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LONDON MUSIC HERITAGE

December 29th, 2018

“When words fail, music speaks.” (Hans Christian Anderson)

England’s influence over the world’s store of creative and performance arts dates back for centuries.  Particularly in providing the very best music and musicians.

Which means if you’re interested in any aspect of music heritage – or contemporary performances – London needs to top your list of must-see places.

Is there any other European city with as many high calibre music venues as London?

It’s why many of the music industry’s most celebrated artists (in all genres) make sure London is the first name on their tour itineraries.

Multitude of music experiences in London

Concert goers from across Europe and even the USA travel to stay in London to see first class performances.  This includes seeing their idols perform at impressive London music venues such as the O2 Arena, The Royal Albert Hall, Wembley Arena, Roundhouse, Alexandra Palace, Southbank Centre and Hammersmith Apollo.

You need to plan well ahead if you want to catch top music performances in London, as tickets for can sell within minutes.

However, perhaps your passion is for smaller London music venues. The sort of places you can sit back and soak up existing or emerging stars of jazz, folk, urban or experimental music.  If you stay in central London accommodation, you won’t be too far from a diverse range of live performance options.

Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club is just one of hundreds of places that London visitors can enjoy the very best of their chosen genre. 

In fact, London’s streets are packed with clubs and pubs offering live music of all types. You could hear the stars of the future perform, just before they get their big break!

London; home of music legends

The English capital is a hotbed for musical talent. It has provided a fertile starting point for some of the greatest music icons. This includes Phil Collins, David Bowie, Pink Floyd, Coldplay, Elton john, George Michael, The Spice Girls, Amy Winehouse, Queen, The Who, Status Quo, the Rolling Stones, Florence and the Machine and The Psychedelic Furs to name but a few.

This nurturing vibe also means London was home to ground breaking bands such as the Sex Pistols, The Jam, Motorhead, Iron Maiden and Led Zeppelin.

London’s music heritage

London’s ability to nurture and attract top musicians is not a new phenomenon!

You can see this for yourself, if you look out for London’s Blue Plaques – informative historical markers fixed to key buildings.

Some of the world’s best-known composers chose to base themselves in London, including Mozart, Handel and Mendelssohn.  Here, they could perform, compose or simply escape from wars elsewhere in Europe.

Renown composers and performers could also benefit from the patronage of the royal family and English nobility.

Book for a slice of music magic

How can you soak up London’s incredible music history? There are many tours on offer that take you right to the source of some of the city’s incredible arts heritage.

If you prefer to book a contemporary concert or explore smaller venues in London, the team at Merino Hospitality would be happy to guide and help you.

We want to hit just the right note, and make sure you book into your serviced London accommodation humming a happy tune!

Do you fancy a Spring break in the UK, relaxing in a central London property with all possible home comforts and a tasteful décor?

Merino still has limited slots available for April, May and early June 2019, but you will need to contact us soon.

To help you make your mind up, here are just a few of the activities, shows and attractions you could enjoy in London this Spring.

London in April

From 5th to the 15th, you could take in the city-wide London Games Festival. This is 12 days of game playing opportunities, talks and new product showcases!

You can research the details and links here: https://www.standard.co.uk/tech/london-games-festival-2019-dates-locations-reveal-a3953376.html

Love to run or watch running? The world-famous Virgin Money London Marathon takes place in the city centre on the 22nd April.

All the event details are here: https://www.virginmoneylondonmarathon.com/en-gb/


London in May

This month is when the London Motor Show is held. This is newly renamed “The London Motor & Tech Show”, as emerging technology is currently transforming the automotive industry.

The event takes place 16 to 19th May at ExCel. You can “dream, discover and drive “including getting the first glimpses of ground-breaking innovation in this sector.

Book a ticket here:  https://thelondonmotorshow.co.uk

 

London in June

If technology is your passion, from 10th to 16th June 2019 the London Tech Week events are unmissable.

London is the biggest innovation hub in Europe, and some of the world biggest tech names have HQs here.

This makes London Tech Week a huge draw, attracting over 55,000 global attendees. There is plenty of space though, as there are 250 different Tech Week activities across the city!

Research more information at: https://londontechweek.com/

 

Spring Shows in London

Whatever brings you to London in April, May or early June, you won’t be short of world class shows to see.  It is best to book your tickets (and central London holiday accommodation) early though!

