Joseph Reaney

Correspondent

  • London, England, UK

Joseph Reaney is the London correspondent for Forbes Travel Guide and also covers a range of other European cities for Forbes Travel Guide. A freelance British travel journalist based across Europe (in London, Prague and Vaduz), he writes articles and guides for luxury publications including The Telegraph, Virgin Airlines and Vertu Select, and is the founder and editor-in-chief of the travel writing service WorldWORDS. Reaney also blogs about his travels at josephreaney.com.

  • On February 7, 2013
    Joseph Reaney answered the question: Joseph Reaney

    What are the best museums in London?

    From the British Museum to the Victoria and Albert, London is home to some of the most renowned exhibitions on earth. But aside from the major tourist draws, London also boasts a wealth of lesser-known gems – in fact, literally hundreds of the things. Here are three particularly worth seeking out.
     
    Sir John Soane’s Museum
    It has been called the greatest house museum in the world, and that’s accurate on two counts – it’s both a great house and a great museum. The cherished residence and pet design project of the eponymous 19th century architect, it was created by demolishing three terraced properties and reforming them into one design masterpiece. And within this home is Soane’s own fine collection of curios from across the globe. With highlights including the sarcophagus of an Egyptian pharaoh, Roman bronzes from Pompeii to a series of Hogarth paintings, the contents wouldn’t look out of place in most national collections.
     
    Magic Circle Museum
    Much like the Magic Circle itself, this isn’t an easy museum to get into – you have to call to arrange a visit in advance – but it rewards the extra effort. With a range of fascinating magical artifacts which include props used in the very first ‘sawing a lady in half’ illusion and rare sound recordings of Harry Houdini, as well as posters, photographs and try-it-yourself magic tricks, it offers a real insight into the world of conjuring.
     
    The Old Operating Theatre Museum
    As the title suggests, this is a museum of surgical history; home to one of the oldest surviving operating theatres in the world from a time before an anesthetics and antiseptics. Located, rather unusually, high up in the attic of a church, there are many displays focusing on strange medieval medical practices, from instruments for bleeding and trepanning to suggested herbal remedies.
  • On February 7, 2013
    Amanda Arnold is now following Joseph Reaney
  • On February 5, 2013
    Joseph Reaney is now following Jo Caird
  • On February 5, 2013
    Joseph Reaney answered the question: Joseph Reaney

    What are the best parks in London?

    Along with its many urban highlights, London is home to an array of beautiful natural spaces. Most of the greenery in the city comes from the Royal Parks – a collection of eight parklands covering an area of almost 2,000 hectares (4,950 acres) – and these make for perfect escapes from the hustle and bustle of the city. The center of London is home to five of these parks, including Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens and Regent's Park, but outside of the center there are even more, including the sprawling Richmond Park. As well as being picnic-perfect, between them the Royal Parks also boast a range of fine features, from roaming wildlife and historic zoos to famous observatories and free sports facilities, and play host to a variety of events throughout the year, including superb music and theater festivals.
     
    Aside from the Royal Parks, other interesting free green spaces in the capital include Hampstead Heath, Clapham Common and Epping Forest, while you can also pay to explore the botanical Kew Gardens. But for a picturesque park with an interesting edge, consider discovering one of the city’s many fine burial places, such as the celebrity-filled Highgate Cemetery (home to Karl Marx, Michael Faraday, Douglas Adams and others) and the ‘single women’-populated Cross Bones.
  • On January 24, 2013
    Joseph Reaney answered the question: Joseph Reaney

    What are the best kids activities in London?

    London is a fantastic destination for families with children, whether they're bouncing babes or tutting teens. Here are just three things you can try:
     
    Explore some museums
    One of London’s greatest attractions is that museums are free. It's perfect when you have kids with short attention spans, as you can head into a museum or art gallery without committing to spending the whole day there. But it's worth remembering these museums are only free because they can rely on voluntary donations and cafe/gift shop sales, so you shouldn't leave without making some kind of contribution!
     
