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Is London a good place to visit?

View of the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben in London

View of the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben in London

We asked one of our overseas friends what they thought…..

 

Fog…. Hitchcock…. Pints…. People associate many things with London, but perhaps none more so than vacations. The city receives countless tourists every year, crowds who come to see the city’s museums, eat at its restaurants, and enjoy its theaters. Like all major cities, visiting London does present some difficulties you should consider before going, but if you decide you can handle them, the city is a must see.

Consider Skipping London If…

Public transit freaks you out: There are lots of ways to get around in London, but visitors sometimes find it daunting. For instance, the city’s complicated tube map puts many cities’ intricate transportation schemes to shame. And like any city’s public transit, London’s sometimes is crowded and delayed.

You want only outdoor activities: The weather in London isn’t as bad as its reputation–it’s neither as foggy nor rainy as it seems–but it is highly unpredictable. According to worldweatheronline.com, spring and summer have rampant weather fluctuations, while winter is unpleasant in general. Thus, people craving sun and time outdoors on their vacation might struggle in London.

Crowds aggravate you tremendously: London has a massive population: 7.7 million people jammed into a relatively small area. Add to that crowds of tourists, and streets and attractions can get pretty crowded. The sights are worth it for a lot of people, but if spending time in crowds would ruin your vacation, you might want to skip London or at least look for calmer areas of the city to visit.

But there are lots of good things about London, which may outweigh the above detractions.

Check London Out If…

Food and drink drive your vacations: Contrary to the shaky reputation of British food, London has a number of great eateries. There are pizza joints, upscale restaurants, and, of course, pubs. Writing for Travel and Leisure, Peter Jon Lindberg remarks that ”Whether it’s burger joints or old-school British lunchrooms; elegant Italian restaurants or trendy Peruvian ceviche bars; weekend markets or semi-secret chef’s tables, wherever your taste runs, London has you covered. Few cities on earth offer food this good across the board.” So don’t let all the jokes you’ve heard about British food ward you off: London’s food stacks up against anyone’s.

You love nice hotels: London hotels are some of the best in the world. On the five-star end of the scale, some hotels offer mind-blowing amenities, like The Milestone Hotel‘s 24-hour butler service. And several London hotels double as historic attractions in themselves, like Claridge’s, which has been standing since the 1850s.

History and the arts attract you: London is a haven for museums, theaters, and the like. Enjoy art? You can check out The National Gallery, which houses paintings by Monet, Michelangelo, and da Vinci, among other titans of art history. Interested in the natural world? The Natural History Museum has exhibits on plants, animals, and human history. And for live shows, the city has a vibrant theater scene, with countless venues putting on performances. If you like refreshments with your entertainment, you can visit a pub theater–where you get a show with your pint(s).

Even if the city’s drawbacks give you pause, it might be worth braving the crowds and weather to check London out. There’s a reason London has been voted the world’s most popular tourist destination: The city has much to offer, from food and drink to historical experiences that can’t be had anywhere else.

Top 10 special things to experience in London during January 2014

Top 10 special things to experience in London during January 2014

 

London-Hotels.co.uk helps visitors to London to find local events for them to experience during their stay. We have highlighted 10 unique happenings which may tempt you to brave the cold and experience something special.

 

♦  The London Ice Sculpting Festival

London Ice Sculpting Festival

The London Ice Sculpting Festival 

January 10 – 12 @ Canary Wharf, London E14

Website  | Hotels

 

Head down to Wood Wharf in Canary Wharf for this annual ice carving event.  Some of the world’s top carvers will be attacking mammoth ice blocks. The subjects are “Fabulous Fashion” for the Big Block Competition and “River Life” for the Freestyle and Singles categories. There is also a Winter Food Market and a Coffee Bar open during the festival.    

 

♦  Ice at the Tower

Ice at the Tower

Ice at the Tower

Until January 5, 2014 @ The Tower of London, EC3

Website  | Hotels

 

An opportunity to show of your ice skating skills beneath the ramparts of the iconic Tower of London. One hour sessions can be booked between 10am and 10pm daily. If you don’t want to participate then you can seek refuge in the Ice Bar and Café.

