We just got back from seven days and nights in London with two teenagers. Our granddaughter's entire trip expenses including airfare, all transportation, all food, hotel, all events and admissions was a total of $1447. The other three adults' trips were roughly $100 more each. We stayed close to Victoria Station, had pre-purchased 7-day Travelcards which gave us access to the Underground and Docklands Light Railway, ate B&B breakfast, cheap pub food at noon, cheap sandwiches made from groceries bought at the local grocer in the evening. I can get a steak at Outback in the States, rather than paying ridiculous prices in the UK. Our money was spent on the London Eye, a Big Bus tour of the city with a free Thames cruise, a day-trip by train to Cambridge with punting on the Cam, tours of Westminster Abbey and St. Pauls and Tower of London, fun and interesting walking tours through walks.com. (Students, take your ID cards. saves a lot of money.) Also was at St. Paul's Cathedral for Easter Sunday,(free, of course) King's College Chapel in Cambridge for Maundy Thursday service (again, free). An amazing experience! British Museum is free, Portobello Market was free, walking across The Millenium Bridge was free, National Gallery is free, Museum of London is free, Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace is free, the nightly Ceremony of the Keys at the Tower of London is free (but you have to apply in writing several months ahead). Also, our hotel had a brochure with 20% off coupon for several events, and we had printed off another 20% off coupon from walks.com for a coffee shop near St. Pauls. All these little things help! We each took one carryon with an additional bag. On the way back, we used our additional bag to carry souvenirs, mostly books, and checked our carryon. Wonderful time had by all!!!
Judy, where did you get the pre-purchased 7-day travel cards?
We got the Travelcards from www.visitbritaindirect.com at $44.50 each. We really felt like we got our money's worth cuz we also traveled the Docklands Light Railway from Greenwich back to Central London.
Also, if you're flying in Gatwick, it's cheaper to travel the Southern line than the Gatwick Express. I think it only takes about 10 minutes longer, cuz there are a few stops. Also, day trips out of London are reasonable if you get off-peak travel. Some of this you will find at www.londontoolkit.com.
Also, the London Eye, when booked online, is 10% off. If you buy the ticket from some street vendor, I think they charge you a lot more. It's £13.50 per adult; £6.75 per child online. since I didn't know what the weather was going to be like, I waited until we were there, then picked a day and booked from the computer at our hotel.
Hello Judy. We appreciate you London trip report. Recently some people at this Travelers Helpline said Do Not Go to London, it is too expensive. And Do Not Go to England, it is too expensive. I think total expenses of approximately 1547 U.S. Dollars, for an adult person going to London for 7 nights, is not bad (considering the money exchange rate : U.S. Dollars > British Pounds, in the year 2008). And, the total expense could be less money for those of us who are not interested in doing the London Eye, Big Bus tour, day-trip to Cambridge, paying for a walking tour, and visiting the crown jewels. I was a tourist at London in June of 2003. I hope to go to London again.
What airport in the U.S.A. did you and your granddaughter fly from ?
Another discount option in London is to use your Oyster Card for 2-for-1 discounts. Check out their offers at www.tfl.gov.uk. If you plan to be in London more than three days the Oyster Card is a good deal. I believe their 3-day pass would work well for a shorter period (there are other deals, too).
Ron, you are right. There are a lot of ways in which we could have cut expenses even further. We did all the 'usuals' for our teenage son and our granddaughter, only cuz it was their first time to England. We flew non-stop, Northwest airlines, from Minneapolis to London Gatwick.
Oh. and one more thing that I'm sure you all know, but I'll post anyway, is that airline ticket prices fluctuate drastically. We flew out on a Tuesday and back on a Wednesday. If we had chosen just the next weekday, the ticket prices would have been much greater.
One great thing about London, most of the major attractions are free. I really like that you timed your trip to experience Maundy Thursday service and Easter service, making it more special but still free.
How was the weather?
Hmmm. Funny you should ask about the weather. It was the worst I've ever experienced there. Sleet, snow, rain, just about everything nasty. However, London is still London and a great place to visit. So much to see and do. And yes, we greatly enjoyed the Maundy Thursday service at King's College Chapel and the Easter Sunday service at St. Pauls. It was an amazing experience.
Judy, I really enjoyed your post and those of everyone who responded. "Don't go to London..." Don't go to England..." Thats just silly talk.
You don't have to prepay for your London travel card. The visitbritain charges you to ship, and its just as easy to get it at the tube station. Tell the cashier you want a travel card, and 99% of the time he/she will put it on an Oyster card, which is reloadable for your next visit.
Plus on the travel card, there's no deposit fee.
Your trips sounds lovely, and best of all, it didn't break the bank. I say "bah humbug" to those who keep telling us to avoid visiting London/England!
Where did you stay??
Cathy, we stayed at Cherry Court Hotel on Hugh Street, just about a block and a half from Victoria Station, and a block from the Victoria Coach Station. The rooms are tiny but adequate and very clean. Also they give a nice fruit basket each morning, and supplemented by a protein bar, it works as our breakfast. A double, ensuite room at Cherry Court Hotel is listed as £60, but because we stayed for 7 nights and rented two rooms, we got a break and paid £55 per night per room. At the exchange rate of 2 USD/British pound, it averaged 55 USD per person per night. An amazing deal in London, and for the convenience of its location. I must add also that the Patels who own Cherry Court are very friendly and helpful hosts.
Judy, may I ask what the cost of your ticket was? The price you shared there for everything was amazing!
Eli, if you mean the airfare from Minneapolis to London Gatwick, it was $621 each (all taxes and fees included). I'm not sure if I'll ever find those prices again, but the year before we spent $603 per ticket. I always check Travelocity.com first and then go to the website of the cheapest one listed there cuz usually they're cheapest at their own site. Of course traveling in March is going to be cheaper than May through September, which is why we are willing to take a little risk with the weather. One March we had temps in the 60's while in Yorkshire. One never knows.
One more thing, Eli: We know we are sacrificing on weather in order to get those good airfare prices. (One can never travel to England in July, for example, for a total package cost of $1547) We know that the only flowers we're going to see, most likely, are daffodils. Still, the benefits besides lowest airfare prices are lowest B&B costs, no long lines at events, no crowds anywhere. Things are just more laid-back and the locals are out and about and friendly. :-)
Judy, I don't blame you one bit for going at that time in spite of the weather. You had a lot to see and do and minus those summer crowds!!
We have no choice but to go in May (18th) and maybe there will be more rain than in July, but less crowds maybe?
Thanks for sharing. What time is the Changing of the Guards? And Ceremony of the Keys?
http://www.changing-the-guard.com/ Click on 'schedule' for the information you want.
Also, for information on the Ceremony of the Keys,this link should help: http://europeforvisitors.com/europe/countries/uk/tower-of-london-ceremony-of-the-keys.htm.
The best vantage point for the actual changing of the guard ceremony is from the fence in front of BP, if you're in the first row - and you'd have to be there way ahead of time to get your place. But to see the guards marching toward Buckingham Palace from the east, where there won't be a fence between you and them, then the 'high ground' of the east side of the Victoria Monument gave us the best view for taking pictures. And there were some pretty horses as well. I'm still trying to assess whether or not the crowds are worth what we get to see. I definitely wouldn't do it twice.