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DragonOfTheSeas

Need London Help RE: Hotels, Transportation and Tours

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If you haven't booked your hotel yet, The Doubletree, Tower of London is offering a special rate for a 3 night stay. We booked it for 111. pounds which for London and a good location is a very fair rate.

 

Yes--that is where we are booked. We liked the price and we felt that it would let us be near one of the areas we wanted to see.

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. . . I do not think the time matters fir this tour as the numbers are controlled. I thought this, too since the tickets are timed. So, while I usually try for early times in crowded venues, afternoon should work for Buckingham Palace.

 

I am a but confused. Do u arrive in London at 1000 from your overnight flight? I think the shortest time to get into London and drop bags would be about 2-2.5 hours. So I would not think you could use the HOHO until almost 1300. I think most stop running at 1630 or so. Still it is a great way to ride around.

 

August is insanely crowded. In order to watch the changing of the guard, you will need to get there early. We took a tour with Phil from the Original Bus Tour and he said there were 25,000 people in front of Buckingham Palace. I think he was right. Oh and they had Umbrellas. He positioned us in front of St James Palace and them moved us to the left of Buckingham Palace. If you want to be near the front gates, my not sure what time to be there, but very early. The original Bus Tour does include this tour with your pass. I Think it starts about 1000. I will look into that for Day 2. I did not think we had time for any guided tours. But, we could see.

 

Westminster Abby and the Elizabeth Tower(formerly Big Ben) are still a nice historic walk to Buckingham Palace. Probably at least an hour. If we have the time we hope to hop off the HOHO bus once on the first afternoon by Big Ben to look around for a short time. Since we are not British we can not go up into Big Ben. Then the following day we can take the HOHO to a stop closer to Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace.

 

When you stay near the Tower of London, then u should visit it that day. Also insanely crowded. Purchased those tickets in advance, take a Yeoman's tour. The other cool thing to see is the Ceremony of the Keys. This takes place every night at 2130. You can send off for free tickets. Limited numbers, though.

 

 

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Thank you for the information.

 

Yes--we are arriving overnight. I have no idea what time we will make it through customs and make our way into the city to the hotel. The HOHO tickets are good for 24 hrs. So, if we are mid afternoon getting to the HOHO on day 1 we have that transport until the following mid afternoon of day 2.

 

We are planning to tour the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, St Catherine's wharf and walk along the south shore of the Thames on Day 3. By staying less than 1 block away from the Tower of London we can be in line before the Tower opens and most other tourists get there. We will use the tube that day for any transport we need. Depending on our level of energy, we will likely walk most of it and take the tube home from wherever we end up.

 

While we are retired travelers--we, walk most days 2-3 miles for exercise. We often do much more than that when we travel as long as it is spread through out the day.

 

I have looked at the Ceremony of the Keys. I think it would be great to see it at night. Did you see the ceremony? Can you tell me about it?

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It sounds like you have a plan.

 

Yes we experienced the " Ceremony of the Keys" I thought it was great fun. It was still drizzling a bit that night. I wrote for the tickets and included a small donation since the postage thing does not work. I happen to have some £s. I do not remember how much. Anyway the tickets came in about 2-3 weeks. I think they will send them anyway. We also made a donation after the Ceremony.

 

You gather outside the main gate about 2115 or so and the yeoman or Beefeater will take ur tickets, lead you in and give u a history of the ceremony. Then he/she will position you to watch the ceremony. No photography or talking durning the ceremony but afterwards you can take pics. We got a beautiful pic of the White Tower at night and one with the Yeoman, Bob who is on the advertisement posters at Heathrow. Since you are close to the Tower, I say do it. We had dinner at Butler's Wharf Chop house right before and saw the Tower Bridge open. Stick together as somehow there were 2 groups and DH went off with the second group and ended up in the pub. (Off with his head). He was quickly sent back to our tour.

 

FYI Big Ben was renamed the Elizabeth Tower by Parliament in honour of the Queen. It matches the tower at the other end of the Palace of Westminster, the Victoria Tower. Unfortunately, yes, you have to be a citizen to climb the Tower.