Just two examples include:

Wicked – at the Apollo Victoria Theatre (due to end Saturday, May 25, 2019)

School of Rock – at the Gillian Lynne Theatre (continuing until Sunday, October 20, 2019)


Snooze, you lose

As London trade shows, performances and other events are so hugely popular, it’s important to plan well ahead.

For more information about booking central London accommodation for anytime in 2019, call the friendly team at Merino Hospitality. We can also guide you to more what’s on in London information.

Digital working has not completely replaced the need to travel to London for meetings, conferences and research expeditions.

The English capital city is home to the headquarters of some of the world’s best respected business names. This – and its vibrant technology and financial sectors – means London continues to attract many business travellers.

That’s on top of the 85 million people who come to London each year to attend its various specialist events. This includes game changing business conferences and trade shows at Olympia, ExCeL, the Business Design Centre and the Queen Elizabeth II Centre.

(Source: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/blog/uk-event-industry-in-numbers-ds00/)

Will this remain true post- Brexit?

London business tourism still substantial

A great deal of uncertainty surrounds Britain’s exit from the European Union. This includes how it will affect overseas visitor levels.  The biggest gauge for predicting this, is the patterns that have emerged since the Brexit vote.

Interestingly, figures from the UK Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows that there were a record number of overseas visitors in 2017. Proving that the Brexit issue has not reduced tourism in general.

Britain recorded an astounding 39.2 million visits by overseas residents in that 12-month period.

However, the number of business travellers in 2017 did dip, compared to the previous year.  It still left an impressive total of 8.8 million business trips to the UK though!

(source: https://buyingbusinesstravel.com/news/2629115-uk-business-trips-fell-2017)

It’s important to keep in mind that the fall in number of business travellers to the UK (and particularly London) has complex causes unrelated to Brexit. 

As mentioned earlier, technology has enabled companies to conduct virtual meetings, conferences and even trade shows online.

Also, Worldwide, organisations of all sizes have been clamping down on unnecessary trips, to control escalating company expenses in a tough economic climate.

Cost effective London business travel

The economic hardships of recent times have made “business tourists” – and their employers – a lot more cost conscious.

One of the best ways to keep business travel expenses down is to book into serviced accommodation, especially if you have multiple staff attending the meeting or event.

They can enjoy home comforts, in a smart, contemporary property, at prices that compare favourably with hotels.

The freedom to cook for themselves in well equipped kitchens also manages costs; and is preferable to many business people.

Service accommodation in London also helps when companies operate a pre-trip expenses approval process.  Contracts can be agreed with Merino Hospitality for regular or lengthy business accommodation in London.

Contact the helpful team at Merino for more help, and details of the best London serviced accommodation for business people.

London is magical year-round. However, for many visitors the peak time for a short break or longer holiday is Spring. Not least as it’s a period of mild weather, when the streets are relatively uncrowded and travel fares are affordable.

In Spring, the days get longer, and the average temperature climbs to a pleasant 11° – 15°C (52 – 59°F).

Spring showers are possible, but they don’t need to stop you from getting out and about to explore this amazing and ever-changing city.

See baby animals and other wildlife

One of the best activities to enjoy during a London Spring, is a visit to a nature reserve or city farm; where you can see little creatures such as lambs and chicks!

Or you could take a leisurely stroll through the Royal Parks in search of the rich local wildlife and herds of deer.

Spring brings incredible beauty to London’s abundant parks and green spaces. Lush green grass, a developing canopy of leaves, and scatterings of Spring blossoms.

Go off-grid in London this Spring

Some of London’s best locations, largely only known to locals, are perfect for “off grid” exploration.

Did you know London has a “Little Venice”? This area of riverside walks, pubs and eateries starts to come to life in Spring, with colourful canal boats and happy wanderers taking short cuts from nearby Regent’s Park or Camden.

You could also enjoy waterside landscape with a Spring stroll along the 40-mile-long Thames Path. This has both busy and secluded spots, including public beaches. You could take in The Prospect of Whitby, one of Charles Dickens’ favourite pubs!

The Thames Path is great for Spring cycle rides too.

Dodging the showers in style

Rainy days in London don’t need to put you off a Spring break either. London knows how important it is to provide a wealth of indoor entertainment and activities, beyond its all-weather tourist attractions and historical sights.

