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sohoprom Jan 9th, 2011 08:36 AM

NYC to London, Christmas vacation 2011 advice please
I'm considering a four or five day London vacation with my daughter who will be 19 for Christmas holiday 2011...

First of all, when can I book air and hotel? Do I have to wait a few months?

Second, any suggestion as for a few economical but convenient hotels or b&b's, not too far from the London action...

I haven't been to London since 1979.


RainyDay09 Jan 9th, 2011 09:16 AM

Hi sohoprom, we did a Christmas Day through New Year vacation this year and you have to take advice you get from Fodorites with a grain of salt. I am coming from a perspective of a mid-30s professional couple and we had a great time. Some Fodorites were talking me out of taking the trip during this time, because many venues are closed on Christmas Day. In fact, the whole city is quiet and public transportation is shut down, which presents its challenges. On the other hand, it is a wonderful time to walk around without major crowds. There were still lots of European tourists there: Italians and French seem to dominate. When exactly are you thinking of going? 4-5 days seems a bit short. What are your priorities?

sohoprom Jan 9th, 2011 10:53 AM

thinking of flying day after XMAS, staying for 4-5 days, and as we are New Yorkers (for better or worse) we're not so much into the tourist stuff, more into hanging out people watching, hitting pubs (I have to assume she can drink beer at 19?), and maybe see some theatre, maybe a concert...

really looking for a lodging recommendation, I stayed in Earl's Court in 1979...


nytraveler Jan 9th, 2011 11:55 AM

If you only have 5 days organize it so you arrive after Boxing Day - so you don;t lose 2 of your very few days to times when everything is closed. Arrange to arrive on the 27th - or else go by the 18th or so.

janisj Jan 9th, 2011 12:51 PM

"<i>you have to take advice you get from Fodorites with a grain of salt. . . . Some Fodorites were talking me out of taking the trip during this time, because many venues are closed on Christmas Day.</i>"

RainyDay -- really who tried to talk you out of your trip? None that I remember. We DID tell you nothing was open on Christmas Day -- and nothing is. But no one sensible said not to visit over the holidays.

sohoprom: If it was me -- I'd plan on arriving ON Boxing Day (but then that requires flying out on Christmas Day so you may not want to do that). Reason being -- arrival day is often pretty much lost to jet lag and just getting acclimated. So you could get that out of the way on Boxing Day when some things are still closed. But arriving on the 27th would certainly be OK too.

I would not (me personally) stay in Earls Court -- there are many nicer/better located neighborhoods. Can't help much w/hotels w/o your actual budget. 'Economical' means different things to different people.

suite7 Jan 9th, 2011 01:32 PM

I spend every Christmas week in London, leave the US the day after Christmas. This year took my two nieces and put them in the Beaufort Hotel in Knightsbridge which is lovely, 3 blocks from Harrod's. (I stay across the Street at the Knightsbridge but it's pricier). Knightsbridge can be quiet at night...but I like it that way. You may want to stay in a livelier area, but I would not stay in Earl's Court, either. A friend just stayed at The Indigo at Paddington, and loved it. You may be into hanging out but it would be a terrible shame if your daughter didn't see at least some of the incredible and fascinating things there are in London, including Tower of London, The Cabinet War Rooms, Westminster Abbey, The London Eye. Soho, Covent Garden and chinatown are super lively at night. The tube is a breeze. Stay away from Oxford and Regent streets. Absolute nightmare, it's so crowded, and it's just stores we have here, anyway. You can always hang out in a pub at night...but don't miss the sights!

RainyDay09 Jan 9th, 2011 05:53 PM

One of the locals we met at a bar near Covent Garden recommended Regent's Park area as a centrally located area with inexpensive hotels. Personally, I don't know too much about it, but I found some B&Bs for under $100/night (not GBP).
@janisj, I was not referring to you in my earlier comments, more alanRow.

sohoprom Jan 10th, 2011 04:34 AM

Thanks everyone. I'm not going back to Earl's Court then...


alanRow Jan 10th, 2011 04:43 AM

"One of the locals we met at a bar near Covent Garden recommended Regent's Park area as a centrally located area with inexpensive hotels."

Have a look at a map of London - Regents Park is not a "centrally located area" - especially if you end up to the north of the park where the only places easily accessible are the zoo & Camden Lock markets (walk along the canal for 25 minutes).

To me a centrally located area would have a number of major attractions on the doorstep & several Tube routes which take you to most of the others.

travelgourmet Jan 10th, 2011 05:37 AM

1) You will likely need to wait another couple of weeks before you can actually book flights. Most carriers only release tickets up to 330 days out, so you are a bit early.

For practical purposes, however, I don't think you need to rush, and suspect that the best deals will happen quite a bit closer to the departure date. I would watch airfares for a while before jumping on anything. There was a time not so long ago that you could find flights for as low as $400 in the dead of winter, but I would probably be happy with something in the $600-range today. You might also keep an eye out for air + lodging specials - BA will sometimes run those.

2) As for where to stay, I prefer something more central than Regents Park. Intelligent use of Priceline will likely get you something cheaper and better-located than anything you will find via normal booking channels, unless you are willing to compromise on something like en-suite facilities, and even then... There are folks here that can give you guidance on Priceline in London.

If you won't/can't go with Priceline (though I think it offers great value for London), then I would think we would need your budget before we could give you good advice.

sohoprom Jan 10th, 2011 05:42 PM

A budget is hard to articulate, but... If I were staying in Portland I'd say my budget would be $100 each for two rooms, and since I'm going with my 18 year old daughter, a two bedroom might be good, so in essence $200 a night for one or two rooms, however, in London that might not be realistic at all, so it's hard for me to give a budget.

As a New Yorker I can only guess what a room for $100 a night would get me in Manhattan.

janisj Jan 10th, 2011 05:55 PM

"<i>it's hard for me to give a budget.</i>"

By giving an amount you are willing to spend -- or a range. What a room costs in Portland or Des Moines or Tallahassee has no relation to costs in any other city.

"<i>As a New Yorker I can only guess what a room for $100 a night would get me in Manhattan.</i>"

Same goes for London - both cities have expensive accommodations. One big difference-- if you have a low budget like that $100 a night, Priceline is very good in London compared to NYC. Very good 3 and 4 star properties <i>can</i> be won for $100 (or even less) for a double/twin. It is just that you won't know which hotel it is until after it is paid for.

Another good thing about PL -- you will always get a double/twin for essentially the cost of a 2 star single. And a 2 star single would be very small.

alanRow Jan 11th, 2011 12:07 AM

"because many venues are closed on Christmas Day."

Many in this case means 99.99% of all attractions are closed - this includes museums, galleries, theatres, cinemas, shops.

Transport is virtually non-existent except to/from LHR/LGW

Unless you want to take pot luck and eat at any open ethnic restaurants you have to pre-book at restaurants (which in any case need to be near your hotel as you'll be walking).

RainyDay09 Jan 11th, 2011 07:14 PM

That is such B.S. about needing to pre-book a restaurant. Plenty of pubs and restaurants were open and didn't require reservations on Christmas Day. I think there is room for diversity of opinions. There is perspective of single 60-somethings with plenty of time to travel and no obligations, other than a cat. Then, there are working folks, who only get a certain amount of time off and need to make the best of it.

alihutch Jan 12th, 2011 12:24 AM

I live in the UK and would always book for Christmas Day. PS I don't pre book restaurants for holidays....

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