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London in Mid December, Charity Shops, No Tube, and Christmassy Suggestions

London in Mid December, Charity Shops, No Tube, and Christmassy Suggestions

Old Oct 12th, 2022, 09:47 AM
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London in Mid December, Charity Shops, No Tube, and Christmassy Suggestions

The "No Tube" is due to very specific mobility issues with escalators, plus a couple of other issues.

The travelers are myself, 56, and DS, 27. I use a cane, mostly for balance issues, and can climb normal stairs, walk quite far (at least a couple of miles) on level ground, and stand for a reasonable length of time. Surface trains and buses should be fine. I wouldn't climb to the upper level of a double decker without a good reason, but on and off is definitely okay. I cannot get on and off escalators easily (or sometimes at all), and I have trouble with uneven surfaces, steep stairs, etc.

We're flying out of Philadelphia through Dublin into Heathrow on the 14th, and back in on the 21st.

This is primarily a "shopping" trip, which is the main reason DH is staying at home. Department stores a week before Christmas are a specialized taste. We do intend to hit all the big West End stores, and do a fair amount of random wandering. Most of the actual buying will likely be at things like Tesco, M&S, and charity shops. Specific recommendations for charity shops are more than welcome.

I have the first two nights booked at the Montcalm at the Brewery. It's clearly a lovely hotel, and I got a huge bargain for twin club level, but I'm a little concerned about location for itinerary. The last night is going to be out at Heathrow, but I haven't booked that yet. I'm trying to figure out the other three nights. We generally want the best we can afford, even with a little location sacrifice, and would really like to be around $200 a night or a little less.

I have nothing booked for the 15th, since I don't know how functional we're going to be. DS is hot to trot on the Imperial War Museum, so that might be a thing if we have the energy.

I have the "Tea Bus" booked for the 16th at 12:15, which I figured would be very compatible with a shopping day, maybe around Covent Garden, which I understand has a Christmas Market.

I have nothing booked for the 17th, but I figured we would NOT want to go shopping that day, and was thinking London Zoo, V & A, or the Museum of the Home in Islington. We'll probably be moving hotels anyway.

On the 18th, we have a day trip to Canterbury Cathedral and its Christmas Market booked.

The 19th will be a shopping day.

At some point on the 20th we will remove ourselves to Heathrow, and possibly visit Tesco (there appears to be a large one in Hounslow, adjacent to "Hounslow Urban Farm", which we also might enjoy, depending).

I have not yet figured out how we are getting ourselves to and from Heathrow, but I'm leaning a little towards car service.

Any and all suggestions are welcome.



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Old Oct 12th, 2022, 10:34 AM
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Search London underground with lifts. You'll find pdf maps that might help
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Old Oct 12th, 2022, 11:04 AM
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Originally Posted by bilboburgler View Post
Search London underground with lifts. You'll find pdf maps that might help
Thanks, I know some stations have them, but if a lift is out of order, I'm probably stuck with the stairs (and that's a long climb).. I MIGHT be able to manage up with DS's help. especially if the station isn't too crowded. Down is probably impossible at this point, since I remember them as fast, steep, and long.

It's seemed easiest to just plan on mostly not using it and sticking with buses and taxis, along with walking.
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Old Oct 12th, 2022, 11:13 AM
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Just quick re transport. First off - I never EVER rely on the lifts working. I did one trip in Dec when I was on a cane and could not use the tube at all except for the totally step free stations. And even some of those are unusable because while up escalators are pretty easy with a cane, down escalators are much more difficult.

Here is the trip report London 'Tube-less', Fine dining, Fun excursions plus a GTG

Hope it gives you some ideas . . .
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Old Oct 12th, 2022, 12:28 PM
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Originally Posted by janisj View Post
Just quick re transport. First off - I never EVER rely on the lifts working. I did one trip in Dec when I was on a cane and could not use the tube at all except for the totally step free stations. And even some of those are unusable because while up escalators are pretty easy with a cane, down escalators are much more difficult.

