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25 Mar 2013

Best Apps in London

If you are one of the 1.4 billion people (ABI research) who own a smartphone or at least will before the end of 2013, then you are surely going to be familiar with the term 'app'. You may have even had a go at some useful, informative, time-saving, entertaining or plain silly apps that are available out there. Or perhaps you've discovered apps that have enhanced the way you communicate, work, socialize, shop, bank, exercise, sleep (yes, there's an app for that) and even travel. Some of us wonder what life was like before the smartphone.

For anyone living or visiting the city of London, it's the on-the-go connectivity, live up-to-date information and compact size of the smartphone and its myriad of apps that makes it a very useful and practical little tool. Apps can be a great alternative to guidebooks, provide key information to help you plan your journey and even save you money with great offers and discounts.

Here's our pick of the Best Apps in London:

London Underground App
London Underground
(Visual IT Limited)
Excellent journey planning app. Tells you about the status of the Underground, Overground and DLR lines. It can tell you the estimated journey time between any two stations you select on the tube map. And features extremely useful 'Departure Boards' so you can see when the next train is due at any station within the network. Great for when you don't want to miss the last service.

Here is an example of Piccadilly Circus station within walking distance of our Mayfair apartments in London.

Bus Countdown

If you take the bus more frequently then the tube then this app if for you. Key in your bus number, choose your bus stop and it will tell you the live schedule of the next arrivals at the bus stop. It continuously updates itself and also tells you the location of the bus you are expecting and its registration number.

Top Table
Top Table App

If you want to taste your way around London then this app is something you may want to download right away. It features almost all the restaurants in the city and lets you search by name, location or postcode. It also has plenty of customer reviews, special offers, some up to 50% off and the ability to quickly book a table without any fuss. The main website is very popular and the easy smartphone app version is a great extension of it. You can even save your favourites and view all your existing bookings.

Here is a search of restaurants and offer near our Covent Garden Apartments.

Time Out London
Time Out London magazine is now available for free (if you manage to get your hands on one before they run out) but the app version is also a pretty handy little guide. There is the “Most Popular in London” suggestions which you can scroll across on the top. Then there is the “Top 10” shortlists which makes it easy to pick out the must-see and must-dos around the capital. The daily offers and discounts are pretty good value and sometime unmissable with a mix of events, attractions, dining, beauty and London experiences. And if you are still stumped on what to do, there is the wild card “Inspire Me” section which randomly selects something you may find interesting.

Visit London App

Visit London
This is a great app to learn about events and attractions in London. You can also view the London Map and pinpoint 'What's On' around the city or near your neighbourhood. It also gives you a list of 'What's Free' and lets you select and save your favourite things to see and do.

Here is an example of the points of interest near our office in Hammersmith.

Riverside London App
Experience the entertainment and culture of London's Thameside through this app with all the latest listings, discounts, events and maps. But it only covers the South side of the river from the South Bank to Tower Bridge. The 'Take me There' button maps out your route quickly and there's a snazzy 'Reality View' that shows you what's on around you as you hold up your camera phone and face it at the surrounding buildings.

London City Guide
London City Guide App(

This city guide is our no.1 choice with its comprehensive array of restaurants, attractions, venues, shops, tours and activities. All of which can be booked, reviewed, checked-in and saved to your favourites for later. You can even reserve a table at a highly-rated restaurant at the last minute. There is a handy section to find nearby ATMs. There are free self-guided tours which are quite informative and entertaining offering a great resource to learn and discover the city without the help of a local friend or tour guide. The 'Trip Journal' section records your trip and activities when you check-in in at locations. There is also a compass style 'Point Me There' button to play with, however it seemed to be pointing in the wrong direction when we checked where the Victoria and Albert Museum was in relation to our location which was North West not South East.

Here is an example of the Victoria & Albert Museum listing near our South Kensington Apartments.

We also feature some more London Apps on the Check-in-London Pinterest Page.

Written by Tanielle Lobo

19 Mar 2013

An Unforgettable Helicopter Tour of London

Our office over in Hammersmith is up on the 10th floor so when it comes to views of the capital, we are pretty spoilt. Breath-taking London sunsets (every time the sun is out that is), riverside views of the curvaceous Hammersmith corner of The Thames (yes, we saw the Olympic torch when it passed by last year) and far reaching vistas all the way to Canary Wharf and even Wembley Stadium.

Yet, how impressed Tanielle, our website co-ordinator, was by the views of her home city from the comfy and compact seat of a helicopter when she went on an an aerial tour of London. "The quick glimpses you may get from the sky when you’re flying into London Heathrow Airport", she stresses, "do not even come close".

The two main aerodromes in London, Elstree and Redhill, are a few miles outside the main city limit in the midst of beautiful countryside, but they are not too difficult to reach. You can book exclusive flights for up to 4 passengers including yourself or share a flight with 5-7 other people. The prices start from about £119 per person and the ride usually lasts for about 25-30 minutes with about 5 minutes for the pre-flight safety briefing. It's important to note that the unpredictable British weather plays a big factor for helicopter rides because a foggy or terribly windy day, may result in a flight being cancelled.

In seconds you are airborne and on your way to the buzzing city centre, flying past quaint villages and commuter towns. The tour route starts from Barnes in West London and follows the River Thames up to Greenwichpassing all the notable attractions and landmarks of the capital, some easier to recognize than others. The pilot, enthusiastically takes on the role of a tour guide, commenting about the various sights along the way, which you can hear over the massive headphones you have to wear to block out the loud noise of spinning blades above.

