The Mstay Blog

What’s on in November?

Christmas is soon on its way, but before the holidays swamp your calendar why not come down to London? There’s going to be a lot to do in November, and as always there will be something for everyone. It’ll be a great month for artistic events as well as shows and festivals. Here are the nine events to put at the top of your to-do list.

Day of the Dead Festival

The Mexican holiday Día de Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a holiday meant to help departed ancestors on their journey through the afterlife. In Europe the day was mixed with Christian beliefs and the observance of All Souls Day. Despite the sombre nature of the holiday, it is celebrated with bright colours, satirical poems of the remembered, food and music. At The Vaults in Waterloo, the Mexican food brand Wahaca are hosting a Day of the Dead Festival, from Thursday 3rd November to Saturday 5th November.

Bedlam: The Asylum

At the Wellcome Collection In Bloomsbury, the ‘Bedlam: The Asylum’ exhibition is a study in biomedical and psychosocial therapy. Bedlam was the name of a mental asylum in the UK, which has thankfully been closed down along with all such institutions. The exhibition is a challenging look into the history of mental illness and society’s attempts to cure, stifle or destroy it. The exhibition is open all through November.

Hair

Sam McKnight has an impressive 40 year career in hair styling. He has worked with cultural figures as immense as Tilda Swinton and Kate Moss. The exhibition ‘Hair’ in Somerset House will feature photographs of his best work, and runs from the 2nd of November until the 12 of March next year.

The Radical Eye

For photography of a modernist persuasion, cast your critical gaze to ‘The Radical Eye’, the collection of historic photography curated by Sir Elton John and featuring pieces by Man Ray, Picasso and André Breton. It will be visible in the Tate Gallery from the 10th of November to the 30th.

Christmas in Leicester Square

Still in need of some late Christmas shopping? From the 11th of November onwards, Leicester Square will be hosting its Christmas market, complete with Santa’s grotto and a programme of Christmas theatre shows. Entrance is free, but tickets must be bought for specific events.

Lord Mayor Fireworks Show

It got a mention in Samuel Pepys’ diaries, such was the importance of the Lord Mayor’s Fireworks Show. The procession will stretch three-and-a-half miles between Bank and Aldwych. 7000 live performers will dance and march alongside 150 floats and 200 horses. It’s a sight not to be missed. Be there on Saturday the 12th of November to be part of the live music, colourful costumes and of course the evening firework display.

Beazley Designs of the Year

The Design Museum on Kensington High Street will be celebrating the year’s design triumphs, including a robot surgeon, a drinkable book and David Bowie’s latest album cover. Entrance is £10 and the exhibition lasts from the 24th of November to the 30th.

Game Plan

At the V&A Museum of Childhood, Game Plan is an exhibition of board games, old and new, rediscovered and given the attention they deserve. Over a hundred will be part of the exhibition, including some classics such as Cleudo and Trivial Pursuit. Introduce your children to some of the games you loved growing up, and learn about the evolution of board games over the years. From November 3rd to November 5th.

Hyde Park Winter Wonderland

The Hyde Park Winter Wonderland will open on the 18th of November, and will stay open all the way into January. It will prove to be a massive event, with Christmas lights to rival the previous ten years in which the Wonderland was erected. With ice skating, winter markets and festive fairground rides, it’ll get you in the Christmas spirit ready for December.

For inexpensive and high quality accommodation within London to visit these events and more besides, look at our properties page for more information.

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What’s on in October?

Wondering what to do for October, as it gets a little cooler, and the days become shorter? Even though Summer is drawing to a close, you can still take part in many activities and events in London next month. There’s always something going on, and October is as good a time as any to visit. So here is just a snapshot of what is happening in October, the top ten events which might pique your interest.

  1. The Big Draw
  2. Whether you’re a bona fide artist or just a hobbyist doodler, drawing can unleash your creativity and promote understanding and communication between people. London’s Big Draw event is designed to bring together STEAM (Science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics) learners and educators. Learn about how scientists, engineers and mathematicians use sketches to clarify their theories, and how artists can communicate scientific and mathematical realities to the public. At the V&A Museum throughout the month of October, it’s a must see for families and anyone interested in drawing.

