47 Replies Latest reply: Apr 27, 2014 2:41 AM by tommo781 RSS

London - An Insiders' Primer for First Timers

erc Platinum
Currently Being Moderated
Whereas it may not take a village to plan a trip, using the Insiders team certainly enhances your travels; saving you time, headaches, and money, while providing many terrific ideas for making the most of your trip. Many thanks to sg1974, jerrycoin, arkwright, zukracer, stelzer001, chrisf, GemPrincess, blava007, psudad,  @andrew_p,  and many, many others for sharing their photos, ideas, and tips - it made for a terrific vacation. For the first time visitor to London the research for a wonderful trip is all right here in Insiders, I'll focus less on my activities, since there are so many different options and more on the tools provided by the forum.

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Left photo - taken from the London Eye. The classic Big Ben, Parliament and Westminster Abbey.Bottom right shows the City Cruise tour at Westminster Pier. Right photo shows Marriott County Hall (curved building) from the London Eye. At the top is the Westminster Bridge, where you come out of the tube at the far right, cross the bridge and turn left into the side of the Marriott coming through the arch at side of Marriott. Easy access from Heathrow via the tube.

 

The Lonely Planet London book found on Amazon or at Barnes and Noble (<$15) is a rock solid overview book for maximizing all of the references throughout Insiders. It also has one of the best working maps for carrying around with you.
Links provided by Insiders (with thanks to sg and jerrycoin for doing much of the heavy lifting, including dress code thoughts)
http://www.tfl.gov.uk/  The go to resource for ground transportation all around London
https://oyster.tfl.gov.uk/oyster/entry.do   A section of the above link - Oyster Card - as I write below, IMO, the way to go
http://www.tfl.gov.uk/assets/downloads/standard-tube-map.pdf  A section of the link above - map of the tube. I printed a copy, referring to it many times as I researched. Once in the tube they have free pocket maps, grab one, it's invaluable.
http://www.bestforeignexchange.com/   Currency exchange - AAA also provides as do many others, but my friend who works in currency, (he's probably just a brain surgeon and gives me close to spot price just to be a big shot!) says this is one of the fairest prices around and sg swears by it as well.
http://www.londontown.com/   Excellent for deals about everything London, jerrycoin's go to tess miller site.
http://www.theatremonkey.com/   Great for theatre (legitimate deals, true savings), including (which, btw, if anyone knows of a comparable Broadway site, please share, theatermania is the closest I've found, but no comparison) reviews on seating, which proved very helpful
http://www.shakespeares-globe.org/  the monkey above doesn't do shakespeare but kindly shares one that does
http://www.londontoolkit.com/walks/london_walks.htm   as the pros advised, London is great for walking, here's some free routes, the overall londontoolkit site is good for general info as well
http://www.mapquest.com/maps?city=London&country=GB  at times requires persistence and double checking, but solid tool
http://www.taxifarefinder.com/main.php?city=London    gives you a ballpark cost range of taxi service fares
http://www.toptable.co.uk/london-restaurants  part of America's OpenTable - snagged several bogos and deals, they send you specials two, three times a week and provide a list of restaurants offering set menu deals (2,3,4 courses etc)- good value of food you would eat - excellent for booking reservations and printing out (w/address and phone)
http://www.travelzoo.com/uk/  a real money saver (also in America as well) on meals and activities
http://local.amazon.co.uk/West-London/deals/all similar to travelzoo above - between these two sites, we saved enormous money on activities we were doing anyway allowing me to afford my, covering two time zones, four meal a day habit (one CL, three out of pocket). sg1974 there's a dinner in my nation's capital waiting for you when you arrive - thanks for all the savings.
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TOWER BRIDGE / Old Royal Naval College Greenwich   On a Travelzoo City Cruise bogo. Catching the 11:30 am from Westminster Pier we were fortunate enough to hear Big Ben chime 12 times, see the Tower Bridge raised, and see the ball drop at 1pm at Royal Observatory in Greenwich at the prime meridian. The cruise makes a roundtrip and you can get on and off throughout the day until around dinner, a great value. Don't you dare pay face value.
