Helen Ochyra

Correspondent

  • London, England, UK

Helen Ochyra is a London correspondent for Forbes Travel Guide. Ochyra’s articles have been published in U.K. newspapers The Guardian, The Times and The Independent, as well as in a wide variety of international magazines. She has written guidebooks for Rough Guides and Michelin and an app called Quirky London. Aside from London and the U.K., Ochyra also specializes in writing about the U.S. and Australia. She lives in Enfield, North London, with her husband, Douglas.

  • On May 12, 2013
    Helen Ochyra answered the question: Helen Ochyra

    What are the best tours of London?

    London can be overwhelming, so letting someone show you around can be the best way to see the city. There are literally hundreds of different options, but I recommend the following for something a little bit different:

    On water
    RIB Tours London offer the city's most thrilling tour. Board a speedboat for an exhilarating journey along the Thames, taking in the sights all the way from the Houses of Parliament to Canary Wharf, including the Tate Modern, Shakespeare's Globe and Tower Bridge – after which the speed restrictions are lifted and things get really interesting!

    On land
    Discover the city's Harry Potter connections on a Muggle Tours walk around locations from the films. Small groups and passionate guides make for an unforgettable experience, with sights such as the entrance to the Leaky Cauldron, the inspiration for Diagon Alley and the public entrance to the Ministry of Magic seen en route from London Bridge to Leicester Square.

    By air
    The best view of London has to be by air and London Helicopter Tours offer one of the best experiences in the capital. Board your own private chopper for a flight along the Thames and over the Houses of Parliment, the London Eye, Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, St Pauls Cathedral and HMS Belfast.
  • On May 6, 2013
    Andi Berens is now following Helen Ochyra
  • On May 3, 2013
    Helen Ochyra answered the question: Helen Ochyra

    What are the best tours of London?

    London can be overwhelming, so letting someone show you around can be the best way to see the city. There are literally hundreds of different options, but I recommend the following for something a little bit different:

    On water
    The Thames RIB Experience is London's most thrilling tour. Board a speedboat for an exhilarating journey along the Thames, taking in the sights all the way out to the Thames Barrier, including Canary Wharf, the O2 and Greenwich.

    On land
    Discover the city's Harry Potter connections on a Muggle Tours walk around locations from the films. Small groups and passionate guides make for an unforgettable experience, with sights such as the entrance to the Leaky Cauldron, the inspiration for Diagon Alley and the public entrance to the Ministry of Magic seen en route from London Bridge to Leicester Square.

    By air
    The best view of London has to be by air and London Helicopter Tours offer one of the best experiences in the capital. Board your own private chopper for a flight along the Thames and over the Houses of Parliment, the London Eye, Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, St Pauls Cathedral and HMS Belfast.
  • On May 3, 2013
    Helen Ochyra answered the question: Helen Ochyra

    What’s happening this weekend in London?

    This weekend is a bank holiday in London, meaning that most people will have Monday off too. The three-day weekend is always an excuse for a party and this one will be no different. Here are the best events going on:

    Streetfest
    StreetFest is the first and only live art street festival in UK. The performers taking part are drawn from a collective of creative painters, architects, designers, illustrators, skaters and writers who will be devising unique ways to express themselves through live demos, screenings and shows. This could only happen in Shoreditch, the heart of London's trendy East End.

    London's Brewing
    Craft beer is big business in London at the moment and this festival showcases the best of the brewing scene. Taste more than 100 beers from the 40 different breweries that make up the London Brewers Alliance, and listen to live music from local artists.

    UK Air Guitar Championships
    Try out your air guitar skills on stage or join the audience to watch others compete for a place in August's world championships. The loudest cheer wins it, so make some noise for your favourite performers.
  • On May 3, 2013
    Helen Ochyra answered the question: Helen Ochyra

    What new hotels are in London?

    New hotels are opening in London all the time, and 2013 is no exception with international big hitters opening up outposts and once-grand abodes reopening their doors. Check in to one of these top three new hotels to check out how London keeps itself at the forefront of the luxury hotel scene.

    ME by Melia
    This much-anticipated new opening from the Spanish Melia chain was designed by the award-winning Foster + Partners and sits on the site of the BBC's first building, from which they made their first ever music broadcast. As an homage the rooftop bar is called Radio, and features panoramic views over the city. Sleek American steakhouse chain STK have opened their first restaurant outside the US here too, and rooms are sumptuous with spa-like rainfall showers.

