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Please critique my London itinerary!

Hi, all! Just trying to get a prelim itinerary down on paper for our upcoming September trip and I welcome all suggestions/critiques. (Aside from hotel and flights, nothing else has been/can be booked yet.) Especially beneficial are comments on our planned transportation (rail journeys, river travel, etc) and making sure we don’t have an attraction on a day it’s not available, etc. Sorry if this turns into a novel!

Bit of background: this is a mother/(adult) daughter trip, a realization (finally) of a trip we were supposed to take in March 2020, but did not get to do. We have visited London previously, as a family, back in 2017, so the landscape is not entirely unfamiliar to us.

Our itinerary may seem busy to some, but not to us. We like to fit in as much as possible, but none of these will be a quick stop to tick off a box. If we can’t get to everything each day, we are quite willing to cut out things. I have put the most important site first each day, and we love getting to a site just as it opens each morning, for the fewest crowds. I have tried to group our attractions close each day, but this wasn’t always possible. Similarly, I have picked one thing to visit in the morning and one in the afternoon. If we have free time, we want to just walk around or chill in a few of the many parks around the city - Hyde Park, St. James’s, Kensington, etc.

Restaurants listed are ones I’ve come across so far and liked the sound of. Our list is ongoing, and I’m sure we will keep adding to it, up to the day we leave for London. We are big fans of pub grub (we love the listed menu for the Devonshire Arms), especially pates, pies, fish/chips and sticky puddings. Also cheese and charcuterie. Any favorite restaurant suggestions you have would be welcome. Not as fond of Indian food, but willing to try. Also, we would love to find a Japanese restaurant that offers motsunabe (hot pot), as we tried it in New York City and loved it. (Not sure if that’s a thing in London or not.) I have a link to the place that we visited, if you need more of a visual reference.

Thanks in advance for any and all advice! Itinerary will be posted in replies.

Posted by
228 posts

Day 1 - Tues, Sept 12
-arrive Heathrow/9:30a; customs/luggage, shower/breakfast in arrivals lounge
-Picadilly line to Kensington hotel (Park City Grand Plaza ); check in or leave luggage
-Borough Market for late lunch/shopping
-purchase decoy tix for 2FOR1 offers (Queenstown Rd to Vauxhall, then VH to QR return) at London Bridge station
-possibly tour Old Operating Theater or All Hallows Church
-supper: Devonshire Arms, Kensington

Day 2 - Wed, Sept 13
-breakfast possibilities Cafe Nero, Over Under Coffee, Pret Earl’s Court tube, others mentioned in responses below
-Tower of London; buy tix on site at 9:10-ish, crown jewels then Beefeater tour; use 2FOR1 offer (voucher req’d)

-possibly visit Tower Bridge (2FOR1, advance booking req’d)
-lunch: Town of Ramsgate pub
-Imperial War Museum
-supper: Pick & Cheese (Seven Dials Market); £10 to reserve

Day 3 - Thurs, Sept 14
-brkfst:
-Audley End House (daughter’s request); (2FOR1, paper voucher)
-Earl’s Court to Victoria (District line) to Tottenham Hale (Victoria Line) ; TH to AE on Nat Rail (9:58-11:30, for off-peak); taxi to/from; lunch on site
-London Transport Museum, if time (2FOR1, paper voucher)
-supper: Doggett’s Coat & Badge, then wander area for nighttime photos

Day 4 - Fri, Sept 15
--brkfst:
-Westminster Abbey: pre-book Hidden Highlights tour; sign up for verger tour on site
-lunch:
-rest at hotel if needed or visit parks
-Victoria & Albert Museum (late night); supper at museum (make reservations)

Day 5 - Sat, Sept 16
-brkfst: Speedy’s Sandwich Bar (Sherlock fan)
-British Museum; reserve tea upon entering, for later lunch, 13 or 14:00
-plan to leave around 15 or 16:00
-possibly tour Treasures room at Library
-supper:
-walks.com walking tour (19:30-21:30); Ghosts of the Old City

Day 6 - Sun, Sept 17
-breakfast:
-Nat'l History Museum
-lunch:
-Tate Britain, if time

-supper: Ivy Kensington Brasserie or the Hereford Arms
-London Eye (daughter’s request): 2FOR1/advance booking); more night pix

Day 7 - Mon., Sept 18
-brkfst:
-St. Paul’s cathedral; pre-book Triforium tour
-later lunch:
-possibly Temple Church; check for special events closer to trip
-possibly library treasures room if not earlier
-supper:
-Tower: Ceremony of the Keys; reserve starting Aug. 1 (no guarantees, I know)

