London Trip Suggestions?

Discussion in 'Europe' started by richinaz, Feb 25, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. richinaz
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    richinaz Silver Member

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    We will be visiting London for 8 nights in early May. We will be arriving and leaving via LGW. While I've been to England about 6 times, it was all work related in the Cheltenham area and the most recent trip was ~15 yrs ago. I did manage to squeeze in a few days in London back then along with a side trip to Cambridge (very nice). My GF has never been to the UK.

    I'm looking for suggestions as to nice but reasonable priced hotels (maybe $200 or 160£) convenient to the tube. I'm not sure if I will spend all the time at one location (8 nights in any hotel seems a lot to me). We definitely don't plan to have a car so everything will be trains, tube, etc. I did see one place that had a nice write up was the Hoxton.

    Also does anyone have any good web links explaining the Oyster & Travel cards?
    Any other useful tips will be appreciated. Thanks.
     
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  2. ChgoBob
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    ChgoBob Silver Member

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    Have you ever considered a apart-hotel, such as Citidines? Cheaper than a hotel, and they are all over London, usually within a block of the Tube. We have stayed several times at the one at Hoburn/Covent, and my favorite at Trafalgar, by Embankment. Embankment has 3 lines at the station, and has pubs, restaurants, stores, coffee shops, including starbucks, on Villier, one block away.

    http://www.citadines.com/uk/london/trafalgar_square.html

    Embankment station on Villier St

    40 (Medium).jpg
     
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  3. richinaz
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    richinaz Silver Member

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    I've never stayed at an apartment while traveling although I've heard some people, especially families like them. Do they have any laundry facilities in the units or at the site (I looked at the web page but only saw a mention of dry cleaning)? I'm not sure how well a sofa bed would work. Doesn't sound very comfy. The photos do make it look nice.
     
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  4. kaka
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    kaka Gold Member

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    for an eight-day trip i'd say either travelcard or oyster will save you a WHOLE LOT of time, and probably some money.

    basically the London tube concept is, your travel cost gets capped at various levels depending on the number of zones you cross. When (time of day) you start your travels also plays a part. The cap, is set by what the "Travel cards" used to be sold. Also at the same time, CASH payments incur a huge cash premium (1.9GBP for intra-Zone 1 trip using Oyster, vs 4GBP for the same trip with cash... )

    I used to think paper travelcards are rubbish but i was wrong... anyway, they are the "paper pass" they have been selling in train stations (the real travel CARDS) that you can get from a National Rail Stations (Gatwick Airport itself is one). They sell 1-day cards (Peak or Off-peak) and 7-day (no time restrictions) (also monthly and yearly but i doubt they are useful for you). Obviously, you BUY them in advance. You can use them on tube, bus, DLR and trams. Basically most PT except ferry on Thames.

    Oyster: (At pay-as-you-go (PAYG) mode, or 1-day travelcard mode) you preload money into the card, and money is taken off as you take trains, bus, DLR and trams. It automatically caps your daily charge at your respective caps (same as the above travelcards, and if all your trips are at off peaks(0930-0430 next day): 6.6GBP/day for zone 1&2; and higher for zone 1-4 and zone 1-6. If your day involves a trip during Peak hours (0430-0930 on a weekday), it's 8GBP for zone 1&2 )) so if you travel less you wont get your butt toasted BUT you'd need to pay a 3GBP deposit... and asking for a refund from a tube ticket office requires you to have less than 5GBP in your card. anything more you will be sent a cheque. you can ALSO get a 7-day pass in an oyster, but i'll tell you later what you'd miss.

    So perhaps now you see why you need an oyster or paper travelcard if you manage to get one (you dont want to pay for a cash ticket for EVERY TRIP!)

    Paper cards apparently get you a whole load of discounts. Print them off and follow them instructions. the paper travelcard (or any paper tickets) is needed for the discounts to come along. If you plan to travel lots for more than 4 days, a zone 1&2 7-day travelcard is what you need (breakeven at 4 days at cap and 1 tube ride). You'll need a seperate Gatwick- Central London ticket. Some discounts are available to oyster users, but not many of them.

    OTOH, Oyster cards are good if you dont travel so much that a prepaid travelcard would breakeven. Also, if you do go outside of zone 2 (which your paper travelcard permits), you need to buy a supplement ticket from the last zone 2 station to your destination (I suspect the station manager will be able to sort out in a few seconds IF there is one... or do it before you enter the gate at your origin). With oyster you would overpay (a separate zone1 to zone X ticket that wont be included in your cap calculation for zone 1&2) but is the easier solution. However, the only place that pops up in my head where a tourist would go outside of zone 2 is Kew gardens, since you'd be leaving from Gatwick, not Heathrow), so YMMV.

    Oh. 1 last thing, for ferries on thames. it WONT count towards the daily cap nor would the 7-day travel card pay for it but you can pay with the oyster card at a discount. (10% off on PAYG oyster, and 1/3 off for either paper or oyster 7-day travel card)


    Another tip, a one way ticket Gatwick - Central London is 1/2 off if you dont take the Gatwick Express unless you have a coupon somewhere you can find off the web. And a non same day return train ticket is usually not the cheapest option. (Same day return are great value in many cases OTOH, many times only 1 pound more than a single ticket.)

    Hope this is not too long for you :eek: I do find it very long for me! ha! (actually i needed to do some research on the paper ticket as well :eek:!)
    The link is a pretty good explaination, except prices are changed and do substitute 8.00 and 6.60 GBP for the 7.20 and 5.60GBP under "Option 2: Pay As You Go visitor’s OysterCard". Other caps are also unverified.
     
