London expert, Leslie Ehm is a regular Journeywoman
contributing editor. Were delighted to hear
that one of her latest travel articles has been
selected for an upcoming Travelers
Tales anthology. Leslie
city of London is one of the world's most popular
travel destinations, yet the likelihood is, that
most visitors never really get the sense of what
real London life is all about.
Square, Covent Garden, Hyde Park, Buckingham Palace,
Piccadilly Circus, Oxford Street - all great tourist
spots and worth seeing, but they are about a thousand
miles away from what London actually is - how
it feels, smells, its neighbourhoods and its diverse
the impressive Regents Plaza Hotel opened
its door. Its not unlike many other top
class London hotels, with its glamorous lobby,
classy restaurants, health club and comfortable
if not pricey rooms. But there is something quite
unique about this hotel - its location! Set right
on the apex of Maida Vale and Kilburn, its
the last place one would expect a hotel of this
calibre to be situated.
to my neighbourhoods...
Vale is a largely residential area - somewhat
upmarket although still affordable. It has
a few cafes, very little real
shopping and other than a few corner stores
offerring amenities, not much on the surface
to attract tourists.
is a true London neighbourhood. Featuring
a largely Irish community, it also boasts
an amazingly integrated population. On a
Saturday morning, you'll see examples of
every cultural persuasion shopping on its
bustling high street. It's not too pretty,
not pristine, and certainly isn't tourist
orientated, but its real - and has
been my home for 13 years. I know the true
secrets that both Kilburn and Maida Vale
have to offer....
the tourist stuff done...
for a stay in London of a different kind-
- one that will give you a true taste of
the city -- why not try this? First, enjoy
a few nights luxurious stay in the plush
Regents Plaza Hotel. Though youll
be located a bit far from the heart of the
action, youre close to transportation
which by bus (#16A / 98), by tube (Kilburn
Park - Bakerloo line), or by cab (approx.
£6), will take you to any one of the
usual touristy attractions London has to
offer. Then, when you're finally tired of
taking photos of London Bobbys
or queuing up at Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum...
to the Real London...
itinerary can be broken down over several
days or as you see fit. Lets begin
with a stroll along Maida Vale. (walk out
of the hotel and turn left) Check out the
fantastic 18th/19th century architecture
as you make your way to Clifton Gardens,
where you can stop for a lovely lunch at
one of several cafes. I recommend Raoul's
or Café Rouge. After lunch,
continue up Maida Vale until you hit Café
La Ville (which marks the end of Maida
Vale and the start of Edgeware Road). Take
a seat, order a cup of their fantastic coffee
and their yummy baked cheesecake dessert.
Then, look out over the canal which the
tiny restaurant straddles.After
taking in the view, you'll understand why
this area is known as Little Venice and
no doubt youll be inspired to inspect
the canal a little more closely. Walk down
Blomfield Road and find an open gateway
to lead you right down along the water.
Here, you'll find houseboat after houseboat,
ornately decorated-- some even with elaborate
gardens along the walkway. If this starts
to give you a taste for the open water,
you can ride a tour boat along the canals
from Little Venice all the way to Camden
Lock, some 3 miles away. The fare is £5
one way, and worth every penny. This is
a part of London that few tourists ever
end up seeing.