 

 

♦  Hogwarts in the Snow

Hogwarts in the snow

Hogwarts in the snow

Until February 2, 2014 @ Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden, WD25

Website | Hotels

 

For all the Harry Potter fans, here is a special opportunity to visit the Great Hall film set clad in snow. Originally due to close in early January, the studio has now extended this event for an additional month due to the huge public interest.

 

♦  Tower Bridge Engineering Tour

Tower Bridge Engineering Tour

Tower Bridge Engineering Tour

Every weekend in January @ Tower Bridge Road, London SE1

Website | Hotels

 

This tour is staged over the Weekends during January and February only. The tour will take you on a journey of Tower Bridge, past, present and future and gives a fascinating insight into the engineering behind London’s most famous Bridge. Experience the panoramic views from atop on the walkway, visit the engine and machinery rooms, not normally open to public and delve down into the vast Bascule Chambers below river level.    

 

♦  The London Boat Show

The London Boat Show 2014

The London Boat Show 2014

4th – 12th January 2014 @ ExCel, London E16

Website | Hotel

 

Come and loose yourself for a cruise around ExCel with the annual London Boat Show.  All things nautical await the inner sailor in you!  Should you be in the market to buy a boat, then this is the place to begin.  A truly special day out, even if you are just dreaming.

 

♦  Cirque De Soleil’s “Quidam”

Cirque De Soleil Quidam

Cirque De Soleil Quidam

4th January until 16th February 2014 @ The Royal Albert Hall, London W8

Website | Hotels

 

Returning to the Royal Albert Hall the amazing Cirque De Soleil’s Quidam will have you sat on the edge of your seat.  The circular stage brings you up close and personal with the acrobats performing their death defying stunts.  A visual delight for any age or gender.  A must see show which will live in your memory for ever!

 

♦  Burns Night Dinner at Fortnum & Mason

Burns Night at Fortnum and Mason

Burns Night at Fortnum and Mason

25th January @ Fortnum and Mason,London W1A

Website | Hotels

 

This is the place to have that special Burns night celebration. Enjoy a traditional supper of everything Scottish, from Cock-a-leekie Soup to Haggis and watered down with Fortnum’s malt whisky. Entertainment by Scotch pipers and speakers.

 

 

♦  Ibiza: Moments In Love

Ibiza: Moments in Love

Ibiza: Moments in Love

Until 26 January @ Institute of Contemporary Arts,London  SW1Y

Website | Hotels

 

Relive what was probably your first holiday away from the parents at this Ibiza memorabilia exhibition at the ICA on the Mall.  With posters and photographs going back to the early 80’s, it traces the evolution of the pleasure island. Visit this time machine – if you dare!

 

♦  An Evening with the Stars

An Evening with the Stars

An Evening with the Stars

January 10, 11, 17 and 18 @ Royal Observatory Greenwich,London SE10

Website | Hotels

 

A very special opportunity to star gaze through London’s one and only 28 inch telescope at the Royal Observatory. The evening includes a Planetarium show, standing on the Prime Meridian of the world and a look through the 18 tonne telescope.

♦  The London Art Fair

The London Art Fair

The London Art Fair

January 15 – 19 @ the British Design Centre, London N1

Website | Hotels

 

Now in its 26th year, this annual event gives Joe Public the opportunity to acquire pieces of art at direct prices. This year there are 2 shows, Photo50 and Art projects. Check out the website for details of the talks and tours available.

 

 

 

♦  About

London-Hotels.co.uk  is London’s only dedicated hotel price comparison site. We strive to ensure that visitors to London get the very best deal.

The Long Bar @ The Sanderson Hotel, London

The Long Bar at the Sanderson Hotel, London

The Long Bar at the Sanderson Hotel, London

 

Located inside the glam Sanderson Hotel on Berners Street, the Long Bar is serene, cool, chic and as fashionable looking  as some of the hipsters found inside.

 

The Long Bar is extremely stylish and has an impressive cocktail list that is dedicated to more non-alcoholic varieties. If you are watching your weight then they also cater to specific dietary needs. This is thanks to a special Skinny menu which is themed around slimmer alternatives that come in at less than 150 calories a drink.

