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Request for London Itinerary Assistance

My daughter and I will be traveling to London in June and I am looking for guidance on finalizing our itinerary. We will be staying at the London House Hotel in the Bayswater/Nottingham area. I have overwhelmed myself with information and thus have come up with very little as far as a plan, unfortunately. My initial thought had been to have something "structured" or definitely planned in every other day and allowing us to do things on the "unscheduled" days as we saw them in passing, say on the Hop On/Hop Off bus. But my brain is not comfortable with this approach and I need more structure. This is a trip of a lifetime and I do not want to leave anything out for my daughter. So, I appeal to you for help.

Hope to Take In the Following: Madame Tussaud's, Westminister Abbey, Theatre, Shopping, Boat Ride on the Thames, Harrod's, London Eye - and basically everything else. Is it best to try to see things in particular regions/areas for best use of time and energy?

Day 1
Arrive early AM and take Heathrow Express to Paddington and then walk to hotel. (assume that we will get to hotel by 10:30 to store luggage)
- Looking at Steve's proposed schedule: then onto Tower of London, although it will be after his suggested timeframe of 9:00

Day 2
"Essential London Tour" booked for 9:50 am
- then possible Hop On/Hop Off bus tour
- theatre in the evening or London Eye ride?

Day 3
Train to Harry Potter with tickets at 10:30 am; should be back around 2 ish?
- suggestions on what we should do upon returning to London; possible museum afternoon

Day 4
Open for suggestions

Day 5
Open for suggestions

Day 6
Possible day trip to Windsor or Cambridge

Day 7
Tea at Claridge's @ 3:00 pm

Day 8
Catch Up/Repeat Items

Day 9

Thank you very much for your words of wisdom!


Posted by
7358 posts

No argument from me for taking the costly Heathrow Express to Paddington Station. For a trip of a lifetime I too would want to get to my destination in 15 minutes. Couple of things; Once you get settled do the following, walk out the door and walk over to the nearby Bayswater Underground station. Get your Oyster cards and a free pocket sized tube map which are nearly always at the manned ticket counter . Great to use for your daily treks. Instead of going to the Tower of London, Mind the Gap and take a Circle or District Line (Yellow or Green) to the Westminster stop. Get off the train and follow signage to the EXIT that stays Westminster Bridge, London Eye. You'll exit onto the walkway along the Thames and see the London Eye across the Thames to your left. Westminster Bridge to your right. Turn right towards the stairs and look up. Smile and begin your visit. Climb up the steps and walk across the street (only with the light and pay attention to the signage at your feet), see Parliament and then cross the street to visit Westminster Abbey. You'll be hungry by now so cross the street in front off the Abbey to Tothill Street (use Googel maps satellite view to follow these directions) . Follow Tothill for a long block (away from Storey's Gate) up to Dartmouth Street and turn right. Follow Dartmouth another long block to where it curves and you'll find the charming Two Chairman Public House. Walk in and enjoy a meal and if you partake, a pint. Then out the front door and walk street up the street directly in front of you, which is Queen's Anne Gate. The townhouses along the walk are memorable and often used as film locations. At the end of the block turn right and exit via a gate over to Birdcage Walk. Turn left and follow it adjacent to St. James Park up to Buckingham Palace. Cross over to the statue of Queen Victoria. From there you can walk back down the tree lined Mall to Trafalger Square and visit the National Gallery.

London is a very walkable city and with an overhead view ( a printed copy of the Google Maps Satellite view) very easy to negotiate. On day 2 have breakfast at Cafe Diana on Bayswater Road, walk into Kensington Gardens and then over to over to the Albert Memorial and across the street to The Royal Albert Hall. Then stroll along Knightsbridge to Brompton Road and turn right and on up to Harrod's. I'd start day 3 at The Tower of London. You can see a lot of London in a day if you put your mind to it. GREAT city! Enjoy it.

Posted by
503 posts

You should have no trouble seeing everything on your list given the time you have in London. Although pricy, the Heathrow Express I think in this case worth it. Quick, easy and will help you get off to a good start. I agree with the previous poster - for a day of arrival activity - save the Tower for another day and use the first one just to get your bearings and relax and enjoy your first taste of London!

