London in a day

Sep 16th, 2005, 03:16 PM
  #1  
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London in a day

My husband and I have a very long layover in London, about 24 hours. Niether one of us has ever been to London (I know, the travesty!). Anyway, if we have such a little amount of time and a little jet lag (from LAX), what is the must see for us. Recommendations for "native" food establishments would be a plus, were not fancy eaters, just something good and local (fish and chips anyone?). We are not proud and we will go totally tourist for the day if needed. Go to it, Fodorites, London in a day!!!
coopspa is offline  
Sep 16th, 2005, 03:25 PM
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It depends if you are staying the night or not. I would assume so. I would stay in the Belgrave area, close to Victoria station (which is a quick ride to & from the airport). I would start my one day tour from the Victoria Station area. You can walk to Buckingham Palace, look around there, don't worry about the changing of the guard, then walk thru St. James Park up to Trafalgar Square. Then you can walk down Whitehall, see the Horse Guard & 10 Downing Street, then walk to Parliment/Big Ben, walk across the river if you want, then back & go to Westminster Abbey. This walk will take a few hours. I would stop to eat anywhere along the way that looks good. I would take the underground then to Picadilly Circus. What you do there depends on how much time you have left. You probably won't have time to visit the Tower of London or spend much time in a museum. The above walk will let you see the most famous places & get a feel for London. Head back to Victoria Station, take the tube back to the airport. There you have "done" London.
Dbacks is offline  
Sep 16th, 2005, 03:25 PM
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be more specific on what time of day you arrive and what time you leave.
Also is it a weekday?
5alive is offline  
Sep 16th, 2005, 04:38 PM
  #4  
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We arrive on Tuesday morning about 9:00 am and leave the next morning at 7:30 am. So the afternoon and evening we'll have free.
coopspa is offline  
Sep 16th, 2005, 07:14 PM
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WHICH airport? it makes quite a difference re where to stay. (Victoria station is VERY convenient for LGW but a nasty transfer for LHR)

But, you know - w/ a departing flight that early in the a.m. it might be better to stay in a hotel at the airport. Having to leave London around 4-4:30 a.m. doesn't give you much sleep time.

If you do stay at/near the airport (BTW priceline is great for LHR/LGW hotels) you can leave your bags there. If a room isn't ready they will store your bags until later. Then in to London - by train from LGW or tube from LHR. There are really good hop-on-hop-off bus tours that you can ride off and on all day long. get off where ever a site looks interesting. Plus the tour includes a short river trip.

the Bus tour, a walk through St James or Hyde Park, one of the major sites (Westminster Abbey, the Tower, St Pauls or one of the museums/galleries), lunch and a walk/dinner along the south bank of the Thames would be a full day and get you back to your hotel at a reasonable time.

You also might squeeze in a ride on the EYE or a 2nd major site.
janis is offline  
Sep 17th, 2005, 04:00 AM
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I think the best way is to take the Red Bus tour - this way you'll be able to get a quick look at all the major attraction and then if you see something you want to investigate a little more and have the time - you can get back to it.
For the evening - I think a West End show is a great way to finish a quick visit to London. Since you don't have much time, the best thing to do is to buy your tickets in advanced- I usually get my ticket via www.broadwaybox.com/london since they offer a verity of discount for many shows.

Have fun
JohnS38 is offline  
Sep 17th, 2005, 05:38 AM
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If you're coming and going out of the same airport it would be very tempting to stay in a hotel near the airport as Janis suggests. Please give us that info (airport in/out) so we can help more.

I also agree the bus tour is the best way to get an overview, see all the sights at least from the bus and not exhaust yourselves. Then I'd say the rest is what interests you or what "means" London to you. The Tower? Pick 1 or 2 things you'd love to see whether a museum or something else and do it. Once we know where you're staying we can help with food.

While I agree a show would be great, you might be too tired to appreciate it. I think you can wait and see and get tickets at the Leicester Square discount tickets place.
mclaurie is offline  
Sep 17th, 2005, 06:00 AM
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I totally agree w/ mclaurie about the theatre. You MIGHT feel up to it. If so, you can pick up tickets at TKTS that day. it is in Leicester Square and is just down the road from Trafalgar Square/National Gallery/St Martins so if you take the big bus tour, a couple of different stops are w/i a short walk of the ticket kiosk.

