London Journals

Lads in London

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A July 2005 trip to London by barbara

Marriott Lon Marble Arch Photo, London, England More Photos
Quote: England was the destination for our 11-year-old son's first trip to Europe. We also took his best friend. We had two boys and 2 days in London. We found plenty to please the family.

Marriott Lon Marble Arch

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Hotel | "London Marriott Hotel Marble Arch"

Marriott Lon Marble Arch Photo, London, England
Quote:
In a central location, we found that the London Marriott Hotel Marble Arch was not too far from Harrods in Knightsbridge. So, what was it like? The first thing we noticed here was the high level of security. Most certainly due to the terrorist attacks in London around the time of our visit, the hotel staff took safety very seriously. With a baggage checkpoint at the front door and a gentleman with a security wand that was waved over each entering guest, I felt for a moment like I was back at the airport! However, I did not mind this at all. The staff was very polite, and we felt this was a very minor inconvenience. How were the rooms? Though rooms are traditionally...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 1, 2005

Marriott Lon Marble Arch
134 GEORGE STREET
London, England
44-207-723-1277

Conrad London

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Hotel

Conrad London Photo, London, England
Quote:
From the moment we walked into our suite's foyer with its own half bath, we knew we were going to have a comfortable stay. The Conrad is a high end Hilton, and it lived up to all our expectations for a nice Christmas holiday in London. What were the accommodations like? With a large desk to one side for anyone who might need to work, the front room had a fold-out couch and a television that were perfect for our son. He loved the fact that the staff always put slippers by his bed during the turn-down service each evening. A balcony with a small table was also great for enjoying a sip of tea while looking down on Chelsea Harbour. I loved the sailboats adorned with lig...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on January 14, 2006

Conrad London
Chelsea Harbour
London, England
+44 (207) 823-3000

Mercure London Gatwick Airport

Hotel | "Renaissance London Gatwick"

Quote:
After spending almost 3 weeks in the U.K., we were tired and anxious to get home—we did not want a big hassle getting to the airport before our flight out. So, we opted to stay at the Renaissance London Gatwick near the airport. There was a shuttle to and from the airport for £2 per person,£1.50 for kids. (If you need to be picked up from the airport, simply go to bus stop 11 in the South Terminal.) When we arrived at the hotel, we were met with a very friendly smile at the front desk. The candy in a dish the lady offered my son was a nice touch. I noticed a small business center that was opened 24-hours by the lobby, as we quickly got our room key and made our way to t...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on February 9, 2006

Mercure London Gatwick Airport
Povey Cross Road
Gatwick, Horley, UK RH6 0BE
44-1293-820-169

Waldorf Hilton

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Hotel | "The Waldorf Hilton"

Waldorf Hilton Photo, London, England
Quote:
A friend of mine who was celebrating her birthday gave me a call to tell me that her husband had booked a fabulous weekend for two in London. Where would they be staying? In the Waldorf. Nice husband. We met them for breakfast one morning, and I had the chance to ask them about---and take a look into---their fabulous Executive room. First, the service at the hotel proved to be as phenomenal as its reputation. My friends said their baggage was whisked up to their room almost before they could get there themselves. From the doorman in his derby hat and tails, to the folks at the front desk, the staff here was professional and efficient. Second, the location of the Waldorf ...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on September 24, 2007

Waldorf Hilton
Aldwych
London, England WC2B 4DD
+44 (20) 7 836-2400

Europa Gatwick Hotel

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Hotel

Europa Gatwick Hotel Photo, London, England
Quote:
Oh, where do I start? My husband had an early flight from Gatwick for a business meeting on the continent, so the company's secretary booked 2 nights in this hotel: one night pre-departure and one night for a late-night arrival back in the UK. Well, I think the lady might have been mad at my husband! My son and I tagged along so that we could crash in the hotel room and take advantage of our close proximity to London while my husband was working. This seemed like a good plan... First, let's start with Hotel Positives: The rooms are cheap for London. The hotel provides a shuttle to Gatwick only 4 miles away, and parking is ...Read More

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on October 30, 2007

Europa Gatwick Hotel
Balcombe Road
Crawley, England

Holiday Inn Gatwick Airport

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Hotel | "Holiday Inn Gatwick"

