her heart. (and if you’re a super fan, you might have heard about this odd theory that her lyrics actually map out a heart around London. hehe)
Must say, I’ve read some rather cynical accounts of Swifty’s London Boy guide to the city. But, as someone who is also rather in love with London, I kinda like her guide.
Taylor Swift London Boy city guide
We’ve compiled some travel info for any of you other Swifties out there interested in taking in the experiences and areas she’s mentioned.
In Taylor Swift’s London Boy she mentions “Camden Market in the afternoon”. Ok so Camden is pretty cool and you’ll find a lot of things (probably stuff you don’t need) at the market. If you get tired of big crowds though, don’t go in the afternoon.
We’d suggest going later at night, or early in the morning. Camden Market is well worth a look, but time it so you don’t get trampled!
FEST is also a nice spot that decorates according to the season. Nice to go for a drink away from the crowds.
Highgate and Hampstead Heath
Taylor’s spent a bit of time in the suburbs of North London. It’s known to be a bit affluent, posh even. Granted, we like it. We house sat in Crouch End recently. We also enjoyed a house sit near beautiful Hampstead Heath that boasts miles and miles of parkland walks, lakes and stunning views across London.
There’s a number of tube/Overground stops that will take you right up to one of the entrances to Hampstead Heath.
Leafy Highgate is best known for its cemetery. It’s an old one, and also the final resting place for many well-known figures including another one of our music faves, George Michael.
Like Camden, it gets very very crowded. But there’s some cool experiences to be had here. Most of ours include food 😆
Sketch, pictured above, is pretty special (don’t miss going to the bathrooms – just trust us). For a bit of craziness in Soho, you’ll find us digging for an afternoon drink deal at Bar Soho. (Swifty mentions ‘drinking in the afternoon’… sure, it’s a thing on a sunny day 🌞). There’s plenty of food joints, bars and pubs in the vicinity of Bar Soho, if you can get yourself down that way.
And when you need a snack (yup, you know what I’m talking about), go here:
Hackney, Shoreditch and the east end
aww, our ‘London home’ side of the city. For a large part of the last century the east end struggled. Much of it was badly hit during WWII, and the poorest Londoners resided here.
A lot has happened in recent years. Shoreditch and neighbouring Dalston are arguably ‘trendy’. No doubt there’s a cool energy, lots of boutique stores, arty experiences and a surprising side of London to see.
Taylor Swift in London Boy mentions Hackney as a place to explore, over “Louis V on Bond Street”. Agreed.
Broadway Market is our absolute favourite experience in the east. Head over there early on Saturday for one of the best, loveliest local markets in the city. Around the corner is a fabulous bar/restaurant/pop-up store space called Mare Street Market. Highly recommended. Then, take your foodie treats, sit in London Fields (park) and people watch.
You can view east London in all its glory from this excellent rooftop venue:
High tea in London Boy
I read a news item saying that ‘purists’ will be upset with Taylor Swift for calling ‘afternoon tea’ ‘high tea’. Weird – that’s how I know it. And that’s how it’s marketed. All tastes the same 😋
Top London travel tip: before coming to London, sign up for a discount site like LivingSocial or Groupon. There’s plenty of awesome deals on high tea or afternoon tea! Buy one ahead of your trip and indulge.
Brixton and south London
Down to south London now. Brixton is famous for music, cool markets and lots of new fun things opening all the time.
Jump on the Victoria line and head on over to this side of the city. Culture Trip‘s published a helpful guide on things to do in Brixton.
“Stick with me, I’m your Queen…”
Ok so you’re coming to the capital. You’ve seen The Crown, Victoria… Get amongst some Royal action while you’re in town. Why not.
In London Boy, Taylor Swift mentions ‘Louis V’ (the store), but implies exploring the rest of London outside of the glitz is just as fun (true).
You do need to explore central London though. Why? Because it is lovely!
From the historical buildings in Bloomsbury to stunning St Paul’s and Thames walks – find out why people, including us and Swifty, fall in love with this place.
Bonus: get yourself to a good old fashioned English pub
A quintessential London experience: the pub. They’re different in England than pubs in other places. Cosy, chilled, good times.
Careful in London that you don’t get dragged into a touristy pub – nothing wrong with them, but they’re often more expensive and lack the authentic charm that your local neighbourhood pubs have.
One of our favourites is in Angel, east London. Take a look.
So you see, Taylor Swift views the city like many of us do. For those who don’t like it, tough. The visitor numbers can’t be denied, nor our fabulous city’s millions of fans all over the world. I’ll take my rose-tinted view whenever I can 🌈
Please do add your tips or questions in the comments below. See you in London!
Taylor Swift London Boy, image: Dimitrios Kambouris/VMN19
A few weeks back we received an invite from Point A Hotel Liverpool Street, asking if we’d like to take a look around the newly refurbished premises. After having the chance to stay at Point A Hotel Shoreditch we jumped at the opportunity. There’s nothing like a London staycation, after all!