 

Designed by the renowned Ian Schrager, The Long Bar has an impressive bar which is 80 feet long which makes it a real talking point for many people who come to sit and relax here.

 

Ultra-modern features can be seen from the chairs to the décor while you will be either creeped out or satisfied with the single eyes staring back at you from the rear of the chairs.

 

the-long-bar-1

 

If you are a short fan then sample some of the house Wyborowa vodka whilst you can even take advantage of a number of different daiquiris and martinis.  They also offer bar snacks including burgers, charcuterie and mezze plates.

 

If you want to check out the delights of the Long Bar, then you can access this via the tube. The nearest station is Oxford Circus which lies in Zone 1 of the underground system. It is served by theVictoria, Bakerloo and Central lines. The closest rail station from the venue is London Charing Cross which gives you easy proximity to the City.

 

Opening hours are from Monday to Sat between 11am and 3am; Sundays are between noon and midnight.

 

When it comes to exploring the local area, visitors will have the chance to enjoy a number of shops, bars as well as restaurants that can be found within touching distance. They can be found around Soho which is considered to be one of the most fashionable areas in the capital. Why not check out the Charlotte Street Hotel located on the same street.

 

sandeson-hotel-london-650

 

This oozes style and modern style and has a delicious afternoon tea that has been causing a stir among trendy clientele. Meanwhile, you can benefit from many individual boutique stores which offer cutting edge fashion and much more. In addition to this, you are close to the sights and sounds of Oxford Street. This is where you will be able to skate round more than 300 shops which provide a wealth of retail opportunities.

 

Some of the stores you will have the ability to explore in more detail include the likes of  Topman as well as Next, River Island, Zara, Disney not to mention Vodafone, the Body Shop and Boots.

 

Meanwhile if you are looking for a bit more luxury then why not spoil yourself with a trip to one of the designer stores in the vicinity. This include Selfridges, while Liberty is situated just around the corner. Other highlights that you can benefit from include Covent  Garden which is just a short walk away and offers plenty of distractions to while away an afternoon from the Piazza to the copious theatres.

 

The Long Bar can be found at the Sanderson Hotel, 50 Berners Street, London W1T 3NG

 

 

Read about the Sanderson Hotel, London

 

 

Get up to speed in London with a Boris Bike

 

 

boris-bikes-london

 

If you know what “Boris Bikes” are then you probably have been to London before and seen them, but for those that don’t know;  Boris is Boris Johnson is the Mayor of London and his “Boris Bikes” are a grand scheme that he introduced to be able to rent cycles by the hour, so “pay as you pedal”,  in London.

 

Sponsored by Barclays Bank, you pick up a bike from a secure stand, use it and drop it off at any other stand in London.

 

You can easily recognise them as they are liveried in the Barclays blue colours.  The bank paid £25m for 5 years advertising on the bikes and at the time that contributed 18% of the total cost.  The scheme was launched in 2010 and the peak rental period was during the Olympic Games when in one day there were 47,105 hires.

 

There are more than 400 locations in central London where you can locate a cycle.  If you find that the stand is empty then the docking station will direct you to the closest available bike. Present areas covered are Kensington, Chelsea, Westminster, Camden and the City with Hammersmith, Fulham and Wandsworth as the latest additions.

 

 

boris-bikes-london-docking-station

 

 

Bikes are available to everyone aged 15 or more who can ride without assistance. You must be aware that helmets are not supplied.

 

If you are going to use the cycles regularly then join the membership scheme. You can do this online at www.tfl.co.uk. Annual membership will cost you £3 per year. You the pay an access fee when you withdraw a bike which is £1 per day, £5 for a week or £45 for the year. On top of this you will also pay a usage fee.

 

If you are only in London for a short while, then you can still ride the bikes as a casual user. You can pay online, by telephone or at any cycle docking station. A one day access charge is £1 and a week is £5 per person. Once you have paid this access charge you will receive an pin code which will unlock any bike in the scheme.

