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Overnight Trip before Leaving from Gatwick

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Nov 8th, 2005, 09:30 AM
  #1
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Overnight Trip before Leaving from Gatwick

Hello,

I will be in London for business for a week in early December and have extended my trip by approximately one and a half days (all the time I could manage). After being in London several times in the last few years, I would like to spend one night outside the city and am looking for suggestions. Here is what I am hoping to find:

- Someplace where I won't need a car
- Someplace with easy access (by train) to Gatwick the next day
- Someplace with nice scenery and pretty walks (weather permitting)
- Good shopping would be nice, but is not crucial
- A comfortable place to stay - perhaps even a resort hotel that will be reasonable in the off-season

I appreciate any and all suggestions you may have.

Thank you!

Alexa
wasinla is offline  
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Nov 8th, 2005, 12:01 PM
  #2
 
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Hi Alexa,

Why not spend your day in Brighton, Sussex on the coast. You can get a train from Victoria Station in London to there (just over an hour). Its a bustling seaside town full of character with some good hotels and lots of shops. Its not in the country but the train takes about 1/2 hour to Gatwick from Brighton. Everything is within walking distance. Parts of it are very old with whats called 'The Lanes' which are full of old antique shops. It also has the Royal Pavilion which is really interesting. Have a look at Brighton's tourist website. Good luck.
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Nov 9th, 2005, 01:49 AM
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The good news is that Gatwick has terrific connections to lots of places that almost meet your brief. The bad news is that you're asking for the mutually incompatible. And, BTW, August is the only off-season in SE England outside London.

Also by definition, there's nowhere that's "in the country" and has good shopping.

Brighton (and other similar towns with train links to Gatwick, like Oxford or St Albans) is a great town. But it's also very, very urban. You CAN get out to excellent walks (there's a truly wonderful one along the Seven Sisters cliffs that is accessible by public transport from Brighton). But it'll be dark by 1630 (and the SS walk is one I absolutely wouldn't do even in twilght), and only you can work out the practicalities of getting the few miles out, doing the walk and meeting your timescales.

I'd suggest three alternative strategies:

- accept you can't do one of the things. Bailiffscourt Hotel is the only resorty place I can think of offhand that's really close to a railway station AND is close to rural (Anywhere in what's been Europe's richest region for the past 150 years that's had a railway station only stays rural if there's some very special reason). But there's no shopping (not even a convenience store if you get the munchies) for miles. Alternatively there's the ever so twee Rye (2 hrs by train from Gatwick), but I'm not sure about its walking options.

- do more research. The Time Out Book of Country Walks has 52 walks within about an hour by train from central London. Roughly half of them use stations with reasonably good connections to Gatwick, and all start from a (generally urban) railway station with good and quick footpath access into unspoilt countryside. Assume they'll all, these days, have a decent vaguely ancient hotel. But even in midweek they'll likely be getting all the business they need from sales conferences and offsites, and you'll almost certainly be paying what British corporate head offices regard as reasonable. The bargains you can find on Priceline for central London are seldom on offer in SE England outside the capital, except in the naffest Hilton Nationals in the suburbs of Watford. You may find deals on Sunday nights though.

- compromise. The area to the S and SE of London has lots of pretty towns, with excellent (if often crowded) train connections, that are now rather suburbanised but have heavily protected buildings and countryside. Sevenoaks and Dorking, for example, both have extraordinarily good 6-15 mile circular walks through almost unurbanised country that start in the middle of the town - but feel within a few hundred yards as if you're hundreds of miles from habitation. Dorking, in particular, also has really outstanding antique and similar shops - though most other shopping in all these semi-suburban towns is pretty Identikit, and you'll find the same chains, but with VAT-free prices, at Gatwick. Actually LGW is really a shopping mall that operates flights as a sideline.

- I'd discount the Gatwick area itself. The countryside within ten miles or so of Gatwick, though possibly a tad manicured, is really excellent and I always seem to be driving past lots of pleasant-ish hotels in lovely surroundings within a reasonably affordable cab ride of the airport. But I've never found much by way of footpaths, and unless you know the area well, you can easily book yourself into somewhere dismally close to the maw around Crawley.

It's odd this question has sparked so few answers. With luck, bringing it back up again will provoke a few more.
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Nov 9th, 2005, 03:21 AM
  #4
 
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Hi ...

Have you thought about going to Bath ? Roman baths & all ... doable by train .... can spend a day there ... couple of hours from london.
Mark
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Nov 9th, 2005, 05:07 AM
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flanner's post gives you some of the best advice you will get - including the "why's". The combination of things you want would be very hard to find in most parts of the UK, but especially so in the southeast.

Country walks + resort + trains/Gatwick + shopping + a pretty tall order.

Now interestingly one place I thought of is actually w/i London. Hampstead Heath is a magnificent "country park" right in town. Staying in Hampstead village (or in parts of nearby Highgate) would give you an entirely different feel than urban central London. And except for the top of Parliament Hill w/ its amazing view of all of London, you would not have any idea you were in a city.

But it sounds like you really want to get out of town - if so, then just follow flanneruk's advice - and you would not go wrong if you chose Dorking.
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Nov 9th, 2005, 07:00 AM
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Thank you for the replies.

Smudger, I am very tempted by Brighton, but would like to hold out, if possible, for something slower and quieter (I get plenty of bustling cities in my work and personal life!)

Flanneruk -- thank you for the great ideas and I admit to seeking advice here before even cracking open a book. The Bailiffscourt Hotel actually sounded perfect (a type of place I hadn't even realized that I wanted), but they don't have anything available on my date.

Does anyone have ideas for similar, resort hotels? I will start researching Bath -- I was there as a teenager, but don't remember much about it at all.

Alexa
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Nov 9th, 2005, 11:44 PM
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Can't help you on other hotels (Loathe hotels, especially in England, and try whenever possible to avoid them. In SE England, that means organising things to get back to my own bed each night)

But there are lots of people on this board with intimate knowledge of all the comfy retreats within 100 miles of central London. You'll attract their attention through another post with a more suitable title.

I'd suggest you leave Gatwick out of the title. You can get to LGW by public transport (usually train) in two hours or less from virtually any station inside a box drawn from Southampton to Oxford to Watford to the Thames to Hastings, using the direct trains from Southampton, Portsmouth, Reading, Bedford, Watford, Hastings or Brighton (though timings may be fiddly early in the morning)

And "resort hotel" or "resort" when used by a hotel to describe itself is a piece of American jargon that's usually misunderstood in real English. In our language it conveys images of concrete resorts on the Costa del Pissedi Briti, and when asked about resort hotels we'll instinctively think about the sort of places in Brighton or Southsea you're probably desperate to avoid.
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Nov 10th, 2005, 10:12 AM
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Hi wasinia.

I love Sussex and would agree with those have suggested Brighton. Stay there and walk along the coast to Rottingdean. I live in Belfast but my mun lives in Hove and this is walk I do every time I visit (particularly in Winter when there a few tourists and the waves hit the cliffs with force). You can walk along the beach for a bit but most of the walk is on the main road. The road is not very busy and the views are wonderful (IMO). Rottingdean is a lovely village,Kipling once lived there. You can then take the frequent bus back to Brighton.

Along the Prom to 'The White Houses in Shorham' (where Paul McCartney and Zoe Ball live) is another lovely walk.

Lots of shopping in 'The lanes'

Check out the Grand and the Metropole for prices (they have, I think, been taken over but you should be able to get a price on line using their old names. Make sure you get a room with a sea view as the sea can be really rough in December - wonderful!).

Hope this helps
Brighton has lots of shopping and hotels such as
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