Need help: 9-day solo trip to the UK

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Sep 16th, 2018, 06:00 AM
  #1
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Need help: 9-day solo trip to the UK

Hi all

I would in London from 12th October (arriving Friday morning) to 20th October (leaving Saturday night).

I would prefer staying in London and take in the sights and do 2-3 day trips to places of interest like Oxford, countryside etc.

Few questions:
1. Within London, should I take the hop on hop off tours or visit the major attractions on my own? (as I have ample number of days with me)
2. How do I travel to Blenheim Palace and the Cotswolds on my own? (without taking a tour bus)
3. Any other day trips you would suggest? (please also add how to travel to the suggested places)
4. Any other general tips for my 1st visit to the UK / London?
5. I don't want to visit Scotland / Ireland right now. Maybe a separate trip later.

Thanks.
nikhilsharma is offline  
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Sep 16th, 2018, 07:03 AM
  #2
 
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I'd suggest looking at Viator. For instance, see this specific link for day tours to the Cotswolds from London, or this link for tours of Blenheim Palace, or this link for general tours of London. (There will be some repetition on these links).

Viator is a good place to go for ideas, even if you don't buy their specific tours. It is possible to do it on your own, or you can spent a bit more to have the convenience of having everything planned out for you.
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Sep 16th, 2018, 07:13 AM
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Forget the HoHo buses. Expensive, slow, and crowded. London has excellent public transport. Buy an Oyster card from a tube (metro) station when you arrive and use google maps on your phone or the TFL journey planner for getting around.

https://tfl.gov.uk/plan-a-journey/

Rome2rio says you can get to Blenheim by taking a train to Oxford Parkway and a bus from there, but you will still have a 13 minute walk. Or you could spend a couple of nights in Oxford and visit from there (still will have the walk). I like to stay in one of the colleges if possible:

https://www.universityrooms.com/

The day trips usually recommended here include Bath, Oxford, Cambridge, Salisbury and Stonehenge, maybe Brighton.

Best tip is to borrow or buy some guidebooks. they will answer the questions you didn't know to ask. You might also consider a guided walk with London Walks, who also do day trips if you decide not to do that on your own.

London Walks "London's best guided walks" Time Out - London Walks

Forget Viatour, they are a reseller.
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Sep 16th, 2018, 07:50 AM
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Though I try to avoid renting a car generally, on trips to the Cotswolds other than on vists I ’ll spend on long distance walks, I’ve found it necessary to drive as the area is not well-served by public transport. I suggest you might do the same if possible and spend at least one night along the way, countryside or town/village. It really is the only way to see what the area has to offer.

i agree that it sounds like you really could benefit from having a guidebook. Not that we mind answering questions but you need a better idea of what & where, then a return here to connect some dots.
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Sep 16th, 2018, 09:37 AM
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>>1. Within London, should I take the hop on hop off tours or visit the major attractions on my own? (as I have ample number of days with me)<<

No to the H-o-H-o buses. You wouldn't visit any sites -- just ride around looking at them from the outside. To visit any you have to 'hop off', visit on your own anyway, then wait for another bus to 'hop on'. Big waste of money.

>>2. How do I travel to Blenheim Palace and the Cotswolds on my own? (without taking a tour bus)<<

Blenheim is VERY easy. Train to Oxford Parkway station (not the station in the city center) and then a very short/frequent bus to Woodstock. The Cotswolds is a bit more complicated. From back at Oxford Parkway station, you'd take another train to Moreton in Marsh and either local buses or a taxi to some other nearby towns/villages.

You don't need a bus tour really anywhere really. Walking tours are great . . . There are several in Oxford, in Bath, many in London.

