We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Looking for an authentic London/English experience...

Orlando, Florida
Level Contributor
99 posts
11 reviews
Save Topic
Looking for an authentic London/English experience...

My boyfriend and I are planning to visit London around Christmastime at the end of this year. Of course we want to do the usual touristy things (even though we have seen half the usual stuff before), we are looking for something that would feel like an authentic experience. Something not-so-touristy. I'm not a big fan of travelling to big cities because I feel there's an element that is harder to grasp than it is in smaller towns.

It could be wonderful shop in the city, a day trip out of the city, something that we tourists miss as an outsider that only a local would know. It could be a small town that is reachable by train. Three years ago we stayed six days in Banbury. Lovely village. (If I had my way we'd be staying there for a week instead of in London :) There is something lacking from the touristy stuff.

I live near Los Angeles and I sort of chuckle when family from abroad asks me what there is to do? The Hollywood sign is nothing special and neither is the Hollywood walk of fame. However our local hills provide for an excellent hike and the view from the top if fantastic. Of course as a local I would know that. That's what I'm after.

This could include places to see, food to eat, lodging, interesting street corners,...

Anything!

Mentioned in this post
London
London
England, UK
Banbury
Banbury
Oxfordshire, UK
Amrutha Lounge
££ - £££, Indian, Asian, Healthy
Prime Gelato
£, Italian, Cafe, Deli
Laurent at Cafe Royal
££££, Sushi, British, French
London, UK
Level Contributor
7,040 posts
208 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Looking for an authentic London/English experience...

In the lead up to and after Christmas you could go to a pantomime - a form of entertainment that is unique to Britain. You will find more information by using the search function. Details for this year's season are not yet available but they tend to be found in thetres out of central London in plces such as Hackney, Stratford, Wimbledon and Bromley.

Mentioned in this post
London
London
England, UK
Wimbledon
Wimbledon
112 Reviews
London, UK
Bromley
Bromley
Greater London, UK
Hertfordshire...
Level Contributor
8,755 posts
50 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Looking for an authentic London/English experience...

You mention going for a hike in LA.. so you could bring your hiking boots and rucksacks and walk a section of the South Downs way, a beautiful bit of English countryside. Your starting point could be Winchester (Western start of the trail) which is easily reached by train in around 1 hour from London. There are plenty of B+Bs along the trail (sometimes a mile or two off the trail itself) allowing you to break the trail into manageable 1 day hikes. As an example you can reach The Bucks Head inn at Meonstoke (a gorgeous little village) in a doable 14 mile day, and then The Master Robert Inn at Buriton (a charming little village) the next day around another 12 miles later, so not too taxing (although it's slightly hilly). From there, a local bus or taxi will get you the couple of miles (or you could walk if your legs are still up to it!) to the beautiful market town of Petersfield where you can get the express train back to London in less than 1 hour. If you wanted to push a day further you'll reach Midhurst, another fine English country town, and some of the best views are on this hilly stretch. Midhurst doesn't have a train station unfortunately, but Stagecoach operate 3 bus routes which connect you to Petersfield in around an hour allowing you to get the train back to London.

The official website has plenty of further information:

http://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/southdowns/

Mentioned in this post
South Downs Way
South Downs Way
233 Reviews
Winchester, UK
Winchester
Winchester
Hampshire, UK
London
London
England, UK
Eastbourne, United...
Level Contributor
1,196 posts
429 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Looking for an authentic London/English experience...

Britain is now such a cosmopoitan society, I'm not sure what an authentic British experience is and I have lived here all my life. Apparantly the most British dish nowadays is not roast beef or fish and chips but chicken tikka masala!

Brighton is a traditional British seaside resort with a more modern twist as far as clubs etc go. It is only an hour by train from London (but check the Christmas timetables) probably worth checking it out.

Mentioned in this post
Brighton
Brighton
Brighton and Hove, UK
London
London
England, UK
East Midlands
Level Contributor
2,851 posts
90 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Looking for an authentic London/English experience...

A traditional English experience? Find a queue at a till (say in a supermarket or department store) and push in, right at the front. See how long it takes someone to say "Excuse me, I do believe that I am in front of you. The back of the queue is over there." (as they gesture over their shoulder).

Also - count how many "tuts" and scowls you get as you walk from the front to the back of the queue. When you eventually get to the front, pay in copper coloured coins.

We've all experienced this one way or another so now you can too.