 

Another cool thing we did was to take a dinner cruise on the Thames. We saw the buildings at night. So beautiful. It was the London Showboat.

If you do not get to see everything you want to ...you will just have to go back!

 

 

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It sounds like you have a plan.

 

Yes we experienced the " Ceremony of the Keys" I thought it was great fun. It was still drizzling a bit that night. I wrote for the tickets and included a small donation since the postage thing does not work. I happen to have some £s. I do not remember how much. Anyway the tickets came in about 2-3 weeks. I think they will send them anyway. We also made a donation after the Ceremony.

 

You gather outside the main gate about 2115 or so and the yeoman or Beefeater will take ur tickets, lead you in and give u a history of the ceremony. Then he/she will position you to watch the ceremony. No photography or talking durning the ceremony but afterwards you can take pics. We got a beautiful pic of the White Tower at night and one with the Yeoman, Bob who is on the advertisement posters at Heathrow. Since you are close to the Tower, I say do it. We had dinner at Butler's Wharf Chop house right before and saw the Tower Bridge open. Stick together as somehow there were 2 groups and DH went off with the second group and ended up in the pub. (Off with his head). He was quickly sent back to our tour.

 

FYI Big Ben was renamed the Elizabeth Tower by Parliament in honour of the Queen. It matches the tower at the other end of the Palace of Westminster, the Victoria Tower. Unfortunately, yes, you have to be a citizen to climb the Tower.

 

Another cool thing we did was to take a dinner cruise on the Thames. We saw the buildings at night. So beautiful. It was the London Showboat.

If you do not get to see everything you want to ...you will just have to go back!

 

 

Sent using the Cruise Critic forums app

 

Thank you so much for the description of the Ceremony of the Keys. I have not been able to get much detail. I will try to get tickets.

 

The dinner cruise sounds like a good idea.

 

I am sure we will not get to see everything. :p Yes--we will need to return.

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DragonOfTheSeas, we are also staying atDoubletree Tower. I thought it seemed like a pretty good location. We're arriving late afternoon on the train from Paris on the 29th. Thought we would spend a couple days there first. We would be interested in transportation to port also. Or we will take the Cruise train. Very interesting thread, our first trip to London so lots to learn.

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DragonOfTheSeas, we are also staying atDoubletree Tower. I thought it seemed like a pretty good location. We're arriving late afternoon on the train from Paris on the 29th. Thought we would spend a couple days there first. We would be interested in transportation to port also. Or we will take the Cruise train. Very interesting thread, our first trip to London so lots to learn.

 

Hello and thank you for posting. We felt the Tower Doubletree was the best price for the location.

 

I had someone reply on the roll call when I mentioned I was looking for someone to share transport to the port. They are traveling with friends and we have a full van. But, I have read there are at least two other couples staying at the Doubletree. Maybe you can team up with them.

 

I am sure there is always a better deal out there. But, we found http://www.totallydriven.co.uk/

to have the best rates.

 

You will need to know that the Tower of London Doubletree hotel is Postcode-EC3 [like our zipcodes]

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My experience with the tube is it's fantastic for getting around the city once you're there but wouldn't use from airport to hotel especially with two large luggage pieces. If you're hotel isn't walking distance from Paddington using the Express, you'll have to hail a taxi or take a connecting tube station. What I've done for the last several trips is call Hummingbird Cars. Very reliable and good prices and you might discover in the long run cheaper. I fly from CA and am exhausted by the time we land so if it ends up a little bit more expensive worth it to me. Hint, if you pick a hotel at either the Tower of London end or Westminister, you can take advantage of the free ferry ride the HOHO offers at the end of day when you'll be exhausted. Hotel wise, we always stay at a B&B in the Lambeth area just 10 minute walk to the London Eye and five to the closest tube station. London is a wonderful City and easy to get around. Leaving myself the end of May for a week and then booked on an Oceania cruise ending in Southampton for next year.

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. Hint, if you pick a hotel at either the Tower of London end or Westminister, you can take advantage of the free ferry ride the HOHO offers at the end of day when you'll be exhausted.

