As mentioned before, we celebrated Christmas in London this year. We began planning this trip in November and looked at many hotel options before reserving a room at the Millennium’s Hotel Bailey, across the street from the Gloucester tube stop. We chose this because it is in a lively, yet peaceful area and the hotel has its own restaurant. Through the hotel website, we reserved our room at a rate under £100/night, including breakfast for both of us. I checked and this rate seems to still be available. For Valentine’s Day weekend, for example, you could arrive Friday and leave Sunday for £229.20 (about 250 Euros).
We arrived and took the Underground to our Tube stop and settled in. It was Christmas Day when we woke up the next morning. The hotel lobby was beautifully decorated and breakfast awaited us. After that, we bundled up and took a taxi to Trafalgar Square where we joined a London Walks Charles Dickens’s Christmas Day London Tour. It was £7 per person and lasted two hours. There was quite a crowd for the walk and though we are not avid fans of Charles Dickens, we are avid readers and enjoyed walking around London with someone who knew where he was going. Our London Walks guide was an American gentleman who made the stories come alive with humor and detail.
We learned a few things about London, a few of which…
* TKTS in Leicester Square is the place to go for half price theatre tickets. Accept no imitations.
* Big Ben is the nickname for the bell, not the clock or the tower.
* Free Museums are abundant and include: The British Museum, Sir John Soane’s Museum, Natural History and Science Museums, Victoria & Albert Museum, Imperial War Museum, and National Maritime Museum. There may, however, be a charge for guided tours or special exhibits.
* Go early to Saturday markets, such Portobello Road Market or Borough Market. Great place to pick up a sandwich for lunch later.
We opted to purchase two tickets for the Big Bus Tour. For £22 per person, we had 48 hours to ride their hop-on, hop-off buses as much as we wanted AND could take advantage of one of the Big Bus Walking Tours or go on a cruise of the River Thames. The 48-hour time limit is a promotion until February 2009, but it seemed like one day would have been ample. It is helpful if you want to see the city while getting around to the sights. Might be wise to make a plan to make the most of the Big Bus ticket while you have it and visit places closer to where you are staying when you do not have the Big Bus.
Hope you enjoy your visit to London!