While us Brits often complain about the winter weather in London (and the travel chaos sometimes related to it!) there are others positively attracted to the city’s unique winter atmosphere.
But what specifically attracts visitors from the Middle East and particularly those from the Gulf States to London?
- “Home from home” feeling. London is a very tolerant, cosmopolitan city which welcomes people of all races. The main Arab area in central London is concentrated around Edgware Road, with its wealth of superb Middle Eastern restaurants and shisha bars. The area is a treat for all, especially on a Sunday. This blog’s personal favourite Lebanese restaurant in London is just down the road in nearby Bayswater.
- Hotels which pull out all the stops. Wealthier Arab visitors enjoy a touch of winter luxury, particularly when thoughtfully delivered. Several top London hotels considerately provide Arabic news channels, hammams, halal meals, prayer mats and Arabic speaking staff.
- Shopping. With the relative weakness of the British pound and the recent woes in Dubai, London is becoming increasingly attractive. Middle Eastern visitors love their shopping malls (as anyone who has visited or stopped over in the Gulf States can attest to!) and London’s department stores are some of the best in the world. Winter is the perfect time to save big bucks by making the most of the famous “January Sales”.
- The weather! Believe it or not, if you live in a constantly sun-drenched country, a cold chill and the “cosy feeling” that goes with it can be very welcome indeed! Travel agents confirm that Middle Eastern visitors often see the winter weather (especially a bit of snow!) as a bonus.
Best London hotels for Middle Eastern visitors
Here are some of London Hotels Insight’s top recommendations:
The Hilton Metropole has been featured on the blog already due to its proximity to Little Venice and great business facilities. But it’s also right on the Edgware Road, so is popular among Arab visitors wishing to enjoy a London visit which lets them maximise leisure time with family and friends.
Although it’s not the best Hilton in London, the Metropole still currently ranks within the top 200 London hotels on TripAdvisor.
Brown’s in Mayfair is another hotel that offers special packages for Middle Eastern visitors (enquire directly at hotel for details). It is currently in the top 50 London TripAdvisor hotels, delivering true understated luxury.
Brown’s also officially has the best afternoon tea in London and is managed under the watchful eye of hospitality legend Sir Rocco Forte, who has a unique approach both to staff recruitment and complaints handling.
Finally, the Sofitel St James has an award-winning new spa including a wonderful hammam. It is also a beautiful hotel with one of London’s best and most central London locations to enjoy shopping and nightlife.
Sofitel St James is also a TripAdvisor top 10 London hotel and so the service is impeccable too. There’s even gorgeous live piano music every evening!
Photo credits: Sofitel St James, Hilton Metropole, Brown’s (Rocco Forte Hotel Collection).