Here is the trip report London 'Tube-less', Fine dining, Fun excursions plus a GTG

Hope it gives you some ideas . . .
Thanks, I'll take a look at that!

I remembered seeing somewhere that those lifts aren't necessarily that reliable, and even if they were, I'd rather not deal with having to restrict to certain stations, And most accessibility guides deal more with avoiding steps, which I can manage within reason, rather than the dreaded escalators,
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Old Oct 12th, 2022, 01:01 PM
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There are a lot of good charity shops in Chiswick (and a lot of other good shopping) but that’s pretty far west. Also around Hammersmith if you make your way in that direction.

why stay at Heathrow the last night? Just book those last days close to the Elizabeth line, save yourself one move…


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Old Oct 12th, 2022, 02:00 PM
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Early flight, relatively close connection in Dublin. Takes a lot of the anxiety out of the morning.

Just seems simplest, particularly since we're probably not going to do the train (fair amount of luggage and I must have a free cane hand, so what I can carry is limited). We could do a trip like that with carry-ons if we weren't planning on shopping, but we need to carry our loot home.

Thanks for the charity shop tips. We're definitely invested enough in them to trek a little bit, since thrifting is one of our favorite things ever, and I've heard London ones are really good.
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Old Oct 12th, 2022, 02:10 PM
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"The last night is going to be out at Heathrow, but I haven't booked that yet. I'm trying to figure out the other three nights. We generally want the best we can afford, even with a little location sacrifice, and would really like to be around $200 a night or a little less."

Your budget will be more doable since it is projected the will fall to near parity to the $ by late November. Maybe lower even - who knows?? $200 is still fairly low though. Unless your flight out is before 9 or 10 AM I personally would not stay at LHR. The new Elizabeth line is flat easy and very mobility friendly.

I'd use Booking.com to look for hotels by price and review scores anywhere along the Elizabeth Line -- Liverpool Street, Farringdon, Tottenham Court Rd, Bond Street, Paddington etc

OR . . . you could splurge for the three nights and then book a cheap room at LHR for the last night (though I'd personally prefer to stay in town all 4 nights)
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Old Oct 12th, 2022, 02:11 PM
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OOPS -- didn't see your last post - - - OK staying at LHR makes sense. Which terminal??
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Old Oct 12th, 2022, 02:13 PM
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If you don't want to use the Elizabeth Line -- then you can stay absolutely anywhere in central London those three nights. Use justairports (much cheaper than a black cab and very reliable)

https://www.justairports.com
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Old Oct 12th, 2022, 03:05 PM
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Originally Posted by janisj View Post
If you don't want to use the Elizabeth Line -- then you can stay absolutely anywhere in central London those three nights. Use justairports (much cheaper than a black cab and very reliable)

https://www.justairports.com
Definitely think that makes sense, Thanks, that looks great.

We're thinking in town for the three, and we're still juggling price/location/luxury, We'll probably adopt a budget approach to that last night in Heathrow, but there are definitely bargains to be had.

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Old Oct 12th, 2022, 10:32 PM
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There are a bunch of charity shops on Chiswick High Road, all pretty close together, then if you still have energy, go over to Richmond. Both areas have lots of posh people dropping off their unwanted stuff.

If Richmond is too far of a trek there is a little cluster of good shops on Kentish Town Road, and another cluster on Camden High Street. With a pub break in the middle, you can visit a lot of shops in one day!

Honestly, I think it can be faster to take the fast train to Heathrow from Paddington than one of those Hoppa buses from surrounding hotels. Maybe your splurge should be the Sofitel IN Heathrow if you are flying from Terminal 5.
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Old Oct 13th, 2022, 06:32 AM
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Originally Posted by rialtogrl View Post
There are a bunch of charity shops on Chiswick High Road, all pretty close together, then if you still have energy, go over to Richmond. Both areas have lots of posh people dropping off their unwanted stuff.

If Richmond is too far of a trek there is a little cluster of good shops on Kentish Town Road, and another cluster on Camden High Street. With a pub break in the middle, you can visit a lot of shops in one day!

