First Time In London? Here’s Everything A Tourist Should Know

First Time In London? Here’s Everything A Tourist Should Know

There are many reasons why London is such a major tourist attraction. Every year millions of people visit the city from abroad and enjoy stays at luxury suites in London. From the thriving culture of the city’s creative scene to the historic monuments, some of which date back thousands of years, London always proves a multifaceted, richly layered city full of surprises.

First time visitors have a lot to see during their stay at boutique hotels in London UK. There’s truly something for everyone. Whether you’re visiting with family friends or as a solo traveller, it’s always worth doing your research so you can come fully equipped to dive into the English capital. Below is a roundup of the city that should help tourists get their bearings, gain context and navigate the 1500 square kilometre sprawl.

London’s History 

London was originally known as Londinium, a Roman settlement that was founded at some point between AD 40 and 70. The choice to build a city on the Thames was a strategic and economic one, due to the river offering easy passage in and out of the centre of the country for traders during the Roman occupation of England. The city eventually fell into disrepair between the 5th century and the 7th century only to be restored by the Saxons. It was around this time that the London Wall as we know it was restored and the city became a place of lucrative trade once more as part of the Kingdom of Wessex.

By the 11th century, the Norman invasion of England scattered the various kingdoms of England and key landmarks were built in the city to establish the rule of the Normans. These included the famous, still a tourist attraction to this day. Eventually the city grew beyond its official London Wall boundaries and by 1965, officially had 32 boroughs. 

London’s Layout 

London is now over 1500 square kilometres in size, a little too much to see in just one holiday! The 32 boroughs spread out from the heart of the city, which is made up of Westminster and the ceremonial but not official borough of the City of London. 


The ruling heart of London, Westminster has existed as the centre of power in England for centuries and is now the main tourist district of London. The borough of Westminster spans slightly over 24 square kilometres and includes areas such as Soho, Oxford Circus and Mayfair. You’ll also find the Montcalm Marble Arch Hotel in the City of Westminster, alongside other Montcalm hotels in Paddington and close to Hyde Park 

City Of London 

If Westminster is the heart of power for the country, then the City of London is the seat of power for the city. Spanning just under 3 square kilometres, it’s this part of London that is roughly bounded by what was the London Wall, including London Bridge, Whitechapel and the Tower of London at its southern border. The City of London is presided over by the Mayor of the city and the Guildhall was its official economic centre. If you are a guest of Montcalm at the Brewery luxury hotel in London, then you’re officially staying in the City of London! 

Other Boroughs 

As mentioned, London has seen considerable expansion over the years and become one of the largest cities in Europe. With 32 boroughs each bringing their own unique identity and attractions, the city is split into 6 different zones for travel, all rippled out in rings around the City of London and Westminster. 

Popular Museums 

London, and especially zone 1 (Westminster and the City of London) boast a wealth of attractions that tourists can visit for free to get a sense of the city’s long history. 

Museum Row 

Museum Row in South Kensington consists of the Natural History and Science Museums as well as the Victoria & Albert Museum of Design. These museums were slowly separated into three distinct entities over time, originally being part of the British Museum’s collection. They are also part of the Victorian “ALbertopolis”, a part of South Kensington that was built at the behest of Prince Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria as a way to culturally revitalise London. Each of these museums have permanent exhibitions that are free to visit. 

British Museum 

british museum

One of the largest and busiest museums in the world, the British Museum is located in the City of London close to Russell Square. With many free to visit permanent exhibitions, the British Museum is a paean to the British Empire’s many exploits around the world. With many prized artefacts held by (and often reclaimed from) the British Museum, visitors can learn about 2 million years of international human history. 

Museum Of London 

The Museum of London is located in the Barbican area of London but will change location to West Smithfield at the end of 2022. The museum is free to visit and explores the prehistoric, ancient and modern history of London’s formation. From the swampland upon which it was built to the Great Fire of 1666, this is the perfect museum for those who want some more cultural and historic context to the English capital.

Royal Palaces Of London 

London is not only home to museums, but working castles and palaces too. Alongside royal parks around which these palaces were often built, castles including Windsor, Buckingham and Kensington Palaces, the Tower of London and Hampton Court are all open throughout the year. Here visitors can learn about the royal history of the city, and by extension the country too. 

Cultural Districts 

There’s a near endless list of great nights out in London, and whether you’re going clubbing or spending a night at the theatre, the city boasts a wealth of cultural districts. For first time visitors, the best places to start are Soho and the West End, where many of the city’s most popular bars, pubs, cinemas and theatres are located. The South Bank is also home to the National Theatre, the British Film Institute, the London Dungeons and the SeaLife Centre.