Day 8 - Tues, Sept 19
-brkfst:
-Greenwich: Maritime Museum, Royal Observ, Meridian, maybe Cutty Sark
-use 2FOR1 with Uber Boat?
-Earl’s Court to Embankment, take Uber boat/Thames Clipper to N. Greenwich
-go two zones, travel 8:57-9:39, attractions open at 10a; return?
-lunch in Greenwich:
-maybe City Cruises ship back?/flex tix; 14:50 or 15:30, to Westminster or London Eye
-supper:
-theater: possibly the Play That Goes Wrong

Day 9 - Wed., Sept 20
-brkfst:
-postal museum/mail rail; site advises pre-booking/non-refundable
-lunch:
-London Mithraeum
-Leadenhall Market; supper: Luc’s Brasserie
-Sky Garden: maybe

Day 10 - Thurs., Sept 21
-brkfst:
-Spitalfields Antique Market early
-maybe Globe Theater Tour (2FOR1; advance booking)
-lunch: in town early or at airport departure lounge
-leave by noon, to get to airport by 1p; flight out at 4p

EDITED TO NOTE: Based on some responses I received below, I have updated some of our schedule above

Posted by
3304 posts

Looks like a well thought out itinerary! I have no critique, but we will just miss you as we will be in London for 11days starting September 28th. You are further along in your planning than I am, but I did buy tickets to SIX yesterday!
edited adding that I can’t wait to see your scrapbook!

Posted by
228 posts

Hi, Tammy!

Awww - sorry we’ll miss you! It would have been fun to get together! I guess we’ll just have to keep trading photo books online! 😆

-cathy

Posted by
11354 posts

I have two restaurants for you. There are several Ivy restaurants and the best one is in Covent Garden and the one with lowest ratings is in Kensington. We had dinner on Christmas Eve in Ivy Covent Garden , fun, good food.
For a special big birthday we had dinner at Elyston Street, nice vibe, excellent experience.
We have stayed in Chelsea and Kensington on recent trips to London.

Posted by
1128 posts

I believe your train ticket has to be valid for travel on the day you use the 2for1. I’m pretty sure on that route the ticket will only be valid on the day you purchase it unless you buy a weekly ticket. There are very knowledgeable posters here when it comes to trains so I’m sure they will help you out with this.

The Ivy Covent Garden is the original Ivy, which was famous in the UK for being a celebrity haunt and papparazzi hangout. The restaurant was sold and the new owners have capitalised in the brand recognition by opening a chain of ‘Ivy Brasseries’ around the country. These all have nice decor and look a bit fancy but the food is distinctly average.

Posted by
27357 posts

A few random thoughts:

The Imperial War Museum is large and quite time-consuming. That's a place where you should take a look at the website and pre-plan how you want to spend your time. The Museum often has small special exhibitions (none that I ever had to pay for); I really enjoyed those as well as the various parts of the permanent exhibition. I can tell you that the audio guide is good but basically duplicates the written material posted throughout the Museum, so you should decide how you want the info presented to you and use only one source, to avoid wasting time.

In the past, only the ground floor of the V&A has been open past the normal closing time. Check with the information desk on the current policy when you arrive. You'll probably want to start upstairs. Note also that part of the ground floor in under a skylight, and the artificial lighting seems to have been designed just to supplement that light. There will be no light coming through the skylight during the latter part of the extended hours, so it's best not to leave that part of the ground floor till last. Even with the long hours, you really won't have time for the entire museum, which is large and has some odd traffic patterns, so spend some time on the website before your trip to decide which areas are most important to you. The jewelry collection can be seen most efficiently by being at the museum at opening time and hitting the jewelry first. After 15 or 20 minutes, you will begin to have company in that area and will not be able to move around at will. The museum is popular (as is the restaurant), but the jewelry area is the only one where I remember a concentration of people.

The British Museum is a monster--another place where you'll have to be selective. The ground floor, especially the Egyptian area, tends to be the most crowded. Those in positions to know (including a museum guard) have told me the Museum is busiest on weekends, Fridays and rainy days. The rain's not predictable in advance, but you might benefit by switching the Museum from Sunday to Monday-Thursday. On the other hand, it's going to be very busy no matter what day you go.