 

On top of the access charge there is also the usage cost which is based on hire duration.  The first 30 minutes is free of charge and then the ensuing costs start at £1 per hour  up to £50 for 24 hours.  You can keep checking in your bike every 30 minutes at any docking station and ride all day without any usage charges.  There are presently more than 400 places to check bikes in and out and if you are sightseeing in the Zone 1 area (central), then 30 minutes will easily get you between docking areas.

 

If the docking area is full and there is nowhere to check in your bike, the docking station will direct you to the nearest available place and allow you an additional 15 minutes free usage.

 

 

boris-bikes-london-map

 

 

 

If you encounter a mechanical issue with your bike then simply dock it and use the keyboard report the fault. The bike will be automatically locked  and a replacement issued.

 

There are cycle “Superhighways” radiating out from central London. These offer the novice and also the experienced cyclist a faster and more safe journey around London (see map above).

 

If its stolen or not returned, then  your card will be charged £300.

 

There are issues and complaints about the scheme including claims about excessive charges. You must remember there are two charges, access and usage.  Its all clearly explained when you book online so you only have yourself to blame if you get the maths wrong.

 

If you are an experienced cyclist then you will find the hire versions quite heavy and unresponsive as they are designed for everyday amateur users.

Brent Cross – the grand old lady of UK malls

Brent Cross Shoping mall

Brent Cross Shoping mall

 

“When Brent Cross Shopping mall opened in 1976, it broke all the rules. The UK retail sector was used to opening at 9am,  closing at 5.30 and having a half day closing day in the week.”

 

 

The then new kid on the block threw out convention and opened until 8pm and eventually opened on Sundays. This opened the flood gates for out of hours shopping for the thousands of people who had daytime jobs. Over the years this retail model has been copied many times over.

 

The Brent Cross Shopping Mall in North London

The Brent Cross Shopping Mall in North London

It is estimated that the Brent Cross mall has a catchment area covering more than 7 million potential shoppers, not only in North London but as far west as High Wycombe and north to Luton. It has evolved into a “day out” where you can shop, be entertained and also eat.

Other retailers, seeing the success, followed suit and now within a short distance there is also a massive Ikea which is equally as busy.  Now the giant and more upmarket Westway Shopping centre in west London is larger and more popular, but the grand old lady is still going strong and continually evolving with new units and entertainment lures.

 

It lies at the bottom of the M1 motorway on the North Circular Road and is actually a great place to deposit your car, free of charge, and venture into Central London.

Drive in Movie club at Brent Cross

 

The latest attraction is the Drive In Film Club.  Copying the American versions, this is a drive in cinema. You book and pay online, then drive to the Box Office. You are issued with an FM special frequency to dial into your car radio and directed to your allocated viewing slot.  You can order popcorn, hot dogs, ice cream or even Mexican hot food and its delivered to your car by the roller skating staff.

As an adage to the Brent Cross success, many of the original superstore occupiers,  John Lewis, Fenwick, Boots and Marks and Spencer are still trading there!

Over the years, it has been extended to house more than 140 outlets offering in excess of 2000 branded products including an Arsenal Football outlet and an Amazon Locker location. This latest innovation from Amazon enables you to buy online and collect at the store via a secure locker to which you have a unique access code to open the door.

Children at Brent Cross
Brent Cross is as child friendly as it gets. All car parks have free of charge mother and baby parking close to the entrances. Many of the restaurants offer hi chairs, feeding bottle warming and entertainment. Every month, the mall features some type of live entertainment, usually featuring a television character. Of course during December it’s always Father Christmas.

topsy-turvy-world-brent-cross

A nice touch for those with children are the Stay Safe wristband. They detail where to take a lost child and have space for you to write your phone number. You can pick these up  from the Information Desk on the Upper Mall close to Marks and Spencer’s.

Topsy Turvy World is a huge soft play centre for kids up to 12 years old. You pay a one off charge of £15 for lifetime access. There is even a special area for those under 3 years old.

Travelling to Brent Cross

By car, simply enter NW4 3FP into your sat nav system. If you are coming from the M1, then at the island take the first exit and follow the signs.

