There’s just always something to do. I know it sounds like a cliché but you can end up doing anything when you have a spare evening or weekend. I love living here and can’t see myself ever leaving. –Sarah, Publicity Assistant
There are amazing places to discover in London, such as John Sloane’s museum in Lincoln Fields (it’s free). Dennis Severs’ House in Spitalfields is like travelling back in time – highly recommended!… Time Out is great for finding things to do – a lot cheap if not free. Look out for special deals, and ask Londoners where they go to drink/eat/relax. – Sarah, Rights Manager
London is absolutely crammed with museums and galleries, many of which are completely free to visit. While you may already be aware of the big bastions residing in South Kensington (Science Museum, Natural History Museum, V&A etc.), there are places to cater to your most niche interests if you are prepared to venture off the beaten path.
Below are a few free options you may not have heard of – perfect for a day trip at the weekend.
Grant Museum of Zoology & Comparative Anatomy – a quieter option than South Kensington’s Natural History Museum, The Grant Museum is one of the oldest natural history collections in the UK, and is home to 68,000 zoological specimens.
Wellcome Collection – “The free destination for the incurably curious,” The Wellcome Collection is a museum exploring medical history and its role in society, with an enormous range of archives, manuscripts and artefacts.
William Morris Gallery – Based in Morris’s family home in north-east London, this collection of designs, textiles and artwork tells the story of Morris’s career – as a poet, designer, craftsman, retailer and social activist.
With the West End right on your doorstep, take advantage of the plays and musicals for a magical night out. Though tickets can be pricey, you can find discounts on sites like lastminute.com and cheaptheatretickets.com. Lots of shows such as Hamilton and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child run lotteries, where you can snag fantastic seats at super-low prices.
When summer hits, Londoners take to the parks. Places like Regent’s Park, Victoria Park, Greenwich and Crystal Palace offer oases of nature in the big city, with wild fields as well as manicured lawns and rose gardens to marvel at as you stroll. You’ll find sport and play areas, zoos and picnic areas – something for all the family.
Pubs and Nightlife
Stay out late at one of the many partying venues London has to offer. Check out Time Out’s list of the best nightclubs in London – with venues like The Pickle Factory and XOYO, you’ll be spoiled for choice wherever you are. London’s pubs are steeped in history – try out Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, The Spaniards Inn or the Star Tavern, to walk in the footsteps of literary greats such as Dickens, Byron and Keats, along with less savoury figures like Dick Turpin, and the gang behind the Great Train Robbery.
Volunteering can often get overlooked when you’re settling in somewhere new, but it can take you a long way towards feeling like you belong in your new neighbourhood. You get the chance to meet new people, experience your community, and have the chance to make a valued difference.
The Team London website lets you search for volunteering opportunities according to your interests and location, making it easy to find ways to become an active citizen.
And of course – don’t miss out on the volunteering opportunities at Penguin Random House. Whether it’s fundraising for our partner charity, becoming a volunteer reader at a local primary school, or helping out at with events like JobHack or WriteNow – we have plenty of opportunities for you to help us achieve our 2025 goals in Reading, Inclusion, Community and Sustainability.
Moving to London is a big step. It can seem overwhelming trying to make new friends and settle in, and there’s so much to do and see in the city that it can be tricky to know where to start. Don’t hyperventilate just yet, however – we’re here to help with a guide to must-see sights, ideal places for meeting new people, and of course, the city’s best reading spots, to make your London experience as action-packed as you wish.
People to Meet
I came here without knowing anyone. I set myself a challenge to say ‘yes’ to any invite if there wasn’t a good reason to say ‘no.’ – Ryan, Business Partnership Manager
One of the hardest things about moving to a new place is losing your support network and having to plunge back into making new friends – a daunting prospect.
For as big and bustling as London may be, it has an incredible number of groups and communities for you to find your new gang.
You’ll find thousands of groups on Meetup.com hosting free or cheap activities, ranging from craft circles, family play dates, hiking or walking groups and, of course, book clubs and writing workshops. Sign up to the Society of Young Publishers to attend panels and classes while meeting other like-minded people in publishing. There’s also the BAME in Publishing and Pride in Publishing groups that run loads of great events, and Penguin Random House’s own BAME network, Colour[Full]. Libraries throughout London run regular classes and one-off workshops – an ideal venue for meeting people while improving your skillset.
If you’re hoping for exercise buddies, groups like Project Awesome run wacky fitness events in different locations throughout the city, which are great for a mood boost in your morning. The Terrible Football group runs footie sessions for all ages and abilities, in parks throughout London. You just need to take a chance, and step outside your comfort zone, to find the whirlwind of social opportunities that await you in this city.
The prospect of travelling on the London Underground might seem off-putting for Londoner newbies but the truth is, with a bit of planning, travelling in London can be much more straightforward (and, dare we say, enjoyable?) than you might expect.
And, so you can learn from our mistakes and naivety, here are seven tips on getting around the city:
This is your little blue ticket to travelling by bus, tube AND boat.
You can always tap your contactless debit card or use Apple pay (or buy one of those pink paper tickets that are so easy to lose), but my recommendation is to get an Oyster card from TFL as it’ll keep track of discounts you might accrue from multiple journeys and you can put your travel card on it – saving you a bit of cash in the long run. You can also register your Oyster card in case you lose it.
Like most things, you can reduce your travel hassle with a little planning. My favourite app to use is Citymapper, which can help you plan the fastest routes via a variety of travel means wherever you are in the city.
