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London Trip Report: Hives, luxury flat, mini GTG & every artery clogged

London Trip Report: Hives, luxury flat, mini GTG & every artery clogged

Old Jul 6th, 2007, 03:22 AM
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London Trip Report: Hives, luxury flat, mini GTG & every artery clogged

When I arrived home from work the day before being due to leave for London, I find an email from London Guest Suites saying the hotel a couple doors down was remodeling & did something to the water pipes so all who were booked into the Egerton Gardens Property were being sent elsewhere.

Had it just been me going it wouldn't have been so bad but I had a UK ebay purchase coming to the original address, I had to let Justairports.com know of the change in plans for the 2 bookings I'd made for myself & my niece who was arriving the day after I did & also try to reach my niece to tell her of the change in plans so she wouldn't argue with the driver when he took her to a different address.

That all worked out but not before I spent 2 days covered in hives due to work stress (3 employees had quit & been replaced involving heavy duty FAST training) & then this.

The AA flight was to JFK where I was surprised to have to go through security again which had not happened before. Usually, once through security here, that was it. My upgraded Business class was fine as usual. They had a flat tire on the plane which took an hour to fix, then another hour to regain a take-off slot but other than that service was good. Even taking a ton of Benadryl for the hives I couldn't sleep on the plane.

Justairports was about 20 minutes late meeting me since with Biz class you get through Immigration so quickly but they got me to the flat just fine & what a nice place it was. It still smelled new since we were only the second people to stay there. Location was great - Beaufort Gardens, just 1 1/2 blocks from Harrods.

Big flat screen TV on the wall, very nice leather sofas, Egyptian cotton towels & bath sheets from Harrods & a beautiful bathroom.


The bed was comfortable which isn't always the case with rental flats.


I was given this flat for the same price as the original studio I had booked, which itself had been upgraded to a 2 bedroom so I paid $1,000.00/week less than what this flat rents for ($2,400.00/week.) Full sized refrigerator, granite countertops & a dishwasher & washing machine all included. Spent that day buying my flowers & stocking the refrigerator & unpacking.

Dear niece (DN) arrived the next AM. She had flown coach from St. Louis & it took over an hour to get through immigration & Justairports charged an extra £5 for their wait.

We went & got her a 7 & 3 day travel card loaded on an Oyster & for myself I just put £20 on my Oyster plus the £3 deposit. In the craziness leading up to my departure I left the 2 for 1 coupons behind but we did discover another option that for me was a moneysaver.

Our first official sightseeing DN wanted to see was Kensington Palace. When we went to pay we decided to become a member of Historic Royal Palaces for £58 total for the 2 of us. That entitled us to free admission to KP, Kew Palace, Hampton Court Palace, the Banqueting House & the Tower. Included in the membership is a £10 book "The Private Life of Palaces" (very interesting & worth it) & 10% off anything in the gift shops & cafes/restaurants. I usually buy gifts in those shops so that was a saving. This was mid-June & it doesn't expire until 30 July next year so I can use it again next year for free admission & discounts. I was very surprised to learn that none of these sites receive any funding from the Crown or Government.

I always enjoy KP. The Mario Testino poster sized photos of Princess Diana were on display along with some of her clothes but naturally those were behind glass. You're now allowed into Princess Margaret's quarters where the furniture has been removed & about the only thing remaining were parts of her seashell collection & several of her dresses on mannequins which were NOT behind glass & could be touched.

All I could think of was remembering reading that poor old Margaret used to eat her dinner in her later years on tatty TV trays in front of her television. In the room where the seashells are, if you look out the window if the shades are up enough you can see Princess Diana's quarters.

I never tire of seeing the court dress or the apartments such as where Victoria learned she became the Queen so I visit KP usually every year or two.

Stocked up on books in the charity shops off Cromwell Road north of the S. Kensington Tube Station. There wouldn't be much shopping for us with the dollar so weak. I noticed both this year & last year the plane wasn't full & it didn't seem as crowded with Americans as in previous years but I have no stats to back that up.

On another day we made it to Waterloo to catch the train to Hampton Court Palace. DN got a discounted train ticket & mine was £7.95 for a cheap day return. Really rotten weather but Hampton Court was as interesting as ever. Love the earphones so you can take your time seeing everything at your own pace.

Coming back, we tried to change to the District or Circle Line from Waterloo at Green Park but again there was work going on those lines & it's been years since I've been stuck in a mob scene like that. We gave up & caught a cab.

