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30
May
Eating Out in London
by Harley Nott

Eating Out in London

London visitor surveys have shown that food, surprisingly, only gets a 46% satisfaction rate. This, despite the fact that London has some of the best cuisine in the world, certainly the most diverse.

Many London visitors choose a vacation rental so they can self-cater for some of their meals. But whether you eat out only one or twice, or you go out for every meal, some prior planning will make for a much more enjoyable experience.

London has over 7,000 restaurants covering all styles, cuisines and price ranges. Invariably some will disappoint, some will be over-priced, some will have poor service, some will be over-crowded.

So, rather than take pot-luck and dive into the nearest establishment to where you happen to be at the time, plan ahead, look for the hidden (or not so hidden) gems that will give you a memorable experience rather than just provide fuel. These places need not be expensive, just good.

How to find them? Use a good restaurant guide, here are a few:

Hardens – The Gastronome’s Bible! Generally very reliable, you can search by location, price, type of cuisine facilities, number of reviews.

Square Meal – also searchable by price and cuisine.

The Evening Standard Guide

The Time-Out Restaurant Guide

You will of course sometimes get good fare from a fast food operator, but you’re more likely not to be disappointed if you do some prior research remembering the old axiom: “Time spent on reconnaissance is seldom wasted.”

29
May
Changing of the Guard
by Cedric

ROYAL BRITAIN – CHANGING OF THE GUARD

The sentries that look after Buckingham Palace are called The Queen’s Guard and are made up of soldiers from the Household Division’s five regiments of Foot Guards. The guards are dressed in traditional red tunics and bearskin hats. Although undertaking such ceremonial duties, these are regular soldiers in the British Army, who serve normal tours of duty in parts of the world such as Iraq and Afghanistan.

In the minds of the majority of people, the ceremony of Changing the Guard is associated solely with Buckingham Palace but it actually takes place between three locations – Buckingham Palace, St. James’s Palace and Wellington Barracks.

Also known as Guard Mounting the ceremony takes place outside Buckingham Palace from 10.45am and lasts around 45 minutes, with the actual handover taking place at 11am. The Buckingham Palace Old Guard forms up in the palace’s forecourt from 10.30am and is joined by the St James’s Palace Old Guard at around 10.45am. The New Guard then arrives from Wellington Barracks and takes over the responsibilities of the Old Guard in a formal ceremony accompanied by music. The Old and New Guards ‘Present Arms’ before the Captains of the Guard ceremoniously hand over the Palace keys. This symbolic gesture represents the transfer of responsibility for the security of the Palace’s from the Old to the New Guard who will then be The Queen’s Guard until relieved.

The ceremony is free to watch and currently takes place on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, weather permitting. There is no ceremony on days when large events are held in the city centre. The ceremony schedule should be checked on the Household Division’s website before planning a visit. Being a very popular event, it is also necessary to arrive early to secure a spot with a good view.

To check the schedule go to www.householddivision.org.uk/changing-the-guard-calendar

For your London Vacation Rental go to www.chsrentals.com/london

27
May
London for Free (part 1 of 2)
by Harley Nott

London for Free (part 1 of 2)

Unlike the museums and art galleries of most capital cities, in London, among other attractions, they are free!
Well known among these gems are The National Gallery, The Natural History Museum, The British Museum and Hyde Park/Kensington Gardens.

Here are some lesser known, but just as interesting, free attractions:

The Bank of England Museum
It may not explain how the banking profession got into the mess it’s in now, but the museum dedicated to the profession is still worth a visit. Vintage bank notes, art work and antique furniture from the bank make for a small but dense collection. Current exhibitions include one on Gold – and the opportunity to lift up a solid gold bar!

Read More

16
May
The Coach House – London, looking its best
by Harley Nott

Visiting a foreign city is always fun but so much more enjoyable if you have people to stay with, who will look after you well, give you advice on anything you are interested in doing or seeing, but leave you alone to do your own thing. But finding a good and friendly bed and breakfast with a kitchen in London can be a nightmare – you can easily end up in a cheap and nasty down-market hotel, or find yourself living embarrassingly close to the owners of a private house and your fellow guests.

