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aheape1979

London before British Isles Cruise: Is this do-able?

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First time in the UK....20th anniversary!  I would love input from experienced cruisers or visitors to this area.  We will be flying from the East coast overnight (using airline miles to upgrade to Upper Class so that we can sleep!)

 

Day 1 (or Day 0 since it's not a full day!):  Arrive by 10 am at LHR.  Shower at Revivals lounge so we aren't "airplane yucky".  Car service to London -Thinking of doing stop in Windsor on the way.  Thoughts?  If we don't do a stop at Windsor, maybe a Thames dinner cruise?

 

Day 2:  Private tour of London.  We will probably do either the 5 hour or 7 hour tour (chauffeur and guide).  I think this may be the easiest and quickest way to see the major sights and determine what we may want to return to.  Late afternoon/ evening shopping.

 

Day 3:  Train to Cottswolds and small group tour to see countryside. Return to London for dinner.

 

Day 4:  Open day for sightseeing, shopping, markets, etc.  Thought about doing a Thames jazz lunch cruise if we didn't do on day 0.

 

Day 5:  Take the early Eurostar train to Paris.  Spend 7-8 hours in Paris and take the train back to London.

 

Day 6: Car service to Southhampton.  Stop at Windsor if we didn't on the way in.

 

Do you think that it's a feasible plan?  I'm trying to plan things so that we don't just stay in the hotel room and nap or watch tv!  🤣🤣🤣  But I don't want to over plan to the point that we don't enjoy ourselves.

 

Thanks in advance!

 

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Nothing over-ambitious there.

 

The problem with doing stop in Windsor on the way is that you will have to pay the driver to wait with your luggage. I would drop the luggage at the hotel and leave the afternoon free.

 

Where does the Cotswold tour start from?

 

How about seeing a show in the West End one evening?

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I would make the Windsor stop on the way to Southampton--you have many hours to make a ~90 minute trip.  It sounds like the additional cost for wait time isn't really a concern to you.

 

I'm not sure if you've taken a long haul before, but even in a lay flat bed, most people don't get a "full nights" sleep.  I wouldn't make any plans that aren't easily cancelled for the first day, including the river cruise.  Perhaps the first day you could visit one or two of the many museums or other attractions which won't be on the tour--the Tower of London, Churchill War Rooms, Kensington Palace, etc. 

I typically never plan anything I will want to buy an advance ticket for on the day of arrival due to the possibility of delays or just ending up too tired to enjoy myself. After spending many hours in a plane, I typically prefer to do something that requires me to stretch my legs and walk.  YMMV.

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Posted (edited)

Day one

Flight arrival at 10am would likely get you into the arrivals hall around 11.30, say noon after a shower..

Central London is 20 to 60 minutes, depending on your means of travel and hotel location..

 

Windsor is about 20 minutes, but in the opposite direction. You certainly have time for an in-depth visit to the castle and a mosey around the town. Most convenient would be to book a car LHR to Windsor to hotel, but that means paying for the car for 2 hrs +, while you're in Windsor. Or you could stow your bags in left-luggage at your airport terminal and book two separate car journeys - LHR to Windsor, and Windsor to LHR to retrieve luggage and onward to hotel. Needs some research / quotes  to know whether there's a significant cost difference. (Public transport LHR to Windsor is slow & a little complicated). But see my Day Six suggestion first. 

 

Never been on a dinner-cruise on the Thames, but have done elsewhere & not impressed - like being on a production line & with moderate quality of food & service. Do browse reviews. Mebbe fit in a simple river cruise some other time during your visit & instead ride the London Eye, followed by dinner at one of the many eateries along the South Bank of the river?

 

With an overnight flight you're likely to be jet-lagged & tired, but whichever option you take I don't think it's too strenuous for most folk. If you don't go to Windsor you should even be able to squeeze in a sight or two.

