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25 Apr 2013

A Summer of Sport in London



After all the excitement of 2012, the summer of 2013 promises to be a fantastic one for the sports fan in and around the London area. Whether you are into cricket, tennis, golf, football or athletics, there is plenty to whet the appetite across the summer period. And if you're travelling to London from afar and need a comfortable and quality place to stay, our range of London apartments are well placed with convenient access to all the top summer sporting events.

Don't miss our highlights for the 2013 Summer of Sport:

Tennis – Wimbledon Championships

This is the jewel in the British sporting summer. Over two glorious weeks the world’s attention is focused on this leafy corner of South-West London for the pinnacle of any tennis player’s ambition, the Wimbledon Championships. Competitors from across the globe compete in singles and doubles, and there are equally popular wheelchair and veterans’ matches to keep the vast crowds entertained.

All eyes will be on Roger Federer as he bids to retain his “Gentlemens’ Singles” title and win for a record 9th time, but will face fierce competition from Spain’s Rafael Nadal and the skilful Novak Djokovic of Serbia. Local hopes are pinned on the world no. 2, Andy Murray, who will be aiming to go one step further than 2012 when he was defeated in the final by Federer.

In the “Ladies Singles”, British hopefuls Heather Watson and Laura Robson will face stiff competition from the likes of Russia’s Maria Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka of Belarus and Sam Stosur of Australia, as well as the relentless Williams sisters, Venus and Serena.

Getting tickets: The annual ballot took place over the winter, so the only way to get tickets is to queue. The Wimbledon Queue is as much an institution as the Championships itself and boasts its own unique atmosphere. You can join the queue early in the morning, around 7am, to get a ground pass, which allows you to take up position on one of the outside courts and take in the wonderful sights and sounds as the sun (hopefully) beats down on the impeccable grass surfaces. If you are keen to get onto one of the larger courts, you can often buy a “Resale” ticket once inside the grounds, which at least enable you to sample the grandeur and excitement for the final match on court that day.

Website: www.wimbledon.com

Where to stay?
Earls Court Apartments are an ideal place to stay if you're attending the Championships this year. The apartments are within a 5 to 10 minute walk of Earls Court tube station, where you can take the District line just 10 minutes south to Southfields tube station (15 minutes walk to the grounds) or Wimbledon Park (20 minutes walk to the grounds). Earls Court not only provides direct access to Wimbledon, but it also sits just west of central London, making it easy to access the inner-city districts.

Vauxhall Apartments are also a recommended choice of accommodation for those attending the two-week event, boasting a central London location with direct rail services from Vauxhall rail station to Wimbledon rail station in less than 15 minutes.


Cricket – The Investec Ashes Series 

For cricket fans, 2013 promises to be a memorable year. Back-to-back Ashes Series against Australia both in the UK and Down Under will provide the opportunity for some of the world’s best players to strut their stuff on the highest of stages.

England’s potent pace attack of Jimmy Anderson, Steven Finn, Stuart Broad and Tim Bresnan, complemented by the masterful trickery of spinner Graeme Swann, should be too much for an Australian side in a poor run of form. England’s batting line-up is blessed with an array of talent, with captain Alastair Cook and the middle order engine room of Jonathan Trott and Ian Bell proving hard obstacles to remove and a thorn in the opposition’s side.

A recent 4-0 series whitewash in India exposed the fallacies of a young, inexperienced Australian side who will do well to avoid a similar result on English soil. Batsmen Phil Hughes and Shane Watson have endured a torrid time during recent Ashes series, and will be keen to rectify that this summer. Inexperience in the middle order and the tussle between Moises Henriques, Steve Smith and Nathan Lyon for the lone spinner’s role, will make for interesting viewing throughout the summer. The emergence of exciting young talent in the fast bowling department, namely James Pattinson, Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc is a shining beacon of promise, and Antipodean fans will be hoping they will come good and lead the Aussies to an unlikely win.


Of the 5 Test Matches held in England, London is fortunate enough to host two.