The Coach House, which is in a quiet, safe, fashionable part of town is a bed and breakfast with a difference.

There’s still some summer availability at The Coach House, but you’ll need to be quick.

 

11
May
Tate Britain
by Cedric

LONDON FOR FREE – TATE BRITAIN

Tate Britain is the national gallery of British art from 1500 until the present day. Some of  the Gallery’s more modern works from the start of the twentieth century were transferred in 2000 to the new Tate Modern Gallery, which was established in the converted power Bankside Power Station.

The Tate Britain collection was first opened to the public in 1897 in a specially constructed gallery, which is situated on the banks of the River Thames at Millbank and which is about ten minutes walk from the Houses of Parliament. The Gallery was originally named the National Gallery of British Art but from the start it was commonly known as the Tate Gallery after its founder Sir Henry Tate.

Housing a substantial collection of the art of the United Kingdom from Tudor times, it is the most comprehensive collection of its kind in the world  Works in the permanent Tate collection, which are usually on display in the Gallery, include works by Constable, William Blake, Millais and Whistler. In particular there is a large holdings of the works of J. M.W. Turner, who bequeathed to the nation all his own paintings, which were still in his possession at the time of his death. More recent artists include David Hockney, Peter Blake and Francis Bacon.

The Gallery also stages many specialist exhibitions, for which entrance fees are charged. It is recommended that any special exhibition is pre-booked. Currently there is an exhibition devoted to the works of David Hockney, which ends on 29th May.

Another  exhibition entitled Queer British Art 1861 – 1967 will run until 1st October. It features works relating to lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans identities. On display are paintings, drawings, personal photographs and film from artists such as John Singer Sargent, Dora Carrington, Duncan Grant and David Hockney. These works celebrate the diversity of  ‘queer’ British art as never before.

For further information go to www.tate.org.uk/visit/tate-britain

For your London Vacation Rental go to www.chsrentals.com/london

5
Apr
Natural History Museum
by Cedric

LONDON FOR FREE – THE NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM

The Natural History Museum is recognised as the pre-eminent centre for studying natural history and for research in related fields. It is home to some 80 million specimens, which are divided between five main collections: botany, entomology, mineralogy, paleontology and zoology. The museum is particularly famous for its exhibition of dinosaur skeletons. The most famous is a large Diplodocus cast. This used to dominate the vaulted central hall but it has been moved to another large hall and has been replaced by a Blue Whale.

The museum is a world-renowned centre of research specialising in taxonomy, identification and conservation. Given the age of the institution, many of the collections have great historical as well as scientific value, such as specimens collected by Charles Darwin. The museum library contains extensive books, journals, manuscripts, and artwork collections linked to the work and research of the scientific departments.

The foundation collection belonged to Sir Hans Sloane (1660–1753), who allowed his significant collection to be purchased by the British Government at a price well below their market value at the time. Sloane’s collection, which included dried plants, and animal and human skeletons, was initially housed within the British Museum. The museum was moved to a new building in South Kensington near the V&A and the Science Museums. Due to its ornate architecture it is sometimes dubbed a ‘cathedral of nature’. It was designed by Alfred Waterhouse and construction of the new museum building began in 1873. It was completed in 1880 and opened in 1881. However the move from the old museum was not fully completed until 1883. Both the interior and exterior of the Waterhouse building make extensive use of terracotta tiles to resist the sooty atmosphere of Victorian London. The tiles and bricks feature many relief sculptures of flora and fauna, with living and extinct species featured within the west and east wings respectively. The Darwin Centre is a more recent addition, partly designed as a modern facility for storing the valuable collections.

For further information go to http://www.nhm.ac.uk/

For your London Vacation Rental go to https://www.chsrentals.com/london

21
Mar
National Gallery
by Cedric

LONDON FOR FREE – THE NATIONAL GALLERY

The National Gallery is located in Trafalgar Square in Central London. It houses a collection of over 2,300 paintings dating from the mid-13th century to 1900.

