According to Visit Britain, the United Kingdom tourist industry is expected to hit revenues of over $127 billion in 2013. That number, equaling 9% of Britain’s total GDP, will support an estimated three million jobs this year. London, the most popular destination in the United Kingdom, draws in millions of tourists looking for a mixture of excitement, education, and history.
When friends return from a visit to Italy or France, they often rave about the food — but British food has long had a bad reputation for being bland, strange, or simply unappetizing. Having said that, London Town is home to some of the best traditional British foods in the country. Whether you’re ordering room service at the best hotels in London or you’re heading to the city’s renowned restaurants, here are five British foods you simply must try.
Fish and Chips
According to About.com, the first mention of fish and chips was in a recipe from 1854. Traditional fish and chips uses cod and a light, crispy batter to bring pleasures of both texture and flavor to the taste buds. While over 61% of fish and chips in the country is made of cod, other great varieties include brill and haddock. Whatever version you choose, make sure you put malt vinegar on your chips (french fries) and indulge in a dark beer to elevate the meal.
Yorkshire pudding is, arguably, the quintessential English dish, served in the kitchens of London’s best hotels and throughout its many restaurants. Yorkshire pudding, as Project Britain writes, is made from flour, eggs, milk, and the drippings of the roast beef that generally accompanies the pudding. This is a savory pudding meant for Sunday dinners.
Lemon Cardamom Syllabub
One of the many dishes that came from the British Empire’s 350 year presence in India, Lemon Cardamom Syllabub is little more than a clotted cream that’s been flavored with lemon, cardamom, sugar, and brandy. With a flavor combining the punch of citrus and brandy, this is a local favorite, and no doubt will become one of yours as well.
Touted by Serious Eats as one of the best foods for absorbing excess beer and curing hangovers, onion bahji is a dish of fried, spiced onions. Like the syllabub, onion bahji is an Anglo-Indian dish, combining pakora with onion rings for an amazing Asian-English amalgam.
If you were to ask the staff at your hotel accommodations what the strangest British food is, chances are pretty good that they would mention jellied eels. As the name implies, these eels are jellied, making for a strange textural experience. According to Eat Your World, jellied eels hold their origins in 18th century England. Boiling eels from the River Thames and allowing them to cool causes the eels to secrete a gelatin, transforming them into one of England’s most traditional, if often feared, dishes.
If you’re unsure where to try these quintessential examples of British food, ask your hotel staff. The best hotels will be able to direct you to the city’s best providers of each dish. Many of the Big Smoke’s best hotels will even offer these dishes from their room service menus. Just remember to keep an open mind!
London, the ninth largest city in the world, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Indeed, according to Visit Britain, 31.1 million international visitors came to the city on the River Thames in 2012, generating £18.6 billion for local hotels and attractions. With a city as beautiful and historically important as London Town, it’s no surprise that the city has found such popularity as a tourist attraction in the 20th and 21st centuries.
What many people who are unfamiliar with the city don’t know, however, is just how magical the area becomes when the Christmas spirit begins to flow from shop to shop, between families and friends, filling the air with a sort of whimsy and tangible energy that is rarely found elsewhere. Subsequently, winter is one of the best times to take a European vacation to the heart of the United Kingdom, and the symbolic first city of the European Union. Whether you stay in premier hotel accommodations or you stay in the best hotels on a budget, London truly comes alive when it is preparing for Saint Nick to arrive.
Enjoy Your European Holiday Like a Local!
As LondonTown.com writes, to celebrate your European holiday like a local means visiting your favorite pub, watching the horse races, and shopping at the city’s wide variety of seasonal markets. For many, however, it means taking a chilly dip in the Serpentine lake. Every Christmas day since 1864, Londoners have gathered for a “polar bear” dip in the Serpentine, followed shortly there after, we’re sure, with a visit to their local pub for a warming ale.
Belgravia Christmas Sunday
Every Christmas season is marked by Belgravia Christmas Sunday. Seemingly by the spirit of Christmas itself, some of London’s most regal streets are transformed from their everyday splendor into that of Christmastime celebrations. Pimlico Road, Motcomb Street, and others get a holiday makeover as seasonal markets open, carolers and brass players bring their music to the streets, and Santa himself, along with his trusty reindeer, comes to meet the season.
Frolic and Play in a Winter Wonderland
Many locals will say that no European holiday in London is complete without a trip to Winter Wonderland, a Hyde Park attraction that sees the area turned into a holiday delight unlike any other. Whether for ice skating, shopping at the Angels and Yuletide Markets, or warming the heart, soul, and stomach at the Famous Bavarian Village, Winter Wonderland is a holiday staple for locals and tourists on their European holidays. As an added bonus, admission is free!
Coming to London for a European holiday would be senseless unless you’re willing to do it like a local. Whether it’s a near-bare dip in the Serpentine, a stroll and shopping through the ever elegant Belgravia Christmas Sunday, or walking through a Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, London is truly at its best when it’s celebrating the city’s collective Christmas cheer.