The Lord’s Test Match takes place between 18 and 22 July at the famous old ground in St John’s Wood. The setting is an absolute picture, at a beautiful ground that is widely considered to be the home of cricket. It is a wonderful melange of tradition and state-of-the-art, with the famous 19th-century pavilion mirrored by the 21st-century NatWest media centre, at the Nursery end.

The Oval is a less austere and more raucous venue. Located just south of the river close to the Vauxhall area, the ground is in the shadow of gas-holders, which are as much a feature of the ground as the high pavilion and the newly-opened OCS stand, offering superb views behind the bowler’s arm from the Vauxhall end.

Getting tickets: Tickets are now sold out for all Test Matches, so the best ports-of-call are legitimate re-sale websites such as www.viagogo.co.uk and www.seatwave.com

Website: www.ecb.co.uk

Where to stay?
Our North London Apartments are dotted around the northern borders of Regents Park and encompass the St John's Wood area. Sanctum Apartments is only a 20 minute walk from the Lord Cricket Ground and can cater for up to 7 guests. From our Marylebone Apartments, guests can take a 30 minute stroll through the tranquil grounds of Regents Park or just hop on the tube two stops from Marylebone station to St John's Wood station.

Football – The Champions League Final

This is the pinnacle of the European club football year. The final is hosted by Wembley Stadium for the second time in 3 years, this time celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Football Association, the founding fathers of football.

At the time of writing, the identity of the finalists are unknown, but we do know that they will consist of two of Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich or Borussia Dortmund. Whoever is striding out under the famous arch that evening, there will be world stars on show and the club season will come to a dramatic climax with the lifting of the trophy emblazoned “Coupe des Clubs Champions Européens”.





Where to stay?
Our City & Tower Bridge Apartments are perfect for those who want to see the London sights during the day before attending one of Football's most celebrated tournament finals in the evening. Centrally located in the city, guests of these apartments will be only a 10 minute tube ride to the popular districts of Soho, West End and Oxford Street, and Westminster, and will have direct underground access to Wembley from Farringdon tube station. The apartments are all within close proximity to Farringdon station, where guests can take the Metropolitan line north east 6 stops to Wembley Park (10 minute walk to the stadium). Buses to the stadium also run regularly from central London on match days.


Golf – The PGA Championship Wentworth

The flagship event of the European Tour comes to Wentworth, 25 miles (40km) west of London, from 23 to 26 May. It is an opportunity to see many of the world’s top players up close and personal in a beautiful Surrey heathland course.

Previous winners include such illustrious names as Colin Montgomerie, Nick Faldo, Ian Woosnam and most recently, Luke Donald. It is played over 4 days, with a half-way ‘cut’ after the first two rounds. The championship builds to a climax on the Sunday afternoon, with the players at the top of the leaderboard vying for the birdies and eagles that will land them the famous silver trophy and cheque for £700,000.

Getting tickets: Tickets are easily obtainable on the day, although small discounts are available for booking in advance.

Website: http://www.europeantour.com/europeantour/season=2013/tournamentid=2013038/

Where to stay?
Our Vauxhall Apartments sit in the heart of London and are within walking distance to Vauxhall rail station, one of the city's busiest terminals. Here, guests can take a direct 45 minute train to Virginia Water station (10 minutes from the golf course). Hammersmith Apartments are also a worthy place to stay for event-goers, especially for those who are travelling by car. The Wentworth course is only a 30 minute drive from Hammersmith and has plenty of in-ground parking. Or, for those taking public transport, Hammersmith is a short tube journey to Richmond, where direct rail services can complete your journey to Wentworth in 10 minutes.






Horse Racing – Royal Ascot

One of the highlights of the Flat Racing season take place within easy reach of London.

Royal Ascot is synonymous with style, sophistication and fashion. Running from 18 to 22 June, it combines some thrilling racing, betting excitement and the stylish glamour of the attendees. A dress code prevails across all four days, with gentlemen encouraged to sport a full top and tails and ladies’ dress requirements are somewhat quaintly put as follows:

“Dresses and skirts should be of modest length defined as falling just above the knee or longer. Dresses and tops should have straps of one inch or greater. Strapless, off the shoulder, halter neck, spaghetti straps and dresses with a strap of less than one inch are not permitted.”

