First trip to Europe: London for a week

Feb 20th, 2007, 09:30 AM
  #1  
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First trip to Europe: London for a week

My husband and I are starting to plan our first trip to Europe. First I wanted to see London, Paris, and Rome, then just London and Paris, and now I finally narrowed it down to just London. I don't want to do too much during our first trip out of the country. Plus I'd like to go either this year or next year, and I figure if I just choose one destination, it will be easier to work out a budget and find a good deal online.

Anyone else spend a week in London? I'm trying to figure out approximately how much I would need to save before I even start booking things. Any advice would be helpful.

At this stage in the game, I am mostly trying to figure out how much I'd need to save, and where I can find the best deals. Basically we are looking for 2 roundtrip tickets to London and a hotel room for approx. 6 nights. I do not want to stay in a hostel, but I don't want to stay in a fancy place either. Something like the equivalent to a Days Inn or Marriot Courtyard is kind of what I'm looking for. My husband and I will not be renting a car, we will use the Tube only. I have read A LOT of guidebooks already and watched a few videos on London (including Rick Steves). I'm just really unsure how much I should save before I start booking anything.
europebound is offline  
Feb 20th, 2007, 09:53 AM
  #2  
 
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It's a bit hard to say. Where are you traveling from? What time of year? What are your interests?

London is very expensive, about twice what we pay in America. Grocieries tend to not be as bad. It seems pretty common to get a hotel on Priceline for around 100 dollars if you don't mind not knowing what you will get. Transport runs about 4 pounds per day, maybe a little less with an Oyster Card. Dining out can quickly become expensive.

On the upside, a lot of fabulous museums are free.
JoeTro is offline  
Feb 20th, 2007, 09:57 AM
  #3  
 
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Here is a recent thread on how expensive London really is. I think the bottom line is that it is around as expensive as New York City (give or take a few categories) but can be around twice as expensive as many locations in the US. http://fodors.com/forums/threadselec...2&tid=34947825

There are lots of ways to keep costs down: renting an apartment instead of a hotel (and fixing some meals there - esp. breakfast); using Priceline for hotels (works well for London apparently); vising lots of the museums, which are free (donation requested), etc.
noe847 is offline  
Feb 20th, 2007, 10:26 AM
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I think a week in one place, if that's all the time you have is a great idea. You will think you have so much time and it will just fly by. Do you know when you want to go or are you still open as far as a time frame?

As far as budget? Boy, that's a tough one. You might try some of the air/hotel package deals. British Air/American/United. I did a London/Paris combo that way in 2002. I thought the price was good. But everyone has their OWN idea of what's a "good" deal. You might try putting London into the search box..there have been zillions of threads on accommodations etc. Also, websites like Hotels.com etc. can give you an idea of pricing. My OWN preference would be to book with the hotel directly. Many people on here swear by Priceline and have gotten some excellent rates at very nice hotels. Get a map of London so when someone talks about a street or area...you will get a lot of responses to this post....you can check it on your map and then you can see where it is and what things it is close to..like Covent Garden for example, or Oxford Street, Picadilly circus etc. Try to make a list of your "must see's". Most or all of the museums are free, other sights have a charge. Many of the sites have their own websites with the days and hours they are open and the prices so you can see what those costs are. One of my "musts" was the Tower of London for example. When I go again, a couple of my musts are going to be Hampton Court and Windsor Castle. Even in a week you can't see it all, so list the things that are most important and do those for sure and then maybe another list of things that you will do if you have the time.

Food can be had fairly cheaply depending on how you like to eat. You can grab sandwiches for lunch at many places and hit one of the parks and picnic. Pubs are fairly cheap. Menus are posted so you can see prices. I'm not a "foodie" so the eating part is easy for me. When I was in Paris last November, my friend and I had breakfast at the hotel..was included in our room..would have a late lunch at a cafe or brasserie and then would pick up something for a snack in the room later so food didn't cost us very much really. It wasn't even so much that I was trying to save money on food, but we were out early every morning, walked our legs into bloody stumps and by the end of the day, all I wanted was to get in my jammies and relax in my room. You could do the same kind of thing in London. To others, the food is much more important so they will budget more for that, it's all in what's important to you.

You can go to Expedia or some of those other sites and find out all the airlines that go from your home base to London. You can certainly check airfares with one of the consolidators and also you can sign up with many of the airlines to get e-mails of their fare specials. I signed up with Air France and that's how I landed a fare that was half the price of what I had seen posted on their site as well as the consolidators sites.

