London Vacation Rentals & Airbnb: When to come to London
I’ll start by saying that London is busy year round. It is one of the world’s most popular city destinations and has been for decades. Its combination of history and heritage, world-class entertainment and cultural attractions have ensured its enduring appeal, and in the past year have attracted some 25 million tourists and travellers visiting family and friends in the city. Given that London’s attractions aren’t subject to any type of seasonality, and that indeed London’s climate is (fortunately probably!) not a strong factor in determining when tourists visit, it’s not surprising that London has evergreen tourist appeal. That said, it’s certainly true that London is busier in the summer, but this has more to do with when tourists can travel and traditionally take their holidays. I’ll try to set out a few distinctions between the different times of year to help you decide when to visit the city, and select one of Ivy’s popular London vacation rental apartments.
London in summer is definitely the busy season and in the vacation rental industry, it’s a long summer - our busy period starts early April / late March (often depending when Easter falls) and goes through to the end of September (last year, 2015, we were busy until the last week of October). This time is characterised by longer daylight hours and warmer weather, which both make for a more pleasurable experience being outdoors, enjoying London’s numerous parks, walking along the River Thames and exploring the city on foot. The summer months also play host to numerous sporting events in and around the city, the most famous of which the Championships at Wimbledon over the last week of June and first of July. Additionally, a series of other cultural events (known locally as “The Season”) span these months, starting with the Chelsea Flower Shower (Ivy is proud to host a number of exhibitors in our Chelsea homes) in May, Glyndebourne Opera Festival, the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, Royal Ascot and the Henley Royal Regatta. Summer is also a wonderful time for outdoor concerts in our many parks (Hyde Park’s British Summer Time festival) and of course al fresco theatre (Regents Park, Holland Park and of course the Globe).
The obvious ‘flipside’ to visiting London at this time of year is the associated crowds. Most northern hemisphere countries will have their long summer holidays over June / July / August and you’ll have company in the city then, but it’s not that bad really, and certainly shouldn’t deter you. A little intelligent planning goes a long way - visit Buckingham Palace, Big Ben etc early or late, buy tickets in advance, walk rather than take the tube and avoid rush hour on public transport (the tube at 5/6pm on hot London day is not pleasant!). If you’re coming from the US or Canada, make the most of your jet lag the first few days and explore the city at night. One month you should strongly consider is August. Continental Europeans often take off the whole of August as their annual holiday and increasingly Londoners seem to themselves also, so whilst you’ll find it’s busy with tourists, this month will feel markedly quieter for the lack of locals, which makes for much better traffic in particular. You’ll notice this especially if you stay in Fulham, Kensington, Chelsea and other West London neighbourhoods. Unlike Italian cities, for example, you won’t find any shops, businesses or restaurants closed for this month - don’t worry, it’s not that quiet!
At Ivy, we get booked up pretty far in advance for the peak summer (mid June to end July) so as soon as you’ve decided to come to London next summer, it’ll serve you well to go ahead and book your London vacation home sooner rather than later - you’ll benefit from wider choice and most likely, better prices.
I’m going to count winter from the start of November to the end of February, since these effectively border our summer season. This period is certainly quieter and is not traditional holiday time for our principle client base. Of course, the days are shorter, and the weather cooler. But it can be a great time to visit London. You should be able to find some excellent deals on London holiday apartments, and you won’t find the landmark London attractions as busy (though you may be surprised at how busy “quiet” season is!). As mentioned, the vast majority of London’s attractions are season/weather proof, so you’ll love London indoors - visit one of our many galleries, wonderful museums, take in an award winning show in the West End. Shop till you drop in Westfield (Shepherd’s Bush or Stratford).
There are two exceptions to the relative quiet of this season, and the first is obviously Christmas and New Year. We find that our bookings really pick up from around 18 December, to 3 January, and at this time of year, we’re as busy as peak summer. London is a magical place to enjoy the festive season. Don’t make the mistake of trying to navigate the tat and shoppers of Oxford Street, but note the famous lights on Regent’s Street, explore Mayfair, Bond Street and environs, Sloane Square and Belgravia. They create a stunning, and truly attractive, Christmas light displays and decorations which you’ll love. Go ice-skating at Somerset House or outside the Natural History Museum, if you have kids take them to the Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park. The second exception is Thanksgiving, which is nowhere near as busy as Christmas (in fact you won’t notice any increase in tourism at this time) but in years past it has been a busy time for us at Ivy. Many US visitors rent our family vacation homes so they can spend time with their children or other loved ones who’re living in the capital. It’s a lot more comfortable and convivial than a hotel, after all. And we’ll be happy to tell you where to get your turkey!
I hope this helps. If you have any questions or want advice on when to visit according to your specific needs, please just get in touch!