Having made numerous trips to London, here is what I would suggest - for each day pick your "must see/do" item. Then look at what's around that area and make a list of other things that interest you and your daughter. Once you've done the "must see/do" item you can then look a the list and see what else appeals based on energy level, weather, etc., etc. Yes, this requires a bit of planning (which I think is half the fun!) but it also takes much of stress of "missing something" out. For example, after visiting Madame Tussaud's you might wander through Regent's Park.
Here are a few/other tips suggestions:
For food - the Pret a Manger chain is great lunch stop - they are literally all over London and have a large variety of fresh sandwiches/wraps, etc. that are tasty and relatively inexpensive.
Another source for snacks/lunches is Marks and Spencer Simply Food.
As for activities, other things you and your daughter might find interesting :
The Victoria and Albert Museum - if your daughter loves fashion and decorative arts, she will love the V and A!
Atending Evensong at Westminster Abbey.
London Walks - you can google them and see the current schedule. Best part is you don't have to make a reservation. Just show up at the designated tube stop on the day and time indicated. The guides are very, very good and it's a great way to see parts of London that you probably would miss on your own.
Shopping: Fortnum and Mason, Liberty of London, and Hatchard's if you love books.

You and your daughter are going to have a fabulous time!

Posted by
7358 posts

If you do the Tower you can then walk up to the LeadenHall Market and as Harry Potter fans look for the Blue Door which was used as the entrance to The Leaky Caldron. Believe it's an optometrist office in real (as opposed to reel) life. The glass domed cover market is a gem in itself as it's nestled amongst some of the most modern architecture that London offers. The Gherkin at 30 St Mary Axe being one of them.

Posted by
5775 posts

Claudia has given you a super-detailed plan for your first day. The only caveat I'd have is that you may be too jet-lagged to appreciate Westminster Abbey fully, and it deserves a lot of attention imho. But she puts you in the heart of sightseeing London with iconic places and scenes all around you. If you have the energy and the weather cooperates, you might consider the London Eye that first day for an overview of the city. Or it might be more fun after you've been to some of the places you can see from it. Let the weather decide for you. Best not to spend much time indoors on that first day if you can help it, you want to try to power through till evening if you can, have dinner, then an overdue night's sleep to get you in synch the next morning.

Clustering each day's sights is a good strategy. Combine Westminster Abbey and the Palace, plus the Churchill War Rooms if you're interested. Around Trafalgar Square you have the National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, Piccadilly etc. The Tower and St. Paul's are a good combination, maybe with the Tate Modern across the footbridge. I can't speak to Mme. Tussaud's or Harry Potter. Windsor and Cambridge are very different day trips, either or both would be good. London Walks is a good way to explore parts of London or historical themes that may especially interest you. They also run trips out of town.

A week is enough time to see a lot of London. Don't try to plan each day in detail, unless you need to make a reservation. Remember that weather might affect your plans, try to take advantage of sunny days for outdoor stuff while you have the chance. You don't say how old your daughter is, but she should be involved in planning before the trip and adapting as you go through it. Even if this is the "trip of a lifetime" for you, she will surely have chances to come back. And "assume you will return" is good advice for one's mental health during a trip, even if it turns out later to be incorrect.

Don't sweat the small stuff, have a wonderful time in this great city!

Posted by
10 posts

Thank you, Nancy and Dick, for your responses. I cannot wait to sit down and put it all together.

Again, thank you so much of your time.


Posted by
7358 posts

Emma my guess is she meant Notting Hill and made the typo herself or spell check did it for her.

Posted by
2 posts

Can recommend the following, just did all of these last summer and enjoyed all these organized trips:

(1) Grand Bike Tour with BreakAway tours.. a great way to get oriented to the city and see some things you don't have time to fully check out.
(2) I second the recommendation for London Walks. Did their Day trip to Bath.
(3) Mind the Gap bike tour - Day trip to Hampton Court. Loved it.
(4) On your own.... If you go to Westminster Abbey be in line by 8:30 am. Same is true for the Tower of London. Otherwise you will spend have the day waiting in line. You can get your tickets for the Tower online.