More to follow, if you're not asleep by now.

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Old Jul 6th, 2007, 03:49 AM
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Old Jul 6th, 2007, 04:10 AM
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During this trip, friends of mine from Derby came down so he could be inducted into the Waterwaymen (?) Society at the Guild Hall in the City of London. This society goes back almost to Henry VIII times & was an interesting ceremony. He's an owner of the Magna Carta barge that does 6 day luxury trips on the Thames.

The wife stayed with us later & the 3 of us got to see Wicked. DN surprised me with excellent tickets she got through www.viator.com. I think they were 1/2 price but had to be purchased at least 9 days before. I'm not real clear on that so don't take it as gospel but we were definitely pleased with the seats & the show. We didn't have the understudies performing & the stars' voices were wonderful.

Much of the trip seems to be a blur but DN did get to take the Big Bus tour (the brown & yellow one) for £21 & during this trip she managed to pretty much take most forms of transportation available - tube, car service, black cab, boat & train. The bus tour included a boat trip on the Thames which she took. While she was doing that, I was gossiping with my friend.

We also went to the Tower & with our membership card mentioned above, sailed right in. This time we got a much more interesting Yeoman Warder than the last one I had gotten (who was good but this one was more entertaining.) As always the Jewel Collection was amazing & I managed to get a few more gifts in the gift shop with the 10% discount. I always manage to pick up a bit more info every time I go there that I missed before.

I've managed to turn DN into a clotted cream addict as I am so we enjoyed a lot of cream teas at every opportunity. I still enjoy Harrods Georgian Room tea for £20 in lovely surroundings with a pianist playing.

We did a lot of just wandering around which, IMO is one of the joys of London - finding little nooks & crannies & generally a surprise around every corner. For all you old movie buffs, here's where Ava Gardner lived out the latter years of her life & where she supposedly said, after hearing that her ex, Frank Sinatra had married Mia Farrow, "I always knew he'd wind up with a boy." Her flat is the one with the narrow balcony:


A block away off Ennismore Gardens was this gorgeous mews house. The picture didn't do the flowers justice.


Most evenings we just crashed at the flat after checking out the fancy cars on the street. We had been eyeing this Viper sports car & finally saw the owner who looked exactly like what I picture as a Hooray Henry as he was getting into it while barking loudly into his mobile.

I'm a real fan of Marks & Spencers mini markets & there was one around the corner with excellant reheatable meals such as quiche, roasted chicken, etc. And if you go in to any of them, look for the "American style chocolate covered peanuts" near the check-out.

We had a varied dining experience including some really good pub meals that weren't terribly expensive. I even tried mushy peas which I found revolting. Brompton Cafe was good with decadent pastries but we thoroughly enjoyed Haandi, a North Indian restaurant which you can enter from either Brompton Road, near the Pret a Manger just west of Harrods or you can get to from Cheval Place across from Shezan, which is another Indian favorite of mine. Haandi was less expensive. I didn't write the prices down & didn't pay this tab so don't know exactly the cost but it was worth it.

Finally got back to the Thai Restaurant that I could never remember the name of, catty-corner across from the Conran/Michelin building. Had a wonderful 3 course lunch for £9.95.
Guess what the name is? The Thai Restaurant & Bar. No wonder I couldn't remember it.

As always, we visited the Victoria & Albert & DN particularly enjoyed the silver section, as do I as well as the clothes.

DN was picked up very early for her 8:00 AM-ish flight & made it to LHR in 15 minutes. The day she left I met up with CubFanAlways for lunch at the Hour Glass pub near the Michelin building. It was a pleasure meeting him & having a bit of gossip. I hope he sees this & posts a pic of the pub which has an interesting shape. The pic I took (among several) accidentally were snapped with the video setting. The week before DN & I had a very good & filling Sunday lunch there. Sorry, again I didn't note the prices but it was relatively inexpensive.

The last couple of days I spent having more cream teas & making sure I had an outfit I could still fit into. Another good thing about London is all the walking helps work off the indulgences.

Fond mini-memories of this trip include talking to the old gentleman who frequently washed his very old car called a Figaro & my niece operatically singing "Figaro, Figaro, FI-GA-RO" every time we saw it. I'm sure the residents of the street thought we were crazy & we are. But the old gentleman took a shine to my red-headed niece was always beaming when he saw her coming.

