My daughter's spring break is coming up and I just got an email from the local airline of a sale with a pretty good deal on a flight to London (~$200RT total for the 3 of us but then another $100 if we want to pick our seats to ensure we sit together ).
The flight back is pretty early and from Gatwick so I could use my CAT5 cert at the CY there the last night to make use of that.
The other 3 nights would be in London and I see the cheapest rate at County Hall is about $332. St. Pancras is like $295.Those two are probably my most likely choices.
I'm wondering if you guys think this is a good deal or not. At first I saw that $200RT and thought it was awesome until I saw the extra charges for seat selection and stuff. That and the fairly expensive hotels and general cost of things there is making me reconsider.
We could just as easily fly somewhere else. Berlin is even cheaper and the hotels there are cheaper too.
Or, we could take a roadtrip and drive to Tallinn and maybe take the ferry to Helsinki.
We definitely want to go to London eventually, but maybe it's better to wait until we can stay a little longer. What say you?
The idea of using your free night at the Courtyard Gatwick when you have an early flight is smart.
I think a total of 4 nights in London will definitely be satisfactory to see the city centre (if you have no intention of traveling outside London).
Regarding the cost of the hotels in the city:
Personally I wouldn't pay that. As much as convenient it is to be located near the London Eye or St. Pancras, London city centre is a very big area and doesn't include just one place - it spreads over different places in the centre.
As one who lives in London, I'd recommend you to try and book other hotels which are much cheaper. Of course the rates differ according to the time of year you plan to visit, but other hotels give you better value for your money, despite the fact that they aren't among the top ones, as the two you mentioned (they're still good enough though).
Also consider that London has the best public transportation in the world, so moving from one place to another is very convenient & easy.
Let me conclude my recommendation by giving you an example:
When my parents visited me in August last year (the most expensive period probably) I used the LNF rate to book them the Marriott Maida Vale hotel for only £88 per night - that was 50% than the normal price, and that hotel is centrally located (zone 2) with close proximity to an underground station, buses & overground station.
Another hotel in which I stayed in myself upon just relocating to this city was the Marriott West India Quay (in the Canary Wharf area) - an excellent hotel, relatively cheaper, with one of the best executive lounges.
So it really depends on your preferences I guess
Thanks! I've never heard of the Maida Vale so I didn't really look at it. It looks to be around $165 so that's quite a bit cheaper. The India Quay is almost as much as St. Pancras so I'm not too sure about that one.
I just got 2 CAT5 certs and it's pretty difficult to find places to use them here in Europe and I doubt I'll be back to the US before they expire.
Nothing to disagree with there, Mr fistuk
For early Gatwick flights, the Courtyard is a great option and a good use of that Cat5 cert.
4 days is certainly enough time to enjoy a big slice of London. Obviously the main hotels are County Hall, the JW and the Grosvenor Sq properties, though they are pricey. Regents Park and Maida Vale are just outside the central tube area but both are an easy walk to the tube. West India Quay is literally next to the DLR, but you'll need to change at Bank to connect to the central tube system. 2 good options that are on the edge of the central zone 1 tube are the Marble Arch and the Kensington Marriotts, and they frequently sport some nice prices.
Cheap flights are a great excuse to take a trip to London, and 4 days will be long enough to enjoy, but short enough to ensure your return!
I'm almost convinced. I went ahead and booked the Gatwick CY since it's on a cert and refundable.
I'm going to sleep on it but, assuming the airfare is available tomorrow I'll probably book it.
I'm probably leaning toward the Maida Vale based on the price, but I've heard such good things about County Hall I'm not sure.
I also need to figure out the other costs like getting to the city from Gatwick and the inevitable trip out to Stonehenge (rent a car, take a bus or a tour, or what).
Not to mention the potential cost of my wife deciding to do some shopping. That could tower over everything.
Maida Vale is fine, but it's a long tube ride into the city. If you're on a time crunch, you probably should stay somewhere closer. Once you leave for the day, you won't want to come back until evening as the commute will eat up too much time. If there is even a possibility of wanting to stop by the room between visiting sights, staying closer to (or in) the city will be a better choice. Maida Vale worked fine for me a few years back, staying there did make for some long days.