    Head to the West End
    Big, loud and action-packed theater productions are a sure fire way to entertain kiddies, and throughout the year London’s West End serves up some magical and memorable child-friendly shows, from The Lion King to Matilda. But things get even better if you visit during August or September, as Kids Week (which actually runs for three weeks) means under-sixteens get in free. When a standard ticket to a West End show can cost in excess of $100, that’s not to be sniffed at.
     
    Visit the Museum of Childhood
    A perfect stop for all the family, the V&A Museum of Childhood offers interactive playtimes for the kids and rose-tinted tours for the parents. With exhibits dating from the 1600s to the present day, it harks back to a time of wooden rocking horses and ragged teddy bears while also incorporating more modern gadgets and gizmos. The free exhibitions, including storytelling sessions and arts and craft classes, are excellent.
  • On January 22, 2013
    Joseph Reaney answered the question: Joseph Reaney

    What are the best boutique hotels in London?

    San Domenico House
    Besides its world-famous grand hotels, London also boasts a thriving (and growing) boutique scene. Here are three of the finest boutique hotels in the British capital.
     
    Charlotte Street Hotel
    Situated just one minute from trendy Soho Square, the Charlotte Street Hotel is everything a boutique should be: cool and classical yet charming and cozy. This intricately-designed property boasts 52 rooms (including loft bedrooms); a restaurant, bar and tea room; a gym; and even a 75-seater cinema. It also happens to sit on one of the liveliest streets in London.
     
    Dean Street Townhouse
    It may be situated mere minutes from the Charlotte Street Hotel, but the Dean Street Townhouse couldn’t be more different. This four-storey Georgian townhouse is rich in history, with 39 achingly beautiful rooms best described as romantically opulent, and a range of features – from the impressive art collections to the fine food and cocktails – focusing on the best of British heritage.
     
    San Domenico House
    Boutique hotels don’t get any more decadent than this. An extravagant Italian-owned hotel in the deluxe Chelsea district, San Domenico is created from two 19th-century townhouses and is home to just 16 rooms and no restaurant. Yet it’s this exclusivity, and the sumptuous Italian décor (from the plush red curtains to the dark wood furnishings) that make it feel more like a private residence than a hotel. It’s a perfect slice of Puglia at the heart of West London.
  • On January 22, 2013
    Joseph Reaney answered the question: Joseph Reaney

    What are quirky local customs in London?

    Combine 2,000 years of history, a unique sense of humor and a penchant for eccentricity, and it's no surprise Londoners have some rather strange customs. Here are three of the oddest.
     
    1. Pearly Kings and Queens
    Wander through the backstreets of London and you may just come across a group of Pearly Kings and Queens – known collectively as Pearlies. A tradition started in the 19th century, when the orphan street sweeper Henry Croft decorated his clothes in shiny pearl buttons to attract attention to his charity fundraising, Pearlies continue this charitable ritual to this day.
     
    2. Church Ceremonies
    London has a number of unusual church ceremonies, but here are two particular favorites – both taking place in February. The Blessing of the Throats in St. Etheldreda's Church, Holborn is a ceremony where two candles are tied together, lit, and then touched onto the necks of people suffering from sore throats. It comes from the legend of St. Blaise, who saved a child from choking to death on a fishbone, and so is patron saint of throat sufferers. Meanwhile, the Clown’s Service in Holy Trinity Church, Dalston, sees a congregation comprised entirely of clowns, giving thanks for the gift of laughter and honoring their godfather Joseph Grimaldi.
     
    3. Guy Fawkes Night
    A tradition born in London but now celebrated throughout the country, every 5th November the locals commemorate the failed gunpowder plot of 1605, in which Guy Fawkes tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament. Naturally, the celebrations revolve around burning straw effigies of Guy Fawkes, eating sticky toffee apples and ooh-aahing at a big fireworks display.
  • On January 22, 2013
    Joseph Reaney answered the question: Joseph Reaney

    What are quirky local customs in London?

    Combine 2,000 years of history, an unusual sense of humor and a penchant for eccentricity, and it's no surprise Londoners have some rather strange customs. Here are three of the oddest.
     