On top of the family shows London offers, there are a great selection of toy shops to browse. This list of child-friendly museums and discovery centres is enviable.

If you are a solo London visitor or couple, then why not spend hours in the city’s globally-famous museums and galleries this Spring?

You could even re-live your own youth with a visit to the V&A Museum of Childhood.

Rest and relax this Spring

Book into centrally located, beautifully appointed serviced accommodation in London, and some of the best Spring relaxation could come at the end of the day!

All the home comforts and aesthetic pleasures of a Merino Hospitality property will leave you with a “spring in your step” when you go home.

If you live in the parts of the USA or the Southern hemisphere – with year-round sunshine – the following may not apply to you!  However, for some people, winter can be a brutal and limiting time of the year.

European winters seem to get longer. If you’re not coping with snow and ice restricting movement, then you’re facing weeks of endless rain and grey skies.

The debilitating condition “seasonal affective disorder” (SAD), also known as winter depression, is on the rise.  It’s believed to affect 1 in 15 British people for example.   It’s so severe for approximately 6% of the UK population and around 2-8% of people in other higher latitude countries (including Canada, Denmark and Sweden), sufferers can’t even fulfil basic work or family commitments during winter.

Even the chirpiest of us can be affected by the winter blues too!

However, one of the scientifically proven ways to cope, is to make plans. And, take positive actions to get your self-ready for days with more sunlight and less moisture!

Here are some tips on surviving a European winter:

Get out and about

The temptation is to stay indoors and hibernate, preferably wrapped in a duvet near a source of heat!

That could be the worst thing to do, for long periods of time. Even in a European winter, available daylight is beneficial to your health. Breathing fresh air is a great stress reliever.  So, dress in layers and go for walks.

You could always book a short break to London and explore the city streets and winter activities to get O2 and Vitamin D. See what London has to offer in the Winter months.

At the very least, you could go into your garage, conservatory or greenhouse to plant bulbs in pots and planters, ready to put in the ground in Spring. Or, hang out bird feeders to keep your feathered friends well fed when food is scarce.

Get moving and eat well

The exercise to be gained from a brisk walk is also a great antidote to a low mood.  If you prefer your activities indoors, winter is a great time to join a gym.

Exercise releases key hormones that regulate our emotional responses to daily life.

It can also be the source of exciting plans to beat the winter blues, such getting ready for a January ski-trip or getting super fit and toned for a sunshine holiday.

Or, you could train to run a Spring Marathon! If you are wondering “when is the 2019 London Marathon, the answer is 28th April.

Pushing yourself with a winter exercise programme stops you piling on weight from winter comfort eating too.

We naturally crave starchy food in colder months.  This could partly be due to the fact complex carbohydrates help maintain levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood.

The emphasis is on complex carbs though, not fatty or sugary stodge.  Avoid the temptation hit the snacks and “munchies” on dark winter evenings.  Facing Spring with a body shape you are not happy with could mean that the winter blues carry right on to summer!

Instead, experiment with seasonal fruit and veg, and new recipes for comforting soups and other savouries.

Travel and Spring planning

This is not just about hopping on a plane and jetting off to the sun. A way to keep your spirits high during the winter is to research and book your next year’s vacation but also a series of short breaks too.

There is nothing quite like sitting by the fire when the days get darker, making exciting plans for the months ahead.

If you plan to visit London, make sure to include contacting Merino Hospitality to book your serviced accommodation in central London. Beautiful and homely temporary London accommodation that offers the warmest of welcomes! The price is “hot” too, if you book well ahead.

A little bit of what you fancy….

One of the most important ways to survive a European winter, is to be kind to yourself.

When the days are shorter and the temperatures are low, it’s an especially good time to add treats and fun activities to your busy week.

For example, you could shop for a new spring wardrobe to lift your spirits. What’s new for Spring 2019? Follow this link to see what fashion trendsetter Harpers Bazaar has to say on that topic.

Schedule a spa day or massage, to rehydrate your skin in winter, steam away the chills and ease up aches and pains. There are many European venues that now offer spa treatments for men as well as women, or joint sessions to relax as a twosome.

Or, you could book a last-minute break in London, in a discrete and lovely Merino apartment for a romantic few days with your loved one.

