Jo Caird

Correspondent

  • London, England, UK

Born and brought up in London, Jo Caird is a correspondent who covers the city for Forbes Travel Guide. She writes on travel and the arts, reporting on a range of issues relating to the international culture scene, including theater, visual arts, film, literature, food and drink. Her travel stories, city guides and arts features appear regularly in newspapers, including The Guardian, The Independent and The Sunday Telegraph, and magazines, such as The Economist, Condè Nast Traveller and World of Interiors. Caird is never happier than when exploring her native city, except perhaps when telling people about the things she’s discovered there.

  • On May 27, 2013
    Jo Caird answered the question: Jo Caird

    What are the best family hotels in London?

    Take your pick of these top family hotels to make sure that the kids get as much out of your London accommodation as you do.

    Browns
    Book one of the hotel's family packages – choosing between interconnecting or adjacent rooms for the children – and take advantage of welcome gifts chosen with your little ones' ages in mine. Also on the menu are bathtime playthings and the use of games consoles. The adults, meanwhile, are treated to a bottle of champagne on arrival. 

    41
    This boutique establishment just across the road from the Royal Mews – an attraction that kids will love – has a really warm, family feel about it. Sweets, drinks and snacks are available 24 hours a day in the living-room like executive lounge, as well as an enormous selection of board games. If you're looking for a home away from home, this is it.

    Ampersand
    If the nearby Science Museum and Natural History Museum haven't tired your little ones out, the games room at this gorgeous design hotel – with its collection of boards games and table tennis table – will surely finish them off. They'll also love the rubber ducks found in every bathroom and the delightful family friendly service.
  • On May 25, 2013
    Jo Caird answered the question: Jo Caird

    What are the best things about fall in London?

    London usually stays warm until around the end of October, making fall a good time to visit if you want to make the most of outdoor activities such as exploring on foot and taking in the city's gorgeous green spaces. Arts events such as the Liberty Festival (date TBC) – which showcases leading deaf and disabled artists and companies – and the Mayor's Thames Festival (6-15 September) – which specialises in huge scale riverside spectaculars – will keep culture vultures happy, while Open House London (21-22 September) offers an amazing opportunity to sneak a peak inside some of the city's most iconic buildings. The Pearly Kings and Queens Society Costermongers Harvest Festival (29 September) is a quirky tradition that sees London's 'other royal family' parade through the streets of the City dressed in their instantly recognisable pearl button-encrusted suits.

    Later in the fall, Guy Fawkes, or Bonfire Night, is a very welcome distraction from falling temperatures. Celebrated on 5 November each year with bonfires and firework displays, Guy Fawkes commemorates the failure of a Catholic plot against the Protestant monarch James I in 1605. If you're planning a trip to the capital in November, this quintessentially British event should not be missed.
  • On May 22, 2013
    Jo Caird answered the question: Jo Caird

    What are the best adventure outings in London?

    Visitors looking for an adrenaline rush on a trip to London can get their kicks right in the centre of town. Thames Rib Experience high-speed boat tours to either Canary Wharf or the Thames Barrier leave from Embankment Pier. This bumpy ride past London's top riverside attractions is not for the faint-hearted, but it's fantastic fun. A more leisurely, but no less thrilling, option is a kayaking tour: Kayaking London offers a range of routes, including a two-and-half-hour nighttime tour from Chelsea to Big Ben and back.

    Heading east along the river we come to The o2 Arena (formerly the Millennium Dome), one of London's most famous modern landmarks. Don a climbing suit and safety harness and take a guided tour over the top of the 52-metre tented dome – the views of the Thames and surrounding area are spectacular. An even more active climbing experience is on offer at Go Ape! at Trent Park in North London. The Tree Top Adventure will see you tackling ladders, ropes, bridges and zip wires.
  • On May 20, 2013
    Jo Caird answered the question: Jo Caird

    What are the best things about summer in London?

    Summer is a fantastic time to come to London because there are so many different aspects of the city to experience at this time of year. You can visit museums and galleries, attend West End shows and go shopping whatever the weather, but if you want to make the most of the capital's parks and gardens too, then a summertime visit is a must. There's something for everyone, from cultural events such as Opera Holland Park to outdoor pursuits like swimming in the Serpentine in Hyde Park.

    We also do al fresco drinking and dining very well here. Pavement space for tables is at a premium in the centre of town, but venture down side streets and alleyways to take advantage of pedestrianised areas such as Neal's Yard in Covent Garden and St. Christopher's Place, which is tucked away behind Oxford Street. Many hotels have fantastic terrace bars and restaurants too.