The experience will doubtless be an unforgettable one as the racing unfolds amid a cacophony of champagne glasses clinking, the thunder of hooves interrupting this institutional British sporting event.

Website: www.ascot.co.uk

Where to stay?
Ascot lies 30 miles west of London and many visitors of the event opt to stay in inner-city locations for their royal trip. Waterloo Apartments and Vauxhall Apartments are within close proximity to the two major rail stations (Waterloo and Vauxhall station), where direct rail services reach Ascot in under 30 minutes. Westminster Bridge Apartments offer luxury apartments with superb river views and landscapes of Westminster's iconic landmarks, and are only a stones throw from Waterloo station.


Athletics – Sainsbury’s Anniversary Games

Taking place in the 2012 Olympic Stadium, this flagship event of the athletics year once again comes to London. Usain Bolt, Jessica Ennis and Mo Farah are just some of the Olympic Gold Medallists to return to the scene of glory, as they endeavour to thrill the capacity crowds to the same degree.

Getting tickets: These sold out within hours of going on sale, so the best outlets are www.viagogo.co.uk or www.seatwave.com

Website: http://www.diamondleague-london.com/Home/

Where to stay?
Staybridge Suites Apartments and Windmill Apartments are located in Stratford within close proximity to the Olympic stadium, and offer both four-star and more basic accommodation for your stay. Our Canary Wharf Apartments are also an ideal place to stay for this event, located only three tube stops away on the Jubilee tube line, and is where you'll find luxury apartments in a lively and vibrant inner-city area.


For more information, Speak to a customer advisor now to enquire or book a Short let apartments London. Call us on +44 843 289 8820 or email us at info@check-in-london.com for rates and availability.

24 Apr 2013

Top 3 Coffee Houses in London



Are you thrilled that the sun has arrived but worried you’ve got nowhere to enjoy it this weekend? Wake up and smell the coffee at the London Coffee Festival at the Old Truman Brewery on Brick Lane, the UK’s largest coffee and artisan food festival. From Friday evening to Sunday afternoon, coffee lovers from all around the UK will horde to the events ‘8 zones’ to taste exquisite espressos, watch expert demonstrations, browse food street stalls, and receive master classes on how to blend the best brew from world-class baristas. Whether you’re a keen coffee bean or don’t know your americanos from your cappuccinos, Brick Lane is the place to be for a caffeinated buzz this weekend. Tickets for the event can be purchased in advance for a reduced price of £9.50 (£12.50 on the door) from The London Coffee Festival official website.

If the festival has inspired a passion for the strong stuff and you’re suffering from a coffee comedown, why not try our top 3 coffee houses in London:

1. Monmouth

27 Monmouth Street, Covent Garden



Having roasted and retailed coffee for over 30 years, Monmouth has always been and still is THE place to drink coffee in London. With a fantastic choice of blends, from the classic Italian flat white to the fruity African coffee to the dark spicy Indian coffee, Monmouth offers a larger-than-average cup and avoids the typical extortionate city prices. It’s worth the sometimes lengthy queues, especially if you delight in one of their complementary dainty pastries, tantalizing truffles or mouth-watering chocolate. Monmouth is within a short walk from our Covent Garden Apartments, and the coffee chain also has cafe sites in Bermondsey and The Borough.


2. Kaffeine

66 Great Titchfield Street, Fitzrovia

This independent Australian/New Zealand-owned cafe is now a popular local choice for coffee since opening in 2009 and conveniently sits in a central location close to Oxford Street and just around the corner from our Devonshire Apartments in Marylebone. Kaffeine attracts London’s biggest crowds so unsurprisingly it's not the cheapest coffee refuge (but by no means the most expensive either), and it doesn’t have the iconic history that Monmouth does. But Kaffeine boasts stylistic, comforting wooden interiors, a fair sized seating area, friendly professional service and in-house freshly baked items and local market produce... and, most importantly, a good choice of coffee and a super-duper Espresso machine.