Having something to look forward to is vital to lifting your mood – at any time of the year. So, get in touch with the friendly team at Merino Hospitality. We can find the perfect spot for you to enjoy some rest and relaxation in London, to well and truly banish those winter blues!

If you’ve got the opportunity to move to London, then the most important piece of advice is to grab it with both hands!

Whether it’s work or a thirst for culture and heritage that’s bringing you to live in London, or returning to your roots, it’s a great step and you may never want to leave.

It’s a truly remarkable city, with many fascinating aspects and experiences for new residents of all ages and backgrounds. Plus, it has year-round things to do!

London is also a globally significant hub for many key industries, so potential career progression is assured.

Much of London’s charm and appeal can only be appreciated by prolonged periods of living here.  Mingling with the locals is also the only way to see how incredibly diverse and interesting Londoners are!

Whether relocating to London temporarily, or you’ve already decided to make it a permanent stay, like any move it can still be emotionally and physically draining.  Here’s some London relocation advice to make it a great deal easier.

Arrange good temporary accommodation

London (and its suburbs) offers an incredible variety of places to buy or rent property.

Of course, property is not cheap here, and even renting can be a stretch if your income is limited. But the benefits of being in this world renown city are many (which is why housing is so expensive).  And investment in property brings a great return, because demand for London housing is always buoyant.

Due to this choice and diversity, it’s important to take your time over house-hunting. The tendency is to rush in and accept the first available London apartment you can afford. Clearly you want somewhere perfect for you to live but also a location and property type that offers best return on investment.

It makes sense to feel as relaxed and “at home” as possible while you house hunt.

Merino Hospitality is a popular choice for people relocating to London. Our properties are the ideal temporary “home” in London. Especially for people with families. They provide a comfortable and convenient base to start your adventure.

From one of our serviced apartments or mews houses, you can “soak up” all that central London living offers. And find your perfect home without any pressure.

Exploration and research

Knowing London as a tourist and as a “local” are very different. Living here means seeing some of the wonderous and unforgettable aspects that are off grid for the average visitor.

London is a great city to walk around, as long as you break it down and don’t try to do too much in one day! Exploring on foot is a great way to get to know different locations in person.

London’s residential areas suit different preferences as well as different price ranges. The ambience or vibe can sometimes best be appreciated by hanging round in local cafes, restaurants, parks and high streets.

If you have a family, getting the right postcode can mean getting your children in to the best schools in London too. Taking time over research can make a big difference to their futures.

Then of course, you may also want to thoroughly check the transport arrangements for your preferred London locations.  Car parking is at a premium in city centre residential areas, and you may prefer to rely more on public transport as much as possible.

 If you are going to be living outside London and commuting in, you could well need to investigate timetables and reliability right across the week.

Live London from day one

Any move to a new city can be a lonely and overwhelming business.

As mentioned above, it’s recommended that you get “out and about” as quickly as possible and immerse yourself in the types of activities you prefer.   Staying in Merino’s central London serviced accommodation gives you chance to “live” in the city from day one.

London is vast and has its loud, brash, in your face sides to it.  You may crave that! Or, you may possibly want to find its abundant indoor and outdoor places for peace, quiet and reflection.

It’s all there waiting, and the team at Merino Hospitality would be happy to guide you in the right direction!

We can even help you to make sense of London’s extensive public transport system, to get you “living the life” that London offers as soon as possible.

So, is living in a big city lonely? Not if you get Merino in your team to help with your London relocation, We love welcoming new London residents!

Book now or lose out!

London attracts over 85 million people to its events each year, and well in excess of 15 million to its world renown theatres. In fact, visits to the theatre are on the increase. London’s top shows and performances saw a substantial upswing in box office takings between 2016 and last year.

(source for reference only: http://solt.co.uk/about-london-theatre/facts-and-figures/)

So, the message is, if you’re planning a visit to London for early 2019 you will need to firm up your plans and reserve those event or theatre tickets soon! It’s worth getting your arrangements sorted well in advance too, as you can enjoy “early bird” discounts at London’s premier events. And you can get the best seats in the West End theatres of course.

If it’s one thing London does brilliantly, it’s events, shows and concerts and the choice of venues and options is vast. There truly is something for every niche interest and preference.

