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RS 7 day best of london tour

Hopefully I can type on my phone without too many typos—-

I actually much better after my surgery 4 weeks ago and kinda getting bored. My computer is not working so I have to do it all on my phone.

Ok been thinking about our 2019 May RS tours to 7 day best of London and 11 day Paris and heart of France.

Pretty much know what we want to do in Paris ( we will have 4 extra days there)

But in London we are only arriving one day before start of tour. What things would you suggest doing on our beginning free day and possibly free afternoons during the tour. I am thinking about seeing a show one evening

I think we arrive in London around 7am, head for hotel to drop off bags (to early to check in), then head out for the day



Posted by
1568 posts

Glad you are healing from your surgery. Boredom is a good sign. I've forgotten what your sequence of tours is. Which are you doing first?
If London is first, then the first day will be a jet-lag day and getting lots of fresh air, etc. There is so much to recommend that it would help if you say what you usually like to do. I would say find a nice pub, have a meal and a beer. Depending on the neighborhood where your hotel is, ask your concierge for good ideas. Also, check out the RS guidebook and the tour materials, Rick often gives suggestions for things to do that will not be on the tour.
Have fun!! I love London. I have been on the 11 Day Paris & Heart of France, my first RS tour, which was amazing.

Posted by
774 posts

Yup - jet leg ....

We are doing London first. I haven’t got his book yet . Waiting on the New France first. Just thought I would get a head start while recouping.

We do just about anything. I think the hotel is close to buckingham palace. Can’t remember name off top of my head

Posted by
7680 posts

I've not done the Best of London but I've been to London a lot. Based on what's listed in the itinerary here are things I'd consider:

-V&A Museum - with your interest in textile arts, this would be an excellent choice. I can get myself overwhelmed in here, so either study the website or the map when you get there and ask questions at the info desk on how to get where you want to go.

-London Walks walking tours - A wonderful way to see some different parts of London or to get information on specific themes. I love the Westminster at War walk as well as the one on the Blitz but you all might not be in to WWII like I am.

-I'd plan to go back to the British Museum if you have an interest. One short visit on a tour is not enough, lol!!

-National Gallery. Check their website ahead to see if there is a special exhibition on when you are visiting. Last year there was a wonderful Monet exhibit I caught when I was there. If no special exhibit, also do a precision strike here - I usually see the Impressionists, the British painters like Constable and Turner then head to the Rembrandt rooms.

-On your arrival day, I'd walk. I know many departures of this tour stay at the Washington Mayfair. Based on that location, I'd do about the same walk I took my brother, SIL and her sis on in May altho we were staying near Victoria Station. From the Mayfair I'd walk to Green Park. I'd walk west past the RAF Bomber Command Memorial (its in the park kind of across from the Hard Rock Cafe) to the Wellington Arch. I'd head back thru the park to the front of Buckingham Palace, then head thru St James's Park to the pond area, down to the Horse Guards Parade and back to the Washington Mayfair. You get some sights in as well as some sunshine!

Definitely see a show if that's of interest to you!

(Very weird that I don't see suggestions on the tour page of other sights to see. Usually he says something these aren't included on the tour, blah, blah, blah. Oh well....)

Posted by
8293 posts

The Sir John Soane’s Museum is a gem, close to the British Museum. Small and fascinating, won’t take too much of your time.

Posted by
7680 posts

Norma, great suggestion! It's also quirky and not too museum-ish if you are suffering from museum fatigue or think you might!

Posted by
1217 posts

Check the list of special exhibits at the London museums a few weeks/months out and see if there are any that catch your eye. Some of them like Pink Floyd at the V&A do sell out a while ahead of the date on the admission ticket.

Posted by
924 posts

I'm going to second Pam's suggestion of a London Walk. Plenty to choose from and it gets you outdoors. If weather is poor that day then I might opt for the Sloane museum (as it is on my list to see).

So glad to read you are doing much better!

