Why London Deserves Love

by Brenna Holeman

The other evening, returning from a visit to Leeds to visit my good friend Tom, I stood in the pouring rain and looked around. I didn’t know where I was – the exit I had taken from the bus station was unfamiliar. I was cold, and tired, and the grapes I had bought to snack on during the journey had spilled and crushed in my bag. A taxi splashed by, covering my boots and legs with water. On any other day, I might have been very frustrated with this entire situation. I might have cursed (silently or out loud, it would depend on my mood). I might have huffed and puffed. Instead, I stood there with a grin, laughing at the series of events that could only be described as Murphy’s Law.


The thing is, nothing really phases you when you’re in love.


And in love I am, absolutely head-over-heels, over-the-top, twirling-in-the-streets kind of love. And who, or what, is so deserving of this adoration?


London, of course.


Some people hate London, and I understand why. There’s always a problem with the trains, it drizzles all the time, it’s expensive, the people can be brusque, the city life can be far too fast-paced. I can think about giving all of it up and moving to an island paradise somewhere, happy to live as a dive instructor/coconut collector. I can think about it, sure, but I’ve realized something very shocking: I’d rather be here. This is the first time in many, many years that the thought of permanency and settling down doesn’t scare me, not even a bit. I am excited to continue to travel monthly, but I’m just as excited to call this city my home.


So why do I love London? Well, after a few months in the spring and now, after a month of officially living here, these are the reasons why. And yes, I’m wearing rose-coloured glasses, but perhaps you’ll agree.


1. The sheer volume of things to do. Every single day, if I wanted to, I could do something new in London. Be it a gallery, a music event, a food festival, a garden, a walking tour…I could fill my days with culture, history, adventure, and art. In a city so diverse and so big, there’s never a shortage of things going on. This week, for example, I’ve already visited two galleries, have a walking tour planned, and am visiting three markets.


A day spent in Greenwich 

2. Speaking of galleries…they’re free. This is perhaps one of my very favourite things about London. With museums and galleries like the V&A, the British Museum, the Tate Modern, the Photographers’ Gallery, and so on, all free, there is no excuse for spending a few hours a month wandering through one of them. I personally love that, on Friday nights at the NPG, there is live music.

3. The fashion. I’ve spent a bit of time on this blog and on other blogs talking about my travel wardrobe, so it’s no surprise that I love fashion, particularly when it’s used as an expression of self. Whether it’s the expensive styles of Sloane Square (not really my thing, but I can still appreciate it) or the vintage vibes of Brick Lane, I absolutely love the care and the attention to detail that people put into their wardrobes in London and how it represents who they are. Much like appreciating a piece of art or a classic car, people-watching here is phenomenal.

4. The restaurants. One of the complaints or myths I hear the most about London and about England in general is that food isn’t very good. Sure, I can only stomach fish and chips or bangers and mash at the pub once in a while, but this is in no way fully representative of what London has to offer. Again, as it is such a diverse city, there is literally every single type of food you can imagine just waiting to be found and consumed. I’ve already eaten Turkish falafel, Chinese dim sum, Ethiopian wat, American barbecue, Jewish bagels, Japanese sushi, Indian curry, and yes, ok, a bit of fish and chips and bangers and mash. I have zero complaints – the options are endless.


Typical English Breakfast…and a cider

5. The markets. It seems as though every weekend there’s a new market to explore, but my personal favourites are the Borough market, the Broadway market, and the Columbia Road flower market. As I live in the East End, I’ll be frequenting the latter two a lot to pick up fresh produce, flowers, and whatever else I fancy. There is no shortage of locally-grown and manufactured products for purchase, and I love that. It’s so much nicer (and much better for the community) to shop this way. Don’t even get me started on all of the antique markets, jewellery markets, vintage clothing markets…


Borough Market


Antique market in Greenwich

6. The ridiculously good-looking people. I don’t know if my infatuation has clouded my judgement, but I am honestly overwhelmed with how many attractive people there are here. My head is constantly swivelling left and right to check out all the beautiful women and men, of all colours, shapes, and sizes. Basically, I am this guy, all of the time. Yes, I’m a creep.