There are, of course, many ways to have a great trip (several highlighted in our forum), I'm not saying that the following is the only way, I'm just pointing out that it worked great for me and could serve as a structural backbone for all different properties, transportation modes, and activites. I will skip most of my specific activities (will reply to any questions or comments) and focus mostly on an overview for the first timer. As always, build in some slack time for unexpected occurences, opportunities, or of course, London weather.
I wholeheartedly endorse the idea that Marriott County Hall is the ideal location for first timers, due to its proximity of numerous key sites (it's also a lovely property with a terrific and friendly staff). I dovetailed two weekends out at the Heathrow Renaissance at great  weekend rates around a points five nights for four at County Hall, maxing the CL exposure (booking both properties in August for May) which provided us with nine full sightseeing days and nights for excellent lodging costs, which is important, because as the forum pros warn us, London is expensive. We had a roast chicken lunch (delicious) with one beer and one wine at Harrod's and with VAT and service charge, easily bypassed the 60 GBP mark, which at any currency exchange rate tops $90, whee doggies! That's why planning ahead is worth the time invested.
Heathrow Renaissance - Excellent weekend rates (the Marriott Heathrow, a quarter mile down the road, is also priced relatively attractively to downtown and can be interchanged with the following transportation comments). A former Ramada, reminding me of my baseball tournament days, the property is nothing special, but does the job of providing a rate $250-$350 per night less than the city and with good planning, serves as a solid basecamp for sightseeing. The rooms are small (bathrooms/shower tight, but manageable), but are quiet due to double windows; interior rooms ( room 3213, mine by request) are fine for charging up (out of the four nights, the longest we were there was our last night watching the second half of the Champions League final as we got ready for our early flight). Many exterior rooms offer views of Heathrow (IAHFLYR, kharada46, pluto77 take note) and gets similarly good marks for quiet. The Club Lounge (also with runway views) is next to Room 3022 and is open (not manned) on weekends from 6am-11pm providing sodas, coffee, water and computer w/printer. Buffets in the restaurant (as of this date) is provided for plats and golds. Note: dine early or late, the Ren books huge tour groups and it's a mess after 7:30 am. Speaking of dining, we enjoyed the bar menu (pizza, club sandwiches, burgers) with our All German Soccer final and one night we walked down the street (1/4 mile) to the local pub, The Three Magpies and found it pleasant enough enjoying a Fuller's from the brewery we saw in Chiswick on our tube/bus transfer.
TRANSPORTATION from LHR to the LHR Renaissance or Marriott courtesy of skiadcock
If you're coming into T1/2/3 (I've not flown in/out of T5, so my directions are for T1/2/3), just follow the signs for the Picadilly Line/Bus Station (Central Station). When you get to the Picadilly line entrance, either take the elevator or escalator upstairs to the bus terminal. You’ll see the signs for it. I took the free bus from Heathrow. I took 111, but 105, 140 also go past the hotel. Stands 19-20 are the stands you want to pick up the bus at Central Bus Station. If you're concerned about being on the right bus, just ask the bus driver when you get on if he stops near the Renaissance or Marriott. On returning to LHR, you exit the Marriott, turn right & cross the street to pick up the bus.  It will make one more stop near Ren (the bus stop is out the front door to the left of the Ren) & then go on to LHR.
Back to erc notes - we took 10 legs of this trip and never waited more than 5 minutes for a bus, often it was there and we left. The bus is free, other transportation modes (found in the first link provided above) start at 51/2 GBP p.p. - you make the call.
TRANSPORTATION from LHR to Marriott County Hall using the tube - allow an hour for bus/tube/walk, (other modes in first link);
Take Piccadilly line (blue on map) to Hammersmith; transfer to District line (green on map) going east to Upminster and get off at Westminster. Follow the Way Out sign and take EXIT #1 Westminster Pier, you will come out facing River Thames, London Eye and County Hall. Walk up the stairs, cross the bridge (after first admiring Big Ben, Parliament, and Westminster Abbey) and enter the hotel walking through the arch on the side (see my photos above, jerrycoin provides a nice photo http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/message/82171#82171 ). There are other entrances on the river through Gillrays and London Film Museum that you will learn easily, but with bags and coming from the tube, the side is the way to go. Bags are also the reason you transfer at Hammersmith and not South Kensington or other stops (tip of the hat to sg for that headache saving advice), it's the smoothest transfer.