Unlike comparable museums in Europe, the National Gallery was not formed by nationalising an existing royal or princely art collection. The British Royal Collection remains in the sovereign’s possession to this day. However, dating from the second half of the 18th Century there were a number of proposals for the creation of a national collection with the purchase of private collections, which had come onto the market. A number of such opportunities were lost. It was not until 1824 that the National Gallery collection came into being when the British Government bought 38 paintings from the heirs of John Julius Angerstein for £57,000.

Angerstein was a Russian-born émigré banker and patron of the arts based in London. His collection numbered 38 paintings, including works by Raphael and Hogarth’s Marriage à-la-mode series. After that initial purchase the Gallery was shaped mainly by its early directors and by private donations, which comprise two-thirds of the collection. The resulting collection is small in size compared with many European national galleries but it is encyclopaedic in scope.

With important works most major developments in Western painting from Giotto to Cézanne are represented. Its collection belongs to the public of the United Kingdom and entry to the main collection is free of charge. However specialist exhibitions are staged regularly where an entry fee is charged. When a specific artist is the subject of a exhibition, examples of his work are loaned by other galleries around the world.

The Gallery is among the most visited art museums in the world, after the Musée du Louvre in Paris, the British Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art and is a must for many overseas visitors to London.

For further information go to www.nationalgallery.org.uk/

For your London Vacation Rental go to www.chsrentals.com/london

6
Mar
British Museum
by Cedric

LONDON FOR FREE – THE BRITISH MUSEUM
Dedicated to human history, art, and culture, The British Museum is located in the Bloomsbury area of London. It has a permanent collection numbering some 8 million works and is among the largest and most comprehensive in existence. Exhibits originate from all continents and illustrate and document the story of human culture from its beginnings to the present.
Largely based on the collections of the physician and scientist Sir Hans Sloane, The British Museum was established in 1753. The museum first opened to the public on 15 January 1759 in Montagu House in Bloomsbury, which was on the site of the current museum building. Its growth over the following two and a half centuries was largely a result of British colonial expansion. There are many galleries dedicated to specific topics such as Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, the Roman Empire, Assyria, Mesopotamia etc. Some objects in the collection, most notably the Elgin Marbles from the Parthenon, are the objects of controversy and there are calls for their restitution to their countries of origin.
One of the most interesting exhibits is the Rosetta Stone, which is inscribed with a decree issued at Memphis, Egypt, in 196 BC on behalf of King Ptolemy V. The decree appears in three scripts: the upper text uses Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, the middle portion Demotic script, and the lowest Ancient Greek. Presenting essentially the same text in all three scripts, the stone provided the key to the modern understanding of Egyptian hieroglyphs. It was discovered by a French soldier in 1799 during Napoleon’s Egyptian campaign but fell into English hands in 1801 and has been exhibited at the British Museum since 1802.
The Greek Revival façade facing Great Russell Street is a characteristic building of Sir Robert Smirke, with 44 Ionic columns 45 ft (14 m) high, closely based on those of the temple of Athena Polias at Priene in Asia Minor. The construction commenced around the courtyard with the East Wing (The King’s Library) in 1823–1828, followed by the North Wing in 1833–1838. The pediment over the main entrance is decorated by sculptures by Sir Richard Westmacott depicting The Progress of Civilisation and consisting of fifteen allegorical figures, which were installed in 1852.
Until 1997, when the British Library previously centred on the Round Reading Room moved to a new site, the British Museum housed both the national museum of antiquities and the national library in the same building. The museum is a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, and as with all other national museums in the United Kingdom it charges no admission fee, except for loan exhibitions.

For further details go to www.britishmuseum.org/

For your London Vacation Rental go to www.chsrentals.com/london

28
Feb
Four old (and famous) London pubs
by Harley Nott

Four old (and famous) London pubs.

Pubs (short for “public houses”) are a British institution, there are over 7,000 of them in London. Here are details of four of the oldest and most famous.