3. Flat White

17 Berwick Street, Soho

Meet the espresso experts! This artisan style coffee house, close to our West End and Oxford Street Apartments, opened in 2005 and was one of the first to bring the Antipodean roots to London. Though the flat white coffee (a stronger, smaller and creamier version of a latte) may be the most appropriate and recommended choice, the menu boasts a wide selection of other coffees for those who want to chug from a larger mug. Having featured in most of London’s ‘top 10 cafe’ guides for the last 8 years, it’s hard to sit down in the poky seating area, especially during lunchtime when they start serving sandwiches and snacks, so it’s best to enjoy it on the go.


If you’re after a new blend to tingle your taste buds or looking to conquer the coffee scene of London, The London Coffee Guide App is available for iPhone users and can now be downloaded for a special launch price of £1.99.

23 Apr 2013

Property Spotlight: Fraser Residence Prince of Wales


Looking to stay amongst royal residences with an exclusive London address and superb views over Kensington Palace and Gardens? Fraser Residence Prince of Wales Apartments may well be the place for you.


WHAT'S SPECIAL?

As soon as you walk up Prince of Wales Terrace, which is just off Kensington Road, you’ll be impressed with its cream streamline row of 19th century Victorian stucco terraces. Fraser Residence’s executive and deluxe three and four bed apartments possess a welcoming blend of period charm and romantic grandeur with light, open space and modern facilities. With fully-fitted kitchens, sleek and stylish contemporary decor, and opulent wooden floors and carpets, these esteemed luxury apartments are as prestigious as their building’s address suggests.



WHERE IS IT?

Location wise, these apartments couldn’t ask for a better pitch. Set in the heart of the affluent Kensington neighbourhood, Fraser Residence sits opposite Kensington Palace and the serene Kensington Gardens, with the area’s paramount fashion hub High Street Kensington just around the corner. For more sublime shopping, Knightsbridge – where you’ll find the famous Harrods and Harvey Nichols – is a twenty minute walk or short tube journey, and the Chelsea neighbourhood is just slightly further south. Nearby points of interest include Royal Albert Hall, Victoria & Albert Museum, Science Museum and the Natural History Museum, which are all within walking distance. Other popular districts in central London, such as West End, Soho and Westminster, are only 3 miles away and can be reached within a 10 to 15 minute tube ride from High Street Kensington, South Kensington, Knightsbridge or Gloucester Road underground stations.



WHAT'S IN THE NEIGHBOURHOOD?

Kensington has always had a reputable association with the British Monarchy and, in addition to the palace and gardens, the area has many well-to-do sights to see. As well as the many galleries and museums mentioned above, The Roof Gardens is a popular dining retreat on the high street and Holland Park offers even more local greenery. While High Street Kensington is a focal point for mainstream and high street designer shops, Kensington Church Street is lined with unique art and antique shops. Gloucester Road, which runs north to south from Kensington Gardens to Cromwell Road, is also within a 10 minute walk and is home to several embassies.


WHY WE RECOMMEND IT?

Whether it’s an executive room for a business stay or a family wanting furnished accommodation for a temporary period, Fraser Residence offer flexible terms, catering for both short term and long term needs. Not only do these four-star, air conditioned apartments boast a superb location and excellent inner-city transport links, but they also offer a fantastic range of on-site services, such as a resident concierge, daily maid service, order-in restaurant and underground car parking. Guests also have inclusive access to gymnasium and sauna facilities and 2.5 acres of private gardens just down the road at Fraser Suites Kensington.


For more information, Speak to a customer advisor now to enquire or book a Serviced Apartment in London. Call us on +44 843 289 8820 or email us at info@check-in-london.com for rates and availability.

17 Apr 2013

Where to watch the Virgin London Marathon



26 miles is almost the entire length of London from North to South and every year runners from around the world flock to London to beat world records and raise thousands of pounds for charity by running this distance across the city.

