The City of London, or the Square Mile, can be found right in the heart of the English capital, but is a destination in its own right. Known internationally as a financial centre, it is an ideal place for business travellers to be accommodated, with various institutions within its vicinity or walking distance away. But there’s more to The City than this, making it an exciting place to be based on a trip of any length to London.
As one of the world’s most important financial centres, those who work in The City know how to work hard, but also let their hair down too. Forget a quiet drink in a quaint pub, this part of London tends to opt for standout bars and pubs that reflect the high-powered jobs of those who travel into The City each day to work and play. Check out the likes of the Duck and Waffle and Madison for stunning views of the area while you sip on a signature cocktail and live the life that many dream of having.
The City is a unique place, mainly due to its relatively small permanent population. Just 8,000 people live in this area, with some 300,000 travelling in to work each day. Previously, this meant it could feel something of a ghost town at evenings and weekends, but there are more reasons to stay and enjoy The City’s entertainment options than than ever before. You can add to the number of residents, staying in your serviced apartment once the commuters return home. And what could be better than finding yourself right in the middle of London on a Saturday morning with time to kill?!
Getting your bearings
Over the years the boundaries of The City have changed marginally to reflect a practical approach to new buildings or features of the area. In modern times, The Square Mile runs from the middle of the Thames up to the border with Westminster to the west, Camden, Islington and Hackney to the north and Tower Hamlets to the east. Black bollards emblazoned with The City’s emblem, two dragons holding the crest, mark its boundaries. The ten main entrance points feature large dragon statues, so it’s fairly easy to identify when you’re leaving or entering The City on foot.
Cannon Street is a great place to start exploring The City, with the Monument to the Great Fire of London close by. Constructed in the 1670s, it’s possible to climb to the top from where you’ll enjoy views of The City. One of the things you’ll be able to see the historic Leadenhall Market. This covered establishment is home to hundreds of small shops, stalls and restaurants that continue to trade to this day. Head there later to grab some essentials or a bite to eat for yourself.
Just a stone’s throw away from the market building and showing how the old can live alongside the ultra-modern is the office block affectionately known as the Gherkin. While it is not open to the public, its glass panels and distinctive shape make it an important landmark in The City.
Anyone wishing to pick up a special gift or a treat for themselves is likely to want to stop by the Royal Exchange. This heritage building has been given a new lease of life, with the likes of Gucci and Jo Malone setting up shop in its courtyard.
St Paul’s Cathedral is the main focal point of The City and can be seen from many different angles without interruption. This is no coincidence, as the line of view to the church is protected by the planners and is the main reason that the so-called Cheese grater building has its distinctive shape, with the wedge meaning it does not obstruct St Paul’s.
Proving that there is far more to The City than just work, The Barbican hosts regular exhibitions, concerts and performances to suit all tastes. Check the schedule before your visit. There is a wide selection of bars and restaurants near the venue to enjoy prior to a show.
The City is well connected through its rail services, with no fewer than 11 Underground lines linking it to the rest of London. The Docklands Light Railway (DLR) also runs through The City and there are three stations within its vicinity that act as overground train terminals for longer distance travel. Among these are Cannon Street, which is also a Tube station.
London City Airport is not far from Cannon Street, taking around 20 minutes to drive in good traffic conditions or less than half an hour by public transport. It is undoubtedly a convenient way to get to The City from further afield and much closer than any of the other airports.
Not far away…
While it is possible to work, play, eat, drink and be entertained without leaving The City, there are a number of places worth visiting outside of its boundaries, but not far away. These include:
- The Tower of London, home to the Crown Jewels – a 15-minute walk from Cannon Street
- Tower Bridge, one of London’s most iconic sights – 25 minutes on foot
- Shakespeare’s Globe, where plays are staged in Elizabethan style – 10 minutes across the Millennium Bridge
- Tate Modern, for a vast array of contemporary art – 10 minutes
- The restaurants and bars of Butler’s Wharf – less than half an hour
Stay in The City…
In March 2016, SACO’s latest aparthotel will open in The City, SACO Cannon St – London City. The property will offer 77 cleverly designed one bedroom and studio apartments – each with full kitchens, smart TVs, and ultra-comfy beds and furniture. There will an on site 24/7 team of Guest Services Executives to welcome and look after the guests.