 

Day two

Public transport in London is excellent, and the tube (underground) is as quick as any car. A private tour (yes, it would need a driver and a guide if you want to be accompanied on any inside visits) is an expensive way to tour London - but it certainly does keep life simple. The tour will miss a lot of places cos there's way too much for one day. See my Day Four (Day Five?) note and ask the guide where he/she recommends that's not on your tour.

 

Day three

Have you fixed a van tour yet?

There are tours which start in London, there are also tours which start in Oxford - close but not in the Cotswolds, and very easy from London by train - as well as possibly a few which start in the Cotswolds.

Hence Bob's question.

And hopefully Cruise Critic's feathered Cotswold resident will chip in on this thread.

 

Day four

You can probably do a lot better than that. See how your mood and energy levels work out & consider an inside visit or two to sights you didn't visit on your grand tour, cos there's so much to see in London.

 

Day five

A very long day - to get a decent amount of time in Paris you'd have to get up at daft o'clock in the morning and be back late at night. A lot of us blanche at the idea, but plenty of folk do it. Book Eurostar tickets soonest, the prices are fluid and massively more expensive closer to the day.

But I do wonder whether you'd be better to switch days 4 and 5.

You'll be up-for-it for Paris after a relaxing day in the Cotswolds, you can pace yourselves on your last full day in London if Paris has taken a lot out of you, and you'll have the cushion of an extra 24 hours to be back in time for your sailing if something such as the Eurostar service fouled-up on your Paris day.

 

Day Six

You'll not really achieve much, if anything, in central London on your final morning.

Like ducklite I see this as the day for Windsor en-route to Southampton.

Total drive-time from central London to Southampton via Windsor is something like 2hrs 30. 

So a  departure from your central London hotel at, say,, 8.30 gives you about 4hrs in Windsor and an arrival time in Southampton of around 3pm. Do check your latest registration time at the cruise terminal & adjust to suit.

From Windsor it's about 90 minutes to Southampton, make it 2 hrs in case of any hold-up. And swap phone numbers with your driver - he'll be up-to-date with traffic conditions and can call you back to the car if there's any massive grief on the roads.

 

Most proposed itineraries are way too ambitious, its a rare & pleasant change to be able to suggest that folk can do more :classic_smile:

 

All JMHO as always

 

JB :classic_smile:

Edited by John Bull

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I love how open your plan is 🙂 Lots of space to explore the wonderful things you can come across along the way. 

You have not said where you are staying ......

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You haven't given your arrival date but there are several events in Central London which might impact your itinerary - and indeed your ability to reach the Cotswolds by train.

 

Also I would suggest a HOHO bus as an option rather than a chauffeur tour?  Depends on what you want to see really.

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I agree with JB about dinner cruises. Never done one on the Thames, but have on the Bateau Mouche in Paris and one on the Danube. Since you are sitting down at water level and looking out through (often dirty) glass, you don't get to see much and the food is pretty indifferent too. There are many places in London that serve great food and have wonderful views: How about

 

Galvin at Windows - https://www.galvinatwindows.com/

Sky Garden - https://skygarden.london/

Midpoint Restaurant (if you can get a window table) - https://www.midpointrestaurant.co.uk/

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13 hours ago, aheape1979 said:

Day 5:  Take the early Eurostar train to Paris.  Spend 7-8 hours in Paris and take the train back to London.

 

3 hours ago, John Bull said:

Day five

A very long day - to get a decent amount of time in Paris you'd have to get up at daft o'clock in the morning and be back late at night. A lot of us blanche at the idea, but plenty of folk do it.

 

But it's still in my (constant) view a waste of good sightseeing time and energy to do this. You don't really see anything of Paris, and the 8-ish hours of travelling could be spent seeing things in London.

 

I have done it myself when there have been specific things to go to Paris for, and I would do it again. But I would not interrupt a first visit to London to do this for no particular reason - and I should say that I would equally not interrupt a first visit to Paris to do a day trip to London for no particular reason.

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, John Bull said:

Day three

Have you fixed a van tour yet?

There are tours which start in London, there are also tours which start in Oxford - close but not in the Cotswolds, and very easy from London by train - as well as possibly a few which start in the Cotswolds.