Whether they are elite professionals, keen joggers or charity supporters in fancy dress, the Virgin Marathon runners will have (hopefully!) studied the route beforehand. But as a spectator, your whereabouts on the day may not have crossed your mind. London comes alive during this monumental event to support, encourage and entertain both runners and spectators and if you’re planning to cheer on the participants and are wondering where’s best to plant yourself along the route, look no further.

We’ve compiled a few recommended places to get a winning view of the hoards as they fly (or indeed crawl) past you:
Canary Wharf



Mile 14 to 20: The Canary Wharf area is the single most circular and winding part of the route. As the runners fly into the second half of the route here, this is where you’ll start to see the real blood, sweat and tears. Many spectators will be crowded around marker 14 as the route overlaps and circles back on itself, allowing viewers to see the elite runners as well as those a few miles behind. Guests staying in our serviced apartments will be seconds away from getting a great view of the route. Byng Street Apartments lie right by Westferry Road (over a mile long stretch of the route), and Discovery Dock Apartments and Canary Riverside Apartments are situated on the East Ferry Road (stretching 0.8 miles of the route). For those that arrive too late to get a roadside view, the DLR tram stops in Canary Wharf are also perfect for a towering view over the marathon’s route below.


Tower Bridge

Mile 23: Take the DLR from Canary Wharf to Tower Gateway, located only a 2 minute walk from Tower Bridge. Tower Bridge is the only bridge that the runners cross and therefore is a big contender for the best spot on the route to take an atmospheric photo. It covers the 23rd mile of the marathon and, as it marks the beginning of the home straight, is a popular spot for views. With only 3 miles to go, even spectators are bound to need their thirst quenching by this point. Escape the hive of music, entertainment and refreshments, and refuel at the historic pubs, restaurants and Good Food market at St Katherine Docks. Pepys Street Apartments and River House Apartments are moments from the action, while Monument Street Apartments are nicely sandwiched between the route and the river.


St James Park


Mile 26: Journey down to St James Park and join the route’s largest crowd for the marathon finale. Whether you’re witnessing tears of joy or tears of pain, those final strides of a friend or loved one is what all proud spectators will want to capture. The park will be encompassed with millions of people and the majestic sights of Buckingham Palace make the perfect backdrop for the celebratory photo finish. The conveniently-situated Arlington House Apartments and Westminster Bridge Apartments are both within a 10 minute walk to the finish line and are ideal for those aching to take a bath and put their feet up as soon as possible.


10 Apr 2013

5 Unique Meeting Venues in London


Travelling to London just for business or corporate events can often leave you very little time to really enjoy the city, specially if it's a hectic schedule. I know, you'd much rather be sipping coffee in a quaint café in Covent Garden or casually strolling through the luscious, tranquil grounds of Hyde Park. But meetings and conferences don't need to hideaway from the spectacular sights of London. Why not make the most of your trip and what the city has to offer by combining business with pleasure. Get creative and host your clients or colleagues in one of these swanky boardrooms surrounded by London's inspiring history and nature. And remember, there's always an equally classy London serviced apartment close by to complete your all-round memorable trip.

Here's our top 5 unique London venues for your next business meeting:

1.Tower of London

Take yourself back to the 11th century and journey through the Normandy, Medieval, and Tudor periods of British history at of one of our country's most prestigious fortresses. Accommodating corporate events, conferences and meetings in its number of its available towers and prestigious meeting and banqueting rooms, this versatile venue can cater for 6 to 150 people. You can even wrack your brains in the setting of the crown jewels in the Jewel House – if you are able to resist the distracting glare from the diamond-crusted pieces that is.

Within close proximity to the Tower of London are the popular Times Square Apartments. This busy area is one of the main financial districts in the capital and offers several shops, bar and restaurants, as well as great transport links.

2. Churchill War Rooms

Walk in the footsteps of Winston Churchill into the Cabinet war rooms - the very room that he pondered over war strategies and directed the stages of the Second World War. Capturing the backdrop of war life, this branch of the Imperial War Museum has many underground rooms that once housed and sheltered the British military and government. They have a capacity ranging from 20 to 350 people and offer a number of corporate packages that can be complemented by expert speakers, private tours and team-building events.


