My husband and I have been to England a couple of times and always headquarter in London then take the bus/rail or day coach trips to other towns and villages out in the country side. This time we would like to do the opposite-headquarter in a town outside London and experience more of the smaller town feeling. We need a town that doesn't close up at 5pm, has bus/rail service and a coach tour service that originates from that town. And, of course, some sights to see within the town. We won't be able to do a lot of walking this time due to a decline in our agility. Any suggestions? Also, looking for decent, reasonable lodging in any town that we decide to stay in. Thanks if you can help.
Last time I was in England I spent a day in St. Albans and fell in love with the place. It is an hour by train, I think, maybe less, from London. It is very lively, lots of restaurants and things going on, a street market on Fridays right near the splendid cathedral and I very much want to visit it again.
Thanks for the suggestions. Wish we had time to stay at all of them. Hopefully those we don't stay in we can certainly try to visit. Thanks again everyone.
Guildford, a cathedral city south of London in Surrey. Good train links to London and the south and SE of the UK. The Cathedral was built in the 1950's and 60's and is a magnificant building dominating the town. The town itself dates back to Saxon times and retains many of its old buidlings. Its also the home of the University of Surrey so definitely is unlikely to close down at 5.00 pm! Have a look at its Wikipedia entry for more information on the town and its history.
Bath. Good rail and bus connections, and taxi service is available. Lots to do there. Tour company:www.madmaxtours.co.uk for trips on a small comfortable mini-bus to Stonehenge/Avebury/Cotswold villages. They have recently added a day trip to Glastonbury/Wells. Bath is a good location from which to explore the Cotswolds. You could also spend several days in Bath and then move to one of the Cotswold villages for several days.
We stayed at the Castle Hotel in Windsor once and really enjoyed it (the same hotel Bill Bryson talks about in "Notes from a Small Island". Easy to get into London and do day trips from there if needed.
I was a little confused by your question. Are you looking for a town outside London to use as a base for seeing things in London? If so, it will be a suburb and not very interesting in itself, unless it's someplace like Greenwich or Windsor. And you'll spend a lot of time getting in and out of the big city.
If you're looking for a place to base yourselves somewhere else in England, as a contrast to London, then you have a lot of choices. Chester would be a good one for the reasons the previous poster mentioned. Bath would be another. Oxford could be a base for the Cotswolds and Blenheim as well as for itself. Canterbury for its cathedral, walled center, and as a base for other places in Kent. Salisbury for itself and Stonehenge and Winchester etc. If you have enough time you could pick a couple of places in different regions.
If I were you I'd look at a good guidebook for some area or city that interests you for whatever reason(s). The guidebook should tell you about train and bus connections, tours to nearby sights, places to stay and eat. It's not the Bible but it's a good starting point. I like Rick Steves guides and Lonely Planet guides but there are others too.