One of the best things to do on a vacation is experience at least some of it like those who live there. Whenever I travel, I try to ask cab drivers, waiters, and retail clerks for recommendations on food and things to do. When I recently went to London, I asked the concierge at my hotel, the Waldorf Hilton Hotel London, for recommendations on experiencing London like a true Londoner. Unsurprisingly Scott Williams, the concierge, had some advice and some reservations.
London is an amazing city where you'll definitely have a lot of fun, whether you're a total tourist or you venture beyond the obvious and try something completely new.
"If I tell you all the good spots, then they aren't sacred for locals anymore," he shared with me. And you know what, he's right. And while he did give me a couple great tips to keep for myself, he also gave me even more to share with our readers.
I contacted the hotel before my visit to give the concierge a heads-up that I wanted a plan going in, and that's something the concierge recommends you do so they can provide you with a well-researched and complete plan for your visit. I told Scott I had a couple days in the city and I wanted to experience it as a tourist as well as a local. When I arrived in London, he had a list of places to eat, things to do, and where to go all curated for me.
His advice to me, beyond seeing these true London places, was to make sure to not cut myself short on seeing the touristy areas. "You should experience the history here; there are so many things to see," he told me. "You could go down to Westminster, see that, take a boat out to Greenwich and see that, and you can fill a whole day." And while yes it may be tourist attractions, it's still beautiful London that should not be missed.
In the end, I spent five days in London shopping at some hidden local boutiques as well as huge department stores, eating fish and chips with the best of them, and forever looking in the wrong direction before crossing the road as a pedestrian. I was absolutely a tourist attempting to look like a local, and I felt like I achieved moderate success when someone stopped me to ask me for directions. She was probably just really lost and desperate, but I like to think it was because I looked like I knew what I was doing.
At any rate, take this as a tourist's best guess at how to be a local in a city you don't actually live in. No matter what, London is an amazing city where you'll definitely have a lot of fun, whether you're a total tourist or you venture beyond the obvious and try something completely new.