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Help Planning First London Trip (Last 2 days)

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Help Planning First London Trip (Last 2 days)

I'm arriving in London around noon on May 12 (yeah, next month). I'm staying three nights in a Hilton brand hotel because of reward nights. Figure this would be a good place to use them because of the expensive of hotels in London.

I'm taking the train to Paris on May 17. So, I have two days to play with here. I'm checking out of the Hilton hotel on May 15.

I'm trying to decide if I should just go for it and go somewhere else totally to spend those two nights (either in England or elsewhere), or book a more interesting (local) room in London for the last two nights before going to Paris. One hotel I've considered is the Rubens. Would love Charlotte Street but unsure it's worth the $. Or unsure I want to spend the $!

Since this is my first visit to London, three nights might not be enough. Would you recommend staying in London 5 nights and doing a day trip to Canterbury or Oxford or Cambridge or Stonehenge or Leeds?

I'm open to any ideas you have for me.

If I go to Scotland for just two nights, is that enough? I haven't looked up the train ride to Paris from Scotland, but I'm guessing you can do that... The website is down at the moment.

We want to see Tate Modern, National Gallery, Tower of London, Globe, and probably lots of other things from the outside at least (like Houses of Parliament). We're interested in art, literature, photography, good food and desserts, castles. And I have to do at least one afternoon tea! My objective isn't to cram it all in, but to get a feel for London and see some great art and architecture.

I'm working my way through some tour guides now, and I know that there are lots of things to do in London. I'm going to nail down a loose itinerary before deciding whether to stay in London for three or five nights. But I'd love any feedback from others while my trip is still wide open. Thanks.

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1. Re: Help Planning First London Trip (Last 2 days)

I would absolutely recommend spending the 5 days in London rather than moving to another city. We spent 9 days there on our trip 2 years ago (with one day trip) and feel we barely got to see anything, lol! With your interests, you will easily fill 5 days.

Rugby, United...
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2. Re: Help Planning First London Trip (Last 2 days)

Yes I would spend the whole 5 days in London absolutely! I spend several days there every year and still don't feel I've done it all! The London Eye is also fun as is Harrods - lots to look at in Harrods! Definitely go to a show if you can!

I've heard the Charlotte Street hotel is very good.

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3. Re: Help Planning First London Trip (Last 2 days)

Yes, do stay in London for the five days. By the way, I assume that you mean 'Leeds Castle' - Leeds is a city a couple of hundred miles north of London.

Travel from Edinburgh or Glasgow to Paris by train is doable but rather a long way. You firstly need to go to London (say 4 1/2 to 5 hours) then get the Eurostar. Flying is probably a fair bit quicker. If you go to Glasgow, try the tearooms - food and architecture at the same time.

Have a great time.

Birmingham, Alabama
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4. Re: Help Planning First London Trip (Last 2 days)

"Three nights might not be enough." Three months isn't enough. I would definitely stay in London. Which Hilton are you in? You might try to stay in another area on your last two nights and plan activities in each area accordingly, although nothing in Central London is particularly far from another. I probably wouldn't plan a day trip, but Oxford is easily accessible by train ... Stonehenge to me is rather boring but if you are interested, you can book a good bus tour that takes you there. I am trying to figure out where Edinburgh comes into this ... two nights won't get you much (plus you have to think about travel) so I'd probably spend my time in either London or Paris. If you are going to try and do it, I'd definitely check out some flights. You should still be within a window where you can get them fairly inexpensively.

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5. Re: Help Planning First London Trip (Last 2 days)

Thanks everyone. I pretty much hate flying, and that's one of the reasons it took so long to buy my tickets for this trips. Just bought them this week! So, if the best way to get to Scotland is plane or longer train ride, I think I can rule it out for this trip. It was really just a crazy thought anyway, but wanted to explore it a bit.

I'm staying in the Doubletree by Hilton on John Islip. So, I can either book the other two nights there and pay for them. (remember the three nights are free) Or I can move to a different hotel in same area or a different area. I'm open to suggestions.

Here's the thing about Stonehenge: I'm afraid if I don't do it on this trip, I never will. But perhaps that's silly. I knew when I visited Paris last year that I'd return. And I am! Having never been to London, I guess I'm unsure whether I'll be so close to Stonehenge again. Yet, it does seem like an involved day trip since you can't get there directly by train. I think you take a bus from Salisbury.

And yes! I did mean Leeds Castle. Thanks for clarifying though. I thought the castle was in Leeds, but apparently not! My husband is into photography, and I know that London will have plenty to keep him busy, but if I do a day trip, what would be the most photogenic? I was thinking Leeds Castle or Oxford, but am also intrigued with the notion of Canterbury. Neither of us have seen a true castle before like Leeds. I know that Tower of London is a castle, but Leeds just seems more like a traditional castle.

Forgive my ignorance on all this, and rambling. I normally know much more about my destination in advance, but I'm still catching up on London. When I get my itinerary together, I'll post it here.

Thank you again for the quick replies. I'm hoping to buy my train tickets soon, so that's why I'm trying to figure out the plan.

Is there anything foodwise besides Indian food, afternoon tea, and pub for fish and chips that I really shouldn't miss? And, if I want to put together a nice picnic, what would you suggest in terms of location and food choices?

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6. Re: Help Planning First London Trip (Last 2 days)

>>>> Neither of us have seen a true castle before like Leeds. I know that Tower of London is a castle, but Leeds just seems more like a traditional castle. <<<

I suppose it depends on your definition of a traditional castle. Leeds Castle has been a Norman stronghold; a palace, a Jacobean country house; a Georgian mansion; an elegant early 20th century retreat. In other words heavily renovated at various times. Its probably not what one might think of as a Medieval Castle in an original state

Edited: 09 April 2014, 20:26
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7. Re: Help Planning First London Trip (Last 2 days)

"and pub for fish and chips"

Personally I'd never have fish and chips in a pub, for a genuine experience go to a "chippie", with an eat in section preferably.

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8. Re: Help Planning First London Trip (Last 2 days)

+1 to what Charlemaine says.

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9. Re: Help Planning First London Trip (Last 2 days)

Hooameye, any good "chippie" places you know? I'm picturing something like a food truck, but not sure. And are pubs good for much besides beer?

Charlemaine, is there another more authentic castle that's close enough for a day trip that you'd recommend? Or do you think Oxford would be a nicer trip? I know some have suggested that I don't need to do a day trip, but I want to have an option in case we want to get away from the rush of London. Probably not, as I love big cities...

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10. Re: Help Planning First London Trip (Last 2 days)

Took mum to Reubens at the Palace hotel for afternoon tea last summer, it was really good, I booked it through Virgin Experience and it came with a visit to the Queens Gallery (small but very interesting) and The a Royal Mews, which was also very good and gives you a real insight to a horses life and all the carriages used for processions, state visits etc.

All these are very close to Buckingham Palace