Holiday Inn Gatwick Airport Photo, Horley, England
Quote:
We had an early flight out of Gatwick, so we decided to book into the Holiday Inn. This is a hotel I would definitely recommend for anyone in the UK who needs a hotel plus parking. We got a park and fly deal, which included a triple room plus up to 8 days of parking for only £120. In London, that's a bargain. So how was the hotel itself? The Holiday Inn offers good, clean lodging at a fair price. This isn't luxury, but it's not compromising much either. You'll get a fairly generic room... but it will be comfortable. Depending on how you approach the airport, you'll be able to see the familiar green logo glowing on top of the hotel to guide you to it. The turn-o...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on April 2, 2008

Holiday Inn Gatwick Airport
Povey Cross Road
Horley, Gatwick, UK RH6 0BA
44-0871-942 9030

Pillars of Hercules

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Restaurant

Quote:
With several IgoUgo guides living in and around London, I took advantage of an invitation to have a pint by going to the Pillars of Hercules on our first day in the city. Located in Soho, the pub is near many theaters and cinemas. In fact, Leicester Square where you can find half-priced, same day tickets for a variety of shows is just a few blocks away. Back to the pub itself... This is one of the oldest pubs in the neighborhood. I read somewhere that the pub is almost certainly the same Hercules Pillars that is mentioned in Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities though I have no way to confirm if this tidbit of trivia is true. (It is certain that Dick...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on August 1, 2005

Pillars of Hercules
7 Greek Street
London, England
020 7437 1179

Crooked House of Windsor (Market Cross House)

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Restaurant | "The Crooked House of Windsor"

Quote:
Windsor Castle is the weekend residence of the Queen. It is the oldest structure in the area barring the Tower of London. It is a short train/car ride outside of London itself, and it is hard to miss when driving along the motorway. If you go outside of the capital and venture into Windsor, you most certainly are doing so because you want to see the castle (or Legoland), but you will also find a bustling, quaint town worth a little bit of time in its own right. So, where might you find a cuppa tea in Windsor? Well, in front of Windsor Castle near where people buy their tickets is a statue of Queen Victoria. She's impossible to miss. She's the portly lady with a ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 8, 2007

Crooked House of Windsor (Market Cross House)
51 High Street
Windsor SL4 1lR
+44 (1753) 857-534

Monument

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Attraction | "Great Fire of London Monument"

Monument Photo, London, England
Quote:
Near the London Dungeon, the Great Fire of London Monument was built between 1671 and 1677 by the same architect of St. Paul's Cathedral, Sir Christopher Wren. Two hundred and two feet high, it reminds the people of London of the fire that swept from a baker's house in Pudding Lane across the city on September 2, 1666. Seeing the two boys we had in tow with us, a helpful cab driver suggested the monument as a wonderful site for a family to visit. We were glad he did! For just a few pounds, we were granted entry into the base of the monument. Then it was up, up, up as we climbed the 311 steps that lead to the viewing platform on top. After the huffing and puffing on the narrow spiral...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 1, 2005

Monument
Monument Street
London, England EC3R 8AH
+44 20 7626 2717

Tower of London

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Attraction | "The Tower of London"

Tower of London Photo, London, England
Quote:
Everyone we talked to about our trip to London told us that the tower was the place to take kids, so this was at the top of our list of attractions to visit. We arrived a little late in the afternoon, but were still able to join another group of tourists guided by a red and blue-clad "beefeater" through the grounds. This greatly enhanced our visit, as the wry-witted Yeoman Warder explained the history attached to the centuries-old buildings. The tour ended in the Chapel Royal of St. Peter ad Vincula, which covered the bones of hundreds of executed prisoners (including royalty) who did not visit the tower by choice. Always a lover of Tudor history, I was especially fascinated by hearing ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 1, 2005

Tower of London
Tower Hill
London, England EC3N 4AB
+44 (207) 709 0765

National Portrait Gallery

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Attraction

Quote:
Founded during the Queen Victoria years, the National Portrait Gallery was meant to be more of a historical museum than an art gallery: a veritable who's who of politicians, artists, writers, scientists, and other notables in Great Britain. We were walking to Trafalgar Square when we saw the front entrance to the gallery, so I couldn't resist going inside. What was it like? Now, I have to admit, the two eleven-year-old boys in our party were not exactly thrilled with this museum. In fact, I felt as if the goal for them was to race through the floors as quickly as they could without me snapping at them to slow down. With that said, they did perk up a bit in the Tudo...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 1, 2005

