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mtngal76 Feb 4th, 2007 09:02 PM

Some Advice on 1st time in London
Hello I am taking my first trip out of the states to London in March. I only just found this forum and wish I had found it sooner :-)

I have been planning out what I want to see and feel pretty confidante in my itinerary but I do have two questions...

1. I have already booked my hotel I researched on my own but having seen so many good suggestions on this forum I wanted to see if anyone has had any experience with it or have heard any complaints or good reviews of it.

2. I will be staying in London for 6 nights and have planned a trip to Stonehenge for one of the days. Would a second day trip be too much? I was hoping to try and see Windsor Castle but I don't want to over tax myself by adding too many out of the city trips. Also my main reason for wanting to see it is because I figure I should get to a castle since I'm in England is Windsor the best one to see close to London or is there a better choice nearby.

Thanks in advance for the help. This place has a lot of good tips and suggestions that I plan on using for my trip.

Merseyheart Feb 4th, 2007 09:20 PM

I have no personal experience with the hotel you mention. I do advise, however, that you avoid another day trip! London is *huge*, and you'll find plenty to do in the five days you're there, if you insist on including Stonehenge. I haven't been there myself, but I hear that it's hard to reach by public transportation. I hope you've researched that.

Research the tube, the parks, the theatre, the shopping, and the museums you prefer to see. Remember, it often takes 30-45 minutes to travel from point A to point B in London, so when you're planning your days, leave some room to wander, eat, and just drink in the atmosphere.

janisj Feb 4th, 2007 09:24 PM

I don't know the hotel personally but I do know its location (I usually rent a flat about a 5 or 6 minute walk south of there towards the river). It is very convenient to all sorts of things - just about a 2 minute walk to Victoria station w/ train/tube and bus connections to all parts of London. There is an easyEverything internet cafe less than a 5 min walk. And you will be walking distance to Buckingham Palace, Westminster Cathedral, Westmister Abbey and the river. I assume it is a budget property - the area is full of them, but for location you really couldn't do much better.

As for your day trip(s) -- If it were me I'd go to either Hampton Court Palace or Windsor rather than spending a whole day going to Stonehenge. HCP would be about a full 1/2 day's trip out and back, and Windsor would take a bit longer. But if you've always dreamed of seeing Stonehenge - then go for it and skip the other two.

BTW - the Tower of London is a castle, and is right in the middle of the city. I'd go there for sure.

tod Feb 4th, 2007 09:37 PM

Don't hesitate to visit Windsor Castle!
We simply hopped on the train at Paddington station.
Make it a day trip, explore the castle taking your time.
Meantime, either buy a very good guide book on London ( I personally love the EyeWitness Guide) or get searching on the internet for info on Windsor Castle.

Another lovely day trip is getting a boat ride from Westminster Pier up the Thames to Hampton Court. The trip back maybe by train, as it's a long ride by boat but oh so lovely!

Stonehenge is a must. We took a guided coach tour as I was with my elderly mum.
Wishing you a great time!

fishee Feb 4th, 2007 10:19 PM

If your hotel is asking for 90 GBP/night I really encourage you to use Priceline instead. You can pay much less (and in dollars) and stay in a 3-4* hotel.

For $110 USD I stayed here:

For $95 USD I stayed here:

Jolly St Ermins wasn't great but a totally acceptable room and good service.

try or for help on how to bid.

Madison Feb 4th, 2007 11:07 PM

fishee = the thing is with priceline you can't choose the hotels you want to. You are at the mercy of priceline and if you don't like their choice you are out of luck. Personally, i like picking my own hotels.

Maudie Feb 4th, 2007 11:18 PM

We are going to London too for the first time in May, I thought this might be of interest to you.

They have walks for everyday of the week and also some Explorer Days which go to interesting places.
Have a great time. We intend too!

fishee Feb 4th, 2007 11:34 PM

Sure Madison, but given the expense of hotels in London and the weak dollar, it makes sense to "take a chance" and book a 4* hotel in a central part of London. If you bid strategically and understand the zones, you stay in a *much* nicer hotel for almost half the cost. Since the poster is considering a budget hotel that is more expensive, there isn't much to lose IMO.

People who bid in the last week for dates in March have ended up in the 4* Holiday Inn Kensington and the 4* Hilton Olympia -- their bids were $85 USD. Both of these hotels are a block away from the tube.

PL is great for London since one is never too far from a tube station. Paris -- Priceline is risky given how they created the zones and I'd never do it. But people have had great success in London -- and there are websites that step you though how to do this in an informed manner.

lincasanova Feb 5th, 2007 12:35 AM

save your feet and do not be afraid to try the bus system. it is so nice not to be undeground, and you can just get off if you see a nice shop /musuem you want to spontaneously visit.

the RV1 goes from covent garden across to the london eye.. globe, tate modern and tower hill, sites that can be a little more tedious to get to nearby on tube.

mtngal76 Feb 5th, 2007 07:03 AM

Merseyheart: Thank you for the advice,I defiantly want to see Stonehenge that's a must for me,I have researched it,trains leave Waterloo hourly for Salisbury and buses rum from Salisbury to Stonehenge between 11am and 2pm.

janisj:Thank you for the info on the neighborhood.

fishee: The hotel I mentioned is 65GBP for two of the nights and 55GBP for the other four nights of my stay. I would prefer not to use Priceline for the reason that I have to settle with what they give me,I would much prefer to pick my own hotel and this one is priced just right for me if it is a nice hotel.

Maudie: I was thinking of taking the Jack the Ripper walk one of the nights I'm there :-)

tod and lincasanova: Thank you both for the advice, I'll keep it in mind. I'm defiantly looking forward to walking around I love to walk so that won't be a problem and I live and grew up in a small town have never been on a subway system or city bus before so am looking forward to both of those as well.