By bus the mall is also very easy to access and you can take any of these services: 102, 112, 113, 142, 143, 182, 186, 189, 210, 232, 266, 326 and C11.  From the bus station in Barnet, there is a service direct to the mall.

By tube, take the Edgware service on the Northern Line to Hendon Central or Brent Cross and its then a short walk.

If you are travelling by train then get off at Hendon Station and its a 15 minute walk.

Staying at Brent Cross

The Holiday Inn Brent Cross

The Holiday Inn Brent Cross

If you want to make the most of the shopping and entertainment, you can stay at the Holiday Inn Brent Cross. This is a 4 star purpose built, 154 bedroom hotel is walking distance to the mall.  There is a free shuttle to Brent Cross tube station (8am until 11pm) which allows you to travel into central London in just 20 minutes, so shopping in the daytime and nightlife in the evening.

It has a large car park and so you can avoid the Congestion Zone charges and travel into the West End stress free.

Useful Links for your visit to Brent Cross

Official Brent Cross Website

Topsy Turvy World

Book a room at the Holiday Inn Brent Cross

 

London rated worst place in UK – “Crap Town” Award

 

 

Maybe we are biased living in “Crap Town” as they called it but personally I think its the best place in the UK!

 

 

I am also quite depressed with some of the comments that have been posted on the Youtube page for this video – what kind of a world are we living in? Or am I really looking at life in London through rose coloured lenses ????

 

 

 

Latest London Hotel Review: Premier Inn Gatwick Airport (North Terminal)

It was quite by accident I stayed at the Premier Inn, London Gatwick Airport.

My flight was cancelled at short notice so it was a less than happy guest checking in, late on a Saturday night when I should have been at home!

So, I was directed to the hotels bus stop from check in, a bit of a drag, down to the lower level of the North Terminal and a few minutes walk to the bus stop. Soon the bus arrived and a charge of £3 for my journey was requested, However, I had a voucher from the airline so no charge was necessary.

From the North Terminal it took only a few minutes to arrive at the front door of the hotel. It was already getting quite late.

Check in was smooth, the staff seemed well prepared for the sudden influx of guests arriving.

I was told due to the lateness of my arrival and large number of guests arriving it would be advisable to book the restaurant. This was dealt with very efficiently; I opted rather than wait an hour for a reservation, to take my food in the lounge shortly.

Premier Inn Gatwick North terminal bedroom

Premier Inn Gatwick North terminal bedroom

First though, I wanted to freshen up in my room. The corridor access to rooms is secure and your room key is required. A nice touch, especially for a lone female traveller like myself.

My room was a good walk from reception, perhaps one of the furthest from the lobby area. Even so quite easy to wheel my case along the corridor which is carpeted so it is also quiet.

My room was a spacious double, it was good to see a tea/coffee tray in the room and it also had individually controlled Air Con. I liked the layout with its small seating area, and nice big desk area. The bathroom was a good size with bath and shower over. The windows were of a good quality double glazing, a must at a busy airport hotel. On reflection my whole stay was completely noise free! Quite a bonus I think.

There was Wifi access in the room with free 30 minute access, thereafter a charge of £3 was levied for each 24 hour period. Not too expensive in my view.

Premier Inn London Gatwick North terminal bedroom

Premier Inn London Gatwick North terminal bedroom

After freshening up, it was back to the bar/lounge for something to eat. I was impressed how the staff worked as a team and I was quickly shown to a table, menu in hand. I made my choice which was relayed to the person behind the bar and took my seat back in the lounge, catching up on the days news which was being relayed to guests via the large wall mounted TV. Again, no TV noise drowning out conversations, those interested could read the sub-titles.

Dinner was typical English fayre, it was served quickly, was really well presented and above all the taste was very good. Surprisingly I didn’t have to wait too long. I really enjoyed my food and judging by those around me I wasn’t alone! The wine was fine with a good selection to choose from. Although busy, I didn’t feel like I had an unduly long wait for my food or drinks, it was a very pleasant experience.

Premier Inn London Gatwick North - bathroom

Premier Inn London Gatwick North – bathroom

The bed was comfortable and, as with most Premier Inn’s you are given a choice of pillow types, firm, soft, hypo-allergenic etc. There was no external noise, all in all it proved to be a good nights sleep.