I'm a big fan of LondonWalks and would recommend checking its walk schedule every day to see whether there's something starting in the neighborhood you'll be in, in case you have extra time. You don't have to book and pay way in advance. In fact, last September I just showed up for 2 or 3 walks. That wasn't a problem since none had a lot of participants.

Posted by
228 posts

Suki,
Thanks for the reccs! I will certainly check out the restaurants you mentioned. I love having all this variety to choose from!

Helen,
Thanks for the warning, but I think we'll be ok. From all the research I've done on decoy tix, I can buy the inbound Queenstown Rd to Vauxhall for "coming" Sept. 13 and the outbound (VH to QR) "returning" on Sept. 22, and be able to use the 2FOR1 tix anytime in that time frame. It kind of makes sense, too, since if you actually were using these as real tix, why would they limit your offer to just your first day of arrival? Of course, if someone has tried the same thing in the last few weeks or so, I would love to hear how it went for them!!

Acraven,
The War Museum is one of those dd and I aren't sure we're going to like, so that's why we put it later on. But it's so nice to know we can always scoot in later if we have more down time and feel shortchanged. But, yes, as with all those huge museums, we know to pre-select those displays we want to see most, then work our way down our lists. We visited the British Museum the last time we were in London, and barely scratched the surface, so I know where you're coming from (hence our return)! Thanks for the tips on V&A. Yes, jewelry first, then the rest. :) Good to know about the lighting - I've never seen that mentioned anywhere before. I'm also thinking of adding another London Walks to our trip, depending on how we get along each day. It would be fun and another thing to do at night.

Posted by
228 posts

Not sure if anyone would be interested, but I here's a link to a photo book I did after our last England trip in 2017. London starts on slide 26. Just click on "England/Wales 2017" at the top. Shows up best on a larger screen. You can see how we don't do down time much! :)

www.notallwhowanderarelost.us

Posted by
4062 posts

The Victoria and Albert is planning several special exhibitions in September. These shows can be eclectic -- I learned a lot about the history of plywood once. For your plans, you should know that there can be admission tickets, which can be bought in advance. National museums are free, but not necessarily the popular special attractions.

Posted by
15563 posts

Let me start by saying my regular London digs are a three minute walk from your hotel and I pass it when I take the shortcut to Whole Foods. I know the neighborhood.

For breakfast, on Earls Court Road you also have Pauls (a French bakery chain), Greggs (another sandwich/pastry place next door to Pauls), and the Blackbird pub if you want a full English. Over Under Coffee is cashless.

If you go the other direction--west--towards Gloucester Road--you can pick up the same tube lines there. Both Pret and Pauls have locations across from the station. It is a two minute longer walk but you are headed in the right direction for your days activities in town.

I have eaten at the Devonshire Arms. I got sick. That was a few years ago so maybe it was a one off. It also gets very crowded after work as it a very popular pub with the local residents. (More locals than tourists.)

There is another pub near you--the Builders Arms--that I prefer. It's not far from your hotel but somewhat hidden. (The walk to it includes a passageway that will save lots of time.)

Day 5 is crazy.......Hotel to Euston for breakfast then back near your hotel for museum. Move Speedy's breakfast to the next day where it is an easy walk to the British Museum.

Posted by
228 posts

Frank,
Thanks for the reccs! For breakfast so far, I was just going off a quick Google maps search of the area, so having suggestions from someone who lives there is great. I was trying to find spots that would open early, and do take-away, as we like to hit up the attractions early, but I think we'll have a few mornings we could do sit-down.

I think we'll be doing mostly cashless this trip. While I use my contactless cc routinely here at home, I've yet to be dragged into the digital age of using it all on my phone. Going to load it up this week and practice before our trip. Dd, meanwhile, is completely comfortable with any and all phone usage, including contactless. No worries there.

I will keep in mind about the Devonshire Arms. The online menu looked great, and the reviews, while mixed, generally seemed good. I'll check more before we go.

And I'm so glad you pointed out how close Speedy's is to the Brit Museum! I will gladly change it to the following day, as it slides in nicely there. Dd is such a (tv) Sherlock fan, so she wanted a return visit to the area, and I didn't want to disappoint; last time it was just for pix; now she wants to eat there! Sigh.

Posted by
483 posts

Having recently returned...

Buy Tower of London in advance. Skip the line, hit the crown jewels, get your Beefeaters on, and then maybe look at the stuff in the White Tower, or one of the other locations within if it appeals.

Tower Bridge seemed to me to be a bit of a tourist trap, maybe not worth the time. We walked across, walked back, had no inclination to go up. Your mileage will vary.