National Portrait Gallery
St. Martin's Place
London, England WC2H OHE
44 20 7306 0055

London Dungeon

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Attraction | "The London Dungeon"

London Dungeon Photo, London, England
Quote:
Okay. Let's get one thing straight. This is an amusement park kind of attraction. This isn't full of culture, great history, or highbrow entertainment. However, if you've got kids along on your vacation--especially boys--you've gotta visit! What was it like? Entering the London Dungeon felt to me a bit like entering a Halloween funhouse. It's dark, dank, and spooky. An actress dressed as a 16th-century wench in bad need of a bath was our first guide. With arms waving and eyes blinking, she tried to give us a taste of the horrors that traitors to the crown might expect in a London dungeon. Though devices of torture indicated a prisoner's life wasn't any picnic, t...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 2, 2005

London Dungeon
28-34 Tooley Street
London, England
+44 20 7403 7221

Harrods

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Attraction

Quote:
We were going back to our hotel after a long afternoon when the cab driver turned around and asked if we had gone shopping at Harrods yet. The two boys in the car made a face (Shopping?!? Yeck!), but the cabbie exclaimed, "Everyone who visits London has to go into Harrods at least once. There's no other store in the world quite like it!" Well, who could argue with that? From the moment we entered, Harrods was a frenetic collection of colors, sights, and sounds. The high ceilings with their beautiful chandeliers felt to me like they belonged more in a mansion or a palace than in a specialty mall, but they tipped me off to the name of the Harrods game: Luxury Shoppin...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 6, 2005

Harrods
87-135 Brompton Road
London, England SW1X 7XL
+44 (20) 7730 1234

Clink Prison Museum

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Attraction | "The Clink Prison"

Clink Prison Museum Photo, London, England
Quote:
Walking from the London Bridge Tube Station to the Globe Theatre the day after Christmas 2005, we wandered upon The Clink Prison. The sky was gray, and cold rain was falling. Prison or not, it looked warmer inside than it was in the street. Plus, it was open. Sold! The most interesting thing I learned here was how this dark place has lent its name to the English vernacular. Jails are often called 'the clink' today because so many prostitutes and other criminals were once thrown into the dank confines of the Clink Prison in London. Begun in Saxon times, The Clink also housed heretics who disagreed with the powers that be (not necessarily God) and unfor...Read More

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on January 12, 2006

Clink Prison Museum
1 Clink Street
London, England

Oxford University

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Attraction | "Oxford"

Oxford University Photo, Oxford, England
Quote:
Oxford is known in England as The City of Spires. Though our hotel was in London, we took a day trip from Paddington Station to see this vibrant, historic place. A train ticket for one adult was less than 12 pounds. The trip from London to Oxford on an express train took about an hour.  How did we go about seeing the city? When we got to Oxford we were happy to see a tourist information center within the train station. This was very helpful. Here we bought tickets for a drop-on-drop-off bus tour that gave us a great historical overview of the city as we rode around listening to either a live guide or a recording with provided headphones. What...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on January 25, 2006

Oxford University
Queen's Lane
Oxford, England
+44 1865 270001

New Covent Garden Market

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Attraction | "Covent Garden Market"

Quote:
I had a couple of hours off while working in Central London, and I didn't want to waste a gorgeous day. One of my colleagues suggested I take a short walk from Victoria Embankment to enjoy some of the outdoor entertainment available in Covent Garden, so I checked the map and eagerly took off. Now, I have to admit, in my American head I was expecting an area like Central Park to appear...a green space in the middle of the city with lots of fountains and trees and musicians. This is not what Covent Garden turned out to be. However, I loved the Covent Garden Market, and I think anyone with a family--or anyone who likes to poke through eclectic shops--should put this on...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on April 23, 2007

New Covent Garden Market
Nine Elms Lane
London, England SW8

Hever Castle & Gardens

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Attraction | "Hever Castle and Gardens"