St Johns Apartment offer one and two bedroom apartments near Lambeth bridge and is located less than a 15 minute walk away from the venue.

3. St Paul's Cathedral


This world-renowned Cathedral is the living embodiment of British heritage and religion. can hold 2 to 75 people for meetings and conferences, and parties up to 350 for events and receptions. The Wren Suite (pictured above) is a popular choice, boasting a mix of historic splendour and comfort embedded in Christopher Wren's fine masterful design, with modern facilities such as integrated back projection and a PR system. The Crypt and Nelson Chamber rooms are also available but are more suited for pre- and after- dinner entertainment.

Ludgate Square Apartments also features impressive high ceilings and spacious areas, and are just steps away from Ludgate Hill on which the Cathedral sits. For something a bit more luxurious, stay in one of Cheval Calico House Apartment's fantastic St Paul's Two Bedroom Penthouse complete with superb vistas of the cathedral.


4. Hampton Court Palace


Ever dreamt of living in a palace? Ok, so taking up residence in one may not be a feasible acquisition. But sitting down to work in one is in arms reach. Nearly 500 years old, this grand residence and its 65 acres of peaceful gardens remains fit for a king. Having housed the British Royal Family until the 18th century, it has since been transformed into a prestigious hub that hosts several large-scale culture and art events throughout the year. The palace's chambers, halls, galleries, and even kitchens are available for conferences and meetings, and its outside marquee can cater for a whopping 450 guests. You can climb the King's stairs to the King Guard Chamber or take a breathtaking boat ride to The Little Banqueting House.

The beautiful Georgian building of Craven House Apartments is a stones throw from the palace and overlooks the serene landscape of Bushy Park. In the popular residential district, Kingston upon Thames, Marina Place Apartments is located on the picturesque marina and is within a 10 minute drive or a 30 minute scenic walk through Hampton Court Park. These serviced apartments propose an opportunity to lavish the natural beauty that borders the immediate central London locations, as well as being close to transport links.


5. London Dungeons

If there's something to celebrate and it's down to you to book a party to remember, this venue could be exactly what you need to create an eclectic night of history, horror and humour. Having re-located within London's vast network of underground torture chambers last month, the London Dungeons are now situated in Westminster and are certainly something to scream about. This vicinity can be tailored to suit your needs and party hours, and can cater up to 150 people for parties and networking events or 65 people for dances and dinners. Having a lengthy lunch break? Pop outside for an instant view of the Thames, or take advantage of your close proximity to the EDF Energy London Eye.

And if you manage to dodge decapitation and surface to the streets alive, your blissful stay at our five-star Plaza On The River Apartments is within a 10 minute riverside walk. Westminster Bridge Apartments is on the dungeon's doorstep, located within just a 2 minute walk from it and the surrounding attractions (EDF Energy London Eye, Big Ben and the SEA LIFE Aquarium).


9 Apr 2013

Plaza On The River Apartments


Looking for an exclusive London residence with a truly impressive riverside view of the city, then look no further, because our recent visit to the Plaza On The River Apartments has confirmed that these very stylish home from homes are some of the best London serviced apartments along the Thames.

WHAT'S SPECIAL?

Committing to a chic, modern design throughout its suites and accompanying facilities, these apartments have to be one of the most stylish residences on the river front. This prestigious, fully air-conditioned building adopts ultra-modern décor with rich colour compositions that create a warm and welcoming ambience throughout its reception lobby, suites, and award-winning restaurants.

WHERE IS IT?

With an enviable riverside address located in the heart of the south bank of the River Thames, Plaza On The River Apartments is a short walk from Westminster's famous landmarks and Vauxhall's numerous trendy bars and alfresco restaurants. Buckingham Palace, Tate Britain art gallery and The Imperial War Museum are also within walking distance and good connections to the West End district from Waterloo and Vauxhall stations are close by, making this the ideal accommodation for your short stay vacation.


WHAT'S IN THE NEIGHBOURHOOD?