But more than likely you will be totally knackered by about 9 p.m. and sitting through a play could be torture. I would not book tickets ahead of time. Wait to see how you are holding up and if you feel great pop by TKTS.

(I purposely omitted suggesting going to the theatre from my post. I go to the theatre almost every night when I'm in London -- but almost never on the first night after a long haul flight)
janis is offline  
Sep 17th, 2005, 10:54 AM
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We are arriving/leaving LHR.
Thankl you to all that are responding, hadn't even thought of a bus tour. Brilliant!! We are huge theatre people and have thought of a show, but we are concerned with the sleep thing, although I think I can actually hear my husbands heart breaking. Just trying to decide if we would rather explore, considering the tiny amount of time we have. Any airport hotel suggestions?
coopspa is offline  
Sep 17th, 2005, 12:11 PM
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My DH and I just did a day in London on our way back from Italy. We really just wandered around, past Buckingham Palace (no changing of the guards the day we were there ), thru St. James Park, down to Big Ben and the Westminster bridge. Then we took the tube up to the Marylebonne area and had fish and chips at the Golden Hind (highly recommended!). Cute little place, the nicest old man (maybe the owner??) waited on us and the fish and chips are delicious (2 plates of fish and chips plus two cokes for 16 pounds). The whole Marylebonne area is chock full of cute places to eat, I don't think you could go wrong there.

In the afternoon we rode around on one of the public double decker buses (not the tour, although the tour sounds like it might be a good idea), wandered around Harrods a bit and then decided to catch a show. I hadn't booked in advance b/c I was worried we'd be too tired but we were sooo lucky and ended up getting tickets to Guys and Dolls with Ewan McGregor - there weren't any at the TKTS booth (they're sold out for quite a while I think) but we went to the theatre at 6:15 p.m. and got some that had been returned at the last minute. Good luck and have a great time in London.

P.S. Not sure if this is as good of a deal coming from LHR but we got an all day transit pass for 13.50 that allowed us to use the train in from the airport, all tubes and all buses; very convenient not to have to hassle with tickets all day.
audreyleigh99 is offline  
Sep 17th, 2005, 03:15 PM
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I think you have to weigh the pros and cons of staying at LHR vs staying in London. If you're really theater people and think you're likely to go to the theater, then maybe a London hotel is a better idea so you're not traveling back late and you have a place to rest and freshen up before dinner/theater. You could pick something nearish Paddington Station (not a beautiful area) and take the Heathrow Express (starts at 5:10 am and takes 15-20 mins to the airport). Or perhaps stay in South Kensington and take the tube to both airport & theater. Here's the tube map

http://www.tfl.gov.uk/tfl/pdfdocs/colourmap.pdf

Most theaters are around Leicester Square.

If you decide to stay at Heathrow, check which terminal you leave from. Some of the hotels are actually attached to certain terminals and would require no shuttle bus etc. Keep in mind the hotel shuttles often don't start in time to get you to the airport for a 7:30am flight. Janis had mentioned using Priceline for an airport hotel and I think that's an excellent idea. Lastminute.com or laterooms.com are also sometimes good for this.
mclaurie is offline  
Sep 17th, 2005, 03:30 PM
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I would vote for a hotel near the airport even if it means a later taxi ride back after a show. Nice to be not worried about making the flight.

I would split my day between a bus or walking tour that included Westminster Abbey and the Tower of London.

5alive is offline  
Sep 17th, 2005, 03:44 PM
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I would stay near the airport (don't know the hotels there - you can type in LHR hotels in the search area). With such a short period of time I'd take a taxi into London. The driver could drop you off at the bus tour stop.

I would absolutely recommend the Big Bus tour to get an overview especially since you haven't been there before. You can hop on/off at the sites you want to spend time. The bus runs from approx 8:30 to 6:00 and has 3 different routes. Just make sure you get on the bus that has a "live" person giving the orientation; the taped ones will put you to sleep (I know, I did that the first time). I enjoyed the routes so much that I did it 2 days in a row!