7. The proximity to other places. Though this is a post about how much love London deserves, it is also worth mentioning that it is incredibly easy to get to other places from London. In less than one month I’ve already visited Henley (less than an hour away), Windsor (less than an hour away), and Leeds (2.5 hours by train or 4.5 hours by bus). I’ve also flown to Berlin (less than two hours) and have a trip to Dublin coming up (an hour’s flight). While I’m so happy to call this city home, I also need to satiate my ever-nagging wanderlust, and London makes it very easy to do so.


Henley, England

8. The politeness of the people. Some of you may be shaking your head in disagreement, but I have had nothing but positive experiences from people in London. From school kids to bus drivers, servers to strangers in the street, everyone has been helpful and kind. As a Canadian, I’m used to the ‘sorry’s that people say when accidentally bumping in to one another, and I’m happy to see it used here, too. Of course I’ve seen the irate businessman mumbling under his breath about the tourist standing on the left of the escalator, or the rude bartender who rolled her eyes when I asked for another lime slice, but I always chalk that up to the person having a bad day, or well, just being a bit of a jerk. It’s not going to sully my overall experiences with the people of London, which have all been fantastic.

9. The…Englishness of it all. “Wow, great observation Brenna,” you may say, you know, since I’m writing about London, England. I just can’t help it. The bobbies on horses, the use of the word “love”, the parapets, the tea (the tea!), I just can’t get enough of it. I’ve always known that I would live in London one day, and so far it has fulfilled all of my expectations.


Windsor, England

10. All of my friends live here. OK, so not all, but a huge portion of them do. And the ones who don’t live here plan to visit, because London is such a hub and is fairly easy to get to from anywhere in the world. More than Toronto, more than Osaka, even more than my hometown of Winnipeg: I know more people in London than in any other city in the world. From India to Panama, Brazil to Germany, Canada to Thailand, I’ve met people from all over the world who have made London their home, too. 


Aidy and Henry (both from England, I met them both in Thailand)


Mark, an Australian I met in Peru


One half of the Travel Lads, all of whom I met in London recently


Ali, from London, whom I met in Japan

These are just a few reasons I love London right now. I am well-aware that I have a new-home giddiness that will eventually rub off, but I know that I will never become entirely jaded, that this feeling of elation at finally making this my home will never really go away. I may grumble about the weather, or glare at someone for standing on the left, but I will never, ever, take it for granted that this fabulous city is my home.


Yes, even if I do occasionally blow my nose and black comes out.



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Leah September 18, 2013 - 8:40 pm

Hi Brenna!

Can I just say, as an avid traveller, your blog has inspired me so much! I’m about to head off soon to South America for 2 months, starting in Peru and ending in Brazil. Your articles and advice have been so helpful, especially due to the fact this will be my very first solo trip! I am also in love with your sense of style; I very nearly didn’t pack any dresses for my trip!

Have you managed to try the famous London dish, pie and mash with ‘liqour’ (a green parsley gravy sauce)? If not, head to Bethnal Green and try it! As a native Londoner, for me it is the ultimate comfort food! It’s a little stodgy, but really inexpensive and amazingly delicious. You should also try the jellied eels which they serve up with mash potato!

Brenna September 18, 2013 - 9:35 pm

Oh wow, you will have a fantastic time. I wish I could go back to South America, I don’t feel that I saw enough. Peru is one of my favourite countries!

I haven’t tried that dish yet, so I will definitely add it to the list. I’m very close to Bethnal Green! Jellied eels…hmm…I have heard of them, but I think I will have to build up the courage to try them. It’s a running joke with my fellow scuba diving friends that I hate eels with a passion, ever since one almost bit my face off (that story for another day). Perhaps I can finally get my revenge by eating one?

