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A long stay in London

Hello,
I am an active 60+ woman who will be staying in an Airbnb in Kensington for about 4 weeks. This trip is a gift I am giving myself. My husband will be with me for the first 10 days, my daughter for the last 10, and I have a glorious week by myself in the middle. I have been to London once before and saw The Tower, Changing of the Guard, etc... My goal for this trip is to just 'be' in London, to take in the sights, sounds, and smells, to walk the city and possibly get lost, and to avoid expensive restaurants. I love gardening, cooking, books, and sewing. I would like to do a few day trips, but I will not have a car. I would appreciate any recommendations, advice, or thoughts you may have for me.
Thank you so much!!!!!

Posted by
145 posts

Good gift to yourself! Some of the not typical places I loved in and out of London where....

Highgate cemetery (Hampstead)
Hatfield House and grounds - not far out of London, short train ride.
Greenwich
Hever Castle - gardens are gorgeous- take the hever castle stop and make the one mile walk to the castle. Loved it.
And just slowly wandering neighbourhoods and parks.

Posted by
3 posts

Those are great recommendations, and they are places I have not seen in the tour books. Thank you!

Posted by
18892 posts

I recommend you consider doing some LondonWalks walking tours. The website currently has the schedule running through the end of April, so you'll need to wait if your trip is later in the year, but you can take a look at the topics and areas covered.

Posted by
8244 posts

What fun! I hope you'll do a Trip Report when you get back!

I'd add in Kew Gardens for at least one visit and maybe 2. I went last May spending a good portion of the day and we only got thru about half of the garden. I was with my brother (who has a forestry degree) and SIL (who has a hort degree) and her sis who just loves gardens. It was spectacular. At one point my brother was going from tree to tree exclaiming OH Look they've got a "...." - I've never seen a real one, just read about them. Fun! I would avoid going on a weekend but I would choose a sunny day.

It's very easy to get to on the Tube especially if you have an Oyster Card.

Take a look at London Walks if you haven't done them before (www.walks.com). I did one of Chelsea that went by the Chelsea Physic Garden altho we didn't go in. It is on my list to go spend some time in as it looked so cute from the doorway!

https://www.chelseaphysicgarden.co.uk/

Do look at London Walks for day trips as well. They are well done.

Day trips otherwise are very easy by train. Right off the top of my head, Hampton Court Palace ( awesome grounds/gardens), Windsor Castle, Salisbury, Bath, Canterbury, Oxford, Cambridge. Maybe Portsmouth if you have an interest in the Dockyards (Nelson's HMS Victory and the Tudor era Mary Rose).

Posted by
1009 posts

I agree with the others about London Walks. You can even get a card that gives you a discount on future walks. I met an American woman working in London for a few months that went one every week.

Posted by
10344 posts

You should have no trouble doing a few day trips by train, you won't need a car. Oxford or Cambridge are university towns not far by train.

Posted by
3789 posts

Research gardens to visit and as a sewist, the Victoria and Albert Museum for its extensive collection of art and design, including historical clothing and recent designers as well.

Posted by
500 posts

Agree with Kew Gardens and London, also look up Chelsea Physic Gardens. My trip to London was 2 days. When I return I hope to see at least Kew or Chelsea.

It will be wonderful to live in same place for 4 weeks to experience the culture.
With 4 weeks you could even entertain a 1 night over night to Bath.

Enjoy!

Posted by
1173 posts

I second London walks. Wonderful day time walks and pub crawls for all ages. Also have you bought the RS London guide book as there is much in it. Museums of course including smaller museums like the Wallace Collection, Sir John Sloanes museum and I love the Victoria & Albert Museum. Hampton Court Palace, Kew Gardens, Windsor Court all make great day trips by train and easy to get to. Walk over the Tower Bridge, go to the London Transport Museum, take in a play, matinee or evening performance.

St Martin in the Field and the National Portrait Gallery which I found impressive along with the Tate Gallery and the National Gallery. I would look at YouTube videos too, to get ideas. You will not run out of things to do and see.

Have a great time.

Posted by
6603 posts

When is your trip?
Buckingham Palace allows the public to tour the Palace and grounds from 7/22 to 9/29, timed entry, includes audio guides. Wonderful. Tickets online from the Royal Trust.
Day trips to Windsor Castle, Oxford and Cambridge are also good choices.
In London, Churchill’s War Rooms.
Buy tickets online for any place you plan to visit.
Walking the neighborhoods is the best experience.

Posted by
5632 posts

In your "hood" or relatively close by:
The Leighton House Museum
The Design Museum
Walk through Kensington Gardens past the Round Pond and The Palace, eyes and ears open for the green parrots. Head towards Bayswater Road.

After visiting either of the museums above walk through Holland Park and treat yourself to chocolates at Melt which is near the Castle Pub.

