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London public transportation around Christmas this year

London public transportation around Christmas this year

Oct 15th, 2010, 09:52 AM
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London public transportation around Christmas this year

We will be in London the week before Christmas, and flying back to the US on Dec. 26th. From the information I've found here, local trains have a very reduced schedule at this time. Does that also happen to the London Underground?

I know this is a year when Christmas and Boxing Day both fall on the weekend so will Monday and Tuesday be bank holidays? I'm planning ahead and wondering if we will be able to take the express train to Heathrow on the 26th and also have some form of public transportation within central London on Christmas day. Thanks for any information to help my trip planning, Deborah
DeborahAnn is offline  
Oct 15th, 2010, 10:02 AM
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"wondering if we will be able to take the express train to Heathrow on the 26th . . "

Yes - there will be HEX service on Boxing Day. But do you even want the HEX? It is very expensive - a car service will cost about the same for 2 and less for 3 or more. And a car service is door-to-door w/o having to get to Paddington. But I'd book well ahead for a car service on Dec 26. (or take the tube)

" . . and also have some form of public transportation within central London on Christmas day."

Nope -- there is essentially no public transport in London on Dec 25.
janisj is online now  
Oct 15th, 2010, 10:12 AM
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Janis is right, the HEX is a waste of time and money. Try Just Airports. It costs less than HEX and they will pick you up at the hotel and take you to the airport. If you want to use them both ways they will meet you at the airport and take you directly to the hotel.


I've also heard good things about a car service called Ray Skinner. I don't know the prices for Ray Skinner, but for Just Airports it is cheaper and a heck of a lot easier than the HEX.

The tube is cheapest of all but not necessarily the easiest. On Dec 26 tube service will be limited so I wouldn't count on that. Even if the tube is doable on the 26th it's no good if you have a flight leaving very early in the morning. I looked into this a few years ago as I needed to get to LHR by 6am, the earliest the tube would get me there was 6:40am.

I think the car service is best.
P_M is offline  
Oct 15th, 2010, 10:52 AM
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Thank you for the responses,I'll be sure to book a car service for the 26th. It will be for two people and we have used public transportation on our previous visits to London.

I thought a city of London's size might have a sharply reduced underground in service on Christmas Day, certainly not no service. And no bus service, either?

My husband has always wanted to visit London at Christmas time and this is his year.

I wanted a different Christmas memory for us but that did include eating dinner! We are staying at a B&B/hotel that does not have a restaurant so it appears I will need to make any Christmas dining reservations early in my trip planning.

Without the underground in service will there be many restaurants open within walking distance of the Marble Arch metro? Thanks again, Deborah
DeborahAnn is offline  
Oct 15th, 2010, 11:07 AM
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There is essentially NO public transit on Christmas Day - I found it a little odd as well, but count on walking.

I would ask your hotel about what is open and be sure to make reservations for dinner as many places will be closed.
jamikins is offline  
Oct 15th, 2010, 12:00 PM
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Definately book dinner reservations for Christmas day. We were in apartment and didn't. Could not get dinner [email protected]! Not fun! We had car so started driving...looking for restaurant/pub/someplace. Ended up in Wales before we were accepted. The food was not good but we had a real local experience with Christmas crackers and singing.
Elainee is offline  
Oct 15th, 2010, 12:06 PM
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A few restaurants do put on a Christmas service -- but they cost much more than the regular menus and must be booked well ahead. I haven't had to eat Christmas lunch/dinner out in the UK but once and that was 30+ years ago.

There will be some ethnic places open but I can't steer you to a specific recommendation.

Time Out usually posts a list of places serving Christmas meals - but I'm not sure if it is out yet.
janisj is online now  
Oct 15th, 2010, 01:15 PM
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Thanks even though the comments are crumbling my thoughts of a romantic Christmas dinner with my husband. I've sent an email to our hotel asking for suggestions. I thought they might consider me a bit daft for asking about Christmas dinner in mid-October!!

Maybe I should plan on squirreling away some food in our hotel room on the 24th so that we won't go to bed on Christmas night with hunger pangs.

