I’ve written about London pretty much after every trip I’ve made there in the past two years, and after every visit it seems as though I come away with a different opinion of Britain’s capital city. I’ve written fervently about being a tourist in London after a friend treated me to a trip there complete with dinner, cocktails, the London Eye and a show in the West End, I’ve written about hating the city in comparison to my home in Amsterdam after stressing with meetings here, there and everywhere for blog-gy business, and I’ve also posted an abundance of Instagrammed pictures that, from the looks of it, pertain that I had a pretty decent time there after all.
I was in London again last week, and yet again I’ve come away with a completely different experience. This time? It was pretty damn luxurious for the ultimate budget backpacker I am at heart, and – dare I say it? The brief life of luxury was NICE. I was attending the inaugural London Yacht, Jet & Prestige Car Show (Oh I say) in the b-e-a-utiful Old Billingsgate building in the heart of the city. Obviously this was a work trip so, you know, expenses are paid for. And this, my friends, made all the difference. No panicking and flustering about on the Tube for me, no sir, it was taxis all day every day. No staying in some scummy, overpriced hostel room with a bunch of Australians. Nope. It was a pretty plush room all to myself, a comfy bed, tea and coffee IN THE ROOM, a hairdryer, big fluffy towels… You get the picture.
My description of the Z Hotel seems a little too excitable… but I was unashamedly pretty excited by this hotel. By no means was it the most luxurious in London, but compared to my previous experiences having tea, coffee, towels and other basically standard amenities was nothing short of the royal treatment. To put this into perspective, the last time I stayed in the city, my accommodation can only be described as what it was: a dive. Certainly not in the centre, my stay there came complete with an overflowing toilet – yes, a singular toilet for the whole hostel – stained sheets, a 30 minute waiting time to be let in to the premises (we actually had to stand on the doorstep in the ever-glorious British weather…), and a filthy kitchen. I spend the whole two days in a state of revulsion. So that’s my justification behind my over-zealous reaction to free tea and coffee.
Hotel aside, my crowning highlight of this work trip to London – aside from seeing all of my wonderful friends at the weekend! – occurred on the second night of the Show. I accompanied a colleague (ha, the fact I can say colleague in all seriousness baffles me. When did I become an adult…?!) and some other show people to an amaaaazing dinner in The Natural Kitchen located in the Hilton Hotel. This was followed by an evening spent drinking the most delicious cocktails on the hotel’s rooftop bar with an amazing backdrop of London’s skyline, and yet another black cab home.
Bubbles flowed, taxis were hailed, and a little taste of a more luxurious side to London was very, very welcomed. My weekend activities that followed were a little less luxurious, as I begrudgingly swiped my Oyster card and paid an extortionate amount of money to be shoved, stressed and slightly perturbed at my direct line back to the other side of London being closed. 2.5 hours later, I arrive in my intended destination annoyed, disgruntled and returning back to my pauper lifestyle. *sigh*
Regardless of my annoyance at transport and being slightly overwhelmed at the vast size of the city, the whole trip made me realise what an amazing place London is. It’s somewhere where one day you can be sipping champagne on a yacht and drinking cocktails on the top of the Hilton, to the next, being pushed and pulled on to a tube whilst praying you’ve got enough money in your purse for a coffee when you finally arrive at your destination. It caters for the super, mind-bogglingly rich, but also for not-so-well-off, for the students, for the middle aged, for the tourists, for the Londoners, for the backpackers.
Though my opinion on the Capital of my home country has no permanent base, I think we can all safely agree that London is a crazy city, and one that everyone has to visit at least once!