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London and New York are two of the world’s great metropolises. Both are cultural melting pots, defined by industry, cuisine, architecture and people. This list of differences runs long, but when it comes down to it, the cities are quite comparable. Both are defined by a network of underground subways, rich cultural attractions, and neighborhoods bursting with character. Whether you’re strolling the streets of Notting Hill or the West Village, you’re bound to fall in love with each place. London and New York aren’t the same in all respects though, so let’s take a look at how they stack up to one another.

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Left: courtesy of Compass and Twine | Right: shutterstock

Public transportation
First things first: You have to get around, and when it comes to public transportation, there’s really no comparison between the London Underground (affectionately known as “the tube”) and New York’s subway system. Even though the tube is the older of the two—built in 1863 vs 1904 for the NY subway—it remains exceptionally cleaner and more enjoyable to ride. On the NY subway, rats roam the tracks, weird smells can permeate throughout the train cars and conductors yell over muffled speakers to get out of the way of closing doors. In the Underground, cars and stations are better maintained, clear signage allows passengers to navigate the lines with ease, and the staff are just friendlier. Of course, the highlight for visitors is always the pleasant “Mind the gap!” announcement. All things combined, London’s Tube is sure to be a more pleasurable experience.

Left: Courtesy of Compass and Twine | Right: shutterstock

Green space
The Central Park vs. Hyde Park argument could fairly sway either way. Both provide the largest green space within their respective cities and serve as a beautiful refuge to escape the bustling streets and concrete. Central Park edges out Hyde Park in terms of location. As its name suggests, it’s more centrally located, while Hyde Park is a little more out of the way from the city center. However, overall, London offers a bounty of beautiful green spaces at every turn, like Regents Park and Kensington Gardens. Historically, Londoners—and Brits in general—have put more of an emphasis on weaving beautiful parks and gardens into their urban layouts, and it shows.

Photos courtesy of shutterstock

London is renowned for its dreary, gloomy weather. Days can go by without a solid dose of sunshine. But did you know that when measured in inches, New York City actually gets more rain than London? Nonetheless, a cloudy climate can take a toll on your emotional state, and it’s nice to have the breadth of seasons New Yorkers get to experience. Warm summers mean you can lay out at the parks by the rivers or dine al fresco most days at one of the city’s many sidewalk cafés. Spring and fall are arguably the best times to visit New York, with ideal temperatures and changing foliage.

Left Flickr CC: GateC21 | Right courtesy of Compass and Twine

Both cities offer a tremendous array of world class, multi-cultural cuisines and dining experiences. London definitely gets the “Most Improved” award. Long chided for bland and unimpressive eats (particularly in pubs), the city’s really catapulted to the top of the world’s culinary stage in recent decades. New York City, however, is untouchable. With its melting of global influences, there’s an eating-out culture in New York that craves the best of the best. Attracting top chefs from all over the world, you can find everything from great Thai street food at Pok Pok NY in Brooklyn to the world’s best restaurant, 11 Madison Park, in the Flatiron District. Up in Midtown, French chef Eric Ripert sets the perfect garnishes atop his seafood tasting-style plates at Le Bernardin; while down in the West Village, Chef Daisuke Nakazawa selects the finest pieces of fatty tuna to plate for his patrons at Sushi Nakazawa, just like the great sushi master Jiro Ono showed him how to do back in Japan. New York takes the cake on this one.

Left Flickr CC: Benoit | Right Flickr CC: angela n.

Arts & Culture
In both cities, arts and culture abound. For the performing arts, London’s rich theater history dates back to well before Shakespeare, and the city’s own Andrew Lloyd Weber continues to shape modern day musical theater—in both the West End and Broadway. However, Broadway seems to be the pinnacle stage for performance art these days, for both actors and audiences alike. Similarly, New York’s Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center offer equally acclaimed stages for orchestra, opera, ballet and more. In looking at the topic through a different lens, London pulls ahead when it comes to the visual arts. With more museums and art galleries than New York, the quantity and quality of pieces in institutions like the British Museum and the Tate Modern are unrivaled—plus many London museums are free!

Photos courtesy of Compass and Twine

A tricky topic since each city has a notable drinking culture, but very different styles. London kills it in the happy hour department. There’s something charming and comfortably consisted about the pub experience. Everyone goes out straight after work for a pint, because most pubs and drinking establishment close around 11pm— unless you want to head to a club. Pubs truly are great local watering holes; each has its own character and you can run into the same neighborhood faces over and over again. Thursday and Friday business lunches can often extend straight into happy hour, without ever going back into the office. How great is that? New York, though, has an incredible array of sports bars, hotel bars, wine bars, cocktail lounges, secret mixology places, speakeasies and more. At any hour of the day or night you can find  an amazing place to imbibe.

Left Flickr CC: Kieran Clarke | Right Flickr CC: Eric Chan

No contest, but we’ll discuss it anyways. With regards to American Football, New York City has two teams, the Giants and the Jets. The Giants have actually done alright for the city over the past few years, but New Yorkers remain endlessly disappointed in them nonetheless. The Jets, on the other hand, have floundered for years and have problems that extend well past their quarterback issues. Both teams play in New Jersey—so then there’s that. Across the pond, football of course refers to soccer (in the US vernacular). London is home to multiple major—and successful—club teams, which perform at the highest level in the Premier League. Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur are banner institutions continuously attracting some of the greatest players from around the globe. West Ham United and Crystal Palace aren’t too shabby either. They all play in London and have been around since the late 1800s. A close comparison? We think not.

You’d be hard pressed to find two more formidable opponents for a City Smackdown. Both New York and London serve as cultural and global business centers, held together by an elaborate web of transportation options. When all else fails, food is usually the deciding factor, and NYC has that one in the bag—dirty water dogs and all. On the other hand, London has a history and sophistication that stands second to none. All things considered, London really is just a heck of a lot cleaner, and that’s enough for us. London for the win!

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Tagged: New York

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Compass + Twine
Sarah Driggs and Lindsay Ridenour are the story-tellers behind the NYC-based luxury travel blog, Compass + Twine. Follow along on Instagram @compassandtwine as they unearth some of the best hotels and travel experiences around the globe. From scenic landscapes to local cafés, they reveal the true character of a destination, always highlighting the best place to stay on .

One thought on “Smackdown!: London vs. New York City”

  1. I strongly believe that London is one of the best places in the world to visit. Yes, you said it right that New York is better when it come to food, but London still offers some of the best food to the travelers.

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