Breakfast:- You can order a full English Breakfast at the Premier Inn any time of the day. There is a great choice of food at breakfast time, from healthy fruit and yoghurt to a fully cooked full English breakfast.

The staff made a great effort to show you where everything was and I was informed that the chef was on hand should you require anything not on offer. So, with a full day of travel ahead I opted for some fresh fruit and yoghurt followed by hot toast, bacon, eggs, mushrooms, tomato and hash brown. It was all well prepared and it was nice to see not just tinned tomatos on offer but fresh too. Coffee and a selection of hot drinks is available on a self serve basis. It did appear to me you could eat and drink what-ever you liked! Breakfast was excellent.

So checking out was swift, the receptionist was knowledgeable about bus transfers to the airport terminal and she went out of her way to help me print off my e-ticket.

An all round excellent stay with excellent, well trained staff. no complaints!

More Gatwick Airport Hotels

All photographs copyright London-Hotels.co.uk

Premier Inn London Gatwick North - restaurant

Premier Inn London Gatwick North – restaurant

Breakfast at the Premier Inn Gatwick North

Breakfast at the Premier Inn Gatwick North

Premier Inn Gatwick North - the bar

Premier Inn Gatwick North – the bar

Premier Inn London Gatwick North - the bar

Premier Inn London Gatwick North – the bar

Entrance

Entrance

All photographs copyright London-Hotels.co.uk

Insider tips to visiting London

Insider tips to visiting London

tips

Visiting a new city for the first time is sometimes a little confusing. Where to stay, what to see, where to eat, how to travel around. Before you know it, you have wasted two days just acclimatising to it all.

Here are some local tips to help you on your way. We asked people in the office who live in London for their comments:

1. Stay anywhere between Earls Court in the west, the City of London in the East, St. John’s Wood in the north and the River Thames bordering the south and you can’t go far wrong. All have great transport links around the capital.

2. If staying more than 2 or 3 days invest in an Oyster Travel Card. It’s pre pay and will save you a lot of money. Failing that, buy an off peak Travelcard and travel during the off peak time periods.

3 Leave your car at home as parking and Congestion Zone charges will add another 30 to 60 pounds a day onto your stay. Failing that, if your car is essential then stay just outside the high cost areas. Try Hampstead it’s out of the Congestion Zone and the hotels offer cheaper parking.

4. Sainsbury’s Superstore in South Kensington (Cromwell Road) allows 2 hours parking free of charge. Enough time to check into your local hotel and ask reception where to park.

5. Unless otherwise marked, at the weekends, any road with single white lines are OK to park on until Monday morning.

6. For a panoramic and cheap river tour take the River Ferry from Westminster Bridge (Houses of Parliament and London Eye) downriver to the Tower of London.

7. Walk on the Southbank from Westminster Bridge to Tower Bridge. Takes in attractions such as the London Eye, Gabriels Wharf, Tate Modern, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, HMS Belfast, the Shard and the Golden Hinde. When you get to Tower Bridge you have the Tower of London and vendors selling fish and chips!

8. Visit Borough Market for lunch. This gourmet oasis have stalls selling artisan food products and several very good restaurants.

9. Pre book the London Eye to save queuing. It can be done online.

10. Pre book Madame Tussaud’s or you will regret the wait on Marylebone Road.

11. Do not take photos of embassies, especially the US Embassy, you will get stopped and questioned!

12. Check out the Wholefoods Store on High Street Kensington. 80,000 square feet of glorious food including a large restaurant area covering all tastes from wraps to champagne at good prices.

13. Take afternoon tea at Fortnum and Mason near Piccadilly Circus. It’s a Brit institution.

14. Think twice before tipping a beggar, many have a car parked around the corner. The ones selling The Big Issue and usually genuine. In saying that, if we see one on Christmas Day we slip them a fiver on the basis they are genuinely homeless.

15. Act like a local and only tip the taxi driver the change from a pound.

16. Avoid eating on Oxford Street, it’s a tourist trap. If you must then the top floor of Selfridges has a great restaurant for snacks and meals.