  3. The Dresser
  4. The Dresser is a mesmerising play about an ageing Shakespearean actor who has to be coaxed by his assistant into giving a performance of King Lear. Much like the Bard’s play which is referenced within this one, it is a meditation on ageing, reliving the past, and fallen glory. A masterful modern retelling of Lear, starring Ken Stott and Reece Shearsmith at the Duke of York’s Theatre, which will appeal to all ages. It will run from the 5th of October to the 14 of January.

  5. Classic Car Boot Sale
  6. Interested in classic cars? Come to a car boot sale with a difference. In the Lewis Cubitt Park and Square, over the first weekend of October, there will be a showcase of classic cars and the opportunity to buy fine vintage fashion, homewares and pop cultural artifacts from the past century. There will also be food, music, drinks and live entertainment.

  7. Andrea Bocelli
  8. At the O2 Arena on the first of October, the world renowned Italian tenor will be joined by Nicole Scherzinger of ‘Pussycat Dolls’ fame. This meeting of classical and modern musical styles will prove to be a collaboration to remember. Given the popularity of both singers, tickets are expected to sell out very soon, so get yours while still you can!

  9. Photomonth
  10. To be celebrated in numerous galleries in the East End of London, this two month photographic festival starts at the beginning of October and lasts until the end of November. The festival, which is in its fifteenth year will feature not just snapshots of life all around the world but talks, seminars and workshops to do with everything photographic. There will be many creative projects to take part in and it’s a great way to meet other photographers and learn about the rising talents in the photographic art scene.

  11. Picasso Portraits
  12. For some slightly less life-like art, why not try the Picasso portrait exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. Over 80 cubist portraits in the inimitable style of Pablo Picasso will provide you with a labyrinth of distorted images which will change the way you look at the human form and think about representation in art. Open from the 6th of October to the 5th of February.

  13. BFI London Film Festival
  14. The annual London Film Festival is one of the most anticipated events of this year. Among those stepping out onto the red carpet at BFI Southbank will be Nicole Kidman, Jeremy Renner and Lupita Nyong’o. With screenings of the year’s best UK films and post screening question and answer sessions with the filmmakers, it’s an event no real film-buff can afford to miss. From the 5th to the 16th of October.

  15. London Literature Festival
  16. At the Southbank Centre, Louis Theroux, Christopher Eccleston and many more will be talking books, specifically along the theme of ‘Living in Future Times’. The modern marvels of the present would seem indistinguishable from magic for someone living 100 years in the past. What does the future hold, and would we be able to believe it? Find out from the 5th to the 16th of October.

  17. London Restaurant Festival
  18. London is the hub of fine dining and has chefs and food from all over the world. With special events and meals in over 350 restaurants around London, it will be particularly adventurous and interesting to eat out during October. There will be restaurant-hopping tours where guests will be able to try a small sample of food from numerous high-class restaurants. There will also be the opportunity to eat the food of world class chefs including Marcus Wareing and Helene Darroze.

  19. Cake and Bake Show
  20. Who doesn’t love the Great British Bake Off? But now that Mel and Sue will be quitting, and the show is moving to Channel 4, many viewers will be craving some stability. Stave off some hunger pangs for the show by attending the Cake and Bake show, in ExCel London, from the 7th to the 9th of October. See stars from the current series as well as past winners give demonstrations alongside speakers.

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Best Christmas Shops in London

Where are the best places in London to do my Christmas shopping, you may be wondering? You’re visiting London on a day out and are looking for some quick tips so that you can plan your presents for everyone down to the letter to make sure they’re perfect. Or, you’re reading this in late December and drastically need to know now before the shops close. Either way, we have the low down on all the best shops for Christmas presents in London. Here’s the definitive answer:

Harrods. It’s near Knightsbridge. Harrods does decoration the best, go here for all your wrapping paper, bows and cards, as well as tree, tinsel and baubles. If you’re going with kids, you might want to check out the Harrods Christmas Grotto. But watch out, Santa’s in high demand. Book tickets for it as early as possible.

