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I almost always planned my trips in advance. Chances are an itinerary is always typed up to ensure that I get the best out of my trips. Below I have unveiled my “itinerstory” and share tips and tricks on getting the best out of London in 6 days!
I traveled to London in September 2012 right after the summer of the Olympics. I booked it about eight months in advance so I can have enough time to research and fish out the best deals. I booked and flew with Virgin Airlines, economy coach style.
I used Expedia to book my flight and Travelocity to book my hotel stay. I did a side by side comparison booking them together vs. booking them separately and found that in this case, it was a lot cheaper that way; as in over $1,000 USD cheaper.
You may have to book it this way to get an idea if this works for you too. I did find that traveling an overnight flight with Virgin during a weekday help cut the cost down. I’m not saying it’s a fact but I did notice a booking trend during that time that seemed to work effectively.
Overall, the total round-trip airline cost for two adults came out to $800 while our hotel stay cost $147/night. I booked about six months in advance and took advantage of promotional codes. Since my overnight flight was eight hours long, I figured that I didn’t need to pay extra for the premium economy or first class seats.
My sister begged to differ but I was fine as their seats were way comfier than a previous American Airlines experience. Let me begin my story starting out from the minute we arrived:
My sis and I arrived in London Heathrow’s Airport at seven in the morning. The airport is indeed massive as compared to my local airport. We scurried downstairs to baggage claim and waited until our luggage had shown up. I would have save a boatload of cash taking the Underground transit but it was my first time across the pond and getting to the nearest comfy bed ASAP was a bit more appealing. I booked airport round-trip transfer in advance via a trusted site called Viator.
As requested on our claim ticket we reported towards their main parking garage. A gentleman decked out in a suit was carrying a placard with my name on it. I walked towards him and introduced myself and my sister. He politely introduced himself in a thick British accent and offered to carry my luggage. We walked into the parking garage and were welcomed with a gush of cold autumn air. “Boy, do I miss this weather,” I thought.
We walked towards a black BMW sedan and hopped onto a warm comfy interior. After a long drive through traffic into the city, we arrive at the Park Plaza County Hall. This hotel is located south facing the Westminster Bridge and it has a spectacular view of the River Thames.
I read a review about the hotel before booking it and it mentioned that if you call to book be sure to tell them to reserve a room facing the London Eye otherwise you may get stuck with a view of the indoor mezzanine- like me. But, it was no issues here as I was more interested in city exploration.
Another thing to be mindful of is checking time. We took an overnighter flight from Miami and when we got there it was seven in the morning with us arriving at nine. The hotel’s checking time wasn’t until to noon.
If you don’t mind having to wait, the staffs are cordial enough to make sure you are comfortable as you wait. Also, if you are super nice as in sucking up *grin*, they can try to expedite a room for you when it comes available.
We waited for about 2 hours when our room was finally ready. The bellhop grabs our luggage and escorts us to the elevator. The room was furnished with the much needed amenities- plenty of towels, espresso machine, mini-bar and fridge, plush robes, accessible Wi-fi and an enormous bed with extra throws.
We put our things down and hopped into bed. We were super exhausted apparently that we woke up about three hours later. So much for the sightseeing as per the itinerary today!
We did get up and went walking outside to at least see what surrounds us. We were steps away from shops, restaurants, and the historic landmarks like the Parliament and Big Ben.
Getting a view of the London Eye was pretty awesome too although because my sister has a fear of heights, we didn’t venture up. I did find out that if you book this in advance via the website, you save some money without having to purchase it the day off or stand in a long queue.
The weather drops down to about mid-thirties and now, coffee didn’t sound like a bad idea. One thing I noticed was that although there’s an assortment of cafes and the random Starbucks, I didn’t see a Dunkin Donuts in sight!
The good thing was before I left for London, I reloaded my Starbucks card. The hotel was literally steps away from the corner Starbucks. My sis and I grabbed hot coffees and a warm chocolate drizzled croissant to go. Our intention was to get warm, shower, and crash to be ready for tomorrow’s adventure.
Stay tuned for part II on Getting the Best of London in 6 days!