I stayed in an AirBnb property in that neighborhood a few years ago. It was when the Holland Park station was closed for elevator refurbishment so I walked everywhere. Loved the 4 blocks along Holland Park Ave. Neighborhood feel. Daunts Books, Paul's, Tescos. Even the evil empire of Starbucks. You can easily walk from there to Portobello Road if so inclined. Oh should mention in Holland Park is Kyoto Garden complete with peacock.

If an early riser walk over to the Serpentine in Hyde Park to watch the morning swimmers in the Lido and then enjoy your morning coffee outside the Lido Cafe. At 10am the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain opens.

Different from what you've seen in the past is the area around St Pancras.

If you've not seen the Treasure Room at the British Library do so then walk over to the Radisson at St Pancras and enjoy a spot of tea or a cocktail at the gorgeous Booking Office restaurant. Not cheap but dang it's a nice place to sit alone or with family.

Then meander behind St Pancras. Walk over the Regent canal overpass into Granary Square and then into the Coal Drops Yard. This area was the dregs in the 80's and 90's unless you were into raves. Huge redevelopment project. Once you've wandered around there follow the Regents Canal footpath to Camden.

This past January I discovered a tiny bookstore called Hurlingham Books. I'd thought about going to a movie in Putney Bridge but once I got off the tube I spied the teeny Dr. Expresso Caffetteria across the road. So I enjoyed a flat black sitting outside in the cold air and then walked up the road to find Hurlingham Books. Ray, the proprietor was so kind. We chatted for a good half hour before I gave up the idea of seeing a movie. Went over to and looked inside of the All Saints church then strolled along the Thames Path to The Dove pub in Hammersmith. Think it's about a 2 mile walk. Great sage and pumpkin soup at The Dove.

On another trip I walked from Tower Bridge to Rotherhite. Was going to the Brunel Museum which sadly wasn't open. Good walk though. Discovered the Angel and Mayflower Pubs, the Sands Film Studio, Canada Water Studios, and the Surrey Quay. Interesting neighborhood.

Websites you should check before you leave to see if there might be something of interest:
Kew Gardens
Wiltons Music Hall
Wigmore Hall
Cadogan Hall
V & A Museum
Fashion and Textile Museum
The Royal Court Theatre
The Bridge Theatre
Timeout Magazine London

AND

http://www.simplysewingmag.com/dressmaking/londons-secret-sewing-shops/

Lastly if you are at Granary Square there is a Dishoom which had just opened when I went to it.
Probably over run now but Dishoom is a chain so look about for others.
In the Duke of York Square by the Sloane Square Underground Station is Comptoir Libinais. Fantastic spot for lunch. Believe its a chain as well.

Another fun thing to do is to check church bulletin boards. Might find a car "boot" (trunk) sale, book sale, recital etc. I've mentioned it before on the Forum but one year I was at the Royal Academy of Art and overheard a woman mentioning the artists open house on Eel Pie Island. Who can pass that up? Took a train from Waterloo. As I wandered I was surprised to find the York House Gardens. Brought a smile to my face as I had no clue they were there.

Don't forgot www.walks.com either. Can never go wrong with a London Walk!

Upload the CityMapper app on your phone, grab your Oyster card, wear comfortable shoes and off you go.

Posted by
9777 posts

The Museum of London is very nice, great historical perspective from pre-Roman times thru the Great Fire and the wars. Cabinet War Rooms, Imperial War Museum, Portobello Road Market, and so on. We did not get to the National Gallery until our fourth trip to London and it is fabulous, if you have not been.

Posted by
371 posts

Attend a Monday lunchtime concert of classical music at Wigmore Hall, broadcast live on BBC Radio. Wigmore Hall is located near the Wallace Collection and has beautiful acoustics. Or you could attend a pricier, full-length, evening concert on their extensive calendar.

Four weeks in my favorite city.
I am so jealous!
I hope you have a wonderful time.

Posted by
25746 posts

when is your trip?

Do you like old musical instruments or books? Walking in parks or along the river?

Is there anything eclectic you like to collect? Or do you, like me, like treasure hunts?

Posted by
449 posts

I would suggest taking a long walk through any of the bigger parks. Stopping to sit on a bench and people and animal watch as you go along. A nice way to pass a few hours.

Another nice idea is to grab a boat tour from Westminster to Greenwich. Get off an Greenwich. You can visit the Cutty Sark (very interesting in itself) and then walk around Greenwich with a lot to see in that area. Plus you get to see a lot of the tourist stuff from the boat ride.

And while more “touristsy” I would recommend going to Westminster Abby and doing the Jubilee Galery it opened last year and is really nice, With interesting exhibits as well as great views into the main floor area below, But this may be more of a thing that your Husband or Daughter are interested in.

