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first time in UK

Hello, we are interested in traveling next may/june to london 3 nights ,york 3nights and ediburgh for 9 days in scotland. I have seen that there are many celebrations going on;ie Queens birthday ,Jubilee, horse races in york and Royal Highland shows. trying to not come when it sounds like it will be so busy. with the tentative chelsea flower show june 24- 28, I am curious if the gardens at Kew and Windsor will be involved in preparation for the chelsea flower show and be inapprppriate for visiting? any advice regarding this.? if we were in london week of May 16th would that be a concern and are there much in the way of flowers blooming? also we will be in london only 3 nights and were thinking of staying in windsor the day we arrive at LHR. (i believe transportation from airport goes directly to Windsor),and taking train into london the next 2 days. what are your thoughts or reccomendations?( first time in London). we were planning to skip London completely ,however it seems to fit in nicely for travel plans with public transportation. thanks Susan

Posted by
8546 posts

I would not do 1 night Windsor and 2 nights London. Do all three nights in London to maximize your time there. It is just not that hard to get into central London from LHR. While it is possible by subway, I would vote taking the Healthrow Express Train directly from the airport to Paddington Station and then a cab to your hotel for ease of travel after your flight. If you reserve Healthrow Express tickets in advance, they are less costly. If you want to go to Windsor, do so as a day trip and not have to change hotels.

I would also suggest looking at Premier Inns for accommodation unless you are strongly attached to higher end hotels or character filled hotels. I like Premier Inn Waterloo, but there are many.

Posted by
49 posts

Sorry if confusion . I planned on staying in Windsor for 3 nights. My understanding we can get direct transport from LHR to Windsor and also catch train from Windsor to York. Is this not correct. We would take train from Windsor into London if visiting

Posted by
6113 posts

I would just stay in London rather than splitting your time. Three nights means only 2 days there and the first day + maybe lost to jet lag.

The Chelsea Flower Show is May not June. Kew has nothing to do with Chelsea (nor Windsor) and visiting here will take at least half a day including travel time. Windsor is 3/4 of a day including travel from London. Chelsea is a full and tiring day - tickets can be difficult to obtain.

The London parks will have some flowers, but otherwise, it’s too built up to have much in the way of gardens. This year, flowers are a fortnight behind as we have had a cool and frosty spring.

The first weekend in June will be busy as there is an extra Bank Holiday for the Jubilee, so accommodation will be busier and more expensive than normal plus train travel will be busy, as people make the most of a 4 day weekend.

Posted by
33146 posts

I'll just pop in to say that there are no trains from Windsor to York. Windsor trains go either to London Waterloo or London Paddington from whence you would need to get to London Kings Cross for the trains to York. Much easier if you are in London. Windsor is right at the end of branch lines.

I'll give more tomorrow... it is past my bedtime...

While I'm sleeping please say what it is that sounds great about 3 night in Windsor and commuting into London. If I understand your mindset that will help huge amounts...

We have about a year to figure this out - you will love it...

Posted by
49 posts

Yes I do know that Chelsea has nothing to do with Kew, was just commenting on trying to avoid all the flower shows and holidays since it will be so much more crowded/busy. Thank you for clarifying about Windsor. There are 2 train stations , I thought they went directly to York thus bypassing London. My concern is that London is so large that I will be overwhelmed and not know where to stay, eat and such .I was also told it is very expensive . Maybe you can shed some light on this for me. My initial feelings are that if I traveled to US I would not care to visit New York, because there are so many more beautiful places to see . I suppose I am equating London to New York( perhaps wrongfully so).Perhaps you can steer me to that section of the city , where we can see the older historic sections and stay in an average safe community with easy access to these things. I hope that clarifys it more for you. thank you

Posted by
1305 posts

Hi Susan -

As a non London resident I would stay in central London as opposed to Windsor, which you can do a day trip out to. Windsor is right next to Heathrow Airport - if your plane lands west-east and you’re sat on the left side of the plane next to a window you’ll see Windsor Castle immediately below you and close up as it’s just before touch down. (More often the flights turn over the mouth of the Thames and fly in to land east-west, following the Thames towards Heathrow - a right hand window seat gives you a spectacular ‘spot the landmark’ couple of minutes immediately before landing).

Nigel is right, trains for York depart from Kings Cross. As he is going to expand on this for you, note well because he knows his stuff! What I would say is that for getting about London the Tube is your friend. People complain about it (mainly Londoners) but us ‘out of towners’ marvel at it and wish we had something equivalent in our own cities for the most part. And it’s easy to navigate even for a first timer - just recall the words of the Hitch Hikers Guide and “don’t panic!”.

London IS like New York (which personally I enjoy immensely) in that it is very cosmopolitan (and in that same regard probably not an accurate reflection of the country as a whole) but both have a ton of things to do and see - more than your brief stay would allow, but you’ll be there long enough to get a taste.

York is magnificent, but I’m honour bound to say that, as you’ll note. I’m sure you’ll have a great trip.


Posted by
8546 posts

Susan, you can do London!

The hotel I suggested, premier inn Waterloo, is reasonably priced and well located. You can walk to Westminster and are 2 blocks from the tube and a train station. You have plenty of time to research and find out more. Your biggest challenge will be to narrow down what you would like to see in such a short period of time.

I like London significantly more than New York. I didn’t particularly like New York, but I love London. You will find that it is not hard to navigate. One thing I often do when I am headed to a new area is simply watch some you tube videos about attractions and practical “how to” videos such as “how to ride the tube.” It gives me enough advance knowledge of the system that it makes a difference the first time I use it.