Even if we have to pay more for the dinner we will have the pleasure of being in London. I'll be watching for the posting on TimeOut. Thanks to your comments I'm prepared to be a "hunter and gatherer" for our London Christmas dinner. Deborah
DeborahAnn is offline  
Oct 15th, 2010, 01:39 PM
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This site lists a few options:


>> Brasserie Chez Gerard - Christmas lunch from £50 per head. Many London locations

>> Royal Garden Hotel, Kensington - Christmas lunch from £100 per head in Kensington. West London.

>> Brown's Hotel - Christmas lunch from £220...! Central London.

>> Brasserie Roux - Xmas day lunch from £90. Central London (located in the Sofitel St James)

>> Holiday Inn, Kensington - Christmas lunch from £45.

The Royal Garden, Holiday Inn and Sofitel are each about 1.5 to 2 mile walk from Marble Arch. Brown's Hotel and one Chez Gerrard are each maybe a mile.
janisj is online now  
Oct 15th, 2010, 02:08 PM
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Janis, thanks I also found the site, www.londoneats.com that listed some of the very expensive hotel restaurants open for Christmas lunch or dinner, like The Ritz, The Intercontinental, Gordon Ramsay's at Claridges all at 100 -190 GBP per person. I was surprised that the lunch at Christmas had more courses than the dinner. It looks like my Christmas present to myself this year just might be my dinner

Thanks for that site, I'll keep watching for more additions. I expected to pay more at Christmas but not the prices I'm seeing right now. Deborah
DeborahAnn is offline  
Oct 15th, 2010, 02:41 PM
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'Christmas Lunch' is what most Americans would call 'dinner'. It is in the afternoon but is the main meal and has all the holiday trimmings.

Same w/ 'Sunday Lunch' you'll see on some menus. That is Sunday Dinner in 'American-ese' (the big meal of the day)
janisj is online now  
Oct 15th, 2010, 03:08 PM
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Janis, I have to thank you for the Christmas in London site. Under things to do it lists a program called Crisis Christmas. They need over 6,000 volunteers to serve London's homeless population from the Dec 23rd until the 30th. I'm going to find out if we could volunteer to help on Christmas Day rather than spend 200 GBP on one dinner.

I'll have to see if there would be a center that we could walk to if the underground isn't operating. I don't imagine they will have a center in the Mayfair district, would they? Thanks again, Deborah
DeborahAnn is offline  
Oct 15th, 2010, 03:34 PM
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That's a great idea. Unfortunately none of the 5 centres they mention (Finsbury Park, Stratford, Bermondsey, Hammersmith and Deptford) are at all near Marble Arch. They do say there are other sites they can't divulge until one is signed up.

I do have an idea though - maybe start another thread w/ a title something like "We'd like to charity volunteer on Christmas Day in central London. Any ideas/suggestions?"

Then maybe some of the London locals will see your question.
janisj is online now  
Oct 15th, 2010, 03:49 PM
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Janis, Good suggestion. My husband has already agreed that this would be a good way for us to spend our day. I'll start a new thread if we can't be of help to the Crisis Christmas group. thanks again, Deborah

PS--I still can't believe the underground is shut down on Christmas. I guess no one ventures far from their home in London on that day if they don't have a car!!
DeborahAnn is offline  
Oct 15th, 2010, 04:52 PM
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Most restauarants are not open. People generally arrange to have ?Christmas dinner in their hotel. I would find out what hotels there are within walking distance that have decent restauarants and keep them open.

And people going away for the holiday either go in advance (Christmas EVe Day) or have their own car.
nytraveler is offline  
Oct 15th, 2010, 11:04 PM
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It's good of you to look at volunteering. Crisis - a year round homeless charity - doesn't just operate distribution centres, but also has stay-in centres over Christmas where homeless people are guests for a few days. Locations vary as space availability changes, but there's almost always one in the centre.

But do realise that it has a problem managing volunteers at Christmas. Demand both for their services and to be a volunteer peaks for a very short time, and Crisis has a number of rules.

These include:
- a minimum of two full shifts over two different days, and
- attending a training session beforehand.

This might make Crisis unsuitable for you, and you should go through their application carefully when the Christmas section comes on line later in the month (keep checking http://www.crisis.org.uk/pages/sign-...-for-2010.html). Several other charities - like the Samaritans - also see demand peak over Christmas, but most of these need people who've been on their training courses more at Christmas than at any other time. Mostly, it's not general purpose back-office admin etc help they need then (admin depts are mostly closed): it's people with real expertise in the charity's front-line operations.