The thing we genuinely like about the two Point A Hotels in London that we’ve seen, is that the brand has reinvented what compact is. It’s easier than you might think to get totally ripped off by hotels in London – you’ll pay a fortune thinking you have somewhere nice reserved, only to find it’s run-down, uncomfortable and dowdy.
Our experience with Point A Hotels in London is that they make great use of space, opt for stylish tech and comfy beds.
Best things about Point A Hotel Liverpool Street
Point A Hotel Liverpool Street was one of the original hotels in the network. We experienced the totally refurbished version, and we’re thoroughly impressed! Point a Hotel Liverpool Street is about 5 to 7 minutes walk from the station. It’s just two minutes’ from Spitalfields which has everything you could need for a stay in central London.
Outside of its very convenient location, there’s a spacious outdoor area that you can enjoy if the sun is out. Inside you’ll find a comfortable lounge / chill out space that is also where breakfast is served.
Like its sister property in Shoreditch, the rooms are compact but cleverly designed so that you feel like you’re in a cosy nook. There’s plenty of clever hiding space for luggage too. Topped off by fun mood lighting, black-out curtains and 43-inch Samsung Smart TV, you’ve got everything you need for a total getaway.
Find out more about Point A Liverpool Street Hotel’s refurb here.
Top 4 things to do near Liverpool Street
Old Spitalfields market
This east London hot-spot has seen market activity for over 350 years! Now, Spitalfields is a covered market, brimming with lovely eateries, lively places to have a beer and shops to browse. It’s definitely one of the best things to do near Liverpool Street, and it’s just a couple of minutes’ walk from this London Point A Hotel. There’s over 50 shops and stalls at Spitalfields.
What we like about the place is that the restaurants and bars are big. Plenty of space means a place to sit down. I even managed to get some work done so would add it to our list of fave London digital nomad working spots.
Salesforce Tower and Sushi Samba
Locals know this secret well. For one of the very best things to do near Liverpool Street, and a FREE view of London, head to Salesforce Tower (formerly Heron Tower). The glass lift is swift. That is, in less than 30 seconds you’ll be 39 floors high! The view is spectacular though.
It’s easy to pop into Sushi Samba for a drink on their outdoor deck. You’ll need a reservation to eat there though, or at the dining alternative at the top, The Duck and Waffle. The Drift is on the ground level, also another lovely venue.
Be mindful here, you’ll possibly need dress shoes to enter the building, but outside that, you can enjoy a fun free experience, just a short walk across the road from Liverpool Street.
Described as ‘a 32-acre central London neighbourhood’, Broadgate is the brand new precinct opened next to Liverpool Street station. We wandered through earlier this year just as it was opened. It’s built in a circle type shape, with beautiful restaurants and Instagrammable boutiques throughout.
This spot has everything from pubs to high-end sushi, beautiful meeting spots and table tennis. Read more here.
Finally, if you’re after a bite to eat or a quick drink, there’s plenty of options along Bishopsgate road. This is the main road in front of Liverpool Street train station. Most of our high street eateries are here, including Wasabi, All Bar One, Dirty Martini… You won’t go hungry or thirsty in this part of London.
And when you’re done, head back to Point A for a dreamy sleep.
Point A Hotels are situated across the nation, so ideal for a value for money UK staycation escape. We were sponsored for this stay but the review is our own.
We had the chance to work with a drone coach to experience how drones in London can be manoeuvred safely and responsibly. Without practice, we would absolutely NOT recommend flying anywhere, let alone in dense areas. In fact, there are a lot of irresponsible drone operators who make it hard for others just wanting to capture some great content.
There are rules when flying drones, most importantly you need to ensure the safety of people. Our London drone experience gave us insight into the fact that you need to practice, practice, practice!
Take a look at some of the footage, and you might like to read about what we learnt about flying drones in London and abroad here in this special digital feature. Questions and comments, as always, are appreciated below.
This past week we had the chance to attend the summer launch party for Skylight rooftop bar at Tobacco Dock in east London.
We didn’t know Skylight rooftop bar existed but wow, what a venue! We’ll definitely be back. Spread across three huge levels, Skylight includes undercover spaces (for when London weather isn’t playing nice), games, comfortable seating and unbeatable views over London.
Summer in London is here, and it means our rooftop bars are beginning to open their doors again, just in time for May’s first long weekend. After a long cold winter, we are ready to play.
Take a look around Skylight …. see you soon for summer in London.
Welcome to Travel Live learn, where we are passionate about living a life full of great adventures. We are Sarah + Cooper, and here we share our advice and stories about expat living in the UK; pet and house sitting around the world; wellness travel and creative living, no matter where on the planet you are. We have worked in media, communication and creative roles for 20 years, and have spent over 10 years living and working abroad. We hope you find value in our content. Please do connect by leaving a comment or find us on social media.