    Great Northern Hotel
    This Kings Cross landmark first opened its doors in 1854, its slender curved brick exterior designed and built by Victorian master architect Lewis Cubitt. After decades of closure, this wonderful building has been fully revamped and modernised, reopening in April. Rooms are elegant, with an abudance of natural light and a timeless Farrow & Ball colour palette, while the GNH bar combines sleek 1920s Art Deco with Belle Epoque glamour.

    Shangri-La
    You know what you're getting with Shangri-La, and that what you're getting will be great. This brand new luxury hotel will occupy the spire of the Shard, London's newest landmark, and offer truly opulent rooms with unique views of the city.
  • On May 2, 2013
    Helen Ochyra answered the question: Helen Ochyra

    What are the best indoor activities in London?

    London is known for its unpredictable weather, but the upside to this is that the city has an answer to the rain – an excellent range of indoor activities.

    Museums
    London could probably claim to have the best range of museums in the world, so take your pick. For art, head to the National Gallery for paintings from the 13th to 19th centuries, the National Portrait Gallery for portraits of every famous Brit from Isaac Newton to Kate Middleton, or Tate Modern for modern and contemporary art. In South Kensington, the Natural History Museum has a fantastic dinosaur section and
    the V&A pays homage to great design, while the Science Museum has galleries on everything from space to the human body.

    Theatre
    Head to the West End to take in a musical. The Book of Mormon, Matilda and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory are all recent editions with rave reviews, while Phantom of the Opera and Agatha Christie's Mousetrap have been running so long most Londoners can't remember a time before them. Alternatively, head to Sadlers Wells for dance, or the Coliseum for opera.

    Sports
    Going indoors needn't mean not getting active. The Oasis Sports Centre has an indoor pool and squash courts, or head to the Ellis Brigham store in Covent Garden to try your hand at ice climbing on their Vertical Chill indoor ice wall. In Finsbury Park, the Castle Climbing Centre has indoor climbing walls, lessons and abseiling.

    Shopping
    Westfield's massive shopping centres were made for wet weather days. Shop hundreds of different stores and eat at one of the dozens of restaurants, all without setting foot outside. There are two centres: Westfield London in the west and Westfield Stratford City in the east.
  • On May 2, 2013
    Helen Ochyra answered the question: Helen Ochyra

    What are the best indoor activities in London?

    London is known for its unpredictable weather, but the upside to this is that the city has an answer to the rain – an excellent range of indoor activities.

    Museums
    London could probably claim to have the best range of museums in the world, so take your pick. For art, head to the National Gallery for paintings from the 13th to 19th centuries, the National Portrait Gallery for portraits of every famous Brit from Isaac Newton to Kate Middleton, or Tate Modern for modern and contemporary art. In South Kensington, the Natural History Museum has a fantastic dinosaur section and
    the V&A pays homage to great design, while the Science Museum has galleries on everything from space to the human body.

    Theatre
    Head to the West End to take in a musical. The Book of Mormon, Matilda and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory are all recent editions with rave reviews, while Phantom of the Opera and Agatha Christie's Mousetrap have been running so long most Londoners can't remember a time before them. Alternatively, head to Sadlers Wells for dance, or the Coliseum for opera.

    Sports
    Going indoors needn't mean not getting active. The Oasis Sports Centre has an indoor pool and squash courts, or head to the Ellis Brigham store in Covent Garden to try your hand at ice climbing on their Vertical Chill indoor ice wall. In Finsbury Park, the Castle Climbing Centre has indoor climbing walls, lessons and abseiling.

    Shopping
    Westfield's massive shopping centres were made for wet weather days. Shop hundreds of different stores and eat at one of the dozens of restaurants, all without setting foot outside. There are two centres: Westfield London in the west and Westfield Stratford City in the east.
  • On May 2, 2013
    Helen Ochyra answered the question: Helen Ochyra

    What are the best luxury hotels in London?

    London does luxury like nowhere else. Butlers, afternoon tea and a particularly British standard of silver service mark out the hotels here with a style all their own. But each one retains its own distinct character and choosing the right one for you is a big decision that can make or break your stay.