Hence Bob's question.

And hopefully Cruise Critic's feathered Cotswold resident will chip in on this thread.

 

If I had to guess, I would think the OP means something like the very popular ‘Go Cotswolds’ or ‘Secret Cottage’ minibus tours (two different local operators), which pick up and drop off at Moreton-in-Marsh station to coordinate with the London trains. It’s the way I’d do it - yes, it’s an early start and an hour and 40 or so on the train each way, but you can snooze, read, stretch and walk about, have a spot of breakfast or snacks on the trains and there’s some decent scenery north of Oxford 🙂

Edited by Cotswold Eagle

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9 hours ago, Bob++ said:

Nothing over-ambitious there.

 

The problem with doing stop in Windsor on the way is that you will have to pay the driver to wait with your luggage. I would drop the luggage at the hotel and leave the afternoon free.

 

Where does the Cotswold tour start from?

 

How about seeing a show in the West End one evening?

I priced it each way....it's only about 10 GBP more to pay the driver to wait...and it should save us some time by not backtracking.

Cotswold starts from Moreton In Marsh.

I thought about seeing a show.  We may wait and get tickets once we get there....according on how we are feeling.

Thanks!

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6 hours ago, ducklite said:

I would make the Windsor stop on the way to Southampton--you have many hours to make a ~90 minute trip.  It sounds like the additional cost for wait time isn't really a concern to you.

 

I'm not sure if you've taken a long haul before, but even in a lay flat bed, most people don't get a "full nights" sleep.  I wouldn't make any plans that aren't easily cancelled for the first day, including the river cruise.  Perhaps the first day you could visit one or two of the many museums or other attractions which won't be on the tour--the Tower of London, Churchill War Rooms, Kensington Palace, etc. 

I typically never plan anything I will want to buy an advance ticket for on the day of arrival due to the possibility of delays or just ending up too tired to enjoy myself. After spending many hours in a plane, I typically prefer to do something that requires me to stretch my legs and walk.  YMMV.

Good input.  Thank you!

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2 minutes ago, aheape1979 said:

I priced it each way....it's only about 10 GBP more to pay the driver to wait...and it should save us some time by not backtracking.

Cotswold starts from Moreton In Marsh.

I thought about seeing a show.  We may wait and get tickets once we get there....according on how we are feeling.

Thanks!

Moreton is good. Allow about 2 hours from Paddington.

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5 hours ago, John Bull said:

Day one

Flight arrival at 10am would likely get you into the arrivals hall around 11.30, say noon after a shower..

Central London is 20 to 60 minutes, depending on your means of travel and hotel location..

 

Windsor is about 20 minutes, but in the opposite direction. You certainly have time for an in-depth visit to the castle and a mosey around the town. Most convenient would be to book a car LHR to Windsor to hotel, but that means paying for the car for 2 hrs +, while you're in Windsor. Or you could stow your bags in left-luggage at your airport terminal and book two separate car journeys - LHR to Windsor, and Windsor to LHR to retrieve luggage and onward to hotel. Needs some research / quotes  to know whether there's a significant cost difference. (Public transport LHR to Windsor is slow & a little complicated). But see my Day Six suggestion first. 

 

Never been on a dinner-cruise on the Thames, but have done elsewhere & not impressed - like being on a production line & with moderate quality of food & service. Do browse reviews. Mebbe fit in a simple river cruise some other time during your visit & instead ride the London Eye, followed by dinner at one of the many eateries along the South Bank of the river?

 

With an overnight flight you're likely to be jet-lagged & tired, but whichever option you take I don't think it's too strenuous for most folk. If you don't go to Windsor you should even be able to squeeze in a sight or two.

 

Day two

Public transport in London is excellent, and the tube (underground) is as quick as any car. A private tour (yes, it would need a driver and a guide if you want to be accompanied on any inside visits) is an expensive way to tour London - but it certainly does keep life simple. The tour will miss a lot of places cos there's way too much for one day. See my Day Four (Day Five?) note and ask the guide where he/she recommends that's not on your tour.

