London Stopover advice needed

Jun 19th, 2007, 01:39 PM
  #1  
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London Stopover advice needed

I am planning to stop in London (Gatwick airport) for a day or two on my return trip from India to USA in September.
We have 2 small kids and 6 big suitecases.
1. Can we see main places in one day or 2 days. How long it is advised.
2. Where to stay if I want to spend about US$100 to US$150 a night for hotel.
3. What is the best way to handle luggage. I want to avoid dragging large suitecases to hotela nd back. I read about left luggage for 6 pounds per piece per day which adds up to US$75 per day.
4. Any airport-hotel transportation adiviced?

Lot of questions and all the help is appreciated.

Thanks
vajhala is offline  
Jun 19th, 2007, 02:02 PM
  #2  
 
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1. Sure, you can see them. If all you want to do is see the major things from the outside, you can take a hop-on-hop-off tour and be done in a day. However, with such a short time and two small kids, you'll have to pick and choose what you actually spend time on. Guidebooks or sites like Fodor's London destination page will help you pick out what sounds best for your family - for example, London has great museums, but the kids would probably prefer something like the Eye.

2. I'm not a London hotel expert (always stayed in flats or hostels), but Priceline is generally very highly recommended for London. Anywhere in central London would be fine; since it sounds like you haven't been before, areas like Bloomsbury, Covent Garden, Victoria/Pimlico, Kensington, Mayfair would all work.

Can't really help you with #3. For airport transportation, that depends on where you stay. The Gatwick Express is easy, but a car might be more convenient if your hotel is any distance from Victoria station - especially if you can't leave your luggage at the airport.
jent103 is offline  
Jun 19th, 2007, 10:16 PM
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You might have a job finding a room for 4 on your budget, but there are some out there if you dig around enough.

I can't think of any alternative to the airport left-luggage if you don't want to take it all into London with you. Gatwick airport is not actually in London so you need to choose between staying near the airport and taking daily transport in and out of London, or paying for luggage storage and getting a hotel in London. The hotels near the airport aren't any cheaper than the ones in London.

Priceline won't work for you as it only does double rooms for 2 people, not family rooms.

Budget accomodation tends to be in places like travel lodge, holiday inn express, and they have mainly family rooms. They charge per room so can be a good option with children.

Also, you might look in other areas of London. On here everyone advises staying in Mayfair, Bloomsbury, Covent Garden etc..but those are the most expensive areas in London. Hotels are cheaper in less glamorous locations.
nona1 is offline  
Jun 19th, 2007, 10:28 PM
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Actually, if I were you, I'd look at staying at the Travel lodge at Gatwick airport as it's only £65 a family room, and you'll save on the luggage storage. Then you can get to London fairly cheaply by train (less that the luggage fee certainly) and you'll be on the spot for catching your next plane. It's not like you'll want to be out and about late night in London with 2 little kids.

Make it 2 days if you can! London has so much to do and see you'll only get a fraction of it.
nona1 is offline  
Jun 19th, 2007, 10:28 PM
  #5  
 
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For about $100 a night you can get a family room at a Travelodge in central London (www.travelodge.co.uk)

Luggage - you'll have to haul it to your hotel or store it. Which you choose is up to you

Airport to hotel, depends on where you decide to stay. If you stay in central London then the Gatwick Express may not be the best option.
alanRow is offline  
Jun 19th, 2007, 10:30 PM
  #6  
 
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Before booking a hotel at Gatwick check how much it's going to cost you to get to & from London - it'll soon eat up any savings on luggage storage, it's harder to see the sights and for several hours each day the trains will be full as 3 million people travel to/from work
alanRow is offline  
Jun 20th, 2007, 05:35 AM
  #7  
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Thanks for all the responses. Gives me good idea.
What is the best way to get around in the city? Will the hop on hop off cover all primary places like the big ben, palace, eye etc?
If I stay at Gatwick, what is the best way to go in and out of London? Any links to transportation web sites?
Thanks
vajhala is offline  
Jun 20th, 2007, 06:07 AM
  #8  
 
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London's transportation system is fantastic. There's tons of information on here about it if you just do a search. The official web site is www.tfl.gov.uk.
jent103 is offline  
Jun 20th, 2007, 08:07 AM
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I agree - the only way to "see the main sights" in one day will be on an open-top bus tour. You will see each "sight" for about 1 minute.

Even two days (arriving one day, leaving the next) will of course not be enough to "experience" anything, really.

For a hotel, look at websites (like lateroooms.co.uk) that allow you to see a set of AVAILABLE rooms and compare real, bookable prices directly. That is the only way you will get a decent room in London for £50-£75 (any London hotel with this as their FULL price will be pretty ropy, or at least have very very small rooms with no air conditioning). You might consider staying in University B&B accommodation (while students are on vacation), try "university accomodation london" in your search engine. This is basic, but clean and good value accommodation in official student rooms or even an entire apartment (flat).

I do not know if there is left luggage at the airport or at Victoria station. The best way of getting to Victoria from Gatwick is the Gatwick Express train (30 minutes, no stops, very comfortable, lots of space for luggage, very expensive). Much cheaper, there is direct coach (express bus) which will take your luggage in the luggage compartment.