These are just some of the Merino Hospitality team’s top tips for London events and performances in the coming months.

Lord Mayor’s Show – 10th November 2018

London may be modern and vibrant, but it also treasures is historical pomp and ceremony. This is perfectly illustrated by this elaborate annual parade, featuring military marching bands, dancers, horses and a range of other wonderful sights and sounds.  This is an 800-year traditional and practice makes perfect!

For more: https://lordmayorsshow.london/

 

EFG London Jazz Festival – 16th November to 25th November 2018

For best events for jazz fans, they don’t come much more appealing than this! It’s ten days of spectacular live performances and meet-and-greets, from “heavyweight musical talent from right across the globe”. Check out the amazing play list then book accommodation and tickets quickly!

For more: https://efglondonjazzfestival.org.uk/

 

London Short Film Festival – 11th – 20th January

If your interest in the creative arts in London leans towards superb film making, this event is diverse and ground breaking. It’s a chance to get “in the know” on emerging talent and see “cross arts programming” pieces of national and international significance.

For more: https://shortfilms.org.uk

 

Burns Night – 25th January

We slipped this one in as a reminder that for one night, you get to see the best that London has to offer and soak up authentic Scottish heritage. Burns Night celebrates Scottish poet Robert Burns’ birthday. It’s an incredible experience for literary buffs or anyone who loves to party! Features of the event include poetry readings of course, but also slap-up dinners, traditional Scottish dancing and plenty of chance to sample the best Scottish whisky and haggis in London’s top venues.

For more: https://absolutely.london/burns-night-in-london/

 

London Fashion Week Festival -18th February

Whether you are in the industry, an avid follower of fashion or just someone who loves to experience glitz, glamour and creative genius, you will want to know “when is London Fashion Week?”.

Understandably, it attracts people from across the globe.  There are imitators and similar events in other European cities, but there really is nothing quite like London Fashion Week for unparalleled access to this innovative and beguiling world. The festival is a showcase of the best British and international designers and trends, and it includes catwalks shows, designer shopping and industry talks.

For more: https://londonfashionweekfestival.com


Chinese New Year Celebrations, Trafalgar Square and Chinatown – 5th February

Another opportunity to soak up the heritage of a different nation, as London puts on the largest and most spectacular Chinese New Year celebrations outside Asia.

This includes a spectacular parade that all ages will love to watch. There are also many colourful free performances to savour and cultural activities to participate in.  For many people, the highlight is the traditional awe-inspiring pyrotechnics display.

The date of this changes each year.
For more: https://www.visitlondon.com/things-to-do/whats-on/chinese-new-year?ref=more-ideas

 

Ideal Home Show, Olympia – 22nd March to 7th April

The Ideal Home Show is the world’s longest running exhibition, founded back in 1908 and now a must-see for hundreds of thousands of London visitors. It has rightly won numerous awards and can take pride in its ability to showcase international innovations and ideas on everything from property renovations and improvements, the latest gadgets and gizmos, fashion, gifts and gardening!

For more: https://www.idealhomeshow.co.uk/

 

A few more ideas…

This is just a small selection of what’s on in London early 2019. You may also want to research:

MOVE IT – The U.K.’s Biggest Dance Event – 8th to 10th March

St Patrick’s Day Parade, Central London – 24th March

The CRUK Boat Races, River Thames (Putney to Mortlake) – 25th March


Theatre ideas

Here’s a quick round up of the superb shows available in London in the next few months.

 

42nd Street – Theatre Royal Drury Lane – to 5th January

Broadway’s Biggest Show, on the West End’s Biggest Stage!


The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – Piccadilly Theatre – to 23rd February

A limited season for this smash-hit National Theatre production, which has been enjoying a much-applauded UK and international tour.


Disney’s The Lion King – Lyceum Theatre – to 10th February

Disney’s musical triumph continues to enthral audiences young and not so young! Incredible staging and creative genius make this unforgettable.


Les Miserables – Queen’s Theatre – to 2nd March

Award winning production of Boublil and Schonberg’s Les Miserables. Officially the world’s longest running musical, it has reached its 30th Anniversary in London and still draws huge audiences.


The Phantom of the Opera – Her Majesty’s Theatre – to 2nd March

Still captivate audiences at Her Majesty’s Theatre in London’s West End, and worth and second performance if you’ve already seen this incredible theatrical masterpiece.