Posted by
2329 posts

So will you have a free day before the tour, or just the day you arrive? If the former, and you have any interest in military history, The Imperial War Museum is terrific. A nice outdoor adventure as an alternative is Kew Gardens. If you are at the Washington Mayfair this is a very good Italian place a short walk away, near the Ritz Hotel. They even have a Ciccheti menu from 3-6 PM for that arrival day when you are fading and just want small bites. Another wonderful place to kill a few hours before you fade is here an elegant small hotel hidden behind the Ritz ( a small alley like street) with its American Bar. Rub shoulders with folks doing big deals and have a well crafted cocktail and a snack. And as for a show, see at least one, and splurge for the better seats. London theaters are old and where you sit can impact your enjoyment. We saw Book of Mormon and Beautiful, the Carole King Musical, last summer Be sure and buy your tickets from the theater to avoid the upcharges from third parties.

Posted by
774 posts

Awesome suggestions. Great ideas to digest while I recoup.

Thanks Alan- yes now I remember that it is Washington Mayfair. Just could not remember at time of posting.

We will be arriving one day ahead of the tour

Posted by
23550 posts

oh wow! She lives!!

You've got some great suggestions here - they all beat me to it.

Glad the wound heals - slowly - but heals!!

Posted by
774 posts

Thanks Nigel -

Yes .. getting around pretty well. Torture machine gone, my new fangled so called zip ties are out, off walker, using cane when I go out but at home walking by myself, I walk up stairs 1-3 times a day up with the good and down with the bad formula on the stairs right now, I actually get in the floor and do my exercises three times a day then ice afterwards. Out patient pt three times a week for 7 weeks. I think they are pretty good. Just getting bored now. Get up a lot and walk around house. Been out of house a few times. Dinner and our travel meeting, lunch with friend.

All is well!!

Posted by
11555 posts

Delighted that you're on the mend, Kim!

One suggestion for a free afternoon would be the Sir John Ritblat "Treasures of the British Library" Gallery at the British Library. We spent a wonderful few hours browsing the fascinating collection + a great temporary exhibition, and it's free besides. Highly recommended and especially so on a rainy day!

Posted by
1568 posts

I agree with the others. Wallace Collection is a marvelous house museum, filled with art, furniture owned by Marie Antoinette and medieval armor. Lovely tea shop where you can have a relaxing break from touring. I also love the V&A, National Gallery, British Museum, of course. The Courtauld Gallery and the Sir John Soanes Museum are on my list for my next visit!

Are you staying for a day or so after London before Paris? If so, you might be able to see things you missed. However, Paris calls! So much to do there. I spent 3 days in Paris before the tour and loved every minute.
Kim, you will have a wonderful time!

Posted by
5256 posts

Stay outside. May have missed it but what time of the year?

If weather is good take an easy stroll from your hotel Over to Leicester Square.

Souvenir shopping or window shopping and simply getting used to the hustle and bustle that is London.

Walk back to your hotel ( maybe through Chinatown or Carnaby Street, have dinner and get good nights sleep.

Pleased to know your your recovery is progressing nicely and you are excited to travel again.

I’d definitely do theatre your last night in town. So much fun. Look at the theatre monkey website ea few weeks before your flight so you know what’s on. Same with the Leicester Square half price ticket booth website which now lists what shows will b available. I’ve never gotten a poor seat at any show using a 1/2 ticket. Usually front row or in the stalls. Always good POV’s.

Lastly if you are visiting when the GLOBE is open you might consider seeing a play there.

Have fun! London is a great city!

Posted by
1159 posts

This year and last year I went to London and there are so many things to see and do. I went on the London tour in 2005, it was my first Rick Steves tour and I was hooked. I just got back from London and can't wait to go back!

As everyone said, the Sir John Soane's musuem is amazing and should only take one to two hours. The Wallace collection is another wonderful museum to visit and is down the street from Selfridges ( there is an excellent cafe I went to this year in Selfridges for lunch) and of course tons of plays to see. Last year I saw Wicked and this year I saw Aladdin. I had tea with friends at Forum & Mason and that was special.

I totally loved the Tate Britian and the National Portrait Gallery! Of course there is the British Musuem but I haven't been there since 2005. My all time favorite is the Victoria & Albert Museum but that is huge so you will need to choose the galleries carefully to see what you really want to see. The National Gallery is another one to see.

The Tate Modern is interesting but I think once is enough for me to see it. Not my favorite museum.

St Paul's Catherdral is exceptional to see.