IWM is quite large, and I dunno that I'd do it after the ToL, as they're both big sites that can eat a lot of time.

Westminster Abbey: Do add the Queen's Jubilee Galleries and an hour to your time estimate. Easily the best GBP 5 I spent in London (GAIL's Croissants and Long Blacks at Granger and Co notwithstanding).

Tate Britain can be a fast museum unless you're interested in whatever they have special on or you have an (IMO) inordinate love of staid portraits of nobility and tranquil landscapes. For us, it delivered in the back half of the Walk through British Art history, starting with maybe Hogarth, really with JMW Turner, and then getting great with the Pre-Raphaelites and John Singer Sargent.

British Museum. I could happily live there. We intended to just see the Assyrian and the Parthenon Marbles, but wound up hitting the entire Egyptian and much of the Greek in addition. And we didn't scratch the surface of the museum, despite hitting the three highest traffic areas. Sutton Hoo, Lewis Chessmen, Japan, and more. See what's on, make your picks. Do not miss Assyria, as there is no Assyrian exhibit in the world that is it's equal. Their Egypt is probably better than the Met's in New York, but is a mess of people.

We didn't hit the Library treasures room, but if I were to do it, it would be on the day with the British Museum. It's less than a mile walk, then from the Library, quick walk to Euston or KC/St. Pancras for the tube. The Library is a cool 2 mile walk from St. Pauls, and if you climb the dome (which you absolutely should if you can, and we middle aged overweight Americans did), you might not want to do that walk. Leadenhall Market is near to St. Pauls or the Tower, and quite close to the Mithraeum, making that make sense.

Looks a great trip, cannot comment on the season. For my impressions of the sites I mentioned, my trip report is complete, save the conclusions, here.

Posted by
228 posts

Southam, I just found the Chanel exhibition listed, to open Sept. 16. Hmm, I bet dd would be interested in that. I'm not much into fashion, but I will gladly tag along. They don't list tix prices yet - do you know on average how much they usually run?

Posted by
15563 posts

You need to check, but it looks like Speedy's is closed on Sundays. Why not move Speedy's and the British museum to Saturday and the Natural History Museum to Sunday.

Posted by
228 posts

Max, thanks so much for your reply! Quite a wealth of info.

Since we will be there in Sept, do you really think we need to reserve Tower tix ahead of time? I've been told by others to just get there around 9:10/9:15 (when opening at 9), at which point most of the line will have gone down. I will certainly keep it in mind, though. And we're still iffy on actually going into/up? the Bridge. Might just add that time onto the Tower itself. As I said before, we put IWM here, because we're still not sure how much we'll like it.

For Westminster, the Queen's Galleries are included in the behind the scenes tour (Hidden Highlights), something they seemed to have added since our planned but never taken March 2020 trip. Greatly looking forward to it!! I have no problem with a (really) late lunch, and we had already built in free time after Westminster initially, if we go long.

Tate Britian will probably not be a huge time investment. Dd is a graphic designer, and loves anything art, but I have told her she can't live there all day. She understands that it's not so much my thing. Now the Brit Museum, on the other hand, we both absolutely love. Last time we were there as a family, we spent five hours (including tea) and never finished. Gotta definitely plan that one carefully. I didn't add the Library treasures room here initially, so that we could go long on the Brit Museum if needed. However, if we find we are getting museum-ed out there, a nice quiet library visit might be in order. We loved the Treasures room in the NYC public library, and got a good look there in about 75 min., so I'd expect the same here.

Going to sit down after supper, when I can put my feet up and really enjoy your trip report. I love trip reports!!!!

Posted by
228 posts

Frank, good catch! Dang, I didn't even notice online that Sunday was missing for Speedy's. Yes, I think switching those two days would work, as long as we paced ourselves in the Brit Museum. We really liked the particular walking tour we planned for that night, but it appears it's only on Saturdays, so can't change that. Will run it by dd, but I think she'll be ok with it. It's probably a good thing we can only stay until 17:00 at the Museum then (16:30 if they start shooing us out early)!!

Posted by
27357 posts

I'd expect the Chanel exhibit to cost between £15 and £25, and it may sell out early. It's my impression that special exhibitions linked to fashion, the royals and famous rock stars tend to be very popular.

I think you need to take a look at the website of the Design Museum. I liked it a lot. It's free/donation requested but often has a special exhibition running that has an entry fee.