 

Day three

Have you fixed a van tour yet?

There are tours which start in London, there are also tours which start in Oxford - close but not in the Cotswolds, and very easy from London by train - as well as possibly a few which start in the Cotswolds.

Hence Bob's question.

And hopefully Cruise Critic's feathered Cotswold resident will chip in on this thread.

 

Day four

You can probably do a lot better than that. See how your mood and energy levels work out & consider an inside visit or two to sights you didn't visit on your grand tour, cos there's so much to see in London.

 

Day five

A very long day - to get a decent amount of time in Paris you'd have to get up at daft o'clock in the morning and be back late at night. A lot of us blanche at the idea, but plenty of folk do it. Book Eurostar tickets soonest, the prices are fluid and massively more expensive closer to the day.

But I do wonder whether you'd be better to switch days 4 and 5.

You'll be up-for-it for Paris after a relaxing day in the Cotswolds, you can pace yourselves on your last full day in London if Paris has taken a lot out of you, and you'll have the cushion of an extra 24 hours to be back in time for your sailing if something such as the Eurostar service fouled-up on your Paris day.

 

Day Six

You'll not really achieve much, if anything, in central London on your final morning.

Like ducklite I see this as the day for Windsor en-route to Southampton.

Total drive-time from central London to Southampton via Windsor is something like 2hrs 30. 

So a  departure from your central London hotel at, say,, 8.30 gives you about 4hrs in Windsor and an arrival time in Southampton of around 3pm. Do check your latest registration time at the cruise terminal & adjust to suit.

From Windsor it's about 90 minutes to Southampton, make it 2 hrs in case of any hold-up. And swap phone numbers with your driver - he'll be up-to-date with traffic conditions and can call you back to the car if there's any massive grief on the roads.

 

Most proposed itineraries are way too ambitious, its a rare & pleasant change to be able to suggest that folk can do more :classic_smile:

 

All JMHO as always

 

JB :classic_smile:

 

Thank you for such thorough feedback!  The private tour is something that we wouldn't normally splurge on, but my husband doesn't enjoy HOHO type tours with a bunch of strangers (he's much more introverted than I am!)  This will be his first trip overseas, so I wanted it to feel a little luxurious!  It's my gift to him for putting up with me for 20 years!  🤣We are staying at St. Ermins (on points!) because it's a smaller boutique feel as well.  

I've seen some great reviews on Secret Cottage Cottswolds Tours, so we were thinking of using them.  They pick you up from the MIM train station.  Any other suggestions?

I agree that it may be a good idea to switch days 4 and 5.  Day 5 is a Monday, so I wasn't sure how it would work to tour Paris on a Sunday- will anything be closed?  

The "open" day is for the purpose of more extensive touring for anywhere we wanted to spend more time.  I have the tendency to over-plan instinctively, and am consciously trying to "plan" time to just walk around, enjoy the city, and do as we please.  I haven't even tackled the idea of where to eat dinners or afternoon tea.  Thank goodness I have 11 months to plan it!

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4 hours ago, Alaskanb said:

I love how open your plan is 🙂 Lots of space to explore the wonderful things you can come across along the way. 

You have not said where you are staying ......

St. Ermin's  

I'm Marriott platinum because I travel some for work, and I have secured (as of yesterday) a room for 5 nights on points!  We considered Renaissance St. Pancras, Marriott Grosvenor House, and Park Lane, but I like the boutique feel of St. Ermin's.  I also bought the book on the secret MI6 meetings there for my husband, who finds it fascinating.  

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, GastroGnome said:

You haven't given your arrival date but there are several events in Central London which might impact your itinerary - and indeed your ability to reach the Cotswolds by train.

 

Also I would suggest a HOHO bus as an option rather than a chauffeur tour?  Depends on what you want to see really.