    1. Pearly Kings and Queens
    Wander through the backstreets of London and you may just come across a group of Pearly Kings and Queens – known collectively as Pearlies. A tradition started in the 19th century, when the orphan street sweeper Henry Croft decorated his clothes in shiny pearl buttons to attract attention to his charity fundraising, Pearlies continue this charitable ritual to this day.
     
    2. Church Ceremonies
    London has a number of unusual church ceremonies, but here are two particular favorites – both taking place in February. The Blessing of the Throats in St. Etheldreda's Church, Holborn is a ceremony where two candles are tied together, lit, and then touched onto the necks of people suffering from sore throats. It comes from the legend of St. Blaise, who saved a child from choking to death on a fishbone, and so is patron saint of throat sufferers. Meanwhile, the Clown’s Service in Holy Trinity Church, Dalston, sees a congregation comprised entirely of clowns, giving thanks for the gift of laughter and honoring their godfather Joseph Grimaldi.
     
    3. Guy Fawkes Night
    A tradition born in London but now celebrated throughout the country, every 5th November the locals commemorate the failed gunpowder plot of 1605, in which Guy Fawkes tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament. Naturally, the celebrations revolve around burning straw effigies of Guy Fawkes, eating sticky toffee apples and ooh-aahing at a big fireworks display.
  • On January 21, 2013
    Joseph Reaney answered the question: Joseph Reaney

    What are quirky local customs in London?

    Combine 2,000 years of history, a quirky sense of humor and a love of eccentricity, and it's no surprise Londoners have some rather strange customs. Here are three of the oddest.
     
    1. Pearly Kings and Queens
    Wander through the backstreets of London and you may just come across a group of Pearly Kings and Queens – known collectively as Pearlies. A tradition started in the 19th century, when the orphan street sweeper Henry Croft decorated his clothes in shiny pearl buttons to attract attention to his charity fundraising, Pearlies continue this charitable ritual to this day.
     
    2. Church Ceremonies
    London has a number of unusual church ceremonies, but here are two particular favorites – both taking place in February. The Blessing of the Throats in St. Etheldreda's Church, Holborn is a ceremony where two candles are tied together, lit, and then touched onto the necks of people suffering from sore throats. It comes from the legend of St. Blaise, who saved a child from choking to death on a fishbone, and so is patron saint of throat sufferers. Meanwhile, the Clown’s Service in Holy Trinity Church, Dalston, sees a congregation comprised entirely of clowns, giving thanks for the gift of laughter and honoring their godfather Joseph Grimaldi.
     
    3. Guy Fawkes Night
    A tradition born in London but now celebrated throughout the country, every 5th November the locals commemorate the failed gunpowder plot of 1605, in which Guy Fawkes tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament. Naturally, the celebrations revolve around burning straw effigies of Guy Fawkes, eating sticky toffee apples and ooh-aahing at a big fireworks display.
  • On January 21, 2013
    Joseph Reaney answered the question: Joseph Reaney

    What is public transportation like in London?

    The London Underground is not only the oldest underground railway in the world (it's 150 this year!) but also one of the busiest, with more than 1.2 million journeys made on the sprawling system every year. Consequently, it is subject to regular maintenance work and can become very overcrowded during rush hours. Despite this, for the vast majority of journeys the Tube – as it's affectionately known by locals – remains a quick, convenient, reliable and safe route from A to B.
     
    If you prefer to travel above the earth, London’s extensive bus system is also able to transport you almost anywhere you need to go, 24 hours a day. However, just like with the Tube, it’s always best to avoid rush hour. Other (more limited) public transport options include overland railways, trams, river buses and cable cars, while there is also a cycle hire scheme in operation throughout the capital.

    Whatever you choose, try to plan your journey in advance on the Transport for London website.
  • On January 17, 2013
    Joseph Reaney answered the question: Joseph Reaney

    What are some things to know before visiting London?

    Here are three very useful things you should know before visiting London:
     
    1. It takes a long time to get around
    London is the most populated city in the EU by a country mile – more than twice as crowded as second-placed Berlin – and is one of the world’s biggest business and tourist destinations. So whether you’re traversing the city by Tube, bus or on foot, prepare for it to be slow going. 
     
