London trip report

Sep 1st, 2003, 09:40 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 68
London trip report

Though I've been haunting the Europe message boards all summer, I just became a member-- b/c I got addicted! In appreciation for all the excellent advice, I'm writing a trip report for my London vacation. (To all who are tired of London trip reports, I apologize!).

We flew British Airways to Heathrow, and took the Heathrow Express to Paddington (our trip in was not particularly express, probably b/c we arrived on the last day of the heat wave and tracks may have been buckled!). We then bought our seven day travel cards for zones 1 and 2 (we probably only needed zone 1), and took the tube to Kensington High Street and walked to our hotel. We took the tube everywhere, and found it easy to use. The travelcards were definitely a good investment.

We stayed at the Thistle Kensington Palace, which had both positive and negative attributes. The location is fantastic! Nice walks to both KHS and Gloucester Rd. tube stops. Our room, and the bathroom, were large. The bathroom was especially nice. But the beds were twin (not romantic!) and very uncomfortable, and our entire wing of the hotel (facing onto DeVere Gardens and the sun) was incredibly hot (unavoidable due to the heat wave). We couldn't change rooms, so we resolved the situation by moving our mattresses to the floor and spending most of the day out of the hotel room.

Day 1: Arrive hotel, can't check in. Walk over to Kensington Palace, pay 11 lbs. to get in. Favorite exhibit: Queen's hats. She has a lot! Cut tour short to head over to Orangery for lunch and water. (delicious). After napping and recuperating in hotel room, we spend a couple of hours lying under tree and people watching in Kensington Park. Eat dinner at Churchill Arms (about 15 minute walk from hotel) on Kensington Church St. Delicious thai food!

Day 2: Walk through Kensington and Hyde Park to Buckingham Palace (this is a long walk, and is confusing once you reach Hyde Park Speaker's Corner). Pay 11 lbs. to tour Buckingham Palace, which is very interesting--worth the money. Eat lunch at the Fountain Restaurant at Fortnum and Mason's (recommend), and stopped in Waterstone's just down the street. Take tube to Blackfriar's, walk across Millenium Bridge to Tate Modern and spend a couple of hours there. See excellent performance at the Globe Theatre of "Taming of the Shrew" (highly recommended).

Day 3: British Museum, where we see interesting airconditioned exhibit "London in 1753" from the print collection. Next head to Sir John Soane's Museum--I definitely recommend buying the pamphlet that tells you about each room. Ate lunch in a cafe in Lincoln's Fields (correct name of park?). Head to Liberty of London to window shop. Meet friends for dinner and have excellent wine at Gordon's Wine Bar.

Day 4: Walked to Victoria and Albert Museum, where we took a "highlights" tour. Then looked at dress collection. Ate lunch at Pret a Manger (recommended) and then took a London walk: Spy and Spycatchers' London. Very entertaining. That night walked (20 minutes or so) through Kensington to "Kare Kare", Indian restaurant on Old Brompton Rd. Much more upscale than Indian restaurants I'm used to but delicious (recommended).

Day 5: National Gallery followed by lunch at St. Martin in the Fields. Took afternoon off from site seeing to shop at Selfridge's. Ate dinner at Kensington Place (Kensington Church St.), which was quite good, but expensive.

Day 6 (last day): Headed to Liecester Sq. to buy theatre tickets. Then walked to Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey--paid 6 lbs. to get into Westminister Abbey. Ate dinner at an Indian restaurant near our hotel (ok), and saw "Noises Off" at the Piccadilly Theatre. Play was excellent--very funny--and theatre was airconditioned!

We had a lot of fun, but we were exhausted when we returned!

Thanks again for all the help planning.
rosalicious is offline  
Sep 1st, 2003, 11:32 AM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 922
Thanks for the post!!
Did you use a Go-Today package?? My daughter & I are using Go-Today for our trip to London in October. We are also booked at the Thistle Kensington Palace....I was grateful for your report!! A few previous reports, of the hotel, were pretty negative. So it sounds as if we'll "survive"!
Maybe by October the temperatures won't be quite as high!!
Glad you had a great time!!!
Bailey is offline  
Sep 1st, 2003, 01:14 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 623
Great report--thanks for sharing! I loved the Kensington Palace exhibit on the Queen's hats too; I also loved seeing Diana's dresses.
Lee4 is offline  
Sep 1st, 2003, 01:30 PM
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Can you please tell what exactly is the go-today package and the price.
mike_b12 is offline  
Sep 1st, 2003, 01:41 PM
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Join Date: Aug 2003
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Bailey, you'll survive. Another thing to be aware of: there are no safes in the room (they lost all the keys??!!), but there are safety deposit boxes at the front desk you can use.

The location goes a long way toward redeeming the hotel--and I'm sure the temperatures will be much more pleasant in October.
rosalicious is offline  
Sep 1st, 2003, 02:41 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 507
For Package info see here:
Prices depend on your destination,and where you're flying from.
Lovejoy is offline  
Sep 1st, 2003, 08:36 PM
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Excellent report rosalicious. The Spy and Spy Catchers London Walk sounds very interesting. Would you please post a web site or the London Walk company that presents this walk? Thanks.
Sep 1st, 2003, 09:26 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 897
Good report. A question re: the Globe Theatre. I believe you have to sit on wooden benches. Did you find it a bit 'taxing' on your bottom? I have arthritis in my lower back and am wondering if a play at the Globe will be torture? And I may have missed your system but does recommended mean 'you' recommend the rest. or it was recommended to you? Thanks.
rickmav is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2003, 04:30 AM
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Join Date: Aug 2003
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I believe the London Walks website is After hearing recommendations of this company on Fodors, I picked up a brochure in Heathrow (found it almost immediately after getting off the plane).

Rick, Yes, the wooden benches were uncomfortable. For 3 lbs. (I think) you can rent stadium cushions at the theatre, which will probably make the experience more comfortable. Also when I wrote recommended, I meant that I recommended the restaurant, activity, etc., though some of the items certainly were recommended to me--like "Kare Kare."

rosalicious is offline  

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