Get an Oyster Card. So convenient and easy to top up as you go.

Posted by
809 posts

I will go against the crowd and suggest Heathrow Connect instead of Express - it might be 25 minutes rather than 15 into the city but is significantly cheaper. For theater, you can often get discounted tickets to shows at the TKTS booth in Leicester Square; start checking their website now to see what shows are likely to be available during your visit. The website has lots of information about plays, discount offers, and even specific seat info for the various London theaters; I found it very helpful when I went to London with my daughter.

I second – or third or fourth – the recommendation for London Walks. We have done their Westminster Abbey walk and several other walks through London and they were all great.

Have a great trip!

Posted by
228 posts

Hi Allyn! Your hotel is just around the corner from my house - nice choice!

Kathleen makes a great point to take the Connect instead of the Express. The time difference is maybe 15 minutes and it's half the price of the Express. You'll come into Paddington Station where the first thing you should do is go buy your Oyster cards. You can then take the bus (either the 23, 27, or 7) from the top of ramp on Praed St to the Queensway stop, where your hotel is about a block away. You don't mention how old your daughter is, but if she's of the ice cream appreciating age (and who isn't??), Snowflake on Westbourne Grove does a lovely gelato. There's a Spanish cafe at the intersection of Queensway and Westbourne Grove (opposite the old Queen's theatre) that does a very reasonable breakfast menu. For other dining options, look at Ffiona's on Kensington Church St (the 27 bus goes there), Mr Fish on Porchester Terrace, or take the Central line from Queensway station to Shepherds Bush to go to the giant Westfield shopping mall food court. On Saturdays you can very easily walk to Portobello Market, but aim for about 9/9:30 as it gets shoulder to shoulder later in the morning.

Walking tours can be outstanding; pick the topic of interest and go. There's a groupon running right now for a ghost walk that also includes a Thames boat ride. Don't forget to check reviews on trip advisor to make sure what's advertised will meet your needs/expectations.

Highly recommend the Museum of London, and depending on your daughter's age and interests, there's a fabulous wedding dress exhibit at the V&A on now. If she's up for a bit of shopping, she may enjoy Primark, and I'd recommend stopping at the Tottenham Court Road branch on the way back from the British Museum as the branch on Oxford St can take hours to actually buy anything.

I haven't been to Madame Tussauds since 1984 (hello Boy George!) but I pass it twice daily and the queues outside look horrendous. If you have a way to get there first thing, I'd take it.

Westminster Abbey, London Eye, and boat rides on the Thames go together as they're located very closely to each other. Do check your dates with the Westminster Abbey calendar as sometimes they close early (for example, today they're open until 6, but tomorrow they close at 3:30.)

Of Cambridge or Windsor, I'd vote for Windsor as its super easy to get there directly and quickly from Paddington (one quick train change at Slough) and the Castle and town are very nice.

Around the corner from your hotel are 3 great grocery options: Sainsburys on the corner of Queensway and Westbourne Grove; Marks & Spencer inside of Whitleys, and Waitrose on Porchester Terrace. Pop in and pick up sandwiches, drinks, and snacks for the day.

Its outstanding that you've got a tea booked; this one looks rather fun too!

For something a bit different, you may like to do a canal boat from Little Venice to Camden Lock market. You can do it as a round trip, but the commentary is only offered on the the LV to CL route and you can just get the bus back anyway.

If your daughter has a student ID card, make sure to bring it as many places (shops, theatres) offer a student discount. Ask if they offer concessions.

Posted by
228 posts

Sorry, I forgot to add that while its certainly possible to walk to your hotel from Paddington, it's about 20 minutes and you'll be dragging your bags. Get your Oyster at Paddington and take the bus...its worth it.

Posted by
16890 posts

Glad to see that you got some thoughtful advice. I've been to London perhaps five times and still not seen all the major attractions or everything on my own list. You will surely return!