Lovely trip, a chance to catch up with my very busy, mother-of-3 niece & see old friends. Made it home the day before the latest security mess. Naturally, I'll be back.
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Old Jul 6th, 2007, 06:37 AM
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Delightful report, Carrybean. I loved reading every word and enjoying the photos! Welcome home.
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Old Jul 6th, 2007, 07:11 AM
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I want to go with you and DN next year! KP is the only Palace I haven't been into yet.
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Old Jul 6th, 2007, 08:31 AM
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Thanks for your report. I just love wandering about London too.
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Old Jul 6th, 2007, 08:49 AM
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Thanks & one first for me was I had my first Krispy Kreme here this trip.

One creepy thing that kept popping into my mind whenever I went down into the Knightsbridge tube station was something I had read before I left. When they were digging to build the Piccadilly line between Knightsbridge & S. Kensington they ran into a plague burial pit so dense with remains they couldn't tunnel through it so this is said to accound for the curve in the tracks between the two stations.

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Old Jul 6th, 2007, 09:48 AM
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Thanks for the report, carrybean. Loved seeing the pictures as well. It sounds like you and your niece had a wonderful trip in the city you love! How many days were you there? I may have missed that tidbit.
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Old Jul 6th, 2007, 02:20 PM
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Hi, Noe. I was there 2 weeks. DN was there 10 days. It was her first trip (hope it's not her last.)
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Old Jul 7th, 2007, 12:12 PM
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Is it difficult getting around for someone who uses a cane? My husband is frail after having a stroke last year. We both have always wanted to go to London but wonder if it will be too difficult. Thank you.
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Old Jul 7th, 2007, 12:32 PM
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Well, that was nice Carrybean, just loved it. There's a little teashop downstairs off Portobello Road that has the BEST clotted cream and jam for the scones. On a rainy day the hot chocolate is delicious. I heart London too.
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Old Jul 7th, 2007, 01:24 PM
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HelenRichards, I use a forearm crutch and London is the city I've visited more comfortably. Buses are easy to use (all low floor, except for the touristic ones), lots of stops and it's also quite easy (except when it rains !!) to hail a taxi (though I find them a bit more difficult to board, but that's me ). Museums have wheelchairs for the visit and people is really accomodating.
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Old Jul 7th, 2007, 02:41 PM
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Wonderful report. I'm looking forward to my first (but not last) glimpse of London as a day trip from Paris. I had already put both the Tower and Kensington Palace on my must do list with Portobello Road and Harrods to finish it up. I was glad to read about the Georgian Tea room at Harrods, we'll be sure to check it out.

Many thanks.
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Old Jul 7th, 2007, 05:51 PM
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Thanks for report and photos. Can you tell us who the flat could be rented through? Thanks.
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Old Jul 7th, 2007, 06:31 PM
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(This message was sent a couple days ago when the Fodor's site was having trouble. On the original thread screen, it doesn't show that it posted. However, when I went to re-post a new message just now, there it was! Very strange. Oh well. Still, enjoyed your report very much, and the photos!)

Author: kopp
Date: 07/06/2007, 10:17 am

Such a delight to read! =D>

(Could not view the last picture, tho )

We did a lot of just wandering around which, IMO is one of the joys of London - finding little nooks & crannies & generally a surprise around every corner.

No matter where I go, it's the nooks and crannies that we find so pleasurable. Away from the crowds, watching the craftsmen of all kinds in their tiny shops, yup, that's what I like!

Good job!

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Old Jul 7th, 2007, 06:52 PM
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Thanks for all the info. Can you tell me which flat it was? I was looking for it on the site and could not find it thanks. It looks wonderful!
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Old Jul 8th, 2007, 12:29 AM
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Thanks, all. Fidel, I'd love to know the exact location of the tea room you mentioned.

The flat isn't on their site yet but if you contact www.londonguestsuites.com tell them you're interested in 34A Beaufort Gardens. It's at the front of the building on the lower ground floor.

Here's my favorite pic from the trip that didn't work up above. Somebody please buy me this place!

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Old Jul 8th, 2007, 01:05 AM
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LOVED this report.
thanks for posting.
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Old Jul 8th, 2007, 05:14 AM
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Thank you for the info. I will ask them about it. Sounds great.
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Old Jul 8th, 2007, 05:58 AM
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I now have two favorite Fodor Pastiche writers at the moment and you are one while the wacky woman from Hawai is the other. I feel there are some great comedy writers out there but this is up there byond chick lit. Keep up the posting, I grovel in your shadow
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