And don't forget, Mind the Gap (threw that in for the pros).
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PHOTOS - SHARD, PARAMOUNT I have written above my love of heights and London provides many opportunities. The brand new Shard is not cheap at 25 GBP per person, but we went at 9:30 am, virtually had the place to ourselves stayed for over an hour and a half, experienced weather from sunshine, to rain, to hail, back to grey. What the heck, it's one of those do it once activities, and so what if the kids go to one less Lollapalooza Festival, we had a blast. Shot looking east toward Canary Wharf,(Olympic Stadium can be see to left of high rises) below is the HMS Belfast, Tower Bridge, and City Hall.
http://www.paramount.uk.net/level-32/bar/ I believe you actually need to be placed on their list in order to enter, but it is worth the effort. For another lovely view, at a different part of town (near the British Museum) the Paramount provides a great spot for sipping a drink, taking in the view or as we did, enjoying a very tasty lunch. Ordering the duck, the waitress said what I thought between my rock concert hearing loss and her Romanian accent was, "it comes complete" (so I pictured webbed feet, head, the whole works, ooh, exotic!), drawing from my Andy Griffith show experience where Barney Fife went to the big city of Mount Pilot and didn't ask the waitress what he was ordering at the French restaurant and got brains instead of steak, I boldly asked her to repeat herself and discovered she said, "it comes pink" which allowed me to order medium instead and have a delicious cut of duck meat. Who says you can't learn anything from the boob tube?
Tube Pointers - pay attention to what specific train of a line you are on - there are spurs, make certain you are on the correct path. It's not difficult, but you can't be snoozing or you'll end several stops past your destination and have to backtrack (no, we didn't, which should encourage everyone, but stay alert, the world needs more lerts).
To me, the Oyster Card is the way to go. It is a solid piece of plastic. You can buy in advance (see link above), you can add to the balance very easily (although we bought 50 GBP cards and only used a bit more than half) it can be scanned on either side and is quicker than the paper ticket, it automatically gets you the best fare and best of all, you can at the end of your trip, cash it back in for your balance (keep the card, it has you activation fee for future use, by anyone) which provides you with walking around money at the airport (The Harlequin in Terminal 1 is one last good shot at British ales and lagers).
I used my "tube" days as wide margin of error scouting trips doing the walking tours provided above and we had a wonderful time (jerrycoin had absorbed all of the bad weather, by time we arrived) and early on took a doubledecker tour. We also took a Travelzoo City Cruise on the Thames right at Westminster Pier (remember, your destination at the tube) and went from Westminster to Greenwich and back (you can hop on and off as well). Now these babies are bogos, all over town in ad brochures and Travelzoo (2 for 20 GBP), so shame on you if you drop 40  instead (save it for the food!).
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PHOTOS - BIBENDUM  We hit several of the Insiders recommended restaurants, Bibendum, Petrus, and Hawksmoor and they were all home runs with pleasant evenings at each one. Here's a photo of Michelin's London Headquarters from 1911-1986 turned into a cafe, a market, and a top notch restaurant, named after their logo, made of tires, Bibendum.  At Gordon Ramsey's Petrus, the food lived up to it's reputation and we were given a tour of the kitchen, just missing Ramsey who was in town to open two new restaurants. Hawksmoor was another delight. Other local gems; Cafe de Amis (terrific meal and deal on Amazon Local uk), Covent Garden City Grill (great meal/deal with London Eye tickets - Amazon Local uk), Borough Market (charcuterie, cheese, juices, fruit samples and loads of fun, interesting merchants), Harvey Nichols Fifth Floor Cafe and Terrace (tasty cider).
