London is home and has been for quite some time now and so it’s safe to say that from time to time, as amazing as the city is, we sometimes take it for granted. The only time I actually seem to make an effort to see the city is when I have guests visiting, in which case, I end up doing all the touristy attractions and fall in love with my city all over again.

Being A Tourist In My Own City - London!

With the Christmas holidays over and no plans to have any guests visiting, I recently found a new reason to play tourist in my own city. That reason? Well scroll down further to see why…

The thing is, we’d been away travelling so much the last few months that it feels like I’ve not spent as much time in London so I was looking forward to just ambling around the city and taking in all the sights again…

…like the walk around More London (which despite its confusing name is actually a place)…

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…which leads you up to good old Tower Bridge!

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The Mayor of London’s office… which is just an added bonus to Tower Bridge really cos let’s face it, we all come here to see the Bridge!

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“The City”…

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The Tower of London (which reminds me, it’s high time I visited it properly again, I haven’t been in over 10 years!)

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The twinkly lights of Hays Galleria.

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The London Eye!

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The Houses of Parliament, Westminster (generally) and Big Ben!

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The walk through London South Bank…

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St Paul’s Cathedral…

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… and the Millennium bridge

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HOW WE CAME ABOUT BEING TOURISTS IN LONDON

Seeing as we spend quite a lot of time lately travelling, I’ve become obsessed with hotel rooms. I think all the hunting around for ‘the right hotel’ has somehow managed to evolve into a full blown obsession and I’m happy about it. Finding the right place always makes me so happy so it’s an effort in the right direction I reckon but I digress…

So, we’ve all heard of Holiday Inn (along with the wider Intercontinental Hotels) and more than likely, at some point, we’ve all stayed in one or the other. For instance, The Holiday Inn Expresses were a solid staple in our 3 week American road trip along with The Bellagio (honourable mention for Vegas), a couple of boutique hotels, an Airbnb or two and a whole host of others. It fits perfectly with our Save and Splurge travel philosophy and always came with breakfast which we most certainly make the most of!

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Well, the Holiday Inn Express the “Next Generation” of hotels which have been built based on a whole range of intelligent information from customers (you and I), research teams and couple with the design experience used in first class travel cabins on airplanes so it’s safe to say our curiosity was more than a little piqued when we were asked to come check it out for ourselves.

The first thing that struck me was how colourful and bright it all was! I’m a huge fan of colours so I was definitely in my element within minutes of arriving.

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I side-glanced at the rather cool looking bar with a promise to be back  to test it our properly (for research purposes, of course)…

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Eventually, we headed up to our rooms (both on the same floor) which, I was pleased to see, had the airy, colourful feel too.

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After travelling across different countries with so many different adaptors required to charge my devices, I can’t reiterate enough how big a deal this bedside USB charging slots are. (I actually managed to get a couple of Universal Adaptors and still get caught out on more than one destination we visited so a little detail like this, goes a very long way.)

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As nice and colourful as the hotel room was, the first few minutes I spent there, as great as they were, still left me with the feeling of being in a hotel. Then, I reached for the TV remote and did the mandatory flicking through the channels. Except of course, the TVs here are Smart TVs and so I could watch my Netflix directly from the TV (Kimmy Schmidt marathon sessions anyone?). I could even stream movies from my phone onto the TV!

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The whole Smart TV thing might sound like a run-of-the-mill fact but lately (and by ‘lately’, I mean over the last 5 years), I made the move from watching TV in its traditional form to watching TV on demand.

Even when I watch UK TV channels, it tends to be Catch-Up or On-Demand services so having access to this, made me feel right at home. It’s funny how there’s just that one thing (like a song, a smell or even a taste) that can trigger off visceral reactions in you. As vapid as this might make me sound, my thing right here was TV! 🙂

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Flicking through YouTube, Lloyd ‘happened upon’ Adele’s Hello video…

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…which he then proceeded to choreograph from start to finish! Complete with ‘blue steel’ looks, finger gesturing and what he’d like to refer to as singing… (his caterwauling is almost guaranteed to make your ears bleed).

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Thankfully, it was almost dinner time though I have to ‘fess up – I just wasn’t willing to leave the warmth of the hotel in search of food outside!

There were lots of options outside but the temperature in London had dipped considerably so we opted to stay in the hotel for pizzas (which was sooooo doughy – just the way I love it) accompanied with salted caramel ice creams and wine (told you I had to ‘research’ the bar).

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By the time, I was done with dinner, I was already a fan of the whole Next Generation concept the Holiday Inn Express have on offer. Even the business centre at the hotel is reduced to tablets like this!

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This Next Generation concept (and what I like about it) is the fact that it isn’t trying to revolutionise the whole hotels concept at all. You still get the stuff you’d expect from a hotel – beds, showers, TVs… etc It is however changing the industry and proving that your voice (and mine) as customers matter by actually giving us stuff that we want and need from hotels as conveniently as possible without extra stuff that we neither need nor want.

It’s also making technology work for you – for instance, like the way you would select seats on a flight, you can select your hotel room and it’s just those little things that make me go – YES!

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Ice cream also helps too! 😉


Hand Luggage Only srprsme competition


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  • MissLilly

    Every time im in the city i just feel lucky to live (and now work!) in such a gorgeous city. I enjoy the sunrise on the train and i stop to marvel at places like the view from Waterloo bridge. Love all your photos especially Lloyd singing! Can i hear that? 🙂

    • HandLuggageOnly

      We feel exactly the same!!! London is such a magical place. I love the moments when you walk around the city… then all of a sudden, you have a beautiful reminder of where you are. I get that feeling every time I pass Buckingham Palace.