    The Savoy
    Out and out glamour is what the Savoy is all about and the hotel's art deco style is truly opulent. Stay here for old-school bling and five-star rooms with lush fabrics and river views. The American Bar should not be missed for cocktails, and afternoon tea in the Thames Foyer is an unforgettable experience. The hotel's location on the Strand makes it convenient for the West End.

    The Ritz
    Elegant and calming, the Ritz is the quintessential London hotel. Stay here for gold-standard service, rooms with country house style and views over the park, and the most highly regarded afternoon tea in town. Located on Piccadilly, overlooking Green Park, a stay here gives easy access to both the West End and Knightbridge, to the west.

    The Lanesborough
    Like staying with a very rich friend, the Lanesborough is the last word in hospitality. The first hotel to be designed around the butler, there is someone quite literally at your beck and call at all times, and rooms are as extremely homely. Located at Hyde Park Corner, this hotel also has lovely views over the park.
  • On May 2, 2013
    Helen Ochyra answered the question: Helen Ochyra

    What are the best food gifts to buy in London?

    Food in London has come on leaps and bounds in the past couple of decades and pretty much any type of food gift you can think of can be bought here. But there are some things that London does particularly well, so I recommend the following top three buys:

    Tea
    London loves tea and this has to be the quintessential British foodie gift to take home with you. Head to Fortnum and Mason on Piccadilly to buy Fortnum's blends such as the Royal Blend or the Earl Grey Classic. You could even stop for afternoon tea here, one of the best in town.

    Cheese
    British cheese can claim to be among the best in the world and there are literally hundreds of different types available. At Neals Yard Dairy in Covent Garden you'll find only cheeses made on British farms and can choose from hard cheeses such as Appleby's Cheshire and Wensleydale, soft cheeses such as St Jude and Tunworth, blue cheeses like Shropshire Blue and Stichelton, and washed rind varieties including Gubbeen and Stinking Bishop.

    Gin
    There were once dozens of gin distilleries in London and after a long period of decline, this thoroughly British drink is back in vogue. Sipsmith kicked it all off in 2009, the first copper-pot distillery to open within the city limits for almost 200 years. Visit for a tour and leave with a bottle of London Dry Gin.
  • On April 26, 2013
    Helen Ochyra answered the question: Helen Ochyra

    What are the best golf courses in London?

    London is surrounded by great golf courses but you will have to travel out to the suburbs and beyond to find them. These are my top three:

    Wentworth
    This upmarket club on the fringes of West London in Surrey is well-known for its high quality championship courses. Everyone from Rory McIlroy and Nick Faldo to Seve Ballesteros and Tiger Woods have played here and there are three courses to choose from, the best of which is the 7,281-yard West Course. From £95 (£195 on West Course).

    Enfield Golf Club
    This friendly golf club in Enfield, north London can be reached in just 25 minutes by train from Kings Cross and was one of the first 500 clubs to be founded in the UK. A mature parkland course, it is 6,154 yards in length and will challenge golfers of all levels. Green fees from £20.

    Mill Hill Golf Club
    One of the closest golf courses to central London, this 6,247-yard course opened in the 1920s. Tee times can be booked online and green fees start at just £32.
  • On April 26, 2013
    Helen Ochyra answered the question: Helen Ochyra

    What are the best bars in London?

    London has a bar for every mood. Here is my guide to where to go when.

    Feeling lazy
    Take a seat by the crackling fire in the Three Kings in Clerkenwell and order real ales and hearty pub grub. This traditional pub may be comfy, but it's certainly not dull - kitsch bric a brac and an ancient jukebox make the decor as appealing as the atmosphere.

    Feeling glam
    Pass through the revolving door of Buddha Bar in Knightsbridge and you'll find an inviting, seductive atmosphere that whispers to you to sit awhile and enjoy a decadent cocktail. Low-lit by bulbs hanging in birdcages, this dark and stylish bar serves up a fine wine list too, not to mention some fantastic snacks and sushi, including truly addictive chilli edamame beans.

    Feeling funky
    Joe's in Camden can't be beat for a fun night out without the hassle. This 1950s American rock and roll bar attracts a slightly older, more discerning crowd who wash down their hotdogs with cocktails and pack the dancefloor daily until 3am.

