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Trip Report A very warm weekend in London

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Four of us have a weekend in London each year, myself, DW and two friends and this one started on 4th July. We travelled by train from Manchester on Thursday morning, leaving the car at Piccadilly Station. It usually costs around £40 for Thursday a.m. to Sunday p.m. the weather forecast is great for the weekend with hot weather predicted.

The journey down was smooth and quick, only 2h 8 mins from 10:25 into Euston. We were staying at the Guoman Tower Hotel, right by Tower Bridge, which we'd sourced in February using one of the hotel booking sites and got a really good rate.

http://www.guoman.com/en/hotels/united_kingdom/london/the_tower/index.html

Latterly the rate for the hotel was nearly 3 times what we'd paid for room only. Breakfast was offered at a special rate of £12 pp. The hotel looks like a 1960/70's block of flats from the outside but the public areas and bars are well done. Rooms and corridors look a little tired in places and need a bit of an upgrade. The room was well equipped with a reasonable bathroom, very comfortable bed and tea & coffee facilities. There was a safe but it didn't work and I reported it to reception. It couldn't be fixed and to be fair they offered us a change of room, but we'd already unpacked, so opted to stay put. We had a nice view of St Katherine's Dock so it was OK.

We headed off to Haz in the city for lunch.

http://www.hazrestaurant.co.uk/haz_premier_place.htm

This is a Turkish restaurant that we use each time we're down, as the food is very good. It was very busy when we went in, but thinned out rapidly as lunchtime petered out. We left there around 4pm and wandered back to the hotel for a shower and change for the evening. We had tickets for the Mousetrap at St Martin's Theatre, just off Shaftesbury Avenue. The play has been on for over 60 years and we thoroughly enjoyed it. It's a light whodunit, with a fair sprinkling of humour but we're sworn to secrecy over who did do it. The day had been very hot and shorts will be the order of the day for tomorrow.

Breakfast was very good, served buffet style, with plenty of choice and by 10a.m. we were ready to set off. We'd decided have a walk round Greenwich and opted to take a boat down the Thames to get there. We went into the Observatory, the Painted room and the Church and spent the morning and early afternoon, including a pub lunch. We went back to the river and took a boat up to the Thames barrier and then returned to Tower Bridge. The trip was really good on a warm day, with the breeze on deck. We sat in the shade for an hour with drinks at a bar on the riverside, before going back to the hotel to get ready.

Friday night is Curry night and we were off to the Bombay Brasserie on Gloucester Road,

http://www.bombaybrasserielondon.com/

We try a different Indian each time, last year being the one in St Katherine's dock. The restaurant is very attractive, without any of the usual trappings of its lesser friends and the service was excellent. We had two shish kebabs, one chicken and fish starter, which were all very good. The main courses (and we eat a lot of very good Indian food in Manchester) just seemed to lack a depth or layers of flavour that you get from different spices. My Rogan Josh was just a plain smooth sauce, which was the first one I'd ever had without tomatoes. Every one agreed that although it wasn't terrible, it was just OK and the reputation of the place wasn't enhanced by what we'd eaten. Tube back to near the hotel for drinks and then bed.

Breakfast on Saturday morning just as good and we wanted to have a look at a couple of hotels nearby for next time. Not that there's much wrong with the Tower, it's just that you need options when booking. Still very hot. We wandered around St Katherine's dock and then strolled up to Borough Market for a look. We were undecided whether to eat lunch at the market or go to the Swan at the Globe, as we had tickets for the matinee of A Midsummer Night's dream at 2pm. but opted to eat at the Swan for convenience sake.

We ate in the yard, just a light lunch and then into the theatre. Even with a cushion, the benches are not that comfortable. The first half was quite long at 90 minutes and after a short interval the play finished at around 5pm. Excellent production and well up to the Globe standard. We attend the Globe each time we come down to London and we always enjoy it. Dinner was at Cote in the Hays Galleria area and we had a long leisurely meal before returning to the hotel for post prandial drinks and then bed.

Sunday, still hot! We spent a couple of hours or so at Spitalfields Market and Petticoat Lane, then back to Tower Bridge for lunch at Le Pont de la Tour. We start with Haz and finish with the Pont. Lunch was on an outside table and we chatted and ate as the passers-by passed by. Lovely lunch, back to the hotel for the baggage and back to Euston for a quick journey back home. Great weekend, much eating and drinking and why not!

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