United Kingdom

3 Cool & Affordable Places To Stay In London

Yes, there really are low cost hotels in London. The English capital might be one of the world’s most expensive cities, but savvy travelers can still find centrally-located London lodgings with genuinely cool en-suite rooms for under £70, perfectly comfortable and clean rooms with a shared bathroom for under £30 and non-skeevy dorm beds for under £12.

Here’s a look at our favorite three hotels and hostels that offer a hip vibe, fun location and accommodations with a level of luxury that exceeds its price tag:

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Travel to Game of Thrones Filming Locations

The HBO epic fantasy of Game of Thrones has taken the world by storm on television, intriguing many to venture to these exotic locations that provide the show with an authentic feel.

The sets, locations and environment are as much of a character in the show as are the Lannisters and Starks. These relatively remote locations are becoming tourist spots and vacation destinations that will have you immersed in the Game of Thrones world, but beware, winter is coming.

Here are the more prominent locations where the show has been filmed:

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4 Cool Ideas For Short Term Work Abroad

'Working' on a sailboat plying tropical waters—that's a tough gig to beat.

Long term travel does not have to come at the expense of long term debt. To pay for extended travel you can be independently wealthy or embark on a successful crime spree — or you can defray at least some of the costs by weaving a short term job in with your trip.

With that in mind, Spot Cool Stuff takes a look at four jobs that can be incorporated into your travels abroad. Obviously, this isn’t a comprehensive list of work abroad possibilities. The most obvious omission from this list is teaching English. Look for us to cover that in a future post. To be updated on that, follow us on LinkedIn.

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The Shard Lifts London Restaurants to New Heights

Like so many others, Spot Cool Stuff first traveled to London as college students. That was more than two decades ago and we still remember falling in love with the British capital for its salty residents, gritty streets and low-rise charm. Back then, we never could we have imagined London as the home of The Shard.

Yet, there it is. At 306 meters (1,004 ft) tall, the gleaming glass and steel skyscraper is the tallest building in the European Union. On a sunny day, The Shard literally casts a shadow on the London Bridge.

The building has been open for a few months now. But only recently has the public been able to eat at one of The Shard’s three main restaurants: Hutong, The Oblix and Aqua Shard. Each restaurant requires taking a non-stop lift to The Shard’s 32 floor. Each restaurant charges sky-high prices though, happily, each also offers views to match.

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Edinburgh’s Camera Obscura and the World of Illusions

The Edinburgh Castle is the largest and most famous tourist attraction in Scotland’s capital. But in its shadow, almost literally, there’s another must-visit destination: The Camera Obscura and the World of Illusions. Operating since 1835, it’s part unusual art gallery, part interactive science museum, part surreal funhouse — and entirely entertaining.

As an attraction, Camera Obscura and the World of Illusions consists of two parts. It will surely come as stunning news that these are: 1) the Camera Obscura and 2) the World of Illusions.

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Cool Britannia Cottages

“Cool” and “cottage” are not normally words you’ll see together but a cottage holiday in the UK can be anything but chintzy and traditional. Renting a holiday cottage is also a great way to explore the local area and really get a feel for the UK. After the Diamond Jubilee and London Olympics, you couldn’t pick a better time to visit the UK than now.

Choose a luxury cottage and you’ll find it rivals a boutique hotel in terms of decoration and fittings; think seriously comfy beds, high-end kitchens and luxurious bathrooms. An unusual or quirky cottage is a great location for a hen party, special weekend away or even your honeymoon! Enjoy all the style and amenities of a cool hotel in spacious surroundings without worrying about what time reception closes. Sykes Cottages have a wonderful selection of cool cottages throughout the UK and Ireland perfect for a short break or longer family holiday.

Here are our top five cottages of cool:

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First Google Store Opens In London
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Welcome to the Chrome Zone.

That’s not the title of a science fiction movie (that we know of). It’s what you’ll hear when you walk into Google’s first retail store1. It’s located not in the vacinity of Google’s California headquarters, as one might expect, but across the pond in London.

The store is named such because its featured product is the Google Chromebook notebook computer. (The notebook computers are named such because they run the Chrome operating system.)

Reportedly, Google is modeling their retail strategy after Apple. Some of the larger, flashier Apple stores have become destinations in themselves. Go to their store in Shanghai or on Fifth Avenue in New York City, for example, and you’ll see tourists from the world over snapping photos of themselves in front of large, glass-encased Apple logos. So how does the Chrome Zone in London compare to those cool shopping experiences?

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Museums for Orphaned Letters

One day you’re in. The next day you’re out.

Heidi Klum’s golden rule of Project Runway fashion is also the reality for the characters that comprise signs. One day you are an L or an R proudly pointing the way towards an attraction along with your fellow letters. The next day you are discarded.

Usually old signs end up in landfills or incinerators. But an especially lucky, and especially artistic, few have their letters go on display in museums. There people look at them not for any direction they can provide but for the works of art that they are.

Here’s a review of Spot Cool Stuff’s favorite unusual typography museums:

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