    My final tip for London in the summer is the huge number of festivals and open air arts events taking place. Check out the Greenwich + Docklands International Festival (21-29 June), Film4 Summer Screen at Somerset House and, new this year to mark the opening of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, the Open East Festival (27-28 July).
  • On May 18, 2013
    Jo Caird answered the question: Jo Caird

    What are the best water activities in London?

    London has its fair share of sports clubs and swimming pools, but the best water activities in the capital are undoubtedly those that take place outdoors. We'll start with the leisurely ones and graduate to those that require a little exertion or daring (or both).

    A trip on a Thames riverboat is an atmospheric way of experiencing the city. Hop on a London Transport river bus service or take a sightseeing tour with City Cruises and learn about the history of the Thames as you go. The Regent's Canal is another charming watery route through the capital. Check out the London Canal Museum's website for a list of boat operators that navigate the picturesque Little Venice-to-Camden route.

    Take to the tiller yourself in Regent's Park and Hyde Park, where you can hire row and pedal boats by the half hour and hour respectively. Or go kayaking on the Thames and Regent's Canal with London Kayak Tours. The Lea Valley White Water Centre, meanwhile, where the canoeing and kayaking events of the London 2012 Olympic Games were held, offers white water canoeing, as well as kayaking, sailing and rowing.

    If you're happier in the water than on it, take a dip at one of London's lidos – at London Fields the water is kept at a comfortable 25 degrees celcius, while Tooting Bec, the largest fresh water, open air swimming pool in England, is unheated. My favourite place for open air swimming in London is the ponds at Hampstead Heath. Choose between the serene and civilised Men's and Ladies' Ponds or the more child-friendly Mixed Pond – all three are open 365 days a year.
  • On May 16, 2013
    Jo Caird answered the question: Jo Caird

    What are the best things about spring in London?

    London may be the biggest and busiest city in the UK but wherever you are in the capital you're never far from a patch of greenery. In the springtime London's parks, commons and garden squares come to life: office workers on their lunch breaks crowd onto benches and picnic on any patch of grass they can find. Daffodils and tulips pop up all over the place and the smell of freshly cut grass hangs in the air, while blossom dropped by trees blows down the streets like snow, piles of the stuff collecting in the gutters before being washed away with the next shower of rain.

    The weather changes quickly in London in the springtime. Mornings that feel like the arrival of summer are followed by afternoons that are blustery and grey. You wear an overcoat to work one day and a summer dress the next. You never know what you're going to get.
  • On May 16, 2013
    Catherine E. Toth is now following Jo Caird
  • On May 11, 2013
    Jo Caird answered the question: Jo Caird

    What is the best way to haggle in London?

    Haggling isn’t something we really do in London. Even at markets, items tend to be priced at the level that stallholders feel is appropriate. That situation you experience in some places where you end up paying half the original price quoted just doesn’t happen here. (The only place where you'll find proper haggling is at car boot sales, but as a visitor to London you’re unlikely to find yourself at one of these flea market/yard sale affairs unless you go looking for them.)

    Asking for a discount if you buy several items or pay in cash will sometimes yield savings. This is only likely to save you a small amount of money and is only ever worth trying in independent shops or at market stalls, but if you’re the type of person who gets a thrill from finding a deal, then by all means give it a go. Needless to say perhaps, but being charming and polite will increase your chances of success in almost all scenarios.
  • On May 10, 2013
    Jo Caird answered the question: Jo Caird

    What are the best technology hotels in London?

    It wasn’t all that long ago that the presence of wi-fi and a flat screen TV marked a hotel out as hi-tech. These days, however, such amenities come as standard and technophile guests are seeking out ever more innovative gadgets and services. The following hotels all have something a little different on offer.
     
    Eccleston Square Hotel
    This adults-only hotel located not far from Victoria Station was hailed as London’s most hi-tech hotel when it opened in 2011. Fully adjustable electronic beds with massage settings, a personal iPad 2 in each room, HD 3D NeoPlasma TVs with on-demand 3D movies delivered to your room for free and flatscreen bathroom TVs concealed behind steam-proof mirrors are just some of the treats available.
     
    CitizenM
    There’s no reception desk at this smart Bankside hotel, just a bank of touch-screen computers where guests check themselves in. All the amenities in each compact room are controlled via a personalized Samsung tablet – from switching the lights on and off to setting the ‘mood’ of the room with music and visuals on the flat screen TV to having the room wake you up in the morning. There's no robot butler, but a tablet that does your every bidding is surely the next best thing.
     
