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London for the first time!

Liz Wolf-Spada

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I am so excited! We took a Sloane Garden studio week for March 3. We have never been. Is it worth getting the London pass with transportation? What about staying for more than a week? Are their recommendations for inexpensive hotels in London? How about a place in Bath or Stratford in Avon?
Liz
 

mjm1

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Liz, congratulations on landing your trade. London is outstanding. It has been several years since we went there, so I don't recall the hotels we stayed in. Of course everything in London is more expensive, but well worth the visit. It will be interesting to see if you like the timeshare experience as we have never stayed in one in the UK or Europe. Have a great time.
 

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Have a great time! Look carefully at the London Pass- we found it really didn't have the things we wanted to visit.

We enjoyed the Big Bus tours. They were convenient and the commentary was great. We were able to take boats on the Thames as well. The boats go as far as Hampton Courts. I recommend getting an "Oyster card" for the Tube ahead of your visit. If you get up to the maximum daily that a day pass would be, you do not get charged more for your additional rides. We found the tube easy to negotiate and got us to our destinations quickly. We did do a day trip to Cambridge which was also fun. I cannot wait to go back to London as you cannot possibly do all you want in one week. I found the food prices to be comprable to Boston and cheaper than New York. We also did a musical- Matilda was charming. There is a discount ticket both in Picadilly if you are interested in the theater (as well as different online sites.) Wear really really comfortable shoes. We pushed and did a day in Paris via the chunnel but felt that that was way too much for a week. (But those in their twenties thought it was a great idea)

I do not know any cheap hotels in London. Looking forward to hering what others recommend.
 

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We've never seen a reason to get the Oyster pass before arriving, and we turn it in and get a refund when we are leaving the U.K. It's a very simple process.

As to hotels, we've been delighted with Priceline. The night before we leave, we always stay in one of the hotels around Heathrow, and using Priceline, we generally pay about $50.00 (dollars, not pounds for a 4 star). In central London, we generally pay about $100.00 for a 4 star (again, dollars, not pounds). Use www.biddingfor travel.com and check the hotels Priceline uses in London, Stratford, etc. Then go back to the forum and see what people are bidding and getting those hotels for in the areas you want. We've stayed at the Allen House and we've used hotels, and we've never been disappointed with what we got. (The hotels list on biddingfortravel is linked to reviews on TripAdvisor. Once the 4 stars in an area of London we wanted were all good--except one. Rather than chance getting the bad one, we selected the next area of the city, which turned out to be only about 4 blocks away, and got a lovely hotel.)

You're going to have a wonderful time!
 

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London Walks

I had the pleasure of living in London for about a year, and some of my favorite days were spent on "London Walks". You meet the tour guide outside of a tube station and they take you on a two-hour walking tour. So much interesting history, and they take you into "nooks and crannies" you would not discover on your own. Be aware that they do not stroll, they walk briskly; so be prepared to pay attention and wear your walking shoes!

Perfectly comfortable to attend alone if you find yourself on your own or if you want to split off from your group for a little while.

One of my favorites is the Old Kensington tour (Thurs & Sat), which ends in Kensington Gardens near the Orangery - already highly recommended. Finish your tour and then relax over tea.

Also I especially enjoyed Hampton Court and Richmond tour - a longer tour which takes you outside of London.

Here's the link: http://www.walks.com/
 

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For a first trip to London, I would suggest two day trips - Hampton Court and Windsor Castle. I concur as to the London walks, and my favorites were the Ghost Walk and the Jack the Ripper walk. Alot a full day for the British Museum, which is awesome. That time of year, the crowds should not be quite as bad at the Tower of London, but to be on the safe side go early just as it opens. The Cabinet War Rooms, a complex of underground bunkers from which Churchill ran the country during the Blitz, which is near Parliament, is also intriguing. For hotels, I usually browse www.booking.com and off season there are often good deals.
 