The brand new Shard towers above the rest of the city, and on a sunny day (which was when these photos were taken) it gleams like a brilliant reflecting mirror. Buckingham Palace, Houses of Parliament, London Eye, Battersea Power Station, Tower Bridge, St. Paul's Cathedral, The Gherkin, Canary Wharf Tower and the O2 are easy to spot and some of our popular central London serviced apartment buildings like St George Wharf in Vauxhall, Dolphin House in Westminster, Empire West in London Bridge and Discovery Dock in Canary Wharf can also be identified (by someone who relatively knows where they are on the map)

The helicopter tour operator that Tanielle booked with was London Helicopters Centres which operates helicopter tours throughout the week from its base in Redhill Aerodrome, Surrey.

7 Mar 2013

Mother's Day in London

The Athenaeum Apartments

Once a year, on Mother's Day, we all get the chance to honour our amazing mums. It's a day to recognize all the things they have done for us throughout our lives and treat the fantastic women who have inspired us and taken care of us in so many ways.

The date of this special day varies in many countries, but the occasion is celebrated in much the same way around the world with abounding love, gratitude and respect for all mothers. In the United Kingdom, Mother's Day, also known as Mothering Sunday, is set exactly three weeks before Easter and is not officially a bank holiday. This year it falls on the 10th of March.

A trip to London may be something your Mum has always wanted. Why not surprise her and book a spacious Central London apartment so that you can bring the whole family too.

Already in London? Then you really have a zillion choices and no excuses to show her she truly means the world. Almost every shop, department store and attraction in the city has a promotion or deal available in conjunction with Mother's Day with something that would appeal to every type of mum out there.

And here are some of our top Mother's Day things to do in London:

For the fashionable mum
Splash the cash in Selfridges or explore the chic and trendy corners of Spitalfields market.

For the mum with great taste
Sunday Jazz Brunch at La Portes Des Indes or an award-winning Afternoon Tea at The Atheneaum.

For the art-loving mum
The Affordable Art Fair in Battersea or Marilyn Monroe: A British Love Affair at the National Portrait Gallery.

For the mum who loves to be entertained
Book tickets to Mama Mia Musical or enjoy the floral extravaganza at Florimania at Hampton Court Palace.

For the mum who loves to be pampered
Luxury massages at COMO Shambhala Urban Escape on Park Lane or authentic Moroccan rituals at The Spa, Dolphin Square.

But maybe you live a plane or long train ride away from your mum and sadly you will not be able to be with her on the day. Some of us here in Check-in-London are in the same situation, but we still want to remind our mums of how special they is so here are some of the things that we have planned:

Personalised cards via
Great website for customising and personalising greeting cards.

A long phone call back home
Using Skype or Google Hangouts to catch up over a video call with mum.

Her favourite flowers
Have a local florist deliver her favourite flowers on the day.

Spa Treatments
Send her gift vouchers to a local spa or resort where she can be pampered and spoilt all day long.

6 Mar 2013

Kensington's Royal Credentials

Kensington has always been one of London’s finest residential areas, desired for its distinctive English architecture, charming tree-lined avenues, grand garden squares, world-class museums and immense wealth of entertainment. Real estate here is among some of the most expensive in the world and a Kensington apartment in London is extremely sought-after for its prestigious address and rich variety of property styles ranging from stunning town houses, mansion blocks, mews houses and period conversions. Most dating back to the prosperous Victorian and Georgian eras.

But more than its posh homes and classy bolt-holes, what warrants this neighbourhood’s exclusive status is the fact that it is also one of only four London districts to possess adequate regal merit to be officially termed as a “Royal Borough”. Westminster, Kingston and Greenwich are the other boroughs that share this rare and exceptionally honourable title with Kensington and Chelsea affirming their direct and historic links to Crown.

The royal affiliations that have made the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea such a privileged place to live are:

Birthplace and childhood home of Queen Victoria 

Firstly it is home to the Kensington Palace, the birthplace and childhood home of Queen Victoria who wished that Kensington be given a “Royal status” in her will. It also was the residence of the late Diana Princess of Wales and is today the official London home of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge aka Wills and Kate. It is a working Royal residence and has recently undergone a £12 million makeover which coincided with the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II. It is also a key tourist attraction and hosts many tours and exhibitions of the Royal Family and its remarkable Royal collection of art, fashion and memorabilia.

Kensington Gardens

Then there is the magnificent Kensington Gardens, one of London’s most beautiful Royal Parks, with acres of splendid landscaped grasslands, thriving wildlife, popular recreational facilities and many significant points of interest that include the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial and Peter Pan Statue.

Kensington Gardens also features the spectacular Albert Memorial which was commissioned by Queen Victoria in memory of her husband Prince Albert and designed by Sir Gilbert Scott in 1872. The gigantic gilt statue of the Prince consort lies beneath a rich gothic edifice surrounded by elaborate marble and granite statuary representing the continents, industries and professions from the world of arts and sciences.

Royal Albert Hall

And lastly we have the Royal Albert Hall, a 19th-century highly acclaimed concert hall and a British institution for music and the performing arts. It has set the stage for some of the most famous shows in the world like The Proms, English Ballet and Cirque du Soleil, and continues to has entertain and inspire generations within the walls of its iconic terracotta building.