London is a great city for walking and if you enjoy walking and are fortunate enough to catch good weather like we did, you're in for a fantastic time. Here's a couple of thoughts: I've done development work in neighborhoods and cities for over 30 years and never has my directional intuition been as challenged as it was in London. The streets change names faster than anadyr  and the signs (if at all) are on walls, often a block back, made non-visible by a doubledecker bus. No sweat, you're never really lost and if you allow an extra 15 minute cushion for the inevitable wrong turns, you'll enjoy the 'bonus' adventure and should by chance you make all the right turns, you will always find 15 minutes of interesting things to observe at your destination.
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PHOTO - GORDONS (as mentioned in Insiders, we enjoyed cheeses and wine and left before it got too crowded. I'm not sure how that would feel. Coincidentally we walked up the street and ate lunch underground at the Crypt Cafe at St. Martin in the Fields before enjoying a concert in the church.
Making me feel at home (DC Metro) the Piccadilly Line was being serviced one day and we had to transfer to a bus. This was fine by us as we got to see more of the city (it would have been a 7 GBP charge if it was a tour) and we walked around the stop, Earl's Court, before returning to the tube. Unlike my hometown, where if you ask a subway employee a question, he behaves like Patty Duke in the Miracle Worker acting like you're speaking Klingon, the folks in London, to a person, are extremely friendly, helpful, and competent. So ask and learn, save time and enjoy.
Marriott County Hall - Very competent service, very friendly personnel thoroughout the property. The CL has a nice breakfast (hopefully remaining so with the new policy) and offers it from 6-11am. They have canapes at 6pm and also provide wine and beer - free. The Czech Budweiser (Budvar Brewery won copyright to the name in their trade area) and several others (Becks) made for a great start to the evening walk and meal. Way to go European properties! County Hall also has one of the nicest hotel pools I've seen, so if you like to swim, this is the ticket for you and the gym is very nice, although I must admit, this trip I just checked the gym for this write up, I came to gain pounds, not lose them and I proudly state that I accomplished my goal.
As we greatly anticipated, we saw terrific theatre in London and once again deals are there for the looking (with excellent seats) as well as the Leicester Square tkts 'day of' stand. One standout was Matilda. It's now on Broadway and the show is superbly done, very entertaining, catchy tunes and a wonderful little star (four children rotate the performances) who steals your heart. It gets a rare erc 'must see'. Asking my comedically trained (Second City) daughter why she wasn't more like Matilda, without skipping a beat, she responded, "because you weren't more like Jean Valjean", aah, money well spent.
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PHOTO -Stephen Cawlston - as a film buff/theatre fan walking around Knightsbridge, we popped into this interesting shop and met artist/owner Stephen Cawston. He paints movie posters and scenes and is a joy to chat with about films and plays. While we interacted with him, he was commissioned by Sidney Poitier's co-star in To Sir With Love; a majority shareholder of Aston Martin to paint five Skyfall scenes (showing the car of course); and Jim Gillespie the director of I Know What You Did Last Summer. Steve called us his good luck charms and said he would gladly offer a 'deal' to Marriott Insiders. Just show him this picture of me closing the deal for a piece of art on tef6178's life story - CEO Rock God which tells the tale of a teenage musical prodigy who goes on to succeed in business as a turnaround artist, only to end his illustrious career doing battle with Marriott Vacation Club over unsubstantiated maintenance fees and rigged board votes; coming soon to a theater near you!  Check out Stephen's website http://www.thehomargegallery.com/  or  http://www.celiasawyer.com/stephen-cawston.htm  and if you ever meet Steve, he'll tell you the story of Homage vs. Hormage. Be sure to discuss price first and then negotiate your Marriott Insiders savings, you don't want one of those Marriott/Omaha Steak deals where you get 20% off of a 40% markup. But, all kidding aside, Steve's a very personable, knowledgeable, talented guy who you would enjoy meeting, purchasing or not (and no, I don't get anything, so it's really him just thrilled to have exposure to our impressive audience).
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PHOTO - And speaking of homage, this photo of Stanley Gibbons a world leader in stamps and coins is my tribute to the coinman himself, jerrycoin  . Here's the Number One travel tip for all Insiders - find out where jerrycoin is traveling and be fortunate/clever enough to go there a week after him. That man has more juice with hotel managers than Tropicana.

