Power touristing to London

Going to be in London for the first time for maybe 3 days at the end of May. The family and I will be out again in October and hopefully next summer for my graduation. Two things on my tentative agenda

British Museum - planning the whole day
Tosca at the Coliseum

Since it’s just me, I wouldn’t mind sleeping in a cardboard box so cheap hotel is good. Any area in particular I should look to stay and what are other things I gotta do while there as a London british airways, ooops virgin.

There seem to be some decent hotels in the area just north of Kensington Gardens, including some hostels. There was one on Bayswater Street near where we were staying last October. Run down (we stopped in to use their Internet), but it might be acceptable.

I mostly wandered the city and seeing the landmarks. Basically, our two days were:

Day 1 – Westminster Bridge/Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, 10 Downing Street (from the rear), St. James Park, Buckingham Palace, (bus to) Harrods. Back to hotel for a nap, then bus to Piccadilly Circus.

Day 2 – Tower of London, St. Katherine’s, cross Tower Bridge, walk to London Bridge along the river, (bus to) St. Pauls. Cross Millennium Bridge to Tate Modern. (subway to) Trafalgar Square. (I should have gone south from there toward Big Ben, but instead headed toward Piccadilly Circus again.

We didn’t spend much time in the locations – just had a quick look and moved on.

More info.
I found a hotel in Soho called the Seven Dials that is 90 pounds a night and I think it’s walking distance to the Museum and Coliseum. Any idea if that is a good deal, expensive, anything? Sorry if this all seems disjointed but I just confirmed today that I’m meeting with my doctoral supervisor the early part of that week at Warwick and with the Cad Clan coming out in Oct, we’re going to do a lot of touristy things then with Cad Jnr.

I’ll have a few days in London before my plane leaves. Speaking of that, what’s the best way to get from let’s say Soho to Heathrow by 0715 on a Friday? For while I’m there, is there a pass I can get to use the Underground for a few days or even a week if it lets me ride one of the coaches that runs direct from LHR to Coventry and then back to London.

If you like military history, the Imperial War Museum is worth a half day easily. The Cabinet War Rooms, which the IWM runs, is also cool - where Churchill ran the country during the Blitz.

Trafalgar Square, the National Portrait Gallery, Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, the Tate Gallery, Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Old Bailey, Oxford Circus, Picadilly Circus, Simpson’s on the Strand, Houses of Parliament, some of the great old country houses like Blenheim, Knole and Sissinghurst… ah, such great memories. Hope you have fun!

Oyster Card, might be worth checking into? They have a service that will ship a card to many countries if you have enough lead time.


Have fun!

Don’t buy an oyster card in advance, you can walk into a station and pick one up in 5 min. And cash fares are for chumps only. Unlike comparable cards in American cities, you can turn the card in to get the 5GBP deposit back. So don’t throw it away!

You might (might) have trouble getting the tube out to heathrow that early. I had to take a 40GBP taxi ride to heathrow last time I was in London, but that was a Sunday morning. Probably easier on other days. You can check using the journey planner at www.tfl.gov.uk

London is horribly expensive, so I’d save as much as you can on accommodation, especially if you won’t be spending much time in your hotel.

90GBP is on the high side for a hotel you won’t be sleeping in. You can get a dorm bed in a youth hostel (www.hostelworld.com) for 15GBP per night, possibly including breakfast, or just priceline/hotwire it for a cheaper hotel. The tube is good, so if you’re only coming into the city in the morning and then sightseeing going back to your hotel at night to sleep, central location doesn’t matter so much.

If you are planning on leaving London by bus or train, and you can book in advance, do it now. Advance purchase tickets are massively cheaper than walkup fares. Go to www.nationalrail.co.uk and www.gobycoach.com

I would suggest you use these sites to book train travel to Coventry and back, and just use an oystercard for the tube in London.

If you try to use nationalrail to book a ticket from LHR to Coventry, it might be expensive and require the use of a bus (Heathrow doesn’t have west or northbound trains). If this is happening, look for tickets from ‘London (all stations)’. They might be substantially cheaper, and you can take the train (use heathrow connect not heathrow express if going to paddington, the latter is a ripoff) or tube (if any station but paddington) to the departure station in central London. Don’t forget to leave enough time (at least 90min) to get from Heathrow to a given London train station – more if by tube, less if by train.

Hope this helps


Definitely do not rent a car if you’re planning on being in London. There are surcharges for taking cars into certain areas, and parking is both expensive and hard-to-find. The mass transit is excellent.

I would definitely work the Tower of London into your plans. It seems to fit with the other things you’re doing.

Since you’re looking for opinions and ideas, I think this fits better in IMHO than GQ, so I’ve moved it.