    Four Seasons Park Lane
    The Four Seasons Park Lane combines old school luxury with state-of-the-art technology. The focus is on entertainment here with a plasma TV, DVD player, PlayStation and iPod dock in each room. Laptops and printers are available on request and business travellers will appreciate the multi-line telephones with conference calling capability. Many of the suites also have bathrooms with integrated TVs in the mirrors.
  • On May 8, 2013
    Jo Caird answered the question: Jo Caird

    What are the best places to buy shoes in London?

    For me, the best place to buy shoes is somewhere with a lot of different styles and brands to choose from. Selfridges, home to the largest shoe department in the world, is therefore the ideal place to begin a footwear quest. The sprawling women’s shoe galleries have been around for a few years now, but the men’s area only opened in 2012. The tens of thousands of pairs on offer range from high street brands all the way up to made-to-measure products from designer names. Exploring the galleries can be a bewildering experience, but there's no doubt that this is a shoe lover’s heaven. The Harrods Shoe Salon isn’t on quite the same scale as its Selfridges equivalent, but the range of designer brands on offer at this luxurious location is certainly not to be sniffed at. Name a top designer of shoes, boots or sandals and chances are you’ll find them represented here.

    For a more manageable shoe shopping experience, I like Poste Mistress in Covent Garden (61-63 Monmouth Street, WC2H 9EP; 020 7379 4040). The big sister boutique of high street footwear favourite Office, Poste Mistress stocks its own-brand range as well as a selection of designer names including Eley Kishimoto, Stella McCartney and Miu Miu. The store sells women’s shoes only but male footwear fans shouldn’t feel left out – Poste, Office’s upmarket men’s shoes boutique can be found in Mayfair (10 South Molton Street, W1K 5QJ; 020 7499 8002).
  • On May 8, 2013
    Jo Caird answered the question: Jo Caird

    What are the best places to buy shoes in London?

    For me, the best place to buy shoes is somewhere with a lot of different styles and brands to choose from. Selfridges, home to the largest shoe department in the world, is therefore the ideal place to begin a footwear quest. The sprawling women’s shoe galleries have been around for a few years now, but the men’s area only opened in 2012. The tens of thousands on pairs on offer range from high street brands all the way up to made-to-measure products from designer names. Exploring the galleries can be a bewildering experience, but there's no doubt that this is a shoe lover’s heaven. The Harrods Shoe Salon isn’t on quite the same scale as its Selfridges equivalent, but the range of designer brands on offer at this luxurious location is certainly not to be sniffed at. Name a top designer of shoes, boots or sandals and chances are you’ll find them represented here.

    For a more manageable shoe shopping experience, I like Poste Mistress in Covent Garden (61-63 Monmouth Street, WC2H 9EP; 020 7379 4040). The big sister boutique of high street footwear favourite Office, Poste Mistress stocks its own-brand range as well as a selection of designer names including Eley Kishimoto, Stella McCartney and Miu Miu. The store sells women’s shoes only but male footwear fans shouldn’t feel left out – Poste, Office’s upmarket men’s shoes boutique can be found in Mayfair (10 South Molton Street, W1K 5QJ; 020 7499 8002).
  • On May 3, 2013
    Jo Caird answered the question: Jo Caird

    What are the best neighborhoods in London?

    Almost every area in London has something to recommend it. Whether that's an unusual arts venue, traditional boozer or old-fashioned street market, there are hidden gems all over the place, even in the sorts of neighbourhoods that don't usually make it into the guidebooks. It's often worth venturing off the beaten track.

    That said, there are a handful of areas that all visitors to London should experience. Here are they.

    West End
    The West End offers galleries, theatres, restaurants, bars and boutiques galore. Visit the big touristy spots (Piccadilly Circus, Leicester Square, Oxford Street) if you haven't done so before, but make time to lose yourself in the backstreets too. Lesser known places like Berwick Street Market, Cecil Court, with its antiquarian bookshops, and the bars and restaurants of Charlotte Street all have a unique flavour.

    Primrose Hill
    It's often said that London is a city of villages – there's no better place to get a sense of this phenomenon than in Primrose Hill. Independent shops, bars and cafés line the charming high street, while regency-era townhouses overlook the park that gives the area its name. The views from the top of the hill are spectacular.

    South Kensington
    Not only is this area home to the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum, it's got Kensington Gardens right on its doorstep. This is the prettiest part of Hyde Park and a great place to while away an afternoon: stroll through the Italian Gardens, pop in see some world-class contemporary art at the Serpentine Gallery and admire the iconic statue of Peter Pan to the west of the Long Water.