Re eating: I'd just pick a place wherever you get off the bus so as not to miss any sightseeing. There may be particular sites you really want to explore and perhaps someone here can recommend a restaurant nearby.
nancy is offline  
Sep 17th, 2005, 04:33 PM
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Well, if you like the theatre, you'll just have to come back and stay longer. Lots of shows, lots of wonderful acting in London.

Not sure whether your flight arrives at 9:00 AM and the next one leaves at 7:30 AM, or that's when you expect to arrive in London. Even though I'm a nervous traveler, I avoid airport hotels on principal. You lose the experience of staying in an exciting city for the sake of bland standardized convenience.
Mimar is offline  
Sep 17th, 2005, 04:38 PM
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lots of good info above -- the one dodgy bit is to take a taxi in to London. At 9:00 a.m. at taxi will be EXTREMELY slow and EXTREMELY expensive.

The fastest is the Heathrow Express -- 15 minutes to Paddington. (There are stops for the bus tour right outside Paddington station). The tube is slower -- approx 45 mins to Piccadilly Circus in the very center of town. Or the next stop is Leicester Square where you can get your theatre tix before heading out on the bus tour or elsewhere. But the tube is very inexpensive.

Slowest would be a car service or taxi (a car service is cheaper by far than a taxi but during the morning rush both would be slow). Count on an hour or more if you took a taxi.
janis is offline  
Sep 17th, 2005, 05:20 PM
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I would plan on staying at the airport and taking the Heathrow Express back and forth. They offer a £16 round-trip valid from 1PM until midnight that would give you time to pass customs and immigration and get settled in your hotel before heading into town.

As an alternative to the hop-on/off bus tour, you might want to look at the #15 bus that runs from Paddington to the Tower (see map below). It passes many of the high spots on the north bank, and at the far end the RV1 bus will bring you back to The Eye, from whence you can walk to Westminster Abbey and take a #24 or #11 to Victoria and the theater district. Any of several night buses will get you back to Paddington no matter what the hour.

An all-day bus-only pass only costs £3, and you can print out the tourist bus map from

http://www.tfl.gov.uk/tfl/pdfdocs/cen_bus.pdf


The best fish and chips in the galaxy can be found at North Sea Fish Restaurant, 7-8 Leigh Street. Get to Tavistock Square on a 59, 68, 91, or 168, then go east a block on Tavistock Place, north a block, and east 40 yards.
Robespierre is offline  
Sep 17th, 2005, 06:09 PM
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I also recommend the Heathrow Express. We stayed at a hotel on Norfolk Square (can't remember the name but I think it had Norfolk in it). They had a great breakfast. The square is lined with small hotels and B&Bs. We had been staying at a more conveniently located hotel (near the Marble Arch) and the traffic was loud except between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. We went to York, and when we got back, we found a place near Paddington for the night before we were to leave from Heathrow. It's about a two-block walk.

We accidentally stumbled up the greatest advantage of using the Heathrow Express. We were able to check our luggage in right there at Paddington, straight through to the plane. We weren't tied down at the airport. We saw "hundreds" of people waiting with their luggage to check in, and we didn't have to join them. However, I believe this was in the summer of 2000, pre-9/11. Also, we were flying British Airways, and I don't
remember whether any of the American airlines offered that service.
xanthippe is offline  
Sep 17th, 2005, 06:13 PM
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In my experience, the solution to check-in queues at airports is e-ticketing. Once your details are in the computer, you can get your boarding pass by sticking your credit card in a kiosk, then take your luggage to a Fast Bag Drop. Two minutes, tops, for the entire procedure.
Robespierre is offline  
Sep 17th, 2005, 06:13 PM
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Oops! There's a bit of a logical gap in my post. I was trying to say that the hotels and B&Bs around Norfolk Square were very quiet and peaceful, and our window looked out on treetops .
xanthippe is offline  
Sep 17th, 2005, 06:18 PM
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If _I_ had just one day, I'd spend first part in the British Museum, have a pub lunch across the street, then pop to the National Gallery, then grab a show.

Ohhhh, you should have some Indian food. I went to a great place in the theater district, but I can't remember the name at all. Sorry.
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