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PHOTO - here's my room view, courtesy of Mr. Insider. What a terrific vacation we had, thanks to all the ideas and help of Insiders.
Keep on, keepin' on Insiders. Here's to a great summer of travel.

(For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

Location Brand Hotel
London, United Kingdom Marriott Hotels & Resorts London Marriott Hotel County Hall
  • Re: London - An Insiders' Primer for First Timers
    gm1 Gold 1 Reviews
    Currently Being Moderated

    erc

     

    WOW!  What an incredible resource you have created.  Thank you for your effort and time in creating this valuable summary.  I hope to visit London in the fall of 2014 and I will rely on your work along with that of the other MRI London veterans to construct my trip. 

    (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

    • Re: London - An Insiders' Primer for First Timers
      skiadcock Platinum 4 Reviews
      Currently Being Moderated

      Great resource & trip report!  Thanks for creating it.  I did a post on the Marriott forum in the London thread w/ a link to your post here, as it's a great resource.

       

      Cheers.

      (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

  • Re: London - An Insiders' Primer for First Timers
    sg1974 Gold
    Currently Being Moderated

    erc,

     

    glad to see you enjoyed your trip. You have provided plenty of useful information for those coming to London.

     

    yes best foreign exchange is the place I use all the time. best to check the rates after 10am as that his when they have normally checked on the competitors and adjusted accordingly. Make sure if you are changing usd for Gbp that you print out the page on the website showing the exchange rate. They will honour that and it is a better rate than you will get walking into the shop,

     

    im happy you enjoyed Petrus and hawksmoor. I revisited hawksmoor the other day and it was up to its usual standard. The express menu which includes main course of steak is good value. http://thehawksmoor.com/food/menus


    sg

    (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

  • Re: London - An Insiders' Primer for First Timers
    painedplatinum Platinum 2 Reviews
    Currently Being Moderated

    erc,

     

    Exhaustively wonderful. I've yet to give London more than a few hours of layover time. I appreciate your write up. Thanks

    (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

  • Re: London - An Insiders' Primer for First Timers
    jerrycoin Alumni Steward Platinum 60 Reviews
    Currently Being Moderated

    erc,

     

    Just fabulous!

    (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

  • Re: London - An Insiders' Primer for First Timers
    iahflyr Platinum 26 Reviews
    Currently Being Moderated

    Awesome post erc.  More useful notes in my London book now, thank you.

    (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

  • Re: London - An Insiders' Primer for First Timers
    stelzer001 Platinum 2 Reviews
    Currently Being Moderated

    ERC: Great info, as a frequent UK travller, I can attest to much of what you wrote. One item to add: consider getting hard copy or app for London streets, known as A to Z (Zed as the Brits say it). You can find the hard or electronic copy at: http://www.az.co.uk/. I recommend this asthe London we know now in the 21st century is really a series of villages and towns linked together and there are so many small streets, needs to find your way around outside a tube station, walking and distance measures that are needed that makes this invaluable and indispensible. I find it vastly superior to google earth, and other GPS applications. A suggestion to those who are geographically impaired like me!

    (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

  • Re: London - An Insiders' Primer for First Timers
    arkwright Platinum 2 Reviews
    Currently Being Moderated

    Erc,

     

    A memorable achievement. Deserves to be the default setting for future London enquiries.

     

    Congratulations.

     

    A

    (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

  • Re: London - An Insiders' Primer for First Timers
    jerrycoin Alumni Steward Platinum 60 Reviews
    Currently Being Moderated

    erc,

     

    You had me "Laughing so hard", enjoying your great report and pictures!  And NO, I don't have more "Juice than Tropicana" with hotel managers, I just try to be  friendly and fair.  My gift of "USA Atlas", is always appreciated. (Thank-you State Farm)!  I find that people have little concept of the size of The USA, and when they can see where some of their guests come from, it really delights them!

     

    Your trip and experiences will help all of us on our next trips to London!  BTW, glad you got those pictures posted from the Shard and The London Eye!  Not only did you save me a lot of money, I would never have the "Courage" to do either escapade!

     

    Again, thanks so much!

    (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

  • Re: London - An Insiders' Primer for First Timers
    kharada46 Alumni Steward Gold 10 Reviews
    Currently Being Moderated

    erc,

     

    Thank you for sharing this WONDERFUL write up!  I wish I had more time to spend in London, but I guess we'll just have to save that for another trip far into the future!  I fully intend to request a runway view room if at all possible.  It's an aviation geek's dream come true!   

    (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

    • Re: London - An Insiders' Primer for First Timers
      erc Platinum
      Currently Being Moderated

      A funny side note. We were trying to take a photo of a schedule on the window (didn't work - too much light for us amateur photographers), but got this instead. My wife (who gets my occasional Hawaii updates on your tips) said, "well save the photo maybe some of the airplane/airport fans (like my nephew) would get a kick out of it". So, not much of a photo, but you get the idea. And, of course like all of the photos above, if you click on it, it enlarges with more details.
      IMAG1286.jpg

      The other point is that, like you, there were other aviation lovers there, we just missed the British Airways Airbus A319 (greek to me) plane that had to emergency land there with an engine fire and was a major topic of discussion. Reminder youngbuck; you're there on your honeymoon - too much plane gawking might get you grounded !