The tube is a nightmare with lots of luggage.

Tip - on such a short visit, avoid the tube, the bus will let you see and photograph things while you move from one place to another. The tube will leave you with a series of tiny snapshot impressions and no sense of how the "sights" are connected.

Another tip. If you spend one or two nights (two gives you a FULL day in London, of course) take a hop-on hop-off boat trip (on a boat with an open top deck) from Westminster pier to the Tower, or Greenwich. Many "sights" are along the river (Houses of Parliament, Globe, London Eye, Tower of London , and it is a lovely way to travel on a warm day - better than hot buses or smelly tubes - and the commentaries (on the old-fashioned boats, not the sleek new ones) are live, lively, informative, and amusing.

As soon as you get to London, get an Oyster card - much cheaper than buying single tickets. Or consider a travelcard for all day travel (after 9:30 am) for a fixed price.
Chris_England is offline  
Jun 20th, 2007, 08:29 AM
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Here's a plan that would minimize your outlay:

Book the Gatwick TraveLodge as nona1 suggests. This will finesse both the luggage issue and hotel price. It's ¾ mile from the airport, but the only available transport is the Hoppa Bus (£3 pp) or a taxi. You might use a taxi for moving luggage and walk when you're going back and forth to London.

Ride Southern Railway into London (and all over southeast England) on their DaySave pass - £20 for the four of you provides unlimited travel. Note peak restrictions: tinyurl.com/2eoyan

For seeing London, I would recommend getting one-day bus passes for £3.50 (kids might be free), a bus map of the sights: tinyurl.com/2f7dtg, and a map showing the streets: tinyurl.com/2dmcts (free at Tube stations, along with tinyurl.com/25p633).
Robespierre is offline  
Jun 21st, 2007, 06:21 AM
  #11  
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Now I have my tickets confirmed. Reaching LGW at 7:20AM Sunday and departing at 10:1OAM Tuesday.
1. Will the hotels accept to keep the luggage before checkin time or do I need to take hotel for 3 days? Are there hotels in London that have 24 hour checkin? Now I realize that hotels are expensive in London compared to US and I am willing to spend more on hotel. Is it common to have complimentary breakfast in hotels?
2. Our kids are 5 and 1 year old. We are planning to include buckingham palace, hop on hop off bus and/or boat, the eye, london bridge, big ben. Any other suggestions. We like historic places, famous landmarks and monuments.
3. Can we go in to the buckingham place or just see from outside?
4. I am a big cricket fan. Can we go and see Lords stadium?
Thanks again for all the suggestions. You are all very helpful.
vajhala is offline  
Jun 21st, 2007, 07:04 AM
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Yoou could go and see Lords - but it will eat up a lot of your time. It's a 10 minute walk from St John's Woood tube station.

For sight seeing, get the tube to Westminster, take the Bridge St Exit - that will bring you out by Big Ben. Westminster Abbbey is next door - then walk down Whitehall past 10 Downing St to Trafalgar Square - then walk down The Mall to Buckingham Palace.
audere_est_facere is offline  
Jun 21st, 2007, 07:10 AM
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yes - most hotels wll hold your bags if you arrive before a room is ready.

If you want to go inside Buckingham Place you can - it is only open to the public during Aug/Sept so perfect for your visit. You can book your tickets ahead of time. Tickets are for a set time, and since you are in London such a short time I would book as far ahead as you can.
janisj is online now  
Jun 21st, 2007, 07:21 AM
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Do you mean the Tower Bridge? That's the one you see in the pictures. London Bridge isn't that exciting.

Trafalgar Square is one of my favorite places in London, and I think the kids would probably enjoy spending some time just playing there if the weather's nice. (There's a Pret a Manger on the southwest side where you can pick up lunch and eat in the square.) I'd suggest Westminster Abbey and/or St Paul's as well. The Abbey would work more with your current plans, but if you can fit it in, St Paul's is amazing.
jent103 is offline  
Jun 29th, 2007, 12:39 PM
  #15  
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To save time, I have decided to use the left luggage at Gatwick to leave the excess luggage and take one bag with needed stuff for 2 day London trip and I want to stay close and convenient to tourist places.
Any suggestions on hotel?
2. Since my return flight is at 10AM, I want to be at the airport by 7AM so that I can retrieve the luggage from left luggage and check in for onward travel. Is Gatwich express convenient and reliable at that time on a week day? How early we should leave the hotel?
Thanks
vajhala is offline  
Jun 29th, 2007, 01:39 PM
  #16  
 
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I took a 5:30am Gatwick Express last fall on a Tuesday. Worked great. I know others recommend other modes of transport to Gatwick, such as robespierre's suggestion of Southern; if it runs at that time in the morning, the price he quoted is certainly cheaper than what we paid. A car service might be better, depending on what area your hotel is in, although with just one bag public transport wouldn't be bad.

Obviously, how early to leave your hotel also depends on where you stay.
jent103 is offline  
Jun 30th, 2007, 04:45 AM
  #17  
 
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A car service betweeb Gatwick & London is NEVER a good idea as it's slower than the train and at peak times it could take 2 hours to get between airport & London hotel
alanRow is offline  

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