5 Things We’d Steal From Other Cities To Make London Better

Alex Landon Alex Landon - Editor


Disclaimer: We still love London to bits.

But having said that, it’s Christmas and we have a wish list for Santa. Any one of these things would take London from awesome all the way to hyper-awesome.

1. A river you can swim in

Photo: @davidschmidt08

Stolen from: Stockholm

When London bakes in the summer, and the tubes become hell incarnate, wouldn’t it be nice to cool off in the water? We might have a few outdoor swimming pools, and whilst the Thames is has its charms, you’d most likely catch fourteen different diseases from swimming in it. Step forward Stockholm. Sweden’s capital is built on fourteen islands around Lake Mälaren, and remarkably, the water is clean enough to swim in. Imagine escaping the bustling South Bank by hopping into the river and just swimming away. One day, maybe.

2. A sizzling summer beach spot


Stolen from: Rio de Janeiro

It goes hand in hand with a decent swimming spot, and would no doubt prove wildly popular in summer. We won’t dignify the mudflats of the Thames by calling them ‘beaches’, so it’s time to go a-hunting. And if you’re in the market for a beach to steal, there’s only one place to go. Rio de Janeiro’s breathtaking beach would be a welcome addition to London. Imagine finishing work and enjoying a long summer evening of sunbathing, tropical cocktails, and beach volleyball – perfection!

3. A hill with a view

Photo: @capetown_select

Stolen from: Cape Town

Yes, we have Primrose Hill, and yes, it’s very pretty. But a little more ambition wouldn’t hurt, so let’s wish for a mountain. We’ve got half an eye on Cape Town’s Table Mountain, which would surely be the perfect spot for Instagram shots of the city. You’d be able to hike and bike up it too, in a fruitless quest to keep fit. Alternatively, it would be a perfect place to scream into the void when travel delays become too much to take.

4. Better winters

Life is just better when you can skate away from your problems. Photo: @highsnobiety

Stolen from: Ottawa/Sapporo

Now that we’ve had a taste of snow, we’re choosing to embrace winter. If only London could do it properly, with snowdrifts and impromptu skating rinks. When the Rideau Canal in Ottawa freezes over, it becomes the world’s largest skating rink, a whopping 7.8km long. Residents often skate to work, meaning that commuting might – dare we say? – actually become fun.

Photo: @merryweatherey

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, Sapporo is also doing winter right. The city in northern Japan holds a massive snow festival each year, showing off some incredible snow sculptures. Snow joke, this really has to be seen to be believed. Just imagine what London would come up with. A life-size replica of Sadiq Khan, perchance?

5. A fabulously festive transport system

Photo: @hip_hipster_ray

Stolen from: New York/Warsaw/Chicago

More Christmas wishes, this time for the much maligned, rarely beloved underground. The best thing you can say about the Tube in winter is that it’s warm. But it could be so much more festive, as these cities prove. New York’s subway gets vintage at Christmas time, as the city rolls out trains from the 1930s to ferry shoppers around.

Photo: @arisak

Even more Christmassy is the effort from Warsaw’s metro system. Trains here are bedecked in snowflakes and fairy lights, and painted in a fetching red and green colour scheme. However, even this subway can’t beat the champion of festive light rail…

Photo: @agatexx

For sheer joy, nothing beats Chicago‘s Holiday Train. The carriages are filled with lights, tinsel, and elves, and the outside is a fairy-light paradise. But the best bit is definitely at the front, because the whole train is led by Santa and his sleigh. How bloody cool is that?

Photo: @benadoerr

It’s even better when you realise that Chicago’s metro isn’t underground, it’s actually suspended above the city. So Santa’s sleigh literally looks like it’s flying through the air! Definitely more achievable than beaches and mountains, this one just needs a little more imagination from TfL. Admittedly, you’ll never get the same effect at Turnpike Lane, but still…

Also published on Medium.

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