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need help for London and getting to South Hampton for cruise

Hopefully we are taking a cruise from South Hampton to Ireland and Scotland. First time in London. Will be there August 2 - 6th. and return to stay in London August 18- 21. Not a shopper really. Want to see the classical sights of St Paul's, Buckingham Palace, changing of the guard , Big Ben, Westminster ect. Also interested in WWII history.. We want to also get a side trip to see Harry Potter set. Very important to hubby. We also need to get from London to South Hampton for a cruise that leaves at 5 pm.

So a few questions for anyone that has a little mercy on not so knowledgeable independent travelers. Please recommend a few small hotels that are in walking distance of most attractions. price range $150 US per night. Hopefully less. How do we get a trip to Harry Potter Set/ Please recommend best transportation options to South Hampton. Would like a stop on the way to Stone Hedge or other attraction that day. We are willing to stay outside of London if convenient to see attractions, after the cruise. Also what is the best options for transfers' from airport to hotels in London. We are also aware that public transport is good in London.

Hope I have not asked too much all at once.

Thank you

Michelle

Posted by
10057 posts

All of your questions, and even more, can be answered in.......

Rick Steves London Guidebook

Now on sale in the Rick Steves store or available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble or your local bookseller.

Granted, some things will change by next August but the book will give you a good overview of sights, suggestions of where to stay, how to get around, etc. If you can wait, the 2021 version is scheduled to be out in January.

Posted by
4786 posts

One London sight you won't want to miss is the Churchill War Rooms, near Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament. I think you need timed tickets to avoid long lines.

There are direct trains more or less hourly from London Waterloo Station to Southampton Central Station. The trip takes about an hour and a half. I haven't made this trip but it seems like your best bet. I suggest a taxi from Southampton Central to your cruise dock.

Stonehenge is nowhere near the direct route between London and Southampton. I think there are bus or van tours from London that might work for you. Or a direct train from Waterloo to Salisbury and then a shuttle bus from the station to Stonehenge. This would be a good day trip, and you could also see Salisbury's amazing cathedral.

London sights are so spread out that no hotel would be in walking distance of most of them. You might look at the Premier Inn chain, often recommended by others on this forum, for options. I'd say your $150 budget is on the low side, it may be hard to find good choices. I wouldn't recommend staying outside London for sightseeing in London. It might cost less, but you'll spend time and money each day getting in and out of the city, and lose the chance to use your hotel as a midday rest stop if you need it.

Public transport is indeed excellent in London. Depending on where your hotel is, the Piccadilly Line (Underground) runs from Heathrow Airport through central London and could be your best choice, perhaps followed by a taxi if you don't want to take luggage far on foot. The Heathrow Express is a very fast nonstop train between LHR and Paddington Station, followed by Underground or taxi depending on where the hotel is.

Posted by
163 posts

Oh, yes.. I will defiantly get Ricks book.. That is how I toured all of Italy 5 years ago.. I was just wondering specific hotels I should check. I know that Big Ben Buckingham and a few other sites are close to each other. I am just getting started to learn.. I know that I can get really good info from ppl here. I also know I cant see it all in just a few days.. I like the sort of hotels Rick advised.. Small family owned. I do not need a lot of services or a big room. In Rome I stayed at Hotel Oceania that Rick recommended. This is my first trip tp the UK.

Any other suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

Posted by
163 posts

I have found a few hotels on Expedia that are 2 to 3 miles from Buckingham Palace and Big Ben. A little farther to St Paul's/ They say they are in London City Center. Is this a good location for sightseeing on a 3 night stay? Not sure which area to look at. finding the right hotel location is the hard part.

Michelle

Posted by
389 posts

Be aware that the small family run type hotel probably won’t have air conditioning and too noisy to open windows. You might find that a problem in August. If you’re comfortable with a 30 minute walk as your walking distance the area around the Southbank, particularly Waterloo could serve you well and be good for your train to Southampton. .The Premier Inn at County Hall is a favourite pick of many. You could look at the Pimlico area which will have the small hotels and you could pick up the Southampton train at Vauxhall ( I think - double check on national rail website). For HP studios book months in advance once your dates are firmed up, choose a slot around 11am to give yourself time to get there and enjoy it. Train from London Euston to Watford Junction and then there is a dedicated shuttle bus.

Posted by
163 posts

I can't find Premier on Expedia. Is Hyde Park and Kensington a good location for sightseeing? There are a few there that are just under $200.

I also found this one near London Bridge and Big Ben.

Park Plaza Westminster Bridge London
200 WESTMINSTER BRIDGE ROAD, LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM

Posted by
26074 posts

Premier Inns aren't on other websites. Use their own website - https://www.premierinn.com/gb/en/home.html

Kensington can be used for a multitude of places, some in better areas, some in less, Where exactly, or which hotel?

Same with Hyde Park. It is huge, and what's north of the park is different to what's south of the park, and what is across Park Lane to the east of the park is another question altogether.

