I Heart London

Stacy Simpson reports on why London's rich mix of history, heritage, arts and culture proves such a winning combination
London skyline
“The Big Smoke” has found itself winning a number of accolades
With nearly 19 million visitors (predicted) this year, London is the world’s favourite place to visit

In recent years, London has refreshed itself to become the leading city on the global scene. The appeal to a host of new and old markets has been perfectly blended, so much so that - in the last few months – “the Big Smoke” has found itself winning a number of accolades. Specific awards have been the MasterCard Global Cities Index, Forbes Most Influential City and Price Waterhouse Cooper’s Cities of Opportunities Index. It has also maintained its position as the world’s top city for universities in this year’s Times Education world reputation rankings.

Big BenSo, what has changed? Why this most recent upsurge? Eclipsing every other popular city, London seems to have its own unique pulling power in the world. Research suggests that, this year, London is likely to attract more visitors than any other city. Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, commented: “With nearly 19 million visitors (predicted) this year, London is the world’s favourite place to visit. Our city perfectly combines history, heritage, arts and culture – not to mention vast amounts of green space and major events.”

"Images of large-scale events taking place in London have been witnessed by a worldwide audience and proven to be a colossal magnet for visitors."

In the past few years alone the images of large-scale events taking place in London have been witnessed by a worldwide audience and proven to be a colossal magnet for visitors: from the huge occasions surrounding the Royal Wedding and Queen's Diamond Jubilee, to a highly successful 2012 Olympic Games and a stage in the Tour de France. Add in instantly recognisable landmarks and renowned attractions such as Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace, the London Eye and our neighbour the British Museum, to name but a few, and the global appeal is clear. 

However, the dominance is not confined to the tourism industry. 68 of the world’s top 2,000 company headquarters are now based in London, with the city being widely acknowledged as the world's financial capital. It also boasts an international transport hub with a much shorter immigration queuing system in comparison to the likes of New York City, making it a preferred location for business.

The city is also fast becoming 'food savvy' with over 60 Michelin star restaurants and many others popping up in the rest of the UK. Other factors such as the welcoming charm of the London cabbie and the sight of the London double decker red bus brings delight to many – the kind of golden ticket that no promotional campaign can buy.

London EyeLondon’s principal detraction is that it still remains one of the most expensive cities in the world, particularly for culture. The average hotel room rate per night is also the most expensive in Europe, soaring by 10 per cent in the last year. Other cities may not have as strong a historical pedigree and tradition as London, but these are the sorts of contributing factors that tourists may consider when deciding on their next leisure trip. For now, though, London is reaping the rewards of all of its recent successes and glories.

Samuel Johnson once stated that, “by seeing London, I have seen as much of life as the world can show”. It could be argued that many millions of visitors to London now feel the same. Congratulations to a wonderful city.

  • Images of Big Ben and the London Eye courtesy of Lisa Pierre.