17. If you ask the hotel to get you a taxi then make sure it’s an official black cab and not a cowboy mini cab which may be uninsured for paying customers.

18. Be aware when boarding or exiting the tube train, that’s when you mainly get pickpocketed. However there has been a big purge by the police to apprehend the criminals.

19. Safest area is Kensington, you can walk home alone at night and feel very safe!

20. If you are arriving at Stansted Airport use the National Express coach into central London. It’s cheaper and easier than the train service. You can pre book online.

21. You can not use your Travelcard on the Heathrow Express. The onboard ticket collector will make you pay again.

22. If your hotel room is not what you expected then go immediately to Reception, ask for the Duty Manager and kick up a fuss in front of other guests.

23. Eat and drink cheap in Kensington by joining the casino underneath the Millennium Gloucester Hotel. It’s free to join.

24. Have a meal at the Light of India (yes it’s Indian) at the junction of Cromwell Road and Gloucester Road in South Kensington. Nothing fancy about the place but its brilliant nosh!

25. For a special Indian meal get a cab to Chutney Mary’s on Kings Road. Fab surroundings and fab contemporary food but a little pricey.

26. Visit Gabriels Wharf on the Southbank for local experiences of food and drink.

27. On a tight time line? Then book the all day Discover London tour. It takes in all the major attractions in one go.

28. Don’t bother with Madame Tussaud’s unless its essential. A family of four will pay upwards of a hundred pounds for entry.

29. If you are out in Camden late at night don’t act drunk or be mouthy. It’s the scene of many attacks.

30. Do not use mini cabs. If one offers you a ride forget it.

31. Woman travelling on your own? Grange Hotels have women only floors in some of their hotels.

32. Don’t ever lose sight of your credit card. If the waiter wants to take it away then either insist the transaction is done at the table or go with it.

33. Staying in Kensington? Well don’t believe for one minute that West Kensington has the same upmarket credentials as the rest of the district.

34. Don’t believe for one minute that a hotel with a name like “the amazing hotel Kensington” is in Kensington. Check it on a map. There are some well known chain hotels that take that same liberty too.

35. Get on one of the East End street art tours and take your camera!

36 The 3 star hotel, the St Giles Hotel in the heart of the West End has the largest hotel swimming pool in London. It also has car parking at cheap prices.

37. Hotels in the City of London can be very cheap at the weekends and are usually 4 or 5 star.

38 Don’t stay around ExCel unless its the only place that you are going. It’s in the middle of nowhere, not on the tube system (DLR only) and the surrounds are awful.

39. Make friends with the hotel Concierge, he will get you places where most can not. Make sure you tip him when you leave.

40. At the hotel try to tip in cash rather than add it to the bill. That way the right person gets the gratuity. Rule of thumb is room service and porters around 2 pounds. As for the concierge, it depends what he’s done for you and believe us they can do anything you ask.

41. Always pack an umbrella; otherwise you will end up buying another.

42. Visit Primrose Hill and take in the view of London. Then call in to The Lansdown pub on Princess Road and maybe spot a local celeb.

Feel free to add to this list or to ask questions about London.

Top 10 questions about visiting London – car parking?

Question:  Where to park a car in London?

Parking in London

Parking in London

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s a nightmare during the weekdays!

Cars are discouraged throughout central London. If you have to drive then be prepared for long queues and if possible get in there before 7am or leave it until 4pm when all the traffic is outbound.

Central London also demands an entry fee for all cars. This Congestion Zone covers all central areas around Kensington and the West End. You can pre purchase or post purchase online and failure to pay the tariff results in very heavy fines.

Having paid for entry you should also consider the cost of parking which is not cheap.

Many parking meters have a time limit of only a few hours so if you are there for more than that you will have to find a car park.

Expect to pay between 24 and 48 pounds per 24 hours in a secure car park.  Even the hotel ones are expensive at around 20 to 35 pounds a day.

The are a couple of West End hotels that do offer subsidised parking.  The St. Giles Hotel in Bloomsbury (very central) has a large parking facility as does the Royal National Hotel, also in Bloomsbury.