On Albert Embankment, which is close to Westminster, Waterloo and Vauxhall areas. 10 minutes walk from Vauxhall tube station and 15 minutes walk from Waterloo. Good transport links to Gatwick airport. Though it boasts home to some of the world's most popular tourist attractions, the district doesn't overlook useful amenities such as convenience stores and pharmacies. Nearby, Brunswick House Café lies in a quaint Georgian mansion and is a popular retreat in Vauxhall, while Vincent Rooms in Westminster promises elegant and sophisticated dining.


WHY WE RECOMMEND IT?

The open-plan, river-facing suites have large windows in both the bedroom and living room, so you'll be hard pushed to find a better landscape view. The meeting rooms are a perfect place for conferences and a swanky environment to impress colleagues and clients. In addition to daily maid service, a state-of-the-art bar and restaurant and an on-site gym, guests can also take advantage of the luxury in-room services, such as spa treatments, butler service and a private chef. You can even take part in its restaurant's sushi preparation masterclasses. Pets can also be catered for in this pet-friendly building, setting these apartments apart from most others.


Click here to book the Plaza On The River Apartments

For more information, Speak to a customer advisor now to enquire or book a London vacation rentals. Call us on +44 843 289 8820 or email us at info@check-in-london.com for rates and availability.

5 Apr 2013

Boris Bikes: How to be a Boris Buccaneer



Barclay's bicycle hire in London.

If you’re a new adventurer in the capital or are simply not a recluse, you’re bound to have spotted at least one rail of nicely lined-up blue and grey bikes. No, everyone in London does not own the same bike and trust me - Londoners are not that neat when it comes to parking their vehicles.

These ‘Boris Bikes’ (named after Mayor of London Boris Johnson) are in fact one of the latest additions to London’s vast transport network. The Barclays cycle hire scheme, which first docked its wheels in 2010, allows users to pick up a bike, ride to their destination, and dump it off again at the most convenient docking station.

There are 8,000 bikes at 570 locations across central London, and the average number of hires a month is around half a million.

Though popular with commuters during the midweek morning rush, cycling couldn’t be a better way to explore the city and see the sights it has to offer. You can whittle away the weekends without the worry of competing for bikes with business people who swing their satchels over their back and hitch their heels to complete their journey to work on two wheels.

You can draw on your Whiggins-style ginger sideburns and whizz around the city in half an hour for free (or for £1 for an hour), fuelling your adrenalin-junkie self as you wobble your way through beeping taxis and dodge swerving motorists. Or you can stay clear of the hustle ‘n’ bustle and ride the clear cycle-friendly highways; breeze your way over the River Thames bridges; or take a more pleasant pedal around the luscious parks. A two hour rental costs £6 and three hour rentals are £15. Visit TFL’s website for specific routes.

The bikes’ stiff, metal, Barclays-advert-plastered design may not recreate quite the picture perfect portrait of 19th-century London transport with a dainty frame and hand-woven basket. But it has a space at the front to store your sandwich nonetheless.

Hiring the bikes is easy. You can use a credit or debit card to pay by phone or online, or take the easy route and pay on the machine next to the docking station. Enjoy the feeling of fresh air whisping around your face and smirking as you see people sweating when they emerge from the underground? Avid bikers can also buy a members Barclay cycle hire key to give them quicker and easier access, allowing them to plug ‘n’ play their way through the day.

There are 400 docking stations in central London, located within 300-400 metres from each other.

Barclays even has its own Boris Bike app called the ‘cyclehire app’ which has a GPS system to identify your nearest available bike in central London. Whichever apartment in London you are residing in, you can guarantee that a bike will be close to handle.

With Johnson recently announcing plans to build a 15-mile cross-rail cycle path and eye-level traffic lights for cyclists, they are likely to remain an integral part of the traffic grid. And the boris bike is even travelling overseas. No, the bikes do not boast chitty-chitty-bang-bang inflatable floats under its tyres that automatically expand when they hit water (though I don’t suspect that’s been proved). The concept has been given the green light in Belfast.

Whether you’re tired of the tube, simply after a change of routine, or seeking stunning views at small prices, cycling can deliver… And the Boris bike is all you need to get geared up.