 

I had thought about doing that. too. I noted that the boat ride was one of the perks from the HOHO. . . or I wondered if it would be just as short a time to take the boat ride the first thing in the morning from the Tower to Westminster rather than the HOHO. [since it comes with the HOHO ticket]

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If your lodging is at the Tower of London end, taking the ferry in the morning for Westminster would work. What I would suggest is tour the Tower first thing in the morning when crowds are down then take the ferry to Westminster. From the pier you can just walk over to the Abbey, Churchill War Rooms, Parliament, etc. Afterwards jump on the HOHO bus for the rest of the day.

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If your lodging is at the Tower of London end, taking the ferry in the morning for Westminster would work. What I would suggest is tour the Tower first thing in the morning when crowds are down then take the ferry to Westminster. From the pier you can just walk over to the Abbey, Churchill War Rooms, Parliament, etc. Afterwards jump on the HOHO bus for the rest of the day.

 

It is good to hear that these sites are within walking distance of the pier and each other.

 

Did you enjoy the Churchill War rooms? I was a history teacher and feel these would be very good.

 

We are saving our last day in London for the Tower area. [day 3] Yes, we plan to be there before it opens. We feel the sites around the Tower will keep us busy all day. [Tower, Tower Bridge, All Hallows Church, Catherine's Warf for lunch or dinner, walk along the Thames] Do you have any other suggestions for that area?

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Lots of things to do round the Pool of London - the other side of Tower Bridge you will find HMS Belfast, a WWII battleship, Southwark Cathedral by London Bridge, the Monument back on the North side of London Bridge. Borough Market, of course as well. Something a little unusual is the Old Operating Room and Herb Garrett, again down by London Bridge station.

 

Lots of info here (don't be put off by the website address, it covers the Pool of London, which is the stretch of river up to and beyond Tower Bridge:

 

http://www.discoverlondonbridge.co.uk

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Lots of things to do round the Pool of London - the other side of Tower Bridge you will find HMS Belfast, a WWII battleship, Southwark Cathedral by London Bridge, the Monument back on the North side of London Bridge. Borough Market, of course as well. Something a little unusual is the Old Operating Room and Herb Garrett, again down by London Bridge station.

 

Lots of info here (don't be put off by the website address, it covers the Pool of London, which is the stretch of river up to and beyond Tower Bridge:

 

http://www.discoverlondonbridge.co.uk

 

Oh, thank you. :):):) I have bookmarked this site. I had no idea there was that much to see on the South bank of the Thames. I kept reading that it was a good area to explore. Now I can see why.

Edited by DragonOfTheSeas

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Yes we experienced the " Ceremony of the Keys" I thought it was great fun. It was still drizzling a bit that night. I wrote for the tickets and included a small donation since the postage thing does not work. I happen to have some £s. I do not remember how much. Anyway the tickets came in about 2-3 weeks. I think they will send them anyway. We also made a donation after the Ceremony.

 

 

 

Sent using the Cruise Critic forums app

 

I looked into getting tickets for the Ceremony of the Keys and the web site was so confusing and cumbersome that I just gave up! Tried to find comparable sized envelopes or paper to print out postage on line through their site, and American vs Britain's measurements aren't compatible. There are only 2 days available for the time we'll be there, and I'm afraid they'll be gone if I order postage to be mailed to my home address and then send in the letter of application. Do you know of a way to make ordering tickets from the U.S. easier?

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Tried to find comparable sized envelopes or paper to print out postage on line through their site, and American vs Britain's measurements aren't compatible.
If you Google, you should be able to find the measurements of the standard size(s) that the Royal Mail website (probably) quotes. (The function is down at the moment so I can't check what it says.) That should allow you to find a comparable American size to use.

 

AFAIK, there is no other way than to follow these instructions. There is so much demand for tickets, and such a limited supply of them, that they don't really have to make it easy for anyone. I'm always surprised that it is as easy as it currently is.

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Lots of things to do round the Pool of London - the other side of Tower Bridge you will find HMS Belfast, a WWII battleship, Southwark Cathedral by London Bridge, the Monument back on the North side of London Bridge. Borough Market, of course as well. Something a little unusual is the Old Operating Room and Herb Garrett, again down by London Bridge station.