Fortnum and Mason. Near Piccadilly Circus, Fortnum and Mason is where you go for luxury hampers, for the foodie in your family. From mini jars of posh preserves to sampler bottles of whisky, it’s for anyone who likes the finer things in life, or someone who likes to hold small things and pretend they’re a giant. What, just me?

Conran Shop. Near South Kensington, the Conran Shop is one you might not have heard of. A fairly recent addition to the high street, it’s chock full of interesting home additions, from perspex reindeer to large sparkly snowflakes. Perfect for the lover of all things Kitsch.

Liberty. A traditional Christmas store perfect for getting crackers, as well as wreaths and stuffed toys. Get to it from Oxford Circus.

Heal’s. Another cool retro shop, with some nice little stocking fillers including artisanal italian soap and bespoke Missoni face flannels. Near Goodge Street.

Selfridges. The toy shop will also provide you with traditional advent calendars, crackers and stocking fillers. You can also get life sized polar bears, but you probably won’t have stockings big enough to put them in.

V&A shop. Perfect for cards and themed gifts. As museum shops go, it’s the most festive by far. Go for the art, stay for the shop. As well as wonderfully designed Christmas cards, felt puppets for children, textiles and floor cushions are worth a look in. Get there by South Kensington.

Paperchase. For the crafty among us, Paperchase is a Christmas miracle. They’ve got designs and cards aplenty, but also the means needed to make your own, if you’re so inclined. After all, it’s the thought that counts.

By the way, MStay’s got a present for all our valued customers: a 10% discount when you book online. Just use the promo code “MSTAY”. Merry Christmas, everyone!

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London Xmas Lights 2016

Christmas is well on its way. And during the holiday season, there’s only one city whose Christmas lights display you need to see. In London, the Christmas lights are always spectacular and seem to get more ostentatious every year. They’ll light up the night sky and help Father Christmas navigate his sleigh around town without having to worry about bumping into Big Ben.

But London’s a big place, so this year the Christmas lights will be turned on over a period of a Month, starting in three weeks on the 1st of November. The first set of lights to be turned on will be in Oxford Street. During the day, when people will be waiting for the lights to light up the night, there will be an opportunity to make use of a one day shopping discount, from 2 pm to 6.30 pm.

On the 7th of November the lights will turn on in Duke of York Square. The square will feature Santa’s Grotto, open to children of all ages to tell the big guy what they want to be gifted this year. Then Santa himself will personally turn on the lights. Festivities will kick off at 2pm with Victorian style carts stuffed with popcorn and roast chestnuts, face painting, reindeer visits and more. While the event is complimentary, you will want to book to meet Santa and perhaps donate to the Duke of Yorke Square’s charity partner, Children and the Arts.

On the 12th of November, it’s off to Carnaby for a shopping party with a massive 20% discount in over 100 shops and restaurants. The event will have live music and a DJ to put you in a festive mood with a seasonal mashup. There’ll be loads on in-store and on the street activities.

On November 15th, Regent Street will be unveiling their brand new, top of the range state of the art Christmas lights installation. The stupendous light show was made with 7.5 miles of cable, 56,000 LED lights and 109,000 gold diamonds. It’s the largest lighting scheme of this kind on Earth, so be one of the first people to see it up close and in all its majesty.

Kingston’s lighting up on the 19th, with a Christmas Carol themed lighting display, with real live characters from the famous Charles Dickens novel to bring some magic to the evening. There will also be the opening of the Kingston Christmas Market, so don’t be a Scrooge and enjoy!

Finally, Hampstead High Street will be having a Christmas festival with a winter wonderland of seasonal food and clothing stalls on November 29th. There will also be live music, a Christmas grotto and reindeer. Fiona Bruce will be turning on the lights.

Whether you’re planning on seeing one or two Christmas lights parties, or all of them, you can count on MStay to provide you with hotel quality and inexpensive accommodation, so that you can spend more money on presents for your nearest and dearest. Use our promotional code “MSTAY” to get 10% off when you book online.