The way that the modern English Christmas works, though, means that most charities actually wind down for a week. I THINK - but I might be being too negative - there's actually very little live prospect of just doing a bit of general volunteering, without a criminal record check and previous training specific to that charity, for a few hours on Christmas Day alone.

By all means start your thread. But you should really think hard about the silly "there's nothing to do in London on Christmas Day" myths.

London's a bustling city, in some parts downright unpleasant to walk in because it's so damn crowded, on 364 days of the year. It's also got an amazing amount of extraordinary buildings, many difficult to see properly by day because the roads and pavements are so crowded, and invisible by night. And it's got, by a million zillion miles, the world's finest and most diverse range of church choirs, producing sensational music in every kind of Christian tradition from proper plainsong, through the glories of the Orthodox and Anglican liturgies, to modern African and West Indian mass congregational singing.

On Christmas Day, all this is more accessible than on any other day in the year. Westminster Cathedral can seriously claim to have the world's finest church choir: though there are a few in Germany and Oxford than give it a run for its money, Westminster Abbey and St Paul's also come close. It's the one day you can stop in the middle of a road - where normally you'd get killed - and look at the vistas, and observe buildings close up where you'd normally get mown down by other pedestrians on their way to work.

Ignore too, the nonsense about "you can only eat at a few ethnic places". Apart from greasy spoons and a few tourist-oriented "Ye Olde Englishe" gastronomic theme parks, just about ALL eating places in London are ethnic. Granted: fewer of them are open on Christmas Day than other times - but if you walk round Soho, you'll find more restaurants open than entire cities boast. Just accept that your choice lies between the normal sort of Chinese/Indian/Lebanese etc we eat all the time anyway and extraordinarily pricey Christmas luhnches at your hotel or its competitors. That is: getting a reasonably-priced turkey-centric meal that's not a McD (some of them are open too) TurkeyBurger is as tricky as almost any other time of the year.

As with all travelling: insist on following your predetermined "to do list" and you'll be more miserable in London on Christmas Day than on any other. Adapt yourself and what you do to the realities of the day and you'll have an unforgettable experience.
flanneruk is offline  
Oct 16th, 2010, 01:22 PM
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flanneruk, thank you so much for your helpful post. I did suspect that even though we would be willing and capable volunteers most organizations rely on greater commitment than a tourist can offer. When it opens for the season I will apply through their website because my husband and I do volunteer at our local shelter so I expect we could easily work within the London program.

It was my intent to attend a church service during Christmas week and another on Christmas Day. From your description of London on Dec 25th, I am so pleased we will be there on the one day of the year when London slows it's mad pace. I'm now looking at the lack of public transport not as an inconveniece but as an opportunity to experience something unique.

TopTable and OpenTable websites show many choices for dining on Christmas in variety and pricing. It appears to be much less of a problem than I expected.

I appreciate your well thought out comments and helping me to see all the positives of being in London on Christmas Day. Deborah
DeborahAnn is offline  
Oct 16th, 2010, 06:32 PM
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Another good website for restaurant ideas is www.squaremeal.co.uk

A different idea for Christmas lunch or dinner would be to visit the terrific Borough Market the day before (check hours on their website and get there early as things sell out) and have a picnic in your room, followed by a walk through London from your hotel - with the bonus of very little traffic. Just make sure you wrap up well, it will be very cold!

There is a road leading up from Marble Arch tube station called Edgeware Rd and it's nicknamed Little Beirut because of all the Middle Eastern restaurants. Could be fun to have something different from turkey and roast vegies. If you ate in that area, you could walk up to Regents Park afterwards and walk along the canal.

www.londontown.com also has a comprehensive section on things to do at Christmas, would be worth checking out.

Have a great trip.

KayF is offline  
Oct 16th, 2010, 07:47 PM
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Kay, thank you for your suggestions. We've been to London twice and I never realized there was a canal in the city
I just recently saw it mentioned while looking at attractions in North London. On this trip we will have time to explore much more of London than we've seen previously.

We enjoy Middle Eastern foods so I'll make a point to check out the restaurants on Edgeware and the Borough Market. Thanks also for including the squaremeal website. Deborah
DeborahAnn is offline  

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