One of HFS London’s newest members of the homestay team, David, shares his personal experiences of moving to London, an amazing city made of many towns:
Before I moved to London, even the thought of living in the ‘big smoke’ made me feel a bit nauseous. The sheer size (11, 12, 14 million or so habitants) could put off the most hardened adrenaline junkie. The Tube, rush-hour rampage, the £5-a-Pint, the power-walking pace, and don’t even get me started on accommodation prices, all valid concerns when moving to a world renowned metropolis like London.
However, when I did manage to bight the bullet and plunge myself in the deep-end (the East-end), London appeared to be pleasantly colloquial, even manageable. From all that fatherly wisdom whilst growing up, the old man had got one thing right – “London…pfff…It’s not big; it’s just a bunch of small towns clumped together”. It fact, he was spot on! Each borough usually has a ‘town centre’ with all the daily amenities and even offers more special occasion outings such as cinema’s, theatres, and museums! Paradoxically, London cravers searching for that iconic London lifestyle (Big Ben and all that) often create a love affair with their own ‘town’ rarely stepping across borough boundaries.
The more I ventured out into unchartered territory, the more I noticed the distinctive attraction which each borough held (or ‘towns’ as I like to call them). From cosy ‘Cotswold style’ villages to the bizarre and wondrous realms of Camden town, London caters for all tastes.
Here’s the ins-and-out of four of my personal favourite London ‘towns’:
Walking down the crowded high street, a studded leather jacket Mohican offers you a flyer for a nearby tattoo parlour. We must be in Camden town, the very breeding ground for the British punk movement and now synonymous with all things ‘rock and roll’. The hustle and bustle of Camden’s ‘Young Ones’ can rejuvenate the oldest guns and roses fans and tastefully exhibits a range of exceptionally interesting characters. It’s known for its under-bridge markets hosting an array of psychedelic, cultural and world products (as well as the tourist junk).
A modern atmosphere the exudes a new-world, corporate aura. Invaded by ‘the Suits’ a while back, it’s characterised by immaculate lawns and fountains, new-wave coffee shops galore and high rise ‘American-style’ skyscrapers. This ‘town’ reflects a stark contrast from London’s historical heritage.
Shoreditch, once a typical east London squalor, it has become a ‘place to be’ ‘town’ for young, creative lefties, eager to become an instagram facebook post of a place in transition. Due to its industrial history, Shoreditch offers a blank canvas for many arty bars and impressive street art murals. This is the one place where wearing a green velvet coat, skin-tight jeans and a top hat (perhaps with a feather attached) attracts the eye in envy rather than disgust. Order of the day – industrial warehouse basements and city bike hipsters.
The clue’s in the name. An elegant and down-tempo ‘town’ with a penchant for food-fanatics, organic enthusiast and art-house cinema goers. With an eclectic range of award-winning restaurants and suave wine bars, it certainly attracts the young professional crowd wanting to get away from the ‘photo-snapping Japanese tourist’ areas of London. Walking down Upper Street will undoubtedly excite taste buds and quench alcoholic thirsts.
About HFS London
HFS London specialises in providing homestay accommodation for international students, tourists and visitors to London. If you are interested in staying with a host family for your stay in London, then please do explore our website some more. It will give you an idea of accommodation options we offer, as well as info on how to book your London homestay.
Similarly, if you are a Londoner living in Canden, Canary Wharf, Shoreditch, Angel or anywhere in London zones 1-4, and are thinking about renting out a spare room to paying guests, then please do get in touch to find out more about our service.