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sctroyenne Oct 20th, 2007 11:39 PM

Possible London Sidetrips
My work offers a program for free hotel stays during the winter, which I'm taking advantage of for a trip to London and Paris this December.

I was interested in taking a 2 day sidetrip from London as I have been before and there happens to be 2 days I can't get free in London. I can get free stays in Derby, Reading, or Grantham. I would also have the option of one night in Swindon.

From what I've seen, these places don't seem terribly exciting or charming (at least when travelling without a car). Does anyone think they're worth the free trip or would it be better to just pay for 2 nights in London? I can also get a discount for 2 nights in Maidstone, which looks interesting.

Any help is appreciated, thanks!

Morgana Oct 21st, 2007 12:36 AM

I agree - not the most exciting of lists!
Definitely not Grantham - often voted the most boring town in Britain.
I might be tempted by Derby though - have a look at this -

alanRow Oct 21st, 2007 03:22 AM

I'd consider Swindon - you can reach Bath (30 minutes by train) & Stonehenge / Salisbury / Avebury (local buses) easily from there

Nonconformist Oct 21st, 2007 04:57 AM

Reading is half an hour by train from Oxford, about the same from Windsor, and 40 mins from Winchester, all interesting places with lots to see.

chimani Oct 21st, 2007 06:00 AM

I find myself wondering, as I often do, whether any of the respondents so far have been north of Watford Gap. It's quite common for a British southerner not to have done so, even more the case for visiting expert Americans.

If you are a neo-con, op, you will adore Grantham, seeing as it is the
birthplace of the sainted MT - or the witch as I prefer to call her.

The other, more important, thing in its favour is that you can reach York in 1.75 hours or less, depending on the train. But best of all, if you can, hire a car, get yourself an OS map, and go for a wander through the fens thereabouts. Don't miss Stamford - glorious and not inundated with tourist coaches like Oxford, Bath, etc.

Morgana Oct 21st, 2007 06:03 AM

Chimani, I live in North Yorkshire.

janisj Oct 21st, 2007 06:06 AM

None of them are great places to stay (no wonder you get them for free )

But as mentioned, some are good hubs for doing day trips from by train.

Reading and Swindon are good as already mentioned for places like Bath, Avebury/Salisbury/Stonehenge, Oxford etc. Derby is a jumping off place for the Peak District - but not so much in December. Grantham - they should pay you :)

Of those I'd probably choose Reading - or Swindon if the hotel choice was nicer.

dutyfree Oct 21st, 2007 06:39 AM

Your best bet is to get the books; Daytrips from London or Daytrips from Paris by E. Steinbacker(sp?). These books are wonderful as they have all sorts of daytrips from these cities along with a map of the town;how to get there-what to see,etc.Some of the daytrips include reasonable housing and eating suggestions too.

rogeruktm Oct 21st, 2007 07:21 AM

Free is good, but why not spring for two nights out of your own pocket and stay in a place you would enjoy more.

dropeverything Oct 21st, 2007 01:42 PM

Hi sctroyenne,

Instead of letting the hotel locations dictate your itinerary, it might be better to base yourself in London and choose a couple of interesting day trips out.

My blog may be of interest to you -


PS If you do decide to stay in one of the four towns you mentioned, I would recommend hiring a car as this will allow you to explore the surrounding countryside (Derby is not far from the Peak District - beautiful, Swindon is close to the Uffington White Horse, and Reading has the Thames Valley nearby)

sctroyenne Oct 21st, 2007 06:23 PM

Thanks everyone - lots of very good information. As I thought, these locations would be better as jumping off points rather than destinations themselves.

Some of the suggested walks through the Peak District looked very nice (David - those are lovely pictures!), though it may be too cold and rainy. Sounds like Reading/Swindon would be best for the variety as I do have difficulty deciding things.

Fortunately I got a great location in Paris, so that will be much easier to plan.

tamarackidaho Oct 21st, 2007 09:29 PM

Don't completely overlook YOrk in the winter - it doesn't get that cold, and it's great for two days or so. Granted, it's a trip, but as tourism goes, personally I think it's way more interesting than the Lake District.

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