Posted by
332 posts

Hi Susan, do t worry about crowds, London is big enough to absorb extras, and there will be fresh green leaves on the trees, tulips and other spring bulbs, even daffodils still out further north. Kew Gardens is always worth a visit if you’re a garden person. The other posters are right, Windsor is lovely but it’s a waste of your precious time to stay there and commute back and forth to London every day. It’s easy to get into London from Heathrow and you’ll need to be there to get your train to York.

Posted by
1997 posts

I'm with you Susan. Don't be pressurised into feeling you have to stop in London... There are plenty of much nicer places to stay! Do it as a day trip from Windsor if there is something you really want to see and do there.

Posted by
5678 posts

There are so many neighborhoods in London. It really is worth staying there if most of the sights you want to see are in London. Staying in Windsor is a bit like staying in New Jersey when you are touring New. York. Or staying out at O'Hare rather than going to the Loop or to Michigan Avenue in Chicago. As I said, there are a lot of choices. The first time I visited London stayed with family friends so it doesn't count--free trumps a lot of other options particularly when you are 19!! But the second time we stayed out near Earl's Court which gave easy access to everything via the Tube. More recently I've stayed near Paddington Station. But there are lots of options.I have liked Paddington as it's got lots of Tube options and I the hotels were affordable.

Posted by
33146 posts

while jamr's question may be legitimate - if so it should be in a new question to get proper attention - it appears that the prime purpose is to get you down the rabbit hole following the link. Be very careful because you don't know where or why they are here.

I've asked the webmaster to look at the link

Posted by
8824 posts

As you have been advised by others it wouldn't be prudent to stay in Windsor if you want to explore and experience all that London has to offer.

London is a vibrant city with wonderful neighborhoods to enjoy. As first timers I’ll suggest a couple of options as to where to stay. Depending on your wish list of “ must “ sees either location might be what you seek.

For convenience, safety, budget ( breakfast is included in the price ) and ease of transport from LHR take a look at 63 Bayswater. Have been staying there for years. 10-15 minute stroll from Paddington Station. It’s across the road from Hyde Park and 5 minutes from the Lancaster Gate underground station. I’ll book my Heathrow Express ticket at least 2 months before my travel dates. Print out the ticket ( I’m big on a tangible papertrail as well as what’s on my iPhone). FYI signage for the Heathrow Express at Heathrow is good but do be prepared for a long walk ( there a people movers ) from your arrival gate to the Express train.

Hop aboard and enjoy a pleasant 15 minute ride into Paddington Station. If not accustomed to large train stations Paddington will open your eyes. Don’t be overwhelmed as it is easy to navigate. Just head towards the glass arch and exit. Cross Praed with the light, the Aberdeen Steak house will be in front of you. Cross and head right towards The Pride of Paddington pub. Turn left at that corner. As of 2019 the Nat West Bank ATM was still available. Use your credit or debit card to withdraw pounds there. Then continue on Spring Street to Sussex Gardens turn right towards the church. Cross at the light before the church keeping it on your right as you walk along Lancaster Terrace to Bayswater Road. Turn right. 63 is a few yards from the corner.

That’s one option.

A Second option is to consider the Premiere Inn at County Hall. Located across the Thames catty corner from Parliament it’s adjacent to Jubilee Gardens. From Heathrow it’s an hour via the Underground with one change. Depending on your frame of mind, sense of direction and wallet might be easier to take a famous black cab from Heathrow to this hotel.

From this Premiere Inn it’s an easy walk across Westminster Bridge to Parliament Square where you’ll obliviously find Parliament as well as Westminster Abbey and the nearby Churchill
War Rooms. Easy stroll through St James Park up to Buckingham Palace from Parliament Square.

London is a walkable city and public transport via bus or tube train can help. If you opt for a bus, climb up to the 2 deck and try to sit in the front seats. Nearly floor to ceiling windows to view the streets of London.

London is a wonderful city. Don’t short change experiencing all that it has to offer.

Posted by
54 posts

I have not read all of these, but I noticed that some people are recommending London over Windsor, and I disagree. But then again, I think it really depends on what you want. I much prefer Windsor, it's smaller, and has a lot to offer, but it's not so crowded. I would much rather stay in Windsor and train in to London and come back to quaint and easy going Windsor-Eton. We've stayed there twice and love it. And we will going back in August.

Posted by
6635 posts

I'll join those advising you to go straight into London and spend your time there. The Heathrow Express is the easiest way to go, and cheap if you buy well ahead as others suggest. An advance purchase commits you to a specific day, but not to a specific train, so you don't have to worry if your flight's delayed or it takes awhile to clear immigration and get bags. My guess is that you'll get to Paddington faster on the Heathrow Express than you'd get to Windsor on any mode of transport from Heathrow. And then you're in London without having to commute to it each day!

London is easy -- they speak your language (pretty much). Lots to see and do, whatever interests you most. It's a spread out place but as noted the Underground is fast and easy to use. You have plenty of time to figure out how to use your three days, hopefully not your last chance to visit this wonderful city.

Posted by
1999 posts

Unless you have a friend who has a flat in a suburb, I tell everyone on their first trip to a big city to stay in the city. You can visit Windsor Castle and walk around the town(I had tea in a teashop there) but commuting everyday to London would get tiresome. London's Royal Parks are lovely and are worthy of a look. I believe there will be flowers in bloom by then as well as the ducks and geese by the ponds. While London is always busy, part of the fun is just talking around. I can recommend London Walks as having great walking tours of neighbors and excellent pub walks.

While York is lovely and possibly my favorite city in terms of locale, London should never be missed. There is just something about it that is different than any North American city.