Hello all, JP and I are going to London for 8 days in May of 2013. We have never been there and wanted your input. We would like to rent an apartment like we have previously done in Paris (VRBO.com), The Loire (VRBO.com) and The Cotswolds (Homelidays.com, each with wonderful results. We love having our own kitchen and the privacy a private cottage or apartment provide us. So, here is the thing, we would like to be in an interesting and safe area of London, kind of like what the Latin Quarter is to Paris. We care not for 5 star luxuries but definitely want to feel safe and would like to be close to a subway or train and be able to walk or take the train to everything since we do not want to rent a car. If you have a suggestion for a SPECIFIC apartment that you have used in the past we would greatly appreciate the info (website and listing name or number if at all possible). Oh, and we don't have a price in mind but I think 100 GBP per nite or less would be our range but we could go more if necessary...we only paid 90 us dollars per nite in the cotswolds...is 100 GBP (about 160 U.S.D. per nite enough for London? Secondly, tell us about a special memory you had of a visit or walk. We do not like tours that much, we don't do much shopping, and we are not into elegant restaurants. We recently stayed across the street from the Sorbonne in paris and loved the college vibe of that area...lots of cool cafes etc. Many of our favorite travel memories were when we had no agenda and we just walked a city we were unfamiliar with. We do not like museums but LOVE gardens (manicured and wild) and old chateaux and manor homes. Thanks to all.
A few years ago we stayed in this flat on Wetherby Place in South Kensington:
http://www.aplacelikehome.co.uk/l31-wetherby-place-south-kensington-bqxggpxf.aspx. I can't vouch for the website, we rented through a different service, but many owners list their places with multiple sites. The price looks close to your range, you could check homeaway or vrbo or others to see if there's a better price on them. We liked the place and the location, quiet neighborhood a few blocks from the Gloucester Road tube, lots of nearby pubs, restaurants, internet cafe. Lots of young people and families in South Kensington, if you want more of a student vibe like Latin Quarter I'd suggest Bloomsbury. As for special memories and walks, I'd say St. James Park and Regents Park for us. We didn't get into Hyde Park much but it's really good. You can't go wrong with the Thames Embankment, south side is easier. We loved Hampton Court, Westminster Abbey, and the Churchill War Rooms (a museum but also the actual location of his wartime HQ, locked up in 1945 and not reopened until the 1970s, helps you appreciate how close they came to being invaded and conquered in 1940-41, with who knows what consequences for the world). The key to survival in London, and the UK generally, is LOOK RIGHT before stepping off the curb (kerb)! With that in mind, have fun!
Search the airbnb website for an accommodation. Stay within Travel zones 1 & 2 to keep your travel time and costs down. The East End which, for years, was considered a dodgy area o has experienced gentrification and at the moment considered a hipster neighborhood. Read articles these articles to see if this area meets your criteria. http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2010/03/03/london-rising-in-the-east.html http://tinyurl.com/9wuachv http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2012/08/east-london/newman-text http://www.timeout.com/london/aroundtown/features/9624/East_London_essentials.html London's green areas are simply wonderful to explore. My personal favorite is the Hampstead Heath. Primrose Hill in Regent's park has a lovely view. Stellar gardens as well. You might even consider a day out to Kew Gardens. London is all about neighborhoods and is an easily walkable city to explore them. Some of my favorite memories over the years include walking along the Mid a Vale/Little Venice canals, walking along both sides of the Thames, strolling through the Heath, enjoying the boating lake at Battersea Park, walking around the Inns of The Court, a play at The Globe, watching the Hampstead Rugby Club, viewing the Turner Prize finalists, viewing the Remembrance Day parade, afternoon tea, enjoying conversations and a pint in a pub,
Christmas Eve Midnight Mass in St. Paul's, the treasure room at the British Library. GREAT city. Have fun on your first visit. You'll return.
I stayed at a B&B just off Kilburn High Street (Zone 2). She sometimes lets the whole apartment, I think. Convenient and reasonably priced. A few minutes walk to the Tube station. https://www.airbnb.ca/rooms/239697 Wonderful little restaurant kitty-corner from the station and a pub we liked down the road. Park nearby. Good bus service too.
A favorite memory was from my first day. On my host's recommendation I went down to the South Bank. Making my way there, I got off the tube and popped into a little park attached to St. James Church, I think. Beautiful oasis in the middle of cosmopolitan London. Just after I got there, a lady came along with a pillow, laid down on the grass and started feeding the birds. Too cool! When I made my way closer to the waterfront I went into the auditorium near the National Theatre and there was a public choral workshop as part of BrynnFest - amazing voices to sit and listen to! What an introduction to London!
Eltham Palace and Gardens - it's not an "old chateaux", the original palace is mostly gone apart from the great hall, with an Art Deco palace there now (if you've ever watched British TV programmes set in the 1930s like "Poirot", there is a good chance they filmed some scenes here). Extensive gardens. Its owned by English Heritage, details on its website. Morden Hall Park - you can't go inside the Hall, I think, but can visit the former kitchen gardens (now run as a garden shop) as well as the park itself which is owned by the National Trust. The Inns were mentioned above - both Inner Temple and Lincoln's Inn have gardens open to the public (but with restricted opening days/hours).