Try to get in the habit of using local pricing- all London hotels will be a certain number of Pounds. That is unlikely to change much, but because the currency exchanges to Dollars varies a lot you will see different dollar amounts on different days or months when the base price hasn't changed. Today $200US is about £150. $150 is about $112. Under £200 pounds is low for London.

Posted by
686 posts

Michelle, you might look at the Elizabeth Hotel. I stayed there several times on business trips to London back about 25 years ago. Not fancy but they have updated it a bit since then. It's on Bayswater road across the street from Hyde park and the Lancaster Gate metro stop. I did a fair amount of sight seeing from there and found it convenient.

See that you live in Valrico. We lived there back in the 90s while stationed at Macdill. Still miss our house there.

Posted by
19207 posts

I use booking.com for nearly all my hotels. Sometimes individual Premier Inns are listed there, but only some of them, and not all the time. You need to go to the corporate website if you are interested in that chain: https://www.premierinn.com/gb/en/home.html .

As a general rule, PI rates are substantially lower if booked well in advance. Of course, no one knows how much demand there will be for rooms in August; if the UK isn't allowing much inbound international travel, the rates could be lower than those currently listed--but if we can't travel there, it won't matter. Be sure you either book the fully refundable (Flex) rate or mark your calendar so you don't forget the date by which you'd need to cancel an Advance-rate room to get a refund--and don't forget the time difference between your home and London!

Personally, I would insist on an air conditioned room at that time of year, and I think you'll have a hard time beating PI's rates for a room with a/c. I recommend booking something now, while you can find rooms within your budget. You can keep looking and switch if you find something you like better.

I stayed at the Premier Inn County Hall last year and found it a workable location; I'm a big-time walker, but at that hotel you have easy access to multiple Underground lines at either Waterloo Station or Westminster Station. In addition to the Houses of Parliament, the Churchill War Rooms and Buckingham Palace, the Imperial War Museum (which I highly, highly recommend) is within walking distance to the south. Again: I walk a lot; some folks probably wouldn't consider the palace or the museum to be within walking distance.

What locations are most convenient will depend on which specific sights you want to see during your pre-cruise and post-cruise stays. If you want to minimize walking time and the need to use the Underground, you might consider staying at different hotels before and after the cruise. In that case you'd want to group your sites geographically and also consider the location of the train station(s) you'll need to use to get to Southampton, the HP studio, and (possibly) Stonehenge.

To check on which train stations you'll be using, go to https://www.nationalrail.co.uk/ . London has many rail stations. Often you must use one specific station to get where you want to go.

Posted by
1290 posts

Michelle, use Google maps to find hotel locations. It will help to find a hotel in relation to the sights you want to see. I’m planning a solo trip for fall 2021 or 2022. Since it’s been over 25 years since I was in London and never solo, Google maps is really helpful.
Book direct with the hotel. If there are problems they will help you, a booking site probably won’t.
Definitely get RS London book to help you plan.

Posted by
10057 posts

I have stayed at numerous Premier Inns all over the UK. I have never had a bad experience in any of them. They were all clean, quiet and very comfortable. Most are newer so they lack any "charm" but I like the consistency. They need to be booked via their own corporate website but it's very easy and safe.

I agree that in London in August go for the air-conditioning.

Please also don't abbreviate things. It's Buckingham Palace not Buckingham. For Westmister....do you mean the government area, Westminter Abbey, Westminster Catherdral?

For WWII history look into the Churchill War Rooms and the Imperial War Museum.

Another suggestion is London Walks for two hour walking tours on numerous subjects pertaining to London.

Posted by
163 posts

I will look up both Elizabeth and Premier

Thank you so much

Posted by
2755 posts

For many years we stayed at The Cherry Court Hotel. It would be in or close to your budget. It is a small hotel run by a charming family. We/I found it to be clean, safe and efficient. I've stayed there with family and solo. Small rooms and bathrooms if that is a problem for you. Wonderful mattresses...my big requirement. AC, apparently, never was there during hot weather. Also, it is located very near Victoria train and coach stations, and, of course, the Tube. We haven't been for a bit as we stayed at my daughter's home there for quite a few years. We were just talking about going back to London as our first post covid trip to use up our airline voucher. We'd walk a lot, walking to Buckingham Palace, down the mall, to Trafalgar Square, the strand, Westminster Abbey, etc.

But as another poster said, just find a hotel near the circle line and you will be fine. Although, we prefer to take the buses. They are easy, provide scenery and can get you to more specific addresses.

Posted by
21255 posts

Emma is correct. There is no perfect area. Just to add to the confusion. We always stay (habit) near Victoria Station,specifically in the Belgravia area west of the station. It is within walking distance of B Palace, Big Ben, etc. in central London. Our favorite hotel closed a few years ago so we have drifted to the Best Western Victoria Station - annex. Nice restaurants, pubs, and breakfast in the area. Also close to the National bus terminal. The Cherry Court Hotel mentioned up thread is in that area. We just find it to be a very comfortable area. I am sure there are other equally comfortable areas. London is absolutely huge. Even if you are from New York it is huge.

