Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

Ease of using St. James station in London

Ease of using St. James station in London

Old Nov 15th, 2002, 08:01 AM
  #1  
amy
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Ease of using St. James station in London

As those of you posting in the last day or so know, I'm asking questions for my parents, aged 80 and 73, who are going to London the first week of January.

We've tackled the Visitor Travelcard vs. the regular Travelcard question, we've fine-tuned all zone questions, and now we're onto the....Gatwick Express. Yes, indeedy, here you go again.

I know what they want to do...they want to take the Gatwick Express to Victoria and then connect on the Underground to St. James.
I went to London about four years ago and have very good memories of the Gatwick Express. I have very bad memories of getting to my hotel from the tube from Victoria. I still feel back pain from the 1,000 staircases. I am strongly suggesting they either take Gatwick Express plus taxi or just take taxi/limo. Reason? Dad has a heart condition.

Perhaps things have changed. How hard is it to get on the tube from the train platform from Victoria, and how hard is it to get to street level from St. James? Can anyone remember? If it's escalators all the way, heck, they can do it. If it's like Paris and the escalators, even if there, may not be working, then I'm going to play tough with them.

Ok, let the opinions rip!

 
Old Nov 15th, 2002, 08:22 AM
  #2  
John
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
To get to/from St James' to/from Victoria you take the District line. This line is not very deep below ground, unlike some of the other tube lines in London (i.e. Victoria, Northern etc), and so is more like the NYC metro - just below st level. There are escalators at Victoria so you can get down to it OK. I do not know about escalators at St James' but I would presume there is a lift or an escalator.

St James' is very close to Victoria so a taxi will only cost about £5. You may want to consider this with your luggage as Victoria tube station can get very crowded and could be stressful with all your luggage. If you take a taxi you will go past Buckingham Palace on your way to St James' too.
 
Old Nov 15th, 2002, 08:29 AM
  #3  
karen
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Hi again Amy

Personally I would take the tube, however I don't recommend it for your parents! Victoria to St James's Park in a taxi would be fairly quick (especially outside of rush hour) and shouldn't cost more than £5.

Victoria is (I believe) the busiest station in London and the tube can be a nightmare there. They would need to get the Circle line which, along with the District & Met lines, is only just below the surface - not deep down underground like most of the other lines. So, there are no escalators at St James's Park tube station, just 2 flights of stairs I believe.
As I said in your first post, the taxi rank is just above the Gatwick Express platforms at Victoria and I believe there is a lift as well as stairs. If they get the tube they will have to walk all the way through Victoria station and down a flight of stairs. Victoria tube station is usually a complete zoo, and after getting through the barriers they then have another flight of stairs down to the platform. If they arrive before 9.30 a.m. it will still be rush hour and even I wouldn't like to get on the tube at Victoria at rush hour with luggage.

Hope thats helped!
 
Old Nov 15th, 2002, 08:33 AM
  #4  
karen
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Sorry I meant to say "they would need to take either the Circle or District line to St James's". They both run on the same track.

John, I know there is an escalator down to the Victoria line but I'm sure it's only stairs to the Circle/District lines.... I know you can transfer from one line to the other but I'm sure that involves more stairs???
 
Old Nov 15th, 2002, 08:36 AM
  #5  
Lori
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Amy,
Please don't let your parents do the tube thing -- or even the Gatwick Express as they will have to lift their luggage on and off. I'd spring for a driver pick up service and get into London in a comfortable and convenient manner. At their age they don't need to drag luggage up and down stairs. I realize I don't know yours or their financial status but perhaps you could "treat" them to a driver pickup coming and going to the airport. It makes for a nice beginning and ending to a vacation. We have been using London-transfers.com (Ray Skinner) and have been very pleased. I know that Swiss Cottage Cars is also reliable. I'd make arrangements for them. My mother is 78 and I would not want her hauling luggage on and off trains and she's in good health.

If they must take the Gatwick Express INSIST they get a taxi to their hotel.
 
Old Nov 15th, 2002, 08:52 AM
  #6  
Ben Haines
Guest
 
Posts: n/a

I agree that they should avoid the underground between Victoria and St James Park. Neither station has escalators nor lifts (elevators) on their route: each has two sets of stairs. If both your father's health and the hotel address suit, they might wheel a luggage trolley to the front of the station, walk over to the bus station, take a bus number 11, 24 or 211 toweatrds Westminster, and leave the bus near their hotel.

In British English there is no St James station, only a St James Park station.

They are welcome to London.

Ben Haines


 
Old Nov 15th, 2002, 08:53 AM
  #7  
John
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Karen may well be right - one can get to the district/circle line by escalator but it is probably a bit of a round about route. For instance, when you leave the train station to go the tube station the first entrance you come to for the tube only has stairs down to the ticket hall. You have to leave the station and walk out onto a paved area by the bus station to catch an escalator down to the ticket hall. Then it is a (crowded) walk to the tube platform and finding escalators may not be straightforward. Take a taxi from Victoria to St James'.