For London events and shows, book your homely Merino Hospitality serviced accommodation in Central London soon. The team is always happy to help guide and advise you on arrangements for your trip to London.

Check back with us soon for news of events and shows in Spring 2019 and beyond, so you can book early. Remember to follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to find out at a glance about all the exciting stuff London has to offer!

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London is truly a city for all seasons, and for Autumn and Winter breaks it’s unbeatable.

Unlike rival destinations across Continental Europe, London is not reliant on the weather. The uncertain nature of the British climate means London has always fully appreciated the importance of providing year-round, undercover entertainment, culture and attractions.

That’s not to say that you need to hibernate if you’re planning an Autumn or Winter trip to England’s globally admired capital city. There are too many events, exhibitions and festivals on offer, to keep you indoors for long at your London holiday or business accommodation.

Of course, for many visitors, London is the only place to do Christmas shopping.  You can beat the crowds on Oxford Street and other London hot spots, by shopping there in October. However, for many, the magic of London’s high street Christmas lights and window displays (mid- November to December) make it perfectly acceptable to rub shoulders with other excited shoppers.

The pre-Christmas opulence of world-famous stores such as Harrods make a winter trip to London something everyone should experience. And of course, leading toy retailer Hamleys and London’s more recently opened Harry Potter Shop are a big attraction. For all ages!

London is also a vibrant and exciting place for nightlife and none of that stops in the colder months. In fact, London has a myriad of new and established bars, restaurants and clubs, to tempt you to go out, if you visit late in the year.

 

No one does Christmas like London!

London’s world-class theatres continue year-round too. But one of the highlights in the winter season is the Royal Albert Hall’s December programme.  You will have plenty of choices to enjoy seasonal music, carols and dancing in this magnificent venue’s countdown to Christmas Day (https://www.royalalberthall.com/tickets/)

Some of the “stars” you can see at night in London in winter are famous celebrities treading the boards in traditional British pantomimes. This is just one of the many ways London excels in providing an unforgettable family Christmas break.

The major department stores craft beautiful Santa’s Grottos that can be a “once in a lifetime experience” for children from across the world.   Or, you could opt for London Zoo’s truly amazing Father Christmas evenings, that take place in a blaze of fairy lights while the animals snooze in their nearby enclosures (https://www.zsl.org/zsl-london-zoo/whats-on/christmas-at-zsl-london-zoo).

The whole family could spend many happy hours browsing London’s glorious Christmas Markets too.  As mentioned above, The British know that a winter retail experience is no fun in bad weather, so the Barbican and Leadenhall Christmas Markets are undercover!

The Hyde Park Winter Wonderland is a very popular London attraction in Winter (http://hydeparkwinterwonderland.com/). The Southbank Centre Wintertime Festival (https://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/whats-on/festivals-series/winter)  is free, and features a leisurely stroll passed beautifully decorated buildings, seasonal entertainment and jaunty chalets selling crafts and gifts. Your visit should include relaxing in a riverside bar to enjoy a hot winter drink.

If you’re lucky enough to visit London in December, don’t forget to go to see Trafalgar Square’s awe-inspiring Christmas tree.  Another unmissable seasonal splendour is the iconic ice rink at Somerset House.  The latter is provided in partnership with the world-famous Fortnum and Mason and includes “club nights” when you can ice skate and dance to top name DJs. (https://www.somersethouse.org.uk/whats-on/skate-somerset-house)

 

Plenty more for all tastes and preferences

London offers something for all interests.  If the sparkle and magic of Christmas is not what you’re looking for on your Autumn or Winter UK break, there are plenty of alternatives.  For example, you could go on a tour of London’s haunted pubs. It’s one a many London walking tours that are not weather-dependent. (https://www.london-walking-tours.co.uk/the-haunted-london-pub-walk.htm)

You could also go and see Hogwarts in the Snow, an indoor attraction at the increasingly popular Warner Bros. Studio Tour London “The Making of Harry Potter”. (https://www.wbstudiotour.co.uk/hogwarts-in-the-snow-2018)

Choose centrally located London accommodation, and you are a short taxi journey or brisk walk away from Covent Garden which is especially enchanting at this time of year. It becomes a blaze of artistic creativity after the Lights Switch on in mid-November.

