Three days in London

Old Jul 7th, 2009, 05:43 AM
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Three days in London

My sister, myself, and our spouses are visiting Wales in September and will be spending three days in London before we head off to Cardiff. I do have a few questions that I need answers to:

1. Which is the best travel card to use?
2. Is it worth the money to hire private transportation from LHR to the British Museum, or should I just go with the Express to Paddington?
3. Our plane arrives at LHR at 7:00 A.M., so would it be feasible to take a Hop On, Hop Off tour the same day?
4. Has anyone stayed at the St. Margaret/Celtic Hotel on Guilford St?

Any other suggestions will be most welcome.

Thanks,

Larry for the retired_travelers
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Old Jul 7th, 2009, 06:03 AM
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1. What do you mean with travel card?
2. The express train is perfect. Takes you in 30 minutes to Paddington, a car wouldn't be faster. From Paddington you can take a cab or the tube (the subway system is great in London)to your destination.
3. Sure! If you aren't too exhausted. I'd rather do that the next day.

The best way to get around in London is the tube. It's very easy. Instead of getting single tickets for each time you use the tube get an oyster card, each drive is than half the price or less. They used to have tourist tickets with that you could travel for 2 or 3 days as much as you wanted within London. you have to check if they still have that.
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Old Jul 7th, 2009, 06:17 AM
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The Heathrow Express train would not be "perfect" for your situation - at all.

It is expensive and for 4 it would be REALLY expensive. Then it only gets you to Paddington which is very far from your hotel. From there you'd have to either take cab 0r the tube w/ a change of lines. The HEX would probably be your very <u>worst</u> choice.

If you can handle your luggage you can take the tube all the way from LHR to Russell Square w/o an line changes. Your hotel is very close to the tube station.

Your other practical option is a pre-booked car service like justairports.com . It will coast a lot more than the tube but divided by 4 would be pretty economical. Plus it is door-to-door and you don't have to schlepp luggage.

There are no "tourist" transit passes/cards. You have a couple of options depending on how many "for pay" sites you plan on seeing. there are 2-for-1 discounts for many sites but to get them you have to go up to Kings Cross or another train (not tube) station and buy paper travel cards. If you are mainly going to the free sites (most museums and galleries are free) then get an Oyster card at LHR or at Russell Sq (depending on whether you take the tube or a car service to your hotel)
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Old Jul 7th, 2009, 06:26 AM
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I agree with janis about your transport options.

You will have lots of time to do the Hop on Hop off tour. I believe your ticket is good for 24 hours so even if you got it at noon you could ride until noon the 2nd day.
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Old Jul 7th, 2009, 07:13 AM
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<i>1. Which is the best travel card to use? </i>

See this:
http://www.londontoolkit.com/briefin...ard_oyster.htm

<i>2. Is it worth the money to hire private transportation from LHR to the British Museum, or should I just go with the Express to Paddington?</i>

Follow janis' advice. Either take the tube, or car service. Heathrow Express is a terrible option for you.

<i>4. Has anyone stayed at the St. Margaret/Celtic Hotel on Guilford St?</i>

Have you checked reviews on tripadvisor?
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Old Jul 7th, 2009, 07:22 AM
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I was in London in May, staying in the Bloomsbury area, 10 min walk from Britiash Museum.

In my case I landed at Gatwick and took the Express to Victoria Station. In the station there is a transportation info office where I bought an Oyster card for £3, and then loaded it with (in my case there for a week) with £40. You swipe on way in to Tube, same on way out. Just look for yellow "reader". Did not take any buses, in that case you just swipe on way on.

Easy to get, really easy to use.
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Old Jul 7th, 2009, 07:34 AM
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You arrive at 7am in Heathrow. When you're done with immigration and customs it will be full rush hour unless it's Sat or Sun! So the car option might be a pain. I'd take normal tube if your luggage is easy to handle.
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Old Jul 7th, 2009, 07:45 AM
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Is St Margaret not on Bedford Place? Celtic is on Guildford.

Another option is the Tube from Heathrow to Russell Square. It is 1/2 block walk to Celtic, 2 blocks to Margaret.
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Old Jul 7th, 2009, 07:53 AM
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I've been to London several times, always staying in the Bloomsbury area. There are quite a few hotels and B&B options. One thing I discovered was that the word Hotel often applied to B&Bs as well. There is a small street called Cartwright Crescent that has several nice B&Bs on it. I stayed at 3 of them, liked the Harlingford the best. Crescent is another one. In May I ended up at the Academy, by "mistake". Is is a 4-star hotel, but I got it on Expedia for a 2-star price, so I lucked out there. I had booked last minute and saw good reviews but did not realize what I nice place I had chosen.
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Old Jul 7th, 2009, 07:55 AM
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Cartwright "Gardens".

http://www.harlingfordhotel.com/
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Old Jul 7th, 2009, 08:47 AM
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Larry, think about the members of your group. How fit are they for stairs and walking, how much do they tend to pack, can they deal with their bags themselves, etc.