Hever Castle & Gardens Photo, Kent, England
Quote:
If you're enamored with Tudor history--or if you've read Phillipa Gregory's book, The Other Boleyn Girl--you might want to take a little trip outside of London to Hever Castle, the ancestral Boleyn home. The easiest way to do this is via car, but the drive is motorway until you get to Kent...about an hour south of Gatwick. I actually drove to Kent to visit Chartwell, Winston Churchill's home, but I was delighted to discover Hever so close to my original attraction. A wonderful idea would be to combine these two places and make a full day. However, Hever is going to be the biggest hit with kids. What's to see?...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on October 4, 2007

Hever Castle & Gardens
Village of Hever
Edenbridge, Kent

Chartwell - Winston Churchill Home

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Attraction | "Chartwell (Sir Winston Churchill's House)"

Chartwell - Winston Churchill Home Photo, Kent, England
Quote:
Sir Winston Churchill has long been one of my heroes. Absolutely fearless, he didn't mind becoming a political joke in the years that led up to World War II as he decried policies of appeasement and warned of the evils of totalitarian regimes. While it is hard to believe now, back then Churchill was called a war-monger because he advocated military might to deter the growth of what he saw as an evil, festering cancer in Europe. He wasn't a war-monger. With all of his predictions---including those he made later about the rise of a Soviet Empire that would be opposed to the West---he was simply correct. Still, when the people finally called for his ...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on October 4, 2007

Chartwell - Winston Churchill Home
Mapleton Road, near Westerham
Kent, England TN16 1PS
01732 866368

Windsor Castle

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Attraction

Windsor Castle Photo, London, England
Quote:
Windsor Castle is the largest castle still in operation in the world. The Queen of England lives here most weekends, and I understand that she prefers this to Buckingham Palace in London proper, which she considers to function more as an office than a home. One English friend said, "You want to see a castle? Go to Windsor. That's a castle." On that advice, we paid the £14.20 per adult ticket and the £8 per child ticket to tour the place. If you live in England, make sure you get your ticket stamped to allow you entry into the castle for a full year. Different parts of the castle open in different seasons. For instance, the Semi-State Rooms were clo...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on October 9, 2007

Windsor Castle
Windsor
Berkshire, England SR4 1NJ
+44 1753 869 898

Hampton Court Palace

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Attraction

Hampton Court Palace Photo, Surrey, England
Quote:
Hampton Court Palace was built by Henry VIII's most powerful cardinal. When he fell from grace, Henry decided the palace would be a good house for him to own. It shifted into royal hands where it would stay. Where is the Palace? Though within the M25, Hampton Court Palace is not in the heart of London. King Henry used to take a ride on the River Thames to get to it, which you can also do from Westminster in the summer. Conversely, you can take a 35 minute train ride from Waterloo Station in London. I drove a car from Gatwick airport, and it took me about an hour to make the trip. There is limited, paid parking, but the on-site lot looked like it filled u...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on October 30, 2007

Hampton Court Palace
Next To River Thames SW Of London
East Molesey, Surrey KT8 9AU
44 20 8781 9500

Apollo Victoria Theatre

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Attraction

Quote:
London's West End is the equivalent to New York's Broadway. It is a wonderful place to attend a show, so we were thrilled to have tickets to see Wicked in February 2008. An upbeat production with good special effects, this hit musical appeals to a family audience. Regardless of which show is playing, The Apollo Victoria Theatre is an excellent venue with an Art Deco finish. Seating 2,000 +, it is one of London's largest theatres. We sat on row "T" in the stalls and had a nice view of the stage. If I had sat in the balcony, I would've wanted to have had seats close to the front. My son loved the red opera glasses you could hire by putting...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on February 4, 2008

Apollo Victoria Theatre
17 Wilton Road
London, England SW1V 1LL
+44 020 7834 6318

Midnight Mass at Westminster Abbey

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Story/Tip

Quote:
We were in London on Christmas Eve, 2005, so we needed to find a church in which to give homage to the reason for our holiday celebration. What better place to attend Midnight Mass than Westminster Abbey? This Church of England is steeped in history. This is where ALL English monarchs for hundreds of years have been crowned, including Queen Elizabeth II, so I knew the First Eucharist of Christmas conducted to praise and worship the King of all kings would be moving and memorable. Indeed, it was.   How early did we get to the church? We lined up in front of Westminster near the entrance to the church about two hours before the service was schedule...Read More