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Last time I did The Blitz walk, which was awesome. I see they have many more walks now. Hampton court is quite worthwhile; take the train, it's so easy. The war rooms were good, but pick a time when they're not going to be crowded, like opening on a weekday. The Tower! There's a good tour of the Old Globe. The Victoria & Albert museum is good, not as crowded as the British, has a good cafe, and is around the corner from Allen House.

About 150 years ago, the British went around the Mediterranean making plaster casts of zillions of statues, busts, engravings, etc. They brought them home and put them indoors in the V&A. 150 years later, pollution has really degraded the originals, which still are mostly outdoors, but the ones in the museum look great.

If you want to spend another week in another location, here's what we did. Pick a rail center or crossroads and stay in a hotel near the station. Get the appropriate railpass and take day trips. We chose Reading, only 40 minutes from London, got the London Plus pass, and went to Bath and several other places, some chosen at random. You could easily go to Stonehenge or Avebury (bigger, I think better, less famous), Southampton, Bristol, Penzance, Oxford, even Wales from here. (If your destination is outside the pass zone, you just pay the difference.) Buses are good too.
 

Liz Wolf-Spada

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Thanks for the idea about the trains. We do want to do a train trip somewhere. DH can't do much walking as he has leukemia and gets short of breath. I might do one, if he just wants to keep back one day.
Liz
 

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My best all day train trip from London is starting out early in the morning to Portsmouth to see the historic ships (HMS Victory, Nelson's flagship at Trafalgar, HMS Warrior, the Royal Navy's first ironclad launched in 1860, and the raised wreck of HMS Mary Rose, from Henry VIII's navy), then the train to Brighton to see the Royal Pavillion, a seaside royal palace from the early 1800s built in oriental style, as well as the famous pier at Brighton, then train back to London.

However, that is more a trip for a second visit to London.
 
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Thanks for that suggestion. We've never done any of that, and this next trip we're spending a few days in London on the way to Rome (HAD to in order to get those $300 Phoenix-Rome tickets to work on BA). This will be a nice addition.
 
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My best all day train trip from London is starting out early in the morning to Plymouth to see the historic ships (HMS Victory, Nelson's flagship at Trafalgar, HMS Warrior, the Royal Navy's first ironclad launched in 1860, and the raised wreck of HMS Mary Rose, from Henry VIII's navy), then the train to Brighton to see the Royal Pavillion, a seaside royal palace from the early 1800s built in oriental style, as well as the famous pier at Brighton, then train back to London.

However, that is more a trip for a second visit to London.

Would that be your trip to Portsmouth? All those ships are in the Naval Dockyard in Portsmouth.
 

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You can "highgrade" and see a lot of London sites/sights in a week, but if you can work out a second week it's well worth it (especially with some mobility issues -- so you don't have to rush so much). London can involve a lot of walking, however, even using the Tube (some stations have long tunnels and lots of stairs). I used a "Rollator" (walker with wheels) for some days on my last visit to Disney World, and it was a wonderful help -- it would be very helpful in seeing London's huge amazing museums and public buildings.

I second the V and A -- I liked it better than the British Museum (but do go there for the Rosetta Stone, and a few other things -- you can also just see part of many museums -- exhibits of interest to you, you don't have to see everything in each one, of course). (I think this link will take you to myblog page with my short V&A report: http://www.travelblog.org/Bloggers/mecllap/page-6.html ) Other pages mention some other sites in London and surrounding areas.

Have a wonderful time!
 

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The Wikipedia entry about the Underground is very interesting (altho Wiki oftens needs to be read with a bit of skepticism) -- here's the section about Accessibility:
Accessibility
King's Cross St. Pancras tube station is a massive interchange station linking two mainline rail terminals. It is also one of the few fully step-free accessible stations on the network.
The S Stock, the newest rolling stock on the Underground, is designed to be more accessible, having dedicated wheel chair areas and lower platforms.Accessibility by people with mobility problems was not considered when most of the system was built, and most older stations are inaccessible to disabled people. More recent stations were designed for accessibility, but retrofitting accessibility features to old stations is at best prohibitively expensive and technically extremely difficult, and often impossible. Even when there are already escalators or lifts, there are often steps between the lift or escalator landings and the platforms.

