What Thing About London Makes You Happy?

Rachel Holdsworth
By Rachel Holdsworth Last edited 32 months ago
What Thing About London Makes You Happy?
Photo by Doug from the Londonist Flickr pool

Last week, the Office for National Statistics released its annual wellbeing survey. Londoners reported feeling less satisfied, happy, worthwhile and more anxious than the rest of the country, with Greenwich — for some reason — one of the most anxious places in the country.

We went on BBC Radio London over the weekend to chat about this. But before we went on air, we asked followers of our Facebook page what things about this magnificent place make them happy. Over 700 comments later, and we thought we'd share some of them here. Because for all the tube is crowded, the cost of living is terrifying and the streets can be dirty and polluted, it's always worth taking a moment and appreciating just how lucky we are to live in the greatest city in the world.

  • The weather made a surprising number of appearances. On a crisp, blue autumn day like this, that's not so strange. But all the rain? Maybe when we compare ourselves to Los Angeles or Dubai, it's just nice that we have weather.
  • Ali Ghazi likes the smell of coffee at tube stations; Dave Whittaker has a special fondness for Bank station in general.
  • Walking along the Thames is another favourite, as is the view from the bridges. (We'd like to put in a special mention for the view from Waterloo bridge, mainly because you don't have to look at Waterloo bridge while standing on it.)
  • Johanna Eberhardt is clearly a sensible person as she loves nabbing the front seat at the top deck of the bus.
  • Getting lost is another popular suggestion. And, unlike New York for example, it is possible to get lost in London because we haven't fallen victim to the stupid 'city block' planning ethos.
  • Krisztina Fazekas mentions the pagoda at Battersea Park, which is a fine lead-in to a reminder of just how green London is. And we don't just mean the main parks in the centre of town; all around your local area there will be small patches of nature just waiting to be discovered.
  • Several people talked about London's football teams, particularly Arsenal. (You all do realise we wanted to know things that make you happy about London, right?)
  • Tori Drew finds happiness in a £1 cream cheese bagel from Brick Lane.
  • "Drinking establishments with beers I've never heard of," says Michael Murphy. We can get behind that one.
  • Darren Stokes likes the last trains home full of drunks, because you get to have funny chats with complete strangers.
  • John Hiscock says the canals, something enthusiastically endorsed by our own Geoff Marshall.
  • Geoff also told us — not on Facebook, we get to talk to him ourselves — that London's diversity makes him happy. "It's something that people who hate London never get," he says.
  • On a related note, our own Zoe Craig is made happy by the fact that "you can try amazing food from so many different parts of the world without leaving your postcode".
  • And Dave Haste is made "pretty damned happy" by his Oyster card.

So go on then — tell us what about London makes you happy in the comments.

Last Updated 30 September 2015

Aidan Stevens

My friends... and Crystal Palace park

Rachel Stoplar Londonist

Tori Drew is a wise Londoner. Dave Whittaker on the other hand must be very confused - Bank station is all the circles of hell combined.

Ray LePine

It’s the nearly infinite diversity of Londoners and the kindness
Londoners show to one another. It gives
me hope that the rest of the World could do likewise.


Knowing that I live in the greatest City in the World...?

Clunking Fist

I'm with Johanna Eberhardt: nabbing the top front seat on the 19 from Green Park to Battersea Bridge made a 90 minute journey (including the 2 tubes prior) worthwhile.


St Pancras's glass ceiling. One time I was walking up the steps to the John Betjeman statue and some guy started playing the instrumental bit of Lou Reed's 'Perfect Day' just as I reached the point where you can see the whole ceiling, from the statues viewpoint, like one giant intake of breath. Just thinking about it still makes me well up like a git.

Gilly MacRae

I love everything about London, and it makes me happy to find other people who admit that they do, too ;))

Marissa Charles

Walking from Platform 1 at London Bridge down into the tube, I love when i am enveloped by a wave of warmth that removes the chill from your bones on an chilly autumnal morning going to work.
And discovering new delights like bars in ex public conveniences. Only in London!


What's wrong with Waterloo Bridge?! It's a thing of subtle beauty,and uniquely was largely built by women. There's a passing resemblance to the motorway flyovers of the 60s, but it's a portland stone masterpiece of two decades prior...

Carolyn Redfern

The views from Blackfriars Bridge. Still amazing and I've lived here 46 years :)

Kim Smith

London's cosmopolitanism makes it the best City in the world for me! It also never ceases to amaze me with all its hidden surprises: went to the Screen on the Green for the first time ever recently. More like a sophisticated night club than a cinema. Wonderful!

cynthia garbutt

The transit system (including the train and bus system, inter-connectedness) is brilliant and easy to understand (especially since I haven't a car, since I've been over here). I love that people are so much more patient as well as helpful to lost strangers, than in the US (perhaps having an American accent helps). Even the police are nice. One day, I was at this posh overground station, I very badly needed to use the toilet (that's another thing, people are not shy about body functions over here, even on adverts) so I asked this police officer if there's a public one. He said, "Sorry." (politely. Politeness that's another thing love about Brits and Scots, in general). So I began to walk away hoping I could "hold" my gut. But seeing my level of desperation, he quietly beckoned for me to follow him, and if he discreetly pulled out his master toilet key. I'm forever thankful to him. That - would've never happened in the US. For being a megacity, London sure is quiet (road rage is very rare). I adore St James Park, the Rose Garden at Regents Park and walking along Regents Canal, any view of London Bridge. And seeing so many flower vendors (reminds me so much of Eliza Doolittle) and hearing buskers (music or musicians should never be taken for granted' just take up learning to play one and you'll understand) I wish they're more, but I understand - the weather, isn't kind to the throat or hands) especially in the busy tube stations. Lastly, all the high points of the city are so relatively close, one turn down a street or alley and you've seen another amazing place.

Sue Stolze-Beland

Just that it is my birth city and my formative memories are of London and all that it embodied.
Like a trip 'up to town' with Dad to visit a park and/or museum and lunch at a Joey Lyons which was a real treat in the 50's and still brings a smile to my face.
Like passing on my young discoveries to my own girls whenever we went back to visit (I've lived in Holland since 1979).
The warm air billowing up the escalators of the tube.
Afternoon tea in the tiny restaurant on the top floor of Liberty's (still my all time favourite store).
Introducing my girls to Hamleys where my own 'Ted' was purchased for my sister 75 years ago.
The peace and tranquility of those forgotten parks and green corners tucked away behind busy buildings are the best and my dear old Dad knew them all.

Kassie Schwan

I love the fact that Londoners can crowd the pavements of pubs and bars and drink outside as they jabber, jabber, jabber. And the din in the theatre bars before a performance...lots of loud and smart conversation for my eavesdropping pleasure!