I am so excited that my daughter and I have scheduled 24 hours in London on our way to Helsinki.
We arrive 7:30AM of Dec 27 and leave 6:30AM Dec 28.
We are seasoned travelers, having been to Europe several times - 1st time to London.
I think we should stay in hotel close to airport because of the early departure. I have contacted one that will allow early check in.
Are there any hotels with free shuttle to airport? The hotel I contacted stated there is a free bus but it is unreliable as far as time and suggested a taxi at 10 pounds.
The tube seems most reasonable but seems that it will waste about 2 hours in travel, time that could be spent exploring. Any feedback?
We could take tube back to hotel as we may not mind "wasting time" in the night.
We will spend the entire day in London.
What do you think about boat tours? About hop on bus, vs walking. (I found several self guided 3 hour walking tours) - then there are other things we should see that are not in central London, ideas and how to get there with the least expense please.
Thanks in advance for your help.
7 Dec 14, 22:55
Well, first of all, you should definitely stay in a hotel close to the airport, because if you stay in the centre of town the tube won't get you to the airport in time for a 6:30 AM flight. Most of the tube lines don't start up until 5 AM, and it's a long ride to heathrow (I am assuming you are flying from heathrow, because you didn't mention which airport).
A taxi ride from an airport hotel into the centre of town is very expensive (maybe as much as eighty quid), and can take an hour, whereas a tube train will just be a tenner each for a one-day travelcard.
I don't rate the bus tours very highly, if I'm honest. (Check out Craig's blog for a review of the two most popular sightseeing bus tours -- http://www.londondrum.com/blog/?b=178) They are very expensive and eat up a lot of time (but on the plus side, there might be very little traffic on the 27th dec). But if all you want to do is see as many landmarks as possible in just one day, then maybe it's a good idea. I would go for the boat ride myself, from Big Ben to tower bridge (look at the TRS London boat website, or the City Cruises website). That ride is fairly quick, and will take you past the London eye, St. Paul's, globe theatre, tate modern, the city, and the Tower of London.
Maybe you could start the day off in Trafalgar Square, and then head up whitehall to look at Downing Street, horse guards, parliament square, the Houses of Parliament and westminster abbey. Then you can catch the boat from the pier by Big Ben, and get off at tower bridge and see the Tower of London. you can get then get the No.15 bus back to Trafalgar Square (or covent garden), going via St. Paul's. That boat and bus ride will cost you less then a sightseeing bus, and will show you just as much stuff.
7 Dec 14, 23:30
Thank you, this is very helpful. I will come back later for more questions.
7 Dec 14, 23:41
Also, yes you assumed correctly, we fly into Heathrow. Looking at the Holiday Inn near Heathrow. I don't know if there is a better area to look at hotels? Looking at the map the North area seems to make most sense, unless there is transportation along the tube - but this is all confusing to me.
The concern is how much time will we "waste" taking the taxi to hotel, leaving bags, then having to get back to the area to take the tube.
Do you have a recommendation on where to stay near airport that would support limiting "wasted time" to hotel, drop off bags, and then to tube?
I am not sure where one will catch the tube but the receptionist at the Holiday Inn told me that they could direct me on the proper buses to catch the tube and then give us directions on buses to take in the evening to catch the tube as well (back to hotel).
7 Dec 14, 23:45
These are the boat winter options from TRS = please tell me which is the route that you noted previously. Thanks.
Westminster to Greenwich
Greenwich to Westminster via St Katherine's
8 Dec 14, 00:14
Unfortunately we haven't got any personal recommendations for airport hotels, just central London ones. But if I was in your shoes, looking to squeeze as much time out of the day as possible, I would book the hotel in advance, but leave all my bags in lockers at the airport. Then you could catch the tube (piccadilly line) directly from the airport into the centre of town, without even going to the hotel. You can then do your stuff in London, and head back to the hotel at night, and check in then. (But remember to let the hotel know that you won't be checking in until very late)
Of course, your bags would still be at the airport (where you can pick them up the next day), but I am a total scruff, so it wouldn't bother me wearing the same clothes for two days, but maybe you'd want to take a little hand bag with a change of underwear.
For TRS the boat journey is from westminster bridge (next to Big Ben) to St Katherine's pier (which is just on the other side of tower bridge, so you actually go under tower bridge). You don't want to go as far as greenwich, because that will eat up too much time. We have a review of that boat journey here: http://www.londondrum.com/blog/?b=242
For the tube journey back to the airport you just need to pick a station on the piccadilly line. the most central ones are Piccadilly Circus and leicester square. (For the tube journey from the airport on the first morning, then I would recommend getting off at leicester square, which is within very easy walking distance of Trafalgar square. Or piccadilly circus, if you want to see the neon lights. That is within walking distance too)
PS.: If you do decide to do this, then make sure you check the opening hours for the lockers, to make sure they are open in the early hours of the morning. I've had a quick look on the heathrow website, and the opening hours don't appear to give you enough time, so you definitely need to check the times out first. Depending on which terminal you are flying from, they might not open until 1 hour before your flight -- heathrowairport.com/heathrow-airport-gu ... ft-baggage
8 Dec 14, 20:06
You are wonderful. Thank you. I appreciate that you think of everything and do like the idea of leaving bags at the airport, but you are right in that we have to make sure we can pick them up in the AM - or I wonder if one can get back to airport late and pick them up after running around London all day. I will review this information and may come back with further questions.
I had the great idea to look at finding a reasonable private tour to eliminate the hassle of planning. The key word being reasonable - the prices quoted are all way to expensive for our little group of 2.
It would be so nice to know someone in the city who simply likes to take folks around, or perhaps a college student looking to earn a few dollars that day but I have no idea how to arrange that.
Thanks again for all your help!
8 Dec 14, 20:08
We are flying into Terminal 2 - do you think this would give us enough time to pick up luggage in morning?
Private tours are crazily expensive... you could be looking at 200 to 400 quid, just for a few hours. If you want one all day then you might have to re-mortgage your house. The cheapest we've ever come across are these (but we have no idea whether they are any good) -- http://www.guidelondon.org.uk/useful-information
One hour before your flight might be enough time to pick up your bags, but it's best to check with your airline. Presumably you would still have to go through check-in after picking your bags up... it's a bit risky.