Posted by
6460 posts

I am actually impressed with this itinerary, notably going through Tottenham Hale for Audley End.
Helen from Bristol mentioned about the 2for1 offers, and rail restrictions on them.
Have you got them through Rail sources or by other means, as some of those 2for1's seem unusual to have got in connection with rail tickets.

Posted by
228 posts

isn31c,
Thanks. The Tottenham Hale journey was just what came up when I did a Google maps direction request. Seemed pretty straightforward to me - is it not a usual route? I'm actually more worried about getting a taxi back to the train station after our day of touring. AE website talked about taxis, didn't mention buses, but didn't exactly say how to go about getting such taxi return.

When I looked into the 2FOR1 offers, I was using the National Rail's Days Out Guide website:

www.daysoutguide.co.uk/search-results?o=1

(hope the link works). Up in the right hand corner of the main page, it lists "how to claim your offer" with "travel by train" and "present voucher or online tickets and train tickets" being steps three and four. Perhaps it goes more in depth elsewhere, but again, I'm going by what others have reported works (with decoy tix) in the recent past.

Posted by
228 posts

Ok, found it on the same website under "travel by train" then "is my ticket valid" - "Is my ticket valid for 2FOR1 and other offers?"

"If you are making a return journey, you can use your National Rail ticket to qualify for 2FOR1 and other offers on any day on or between your outward and return dates. For example, if you arrived on Thursday and will return on Sunday, your tickets will be considered valid for 2FOR1 and other offers on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday."

Posted by
228 posts

All the places I want to use 2FOR1 with, are listed on the same Nat Rail website. I only found a few that we wanted to do (ie postal museum/mail rail) that did not allow the 2FOR1.

Posted by
6460 posts

On the contrary Tottenham Hale is the 'Londoners' Way. Most tourists would go to Liverpool Street for the train. There didn't used to be Advance Tickets from TH to main line destinations, which weighed against it, but there are now.
I would look at the FAQ's for the 2for1's in London as it says you can't use an Oyster card or any kind of TfL fare on them- it has to be a national rail ticket.
So for instance Greenwich has a main line station within the Zonal system, but you could only redeem 2for1 if you had got there on a National Rail ticket.
Tower Bridge is especially interesting, as basically you can't get there by tube to use 2for1. You would need to have arrived at say Fenchurch Street on a c2c (the 'big train' operator) ticket.

Posted by
975 posts

There is no need to book the Tower of London in advance. Queues are never very long at all and if, as you plan, you turn up 10-15 minutes after opening you will be fine. In any event any tickets bought in advance will not "skip the line" for security, which everyone has to go through.

Posted by
228 posts

Isn31c,
The way it was explained to me was that I could use the 2FOR1 offers simply by using what some call "decoy" train tix. I would go and buy (but not actually use) the equivalent of two inexpensive round trip tickets, for two people - in this instance, Queenstown Rd to Vauxhall (two tickets, singles) then VH to QR return trip (2 tix, singles). This our "journey" to and from London. They will qualify me for most of the sites I listed. I'm buying them to "travel in" on the day after we arrive, and "leave" on the day after we fly back home (per my last post.)

However, not all of the 2FOR1 will qualify using these decoy QR to VH and back tix; going to Audley End, for example, we actually need to buy tix for that route, which isn't an issue, though, since we are actually traveling by train to get there.

I admit, it did take a bit for me to wrap my brain around. But others have been doing it for quite some time now (I remember hearing about them when planning our 2020 trip) and it seems to work well. (Full disclosure: most of my knowledge of this comes from the Trip Advisor London forum. Quite a lot of literature on it there.)

Posted by
6460 posts

For the taxi back I would either arrange a time with your outward taxi, or note down his phone number, probably the former.
The taxi office is at the Station and is 01799 522226 (a UK number) so maybe pre-arrange with them.
The bus information is what I would call opaque. It may defy logic but there is no bus from the station to the house. Instead buses run from stations at Cambridge, Bishop's Stortford and Stansted Airport, all of which adds time and complications, just do the taxi route. It's simpler.

Posted by
228 posts

Isn31c,
Awesome! Glad for the clarification and info. I rather thought that would be the case, but then you start second-guessing, ie- what if the taxi doesn't come back when planned, what if they close early, etc. Knowing the taxi stand is at the train station, I will just take care of it all before we head over to the manor. Yes, much simpler. Thanks!

Posted by
33130 posts

a couple of things about your 2 for 1 plans. I hope you are successful but you are sailing close to the wind.