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  5. ChgoBob
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    ChgoBob Silver Member

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    I'm not sure about the laundry, but each Citidines has separate facilities and information pages, so you might want to check several pages They have different sized apartments, from sofabed studios, to a separate bedroom and a sofabed, and even 2-bedrooms. The units have cofee/hot pots and small fridges.

    Similar to Residence Inn by Marriott over here, but not as big, (but bigger than most hotel rooms) nor with a fully equipped kitchen. They have front desks manned all/most of the time. If they look interesting to you, send them an email and ask about the laundry.

    I stay in them in London, Paris, and once in Nice. They are all over Europe.
     
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  6. richinaz
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    richinaz Silver Member

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    Thanks for the info. It will take me a while to figure this out. I've been trying to understand the differences between the Travelcard vs. Oyster. I guess I may need both.

    An Oyster card is an electronic card that you swipe (or hold close to) a reader but it sounds like a Travel card is just a piece of paper?

    Generally I'm on the go for many trips and don't usually stay in a place for more than three nights. Most recently was a 12 night Germany/Austria trip (Munich, Salzburg, Rothenburg, Nurnberg, Wurzburg and the last night at Frankfurt) in December. So if I stay in one place for the whole trip it will be unusual although kind of nice not to have to haul around luggage on trains. I might try to stay at some smaller, less hectic place outside of London for a couple of nights.

    Besides London I'm pondering (and this list will be narrowed down) side/day trips to: York, Bath, Oxford or Cambridge. Someone on Rick Steves site mentioned MadMax tours which has an interesting day tour to Cotswold and places such as Bibury and Titbury amongst other places (hopefully I got the spelling correct). The problem with the tour is that it leaves from Bath at 8:45 so we would have to get an early start from London to make it to Bath by that time.

    Looking at the 2FOR1 offers it states " Valid until 30 April 2011 unless stated." and I won't be going until May.

    I'll try checking out that link later. Currently when I try it at work it just is either very slow or non-functional (doesn't seem like it is being blocked).

    I also need to research that Hyatt credit card offer (2 free nights) since if I could use that in London it might be worthwhile, especially if my GF could also get one and we could end up with four free nights (not sure how easy it is go redeem the nights).

    Thanks.
     
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  7. kaka
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    kaka Gold Member

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    indeed, and the difference is just as confusing (imagine i never knew much about paper tickets until... today! and i was there for 4 years. then again, i havent been to many of those touristy spots that require a paid ticket anyway... so many things in london are free!

    Oxford and cambridge is definately doable on a day-trip. Oxford is ~90 mins from Victoria by Coach (hardly any trains runs there anymore). and cambridge is slightly closer (From King's Cross).
    Bath is also equally out from london (From paddington) by train. but getting there at 0845 is a bit of a pain... (ought to leave London by 7, so might as well stay outside after so many nights at london.... which may or maynot make ur week travel card seem as useful (remember breakeven at 4 days and 1 tube).
    Anyway, the 2for1 has been running for 4-5 years (I knew about since i was in london in 03-04 but hardly used any of them establishments, even less for the promos.) so i'd be surprised if they dont continue it this year with similar places.

    you're welcome and that's how MP and FT bloom so well - share the knowledge!
    Anyway, I don't know of a Hyatt in London that's in a reasonably location... (oh there's the churchill. West side of Oxford street, good for "English" shopping ie Bond street... and good to catch coaches to oxford! (5 min walk away?)
     
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  8. richinaz
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    richinaz Silver Member

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    Do you think that is a bad location for a long stay? I guess if I could get two free nights there then I could stay somewhere more centralized.

    Thanks
     
  9. raysian
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    raysian Silver Member

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    Hotel Indigo - Paddington, London is down the street from Paddington Station and London Underground. Great access to the Heathrow Express to/from LHR.
     
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  10. richinaz
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    richinaz Silver Member

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    Thanks. I'll check it out although I'm flying in/out of Gatwick (LGW) not LHR.
     
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  11. Casey Friday
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    Casey Friday Silver Member

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    The Gatwick express goes from Gatwick to Victoria Station (and London Underground). We took it when we visited in May '10.
     
  12. Halo
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    Halo Silver Member

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    As has been said above, rather than the expensive Gatwick Express consider the less expensive South Eastern or First Capital Connect trains. They can be almost as quick as the Express (only 5-mins difference on some) but can also be more convenient as well as less expensive, as you are not tied into going to Victoria. You can get trains to London Bridge (convenient for Hilton Tower Bridge, which is in a great riverside location; and Grange City Hotel; and Southwark Novotel and various others); Charing Cross (convenient for the Citadines referred to above); and City Thameslink (convenient for the Grange St Pauls; and Crowne Plaza and others).
     
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  13. Casey Friday
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    Casey Friday Silver Member

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    Great advice - wish I had known when I visited!
     
  14. David
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    David Silver Member

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    It is actually "Southern".

    "South Eastern" is a different TOC (Train Operating Company), see maps on their websites below for their franchise operating areas..

    Southern: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southern_(train_operating_company)
    Network Map: http://www.southernrailway.com/your-journey/network-map/

    South Eastern: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southeastern_(train_operating_company)
    Network Map: http://www.southeasternrailway.co.uk/your-journey/network-map/
     
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