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Old 04-12-2013, 02:24 PM   #1
momto3gr8boys
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London vacation tips

Hi everyone,

I just booked a trip to London for my DW and myself! We are so excited!! We will be there this coming July 21-27, staying at The Trafalgar Hotel in the Covent Garden area.

This is my fourth trip to London, but the last was about 20 years ago, so I am sure a lot has changed. It's DW's first trip. We are aware of the major sites and will do a few tours, but we haven't planned anything specific yet.

So, UKers, what are some great local spots, things we shouldn't miss, good restaurants, best way to get theatre tickets, etc. I am also curious as to where we should go running - one of the parks, on the streets, etc.

Also, I did not reserve private transportation from Heathrow yet. Any idea on the best way to go? I wouldn't be opposed to the train, but if any of you are in the know, what should a taxi cost? Is it better to book a car service ahead of time, or can we just grab a cab at the airport.

Oh, and one more thing, I have never been to Stonehenge, and would love to visit this trip. Any thoughts on the best way to do this?

Thanks!
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Old 04-12-2013, 03:28 PM   #2
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For transport you could catch the underground direct from Heathrow to Covent Garden. The Piccadilly line goes direct between the two, the journey takes 40 minutes. You could take a cab, but obviously this would be more expensive.

For running, it is not something that I do, but a lot of people run around Hyde Park, or any of the other parks in the city. For the theatre I usually look at what shows are on on ticketmaster.co.uk and book on there. Or, if you are not fussed about a particular show, the half price ticket booth at leicester Square has great deals, but you can only book there a few days in advance (you can book online too.)

For sightseeing I always recommend the London Eye to any visitors, you get to see great views of the city from there (londoneye.com)

For restaurants, what type of food do you like? Do want to do afternoon tea? I enjoy the afternoon tea at Fortnum and Masons, but it is quite expensive. The one at Harrods is slightly cheaper, but also very nice.
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Old 04-12-2013, 05:36 PM   #3
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When we were there last summer my hubby went for a run one morning (longer than planned as he got a bit lost, lol) along the side of the river. There were loads of runners there and you can run for miles taking in loads of the major sights but without traffic. Loads of joggers on Hyde park too. We loved Giraffe on the South Bank (v close to London Eye) for food, it is a chain but we only ate at that one. We were looking for kid friendly which it was but it was also v adult friendly too and did great cocktails. :-) We had a great trip. Always good to do the open top bus to get your bearings! Also look at a street map rather than just underground, a lot of the major attractions are actually very close together but you don't realise this if you do it all underground! Enjoy x
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Old 04-12-2013, 06:44 PM   #4
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Hi! As someone who lives in London (just west of hyde park) - I would not jog on the streets Green or Hyde park or the Embankment are the best near to Covent Garden.

Shows - everyone is loving the Broadway shows at the moment here! So a Chorus Line and the book of Mormon are the big tickets in terms of musicals. The best plays are at the National Theatre on the southbank, or the Royal Court on Sloane Square. But for the summer, I 100% recommend grabbing a picnic and bottle of wine and going to a show at the Regent's Park open air theatre.

Obviously where I go as a Londoner is totally different to a tourist, but I spend most time on the King's Road - my local area, Notting Hill and Kensington high Street for shops etc and usual London life.
Soho is the best place in the centre for pubs, cafes, nightlife and restaurants still. There are quite a few cabaret and supper clubs open now in the centre, or somewhere like Ronnie Scotts jazz club is legendary. I still love Camden Lock and its market and music scene too. Fun if you have never been there before.

Cab from Heathrow would be around £50/£60 and potentially upwards. Expensive, but I would get a taxi for less stress - I never get the tube or train to the airport with luggage! Best to book in advance - they fleece you if you just turn up.

I used to work for the tourist buses, and they did a one day trip from London to Stonehenge taking in Windsor and Eton as well. A tourist centre will be able to book that for you. As it is the middle of the countryside, a coach trip or hiring a car is the only viable option from London!

There is so much in terms of art galleries, museums, attractions, houses etc it really depends on your personal interest. If ancient history - as you are interested in stonehenge - is interesting to you, then I recommend the British museum and the Museum of London, which you may have visited before. You may also be arriving when the tours of the houses of parliament are going on for the summer (parliament recess) apparently the tours are good too.

If you are staying around Covent Garden, I like Palm court french brasserie there and have a look what is going on in the church there on the piazza (where I was married!) - St Pauls Church (not the cathedral!) they often have an open air theatre production in and around the church gardens in the summer which is very unique.

London Bridge/Southwark is def. worth a visit - The shard of glass building has some of the best views from the top and Borough market is the best food market in central london, very old London with great cafes/stalls, I love the old operating theatre museum too and the Globe theatre is around the corner - not a fan for artistic reasons ( I work in theatre) but most visitors love the tour of it.

Last edited by houndlover; 04-13-2013 at 05:24 AM.
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Old 04-13-2013, 07:26 AM   #5
momto3gr8boys
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Thanks for the great ideas and tips! I'm keeping a list
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Old 04-13-2013, 01:23 PM   #6
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If you fancy a treat for Sunday lunch Rules restaurant is to die for!
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Old 04-18-2013, 01:46 PM   #7
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as for Stonehenge...

Well that is in the middle of nowhere so unless you hire a car I would say the only other option is to book an excursion from London. You could stay in Salisbury for a night and take in the beautiful cathedral, as it is close to Stonehenge.

http://www.stonehenge.co.uk/arrive.php

Enjoy your planning
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