The 2 for 1 scheme changes regularly and September is a long way off. Various attractions join and drop off from time to time. What are the expiration dates of the ones you have chosen? Also - old coupons aren't always accepted. Be prepared.

Also - I see that you have done a lot of searching and studying about what you call decoy tickets. I can tell you, having worked on British railways with responsibility for tickets for decades before retiring, neither the train operators (which it appears you have no interest in actually using) not the people selling tickets at attractions and viewing the supporting documents are fools.

You're intending to go up and present a ticket for one stop on the inner London railway as proof that you have travelled by train to the attraction when your ticket destination (Vauxhall) is miles across town from the attraction. You need to have a plan when it is not accepted. There was a whole little pocket business a few years ago figuring out the cheapest way to beat the system. TfL, the railways and the attractions worked it out nearly as quickly and are prepared.

Quoting from https://www.daysoutguide.co.uk/faqs FAQs:

Where must I travel to/from to get 2FOR1 or other offers?
All tickets should show that you have travelled to the attraction by train, whether that be ‘London Terminals’ for 2FOR1 London or other offer attractions, or the train station nearest to the attraction itself. Tickets that have a destination too far from the attraction’s location may be denied by attraction staff. Details of the attractions nearest station can be found on the attraction’s listing page.

Posted by
6460 posts

Oh that's want that odd journey is all about!!
There used to be another version of that trick to qualify to get a type of national railcard, to purchase an annual season ticket between two Isle of Wight stations.

Posted by
6460 posts

Nigel was typing at the same time as me. I would take his warning very seriously and is essentially what I said at 6.11pm.
So for The Tower of London and Tower Bridge you would have to take DLR to Limehouse, then C2C back to Fenchurch Street.
That's assuming Limehouse has a National Rail ticket machine- I'm not 100% certain it has, you might have to go district line all the way to Barking and back.
For Greenwich a South Eastern train to Greenwich, you would need to do the Globe and the London Transport Museum, the same day as Greenwich.
Even that may not work if the attraction takes away that half of the return ticket- so if Greenwich took the outward part of the train ticket off you for accounting reasons, and the LT museum took the inward part, you would then be snookered for the Globe.
Under Community Guideline #7 it is not permitted to encourage you to undertake a potentially illegal act, as Nigel suggests that the Trip Advisor information may be.

Posted by
1128 posts

It’s probably worth clarifying that ‘London Terminals’ means the main stations that travellers from outside London would arrive in, so Paddington, Euston, Waterloo etc. you can then travel on to the attraction by means other than the railways eg tube, bus taxi.

The offer is meant to encourage people to travel into London by train rather than driving or taking the coach.

Posted by
483 posts

This just dawned on me. Your Sunday plan has the BM with tea service there. Sunday is the day for Sunday Roast/Lunch/Dinner. If you enjoy that pub food, you kinda have to do the elevated version that is Sunday Roast. Highly recommended to fit that in.

Posted by
228 posts

Nigel,
While I understand you don't like the idea of others using these so-called "decoy" tickets, and I've obviously hit upon a subject that evokes strong feelings on both sides, I respectfully don't agree that makes their use invalid. I did a lot of research on these over the last few weeks, and this is what I found on both the Days Out and National Rail websites. (And I would not call rail or attraction workers fools; simply, that based on what is on the websites, there is no logical argument against this practice.)

First, these are National Rail tickets, yes? (check), that are part of a return journey (check), "on any day on or between your outward and return dates" (check, as I confirmed for myself earlier today)

Ok. Now for the important part of your quote: "whether that be London terminals or the train station nearest to the attraction itself." Vauxhall is considered a London terminal according to the National Rail enquiries website:

"In addition, the following stations, whilst not technically a London terminus are considered to be 'London Terminals' for ticketing purposes
City Thameslink,
Vauxhall,
London Waterloo East,
Old Street (on journeys starting north of London and via Kings Cross St Pancras only)

Next, "tickets that have a destination too far from the attraction's location may be denied by attraction staff." Correct me if I'm wrong, but almost all of the attractions we wish to use the 2FOR1 tix for are in zones 1/2 (with the exception of Audley End, which I already acknowledged, and Greenwich, which I'm unsure of and still have to research those workings further.) According to the Tube map, Vauxhall is in Zone 1. My booked hotel, near Earl's Court in Kensington, is in zone 1, and not all that far from Vauxhall. I don't think Vauxhall can be disqualified as "too far", given that Google maps says I can get to the Tower in less time from Vauxhall, than i can from Earl's Court. It's illogical to say that if I stayed in a hotel near Vauxhall (which I could do if my return train departure were several days away), I would not be inclined to do anything on my itinerary because everything would be "miles across town." That main attractions would be too far away. By that same token, then, you would be able to make the argument that everyone staying in a hotel in the vicinity of Earl's Court - roughly the same distance away - would also be too far away from the main attractions.

