Visiting Friends in London

A short weekend to visit a friend of mine, with museums, bars, and the Tube.

Visiting Friends in London

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by Brubs23 on April 21, 2006

London has always been my favorite city abroad—English-speaking and friendly, but still cultured and different from the US. This time I went for a short trip, only about 5 days, to visit one of my friends. I think that you need more time in London than just 5 days. You are just starting to get used to riding the Tube and figuring out the currency and have to leave. The first time I visited, I was there for 6 weeks, and by the time I left, I had a great grasp on the city and its culture. Much of our time was spent relaxing and catching up, just enjoying ourselves instead of running around to the tourist attractions. However, we did get a lot of shopping done.

I highly recommend Oxford Street for good-quality, cheap clothing (H&M, Top Shop, Zara, etc.). Havana Bar in Fulham Broadway is one of my personal favorites, and we made sure to go there on a Saturday night, with great mix of European, Australian, and American people in their 20s and early 30s and a good mix of music. Most of our eating was done at cheap restaurants. We went to Covent Garden several times for the shopping and entertainment. On our final night, we went and saw The Lion King in the West End—amazing. I have seen many plays and musicals on my trips to London, and I highly recommend fitting one in on a trip. Overall, it was a great vacation—I just wish it had lasted longer!${QuickSuggestions} Once you get to a Tube station from the airport (specifically Gatwick), take a cab to your final destination, especially if you have heavy luggage. Most flights from the US arrive just in time to hit rush hour on the Tube system, and there are no escalators in most Tube stations (heavy luggage + lots of impatient commuters + stairs does not equal an easy trip, especially after 7 hours on a plane).

- Try to stay in a hotel close to a Tube station. This makes it so easy to get around, and you don't waste any time trying to figure out how to get to public transportation (or trying to figure out the bus system).

- Buy theater tickets the day of the show, when you can usually find them for half-price.

- Yes, London is a city of many tourist attractions and museums, but be sure to save time to just walk around and enjoy yourself. As in any location, there is much more to a place than what is offered in the guidebook. Go to restaurants you just stumble upon, sit in Hyde Park while you have a picnic on a pretty day, and go to a local pub. You will really feel the atmosphere of London and will enjoy your time in this amazing city so much more.${BestWay} From Gatwick, definitely take the Gatwick Express train to Victoria Station. You can buy tickets in advance on the Internet and just bring the confirmation print-out with you on the train. In London, the Tube is very easy and the bus system is not too complicated either. Cab drivers are friendly and efficient, and it is a good choice if you're in a hurry or don't mind spending the money.

Millennium Baileys Hotel London

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Brubs23 on April 21, 2006

I stayed in a single in this hotel. The staff was very friendly and the lobby was in great condition. It was extremely close to the Tube and also to a pub, internet cafe, 24-hour food store, pharmacy, and various restaurants. My room was small, but that was to be expected for a single. It was clean and had plenty of room for my luggage. I had a couple issues during my stay, including a leaky ceiling and the fact that the shower door was difficult to close. However, these were extremely minor problems that in no way affected my trip. As a woman staying alone in a hotel for the first time, I was a bit worried about safety, but I never felt uncomfortable, and the lobby and hallways were always brightly lit. I would definitely go back to this hotel, as despite the minor problems, the location and price are hard to beat.
Millennium Baileys Hotel London
London, England

British Museum

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by Brubs23 on April 21, 2006

I have been to London once before, and this was the one destination I had missed that I made sure I saw the second time around. It is definitely worth it. We were there for 2 hours and probably only saw 60% of it. The Africa sections and the Ancient Greece/Rome areas were fascinating. I missed several areas I would like to go back and see, specifically Latin America. There were a significant number of people in the main areas, but due to the museum's large size, the crowds were never a problem.
British Museum
Great Russell Street
London, England, WC1B 3DG
+44 (207) 7323 8299

Natural History Museum (The)

Member Rating 2 out of 5 by Brubs23 on April 21, 2006

I visited the Natural History Museum late one afternoon. I have been to the Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian in D.C. numerous times, and I think that affected my opinion of the one in London. Many of he exhibits seemed outdated, and much of it was (as to be expected) very similar to the DC museum. I only spent about 45 minutes at the Natural History Museum. The dinosaur skeletons were fascinating, but other than for those, I would not go back.
Natural History Museum
Cromwell Road
London, England, SW7 5BD
+44 20 7942 5000

© LP 2000-2009