A weekend in London

This is a side of London that I hadn’t seen or experienced before.

I started the weekend by visiting a few of the most common tourist spots in the city as I really wanted to feel like I was in London after working there for a few days.

As usual, I checked into my hotel and as soon as they took my luggage I ventured out the door to walk all over the place. And typically this is something that I do as soon as I get to a new city, I have to walk around and see a couple of landmarks so reality sinks in that I’m in a new place. This time I stayed at the Ace Hotel on Shoreditch street and as expected from the reviews online it was a very hip, trendy hotel with an industrial feel, kind of a co-shared working space and the rooms are decorated in a very unique, retro and yet super comfortable way. Attention to detail was impeccable.

If this is your first time in London you have to do the tourist historic spots for sure, I’ll defer to one of my first blogs back in 2012. This time I went beyond and walked around the Shoreditch neighborhood. One of my goals for this trip was to see The Shard, as it was in the middle of construction when I last visited. It didn’t let me down. Very cool, modern and sophisticated building with great views of the city, I recommend getting up there at night as the city lights were amazing. Check out the 52nd floor where Shangri-La Hotel has a residency with a very cozy bar overlooking the Thames river and the city. Probably the best cocktails that I’ve seen and tasted in years.

London seemed to have changed, to a very modern and revolutionary place. I walked many miles including the Aldgate neighborhood where construction cranes are placed everywhere, building new modern highrises in between the new buildings in the area. A lot of glass elements, architecture is very progressive and it’s eye candy for those interested in architecture.

In the middle of the area you can still find more local spots, like the Aldgate outdoor market and shops, which includes an outdoor street food market and temporary shops where locals sell art, fabrics, clothes, gifts, handcrafts. The area also includes older constructions and brick bridges and walls which makes it feel like you’re back in Brooklyn, with trendy shops, bars, murals, graffiti. Very urban, very local.

I stumbled upon Carnaby Street and what a surprise that was for me. Not only the shops are the best but the ambience and cool people are all over the place. It’s hip, kind of like a Soho in NYC but in London. I’d liked spending more time here at the restaurants and bars but my day was almost over by the time I got there. Next time it will be a spot to check out more in detail and shop for sure.

I was pleasantly surprised to see the gay life in London is much better than many other global cities, including San Francisco. Because the trendy Soho neighborhood is going through some type of gentrification and the gay bars are being pushed out, you can now find bars on the East and South side of the city so don’t get stuck in Soho and venture out to cool gay bars. Among the ones that I visited and were recommended by the locals are: Dalston Supermarket, Glory and XXL.

It was really hard for me to pick a hotel this time as there are so many options in so many neighborhoods and the ones that I recommend considering are Citizen M hotel, Shangri-La, Ace Hotel.

What a weekend it was, very fast and I got to walk so many miles discovering the new city. Completely impressed and I can say this is a place that I always enjoy going back to. I’m sure it will keep changing by the minute.
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