 

Quieter London winter pastimes

For the hardy souls and those who love to witness the changing seasons, London’s great outdoors are still “great” in Autumn and Winter. You’ll have plenty of choice to find the perfect place for quiet reflection and fresh air. London’s growing array of stunning public art provides great photography opportunities against autumn and winter landscapes too.

You could get warmly dressed and explore London’s abundant parks and greenspaces on foot.  Or, in Richmond Park you can enjoy the view from under a blanket during a winter horse draw carriage ride.

In the evenings, London’s roof top bars make the most of their amazing views by providing blankets, heaters and hot toddies, for those who want a romantic cuddle. Before you once more return to your beautifully appointed Merino London serviced residence for more discrete, relaxing alone time.

Living under the pressure of family and work commitments can leave us with very little time or opportunity to check in with our older children and teenagers as often as we would like.

One shocking report found that only 25% of older children talk to parents more than once a week about something that matters (Child of Our Time campaign).

Your kids are more self-sufficient and independent as they get older, so it can be a relief that they have started to rely less on you. However, you only need to read the headlines to know that young people and mental health have become inextricably linked worldwide. Especially due an endemic rise in bullying in schools and online.

The insidious nature of cyber bullying makes it even hard for parents, teachers and other grownups to detect and protect against. Unlike physical abuse, bullying involving verbal attacks can leave few external warning signs for parents to pick up on.

Cyber bullying is depressingly common. Around 42% of children experience online abuse, while 35% receive threats online.

Verbal attacks can more harmful long term, leaving young people with crippling self-worth and self-esteem issues that affect their ability to fully access education and social integration.

Taking a break from bullying environment

The good news is that your holiday – or taking them on a business trip – may be the perfect time to tackle some of the tougher issues with them.

You will have the time to spend relaxing and re-engaging with your young person, and they will have much needed opportunity to put some distance between them and their tormentors. Especially if you can invest your full attention in them on holiday and find ways to distract them from electronic gadgets!

When they are little, the fun and games you have with your children on holiday builds their self-esteem – the scientific term is attachment play. It bonds them with you and gives them safe opportunities to explore the world and their own abilities.

The same could easily be said of older children and teenagers. To have your full attention – and clear signs that you are delighted to be in their company – relaxes them. It provides an opportunity to open up, without feeling they are “bothering you”.

It’s well documented that holidays make us feel good – it’s why we take them! That has a physiological as well as psychological basis. Our brain releases important hormones when we relax and enjoy ourselves, including one called oxytocin, which is normally stored well away in our “inner medical cabinet”.

Letting your young person get space to breath, relax and enjoy a rush of positive hormones can only be a good thing! And a platform on which to build a less stressful discussion of difficult subjects.

Let’s face it, sitting your teenager down and firing questions at them at home is likely to lead to an explosion of emotion, rather than a level-headed discussion. A bullied teen may feel even more under attack!

Child mental health experts often engage their patients though play – for teenagers this could mean sharing an electronic games console as they chat.

Letting your young person do an enjoyable activity (preferable outdoors) while you gently probe their mental wellbeing makes common sense. They are far more likely to let their guard down in that situation.

Great “go to” source for bullying chats

You can also use the additional time you have on holiday or travelling to introduce your young person to anti-bullying media materials to see if you can get a conversation started.

This could include the excellent songs and speeches of popstar and anti-bullying advocate Meredith O’Connor. Older kids may remember her from acting roles with Disney and Teen Nick too.

 

Meredith had her nose broken by bullies when she was a child. She didn’t feel able to tell her parents for fear of further reprisals.   The pop star and former model also felt somehow responsible for the way she was being treated and therefore repressed the experience.

Not only is Meredith a great “go to source” for discussions on the topic of bullying, she also represents the perfect illustration of how “distance” can help add clarity and perspective to traumas and problems. It was only when she became famous that she realised how important it is to tackle bullying openly and decisively.

Meredith has contributed a great deal of herself into her role as a leading advocate against bullying and raising awareness of mental health for children around the world.   For more information about Meredith and the great work she is doing globally, please take a minute to watch her UN Speech or TEDx talk.

Merino is a family run business, so we understand how difficult it can be to broach these subjects with children of any age.  For your children and young adults, bullying admissions could well start from the “distance” provided by a much-needed holiday break with you.