You really need to good London street map and put some pins so that you understand the distances and areas involved. We like V station because it is a major transportation hub. However, the black cabs are relative inexpensive and convenient if you don't want to use public transit. Southhampton is an easy train ride and taxi to your ship.

Posted by
1290 posts

Wray, thanks for the feedback about Cherry Court Hotel. It’s the budget hotel I’m considering. The other was recommended by Pam in a thread several months ago, Lime Tree Hotel. It’s definitely nicer but costs close to double. Both are in RS London guidebook. Who knows what will be available or cost next year or the following...

Posted by
6756 posts

Please start thinking in British currency, in Pounds, not Dollars. Good luck and enjoy London. We were getting ready to leave for London a year ago, seems like it was farther in past!

Posted by
4946 posts

Premier Inn is a good option, nice but not expensive. There is one on the south bank of the Thames near Waterloo.

Posted by
1666 posts

hey hey michelle
at the rate UK is, hope you have refundable tickets for all you have booked. here in california, it's 14 day quarantine for anyone that enters the state.
getting off that ugly subject, premiere inn, like others have mentioned, booking.com place your wants on left side, think in pounds, cross-pollinate.com has some B&B's that may inerest you.
we rented thru airbnb in covent gardens. lovely area with lots to see and do, but apartment was really bad and no longer on site. at the time you're going, look for A/C, arrival time that have luggage storage, what rule are with cancellation options
attractions are all over the place, we were near leicester square tube station, near chinatown and theatre box office.
took tube to saint james park, saw the queen's horses galloping down to palace. it was absolutely crazy, crowded, pushing and shoving. if you're short like i am, just push them back. just be prepared. you can also check queens guard on whitehall. they have cops (bobbies) that are on duty and moving or directing people out. it is a great sight to see, we loved the pagentry but always have Plan B.
keep an eye out for harry potter (wbstudiotour.co.uk) when tickets go on sale. sells out fast. see what you want and book ASAP. another site to check out is virginexperiencedays.co.uk and do a tour.
wowcher.co.uk is like groupon here in the states, thanks to emma, a poster here. has some 2 for 1
streetsensation.co.uk a list of street markets
freetoursbyfoot.com with lots of info there
eatingeurope.com food tours
thamesrockets.com boat tours on the thames
b-bakery,com tour bus afternoon tea in the big red bus passing london attractions.
afternoonteaonline if interested
jasons.co.uk boat ride up the regents canal.
visitlondon.com/london area map, discoverwalks.com, walks.com for many different walks around the city
stmartin-in-the-fields.org lunch in a crypt
we did a gin tour which was excellent, took a taxi to abbey road to walk the crosswalk, yes it's touristy but we are tourists
there is so much to see and do, no need to go out of london, you'll have a great and fun stay. we stopped at a pub and drank some beer, found a fish and chips restaurant, people watch at trafalgar square, picadilly circus, regents street, roamed thru shops. fabulous city to walk around, if you want to see a theatre show, look for reduced tickets leicester square station.
enjoy and have fun
aloha

Posted by
163 posts

Yes everything is refundable at this time.. I booked the air through the cruise line also. SO it is under Cruise with Confidence policy.. I really hope things are better.. I am tired of being locked up and so many ppl out of jobs all over the world. I will be first in line when a vaccine is available to me.

Posted by
107 posts

On our last trip, we stayed at the Mad Hatter Hotel between Blackfriars and Waterloo Station. It's built in an old millinery factory. It looked old-fashion, was close to the Tube and train and had a pub in it. It was my sister's first time in London and I wanted to stay somewhere with atmosphere. Breakfast was available. We liked that, at that time, everything in the room fridge came with the room. There was cider, beer and a jug of milk for making tea. It's surrounded by modern buildings but is close to the river, the Tate, St Pauls and reasonable restaurants. When we were there, they were poised to expand into the next building. It was a May and I don't remember what the A/C situation was. I'd stay there again. Sadly, with the current COVID situation, they are closed for the interim.

Posted by
3549 posts

I saw the train stop for the Harry Potter studios while I was on my way to Bletchley Park on a previous trip. I left London from Euston Station. The stop was well marked and you could also tell where to get off by the high number of costumed children and adults that were getting off there.......

I think I remember that this was the far reach of the Oyster Card, but you could use it as far as the station in Watford. Here is a link to the "how to get here site." https://www.wbstudiotour.co.uk/getting-here/

If your interest in WWII goes as far as an interest in how the code breakers developed early computers to solve the enigma machine codes, you won't be disappointed if you continue on to Bletchley Park after seeing Harry Potter Studios.

Posted by
85 posts

If you can commit to a better part of a day or better yet a full day you can take a tour (google viator tours Stonehenge) round trip from London to Stonehenge either alone or combined with Windsor Castle and/or Bath. We did the full day including Bath and Windsor Castle and it was great and a fond memory of all three. Stonehenge is a mystical and spiritual experience. When we visit London we stay in a short term rental that provides room, kitchenette and the experience of living like a local rather than a tourist. Often the cost is less or equal to a hotel. London is very easy to navigate with a map and taking the tube and/or occasional cab. Hoping your travels come about. Good luck and keep on planning.