••• (Hadn't read the other responses . . . just saw thursdaysd'post: >>Rome2rio says you can get to Blenheim by taking a train to Oxford Parkway and a bus from there, but you will still have a 13 minute walk.<<. There is a bus stop at the Palace entrance -- however the grounds are large so yes - it will take a few minutes to walk to the Palace itself.)
janisj is online now  
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Sep 16th, 2018, 10:13 AM
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I agree with everyone else about the HOHO bus - better to just take regular buses. The tube (underground/metro) is often quicker but with the buses you can see where you are - sometimes I've just ridden around on the bus as a relaxing way to sightsee.


Especially since you are solo I recommend the Hub by Premier hotel. Premier is a chain but the Hub hotels are all new. I stayed in the one by Westminster Abbey this past July and it is definitely my favorite hotel in London. And very reasonably priced, even including the extra charge for breakfast buffet. There are several around central London but the Westminster Abbey one is literally 2 minutes from Westminster Abbey (and therefore 5 minutes from Big Ben). Walkable to a lot of places, though London is so large and spread out you will need bus or tube sometimes. I can't say enough good things about this hotel.


I have done the following day trips from London - all were very easy and enjoyable (this is spread out over many trips). Oxford, Cambridge, Warwick, Stratford, Brighton, Arundel, Dover, Canterbury, Rochester, Hever Castle, Tonbridge Castle, Hampton Court, Windsor.

Last edited by isabel; Sep 16th, 2018 at 10:25 AM.
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Sep 16th, 2018, 10:25 AM
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There are two Hubs very near the Abbey, one is called 'Westminster St James's' and one 'Westminster Abbey'. Both are very well located. Probably the very best located Hub is in Covent Garden. It is in St Martin's Lane just steps from many theatres, restaurants, Trafalgar Square, Leicester Sq, National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery etc etc. Any of the three would be great. There are also convenient Hubs in Bloomsbury near Kings Cross and the British Museum, and one near the Tower of London.
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Sep 16th, 2018, 12:03 PM
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For info on trains for day trips check National Rail Enquiries - Official source for UK train times and timetables and look for cheaper tickets than walk-up though they may have restrictions on time of use, etc.
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Sep 16th, 2018, 01:09 PM
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The Premier Inn hubs are specifically designed with very small rooms - small even for London. May be OK for singles, but reading the reviews it sounds like a window may not be guaranteed. I would not call the King's Cross hub Bloomsbury.
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Sep 16th, 2018, 03:03 PM
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I’ve been to both Bath and Brighton. Bath is great. Brighton is interesting if you have something you really want to see, but I wouldn’t go off season again. I’m not sure if it would be worth the money to you, but I’d do a day trip—or if possible, even better would be an overnight trip—to York, which I absolutely loved.

Buy your day trip rail tickets ahead of time for the best rates.

There’s so much to see in London—you really need a guide book and map that out before you plan on any day trips at all. 9 days sounds like a lot of time, but there are so many magnificent neighborhoods and museums in just London that you may not want to do those day trips.

there’s the secret cottage Cotswolds tours—I never managed to book that, but it seemed the best way to do the Cotswolds without a car.

https://www.cotswoldtourismtours.co.uk/
marvelousmouse is online now  
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Sep 16th, 2018, 05:02 PM
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>>I would not call the King's Cross hub Bloomsbury.<<

It is actually in Torrington Place very near the British Museum and just around the corner from Goodge Street station. So probably technically Fitzrovia
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Sep 16th, 2018, 05:08 PM
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Torrington Place is the Goodge Street one. The King's Cross hub is on Wharfedale Rd. For some reason there is no Tripadvisor listing for Goodge St.

I think York is a bit far for a day trip, especially as there is plenty to see.
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Sep 16th, 2018, 05:56 PM
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The Hub hotel rooms are small but extremely well designed. And they weren't that small. I think for two people it would be a bit cramped (although I would probably stay there with my husband next time we are both in London) but for one person it was fine. The room I had did have a window - no real view of anything but you could see the tops of a few buildings and at least there was daylight and you could tell what the weather was. The breakfast was 6£ extra but very much worth it I felt (and I'm really cheap).
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Sep 16th, 2018, 07:35 PM
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I also agree with others, use the underground, do not waste time and money on the Hop On/Hop Off. I takes forever to get anyplace. I used google every night to find the best/closets tube stop to where we wanted to go, the lines we needed to use and so on. My friend and I were in London last fall for two weeks and trust me, the time just flew by. You don't have as much time as you think you do. Also, regarding the tube and trains, there are people there whose job it is is to help you so if you are lost, have questions, just ask. They have yellow vests on.