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Staying in London Need Not be Expensive

Staying in London does not have to be expensive

According to many sources, including the estate agents Savills, London is one of the most expensive cities in the world to live and work. London has become more expensive recently, with costs increasing by 18% over the last five years.

Why is London so expensive? Cities which are very profitable tend to have high demand and so the cost of living and accommodation are similarly high. The City is the home of the UK’s financial institutions, one of the largest sectors of our economy.

On top of this, London is home to many amazing sites and cultural landmarks, as well as beautifully maintained parks and community spaces. This brings in tourism from all around the world, who bring money into the city. But this also means that affordable accommodation can be hard to find.

But there are ways for any visitor to London to cut costs and have a cheap and cheerful time. Here are just a few:

  1. Get an Oyster Card
  2. You can use an Oyster card on bus, rail, tube and DLR services to get the best deal on travel within London. Rather than having to get an all day ticket or multiple tickets for different forms of transport, the Oyster card records your journey, calculates the cost and then charges you.

    You can top up the card with credit from your bank account. Instead of paying for a sightseeing tour, you can take a ride on open top buses to see the sites more parsimoniously. You can buy an Oyster card at a tube stop or information center. And then the world, or at least London, is your oyster.

  3. Walk everywhere
  4. An even cheaper mode of transportation is to just walk everywhere. London has many scenic walkways and open spaces including parks, lakes and streets. While London is a big place, you’ll find that as you explore an area on foot, you’ll discover things that you would have missed if you had zoomed by it in a bus.

    While it may be tiring to walk around London all day, at least it will save you the money of membership to a gym, if only while you’re getting the exercise during your visit. If you get tired, you can always take a seat on one of London’s many benches, which feature prominently in parks and public squares.

  5. Visit free sites
  6. There are many free sites and institutions to see in London. There are, for example, loads of free or moderately priced museums in London, from the Museum of London, to the British Museum, to the National Gallery. There are also, as I’ve mentioned, numerous parks and green spaces in which you can walk, sit under a tree or look at a lake while eating a picnic lunch.

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What’s on in September?

Autumn is coming. And while it might be starting to get a bit cooler, you can still enjoy a few sunny days in London. There’s always something going on in the city, so here’s a few of the most important events to look out for:

Meatopia

What’s better at keeping away the chills than a freshly cooked rack of ribs? You can chew over that question at Meatopia, the meat themed carnival (Fun fact: the word “carnival” actually means “farewell to meat”, as it is a period of revelling and eating before giving meat up for Lent) is in its fourth year and will feature expert chefs from all over the place. There will also be contemporary music and craft beer as well as life culinary demonstrations.

Dinner at the Twits

Speaking of eating, why not have dinner with one of Roald Dahl’s most unpleasant anti-heroes, the Twits. Anyone who grew up with Roald Dahl by their bedside table will be enthralled by the live dining performance featuring all the gruesome dishes in the story. It’s a show for overgrown children only, as the worm spaghetti and bird pie will be washed down with alcoholic cocktails.

No Man’s Land

If you’d prefer to see something more adult, you can’t go wrong with the Pinter classic ‘No Man’s Land’, performed by the actors Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen who play writers who spend a tense evening drinking only to be interrupted by a couple of unexpected visitors. The calibre of the actors makes the play unmissable, but it also means tickets will go quickly so book them soon!

Royal Greenwich Tall Ships Festival

A five day festival, the Thames will host dozens of tall-mast sailing ships. It will be the closest many will get to a step into the past, when the Thames was the quickest trading route out of England and the high seas were overrun with pirates and buccaneers. You can take the opportunity to climb aboard the ships, as well as take part in the gigs, festivals and entertainment that will come with them. These same ships will travel in a regatta from Greenwich across the Atlantic in 2017.

Which of these events will you be most looking forward to? Book with MStay and for a limited time only you can save 10% by using the promotional code “MSTAY”. We look forward to seeing you.

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What’s On in London?