As to whether or not these decoy tickets are valid, well, tell me that using them is against the law, and I will be the first to refuse their use. If it's more of a grey area, then I'm ok with it. Has anything concrete been done to stop their use over the last few years? Why is it still allowed to occur if it's illegal? Have you actually tried using them yourself, to see if anyone stops you from "getting away with it," as you seem to imply we would be doing?

So, is it silly to think someone would travel just that short distance from Queenstown Rd. by train instead of car, then just get a hotel near Vauxhall? Probably. Not allowed, though? No.

As to September being several months away, I do know to check the Days Out website often before our trip. Yes, some of the dates listed on the Days Out website today expire before then, but I'm guessing we will know which program sites are renewed and which are not long before we travel. I haven't ordered anything yet, nor have I printed any vouchers. Time enough for that later.

I will be sure to come back here after our trip, and report how it went using, or not using, the decoy tickets.

Posted by
228 posts

Max,
I hate to say it, but we . . . . eek . . . aren't big roast people. Plus, I'd rather make that a meal for supper and it's my understanding that most roasts are served for lunch, reserved, and generally sell out by mid-afternoon. Please correct me if I'm wrong, and we may venture forth to try one for supper!

Posted by
33130 posts

I have no intention to argue and I am sure that you are positive that you are doing the right thing.

You asked for, and gave thanks in advance, for any and all advice. I'm passing on the knowledge from my decades of working in the industry, and, despite my current location, similar amounts of time in and around London.

I'd hoped to save you embarrassment and difficulty.

As I said in my previous reply, I hope that you and your family have a wonderful visit.

Posted by
228 posts

Isn31c,
Per your response about Community Guideline #7, I am concerned now!!! Is it indeed illegal then? It was not my intent to promote anything illegal! If you could you please forward the official online link, I will draw attention to it, we can once and for all set that to rest, and I will take down those part of my posts immediately!! Thanks!

Nigel,
I, too, am not interested in a feud of any kind. As I had hoped (and seen from earlier posts) that this was a community where all can learn from the travel experiences of others, I was trying to get help tightening up my itinerary, but also in a way, forward on what I have learned so far from my initial research. When I first posted my itinerary, I assumed the use of these tickets was a common and accepted practice, as it seemed to be so on several of the other travel forums I follow.

I do thank you for your post, as I believe in showing all sides of a position, and we will keep your points in mind as we travel in September. As I said, I will certainly report on our experiences this fall, as I like to pass on what did or did not work for us. And, nah, we don't embarrass easily. Thanks for your good wishes.

Posted by
5356 posts

A ticket with Vauxhall as the destination is not the same as a ticket with 'London Terminals' as the destination, even if Vauxhall is valid for a ticket with the destination of 'London Terminals'. Hope that makes sense.

One that was from Vauxhall to London Terminals would be though.

If you wanted to not cause suspicions by using a well known dodgers' ticket I would recommend buying 2 bookending cheap Advance tickets with an origin from way outside London. No one would query those.

Posted by
27357 posts

Just a bit of background information that might (or might not) be helpful: As of 2019 one could buy a weekly travel card for the Underground at a rail station (as opposed to an Underground station) and use that travel card with the National Rail logo to qualify for 2-for-1 offers in London. That loophole was closed at some point after I returned from my trip in September 2019. The other changes mentioned in this thread probably happened at the same time. The intent to tighten requirements seems clear, but I don't know what that means for the specific plans you have.

Posted by
5356 posts

Paper 7-day zonal travel cards were taken offsale on 1st June 2022 and are now issued only on Oyster cards or train operator ITSO cards.

Posted by
228 posts

Thanks Marco and acraven. I will keep those in mind as I continue my web research.

Posted by
1128 posts

I think Marco’s idea is the best one. Just buy an advance return ticket from outside London. Someone on here will know which ones will be the cheapest option.

I personally would feel embarrassed trying to use the tickets you first proposed as anyone living in London will know they are weird tickets to have and you have bought them solely for this purpose. But I probably care too much about this kind of thing.

Posted by
228 posts

Thanks Helen. As I said, we don’t embarrass easily. 😎 But, hey, I’m up for any suggestions. If anyone has other rail trip tix suggestions, I’m all ears!