With the walk to the tube station, waiting for the train, the ride, and then the walk to whatever destination, it's easy to eat up an 45 minutes each way. On a limited duration stay, I would only want to make one trek into and out of the city if staying at Maida Vale. The tube ride itself may not be all that long considering the size of London, but it does take time. I was only in London 4 days and I stayed at Maida Vale. It worked out fine. It does, however, take a bit of planning if you want to do a lot of sightseeing. I chose the value proposition and was not disappointed.
Do these trains all leave from the same station? Is there a name for the non-Gatwick Express train that I should look for?
Also, I ordered two Oyster Cards for my wife and myself, but none for my daughter as apparently under-11 is free once we are in the city, but not on any of these trains to/from Gatwick. So I will need to buy her ticket separately. Does that sound right?
As brightlybob says, a tube station is rarely far away from wherever you choose to stay. Since London hosted the Olympics in 2012, getting around is even easier. Tube lines and the DLR were extended, which improved the infrastructure no end. Canary Wharf used to be considered "out of London" but the Jubilee Line goes there now, and Westminster is a few stops away without changing trains at all. The Tower of London is across the road from the Tower Gateway DLR station, and is only 5 minutes from West India Quay Marriott.
However, if I did not know London, I think I would prefer to stay more centrally.
Four nights is a decent way to introduce yourself to London. It would, in my opinion a minimum and thought I prefer a week, if 4 nights is all you have, go for it, but look at it as a sort of preview! Enjoy!
don 't miss The Tower, The British Museum, The Churchill War Rooms, Westminster Abbey, and just walking around the city.
Three nights would still be worth it, in my opinion. London is a great place to visit and the public transportation via the underground is extremely easy to navigate. Personally, I've always spent my Marriott points when I've visited London in the past as it is the highest value you can get for cashing them in (e.g. Staying at the JW Grosvenor House would cost you at least $500 per night, but with points it can be as low as 40,000 points per night, whereas other category 8 hotels are only worth $300 per night). Also, if you are at gold level or above, you can eat in the executive lounge for free, which is another cost-saving measure. Finally, there are great suggestions above: The Churchill War Rooms, The British Museum, etc. If you want restaurant recs, let me know!
Well, there were only 4 seats left on the cheap outbound flight, so I've booked that and will figure out the return later.
We'll either do the 3 nights and get a cheap flight directly back or 4 nights with the 5th night layover in Copenhagen. The only problem with that is that we'd arrive around 0930 and I MIGHT have a flight out at about 1400 that day so that might not be a pretty tight turn around.
I don't know what we are looking for food wise aside from fish and chips. Though, I'm always looking for good steak.
I'm not sure a 19 hour layover is worth saving $65 on airfare. You will incur expenses in Copenhagen. Unless you can get a lot of bang for your buck, the Copenhagen layover might or might not be worth it? Perhaps bite the $500 bullet, go to London for 4 nights and have a blast.
Yeah, I expect most people would see it that way. We are a little unique and would look at it like "Cool! We get to mark another country off our list."
If it wasn't for the potentially tight turn around if I have to leave the same day we get back I'd almost certainly do it.
True, that. It just depends on how you like to roll. One thing is certain, whether you go to just London or also add in Copenhagen, either way, you'll want to return for more, for sure.
I don't understand the part about tight turn around. Do you mean it would be cutting it close for getting back to work? Also, I've lost track of where you're serving these days.
Yeah, we tend to go through places only hitting the highlights with the expectation that we'll come back later if we really like it. Both have cheap flight options pretty frequently from Riga (where I'm currently based).
Regarding the turnaround, the flight from Copenhagen gets to Riga at around 9:30AM or so. There is a possibility I might have to flying out of Riga that same day at around 2:30PM. Meaning I'd have 5hrs to get through customs/immigration, get to the city, swap out my bag for another that I'd have to have prepacked, and then turn around and head back to the airport. It's easily doable if the flight isn't delayed and nothing goes wrong, but still makes me a little uneasy.
For the train/metro system it looks like my daughter rides free since she is only 8. Does anyone know if that includes the train from Gatwick or is that a separate system?
I guess I'll just order Oyster cards for myself and my wife. The site suggest £30 each for a 3 or 4 day trip. Does that seem about right?
I don't know about Gatwick trains, but I can tell you about Oyster Cards.
There are daily "caps", ie the maximum that will be charged. These are:-
As you are unlikely to go too far out from the centre of London during a short stay, £30 should be sufficient.
But don't forget, the money left on an Oyster card at the end of a trip does not expire. So if you anticipate returning to London, simply keep the cards and top them up the next time.