    Feeling chatty
    A quiet pub in central London can be hard to find but thanks to its position tucked away on Ely Place, near Farringdon, Ye Olde Mitre remains delightfully undiscovered - and so makes a great place for proper chat over a proper pint. There's heavyweight history here too - Queen Elizabeth is said to have danced around the cherry tree at the door with Sir Christopher Hatton.

    Feeling flush
    Relatively few London bars have view out over the city, so those that do can afford to charge prices as sky high as they are. Madison at new development One New Change offers an extensive wine list at fair prices (from £6 a glass) and gorgeous views over St Pauls Cathedral.
  • On April 26, 2013
    Helen Ochyra answered the question: Helen Ochyra

    What are the best bookstores in London?

    Nobody told London that the bookstore was a dying breed. The city is still home to numerous shops selling books both generally and on specific subjects. Here are my top picks for the best:

    Stanfords:
    This is THE place to come to for travel books. Guidebooks focused on every corner of the globe fill the shelves, along with travel narratives and a massive collection of maps that you could get lost in for days. There's also a cafe here and the location in the heart of Covent Garden makes it a popular place to pop in and browse. Talks on all things travel take place some evenings too.

    Foyles:
    Ever the generalist, Foyles has been selling books of all shapes and sizes from its Charing Cross Road branch for as long as anyone can remember. This is a place to linger and explore, with books on everything from astronomy to zoology. There are also newer branches at St Pancras, Royal Festival Hall, Westfield Stratford City and Westfield White City too.

    Grant & Cutler:
    Need something in a language other than English? This foreign language bookshop stocks the UK's largest selection of non-English tomes and although it specialises in the major Western European languages and Russian they also pride themselves on covering all living languages, from Afrikaans to Zulu.

    London Review Bookshop:
    You won't find just any old book here, only those specially selected by the London Review of Books. It makes for an inspiring selection, running the gamut from politics and current affairs to poetry and philosophy. Browse awhile and stop for tea and cakes in the small cafe.
  • On April 23, 2013
    Michelle Doucette is now following Helen Ochyra
  • On March 27, 2013
    Helen Ochyra answered the question: Helen Ochyra

    What’s new in London?

    The View from the Shard There's always something new in London and 2013 is no exception.

    The biggest opening of the year is the Shard. The View from the Shard viewing gallery is 300 metres up above London Bridge and allows visitors to see all of London spread out beneath their feet, from Wembley Stadium and Windsor Castle in the west, to Canary Wharf and the Thames Barrier in the east, and to the Tower of London and the Houses of Parliament directly below. Not to be missed, if you can spare the £24.95 per adult admission charge.

    In theatreland the big news is the opening of Book of Mormon, the musical about Mormon missionairies from Trey Parker and Matt Stone, of South Park. Tickets have become like Willy Wonka's golden ticket and are hard to come by but if you can get hold of one, you won't find a better evening's entertainment in the West End at the moment. And speaking of that golden ticket, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: the Musical also opens in May.

    New bars are also always opening up and the latest place to be seen is BYOC. The entry charge of £20 gets you corkage of whatever beverages you choose to bring with you - mixed by expert bartenders in what is arguably London's most speakeasy-like atmosphere.
  • On March 26, 2013
    Helen Ochyra answered the question: Helen Ochyra

    What’s new in London?

    The View from the Shard There's always something new in London and 2013 is no exception.

    The biggest opening of the year is the Shard. The View from the Shard viewing gallery is 300 metres up above London Bridge and allows visitors to see all of London spread out beneath their feet, from Wembley Stadium and Windsor Castle in the west, to Canary Wharf and the Thames Barrier in the east, and to the Tower of London and the Houses of Parliament directly below. Not to be missed, if you can spare the £24.95 per adult admission charge.

    In theatreland the big news is the opening of Book of Mormon, the musical about Mormon missionairies from Trey Parker and Matt Stone, of South Park. Tickets have become like Willy Wonka's golden ticket and are hard to come by but if you can get hold of one, you won't find a better evening's entertainment in the West End at the moment. And speaking of that golden ticket, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: the Musical also opens in May.

    New bars are also always opening up and the latest place to be seen is BYOC. The entry charge of £20 gets you corkage of whatever beverages you choose to bring with you - mixed by expert bartenders in what is arguably London's most speakeasy-like atmosphere.