U.K.
Destination Expert
for Belgrade
Level Contributor
14,984 posts
1 review
Save Reply
5. Re: Looking for an authentic London/English experience...

Following Canucks walking idea, I'd consider taking the 1hr 15min train direct to Arundel, in the Sussex Downs. A very 'English' town, not too touristy but there is a castle, cathedral, river, lake, woodland and river walks, antique shops (some very quirky) and a lot of tea rooms , pubs and restaurants - all typical of the area.

If you fancy and overnight stay, you could take in the Amberley museum the following day, a working museum, steam,, vintage cars etc, just a few miles outside Arundel - all details and links here: www.arundel.org.uk

For accommodation, quirky english, look no further than here:

www.thetownhouse.co.uk

It's in the high street, faces the castle walls, great food and dinner, bed & breakfast deals available Monday - Wednesday for around £140 for 2, an absolute steal - trust me! :-) I use the restaurant on occasion, fine indeed.

Stoofer

Mentioned in this post
Arundel
Arundel
Arun District, UK
Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
2,788 posts
19 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Looking for an authentic London/English experience...

If you want something that's authentically British (or at least Northern European) and alien to the States, you could go out drinking. Note, on such an evening the drink isn't an adjunct to the main reason you are out - it is the central reason to be out in the first place

Best sampled on a "pub crawl" I feel. Try and avoid those other British mainstays, the pub fight and Doner kebab

U.K.
Destination Expert
for Belgrade
Level Contributor
14,984 posts
1 review
Save Reply
7. Re: Looking for an authentic London/English experience...

Thanks for that, Pintpot, sad but true.....

Rat-Rsed kids stumbling around the streets, kebab vomit stained pavements, chavs in short skirts flashing their breasts & tattoos, swearing, fights, police vans, racial abused Indian waiters..... need I go on? No, but unfortunately that's a typical midnight scene on any Friday or Saturday on a

British High St.

Thankfully you don't often see it in Westminster, pub crawls around tourist central are normally civilised IME So choose a few nice pubs and a good curry house and do it without any of the above, :-)

Stoofer

Mentioned in this post
Westminster
Westminster
4,358 Reviews
London, UK
Hertfordshire...
Level Contributor
8,755 posts
50 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Looking for an authentic London/English experience...

You guys should get a job with the tourist board!

"alien to the States"

Never seen what happens at Spring Break? ;-) Luckily scenes like that are more reminiscent of small town UK... generally you don't see much of that in London, save for maybe Leicester Square at 1am.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I believe the lady has a serious question. :-)

Mentioned in this post
London
London
England, UK
Leicester Square
Leicester Square
1,580 Reviews
London, UK
U.K.
Destination Expert
for Belgrade
Level Contributor
14,984 posts
1 review
Save Reply
9. Re: Looking for an authentic London/English experience...

I did give one serious answer, post 5. :-)

I honestly can't think of a nicer (to OP specificaton) and affordable one night break from London than the dinner, B & B I posted, even though it's promotion' of 'my' area.

Stoofer

Mentioned in this post
London
London
England, UK
Yorkshire Dales...
Destination Expert
for North Yorkshire, Suffolk
Level Contributor
3,774 posts
89 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Looking for an authentic London/English experience...

Hi

York is a small city (rather than a large one which I think you wish to avoid) and I have a feeling you would love it there. It's a beautiful place anytime of year, but I somehow always think that winter and Christmas 'suit it' and enhance its attractions - especially the Minster and the narrow medieval streets.

Probably the best way for you to know what I mean is to look at this link to A York Christmas with pictures and details about the Christmas markets, pantomime, ice skating, ghost walks etc etc

visityork.org/inspire/christmas/default.aspx

It would be worth checking the York Minster site nearer the time to see what they have on - it's the perfect location to listen to a Carol service or other Christmas music.

York is compact and you wouldn't need a car unless you wanted to explore outside the city.

There's a very regular train service from Kings Cross London to York, taking just under two hours.

Yorkshire people are renowned for their friendliness too, and the local food up here is very good.

By the way, I've visited California when my son studied for a year at University (Irvine). We did the tourist stuff and loved it all the Hollywood sign etc. Even better, sooooo exciting, Sandra Bullock was unveiling her 'star' on the walk of fame when we were there! But.........have to admit that although we love walking it would never have occured to us to hike in the surrounding hills.

Edited: 18 May 2010, 12:48
Mentioned in this post
York
York
North Yorkshire, UK
London
London
England, UK
The California
The California
2,201 Reviews
London, UK