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Overwhelmed!??!

Hyannis...
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Overwhelmed!??!

Hi! I am planning a trip to London, but so confused and overwhelmed about what areas to go to/what areas to avoid!?

I will be traveling with one other person (we are both female) and we want to stay in a hostel to save money. We will be in London for 6 days, possibly a week. From reading threads here, google searches, and other forums, it seems like everyone has a different opinion on what is and isn't safe, where you should and shouldn't stay, etc. etc. etc. I'm just looking for a breakdown - any good youth hostel recommendations that are either close to Central London or to transportation and that are also in "safe" areas? Obviously we will keep our wits about us when out in the city, but don't want to stay in a grody area if we can avoid it!

Aside from the "big" touristy things, we don't really have much on our list of must-dos and hope you can help! What are generally good places to eat...what about nightclubs/bars/etc.? Ideally, we would like to come in at or under £90/day for food and activities. I love anything historical so recommendations about that would be great! Is the Harry Potter Universal Studios visit worth the money?

London, United...
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1. Re: Overwhelmed!??!

Hello, and welcome to the London Forum. I hope you like us.

What have you been reading? Basically, all of London is safe. Certainly anywhere you're going to be.

What is your accommodation budget (in £ GBP)?

We have a lot of historical stuff. What sort of things interest you? Give us some pointers.

You can get by very nicely on £90 a day.

Dallas, Texas
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2. Re: Overwhelmed!??!

When are you planning on visiting? University accommodation is an alternative to hostels if it is available during your stay.

Hyannis...
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3. Re: Overwhelmed!??!

From what I have read/searched, it seems hostels range from around £8-40 a night, depending? So any of that is fine with me...not worried about price of the hostel, just location/reputation, etc.!

We are planning on visiting around Thanksgiving time, but the dates are flexible.

I've read up on a lot of museums, the Tower, Big Ben, St. Paul's, Parliament, etc. but would just really like to find out what the must-dos for someone visiting London are! It doesn't necessarily have to be historical, just anything interesting and worth while! I only have a short time in the city, so I want to make it count.

London, United...
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4. Re: Overwhelmed!??!

How long are you here for? There is so much that comes under the heading of 'interesting and worthwhile' that you need to narrow it down for us to help you. Some people will visit and do nothing but attend the opera and eat Michelin starred meals, others will visit all the free museums and eat jellied eels.

What made you decide to visit London? What attracts you to the city and what comes into your mind when you think of London. That might help you get started on your planning.

London, United...
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5. Re: Overwhelmed!??!

I probably wouldn't stay in an £8 hostel.

Do you want the backpacker experience? Personally, I'd use some of my £90 a day spending money and go for better accommodation.

Thanksgiving? Not the one on a Monday in October? You'll have to help us with holidays - we don't celebrate any Thanksgivings here.

There is so much to see in London and none of it is 'must see'. I could spend a week in museums and galleries easily. You might have other ideas of what fun is. Have you read some of the articles at the top right of the page?

Why are you coming to London? How do you imagine it? What do you think might be the quintessential London experience? That might help us give you ideas.

Dallas, Texas
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6. Re: Overwhelmed!??!

Consider the YHA hostels and look here (but select those that are more centrally located, I'd start with those in the Bloomsbury and King's Cross areas): http://www.hostelworld.com/hostels/London

Edited: 26 September 2013, 23:34
Vancouver, Canada
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7. Re: Overwhelmed!??!

'... we will want to stay in a hostel to save money ...' An admirable idea, but if you could spend £50 on two beds in a hostel dormitory with four to six strangers or have an en suite room of your own, which would you select?

If you plan to visit in late November then you need to book accommodation now, or at least in the next week. London will be busy at that time, and inexpensive rooms will book up quickly. Let us know your dates of travel, please.

One's definition of 'a grody area' (I thought the word was archaic, not to mention a bastardisation of grotty) will vary. London is a considerably older city than Hyannis, and as such may look less than pristine in some areas but that will not equal unsafe. You, like most other visitors, will have to make a concerted effort to find an unsafe area in central London.

The new (opened in February) Travelodge Bethnal Green has rooms for £45 - 49 for every night from 20 - 30 November; the rate is £39 for the night of 1 December. Although it is not as central as, say, the YHA St Pancras and Central Bolsover Street hostels, a stay there will mean an ensuite room of your own at a location two minutes' walk from an Underground station.

The hotel sits across the road from a student hall of residence; if it's safe for them then consider it safe for you. The rooms have King beds, a small desk, washroom with shower and an open cupboard with hangers and a few shelves. Tea and coffee making facilities are in the room and there is a bit of Freeview on the television.

You could do far worse than a stay at the TL. Buses run along Cambridge Heath Road and Bethnal Green Road as good adjuncts to the Underground, and the nightlife of Shoreditch is a bus ride away.

Have a look and see what you think.

County Dublin...
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8. Re: Overwhelmed!??!

I'm with TP on this one.

Hyannis...
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9. Re: Overwhelmed!??!

Thanks! Like I said, we're not set on anything as far as accommodations goes... just looking for thoughts and opinions from people who are familiar with the area! Anything you can tell us about activities, attractions, museums, food, etc. is welcomed information.

Vancouver, Canada
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10. Re: Overwhelmed!??!

Once again, even without knowing specific dates, you plan to travel at a busy time. Accommodation books up quickly in London and you will need to sort out something very soon. If you have not yet booked flights you need do that sharpish as well.

Have you had a look at the TL? The rate is per room not per person, and I don't think you'll find better for an inexpensive (but quite decent) hotel in central London. The nearest that comes close is the Ibis Budget in Whitechapel Road, but the rooms are smaller than those at the TL, and the rate is about £65 per night for a double room. Free WiFi and lots of Freeview are a plus for that hotel, though.

As far as 'activities, attractions, museums, food, etc.' much of that is up to you and your friend to decide. I echo the others as above in suggesting you sort out what makes you want to visit London and go from there. The Eyewitness Guides and Rough Guides are very good places to start as is the reading of a few trip reports, but as far as specifics to see, those will vary with each person. One visitor might wish to spend hours at the British Museum poring over the Sutton Hoo treasures, another might think the exhibit, 'Pearls' at the V&A will be the business, and a third will spend hours at the Museum of London. You may wish to do something completely different.

Of restos and cafes there are hundreds from which to choose, with food from all over the world. What to pay for meals will range from £3.79 for a Boots meal deal (sandwich or salad, drink and treat) to a three figure sum for a meal with Michelin stars attached.

A great many people have enjoyed the HP studio tour at Leavesden, others aren't interested. You should book in advance for the tour. Travel from Euston station takes just 15 minutes on London Midland trains to Watford Junction, with a shuttle from the rail station to the studio. There's no need to book rail tickets in advance; save money by travelling off peak - www.nationalrail.co.uk for more information.