Questions about London

Old Oct 4th, 2000, 06:13 AM
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Questions about London

I am looking to make a trip to London. I live in the US, and have never been overseas before. I have a couple of questions that I need help with. Sorry if I sound silly, but this was the best place I knew to ask.

When is the best time of year to go?
When can I get the best airfare?
Do I need to rent a car?
Good places to stay? Not too expensive!

Thanks for any help!
Old Oct 4th, 2000, 06:36 AM
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You won't need a car if you're just planning to do London.

The best time of year to go and the best airfares don't necessarily coincide. If you don't care about weather, go in November or February for the best airfares. I personally would go in early October or May--probably good weather, less crowded than the summer.

Can't help you on places to stay. There are a gazillion.
Old Oct 4th, 2000, 06:44 AM
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First off - relax - London is a great place to go. (I went there for my first trip to Europe too.)

-- NO - you do not need (or want) a car while you are in London - Tubes & Buses work great. Before you go - talk to a travel agent (or check online) about a LONDON VISITOR CARD. It will allow you to hop on and off both the tube & buses at will.

-- Be a little wary of CHEAP rooms in London - I found that paying a little more is better than staying in a dump.
( I stayed near Victoria Station, and found it VERY convienent for tubes/buses / walking to the palace)

-- I went in March - a little cool, but not too crowded. A friend went in Sept. - more crowded , but better weather.

--Right now Northwest is having a special from the states - around $450 roundtrip if you go before the end of Feb. 01.

good luck
post back if you have any more questions.

Old Oct 4th, 2000, 06:59 AM
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Buy Eyewitness Travel Guide - London and it will give you all info you want.
Stay close to Tube stations.
Old Oct 4th, 2000, 07:15 AM
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I think you can do better than $450 to London, if you're leaving from the East Coast, particularly between October and Feb 1. Check with Virgin, BA and United. They typically have the best fares. Avoid the flights that route you through Iceland. It wastes too much of your vacation time.
Old Oct 4th, 2000, 07:26 AM
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Thanks for the info so far...please keep it coming!

Just for further info...I am flying from the east coast, and I haven't picked a month yet. When I'm going is flexible.
Old Oct 4th, 2000, 07:55 AM
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There are so many places to stay in London and everyone has a different opinion. We always stay in an apartment so I'm not much help with that but I believe there are umpteen places in Bayswater and around Victoria Station that are "reasonable" by London standards. London is an expensive city, hotel rooms are generally small and you pay quite a bit for them.

We prefer April or early May, it's pleasant weather wise and the flowers, etc. are in bloom. Weather can be iffy any time fo the year tho.

You absolutely do not need a car in London trust me on that! Public transportation is super wonderful. Get a week (7 day) pass for the Underground & bus system (covers Zone 1 which is what you will most likely need) and pop on and off all day long if you wish. Day trips outside of London can be made by train --let us know what you are interested in seeing and we'll tell you how to get there!

While I do not generally recommend tours you might consider contacting the airlines and asking about their "hosted" trips - they include air, hotel and transportation to/from airport, as well as a 1/2 day sightseeing tour of London. Since this is your first trip it might be a wise idea for your to look into, altho London is very easy to plan on your own.
Old Oct 4th, 2000, 08:05 AM
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Debbie: You said you stay near Victoria Station. May I ask where? I never hear anyone recommend that area (except me). We stayed on Ebury and thought the locale was good, but (again) I never hear that area touted, until now. Also, if you could, what is the price range of the hotel(s) you stay in.... Thanks.
Old Oct 4th, 2000, 08:30 AM
David White
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You're getting some good advice from other usually happens on this forum!

I agree that, if you want a real bargain airfare, you should go in the dead of winter. London is not terribly cold, but it winters are often damp and very cool...great weather for visiting museums, having tea, doing some shopping, touring the inside of places like Westminster Abbey, etc.

But if money isn't your only concern, mid-to-late Spring is great (as is mid-Fall). London's gardens and parks are superb and with better weather you'll feel more inclined to walk around the city.