August

Visiting London this month? You may be interested to know what events you can look forward to seeing while you’re there. Whether you’re on holiday or visiting for a business trip, there’s always time to see the sites and engage in some exploration. London always has something going on, but it can be difficult to know what to spend your time and money on. Obviously, everyone has different tastes and interests, but with a city as diverse as England’s capital, there’s something for everyone. Here’s a rundown of the biggest and predictably most popular happenings in London sometime in August.

Travel Photographer of the Year

A free exhibition of the best photography from around the world, including artists who have won prizes for their ingenuity and vision. You’ll see polar bears and Chinese countryside streets as you’ve never seen them before, brought to life in stunning detail. Whether the shots are the result of extreme luck or skill, or a mixture of the two, you’ll get lost in the experience of the worlds portrayed through colour and light. Visit the University of Greenwich at various times during August and enjoy.

Rio Olympics in London

The site of the 2016 Olympic Games is Rio de Janeiro, but that doesn’t mean you have to travel all the way to Brazil to enjoy the action. You can come to London where the sports and athletes will be captured on big and small screens around the city. There will also be rolling and up-to-date coverage of all the results so that you can know whether the team you support is on track for some medals, and if so how many. Here’s a list of where you can go in London to catch the action on the big screen.

Great British Beer Festival

Thirsty? Over 18? Then you’re in luck! The Great British Beer Festival is on this year in London. The 900 beers, ales, lagers and ciders will certainly make the festival an event to remember, if only vaguely. Britain’s most popular and accomplished breweries will be there with their own stalls, as well as international beer brewers. Hosted by the Campaign for Real Ale, there will be traditional games and live music. The festival will run from Tuesday 9th August to Saturday 13th August. Learn more about it here.

Notting Hill Carnival

A spectacular tradition bringing Notting Hill and all the local communities to life in an explosion of colour and music. If you haven’t experienced it before, Notting Hill Carnival isn’t to be missed. Starting on Sunday 28th August and ending Monday 29th, the carnival will showcase music and culture from London’s West Indian community. The parade route will go through Notting Hill, Ladbroke Grove and Westbourne Park.

All of these events are unmissable, but you can only see them if you have dependable accommodation in London. MStay provides affordable and secure accommodation with all the modern conveniences you could need.

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What people look for in London accommodation

London is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, and it isn’t hard to see why. London has so much to offer, from famous historical sites to cultural landmarks, endless activities and events as well as vibrant communities and commercial potential. London really does have something for everyone, but London’s popularity means that it is densely populated and good accommodation can be difficult to find. But if you know where to look, you can find Here’s a breakdown of what you should look for in accommodation when staying in London, as well as what MStay can offer.

The View

Having a hotel or apartment with a good view can make all the difference. You get up in the morning and open the curtains: what do you see? A lush green park, or a car park? You may not be spending much of your time in your hotel, as there’s so much in London to see and do, but you nonetheless want a nice view to wake up to, and when you get back to your room in the evening and muse upon what to do the next day. MStay’s hotels and apartments are in full view of some amazing sites, from Kensington Gardens to London Zoo. Find out about the locations of our apartments here.

Transportation

London’s a big place. You want to be able to get around to make the most of your stay. So you’ll need to have some form of transportation. You can make use of London’s excellent public services, travel on the London Underground or take a ride on one of London’s authentic red buses. It’s easy enough to do if your hotel is near to a bus stop or train station. Or if you have a car and there are local car parks to keep it. Many MStay properties are strategically close to stations and areas where you can park your car so as to not have to worry about how to get to where you want to go.

Places of Interest

But why travel far and wide when there’s a lot to do right outside your hotel? Getting a hotel in a location near the places you want to visit can cut down on transport costs and means you spend less time traveling. Do you want to do some shopping? MStay’s Kensington Studios are right next to the renowned Westfield Shopping Centre. Or perhaps you’ve always wanted to see the Sherlock Holmes Museum on Baker Street. Well MStay 146 Suites are a five minute walk away.

Services

Regarding the apartment itself, you’ll no doubt look for good services and modern conveniences. This covers everything from good quality bedding and cleaning facilities to television, WiFi and food provision. MStay apartments are fitted with all these services as standard, as well as daily room cleaning services and facilities to secure your belongings. These are to ensure that your stay is as enjoyable and stress-free as possible, so you can make sure that you focus on your time in London.