I would start a journal either an actual hournal or on your computer and when you see a hotel etc. that interests you, book mark their website or list it in your journal and you can keep checking and see if they are running any discounts etc.

It's difficult to give you a "budget" because that's different for everyone. Some will say I'd rather pay the extra 30.00 per night for such and such and it's not big deal for them. For others, that extra 30.00 per night might be part of the food budget or a deal breaker altogether.

You also might check going in the "off season". You may get less daylight or perhaps more of a chance for rain, but the prices will be so much better and the crowds will be much lower, making for less time waiting in lines etc.

London is a great place to visit. I love it there. I passed through year before last on my way to Copenhagen and I was looking out the plane window as we landed in Heathrow and it broke my heart knowing I wasn't staying. It's a great city, wonderful people, tons of history, terrific theater. Oh yes, if you can do it, see a play or musical while there. If you aren't real particular and on a budget, hit the half price booth in Leicester Square and get some tickets.
crefloors is offline  
Feb 20th, 2007, 11:00 AM
  #5  
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Other things I forgot to mention:

We're both vegetarian.
We live right next to NYC, so we are very familiar with NYC prices. We are also familiar with understanding how a subway system works.
We're both in our mid-twenties.
We would either fly out of Newark or JFK. Whichever would have a better deal.
We want to see a play using TKTS (we have done this in NYC before).
We want to hang out in Soho & Trafalgar Sq.
We want to do a walking tour.
We want to see the "major" sites. (ie: Tower of London, Millenium Bridge, Big Ben, Parliament, etc. etc.)
We want to take LOADS of photos.

I am not sure when we would visit at this point. I really wanted to go at the end of Sept. or early Oct. of this year, but I'm not sure if we could get the money together in time. If we were going to go this year (Sept.Oct.), can anyone give us suggestions on when we would have to start booking? Would we start looking for hotel/flight deals now, or wait until the summer time to start booking? If we didn't go this year, we'd either go next May? or next Sept/Oct. Obviously, I'd like to go as soon as I can get the money together. I am just trying to figure out what it's going to cost, realistically. Thanks to everyone for their suggestions. I look forward to hearing more great responses.
europebound is offline  
Feb 20th, 2007, 11:28 AM
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Google London Walks and you'll see them all.
crefloors is offline  
Feb 20th, 2007, 12:00 PM
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So far I'm set on two restaurants that I have to go to while in London. I'm not sure where we will eat the rest of the trip, but I definitely want to check out these two places. Eat & Two Veg and Mildred's. By doubling the prices in pounds (to figure out how much it would cost in dollars) it will cost us approx. $60 for dinner at each place. I also want to try afternoon tea at The Orangery.
europebound is offline  
Feb 20th, 2007, 12:05 PM
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Eat at Wagamamas. And as far as not knowing if you will have the money saved by end of sept/early october - charge it. You won't regret it.
Calmasaurus is offline  
Feb 20th, 2007, 12:10 PM
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You've gotten really good info so far. Another restaurant to consider that's good value & will have plenty of vegetarian options is Wagamama.
Also, lots of Indian places that can be inexpensive & excellent.

http://www.wagamama.com/

You could also rent an less expensive flat if you find a cheap airfare on its own.
Carrybean is offline  
Feb 20th, 2007, 12:12 PM
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If you look at Priceline vacation packages, you can choose your hotel. We stayed at the Millennium Gloucester this way last fall. It's a nice hotel just across the street from the Gloucester Road tube stop in South Kensington, which is our favorite area to stay in.

For two people, if you don't do much shopping and eat cheaply, I think you could easily do a week's trip for $4,000, including hotel and airfare.

One thing in London's favor, many of the museums are free. Let me recommend the British Library Special Documents Room. It's super.
carolyn is offline  
Feb 20th, 2007, 12:21 PM
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I don't think I've ever been in any restaurant in London that didn't offer at least 1 vegatarian option.

Pricewise for restaurant suggestons, sign up for the London Eating newletter. They offer 2 for 1 or 50% off dinners at various places around London that make dining far less expensive in some of the better places. There are also numerous Indian and Chinese restaurants that offer good food for low prices.


If you don't want to go the priceline route, then try Http://Londontown.com for very good rates on hotels . You can get 4 star hotels for around 90GBP or less and there are also 2 and 3 stars on offer. They have superior service and I've used them numerous times without any problems.