I will probably play it by ear on going on a 2nd trip, I might check out Hampton Court since it seems to be a little closer than Windsor and let The Tower be my castle trip this time.

If I have the chance to visit England again I had planned on taking at least one of my kids so I may save the castles for that trip and spend sometime in the countryside.

Daisy54 Feb 5th, 2007 08:41 AM

I have a friend who has stayed there several times and said it was quite OK, not fancy but very nice.

Like the others said, 2 day trips in a 6 day stay may be a bit too much, but if you must do two, I think the ones you've chosen - Stonehenge & Windsor Castle - would be about the two best to pick. Both can be reached by train from London, or by organized tour, but train would be cheaper and give you more flexability. (If you do Stonenenge, take the train to Salisbury and there is a bus that you get right at the train station to go to Stonhenge.)

However if you do only one of those trips, I'd go with Windsor. It's close to London, the castle is huge and impressive, very interesting and historical. The Queen actually lives there though the chances of running into her are slim. The town of Windsor is interesting to browse and shop, and it can all be reached on foot from either of of the 2 train stations - Windsor Central if you board the train at Paddington & change trains at Slough, and Windsor & Eton, if you start out at Waterloo Station, no changes required.

As for "is there a better choice nearby", Windsor is probably among the best in the area though there is also the Tower of London right in London and Hampton Court just outside of town, which are also wonderful places to visit. So with only 6 days in your trip, you are going to have to do some diffucult prioritizing.

Inge_On_The_Go Feb 5th, 2007 08:57 AM

I would recommend visiting Stonehenge and Salisbury through London Walks. Check out for details.

Any of the castles - Tower of London, Hampton Court or Windsor are worth a visit - each for different reasons. Check them out on the web and see if one appeals more to you than the others.


noe847 Feb 5th, 2007 09:15 AM

If Stonehenge is a 'must' for you, I'd say do it the way that you will get to walk among the stones and touch them. The easiest way would be to find a tour company that arranges this; I think Astral Travels is one (maybe the only one?)

Here is a recent thread about visiting Stonehenge with the Inner Circle Access - either with a tour or on your own:;tid=34920375

If you go to see Stonehenge the normal tourist way (on the circular walkway outside a little fence), there is a great chance that you will leave Stonehenge disappointed, as many tourists do.

Michel_Paris Feb 5th, 2007 09:26 AM

Hi mtngal,

When you plan your days, factor into the picture the fact that you will be jetlagged on your first day, plus include travel time from airport to hotel, and then hotel to airport 2-3 hrs before your return...

So your 7 days starts to shrink. For that reason I would not do 2 day trips, and perhaps not even one...unless Stonehedge/castle is one of your dreams, then go for it.

I second the London Walks recommendation, I've taken several and was pleased. If you do the Jack the Ripper, realize it may be VERY crowded.


alanRow Feb 5th, 2007 09:26 AM

Avebury is far better than Stonehenge and is easily combined with a trip to Stonehenge & Salisbury by public transport, let alone a tour

AisleSeat Feb 5th, 2007 10:48 AM

mtngal, Here's something to consider. Even though you only have a short time in London you can do and see a lot. The day-trips are fun.

The best day-trip from London IMHO is PARIS! Catch the chunnel train early in the morning, arrive in Paris 2 1/2 hours later, spend a whirlwind day in Paris seeing what you can then catch the 9pm train back and sleep in the same bed. If you want to go crazy and spend the night in Paris and come back the next day the most you lose is the price of the hotel in London if you keep it.

You will see enough to whet your appetite for the next trip or two.

fmpden Feb 5th, 2007 11:06 AM

I know you indicated that Stonehenge was very high on your list but there is nothing there and you cannot even get close. I know of no way to walk inside. But, since you are going to do, I would suggest looking for a local bus tour via the TI in Victoria Station. We did an all day bus tour that went through Glastonbury, long time in Bath, and a brief stop at Stonehenge. The trip included lunch in Bath and tea in Salisbury. Far more interesting and relaxing than a staight run to Stonehenge and back.

nbujic Feb 5th, 2007 11:16 AM

If you have never been to London and you only have 5 days ( six nights), I don't think you'll have much time for side trips.
just getting around the city( the tube, buses, walking) can wear you down more than you expect .

janisj Feb 5th, 2007 12:02 PM

&quot;<i> I know of no way to walk inside. </i>&quot;

Of course one can. English Heritage has what is called &quot;inside access&quot; periods either in the early morning or in the evening outside of the normal opening hours. However it requires either staying over night in Salisbury and going early in the a.m. or going in the evening and taking a late train back to London. OR you can pay a fortune to Astral Tours to take you out and back from London.

mtngal: I agree w/ the others - you have little enough time in London. ONE day trip would be a push -- don't try for two. As I said my choice would be 1) HCP, 2) Windsor, 3) Bath, or 4) Stonehenge. It seems you are set on Stonehenge - would not be my first choice - but if it is a major &quot;must&quot; for you, then that should be your 1 and only day trip.

mahlquist Feb 5th, 2007 12:10 PM

We were in London for 6 days the last time we went (June 2005) and we easily managed Hampton Court Palace, Stonehenge (and Bath), as well as riding The Eye and a cruise on the Thames. Book a day tour to Stonehenge-well worth the money because of the guide and not needing to rent a car and deal with the wild traffic around London (all going the wrong way :-)). HCP was easy to get to on the Underground although it was a long-ish trip. Kew Gardens is another great place, and while we were there they were putting on The Taming of The Shrew in the outdoor theater, so we changed our afternoon plans and had a lovely afternoon watching a terrific performance.

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