 

Lots of info here (don't be put off by the website address, it covers the Pool of London, which is the stretch of river up to and beyond Tower Bridge:

 

http://www.discoverlondonbridge.co.uk

 

Just as a point of information. I looked up the distance between the two bridges. . . along the Queen's Walk is less than 1 mile. It is very doable. :)

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Just as a point of information. I looked up the distance between the two bridges. . . along the Queen's Walk is less than 1 mile.
Yes - in fact, probably closer to half a mile than a mile.

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I looked into getting tickets for the Ceremony of the Keys and the web site was so confusing and cumbersome that I just gave up! Tried to find comparable sized envelopes or paper to print out postage on line through their site, and American vs Britain's measurements aren't compatible. There are only 2 days available for the time we'll be there, and I'm afraid they'll be gone if I order postage to be mailed to my home address and then send in the letter of application. Do you know of a way to make ordering tickets from the U.S. easier?

 

Hi there! At the time I got my tickets, the postage was not required. I happened to have a few £s so I included it with my request. I briefly looked at the Royal Mail site. Is this the site u are referencing? I have never used it before, but it appears you can print out labels with postage included? However, I think it reads that the postage expires one day after printing so this would not help. Not really sure. Maybe someone else can explain.

 

This is the only way I know of securing the tickets. The ceremony is very popular now. If you want to order stamps, I would go ahead and do that. You did not say when you are traveling. I think we got our tickets about 3 months out for a late August trip.

 

 

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I don't recommend taking the tube with 50# of luggage. I have done cab and private car to and from Heathrow. I think the cab fare was about 55-60 pounds recently, although I stayed in the Marble Arch area, which is closer to Heathrow than you'll be staying. I've used the tube extensively in the city, though, and there are lots of stairs, corridors, turnstiles, and other travelers. You will see people with large bags on the trains, and it's certainly doable, but I can't imagine it would be fun after a long flight.

 

The war rooms are excellent. I highly recommend them, especially given your teaching career. You will be glad you went.

 

My third recommendation is for an all-day city tour from a fabulous tour guide, Harry Norman (londonstours.com). I've done a city tour with Harry twice, and he wowwed me both times. Each tour is customized according to your interests. Let him know ahead of time what you'd like to see, and he'll make it happen. He is witty, engaged, and knowledgable. You can pepper him with questions all day long, and he'll tell you everything you want to know about London. He will pick you up at your hotel around 9:30 and drive you all over the city in his minivan. He has a parking permit that allows you easy access to all sites. You can stop to explore, take pictures, go inside, or he will just whiz you by for a good look if you have other places on your list. You'll enjoy lunch in a pub with him, followed by a full afternoon of exploring. He did an excellent job of organizing our interests geographically so we spent the maximum amount of time seeing the city and a minimum of time sitting in London's horrible traffic. (Booking on the weekend is a good option to avoid traffic.) There are no strangers in the van with you -- your tour is just for you -- although I suppose you could connect with other passengers on your cruise via Cruise Critic and agree to share the tour. We saw so many things we never would have had time to get to had we not booked with Harry. For my second tour with him, I booked for the day after we landed in order for my travel companion, who had never been to London, to get an overview and choose the things he wanted to see in more detail for the rest of the trip. Harry had excellent recommendations for us about the best days and times to go to various attractions.

 

Have a wonderful holiday!

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Can someone who is from Great Britain or a cruiser that has stayed at the Tower Doubletree hotel suggest some restaurants in the area? I would like to know of some casual places with either a nice pub vibe and/or a special restaurant with views. Any suggestions?

Edited by DragonOfTheSeas

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Can anyone help with transportation from London to Harwich? I'm staying at the Hilton at Hyde Park. My choices are purchasing transfers from Victoria Station or reserving the bus from London Toolkit. Any recommendations?

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Can anyone help with transportation from London to Harwich? I'm staying at the Hilton at Hyde Park. My choices are purchasing transfers from Victoria Station or reserving the bus from London Toolkit. Any recommendations?