Tube stations are, thankfully, equipped with Wifi, so you can check the app if delays mean you need to re-plan your journey on the fly. Citymapper also lets you save your favourite locations, shows you what route to take if you only want to travel by bus or tube (or which routes avoid the rain!) and which exit and tube carriage to head for to make your journey as swift as possible. For those medieval knights among us, it even shows you how long it would take to get there by Catapult (as demonstrated by London Mayor Sadiq Khan).
Accessible transport – travelling by public transport can be more of a struggle for those with long or short term conditions. TFL can provide you with a badge and card to help you let other travellers know that you need a seat. They also have helpful information on their website on accessible travel routes, travel mentors and door-to-door options.
There are some things an app can’t teach you. For example, what times to commute to avoid turning into a sardine with half a dozen elbows in your face. Just know that you’ll be able to pick these up as you go and soon you’ll instinctively know which Way Out sign to follow when there are two unhelpfully pointing in opposite directions.
One thing to keep an eye on is what the terminating station of the tube is and where it’s going through. We’ve all accidentally hoped on the wrong arm of the Northern line (the semicolon of the Underground) or aimed to go to Ealing Broadway and ended up in West Ruislip.
Not many of us are born with a Hobbit-like nostalgia for tunnels. For those who might feel a little anxious about travelling via Tube, TFL have this handy guide showing you routes to avoid areas with large stretches underground.
The Tube map is a very poor representation of what’s happening above ground and it’s always worth checking whether it would be faster to walk.
There are some glorious sights if you choose to stroll or cycle rather than squeeze onto public transport. The walk between our Strand and Pimlico offices takes you along the river and past Tate Britain, Parliament and Westminster Abbey.
Picking up a bike at one of the many docking stations can be a fun and comfortable way to get around or zoom through London’s many parks. And for £90 for yearly access to them (just 25p per day), it’s a bit of a bargain.
There are a few unwritten rules about the Tube, which you might not get to grips with until you’re there, like:
If you come to work at Penguin Random House, there might be some ways we can help make your journeys a bit smoother. (Other than finding you find the perfect Tube read or audiobook for your travels).
Through our flexible benefits you can hire a bike through the Cycle to Work scheme or get personal travel insurance if you’re travelling further afield. You can also get a season ticket loan to help you save money. We also have a flexible working offer that might be helpful if there are certain hours that you work best at, are easier to travel during or if you have caring responsibilities.
We also host an annual charity walk through 7 miles of London – it’s a great way to see more of the city and find new pubs to have a tipple in.
If you have any other tips – tweet us at @PRHCareersUK and we’ll share your know-how.
The London Starter Kit
So you’re looking for a job in publishing in London…
The thing is… it’s in an entirely new place and you’re going to have to up sticks, find accommodation, navigate how to get there, and *gulp* make new friends.
Moving to a new place for a job brings with it choices, and a little confusion and worry. And this can especially be the case if the place you’re moving to is London.
So this week, we’re sharing some tips on Twitter about what to think about when you’re moving to a new place. We’ve also put together a series of blogs (written by non-Londoners, for non-Londoners) on our tips for finding accommodation, travelling and meeting people – without hurting your bank account.
City-living may not be for everyone, but we hope these blogs will give you a starting point if you are considering a move. There are also a few tips coming up that will be helpful no matter where you are moving to. And if you come and join us – for work or work experience – at any of our 7 offices in Essex, Northamptonshire or London, there’s a few ways we might be able to help too.
Go ahead. Take that leap. Here’s where we suggest you start…
Where to start… finding a place to live?
Whether you’re relocating or here temporarily for work experience or an internship, it can be intimidating looking for accommodation if you aren’t familiar with London. We’ve put together some suggestions to help you get started.
*Penguin Random House also has a subsidised place with The Book Trade Charity for our work experience placements; you’ll receive details on how to ask for this if you are offered a placement. You can see Eleanor’s blog about staying in The Retreat here or have a look at the apartment in our room tour.
There are plenty of online sites for group and individual property searches. Find Properly can search by your ideal commute time and shows what the public transport links are which is useful if you’re new to the city.
If you want to rent a flat and don’t have a group you can rent together with, try Spare Room, MoveFlat or Room Buddies.
Book in as many viewings as you can, because room availability changes at the blink of an eye in London. Be sure to double check whether bills and council tax are included, and make sure you’re not “jointly and severally liable” or you may be asked to pay up if a flatmate doesn’t pay their rent.
How our benefits and partnerships can help
We are the proud sponsor of The Spare Room Project. The Spare Room Project matches interns or anyone doing work experience from outside London with people working in the publishing industry who can offer them a spare room or a spare bed for free for one week making internships more financially viable.
One Penguin Random House employee shares their experience with the Spare Room Project: “I can’t thank James enough for the encouragement, support and opportunity to stay with a publishing professional, I will pay it back, and know that if it wasn’t for James, I wouldn’t be working for Penguin Books. It is so important to take away the barriers that restrict those who live outside of London […] knowing that this scheme existed has allowed me to feel confident and not have to worry about the financial costs of staying in London.”
If you’re hoping to make your move to London a bit more permanent we can help there too. Home Sweet Loan can take a bit of the pressure off and help make the dream a reality as part of our wider focus on becoming a more inclusive employer. Eligible to all our employees, including new joiners, this benefit offers an interest-free loan to help employees pay their rental deposit when moving into a privately rented home.
Locrating: this shows you some top-line information about all schools in an area instead of having to trawl through individual school websites
Numbeo: a handy tool that compares cost of living in London to cost of living in your home town
Keep an eye out for our next blog where we offer you some top tips on getting around the city.