Arrival 6/4/20

Edited by aheape1979

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3 hours ago, Bob++ said:

I agree with JB about dinner cruises. Never done one on the Thames, but have on the Bateau Mouche in Paris and one on the Danube. Since you are sitting down at water level and looking out through (often dirty) glass, you don't get to see much and the food is pretty indifferent too. There are many places in London that serve great food and have wonderful views: How about

 

Galvin at Windows - https://www.galvinatwindows.com/

Sky Garden - https://skygarden.london/

Midpoint Restaurant (if you can get a window table) - https://www.midpointrestaurant.co.uk/

Thank you!  I haven't started planning dinners yet, but will definitely look at these.  Maybe take a boat ride down the Thames instead...

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2 hours ago, Cotswold Eagle said:

 

If I had to guess, I would think the OP means something like the very popular ‘Go Cotswolds’ or ‘Secret Cottage’ minibus tours (two different local operators), which pick up and drop off at Moreton-in-Marsh station to coordinate with the London trains. It’s the way I’d do it - yes, it’s an early start and an hour and 40 or so on the train each way, but you can snooze, read, stretch and walk about, have a spot of breakfast or snacks on the trains and there’s some decent scenery north of Oxford 🙂

That's exactly what we were considering.  Actually, Secret Cottage is the one we've looked at.  

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7 minutes ago, aheape1979 said:

Arrival 6/4/20

Is this April 6th or June 4th, UK dates are different to US. If its April its Easter weekend

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Just now, GrJ Berkshire said:

Is this April 6th or June 4th, UK dates are different to US. If its April its Easter weekend

I'm sorry....I totally forgot about this!  June 4th is our arrival.  We head to Southhampton on the 9th.

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JB, I'm thinking about what you said....here's what I'm thinking may be a good alternative

 

Arrive Thursday as planned

Still do the London tour on Friday.  We will have afternoon/evening time free to rest a little before a busy next day.

Do the Eurostar and Paris on Saturday.  This will be a long day.

Sunday- our open day in London.  Tour or shop....whatever we want.  Also, recover from Paris!

Monday- Cotswolds

Tuesday- go to Southhampton

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Posted (edited)
26 minutes ago, aheape1979 said:

St. Ermin's  

I'm Marriott platinum because I travel some for work, and I have secured (as of yesterday) a room for 5 nights on points!  We considered Renaissance St. Pancras, Marriott Grosvenor House, and Park Lane, but I like the boutique feel of St. Ermin's.  I also bought the book on the secret MI6 meetings there for my husband, who finds it fascinating.  

What a fantastic place and location! So much to see and do within an easy walking distance. https://www.sterminshotel.co.uk/about/location-attractions/

I would be really tempted to check-in and take a walk past Westminster etc and along the river embankment, then afternoon tea at your hotel --or in reverse! 

 

Edited by Alaskanb

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, aheape1979 said:

That's exactly what we were considering.  Actually, Secret Cottage is the one we've looked at.  

 

Great. I see Becky and her team out and about locally with guests from time to time. They get great reviews and certainly came up with a unique selling point - you may not need much breakfast on the train! And the size of their bus means they can go to places (such as my village 😉) that bigger bus tours can’t. 

 

Let me know if I can answer any other questions. 

Edited by Cotswold Eagle

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1 hour ago, Bob++ said:

Moreton is good. Allow about 2 hours from Paddington.

 

Nope, much less these days, with our smart new Intercity Express Trains and the redoubling of much of the line a few years ago. 

 

The tour operator collects off a specific train from Paddington, the 0821 on the current timetable, which only takes 1 hour 38 minutes. And they are very proactive at monitoring live running times for their guests. 

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Posted (edited)

Saturday and especially sunday, the roads & the tube in central London will be much quieter without commuters, business-travellers couriers and such, but the sights will be busier with Brits visiting London for the weekend.

Can't remember Paris in that respect, but it's a fair guess that the same applies.

The Cotswolds will be quieter on a monday. And a van is so much better than a big bus.

Windsor en-route to Southampton on tuesday?

I frequently see glowing reports about St Ermin's on Cruise Critic.

 

All coming together quite nicely :classic_smile:

 

JB :classic_smile:

 

Edited by John Bull

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