Most stations on the surface have at least a short flight of stairs to gain access from street level, and the great majority of below-ground stations require use of stairs or some of the system's 410 escalators. There are also some lengthy walks and further flights of steps required to gain access to platforms. The emergency stairs at Covent Garden station have 193 steps to reach the exit (equivalent to climbing to the top of a 15-floor building),[70] so passengers are advised to use the lifts as climbing the steps can be dangerous.

TfL produces a map indicating which stations are accessible, and since 2004 line maps indicate with a wheelchair symbol those stations that provide step-free access from street level. Step height from platform to train is up to 300 mm (11.8 in), and there can be a large gap between the train and curved platforms. Only the Jubilee Line Extension is completely accessible.

TfL plans that by 2020 there should be a network of over 100 fully accessible stations, consisting of those recently built or rebuilt, and a handful of suburban stations that happen to have level access, along with selected 'key stations', which will be rebuilt. These key stations have been chosen due to high usage, interchange potential, and geographic spread, so that up to 75% of journeys will be achievable step-free.

(There's also mention about how hot and stuffy many stations get in the summer -- which included September during my visit).
 

Liz Wolf-Spada

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Does anyone know about getting from Heathrow to Sloane Gardens as cheaply as possible.
Liz
 

Liz Wolf-Spada

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Does anyone know about getting from Heathrow to Sloane Gardens as cheaply as possible.
Liz
 

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Does anyone know about getting from Heathrow to Sloane Gardens as cheaply as possible.
Liz

It depends on how much luggage you have. If travelling light, the tube has a stop at Heathrow, and can probably get you close to Sloane Garden.

As far as options from airports go, this site is one of the best:

www.toandfromtheairport.com

Personally, Heathrow is by far my least favorite London airport, and I try to fly into Gatwick, Standsted, or Luton instead. These days, however, if you are flying TATL it is getting harder to avoid Heathrow, which was voted a few years ago by travel writers as the worst airport in Europe. So I am no expert on Heathrow, although the few times I have not been able to avoid it, I was travelling light and using the tube worked adequately.
 

Liz Wolf-Spada

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That to and from looks very informative, but would be more useful if I knew where I was going? What bus route would I take to Sloane Gardens? I think I'd rather take a bus, even if it is slower. It is cheaper by far and we can see where we're going.
Thanks,
Liz
 

x3 skier

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That to and from looks very informative, but would be more useful if I knew where I was going? What bus route would I take to Sloane Gardens? I think I'd rather take a bus, even if it is slower. It is cheaper by far and we can see where we're going.
Thanks,
Liz


For all things tube and bus in London go to http://journeyplanner.tfl.gov.uk/user/XSLT_TRIP_REQUEST2?language=en

Just put in the two ends of the journey and you get all you need. You can use addreses or station or place of interest like the V&A. I prefer the bus unless I am going a long way. You see a lot more above ground than underground. ;)

That said a faster way to London from Heathrow is either rail via Heatrow Express or Heathrow Connect which is cheaper. You can take the Picadilly line but it is a long haul.

Cheers
 
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funtime

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Obviously two able bodied teenagers can not see everything in London in one week - I would slash your events by half. But, I would increase your theater experience - there is a half price tickets outlet and the prices were not too bad when I was in London - London is the theater capital of the world. I would try to see three or four productions. Funtime
 

funtime

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Please tell us exactly how you got your London Allen house - is it a trade or a rental and if so what are the going rates for rentals. If it is a trade, what service did you use and what timeshare did you trade. Thanks for the info and congratulations on your trade. Funtime
 

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Please tell us exactly how you got your London Allen house - is it a trade or a rental and if so what are the going rates for rentals. If it is a trade, what service did you use and what timeshare did you trade. Thanks for the info and congratulations on your trade. Funtime

Not sure who you are asking since OP is using Sloan Gardens.

The Allen House has rentals. Check www.allenhouse.co.uk

I bought my week as a resale FWIW.

Cheers
 
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