The Gatwick Express is OK so unless you are reasonably well off I would try and make do on this, rather than use a car service. If you do decide to get a car to meet them use a south London firm - I can not imagine a firm from Swiss Cottage is very competitive on price.

 
Old Nov 15th, 2002, 09:12 AM
  #8  
karen
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Yes, the Gatwick Express is easy to use and much better value for money than the Heathrow Express, especially as Gatwick is at least twice the distance of Heathrow from central London.

I think you can take the airport luggage trolleys right into the station. From there I remember a flight of stairs down to the Express platforms (although I believe there was also a lift).
I can't remember if there were luggage trolleys at Victoria but a lift takes you from the platform to the taxi rank above.

I found there was always a train waiting to leave when I reached the platforms, they are very frequent.
 
Old Nov 15th, 2002, 09:44 AM
  #9  
xxx
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Amy, I think a car service pick up would be a lovely Christmas present for your parents.
There are porters who meet the Gatwick Express, (but who knows if they will be available when your parents arrive at Victoria Station) who could assist your parent's getting themselves and their luggage to the taxi rack in front of the station.
But even if it is a point of pride with your parents that they are self sufficient , please help them understand that trying to negotiate the Tube from Victoria to St James Park is just not a good idea. ( And age has nothing to do with it, it is generally not a good idea for any one who has just had a lengthy and tiring plane trip, followed by a train ride).
Since you yourself have been to Victoria Underground Station, I am sure you recall how busy it is, with people darting in all directions and dodging other people's luggage.
As others have already mentioned ,there are stairs to deal with before you get to the ticket barriers. Then if one has luggage one must slide it through the special luggage 'gate' . Then one puts a Tube ticket into a 'people' gate , walks through the barrier, collects the Tube ticket and then fetches one's luggage and then drags the luggage onto the very crowded platform. And then of course one has to jostle the luggage onto a Tube car while minding the gap.
At the Underground destination, one wrestles the luggage off the Tube and repeats the ticket barrier , in reverse. And then when one finally gets to the street level one has to drag the luggage down the street and into the hotel lobby.
Now, have your parents imagine having to drag luggage down crowded streets in a cold January drizzle!


 
Old Nov 15th, 2002, 10:01 AM
  #10  
amy
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Thanks, all of you. I asked; you delivered. I think they're going to be stubborn about the limo/taxi, but you've given me a good shot at talking them out of the tube connection later. The best argument by far (although you all did quite well!) was xxx's presentation of the luggage/turnstile problem.

You all have been stellar...since I'm averaging major question per day, you only have around one month's worth of these detail questions yet. Hope you can hang in there!
 
Old Nov 15th, 2002, 10:02 AM
  #11  
Lori
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
As I mentioned we use www.London-transfers.com and their prices are on their website,I forgot to mention that. To John - I don't know much about Swiss Cottage Cars but Patrick who posts regularly here uses them and swears by them. Most of the car service companies have set prices for the airports (plus tip at you discretion).
 
Old Nov 15th, 2002, 01:36 PM
  #12  
Patrick
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Hi, Lori. I always seem to log onto these threads just after Lori. She and I should get paid commission from our respective favorite car services for our recommendations!

Yes, I recommend Swiss Cottage Cars, which doesn't have a website, perhaps helping to make them the best priced service in London. You need to call them 44-207-431-2700. I've never taken them from Gatwick so can't give a price but their price from Heathrow is about 9 pounds less than most of the others.
I agree. It sounds like a great Christmas present to me. It should be so comforting to come through customs and see a smiling face holding up a sign with their name, then helping them with their luggage and delivering them right to the door of their hotel.
 
Old Nov 15th, 2002, 01:59 PM
  #13  
amy
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
OK, Patrick and Lori: I'm going to check into the shuttle/taxi end of it now and will check prices for London Transfers and Swiss Cottage Cars. It would be poor form to me to pay for it--sister is taking them and has paid for flight, so I'd sort of be "stealing" her present (I did Paris for them)--but I can have all the information at the ready for all three to peruse.

No matter what, you got rid of the underground issue. Called my mom a few minutes ago and made her swear on the lives of her grandchildren that while she may use Gatwick Express, she will not attempt underground with luggage. Made her "repeat after me, I solemnly swear not to..."
 
Old Nov 15th, 2002, 02:23 PM
  #14  
Lori
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Hi Patrick -- I guess you and I are the biggest advocates of car pick up services, but they are sooooooooooo very convenient and so great after a long flight.

Amy, you will have to keep us all posted on the developments, we are beginning to feel like we have a stake in your parents trip!!

I sure hope they enjoy themselves and I think it is great that they are able to go.
 
Related Topics
Thread
Original Poster
Forum
Replies
Last Post
wdiamond
Europe
7
Apr 23rd, 2012 07:50 AM
magialmemories
Europe
7
Nov 29th, 2007 01:45 PM
swallis
Europe
11
Jan 23rd, 2004 11:55 AM
Gmross
Europe
3
Oct 21st, 2003 11:34 AM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Manage Preferences - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell or Share My Personal Information -