Starting in June, especially after June 15, crowds of Americans head across the pond...airplanes are packed, airfares go up, and London's sights all have lines. July and August are the worst (although you can sometimes get good rates at hotels that cater to business travelers during their "off" month in August).

Where to stay? London hotels are expensive, and many of them are substandard. I would suggest that you stay in as central an area as you can afford. That way you won't have to commute on the Tube or bus every day to get to the core of London's tourist sights. One place that has become very popular is the Travel Inn County Hall: right on the river, walking distance to Big Ben. They have modern rooms for £70 per night. (
At any rate, be very wary of tourist class hotels in London...some are fine, many are shabby.

Hope this helps.


David White

Old Oct 4th, 2000, 08:34 AM
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Hi Deb
London is a great place to get your feet wet (and you will!) for European travel.
I have had 60 degree F sunny temps in the last week of Feb in London as well as in Sept, so the weather is unpredictable.
There is an occasional heatwave in the summer, but you can always count on some rain. One year I went to Wimbledon in late June and temps varied from upper 60s to 80s in the same week!
You don't need a car, and there are still plenty of daytrips you can take by train or bus, depending on how long your trip will be. For a first visit, I'd recommend at least 5 full days in London itself, and that will just leave you eager for more. A couple of more days will allow for a couple of day trips, so
a 7-9 day trip would be great.
London is a pretty expensive place in general, so you'll need to work out a budget as to how much you can spend on a hotel and other expenses.
There are many budget hotel suggestions available on this forum if you search under London hotel. I have a pretty extensive London travel file which I can send to you via email; if you'd like to see it, email me.
Old Oct 4th, 2000, 08:48 AM
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Jeff ( et al.)
I stayed at the Harcourt House on Ebury - It was AWFUL - I would never in a million years stay there again - Thus my theory that a decent room is well worth it.
My Mom was there a few years before me, and stayed at the Ruebens ( which I found out later was not that much more than the dump I was in!) - and LOVED it . Still very central - on the other side of Victoria Station by a few blocks.

ALSO - if you decide to do as I did - take the train to BATH and stay for a night or two at the VILLA MAGDALA - wonderful place, great hosts, beautiful town. I would rather be there than London! (their website is

BRITAIN BY BRITRAIL is a very helpful book that helped me plan train trips out of London & all around England. Check it out.

bon voyage!
Old Oct 4th, 2000, 09:44 AM
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Deb, Based on my experience (been there on six trips), I would go either in the fall or spring when it's not too crowded and humid. No rental car is necessary and I wouldn't drive there anyway! I recommend that you stay near a tube for easy transportation. I like the South Kensingston area near Cromwell Rd. and Gloucester Rd.
Old Oct 4th, 2000, 09:49 AM
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hi deb.. i am making my second trip to london next week.. both times i chose oct to go..the weather was good and there were no lines to get into anything. i have stayed in two different areas, bayswater and bloomsbury.. i liked bloomsbury best..close to everything and less crowded.
as far as airfare goes, i just browsed the net 'til i found the best price and bought it..takes time but it worked well.
as far as driving goes, unless you're a daredevil, dont even attempt it, the traffic is crazy there!!! the train is sooo easy to use, you can take day trips to just about any where.
email me if you have any questions.
Old Oct 4th, 2000, 10:08 AM
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Deb, you can really believe Russ when he wrote the following (and I have been in London ten times):
Based on my experience (been there on six trips), I would go either in the fall or spring when it's not too crowded and humid. No rental car is necessary and I wouldn't drive there anyway! I recommend that you stay near a tube for easy transportation.

If you take that as god's gospel, then you can do all your planning on top of that.

I also completely agree with not spending too LITTLE money on a room because if you do, then it will be depressing. That happened to me the last time.

If you are in a hurry to go, then you could go in early Nov. this year or April-May of 2001. Those times would be perfect, for all the reasons people have already explained.