Posted by
8293 posts

You say you will not have a car but you don’t at all need one to do any day trips you have in mind. So many places within an hour of London by train. Winchester? St Albans? (Lovely market there on Fridays, right next to the fabulous cathedral.) Bath would be fun but maybe you could overnight there so as to have a better experience.

At any rate, sounds like a wonderful 10 days on your own.

Posted by
327 posts

If you've not been, the behind the scenes tour at the Royal Albert Hall is an experience that I enjoyed. Check their website for various options.

Posted by
1188 posts

Check the National Trust UK web site. They have a Overseas Visitor Touring Pass for 7or 14 days; price is 33 pounds per individual for 7 days. They also have companion prices. They have a 300 sites of furnished houses, gardens, parks, etc. They have a wonderful metropolitan London selection. My favorite is Fenton House in Hampstead which houses a marvelous antique stringed instrument collection including harpsicords. As for dining: we ate a lot of deli food purchased at the grocers. Look for Food Fairs and Street Markets.

Posted by
42 posts

You mentioned that you love sewing. So do I. I will be in London with my granddaughter in June and I am hoping to be able to check out the fabric shops while I'm there. Not sure how many my granddaughter will tolerate and I'm not sure how much fabric I can fit into my suitcases but I'm hoping to spend some time wandering the fabric shops. I'm sure they will have lots of things we can't find back home. Maybe that would be fun for you while you're alone. I know I can get lost in them, but again, my granddaughter does not sew and is not interested. Just google "fabric shops in London" or search for them on the map in relation to your Airbnb. Here's a good site to get you started:

https://thefoldline.com/2017/02/25/the-ultimate-guide-to-fabric-shops-in-london/

Posted by
3525 posts

I wanted to do a street art tour when I was in London in 2016. I didn't manage to do it. Upon Googling the topic today, I got many more options than I did back then.

This is one that looks good, but I know nothing about this organization, Free Tours by Foot, other than that it has a pretty good website: East End Graffiti and Street Art Tour.

Posted by
12205 posts

I too would recommend the garden museum.

https://gardenmuseum.org.uk

We also enjoy the Chelsea Physic Garden, a botanical garden older then Kew.

https://www.chelseaphysicgarden.co.uk

After visiting, you can catch a Thames Clipper at Chelsea Harbour Pier and ride downriver as far as Tower of London. Walk around St.Catherine’s Dock and then catch the No. 15 bus past St. Paul’s and other iconic sights westward to Trafalgar Square. Work you way back toward Kensington by walking through the parks.

Posted by
3 posts

Hello and Thank You!!

Many thanks to all of you for your amazing advice! I really appreciate the time everyone took to help me with all of these wonderful suggestions. Now I really can't wait to get to London - in late April and early May. I wish you all happy and safe travels!

Kay

Posted by
11262 posts

Since you're staying for 4 weeks, in addition to day trips, you could consider an overnight in a place like Liverpool. With Advance train tickets, and if you stay over a Sunday night (the cheapest day for hotels), this need not be expensive. Liverpool itself is very different from London, and while it's famous for its Beatles sights, there's plenty to keep a non-Beatles fan busy too. You could even see it in a day from London, but it would be a busy one.

For London, I liked the Old Spitalfields Market, and the Brick Lane Market in Sundays - both are great views of modern London. I also enjoyed the Jewish Museum, and the Museum of Brands, Packaging, and Advertising. I learned about these on the London Pass website; you won't want the pass itself, but its website is a great way to learn about some less famous attractions.

Posted by
2624 posts

In London the Postman’s Park in bery interesting.

It would be very easy to take a day to Canterbury. Take the train from London Victory Station to Canterbury East. Once you get to Canterbury, exit the station and cross the street. When you cross the street you will see Canterbury E Station Bridge, walk up it until you get to the Roman Wall (about a 3 minute walk), once you get to the wall turn right, the wall will take to to the city center.

Have a great trip.

Posted by
3789 posts

With so many suggestions, it will be hard to choose, but you will have plenty to choose from. Have a wonderful trip.

Posted by
3418 posts

Another vote for Kew Gardens! They are wonderful any time of year. Their shop is one of my absolute favorites, too (great for quality, inexpensive, unique gifts- and we still grow flowers that we originally grew from seeds purchased there). And take time to wander around the 'village' of Kew, as well. On one visit we walked into a local gardening shop and wound up spending 30-45 min. just 'window shopping'!

Day trips by train are easy- Windsor is great- the castle is marvelous and the town is wonderful, with great shops. Canterbury is nice, especially if you are there on market day. Stratford-upon-Avon is good, we enjoyed the butterfly garden and walking along the Avon and again, they have a good market. Cardiff is a fun, funky city with good shopping. Greenwich is nice- Saturdays and Sundays are really good- and don't forget to visit the park. Brighton is nice and easy, too.