A car service, when split between 4 people, is often cheaper than HEX. Depending on your day of travel, as BabaYaga stated, you'll possibly hit rush hour traffic and really slow down the car service. You can use justairports (or a similar car service's website) to estimate your cost per person for transportation into and out of London (I'm assuming you return to London for your exit, please correct me if I'm wrong). Compare that to the cost of tickets on HEX.

As for taking the tube the whole way, it's probably the cheapest method and could be faster than a car if the car hits traffic. Again, consider your group. Do they want to take the tube and manuever their bags, or do they want the convenience of the car service? For tube vs car service options, the better option depends on your group and how you'll all be feeling when you get off of the plane. I learned the hard way that taking my parents (in their 50's) on a bus, immediately after a long flight, is a VERY bad option. For some, who are fit enough and up for a possible adventure after a long flight, the tube is likely best. For others, who may be less fit, or have more luggage, or simply not want to think (or move) after a long flight, the car is likely best.

As for the hop on, hop off bus, I don't see why you wouldn't be able to fit that in the same day. Look up their website and see how long the tour is if you just sit on the bus. Completely off top of my head, I think those usually run around 1-2 hours (I could be way off base here, so please look this up to be sure!) If you stay on the bus, it's relaxing and gives a decent overview of the city. If you want to actually get off and see the places you're driving by, then you'd be limited on the time you could spend at various locations.

I would think you would get to your hotel well before lunch time, so have a relaxing lunch, and then spend the afternoon and early evening out and about. Have a good dinner, and then head for bed around 9:00 local time (not before or you'll be up at 4am and never get your body clocks switched to local time).

Good luck and have fun
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Old Jul 7th, 2009, 09:08 AM
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Michael_Paris -- St Margaret's has moved.
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Old Jul 7th, 2009, 09:26 AM
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IMO, the hop on hop off tour bus is pretty much a waste of time and money if you only have three days. It is not cheap, and there are a limited number of places where you can get on or off. Much easier to use the tube and bus system, which is great.
Get an oyster card, pay as you go type, for 3 pounds each, and at the time of purchase load it with an amount equal to the daily max (for zone 1 & 2 where you are most likely to travel, that would be 6.70 pounds if you travel before 9:30 AM, 5.10 pounds if travel only after 9:30 AM) times the number of days you will be using it. You can purchase the card at any tube station.
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Old Jul 7th, 2009, 03:42 PM
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We had about the same amount of time as you and did the Big Bus hop-on, hop-off tour our first day. By the time we got to our hostel, took showers, etc., it was about 1:30 when we got on the bus.

We enjoyed getting a look at the places we wouldn't have time to visit, and got off at the Tower of London to walk around a bit since we were getting sleepy.

Lee Ann
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Old Jul 7th, 2009, 03:57 PM
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Seamus: Yes, the bus tours are relatively expensive. But to say there are limited places to get off simply isn't the case. Each route has nearly 30 stops. You can get off at most any major tourist attraction in London.

And yes, one can ride the tfl buses for much less - but there is no commentary and the majority of first timers would often have no idea what they were passing. I've ridden buses a lot and heard tourists pointing out some bldg or site -- and be so totally wrong it is funny. Riding the 15 just this May, as we passed St Pauls, the Dad behind me was telling his family "That is Westminster Cathedral, we'll see Westminster Abbey later"

The H-o-H-o buses are what they are - a way to get an overview/quick look w/ a commentary. They cost more than the buses/tube and less than the fully guided commercial tours. But they definitely are a good option for many visitors.
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Old Jul 8th, 2009, 09:21 AM
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janisj - agree the hoho can be an OK option for an orientation, but a lot of the time is spent between noteworthy attractions, sometimes stuck in traffic. The on board guides can be quite creative with the patter they devise to fill in those times, not sure what happens on the routes with the prerecorded commentary.
There are issues with having to locate the bus stop once you have trekked around an area, and must wait for the next one to come along (have been stuck waiting 30 min or more though that is not supposed to happen.) And they cost WAY more than public transport - 25 pounds per person, more than a zone 1-2 weekly pass on oyster.
Maybe I have just done the hoho too many times to appreciate it (accompanying new visitors). There are a couple companies, Big Bus seems to be recommended quite often. One nice thing about Big Bus is that it includes the river cruise. We took it from London Eye to Tower of London.
BTW if one does plan to use them Big Bus offers an online discount of 4 pounds per person at http://tinyurl.com/kswvb7
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Old Jul 8th, 2009, 11:34 AM
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I visited London quite recently (2 full days). Should have stayed 1 more day. In London every tourist place is reachable by the underground. You can buy the daypass, zone 1-4 I think and you are good to go. I booked a shuttle via website (dot2dot.com) from and to LHR airport. I think you can also take the express but as far as I know, it's more costly. Plus you don't want to take the express and underground with your luggages. You can take the underground to the British museum.
I did not take the hop on (was planning to do so) but took the underground instead. They have escalators from the underground to the street level. But if you dont want to worry about maps etc, hop on hop off is a good option. Check their schedule before you decide to use hop on hop off. Maybe they start around 9am but you can always take the next bus which is every 20-30 minutes, depending on which route you take.
Have fun in London. I miss the city already .
I am planning to go back there next year and visit the Stonehenge and Windsor Castle. I heard it's splendid
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