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Resting upon arrival in London, England

In that we are traveling from the western USA, Spokane, Washington to be exact, we have learned the value of a good restful spot befor launching a European adventure (in the summer of 2015 we landed in Milan, trained to Varenna on Lake Como, less than an hours journey, for 2 nights rest with no agenda). As we craft our itinerary for exploring the British Isles, we plan to land in London. From there we could train to Kent as Canterberry in on our list, or we could head slightly north in the direction of Durham. Where would you recommend we train from London for a few nights in a restful place with good options for restorative strolls along water?
We will be one the first page of our retirement chapter in life. I am an English teacher and my husband is a baseball coach and athletic administrator. We both enjoy music, art, architecture, history, reading, and walking.

Posted by
2817 posts

I take it you don't want to spend any days in London? And you want to go by train, not rental car?

Also, are you landing at Heathrow or Gatwick? The latter is south of London, so proceeding onward to Kent makes good sense. If Heathrow, you might want to spend a night or two in a town like Cambridge and continue northward from there.

Of course wherever you go in England, you can find music, art, architecture, history, reading, and walking.

Posted by
792 posts

Go to Richmond and stay at the Petersham hotel for 2-3 days, you can thank me later for the experience you'll remember for many years! Richmond is connected to London by the tube underground so it would be actually easy to get to from Heathrow, and it is on the river Thames with beautiful gardens and river walks.

Posted by
12571 posts

I just wrote a long response endorsing Richmond (proximity to Kew Gardens) and also suggesting a stop at Whitby on the north coast, a slight detour on your way to Durham. Everything I wrote was lost because I was asked to log in again when I hit "send." (I was logged in when I started writing). I am very discouraged that all my time and effort was wasted, so will not re-create what I wrote unless you are specifically interested.

This has happened to me before and is a major gripe with this website.

Posted by
247 posts

What wonderful recommendations. We will research Richmond, the recommended hotel and the northern town. Thank you! Sincerely!

Posted by
85 posts

Another vote forRichmond. Kew Gardens is in Richmond. Richmond Great Park has lovely walks and Hampton Court should be easily reachable by bus.

Posted by
3420 posts

If you are landing at Heathrow, I'd suggest Windsor. Great small town/village. The castle is one of my favorites. Or head to Canterbury. Great for the English teacher and nice town. Personally, though, I'd stay in London for a night or two at least.

Posted by
247 posts

We will be staying in London as we circle back after our excursion to Edinburgh, the Highland Games in Stirling, across to Inverness and the aisle of Skye, Dublin and over to Limerick and Galway, back to Wales, Salisbury and Canterbury (which I hear is almost unbearably touristy, do you agree) culminating with 4 nights in London. Windsor Castle is definitely on our must experience list. Wondering, would it make sense for us to stay in Richmond and commute for our exploration of London. The Petersham Hotel appears ideal and is reasonably priced for the quality.

Posted by
5046 posts

Living within an hour of Canterbury, I would say that it is significantly less touristy than Windsor or Bath.

Richmond, as many have recommended, is an expensive pleasant borough of London. If you want to get away to somewhere more rural, I would suggest Rye with its historical centre or Lewes.

Durham, other than the cathedral isn't that exciting IMO and it's quite a long train ride north.

Posted by
935 posts

If you are landing in Heathrow (did I miss the airport?), why not head directly to Bath?

https://www.ricksteves.com/europe/england/itinerary

Instead of spending the first few days of your trip in busy London, consider a gentler small-town start in Bath (the ideal jet-lag pillow), and let London be the finale of your trip. You'll be more rested and ready to tackle Britain's greatest city. Heathrow Airport has direct bus connections to Bath and other cities.

https://www.ricksteves.com/europe/england/bath

Bath can be full of tourists if visiting in high summer.

Posted by
2799 posts

If they want to take long walks along water, how would they do that in Bath? I don't recall the river being very pretty, and there were lots of bicycles to dodge. I know Rick promotes Bath, but we were not impressed, apart from the short time we spent at the Roman bath.