I have been in London in December, January and February and had driving rain and cold weather and enjoyed myself enormously anyway. Of course, you don't want to CHOOSE that, but my point is that a little coolish, damp weather in Nov, April or early May will be fine in order to avoid the horrid crowds of summer!
Old Oct 4th, 2000, 01:12 PM
Beth Anderson
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I just got back, and have a few suggestions BUT the business card for the one B&B is at home.

I have stayed in a B&B in a very lovely area twice now - near Golders Green tube. Not exactly central, but, not completely off the beaten path, there are some very nice reasons to stay out of the center of town - for one, you get to see a part of London you might not otherwise see!

let's face it, you're going to go to the central parts daily anyway... on one trip I spent a good part of my time just walking through the neighborhoods in North London - really lovely! it's about a 20-25 minute ride to the mid-part of town. not too bad at all.

anyway, their number is 181-455-1417. Give them a call, Rosy and Simon Gill are the owners. The prices run from 25-35 pounds (as of a year ago) and the house is truly lovely and in a posh area of town.

another B&B, which I have not seen but I have met the owner - is on the South Bank, near the Thames. It sounded quite lovely. The owner is one of the London Walks guides, named Richard. I will try to find the info for you. I would heartily suggest you go on a London Walks tour - their website is if I am not
mistaken. or try maybe.

as far as time-wise, I have been there several different months now and there is no way to predict the weather. I have been there in February and had sun the ENTIRE time with 50 degree days, and I have been there in September (this year) with 65-70 degree days but it rained half the time (daily, half the day, except for my first and last days which were GORGEOUS).

if you are not leaving London, don't bother with a car. we are heading into the good airfare season. you should be able to go for around 300 or less, plus taxes (about 95 bucks or so).

I didn't mind Icelandair the one time I used it - I thought it was nice actually but I do agree, there is a small layover & it adds an hour or more to your flight time (plus the layover). you don't have far to go in the airport though so you could just hang on the couches (there are 6 gates in that airport!)

my rules on going to a slightly out of the way airport, (such as BWI - I live in metro DC are) - if it's a savings of more than 100 bucks, I might consider it. for layovers, at least 100 and probably 150 in savings to make it worth my while. otherwise, don't bother. if you are going to save 50 bucks to sit in Rejkavik for 2-3 hours, is it really worth it? same thing for the hassle of getting to BWI or asking a friend to come get you - is it worth it?

good luck!

Old Oct 5th, 2000, 02:31 PM
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If you're looking for inexpensive, try I took their London package last year in Feb (cool, but the weather never interfered with my plans) and had a great time. Much of what you'll do on your first trip to London will be inside anyway. The hotel I stayed in with my package was near the Notting Hill/Queensway tube stations. I went by myself, walked around at night and never felt unsafe. The hotel was basic, but clean and safe. The posters above had it right. Rule #1 don't go with a super cheap room - there's a reason why it's so cheap (I've made this mistake in London). Rule #2 stay near a tube station - it will make touring around much more effecient and a bit easier on your feet!
Old Oct 5th, 2000, 05:50 PM
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I just returned from London last week for the first time. DO NOT rent a car. There is alot of construction going on and even the locals don't try to tackle the roads. You can get taxi's, buses, and the tube almost anywhere. I walked almost everywhere and only took the tube in the evenings. My suggestion regarding hotels is find a place near a station - Victoria or Waterloo are good locations. Be careful of "cheap" hotels. They are cheap for a reason. I could go on and on. If you want to hear more just e-mail me. Have a good time! My airfare was $600 in September, I heard that the highest rates are during the summer months. Take an umbrella!
Old Oct 6th, 2000, 06:09 AM
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London is my favorite city (I just got back from my 4th trip in 5 years). I have been there twice at the end of March, once in May, and this time in September. The weather was definitely better in May and September but March was actually fine. I have stayed in Bayswater and Bloomsbury and find Bloomsbury more convenient (near several tube stations and you can walk places from there too).

Check out British Airways packages. Even when they don't have special sales, they usually have packages that include air, hotel, and sometimes transfers to and from the airport. I agree with everybody about not needing a car. The public transportation is fabulous and the travelcards make it easy and convenient.

Have a great trip!

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