I have always wanted to see London, but a few years back I was involved in a motorcycle accident that left me with a much weakened left leg. Don’t get me wrong, I can walk with rest stops but stairs can be a problem. I’m looking for tips on the central hotels with lifts and in close proximity to attractions and the tube. I realize there is a lot of stuff I won’t be able to see because of long flights of stairs but I think the trip is still worth it. Do the tube stations have lifts or escalators?
dunno about hotels, I suggest you ask each one you are interested in if they don't specify on their websites.
The London Underground has made many efforts to improve its accessibility. Check their website accessabiity page at http://www.tfl.gov.uk/gettingaround/transportaccessibility/1169.aspx About half way down the page is a clickable link to the access map of the Underground which should answer most of your questions.
Virtually all - the exceptions are always in difficult places by SOD's law - junctions have kerb cuts and most Londoners are quite sensitive to disabled people.
Do ask about stairs wherever you are going. You may often find that a few stairs are needed to get to some doors, even when there is a lift.
You may find some restaurants a problem as most London restaurants try to maximize street level areas for business and put the toilets up or down a flight of stairs. Some will have disabled toilets on the ground floor but ask before you go.
London Transport provides this accessibility guide http://www.tfl.gov.uk/tfl/gettingaround/accessibility-guides/default.aspx
I am fine with 1 or 2 flights of stairs, but I think some attractions like the tower have several flights to walk. And I trying to figure out the best time to go with fair weather and smaller crowds. I was thinking September or early October?
All the deeper underground stations have either escalators or lifts. Some stations have only one escalator in each direction so if one isn't working you will have to walk down a long flight of stairs. Escalator failures or repairs are usually listed on the tfl website.
Don't miss the Tower. The only stairs I remember if you want to go up in one of the Towers itself but you can certainly take the Beefeater tour, see the jewels and walk around the grounds without going up any stairs. good luck.
September will likely have a touch better weather than October. But nobody knows, really. These days it could do anything.
Once kids are back in school by mid September there won't be a huge difference crowd wise I wouldn't have thought...
Most of the underground stations have some steps. Often there are steps from the street level into the ticket hall and sometimes there is a set of steps up from the platform until you get to an escalator. You may find using the buses to be easier.
Like Emma, I found that I often preferred taking the bus, except in rush hour. Many times, taking the bus meant getting closer to my destination. Somehow, the tube stations are always a 10 minute walk from where I want to be.
Which area for a hotel depends on what you most want to see. I love staying around the corner from the British Museum and walking distance (bus is faster) to many of the theatres. A friend of mine recently stayed south of the Thames near Waterloo station, with her kid and grandkids and thought it a great location for general sightseeing.
Escalators abound in the Tube. They're the main way of getting down into the depths. Some are very large. Elevators are there, as well, just not so obvious.
The TFL site should fill you in on Tube stations that lack escalotors or elevators. There aren't many, I believe. That said, there can be a surprising amout of walking and incidental stairs climbing involved once you are in the depths of a Tube station, just getting from one place to another. You may find yourself needing to climb up a dozen or so steps, walk along for a few dozen feet, and then climb down the same number of steps, and keep going. I blame Victorian engineers.
Buses, of course, are an alternative with no steps, if you avoid the second deck on doubledeckers.
Hotels with names you recognize or that cater to corporate and high-end tourists will have lifts. Small hotels and B&B's probably will not. Best bet is to simply call and ask. And don't assume an expensive little boutique hotel will offer lifts.
Rush hour: Best avoided regardless of transport mode, unless you are on foot. Everything is crowded. The evening rush is a great time to have dinner.
Remember, too, that the ever-present Tube map you will see and use is not intended to represent distances accurately. There are instances when it is just as quick to walk as it is to meander through Station One, take the train for a bit, and meander up and out of Station Two.
Yes, do go to the Tower of London. You can always give the ticket office a call to double check but I do not remember any stairs at the entrance. The only stairs I remember are the ones you have to take to actually go into the Tower. The walls around it have stairs but they are only one to two flights. Definitely should not miss!
A very good word to know in the UK is "accessibility". That's usually the magic word on websites to see if your mobility problems have been addressed. For example, the page on accessibility at the Tower of London is at http://www.hrp.org.uk/TowerOfLondon/planyourvisit/disabledaccess which is reached by clicking on the word at the bottom of the homepage. There is a lot of very comprehensive information there, including a video walkthrough, that should help you decide if that's a place you would feel able to visit.
I hope you have a great trip - with a little planning I'm sure it will be. Do note the discounts available for disabled visitors if you're not already aware.
I think busses would be the best way for you to get around. While many tube stations do have escalators many don't or have limited escalators. I am always baffled that the South Kensington District line has no access to lift or escalator from the platform. This is the stop for major museums and I am always helping mums get their buggies up those stairs! Also while a tube station may offer escalator service you frequently have to walk down a flight of stairs to get to the station from the street level. And don't get me started on why oh why it takes close to a year to replace an escalator!! But the TFL site is terrific! Get the app for your phone as well as one of the London bus apps.
The accessibility retro-fitted into the 100+ year old stations in recent years was concentrated on the 2012 Olympics / Paralympics event sites. The next wave will be all the stations for Crossrail. Others may happen on an ad hoc basis but many of the sub-surface stations only have stairs to the platform and are likely to be so for some years.