 

There are a number of private transfer companies that will take you from the hotel to the port. We were able to get 2 other roll call couples staying at our same hotel to share a ride. The prices from the companies I checked vary greatly. I found Totally Driven for 138 GBP. [had to pay via CC in advance to get that rate] When you split that 3 ways it is not bad at all--and so convenient.

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Can someone who is from Great Britain or a cruiser that has stayed at the Tower Doubletree hotel suggest some restaurants in the area? I would like to know of some casual places with either a nice pub vibe and/or a special restaurant with views. Any suggestions?
I don't really do pubs. But here are a few casual places that might be quite fun.

 

Bodean's, on the north side of Byward Street opposite the ticket office for the Tower - American-style ribs etc (OK, OK, I know that's not what you came to London for, but it is quite a fun place). The proper restaurant is downstairs in the basement.

 

Wagamama (Japanese-inspired noodles and rice dishes etc) is down the hill towards the river from there. It's behind the ticket office and a bit further down, I think. It has a great view of the Tower and a bit of Tower Bridge too.

 

Otherwise, go down to the northwestern corner of St Katherine Docks (in the corner formed by Tower Bridge Approach and East Smithfield. The pick of the crop there is Cote (French brasserie). Strada is a decent chain Italian. Both have views of the (super)yachts and other boats moored in the basin.

 

A couple of other places we like but aren't quite what you're asking about: Cafe Spice Namaste on Prescot Street (good Indian cuisine) and Rosemary Lane on Royal Mint Street near the junction with Dock Street (almost fine dining).

 

But for views, they're right there in your hotel (even if the food may be bar rather than restaurant food): go up to the Skylounge.

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I don't really do pubs. But here are a few casual places that might be quite fun.

 

Bodean's, on the north side of Byward Street opposite the ticket office for the Tower - American-style ribs etc (OK, OK, I know that's not what you came to London for, but it is quite a fun place). The proper restaurant is downstairs in the basement.

 

Wagamama (Japanese-inspired noodles and rice dishes etc) is down the hill towards the river from there. It's behind the ticket office and a bit further down, I think. It has a great view of the Tower and a bit of Tower Bridge too.

 

Otherwise, go down to the northwestern corner of St Katherine Docks (in the corner formed by Tower Bridge Approach and East Smithfield. The pick of the crop there is Cote (French brasserie). Strada is a decent chain Italian. Both have views of the (super)yachts and other boats moored in the basin.

 

A couple of other places we like but aren't quite what you're asking about: Cafe Spice Namaste on Prescot Street (good Indian cuisine) and Rosemary Lane on Royal Mint Street near the junction with Dock Street (almost fine dining).

 

But for views, they're right there in your hotel (even if the food may be bar rather than restaurant food): go up to the Skylounge.

 

Thanks so much for taking the time to post. . . all of these sound good. It seems we will have lots of choices.

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Did you enjoy the Churchill War rooms? I was a history teacher and feel these would be very good.

 

My husband and I visited last year. This was our third trip to London since the 2003 expansion of the war rooms, but the first time the Churchill War rooms made it from the to-do list to the actually-visited list. The visit did not disappoint! The rooms are amazing! They are frozen in time with the papers and things in the exact position left when folks walked out the door for the last time.

 

Excellent informative exhbits combining artifacts, signage, and high tech displays.

 

Incidentally, when we purchased our tickets at the window of the War Rooms, we were told that our tickets would be tax deductible. Apparently, there is a US non-profit foundation that is one of the sponsors of the site and this makes the tickets tax deductible of US citizens. We haven't put that to the test yet since we're still a few days from April 15.

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My husband and I visited last year. This was our third trip to London since the 2003 expansion of the war rooms, but the first time the Churchill War rooms made it from the to-do list to the actually-visited list. The visit did not disappoint! The rooms are amazing! They are frozen in time with the papers and things in the exact position left when folks walked out the door for the last time.

 

Excellent informative exhbits combining artifacts, signage, and high tech displays.

 

We are glad to hear this. This was one of the places we were especially interested in. Do you remember how far it is from the Buckingham Palace? I am trying to plan out the day near the palace.

Edited by DragonOfTheSeas

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