 

Serviced accommodation in London has become an increasing popular alternative to staying in hotels. In fact, it’s the fastest growing sector within the hospitality industry.

The latest figures from the GSAIR estimates there are now in excess of 1,022,984 serviced apartments worldwide (with a further 73,563 corporate housing units) in more than 13,164 locations. This compares to 826,759 apartments (with 70,300 corporate housing units) in 10,777 locations two years ago. These figures represent a significant increase in available inventory; 23.7 per cent growth compared to 10.5 per cent growth as published in the 6th edition.

But why is that?

Merino Hospitality decided to throw the spotlight on the whole topic of holiday and business accommodation choices. In particular, the pros and cons of hotel stays.

In a follow-up blog later this summer, we will look at the behaviour of hotel guests and some of the crazy and bizarre things that vacationers and business travellers get up to.

How hotels are trying to compete

The hotel industry has recognised that increasingly visitors opt for the home comforts, flexibility and privacy of serviced accommodation. This means that the big players are determined to wow them back, going all out to try to tempt people to book with them.

Ploys include creating uber chic lobbies and other public areas, adding a wide range of amenities in-house from masseuses to beauty stylists, and making dining experiences as memorable as possible.  While this is great for some with great (chic) lobbies, comes increased cost for the guest.

Another hotel development to impress guests, is the appearance of bedding menus! Yes really. You get a list of pillow and sheet options to choose from, including Egyptian cotton, linen or silk, and goose or duck down. Or how about pillows infused with lavender or camomile, or filled with water to regulate temperature?

However, for many visitors to London, having even more decisions to make is not always welcome!

Or, how about a bath butler? Some top hotels have introduced these to help guests create the perfect bathing experience. They also pass you a towel or robe when you have finished.  Apparently, some modern hotel guests are not interested in turning on their own taps and don’t mind strangers lurking while they bathe!

What are the best features of standard hotels?

To be honest, sometimes it’s the simple things that make hotel stays attractive.

In one survey by one holiday company, guests were asked to rate what they most appreciated from a hotel.

The most popular benefit on the list, was a free breakfast. Second was having a restaurant on site in general, and third was free wi-fi.

(Of course, the latter two are mute points for Merino’s many loyal guests, who know they get wi-fi as standard. And that they can prepare their own food or have meals delivered very easily.)

Next on the league table of hotel benefits, was parking and a 24-hour concierge desk. Swimming pools and bars also appeared in the top ten of things guests liked about hotel stays. Strangely free tea or coffee also made the list!

Interesting, the survey took this further and asked about in-room preferences. Guests put free Wi-Fi as the best hotel feature, followed by a shower, ample space, TV, air conditioning and then free tea and coffee. Having your room cleaned for you, premium bedding and a quality mattress also made the list.

Can serviced accommodation compete?

In case you didn’t guess, most of those things are true for serviced accommodation too, though you also get considerable additional space! On average, around 30% more room to relax in than hotel bedrooms offer.

Service apartments also generally work out a great deal more cost effective. Particularly as you enjoy well equipped kitchens, where you can prepare your own meal choices from the wonderful local produce available (for delivery) in London.  If you want to eat-in the rise of restaurant delivery services throughout London means that you can order from literally any restaurant.

For companies booking staff or business contacts into London accommodation, serviced apartments and houses can save them a huge amount over the course of a year.   They also provide a more amenable environment that is much closer to working from ‘home’.

In 2016, UK serviced apartments enjoyed 81% occupancy, which meant they outperformed hotel rooms (77.2%) There’s every reason to believe that this gap grew last year and will continue to expand in 2018.

So, I guess those free breakfasts (which you pay for in the price of your hotel anyway) are not such a big draw after all!!

What people hate about hotels

Other surveys have looked at what people DON’T like about staying in hotels.

One of the biggest complaints from experts in the industry may surprise you. Towel art! Yes really. Those swans and fans are considered by hospitality pundits to be way over the top. Fluffy, clean and luxurious towels should be placed in bathrooms, not screwed up to make cheesy sculptures.

The hospitality experts have also condemned the practice of bathtubs in bedrooms which creates unwelcome moisture and a lack of privacy.  Another complaint is the ancient practice of providing trouser presses. Who actually uses those?

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