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The Top Five Areas in London

I have lived in London my whole life. After 28 years, I still have not seen it all! That is the magic of London. With millions of exciting new projects and developments every day, the city continues to expand to accommodate the millions of people who flock here to work and to soak up the energy and excitement of the city. However, as a seasoned Londoner I do feel qualified to share my top five spots in the city in the hope that others can experience different slices of this vibrant city:

Notting Hill
This beautiful area is like a village in itself. Like everywhere in London it combines cultures and styles, but the overall effect is of a winding market town, streets lined with candy-coloured cottages, boutiques and cafes on every corner. It appeals to all the senses and caters both for high end food and shopping, and for the budget traveller. Even the crowds of tourists and locals who flock here at the weekend to enjoy Portobello Market do not detract from the bustling atmosphere.Brick Lane and Spitalfields
Brick Lane and the surrounding areas is London at its most stylish and chaotic. Street food combines with flea and vintage markets to show off London’s love of all things eclectic; the locals are young, edgy creatives. Crumbling brick walls are covered in urban art, and open spaces combine with winding, historic alleyways. Brick Lane itself is home to much of London’s Bengal population – you can enjoy cheap and excellent curry in one of the lane’s hundreds of restaurants.Borough Market and London Bridge Borough Market, perched by the River Thames, is a great way to enjoy London’s vibrant energy and its history. Food vendors have been flocking here since the 13th century, and to this day the market is a feast for the eyes and stomachs, hosting a huge variety of organic, quality produce. The area is beautiful – winding and architecturally diverse. The Shard sits alongside the ancient, winding streets of Bermondsey lined with industrial lofts. Cafes and bars spill onto the streets. The area is noisy, energetic and purposeful.

The West End
Right in the heart of the city lie Soho, Chinatown and Covent Garden. Once home to the prostitutes and the slums of the city (Soho is still home to the city’s red light district), the area is now fashionable and teeming with activity. From boutiques, cafes, restaurants and bars to theatres, street performers and dance, the area is culturally rich and full of things to see and do. Chinatown is an experience in itself – glistening crispy ducks hang in the windows, bright red lanterns adorn the streets and locals enjoy authentic Chinese produce in the various supermarkets and traditional medicine stores.

Hampstead is a wonderful way to escape the noise and bustle of the city. Parts of it resemble a sleepy French town, with winding, hilly streets, chic shops and lots of green. The Heath is vast and takes you out of the city completely – you can get lost for hours in the wild meadows and woods. Open-air swimming is a long standing tradition and a wonderful way to feel at one with nature. In the midst of the Heath you can enjoy the magnificence of Kenwood House – a stunning heritage site packed with art.The best way to see London is to stay with friends or relatives, who will be able to give you local advice and guidance. Or, for a truly local experience without the obligatory socialising, onefinestay provides luxury vacation rentals, whereby you stay in beautiful, quirky homes around the city in the absence of their owners – like staying in a boutique hotel, complete with five star service.

Biography Richard Hirson works in marketing for OneFineStay in London. OneFineStay allows visitors in London to stay in upscale homes while the owners are out of town. It's all the amenities of a top hotel but you get to live and experience the city like a local.

Twitter: @onefinestay

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The Top Five Areas in London + whereivebeen