      (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

  • Re: London - An Insiders' Primer for First Timers
    zukracer Alumni Steward Platinum 4 Reviews
    Currently Being Moderated

    erc, this is a fantastic write up.  Hopefully the community managers can pin it to the top of the london section for everyone to view.  Glad you had a great trip over, looks like things worked out well for you.  How was the commute on the train into city center?  Also any pics of the room itself?  Looks like one on the curve with a fantastic view

    (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

    • Re: London - An Insiders' Primer for First Timers
      erc Platinum
      Currently Being Moderated

      No interior shots, but my County Hall room was about 100 feet larger than the Heathrow Renaissance. We were on the curve four or five rooms down from the elevator and had a nice little table with two wing chairs, on the third floor, great for going to the 4th floor Concierge or down to the lobby and out the building. We always went out through the Noes Lobby and the London Film Museum exit.

      You were dead on about Hatton Cross. I never dared tried to walk from there once I discovered how reliable and easy the buses were from Heathrow (besides crossing anywhere around the airport made you think of Checkpoint Charlie with many tight squeezes with cars and buses). Thanks for the heads up.

      (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

      • Re: London - An Insiders' Primer for First Timers
        zukracer Alumni Steward Platinum 4 Reviews
        Currently Being Moderated

        Sounds like a great room.  My only experience there was a suite on the 2nd floor overlooking the river.  It was an amazing room and while I would love to get it again next time I'm there, I realize that's not likely.  Always good to hear that other rooms in the property have good views, size, etc.  Nothing is worse than using points and getting the closet room with a view of some building wall and drain pipe

         

        Glad to help on the Hatton Cross.  I will have to try the T1 route next time I'm there.  I dont mind the Hatton Cross route but sounds like that one might work easier

        (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

      • Re: London - An Insiders' Primer for First Timers
        jerrycoin Alumni Steward Platinum 60 Reviews
        Currently Being Moderated

        erc,

         

        Thanks for reminding us of other "Exits" from C-H!

         

        I have really only used the main entrance, since this past visit, they have closed the back entrance to hotel guests.

         

        This is an example of a great room there!

        IMG_1382.JPG

        dining room

        IMG_1380.JPG

        bedroom

        IMG_1393.JPG

        View

         

        Have fun at County Hall!

        (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

        • Re: London - An Insiders' Primer for First Timers
          zukracer Alumni Steward Platinum 4 Reviews
          Currently Being Moderated

          Jerry, That looks very similar to the suite they put me in on the corner of the hotel along the river.  I had room 235, this was the view from the bedroom of that room IMAG0672.jpg

          (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

          • Re: London - An Insiders' Primer for First Timers
            trippin' Alumni Steward Member 3 Reviews
            Currently Being Moderated

            Beautiful views - both of them!!

            (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

            • Re: London - An Insiders' Primer for First Timers
              zukracer Alumni Steward Platinum 4 Reviews
              Currently Being Moderated

              It really is an amazing property that is worth every point you spend to be there.  These rooms facing the river all seem to have great views but the really cool part for me was being able to open the window and hear Big Ben chimes every hour.  I guess for the locals they take it for granted but its something I definitely enjoyed.  I guess as a tourist those types of iconic things really stick in your head

              (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

          • Re: London - An Insiders' Primer for First Timers
            jerrycoin Alumni Steward Platinum 60 Reviews
            Currently Being Moderated

            zuk,

             

            Yes, it was room 235!  It had the large "Gargoyle" just outside the window, and it made it a little harder to get "Clean photo's"! 

             

            They have now moved The London Dungeon, to right below this room, so it can get a little noisy, during the day!  Still a great room!

            IMG_3254.jpg

            That is room 235!  It's on the second floor above the Dungeon.  Note: the "Body" on display.  It had the school kids amused all day long!  On our last day I walked down to see what they were all excited about, and got this picture.

             

            Zuk, thanks for the post!