Jay September 18, 2013 - 8:42 pm

I’m happy you’re in love Brenna. Revel in it for as long as it lasts be it weeks, months or forever.

Brenna September 18, 2013 - 9:32 pm

Thank you so much!

Natalie September 18, 2013 - 10:13 pm

I moved to London eight days ago and I too have fallen for it, for those same reasons! Even the constant drizzle is yet to bother me (and I am a sun-worshipper from a town in Australia that has many, many more fine days than not). The only thing that has bothered me so far is the thought that even with the intention of living here for two years, I might not get to see and do everything this town offers

Brenna September 18, 2013 - 11:16 pm

I’m sure the drizzle will get to us one of these days! I’m also worried about that, though I’m also already thinking of ways that I will be able to stay after my two year program…

Helen September 18, 2013 - 10:28 pm

Hey Brenna,

Looks like you are having an amazing time! So cool that you love London so much! I love it too, even more so now that I go so often for work!

If you ever fancy a trip to Liverpool or Manchester let me know! Happy to host! 🙂


Brenna September 18, 2013 - 11:15 pm

Aw, thanks Helen! I’ll be sure to take you up on the offer if I ever head north. Thank you!

Alyssa September 19, 2013 - 12:18 am

h’OMG. Brenna. As I got to about….mid way through your second point, my heart jumped into my throat. I’m tearing a little bit as I write this (no joke).

I AM SO BLOODY EXCITED (see I’m English already)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The galleries, the food, the fashion (looking, not partaking…I’m sartorially simple), the markets – EVERYTHING London is my thing. I am so glad you wrote this because as the day gets closer (9!!!!) I’ve been having second thoughts and feeling like I made the wrong choice…and I found this post very reassuring.

I can’t wait to do English stuff with you…this is going to be AWESOME!

Yours in Travel,


P.S. I LOVE your Share icons – they’re super cute!

Brenna September 19, 2013 - 1:09 am

Aw, I’m so happy that you had that reaction while reading this. London really is THE BEST. We are going to have so much fun together – there is so much to do and there are so many other awesome travel bloggers/writers around. You definitely made the right choice.

p.s. Thank Cez from etramping.com for helping me with the share icons! They’re from Shareaholic…

Chanelle September 19, 2013 - 3:03 am

Glad you are enjoying London. I love that you visited Leeds too! I lived there for four years before moving to Scotland. What did you think of it?

Brenna September 21, 2013 - 10:03 pm

I loved Leeds! I was only there for a day but I am going back in November. Great city.

Ali September 19, 2013 - 11:19 am

I have a feeling London loves you too!
Here is to a LOT more markets, and art and freebies and eating and discovering and walking and visiting and………….

Brenna September 20, 2013 - 1:34 am

Yes!! And hopefully all with you…….

Amy September 19, 2013 - 1:07 pm

London so deserves love! I still have a lot of cities to visit as we travel but I’m convinced that London will remain my absolute favourite. Even though I was desperate to leave there and travel the world, a part of me misses living in London every single day. As you point out, it has everything: history, culture, food, people, music and everything in between. I used to work just a five minute walk from Borough Market and used to love grabbing food from there with work friends on a Friday lunchtime and strolling down by the river; after work we’d check in at the Wheatsheaf and drink pints of Peroni. Even though it can be drizzly, dirty and congested London has one hell of a heart and I know that one day I’ll return to live there permanently. Please keep posting pictures and stories from my beloved city!

Brenna September 21, 2013 - 10:03 pm

Thank you for your comment – London sure is amazing. I like what you said: it has one hell of a heart. I’ve only officially lived here a month and I can definitely feel that.

I was at the Broadway Market a few hours ago and then spent the afternoon with friends by the canal with some food and some wine – SO lovely. I really can’t get enough of these markets!