Honestly, I think it can be faster to take the fast train to Heathrow from Paddington than one of those Hoppa buses from surrounding hotels. Maybe your splurge should be the Sofitel IN Heathrow if you are flying from Terminal 5.
Those Hoppa buses actually look like a bit of nuisance, and with two people, I think a cab might make more sense. Or make that Sofitel, which I can get under 200 a night, seem like a better idea, although I THINK we're in and out of T2 (no info yet, but that's what Aer Lingus seem to use).

We had been contemplating Kew, which would make Richmond make sense, but I'm not sure we can fit it in. We are highly in favor of the kind of shop where posh people send stuff.

Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park has been added to the itinerary, but it seems like an early evening kind of thing.

Thanks!
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Old Oct 13th, 2022, 07:05 AM
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Sofitel only makes sense if you are using T-5. For T-2 there is the Hilton Garden Inn which is connected to the terminal by a pedestrian walkway.
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Old Oct 13th, 2022, 07:09 AM
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Have you checked out Christmas at Kew? It might be sold out for your specific dates but I' am still receiving e-mail announcements so tickets must be available some evenings.

The Hyde Park thing runs until 10PM and the night-time hours are really the most crowded.
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Old Oct 13th, 2022, 09:09 AM
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That looks wonderful, although we had really been thinking Kew in the daytime (DS likes gardens, and is intrigued by plantings/layouts in other countries). Makes me very sad my sister couldn't come with us, since she'd love that,

There does still seem to be some availability, so I'm trying to figure if we could make it work.

Originally I had been thinking about staying at Premier Inn in Richmond for the first night for Kew, but it was another move, and I was really afraid we won't be functional enough to do much, and we'd then be in a Premier Inn in Richmond for no very good reason..

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Old Oct 13th, 2022, 09:26 AM
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RE Winter Wonderland, you can go at around 4 or 5 pm and it is not so crowded (but it will be dark, so it will feel like it is later.)
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Old Oct 13th, 2022, 10:14 AM
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For Kew -- IF there are dinner reservations available at the Botanical Brasserie on-site restaurant, maybe consider a mid to late afternoon visit for the gardens then have dinner at 5 or 5:30 at the Botanical, then Christmas @ Kew. But all the pieces would have to fall into place -- with bookings available for the timed slots for both the restaurant and the festival.

If there aren't any openings at the Botanical try for the Coach & Horses or some other pub. There is also the cafe Kew Gardens gift shop.
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Old Oct 14th, 2022, 07:16 AM
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RE: Chiswick
If you are interested in Chiswick/Richmond, in September, I just did the V&A in the morning, then the tube to Chiswick (Turnham Green station). However, Turnham Green is not step free, so will need a quick look at a trip that will work better. I think from South Kensington station, you can ride to Hammersmith, and then hop on a bus to Chiswick High Street.

If you find yourself on Turnham Green Terrace, I can recommend Chief Coffee, but it does have a short flight of 7 steps to the door (a pic on Google reviews shows them). Their restroom in the basement DOES have a door from street level, if I remember correctly.) Actually, if you're not feeling up to the steps, it's very likely the staff there would bring a coffee/plate down to you in their street-level room. Also, if your son is at all interested in vintage video games/Japanese culture, they have an arcade there. Will be quiet during the day, I expect. It's a nice option from a Costa or Starbucks.

I LOVE Chiswick House and Gardens for its garden history, but it's not as massive and important as Kew, and will not be showing to full advantage in December. Though the "goose foot" avenues do lead to some lovely eye-catchers, and there's statuary and follies through the grounds. I would actually be interested in seeing it in December. Chiswick House has their own Christmas offerings. Not sure if the house and garden is a worthwhile departure from the High Street as it is a walk, though not terribly far. I think a little under a mile through a residential street. Hogarth's House is right next door, if interested in 18th century art.

