If you’re English, London tends to fall into one of two categories. It’s either the greatest city in the United Kingdom, and you can’t imagine why anyone would live anywhere else, or it’s a crowded nightmare, full of people who won’t stop going on about how amazing it is, even as they’re stuffed into someone’s armpit at rush hour.
I definitely used to fall into the latter camp. London was a big, noisy city, and everyone I knew who lived there was practically intolerable in the way they sang it’s praises. Other cities in the UK were seen as quaint provincial backwaters. To truly exist in the UK, the opinion was, one had to live in London.
Of course, then I moved to London, lived there for a couple of years, and became one of those annoying people.
The thing is, London is pretty awesome. It has so much going on. The transport infrastructure is amazing. If you live centrally, you can walk nearly everywhere. There are countless restaurants, theatres, pubs in which to be entertained and fed, huge green spaces to wander, and more attractions to visit than in any other city in the UK.
So yes, I am definitely a London convert.
Which is why, when Homestay offered us the opportunity to spend a few days in London as part of our Homestay ambassadorship, naturally I leapt at it. Jess has only visited London for two short stays, and despite living there for a couple of years, there’s still a heck of a lot that I’ve not yet seen, including such popular attractions as Windsor Castle. So to London we went.
We picked a flat with Jo, because the location was absolutely perfect, and it came with cats. Instant win.
10 minutes walk from London Kings Cross, and a minute from the nearest tube stop, we were perfectly placed to explore London. Which we did, most thoroughly, and I’ve written a couple of posts for the Homestay blog detailing just some of the places we visited during our five night stay.
Let me talk about the experience with Jo, which, spoiler alert, was pretty fantastic.
First, we’d arranged a time to arrive at her apartment, but we ended up running late due to a late running train. We let Jo know by text, to be treated to a cheery “no problem”. In the end we were only around 40 minutes late, but it was still nice to know it was all good.
When we did arrive, after a ten minute walk from Kings Cross train station, Jo welcomed us in to her apartment. It felt incredibly welcoming and homely, with a lovely smell of incense, and ethnic style decorations. The flat, split across two levels, had a lovely large living area that led to a wonderful plant-filled balcony area.
Upstairs, there were two bedrooms – our bedroom, and Jo’s. Then there was a separate bathroom (with bathtub, to Jess’s delight), and a toilet. These are shared by guests and Jo, which was never an issue during our stay.
Jo offered us a hot drink on arrival, which we thankfully accepted, and we sat and chatted for a while. Jo’s daughter was also visiting from university, and it was lovely to meet her as well. Of course, Jess was most interested in the cats, of which there were three. Two of these three were somewhat antisocial, and we saw them incredibly briefly as they flitted from sight, but thankfully the third cat was incredibly friendly, so Jess was able to pet him as much as she wanted. Which was quite a lot.
Our room had a standard size double bed and was wonderfully made up. We had a whole desk / chair for working, which was nice, and drawers for our belongings. Jo also said we were welcome to use her kitchen if we wanted, and discovering that I was a fan of Lapsang Souchong tea, said that I was welcome to help myself to her large tea supply.
It didn’t take very long for us to feel entirely at home in the flat. Jo turned out to be an early riser, but on the days that she left early for yoga or work she would leave us a fantastic spread of breakfast items. I stuffed myself on freshly baked croissants from the bakery over the road, accompanied by incredible organic strawberry jam, yoghurts, fresh fruit, and cereals. Definitely the next best thing to a full English breakfast, and certainly a lot healthier!
Location-wise, as I’ve already mentioned, we were perfectly set for exploring London. There were also loads of dining and drinking options nearby, including an excellent Italian restaurant and a friendly pub. This latter was directly opposite, so we did worry that noise might be a problem, but thankfully noise-ordinance laws in London are quite strict, so we were not disturbed after 10pm, and slept very well every night.
All in all, it’s absolutely my pleasure to recommend this homestay with Jo. For London, it’s wonderfully priced, the location cannot be beaten, and Jo is a warm, friendly and welcoming person. We tried to think of areas that she could improve upon for future guests when she asked us, but we literally came up entirely blank. Which we figured was a good sign!
Before you go to London, take a moment to read through my tips for getting the best photos in London, to be sure you get the best photos from your visit, as well as my other London guides for general tips and sight-seeing advice.
So you know: Our accommodation in London was provided by Homestay as part of our ambassadorship with them. You can see more posts in this series here. All opinions remain our own. Check out our code of ethics for more information on who we choose to work with!