            (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

            • Re: London - An Insiders' Primer for First Timers
              erc Platinum
              Currently Being Moderated

              This brings a warm memory. The "guards" working the Dungeon are very personable, animated, carnival barker types attempting to increase sales by playing with/threatening many of the passerbys. Unaware of that, my wife, a theatre buff, and huge Spamalot fan, walked by and when she saw the dead body, muttered, "Bring out your dead". The guard put on a huge show with enormous attention grabbing antics about her being disrespectful and breaking the law and she would have to serve time unless she could justify otherwise, to which my wife broke out in song, nailing every word to the song from the play, Not Dead Yet.  Applause among the bystanders broke out, the guard was satisfied, if not disappointed over lacking a jailee, and off we went to enjoy our Queens Walk down to the Tate Modern, the Globe and the Borough Market.

              (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

              • Re: London - An Insiders' Primer for First Timers
                jerrycoin Alumni Steward Platinum 60 Reviews
                Currently Being Moderated

                erc,

                 

                That place is a whole lot of fun!

                 

                Wish I could have seen your wife with the Guard!  Had ti be a riot!

                (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

  • Re: London - An Insiders' Primer for First Timers
    tef6178 Platinum 8 Reviews
    Currently Being Moderated

    erc:

     

    What a fantastic post! This will certainly be a handy piece to have for any traveler to London. Thanks for taking the time to write such a lengthy and hunorous piece! One question...who plays me in the movie ?

    (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

    • Re: London - An Insiders' Primer for First Timers
      erc Platinum
      Currently Being Moderated

      The early years, Shia Labeouf (his rendition of Yesterday bowled us over) and Tom Cruise as the visionary corporate exec (they're both taking 'back-end' compensation of course ).

      (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

  • Re: London - An Insiders' Primer for First Timers
    ssindc Platinum 42 Reviews
    Currently Being Moderated

    ERC - That's a HALL OF FAME post - well done!  I'm actually headed back to London a couple of times soon....  One of the world's great walking cities.  There's something new and interesting every time you visit.

     

    p.s. my two cents on the airport (LHR) Renaissance - http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/thread/8971

     

    p.p.s. and count me among the folks that miss the Renaissance Chancery Court - that was a splendid property - http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/thread/7810

    (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

    • Re: London - An Insiders' Primer for First Timers
      trippin' Alumni Steward Member 3 Reviews
      Currently Being Moderated

      I haven't been as of yet.  Sounds like you had a GREAT time erc!!  I would have loved to seen that!

      (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

  • Re: London - An Insiders' Primer for First Timers
    eb5147 Alumni Steward Platinum 7 Reviews
    Currently Being Moderated

    It's too bad there's not a "like" button on this article.  I bet the numbers would shoot to the moon.  (Domino game popped into my mind for some reason so I added "to".)

     

    Pictures are great!!!  Article is one I'd want to go back to if I ever get to London since it's so organized and has so much info.

     

    You and so many others could write books on travel that would be so interesting.  Glad we don't have to go to the bookstore or e-book to get all of this.  Just come to Insiders. 

    (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

    • Re: London - An Insiders' Primer for First Timers
      goestoeleven Gold
      Currently Being Moderated

      I'd like to add my thanks as well.  Heading to London tomorrow .... now well prepared!

       

      Thanks,

       

      11

      (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

      • Re: London - An Insiders' Primer for First Timers
        erc Platinum
        Currently Being Moderated

        Terrific. That's what this forum is all about, making the trip 'one better'. Most blokes only travel at ten, but Insiders put it up to eleven Have a great time.

         


        (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

        • Re: London - An Insiders' Primer for First Timers
          jerrycoin Alumni Steward Platinum 60 Reviews
          Currently Being Moderated

          erc,

           

          So well put!

           

          goestoeleven, we all hope you have a wonderful time!  We all sure have!

           

          Let us know if any of this helped on the trip, and don't forget to bring us up to date, with pictures!

          (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

          • Re: London - An Insiders' Primer for First Timers
            goestoeleven Gold
            Currently Being Moderated

            We had a fantastic trip!  I have separately addressed the merits of the Maida Vale Marriott -- 5 nights for 120,000 points is a great value for Tube enthusiasts like us.  The trade-off is that we don't get the photos above from our actual hotel room ... we had to leave the room .  Which we did each day from roughly 8:00 am til 10:00 pm each day.... and still barely scratched the surface of what London offers. 
            Yes to all key tourist sites mentioned above.  One additional (at least I didn't see it above) is the Churchill War Rooms - a must for history buffs.  Grenwich is a short rail ride away and a fascinating tour - also provides a great "look-back"/perspective of the city of London. A pub crawl through Camden is recommended.  Our 20 yo daughter enjoyed thrift shopping in Soho.  Yes, the dim sum IS special in London's Chinatown.  Looking forward to another visit.  Mind the Gap, indeed!