Posted by
6460 posts

Hello again,

I had read your response and felt that we had all done what we could do. I wasn't going to push the matter further. We have given you our advice and you have given us your thoughts.
No one here can tell you what to do, we can advise. It is your judgement call.
Reading everything including the Trip Advisor material it is exploiting a loophole, is a reasonable phrase. As long as it has been made clear that this is not playing by the real intentions of the scheme, and that there is the potential for it to go wrong, and that our considered opinion is such, then we have done our job. Bear in mind that the webmaster is reading these posts, and ensuring that we are in full compliance.
We are not encouraging you to do something, that feels wrong, as gut instinct, from experience. Nigel has a huge amount of front line experience. I was also trained in the use of fare manuals (for rail, ferry and air) and such as travel agency skills, and see the issue here. In some ways I am treating you as a paying client.
Both of us have done our 'jobs' and complied with the forum rules.
I actually think that whatever happens this thread should stay up, as information to others.
In my mind (notwithstanding that Vauxhall is technically a terminal) it would be more sensible to book to Waterloo, as some of the forward tube journeys from Vauxhall are eccentric. Do that and I think your potential problem is very significantly lessened. That is not advice, it is what I would be inclined to do if I wanted to 'push the rules'. I would be happy to argue that one, personally, with a TTI and, if need be, the BtP. If I was still prosecuted, having booked to Waterloo, I would have my day in court.
There may be case law to be made here, from a test case. Do I want a visitor to do that- no I don't.

I think the 2for1 website is extremely confusing, as if you live in Berkshire then until the Elizabeth line the normal terminal station was Paddington (although Waterloo is also valid on SWT). Yet the website says the ticket has to be to the closest terminal station, and actually names that station. Your detailed commentary is very interesting and raises very valid points. It is all very badly written IMHO.
One of the odd things is that I live in North West England, but for various reasons if I have a full price ticket, I can take some very silly routes into London and legitimately arrive at any terminal station, even in South London, but would never advise anyone else to do that, because they don't know the history of why and how that is possible.
And do take the point, please, that one such ticket may not last you for several days. It would be legitimate practice for an attraction to with hold the relevant part of your ticket for their accountancy use as there will be revenue sharing happening behind the schemes.
Please have a good time while you are here, welcome back to Britain, and congratulations on a good itinerary.

This is much longer than I planned to write, and has taken me a full hour to do so. I didn't actually want to write so much about myself either.

Goodnight and happy travels.

Posted by
6460 posts

Re- Helen's latest thought an advance return (technically two singles, as there is no advance return per se) from Oxford at £12 is likely as cheap as anything- £6 each way.
There may be cheaper but that's the one that springs to mind, late at night.

Posted by
228 posts

Isn31c,
I do want to thank you for your well-thought out reply. You do bring up valid points. As I mentioned to Nigel, it was not my intent to argue or do something illegal. I just wanted to point out where I was coming from, as prior reading seemed to consider it a common and reasonable practice. It was also not my intent to come on so strong, as I see now after re-reading my one post. I regret that.

I still think the use of these tickets is valid, but can see how it could be said their use isn't clear cut. Having said that, if we use them, I will switch to Waterloo, not Vauxhall. It does makes more sense. Just out of curiosity, wouldn't Oxford be considered too far away? (But then, I'm hardly an expert the boundaries of London and its outskirts as a whole.)

Thank you for the good wishes!

Posted by
5356 posts

A pair of Advance singles from & to Oxford bookending your trip would be fine for the offer and if you are booking far enough ahead will be £6 each or so.

Posted by
1128 posts

No, Oxford would not be too far away. The idea is to encourage visitors from anywhere on the country to travel into London by Train. People living outside of London are the main target market.

Posted by
33130 posts

regarding Oxford. Not too far away. That is the exact point. The 2 for 1 programme is operated by the railway companies - and we all know what a rough ride they have had recently - in order to build traffic and increase usage of the railways for leisure by offering a quite good deal. The idea is travel to the place and attraction you want to visit by rail and stay, maybe a day, maybe a holiday, and eventually return. While you are at your destination take advantage of the deal. Some deals are in rural Essex, some scattered across the nation, some in and around London.

A person travelling from Oxford to London as a tourist makes absolute sense. A person travelling from Queenstown Road (Nine Elms or Battersea) to Vauxhall, 1 and a half miles, less than half an hour's walk, is much less likely to be travelling to London for a holiday...