    Shoreditch
    This neighbourhood has changed a lot in the last two decades, going from scuzzy through arty and trendy to become one of the city's most popular spots for nightlife on the one hand and shopping on the other. Some bemoan the inevitable loss of character that accompanies such an evolution, citing in particular the arrival of various retail and restaurant chains, but there's still plenty to love about this buzzy area. Don't miss Spitalfields Market, Brick Lane for vintage and independent shops and Hoxton Square for bars and cafés.
  • On April 29, 2013
    Jo Caird answered the question: Jo Caird

    What is the best time to visit London?

    There's plenty to do all year round in London, but for me, the spring and summer months are when the city really comes to life. Visit in June or July and take advantage of long days, warm evenings for al fresco drinking and dining and innovative outdoor arts festivals showcasing the best in music, theatre, film and visual arts (two to check out are the Greenwich + Docklands International Festival and the City of London Festival). You'll find parks full of people picnicking and barbecuing (Brits reach for their meat tongs at the slightest hint of warm weather – our enthusiasm for outdoor cooking despite the vagaries of our weather says a great deal about the national character), garden squares in beautiful bloom and the banks of the River Thames crowded with summertime strollers. Major sporting events such as Wimbledon are a chance to see an entire city obsessed, while Royal Ascot and the Henley Royal Regatta offer a unique slice of British life.

    Of course it's not always warm and sunny in the summer here. But when the weather takes a turn for the worse, there's a huge range of exhibitions taking place at our galleries and museums and fantastic theatre on offer all over the capital. Some people love Paris in the springtime – I love London in the summer.
  • On April 26, 2013
    Jo Caird answered the question: Jo Caird

    What are the best places to spot celebrities in London?

    From royals and popstars to actors and sports personalities, London is jam-packed with celebrities. Here's where you'll find them.

    Restaurant
    If you want to dine with the stars, The Ivy is a safe bet. Celebrity tastes are constantly changing, with restaurants going in and out of fashion all the time, but The Ivy has been a favourite with London's famous faces for years now. Its location in the heart of Theatreland is a big draw for actors and other creative types – go late in the evening once the shows have come down for your best chance of spotting the likes of Helen Mirren, Judi Dench and Kevin Spacey.

    Bar
    Membership of a top private members' club such as the Groucho or Loulou's may still be the best route to partying with celebrities, but don't despair if you lack the contacts for such a night out. Recently refurbished Mayfair bar and club Mahiki is open to all and is one of Prince Harry's go-to places. Singer Rihanna, actor James Corden and British diving champion Tom Daley have all been spotted there recently.
     
    Neighbourhood
    Take a stroll through pretty Primrose Hill Village on any day of the week and you're likely to spot one of the area's many famous residents. The original Primrose Hill 'set' included Kate Moss, Jude Law, Sadie Frost, Ewan McGregor and Rhys Ifans but now even more celebrities are calling the area home. Look out for actors Rachel Weisz and Daniel Craig, One Direction singer Harry Styles and even Labour Party leader Ed Miliband.
  • On April 26, 2013
    Jo Caird answered the question: Jo Caird

    What are the best places to spot celebrities in London?

    From royals and popstars to actors and sports personalities, London is jam-packed with celebrities. Here's where you'll find them.

    Restaurant
    If you want to dine with the stars, The Ivy is a safe bet. Celebrity tastes are constantly changing, with restaurants going in and out of fashion all the time, but The Ivy has been a favourite with London's famous faces for years now. Its location in the heart of Theatreland is a big draw for actors and other creative types – go late in the evening once the shows have come down for your best chance of spotting the likes of Helen Mirren, Judi Dench and Kevin Spacey.

    Bar
    Membership of a top private members' club such as the Groucho or Loulou's may still be the best route to partying with celebrities, but don't despair if you lack the contacts for such a night out. Recently refurbished Mayfair bar and club Mahiki is open to all and is one of Prince Harry's go-to places. Singer Rihanna, actor James Corden and British diving champion Tom Daley have all been spotted there recently.
     
    Area
    Take a stroll through pretty Primrose Hill Village on any day of the week and you're likely to spot one of the area's many famous residents. The original Primrose Hill 'set' included Kate Moss, Jude Law, Sadie Frost, Ewan McGregor and Rhys Ifans but now even more celebrities are calling the area home. Look out for actors Rachel Weisz and Daniel Craig, One Direction singer Harry Styles and even Labour Party leader Ed Miliband.