            (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

            • Re: London - An Insiders' Primer for First Timers
              bejacob Platinum 38 Reviews
              Currently Being Moderated

              Good call. Loved Greenwich. Well worth a visit especially if you can do it when the weather is nice. Easy to reach using your Oyster card by the Dockland Light Rail (DLR).

              (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

            • Re: London - An Insiders' Primer for First Timers
              erc Platinum
              Currently Being Moderated

              Good stuff. A valuable property, especially for a follow up visit, where the tube isn't so initially intimidating. Thanks for sharing. Your enthusiasm is contagious. Let's go!

              (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

  • Re: London - An Insiders' Primer for First Timers
    sg1974 Gold
    Currently Being Moderated

    (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

    • Re: London - An Insiders' Primer for First Timers
      erc Platinum
      Currently Being Moderated

      Cutting edge erc - that's me, ha!

       

      Man, I'm going to need your best foreign exchange more than ever - the Euro is killing me. You should be travelling to the states, the pound is crushing the dollar (glad I went when I did).

      (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

      • Re: London - An Insiders' Primer for First Timers
        iahflyr Platinum 26 Reviews
        Currently Being Moderated

        erc,

         

        Thanks for alerting me to the exchange rate, now I get to experience your pain.....thanks man, really, thanks!!

         

        You cutting edge guy.

        (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

      • Re: London - An Insiders' Primer for First Timers
        sg1974 Gold
        Currently Being Moderated

        i am looking at another christmas trip to the states.

        so this strengthening of the pound is good news!

        (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

        • Re: London - An Insiders' Primer for First Timers
          jerrycoin Alumni Steward Platinum 60 Reviews
          Currently Being Moderated

          sg,

           

          If you can make it to the Mid-West, we will get together!

           

          Hope to see you again in London in September!

          (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

          • Re: London - An Insiders' Primer for First Timers
            sg1974 Gold
            Currently Being Moderated

            jerry,

             

            it won't be the mid west in december.

            if we do head over in december it is likely to be the warmth of florida!

            when you are here next time,  i'll try to be around.

            Was a crazy time at work for your last visit so just wasn't possible.

            (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

            • Re: London - An Insiders' Primer for First Timers
              jerrycoin Alumni Steward Platinum 60 Reviews
              Currently Being Moderated

              sg,

               

              No problem!

               

              Take care of business first, we will able to meet with fellow MRI in September if it works out!

               

              Keep the good ideas and sharing of travel experiences coming, it really helps the MRI heading to GB!

              (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

  • Re: London - An Insiders' Primer for First Timers
    sg1974 Gold
    Currently Being Moderated

    (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

  • Re: London - An Insiders' Primer for First Timers
    GABill Platinum
    Currently Being Moderated

    This is a great post!!!!

    Just a couple of additional thoughts:

      If you stray from the Marriott banner, beware. Many of the hotels operate under the European plan, where they advertise a room rate, but you discover upon check-in that it is a per-person/per-night rate.

      Also, some hotels have floor bathrooms, not room baths. That includes toilets, also.

      London is one of the very few cities in the world, where the cab drivers can be trusted (mostly). The penalties for them are too great to take chances.

      GB really knows how to run a first class in their train system. I often traveled by train in England/Scotland, and found that the additional charges were money well-spent

    (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

    • Re: London - An Insiders' Primer for First Timers
      jerrycoin Alumni Steward Platinum 60 Reviews
      Currently Being Moderated

      GABill,

       

      Well put!

       

      Maybe you could share some experiences and advice on England/Scotland train experiences?  My experiences have been few (London to Cardiff and Eurostar).  Would really like to get to Scotland from London via train!

      (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

      • Re: London - An Insiders' Primer for First Timers
        tommo781 Gold 8 Reviews
        Currently Being Moderated

        Jerry, Guess who knows all about getting to Scotland by train from London?  Me!  I have done it several times.  Whereabouts in Scotland do you want to go?

        (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

  • Re: London - An Insiders' Primer for First Timers
    jasper100 Alumni Steward Platinum 10 Reviews
    Currently Being Moderated

    Another Great Post Erc...Thanks for providing this for the community!!!

    (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)