The London walks are wonderful but really not sure if you would want to do that in your free time as you will be doing walks with the tour. I did take a pub crawl this year and last year and they were a lot of fun. You may want to do that one evening. You go on the London walks pub crawl, just show up at the time usually around 7PM at a tube station and they take you on the walk of the area and to three pubs. I had a great time both times.

There are tons of pubs to visit and have a drink or a bite to eat. Let me know if you want any suggestions.

If you fall in love with London and want to return, Windsor Castle is a wonderful day trip where I saw the changing of the guard as is Hampton Court Palace with wonderful gardens. I have my heart set on going to Kew Gardens on my next visit.

If you decide to go back to London from Aug to Oct you can see the inside of Buckingham Palace. Of cours this is for future visits.

I also went to see Harrods and the food hall and had tea and pastry at their Laduree branch and went on every floor of Fortum and Mason to see that beautiful department store.

There is also walking across the Tower Bridge and you can go to Greenwich too.

Hope this helps.

Posted by
49 posts

Kim - I am going on this tour with a friend in early May. So glad you posted this as I am just starting to look at what to do when we arrive also. I have been to London but my friend has not so having her work on a list of must sees that are not on the itinerary. I know she really wants to see Buckingham Palace but I don’t think much is open for touring in May but will probably give that a shot Sunday before the RS tour starts. My husband and I did the Paris and the Heart of France tour in 2014 - loved it! Maybe see you in May!


Posted by
108 posts

Tate Modern has a cafe/snack bar; it's on an upper floor and has great views of the City. You don't have to buy anything. Just enjoy the view. I'm not that into modern art but I found some of exhibits rather amusing. Probably not what the artist intended...

The Greenwich Observatory, Cutty Sark and Naval museum are well worth the trip out to them and are good for most of a day. Cutty Sark has a cafe that is under the boat. We thought it was really neat to stand under the keel. Again, you don't have to buy anything but it was relaxing place for a coffee break.

Hyde Park is nice place for walking.

St Martin in the Fields has a cafe in the crypt. We had lunch there. Food was excellent and ranged from full meals to snacks.

I also suggest the British Library (copy of Magma Carta, interactive exhibits) and the V&A (especially the models room) .
There are numerous websites that have lists of things to do in London. Enjoy!

Posted by
5256 posts

EDIT: I did miss it. You are looking into the May tour. Weather should be pleasant and permit you time to meander on your day of arrival. As I said, time to allow your senses to adapt to all that is London.

Will also allow you to time for:
1. Buying souvenirs.
2. Purchasing and using your Oyster cards. You'll experience Tube before the others. Remember Mind The Gap.
3. Surveying your neighborhood to discover closest market for bottled water and snacks.
4. Finding a Bank ATM to withdraw your traveling cash.
5. Enjoying a pint.

Posted by
2329 posts

Don’t buy Oyster cards, they are included with your tour and generously loaded. If you drink coffee there is a coffee place directly across from the hotel. Their stuff beats the swill in the hotel hands down. And, although the breakfast in the hotel is decent, it’s the same every day. Those sausages really got old. The coffee place has decent pastries and we splurged for a few non-nutritious breakfasts there. Get the punch card on your first visit and you’ll probably land a free one before long. Around the corner from the coffee place is a drop off laundry. We fell for it as we had just come off the Portugal tour and hand washing had left a lot to be desired. Well, don’t do it, unless ownership has changed. Expensive it is, and that alone would have been manageable. But they misplaced half my daughters clothes and she did not get them until the day before departure! A few doors down from the hotel is Geo. F. Trumper, a men’s toiletries store. Wonderful stuff, and they are very generous with the samples. I had enough of their shaving cream samples for the week. A few blocks away is a Boot’s drugstore (now owned by Walgreens). You’ll be passing it nearly every day on the tour. Voltaren gel is OTC there, and relatively cheap. Precription only and expensive in the US. It is a wonder drug for whatever aches, in my opinion. It is a topical NSAID so check with your doctor. I rub it on it instead of a swallowing ibuprofen (which gives me heartburn) and my knee thanks me. One day we did 14 miles and it really thanked me! Great tour, I hope you get Tom as a guide, then jackpot!

Posted by
774 posts

Thanks for all of the wonderful and excellent ideas.
Now I got lots of planning soon!