Just FYI, we took a day tour to Windsor, Stonehenge, and Bath and it was fine. I would love to return to Bath with more time, very charming town. I had been to London twice before and never went to Stonehenge, always called it a pile of rocks. I decided to see it this trip (not sure I will ever get back) and honestly I am so glad I did. It really is an impressive site.

We also did a lot of theater and I wish we had done more. We saw six musicals. We went to Leicester Square and got tickets, you can buy them ahead also so you don't have to go back there every day, and compared to here in the states, good seats were so cheap. I think about equal to 65.00 was the most we paid and it was usually around 35 or 40. We usually got first or second row balcony, our preference.

We went out to Hampton Court and our Oyster Card was good on the train. I'm a Tudor "freak" so Hampton Court was a must for me this trip.

I would suggest you get a guid book or use the internet and make a list of the things you want to see, starting with the "must" do's and then adding on other things and then do what you can starting with what is most important. You can find yourself spending a lot of time in some places even if you didn't mean to in the beginning.
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Sep 17th, 2018, 03:27 AM
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All good advice above
https://www.traveline.info/ works a bit better than rome2rio in the UK, the quality of the data seems more accurate with less need to click through and check that they've not confused a weekday timetable with a Sunday one for example and they manage festival days more accurately.
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Sep 17th, 2018, 06:03 AM
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HOHO buses in London are crowded. There is no need to go for those HOHO ones as the public transport is way too good over there.
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Sep 17th, 2018, 09:38 AM
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No don't use HOHO buses just to get to attractions - many folks say like travfreak they are crowded - use them for an orientation to London perhaps with commentary but not if goal is just to get to sights - public transit yes superb.
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Sep 17th, 2018, 02:42 PM
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I've never stayed in a Premier Hub but it appears to be a less expensive copy of Citizen M which I have used several times. I think that it's a great concept as many people favour a top location and a well designed, clean, new room over size. And tech like check in kiosks, etc. Just like Citizen M, they seem to push the mattress, shower and cool social public areas. All London Hubs are very well located for anyone wanting a good central location (Goodge Street, Covent Garden, or Kings Cross would probably be my choices - maybe Spitalfields too).

Premier Inn (not specifically Hub) can actually be a lot better than many tired UK hotels costing much more. I would expect Hub to be good value and just plain "good".

Perhaps they can rethink the big TV as I don't think this is really valued by this target market (good wifi is all that's needed).

Also agree with HOHO not being a good idea. Regular London buses have come a long way to being tourist friendly (as long as you have an Oyster card or a Contactless cc). In fact many of the top tourist attractions are located very close to one another so you don't even need the bus to visit many attractions - for example, attractions/museums/restaurants around Leicester Square, Covent Garden, Trafalgar Square, Chinatown, Soho, South Bank/Tate Modern/London Eye, and more are easily walkable. And walkers can extend this perimeter out much further without it being too taxing. Tourists often do not realise just how close many of these things are and they unnecessarily endure the overheads of public transport (planning routes, finding bus stops and waiting, descending and ascending the Underground, etc).
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Sep 17th, 2018, 03:47 PM
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Buses are often easier to use for fairly close together sites than the Tube - having to navigate long steps and escalators to get in and out and from the upper deck of London buses a great view. Yes as others have said regular buses can be better than HOHO buses which cost a ton.
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Sep 18th, 2018, 01:23 AM
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Plus on a normal bus you don't usually get some moron droning on about some made up script of "history" while 20 tourists rush from side to side

Last edited by moderator8; Sep 18th, 2018 at 06:26 PM.
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