      Awwww ,thanks about the photos! I was having so much fun singing along – though, I can’t hold a tune to save my life! Haha!

      Lloyd x

  • Loved this post and the photos! My favourite place in London is definitely South Bank; there’s always some great exhibitions on at the South Bank Centre when I’ve been down in London. I love being a tourist in my own city of Manchester! It’s so fun going out and actually wanting to discover new parts of the city you grew up near:-)
    Sarah x
    http://www.saraheliza.co.uk/

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Thanks so much Sarah! I totally agree with you and I think by going to explore your own city offers you new perspectives on how amazing the place is.

      I LOVE Manchester! It’s such a vibrant city and has so much character – we can’t wait to go back!

      Lloyd x

  • Ahaa llyod singing to hello is epic! Love the London eye pic so much I need to go find that spot – I didn’t know London can be this beautiful at night I need to go out to Southbank area more 🙂

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Haha! Thanks Kay! Yes!!! South Bank for coffee!!! 🙂

      How are things?

      Lloyd 🙂

      • I’m doing very well thank you!! How are you guys hope you guys are cured from jetlag 🙂
        I don’t know if my message went through please check your fb massage let’s meet up soon !

        Kay

        • HandLuggageOnly

          Yay! We just saw your message on FB… did you get our reply 🙂

          • Yep Yaya replied yesterday! 😀 Now waiting for you guys to confirm the date next week 🙂

  • London is so wonderful. I hope to get back soon!!

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Yay! You’ll have to let us know if you do plan a trip back to London! 🙂

  • What a great post! And these photos are incredible! One of my goals this year is to see more of my own country (Canada)! It is pretty crazy to see how much we don’t know or never see of where we are from and before I see more of the world, I want to see more of where I am from 🙂
    Take care,
    C | http://atlantic-c.blogspot.ca/

    • HandLuggageOnly

      It’s such a great philosophy Charlotte – thank you for sharing! You’re so right, there’s so many things right on our doorstep… it can be easy to overlook them!

      Lloyd & Yaya x

  • i love the night photos you took! ive been meaning to be more of a tourist in my city of chicago, thank you for inspiring me =o)

    http://dreamofadventures.blogspot.com/

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Awwww thanks so much! Chicago is such a beautiful city! I haven’t been for like 10 years, but I remember how amazing the music was and how pretty the cityscape is!

      Can’t wait to go back!

      xx

  • Jealous!! I really want to move to London once I graduated!! And love your performance of Adele 😉 haha!

    Kind regards,

    Sarah from a passport can get you everywhere

    • HandLuggageOnly

      haha! Thanks so much Sarah – it was a rather impromptu performance, but when Adele asks for a duet – who am I to say no?!? 😉

      Lloyd x

  • LOVING the Adele choreographed pictures.
    Do you know what? I complain and complain about living in London, all the time, mostly because of the OTT rent & living costs, but honestly it’s one of my favorite cities and there is so much to do here. I love it. And reading this post, with these gorgeous photos makes me fall even more inlove with it.
    I actually wrote a post about loving London too <3

    x tink jayne x
    allabouttink.co.uk

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Thanks so much Jayne.. .yeh Adele was a total pro to sing with 😉 hahaha!

      Totally agree about London – It can be easy to lose sight of how amazing our city is, especially when money seems to just flow out of your pockets.

      Thanks for sharing your post too Jayne – I LOVED your last point!!! London really is such a diverse and accepting city – I feel very fortunate to live in a place that embraces difference, challenges the status quo and offers opportunities to be and do whatever you want!

      Lloyd x

  • LOVE the photos! I booked the flights&hotel for my Stockholm trip in April and I’m still deliberating on my trip to London. I haven’t been since 2013 so the visit is long overdue but it’s so expensive. Every year I visit it it’s more expensive.:( I need to find a nice hotel but not too expensive. This one looks awesome but it might be pricey?

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Stockholm! Ah!!! I can’t wait to read your blog post on it. We’re wanting to head to Stockholm this year (never been… have no idea why). We’ll be needing lots of advice from you!

      Oh yes, I know what you mean about London – it can be very pricey, but there are ways you can keep certain costs lower. If you ever need any help with your trip just bing us a little message – happy to help in any way we can!

      P.S. The hotel ranges between £65-£70 a night (including breakfast) for the room. 🙂

      Lloyd x

      • well, that’s a good price for such a nice hotel:) I’ll check it out closer and perhaps I’ll book it! Thanks for the offer, you never know,I might take you up on it!:)

        • HandLuggageOnly

          Yay! Like we said… any time xx

  • Ursa

    Wonderful photos. I’m missing London so much, just today I’ve been thinking of booking some tickets for May. Thanks for the great post!
    Ursa from The Cheerful Wanderer

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Thanks so much Ursa. It’s a great city isn’t it (I know we’re biased) hahaha!

      It would be wonderful to read more about your time in London too.

      Lloyd x

  • Stunning photos guys!!! I do adore a staycation…

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Ah! Thanks so much Emma! London is great isn’t it… It’s so nice to sometimes explore what’s on your doorstep!

      Lloyd x

  • Hahaha the photos of Lloyd smizing with Adele. Amazing.
    xx http://www.nuunablog.com

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Haha! It just had to be done… As soon as she sings I seam to break out my dad dance and awful singing… Haha! 🙂

      Lloyd xx

  • Jess Chen

    Great photos! I’m visiting this spring and am wondering how you booked this hotel? I googled Holiday Inn and next generation hotels but only got articles and regular holiday inns. :/

    • HandLuggageOnly

      You can book it through the Holiday Inn website itself – http://hiexlondonealing.com/ – hopefully this might help Jess?

      Lloyd & Yaya xx