Posted by
4906 posts

My last visit to Bath was rushed and crowded, in late September, and I wouldn't call it a small town. And it's not one of the places the OP was looking to see.

I'd suggest Windsor, a short taxi ride from Heathrow. It's not a big place but it's very comfortable and the river is very nice. And after your recovery nap (whether the same day or the next) you can visit the castle, walk in the Great Park, etc. We stayed at the Oakley Court Hotel for a night last fall, a short taxi ride west of the town and right on the river. Expensive and not walking distance from anything except its own beautiful grounds, but it might be the kind of jet-lag pillow you want. There are many other accommodations in Windsor, of course.

Alternatively, Canterbury could be your pillow-stop since you also want to visit there and it's the only place on your target list on that side of London. But getting there from Heathrow could be complicated on your arrival day.

Posted by
247 posts

What great suggestions based on our wonders! Boiling it down to Richmond or Windsor. Read a great story of a blind man's world travels in the early 1800's. He was a Knight on Windsor and he studied at the University of Edinburgh. Both are musts on our journey. The Petersham looks truly wonderful!
One more consideration: we stayed in London in 1983 in an absurdly minimalist hotel (shoestring budget). This time, @$175-200. Our British Isles sojourn will culminate there. Would you recommend we lodge in Windsor (4 nights) and commute, or stay in the city? Want to experience 2 theaters, the new Globe and the Paladium (my grandmother performed 4 command performances for the Queen there). Thank you all so much for your insiteful guidance!

Posted by
247 posts

Just looked at Rye. Looks like the perfect pillow town. Thank you!!!

Posted by
12571 posts

I just looked at your screen name. Former Zag here (assuming law school counts). You have a nice adventure planned for your retirement celebration. We are three years past that now---our celebration was a month in Venice, but we also love the UK and have spent a bit of time there.

I would not stay in Windsor to visit sites in London, especially since you plan to attend the theater. Windsor makes a nice overnight stop on the way to or from Heathrow; we spent a night there before flying home a few years ago and enjoyed it. But the lovely B and B where we stayed is sadly now closed. Most of the hotels seemed quite expensive. I think it is a place for celebrations (birthdays, weddings, and so on) at weekends. But commuting back and forth to London, especially after the theater, could be tedious.

We like to rent apartments while in London, but we are generally there for a week or three. Last time we were within easy walking distance of the (New) Globe Theater, and also walked home from the National Theater. That was very enjoyable---much more so than bus or Tube late at night. The riverside Thames Path along the South Bank is a very pleasant place on a summer evening.

A place you might consider for a 4 night stay is Captain Bligh House:

http://www.captainblighhouse.co.uk/

It is on the south side of the river, near the Imperial War Museum. The rooms are actually small self-catering studios, very reasonably priced. We have not stayed there yet, but would if we wanted something other than a full apartment.

Posted by
4906 posts

What Lola said. Windsor would be a good choice for that first night or two after flying, so would Richmond I expect, or other western suburbs, but not for sightseeing in London. You'd spend too much time, and significant money, commuting in and out. Stay in the city near a tube station, either in an apartment (flat) or hotel (B&Bs are rare in London). The Captain Bligh place Lola mentioned looks nice (if you overlook the historical association), and it's a good neighborhood, but there are many other choices.

Posted by
6942 posts

Wow, Dick that Oakley House hotel in Windsor looks divine!!

Posted by
6942 posts

Wow, Dick that Oakley House hotel in Windsor looks divine!!

Posted by
4906 posts

It was very comfortable and the food was good, lots of atmosphere in the old mansion (which was used in various movies including the St. Trinian's series for those of us old enough to remember). The grounds were beautiful right next to the Thames. Most of the rooms are in two modern buildings on either side of the old one. Not a place I'd have chosen to stay, because of cost and out-of-town location. It was the starting point for a tour we went on. But it might be a good choice for zagfam's rest-and-recovery purposes, with the castle and railroad station a short taxi ride away.