A 7 day travelcard loaded onto an Oyster runs 23.50GBP and allows for unlimited travel in zones 1 and 2. That is less than 6 single ride tickets! You can load additional money on if you want to use it for travel to and from the airport.

Sign up for the airlines newsletters so you'll know when they have special sales. The fall fares should be coming out within the next month or so. From NYC, you should be able to get a good fare a bit later on.

So many of the museums are free and with the 7 day travelcard you can also get many 2 for 1 deals on attractions where you do have to pay. Check out "Days out in London" for the various offers..most of the current offerings run thru June but the fall offers will be up soon after that. They also have half price offerings for restaurants.

LOcation is not really very important since the tube and bus systems are excellent and most things are spread out anyway, so no matter where you stay you will have to use the tube.
jody is offline  
Feb 20th, 2007, 01:17 PM
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europebound:

You should be able to get great fares from NYC. Newark may be the less expensive option. Just start watching for deals, and when you find something, book it right away. Or, if you have airmiles with a particular airline, try using them for your airfare. A hugh $$ saver, however, you do have to book early since "reward travel seats" go fast. The great thing about London is that there are buses, and tube stops everywhere. It is very easy to get around. And definately go in the off-season. The crowds are gone, hotels are less $$, and you can see and do more in a day because you won't be waiting in line everywhere. Another suggestion for meals are the restaurant/cafes inside the museums. They are pretty inexpensive. A tip, (again my opinion) book a hotel that includes breakfast, many of them still do. This is so much more convenient. After breakfast you can go to your room and freshen up before you hit the streets sight-seeing. I always recommend getting a ticket for the Big Red Bus. It's a hop on - hop off thing, but it really gives you a good idea of how the city is laid out. I think there are about 80 stops, and 3 different routes.
Finally, a hotel in London similar to a Courtyard by Marriott, or even a Days Inn is going to cost you dearly. If this is what you are hoping for, Priceline or Hotwire are the way to go, otherwise it will cost you dearly. Upwards of $250.00 a night.
jewela is offline  
Feb 20th, 2007, 01:32 PM
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As a fellow vegetarian, I think it's easier to eat out in London than it is here in the states. Also, food in the grocery stores is labeled as vegetarian and much clearer to understand than it is here.

My husband and I just spent a week in London in December. I have a trip report online at http://gardenia.tripod.com/London

It's really hard to tell you what to budget. A lot of it depends on when you go and what you want to do. We don't usually do packaged trips, but we found a really good deal with Virgin Vacations for this one. It would have cost more if we had made the same trip during the summer.
gardeniapatti is offline  
Feb 20th, 2007, 01:35 PM
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For London, in my experience, the only way to get hotel rooms at a reasonable cost is to name your own price on priceline.com. If you go to the London board for www.biddingfortravel.com, you can see what people have been paying for London hotels:
http://p070.ezboard.com/England--Lon...abiddingfrm215
Eleni is offline  
Feb 20th, 2007, 02:09 PM
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While looking at Priceline and hotels, don't rule out B&Bs. I stayed at this one in Bloomsbury, walking distance to British Museum, tube (line to Heathrow), bit longer walk to Covent Garden. Many restaurants and pubs in the area.

http://www.harlingfordhotel.com/

I've also seen some nice ones in South Kensington.

Hope this gives you some ideas,

Mike

Michel_Paris is offline  
Feb 20th, 2007, 08:05 PM
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Since you will have 6 nights in London, you may want to consider budgeting a few bucks for a nice day trip...Bath or Cambridge maybe?
drums is offline  
Feb 20th, 2007, 08:27 PM
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If you don't mind basic accomodation, check out the Hotel Strand Continental, which is not fancy in any way, shape or form, with toilets down the hall, but a good Indian restaurant on the premises (India Club) and a ridiculous, unsurpassed location on the Strand just a couple of blocks from Covent Garden. It's not a great hotel but it's only GBP 40 per night for a double. To beat that you're going to have to go to Priceline.
fnarf999 is offline  
Feb 21st, 2007, 08:50 AM
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I'm taking my daughter to London this spring for our first European trip. I've found tripadvisor.com to be super useful in finding hotels...they'll run through several travel search engines to get the best price on rooms at the hotel of your choice if you click on the CHECK RATES button. They also have a B&B section. You can read traveler reviews as well. I found several attractive rooms at good prices, from a fancy hotel near Buckingham Palace for a decent rate to a couple of well-rated B&B's in South Ken and Bloomsbury. Good luck.
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