Abby September 23, 2013 - 4:40 am

I too love London for the reasons you mentioned above. #1 and #7 being my top picks about why I love the city! I am from Canada as well and it is just so darn expensive to travel anywhere, just can’t hop on a train thats for sure. I thought the same thing about the food….I honestly thought it was better! I think they put far less preservatives/chemicals in their food. #6 made me laugh, there is definitely truth to that! I had a short stint in the UK back in 2011 but unfortunately had to return home after a couple of months. However, it has always had a place in my heart. I thought it would wear off but 2 years later and I am still wanting to go back. Looks like pursuing my masters may be the only option. I hope there will be more posts about London 😉

Brenna September 23, 2013 - 11:48 pm

Thank you for your comment! London is indeed a great city, and I’m sure to post a lot about it over the next two years.

Fiona September 27, 2013 - 3:41 am

Hi Brenna,

I’ve been following your blog for a while now and I just wanted to say it has inspired me so much. I love your ethos and the way you travel!

This post has made me miss London so much! I’m in South America for at least the next 8 months and don’t know when I’ll get to see London’s rainy streets again. I love Borough market; it’s one of my favourites. And if you ever have any particularly heavy nights, you should go and get a greasy breakfast roll from Maria’s Market Cafe in Borough Market the next morning!

I’m glad you’re enjoying London so much 🙂

Brenna September 28, 2013 - 5:10 pm

Aw, thank you Fiona! I’m so glad that you are enjoying the blog and it’s amazing to hear that I’ve inspired you in some way. I’d love to see South America again one day but for now, yes, I’m very happy to be here in London. Enjoy your time – Borough Market will be waiting for your return!

MIlind October 1, 2013 - 11:50 pm

Theres a lot to do in and around London. Its insane. You can hire a nice classic car and take driving trips to Cotsworld, Stonehenge, Scotland, Brighton, etc etc etc.. its a lot of fun driving around the country side and it is a great feeling. Good food, good roads and good weather. You forgot the innumerous musicals and plays in London and comedy shows and the satisfy to all nightlife.

Brenna October 2, 2013 - 9:38 am

I did forget to mention the musicals and plays – perhaps because I haven’t been to any yet! Hopefully that will change soon. Thanks for your comment!

Joas @joas_m October 7, 2013 - 2:56 pm

You are so right! London is a city you fall in love with, even though it rains a lot and the sky is more often gray ten blue, the city still sparkles.
At the moment I’m working in China and in a couple of months I will travel around Asia. To finish my journey starting a MSc at LSE next fall.
Your site has given me a lot of travel butterflies as well as London butterflies. Can’t wait to start both journeys.

So thanks!

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Marie Landry May 23, 2017 - 5:17 am

This post is making me all swoony for London, Brenna. Which, granted, is something I experience nearly every day anyway, but I love seeing it through your eyes. And from what I’ve gathered, even years after writing this, you’re still pretty in love with London. I expected to love London, but not nearly as much as I actually did. Coming from a small-ish city and generally hating crowds and noise and traffic, I thought I’d feel completely overwhelmed in London, but I loved it from the first moment. After visiting, I realized the complete lack of things to do in my own city (I’m not even kidding, there is NOTHING to do here), and that even though a lot of things are expensive there, there’s plenty of free things to do. Another thing I loved (that we’re also lacking here) is all the green space. It was the weirdest feeling (in a good way) to be in a crazy-busy part of the city one minute and wandering through a park the next.

Jess Harling September 3, 2017 - 9:16 pm

Loved reading this post because I totally agree with you on all of the points ( I am extremely biased though since I grew up and live in London). I’m glad you still love London now 🙂 .
I realise I’m late reading this post but since we met in London back in May this year I’ve been working my way through your blogs (in a random order – not from the beginning ! Haha!) and I absolutely love it !

Neha October 23, 2017 - 12:54 pm

I just love London! Loved your post! Makes me want to go back and do all those things. Makes me want to spend a month or two there at least. I wish! ?


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