Whether you’re planning a summer vacation to London or you’ve only admired William and Kate from a afar, singer/songwriter/worship leader Matt Redman can definitely be your tour guide. The U.K. born and bred singer recorded his new album, Unbroken Praise (sixstepsrecords), at the iconic Abbey Road Studios in London. We asked Matt to give us his insider tips on where to stay, where to play and where to eat—all from a local’s perspective. He weighed in on all of his favorites:
Where to Stay: London can be expensive. If you’re on a budget but keen to stay in central London, try a “Z Hotel.” It’s no good if you’re claustrophobic (!) as these are the tiniest rooms/pods, but if you’re going to be out enjoying the city all day and only need somewhere to sleep comfortably, these are great.
Z Hotel Room
Where to Eat: The U.K. is getting some really good burger places. Try Honest Burger—there’s a few of these around London.
Where to Shop: Try the Laines in the city of Brighton—a series of tiny lanes that are full of unique, creative (even eccentric) shops and cafes. For a very English shopping experience, head to Liberty in London. It’s a big department store but with lots of history and charm.
Top Cities to Visit: London is obviously the best! You can spend a lot of time there and not run out of things to do—free museums and art galleries, West End shows, all the landmarks, etc. Oxford is a great English city, too—lots of history, charming architecture. And if you want to go a bit further out, the city of Bath is great for the same reasons.
Must-See Tourist Destinations: Windsor Castle is my favorite. (I went on my first date with my wife there!) From the outside, it’s impressive, but you can pay to go in and see all sorts of crazy stuff like Henry the Eighth’s customized armor and the Queen’s chapel, etc. Two top tips for London: get on a river taxi in the daytime and see the Houses of Parliament, the Tower of London, etc., up close, all in one go. And, my favorite…grab a London taxi cab and ask them to drive you around the best of London all lit up at night time. (Buckingham Palace, Marble Arch, Big Ben, etc.). Also of course, Abbey Road Studios, where we had the pleasure of recording the new Unbroken Praise record. 🙂
Windsor Castle Photo credit: Peter Packer
Souvenir You Can’t Leave Without: A photo on the Abbey Road crossing and some Earl Grey tea.
Best Kept Secret: Beneath the Wesley Chapel in City Road, London, is one of the best and earliest examples of a flushing toilet, invented (I kid you not) by Thomas Crapper. 😉
Best Place for Songwriting: Get on a self-hire Punt (kind of a gondola-style boat) on the River Cam in Cambridge and take your guitar!
Favorite Food: If I’m in a hurry/eating on the go, then Pret a Manger. If I’m sitting down for a meal, then a “Bill’s” cafe—there’s quite a few in London, plus in other U.K. cities, too. Also, my kids love Wagamama and Nandos.
Favorite Music Venue: Without question, the Royal Albert Hall in London. The most amazing room, with so much history—from Rachmaninov to the Beatles, to a Muhammad Ali fight they once held there, too. We got to lead worship there earlier this year with a 60-piece orchestra and a 400-voice choir.
Royal Albert Hall
Favorite U.K. Musician: Sir Paul McCartney. Chris Martin comes a close second.
Favorite Coffee Shop: “Tap” (also known as “Tapped and Packed”)—there’s a few of these in London. Try the Americano!
Favorite Local Newspaper, Magazine or Other Publication to Read: “The Week”—a summary of all the U.K. news each week
Favorite Thing About Recording at Abbey Road: The chance to have “church” in one of the world’s most iconic music studios. Plus, I know my keys player enjoyed playing the old Beatles piano there (a 100-year-old Steinway) on some of our acoustic versions.
Abbey Road Studios
Favorite Royal: It’s got to be the newest arrival, Princess Charlotte.