Ye Ode Mitre

Built in 1546 for the servants of the Bishops of Ely, The Ye Olde Mitre is famous for having a cherry tree, (now supporting the front) that Queen Elizabeth I once danced around. Set in a part of London steeped in history, it’s near where William Wallace was hung, drawn and quartered at Smithfield, along with martyrs and traitors who were also killed nearby. More details and here.

The Lamb and Flag

When the building now known as The Lamb and Flag was built, in the mid-17th Century, Covent Garden was a relatively new urban area – a smart and desirable address. But a century later, the gentry had moved away and the area had become a red-light district. Records from 1772 show that The Lamb and Flag – or Coopers Arms as it was known then – was trading successfully, but the clientele was drawn from the lower levels of society.

A century later, and the venue was a popular location for unlicensed bare-knuckle fights. Great London pubs don’t get more historic than this! More details.

The Prospect of Whitby

The Prospect Of Whitby in Wapping is London’s oldest riverside pub dating back to 1520. The pub has an illustrious history. Regular visitors included the writers Charles Dickens, Samuel Pepys and Samuel Johnson – and the venue was known for its bare-knuckle and cock fights. It’s thought the pub’s strange name derives from the fact that a collier – a ship carrying coal – from Whitby in North Yorkshire used to moor regularly beside the pub. More details.

The Flask

The pub’s name – The Flask – comes from the tradition of selling flasks from the pub, which were then used to collect water from the springs around Highgate and nearby Hampstead heath. A natural spring to the rear of the pub may also have been used for this purpose.

Every good historic pub should have a haunting or two, and The Flask is no exception. You might run into the ghost of a Spanish barmaid who hanged herself in the pub’s cellar (now a seating area), over an unrequited love for the publican. Look out also for a chap in Cavalier uniform occasionally seen crossing the room in the main bar and vanishing into a pillar. And while he doesn’t haunt the pub (as far as we know) Dick Turpin is reputed to have spent some time in our wine store while on the run from the authorities. More details

If you’re looking for a truly English experience and a chance to meet and get to know some locals – try The Coach House.

20
Feb
A must read before you book your spring or summer holiday
by Harley Nott

A must read before you book your spring or summer holiday.

Ten reasons to come to London this summer, with Coach House Rentals.

1. Exchange rate. The British Pound is at its lowest rate ever against the US dollar (£/$ 1.23), and many other currencies, but you can be sure that this won’t last for ever.

2. Why use Coach House Rentals? Because we’ve been looking after our guests since 2001. We have many thousands of satisfied customers – read the testimonials with each property listing. Many have agreed to act as a reference – you just have to ask and we’ll put you in touch.

3. Excellent value for money. We haven’t increased our prices for 4 years, so our London vacation rentals are great value for money, especially for a party of 3 or more.

4. “Live like a local” in a hand-picked real home. You get a whole apartment or house to yourself (no sharing) and much more space and freedom to do what you want than in a cramped hotel room.

5. Flexible renting. Any day to any day with a minimum stay of 5, not 7, nights.

6. Real people to help you choose. You don’t need to rely just on a web listing. If you can’t find the answer to your question on our faqs, we are here to respond to your emailed queries or you can talk to us on the phone (+44 20 8355 3192).

7. Safe and secure booking process. When you enter your card details on our secure https payments page, the information goes directly to our in-house servers before being manually processed. There is no risk of being scammed – as does sometimes happen when using the mass market listing sites.

8. Concierge service. We can arrange a car to meet you at the airport. When you arrive at your rental all will be ready for you, we’ll be there to check you in, hand over the keys, show you how everything works and answer any questions you may have.

9. We have a 24/7 help line in case of any further questions or the unlikely event of any problems.

10. Useful “What’s On Guide and suggested itineraries and 151 Things to do in London.

The spring and summer is booking up fast so book now to get the vacation rental of your choice. Join the many 1,000’s of satisfied guests we’ve looked after since 2001.

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