In October 2012 we had a 2 night London city stay before joining a Globus Tour.
On arrival into London Heathrow I was very surprised at the lack of security and how quickly we were processed – we were out of the airport within 35 minutes of landing (and most of that time was walking to luggage claim).
We took the Heathrow Express into the city – this was very easy to find with signage as soon as you enter the arrivals area. The cost was GBP18 and took approximately 15 minutes into Paddington Station. Information staff at Paddington Station were very friendly and gave us map and directions to walk to our Hyde Park hotel in 20 minutes. Although if you didn’t know your way around London I would recommend getting a taxi as it was getting dark at that time of the day.
Our accommodation for the stay was at Corus Hotel Hyde Park – this is a 3 star hotel in a great location opposite Hyde Park and there is an underground station only 3 minutes walk from the hotel. The rooms and bathrooms are fairly compact but this is common over this side of the world.
We explored our neighbourhood that evening and decided on traditional English pub meal for dinner at The Pride of Paddington. Meals were good value – pie and chips/ham steak or shepherds pie for GBP10, pint of beer between GBP3-4 or a glass of soda 95p.
We made the most of our full day in London the following day starting off with a stroll in Hyde Park and some photos outside Kensington Palace before joining “Big Bus Tours” Hop On Hop Off Bus. The ticket cost GBP29 and is valid for 48 hours consecutive use. This is a fantastic way to get your bearings of the city and to see the famous landmarks/attractions i.e Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, London Eye, Big Ben, Tower of London, Harrods, St Pauls Cathedral. This was money well spent and I would definitely recommend. There were 3 different routes and some of these had live commentary whilst others had pre recorded commentary. Also included was a complimentary 1 hour cruise on the river Thames and a few complimentary walking tour options. The buses were particularly busy being the weekend and also between the hours of 11 and 4 so best to get on the road early! You are also able to purchase entrance tickets for London attractions onboard the bus which means you can fast track and avoid the queues.
We also had hotel site inspections of Citadines Trafalgar Square and Think Apartments Earls Court to do in London so found the Oyster Transport card very useful in getting to these. We had GBP15 preloaded onto the card which can be used on buses and the underground tube network – you just swipe as you enter the station or bus and it calculates the price and balance left on card as you go!! It is also very easy to load more money onto these as there are machines in most underground stations to do this. The underground is a fantastic widely used mode of transport – it is extremely efficient and with regular departures you never have too wait long.
After a busy day and a quick shopping excursion to Oxford St we were back to the hotel for dinner and an early night. Main meals at the hotel bar restaurant were approximately 12 pound for burger/fish cakes etc.
For our departure from London we decide to take the underground to London Heathrow for a different experience. This is a much cheaper option – cost approx GBP5 but it takes approximately 1 hour 15 minutes and may require several line changes.
The departure process at London Heathrow was a different story – taking around ½ an hour to get through security and check-in with some people having full body scans and bags swabbed etc.
Our Alitalia flight to Rome was a full flight and departed approximately 40 minutes late. There was no entertainment on this flight but there was a refreshment service of hot/cold drinks and a snack!!