RE: Shopping (V&A and Heathrow)
I mention the V&A for the incredible shopping in their gift shop. Wonderful jewelry and prints for framing, and not all that expensive. If you do like the idea of prints, you might bring an empty paper tube to roll up your prints in the suitcase. They are shrink-wrapped on cardboard and too large for the suitcase sometimes. I just bought a couple of necklaces (just strands of wood beads) for 20 each, and received so many compliments on them. All the inexpensive jewelry I've bought there are always admired by my friends here in Chicago. The V&A will ship to the US for a flat fee of 35, I think they said, though, if you want to look online. but I don't think they have the full offering online.

At Heathrow, your son may want to make note of what the retail prices are for Ted Baker, Paul Smith and Kurt Geiger. I was looking at a Ted Baker purse that was 110 at the airport but was $225 on their website. BUT remember to leave enough time to get from the passenger waiting area/shopping center to your gate, as the walk from there can be long and you want to ensure you get there before they lock the plane doors--which is earlier than you sometimes expect. Just leave time for that.
Have fun planning!
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Old Oct 14th, 2022, 10:00 AM
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Originally Posted by ChgoGal View Post
RE: Chiswick
If you are interested in Chiswick/Richmond, in September, I just did the V&A in the morning, then the tube to Chiswick (Turnham Green station). However, Turnham Green is not step free, so will need a quick look at a trip that will work better. I think from South Kensington station, you can ride to Hammersmith, and then hop on a bus to Chiswick High Street.

If you find yourself on Turnham Green Terrace, I can recommend Chief Coffee, but it does have a short flight of 7 steps to the door (a pic on Google reviews shows them). Their restroom in the basement DOES have a door from street level, if I remember correctly.) Actually, if you're not feeling up to the steps, it's very likely the staff there would bring a coffee/plate down to you in their street-level room. Also, if your son is at all interested in vintage video games/Japanese culture, they have an arcade there. Will be quiet during the day, I expect. It's a nice option from a Costa or Starbucks.

I LOVE Chiswick House and Gardens for its garden history, but it's not as massive and important as Kew, and will not be showing to full advantage in December. Though the "goose foot" avenues do lead to some lovely eye-catchers, and there's statuary and follies through the grounds. I would actually be interested in seeing it in December. Chiswick House has their own Christmas offerings. Not sure if the house and garden is a worthwhile departure from the High Street as it is a walk, though not terribly far. I think a little under a mile through a residential street. Hogarth's House is right next door, if interested in 18th century art.

RE: Shopping (V&A and Heathrow)
I mention the V&A for the incredible shopping in their gift shop. Wonderful jewelry and prints for framing, and not all that expensive. If you do like the idea of prints, you might bring an empty paper tube to roll up your prints in the suitcase. They are shrink-wrapped on cardboard and too large for the suitcase sometimes. I just bought a couple of necklaces (just strands of wood beads) for 20 each, and received so many compliments on them. All the inexpensive jewelry I've bought there are always admired by my friends here in Chicago. The V&A will ship to the US for a flat fee of 35, I think they said, though, if you want to look online. but I don't think they have the full offering online.

At Heathrow, your son may want to make note of what the retail prices are for Ted Baker, Paul Smith and Kurt Geiger. I was looking at a Ted Baker purse that was 110 at the airport but was $225 on their website. BUT remember to leave enough time to get from the passenger waiting area/shopping center to your gate, as the walk from there can be long and you want to ensure you get there before they lock the plane doors--which is earlier than you sometimes expect. Just leave time for that.
Have fun planning!
Thanks!

Moderate steps are okay, escalators are the sticking point. We're probably going to do a lot of buses. Fortunately I can walk fairly long distances as well.

I love the V&A, hopefully we'll have time for it. Chiswick house sounds very cool.

I have wheelchair assist, so I don't know how that's going to go with duty free shopping, although I mostly requested it for Dublin, where I had some trouble when we went through in the spring. Their floors are EVIL, and I didn't feel like skidding on them again, especially since the distances are long. I didn't actually fall, but I was exhausted and in pain by the time we made it to the gate, and frustrated because I'm unused to having that much trouble.
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