    2. The museums are enormous
    It is common knowledge that London is a museum capital, with more than 250 permanent exhibitions within the city limits, but what many visitors fail to realize is the sheer scale of some of them. Three of London’s most visited museums – The British Museum, The National Gallery and the Natural History Museum – have a combined collection of around 80 million items, so if you want to see a fraction of them you'll need to leave yourself plenty of time.
     
    3. The weather is unpredictable
    While the cliché that it always rains in London is a little unfair (believe it or not, Milan has more annual rainfall) it’s true that the weather in the British capital can change several times in a single day. The trick is to be prepared for every eventuality - pack both an umbrella and a pair of sunglasses - and don’t let the weather rule your day.
  • On January 17, 2013
    Joseph Reaney answered the question: Joseph Reaney

    What are the best bars in London?

    You're spoilt for choice when it comes to bars in London. All you need to do is decide what kind of place you're looking for…
     
    The Traditional British Pub
    For those seeking out a real local experience, it’s hard to beat The Princess Louise in Holborn; a genuine Victorian public house serving real English ales. Other traditional British boozers include the time-honored Mayflower in Rotherhithe and the eccentric Sir Richard Steele in Chalk Farm.
     
    The Historic Cellar Bar
    The best subterranean bar in London is surely Gordon’s Wine Bar on The Strand – a candlelit cavern with bare brick walls, framed pictures of royal coronations and fine wine served straight from the barrel. But an honorable mention also has to go to the wonderful Worship Street Whistling Shop in Shoreditch.
     
    The Chic Cocktail Joint
    Although a decade old, the hippest cocktail bar in the capital remains Soho’s Milk & Honey – a speakeasy-style member’s bar where the ingredients are fresh and the preparation is painstaking. But pretenders to the throne include the Savoy’s Beaufort Bar in Westminster and Callooh Callay in Shoreditch.
  • On January 17, 2013
    Joseph Reaney answered the question: Joseph Reaney

    What are the best restaurants in London?

    Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester
    London is a cosmopolitan culinary capital, with cuisines from all around the world available within its borders. But if I had to choose my three favorite restaurants, they would be these:
     
    1. Dinner by Heston Blumenthal
    A relatively uncontentious choice, as it was ranked the ninth best restaurant in the world by Restaurant Magazine in 2012 (and first in London!), this latest offering from leading local chef Heston Blumenthal delivers the finest flavors and textures from Britain’s long history.
     
    2. Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester
    A three-Michelin-starred French restaurant located within one of London’s most prestigious hotels, the dining experience here gets better and better each year. The signature ‘Cookpot of British terroir vegetables’ – a casserole cooked with distinctive cheddar – is simply divine.
     
    3. Tamarind
    A multi-award-winning Indian restaurant in the heart of trendy Mayfair, Tamarind has been changing Londoner’s perceptions of Indian cuisine for more than 15 years. Opt for one of the traditional Moghul dishes, which are delicately cooked in an authentic tandoor oven.
  • On January 16, 2013
    Joseph Reaney answered the question: Joseph Reaney

    What are the best restaurants in London?

    Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester London is a cosmopolitan culinary capital, with cuisines from all around the world available within its borders. But if I had to choose my three absolute favorites, they would be these:
     
    1. Dinner by Heston Blumenthal
    A relatively uncontentious choice, as it was ranked the ninth best restaurant in the world by Restaurant Magazine in 2012 (and first in London!), this latest offering from leading local chef Heston Blumenthal delivers the finest flavors and textures from Britain’s long history.
     
    2. Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester
    A three-Michelin-starred French restaurant located within one of London’s most prestigious hotels, the dining experience here gets better and better each year. The signature ‘Cookpot of British terroir vegetables’ – a casserole cooked with distinctive cheddar – is simply divine.
     
    3. Tamarind
    A multi-award-winning Indian restaurant in the heart of trendy Mayfair, Tamarind has been changing Londoner’s perceptions of Indian cuisine for more than 15 years. Opt for one of the traditional Moghul dishes, which are delicately cooked in an authentic tandoor oven.
  • On January 16, 2013
    Joseph Reaney is now following Helen Ochyra