Affordable

Finally, is the accommodation affordable? London, for all its virtues, can be an expensive place. If you’re judicious and shop around, there are many reasonably priced restaurants and shops. But inexpensive accommodation can be a little bit harder to find. Fortunately, MStay accommodation is competitively priced, and there’s a chance to get 10% off your stay at MStay by using the promotional code MSTAY when booking. But be sure to book soon while the offer lasts. Follow this advice and you’ll make the most of your time in London.

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How to Backpack in the UK

Why Backpack?

The UK is a beautiful place, and anyone who walks through its many forests, fields, villages and cities is rewarded with innumerable scenes of natural beauty, sites of cultural and historical import and interactions with people from all walks of life. Backpacking has a long and venerable history in the UK, from Dick Whittington who walked from Lancashire to London with his cat, to essayist Bill Bryson who catalogued his travels in ‘Notes on a Small Island’. Backpacking is one of the best ways to get an authentic and complete picture of the country and all that it has to offer. Here are some tips for anyone interested in backpacking in the UK.

Where to Go

Of course, anywhere in the UK is worth a visit. Every village and city has its own character and personality, and you’ll never run out of things to do or see. But there are only so many places you can visit on a backpacking holiday. Some places are very rewarding for backpackers and are well worth a look for anyone planning a holiday. The Lake District is a place you must see to believe: the rolling green hills, the crystal clear lakes, the animals and woods. You can go rambling through fields, sailing in a boat on the lake, and enjoying the view. It’s a perfect place for nature lovers.

Another place to see is Windsor, home of Windsor Castle and Eton College. It’s a place of immense cultural heritage and interest with St George’s Chapel, the Windsor Theatre Royal and the Royal Racecourse. A must-visit place for any fan of the royal family or British history.

Finally, London is a large and diverse metropolitan community, with many parks, shopping centres and museums, theatres and other hubs of entertainment. You may wonder why you should backpack in London, when there is so much public transport. The fact is that London is a big place and while you can visit London by train, there are many parks and public areas that you can walk through and have a great day out.

What you need

If you want to have a backpacking holiday, you will need to prepare. You will need a map of the area and proper clothing, shoes, etc. You will also need a phone, folding money for emergencies and a camera to capture the sites and memories you’ll collect. Also some sandwiches to keep your spirits up.

A Place to Stay

Of course, as a backpacker you’ll move freely around and explore new areas, but you’ll also require a secure and comfortable place to rest. MStay provides budget hotels and accommodation that has all the modern conveniences and is serviced and maintained round the clock. There are a number of options of rooms, including single, double and family. Check out the vacancies available for MStay near to you. There is a 10% discount for people who are staying with MStay by using the voucher code MSTAY.

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Foodies Festival

This weekend there will be a festival for foodies at Blackheath Common in London. The heath is an open field of green, far removed from the hustle and bustle of the City. But from today until Sunday, it will be no doubt the hub of activity, as people make, buy and eat delicious food. The festival will feature Michelin star chefs making top quality grub for the public. The British Street Food Awards will also be held there, with some of the best street food vendors in the country dishing out their wares.

It isn’t just a great way to get some free food, or to sample a wide variety of different cuisines produced by your favourite superstar chefs. It’s also a great way to get a taste of London culture and can enjoy the view of the Blackheath Common. There will also be professional sommeliers who will take you through the concepts surrounding beer and wine, how to categorise them, and how to tell the good from the bad. You’ll be sure to learn a lot about cooking and be able to impress your friends by cooking up fancy and inventive meals with ease. The weather’s going to be good over the weekend, so you can be sure to have an enjoyable day, or weekend, out if you go.

Tickets to the event are £12 a head. A mere 10 miles away from MStay apartments, MStay can provide you with all the necessities of accommodation, including en suite showers, a widescreen television and a continental breakfast in some areas, although presumably you won’t need too much food if you’re going to the Foodies Festival. Check out our vacancies and available rooms to find out where you can go for affordable and high quality accommodation so that you can spend your time enjoying London.

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