The Kensington area is also within the Congestion Zone. You can use the Sainsbury Store car park on Cromwell Road for up to 2 hours free of charge. One of the largest car parks in Kensington is at the Holiday Inn Kensington Forum. No space booking is required but is is still expensive.

Our advice is to stay just outside the Zone and use the transport system. A good option is the Danubius Hotel Regents Park. Parking here is easy although it is at a cost. From the Danubius you can walk to Marylebone at Baker Steet in 20 minutes. Alternatively there is a bus every few minutes from outside the hotel right into the West End. There is also the St Johns Wood tube station just 10 minutes walk away near the Wellington Hospital.

The weekends provide some respite for car parking.  You can leave your car free of charge on a single yellow line but watch out for the residents reserved parking areas which are clearly defined on the signs at the side of the road.

The outlying area of Hampstead may also offer an option.  The main hotels here offer very cheap and secure parking on site and the tube line will take you right into central areas in just a few minutes.

Our advice is that if you have to drive into central London then avoid 7am until 10am and bear in mind that every bridge over the river and every main arterial roads will incur long waits.

 

Articles in this series about London

 

Where to find a London hotel with a jacuzzi in the bedroom

Which areas of London are safe to stay in

Where to stay in London

Where to park in London

Top 10 questions about visiting London – where to stay?

Question:  Where to stay in London?

puzzled-tourist

Where is the best area to book a London hotel is determined by your visit purpose.

If your objective is mainstream tourism then go for the area encompassed by Circle and District tube line. This covers major attraction areas such as Covent Garden, the West End, Theatreland, Kensington and Bayswater. Hotels are generally quite expensive depending on the time of the year or major events like Wimbledon Tennis with Saturday nights being the highest rate.

Should your visit be business related then the City of London (Financial district or Square Mile) is probably where you need to be. This is the home of many of the worlds financial institutions and lies in the eastern part of central London close to the Tower of London. This is the eastern limit of the Circle and District tube line. Except for the Tower of London there are no major attractions in the immediate area.

Hotels in the City of London tend to be high end with many four and five star accommodations. At the weekend they can be a bargain due to the closure of their offices so a great deal can usually be found quite easily. Travel into the West End is simple and fast so this may be a good proposition for tourists also.

London’s sporting and exhibition venues usually have hotels close to them. The exception at the moment is the O2 Arena out at Greenwich. There a small hotels in the area but our advice is to stay anywhere close to the Jubilee tube line which runs right through central areas to the O2.
Earls Court and Olympia exhibition centres have their own local hotels and anywhere within Kensington is within walking distance.

Visitors to ExCel exhibition centre are advised to stay within the centres complex. The surrounds are not really suited to visitors. Alternatively stay in the City and catch the DLR light railway from Tower Hill direct to ExCel (15 mins).

The Lords Cricket Ground has the Danubius Hotel right opposite and The Oval has several Vauxhall accommodations within minutes of the ground.

If you have already seen the major sights of London and are looking for new areas and places of interest then check out the Southbank of London. Here you have Borough Market, Gabriel’s Wharf, the London Eye and a magnificent two mile stretch of the Thames to explore from Westminster Bridge east to the Tower of London.

Most theatres are in the West End of central London between Piccadilly Circus and Covent Garden. Hotels are plentiful but prices are high. Check out the three star St Giles Hotel at the bottom of Tottenham Court Road. It is unremarkable but has car parking and a very large swimming pool. The bedrooms are on the small side but fully fitted. The advantage is the location, from here you can walk to most theatres and attractions whilst Oxford Street is less than five minutes walk away.

If you are visiting the museums of Kensington then you will be split for choice. This area is wall to wall accommodations, mainly 4 and 5 star. Immediately to the west is Earls Court where most hotels are three star but travel is equally as easy as from neighbouring Kensington. Both these areas allow you walking access to many restaurants, bars and gastropubs including those of the Kings Road and Fulham Road.

 

Articles in this series about London

 

Where to find a London hotel with a jacuzzi in the bedroom

Which areas of London are safe to stay in

Where to stay in London

Where to park in London