April 23, 2017 - Tanya's London Trip - Day 7 -
Celebrating Shakespeare's Birthday with 17 Fun Facts!
Elisa's Daily Scoop
Tanya's Daily Scoop
Good day!! It's Monday - am I crazy because Monday is my favorite day of the week?
I just love the newness of the week, the promise of all that can be accomplished and that everyone seems to wake up from the slumber of the weekend.
I thought it would be fun to do a recap of my London Trip - our experiences, opinions and favorites!
Let's start with the HOTELS:
DOLPHIN HOUSE SERVICED APARTMENTS
This was such a great choice! I couldn't have been happy staying at Dolphin House in Victoria.
My goal when booking my trip was to stay in an apartment-like setting, where we would have the ability to cook and enjoy some of the conveniences of home. And that's exactly what we got at the Dophin Serviced Apartments.
Located in Dolphin Square in Victoria this place is conveniently located to buses, underground and for those who love to walk, less than a half-hour walk to the center of things - Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, etc.
What's cool about this place is that there are permanent, short-stay and vacationers all inhabiting the apartments. As a result, the place is well-maintained, has a Bar & Grill on premises, as well as a health club and a ground level "shopping arcade" comprised of a variety of retail shops including a coffee shop, grocery store, vegetable and fruit market, dry cleaners, candy and variety store and more.
I cannot tell you how convenient it was to have access to these resources during our stay to stock up on some incidentals - snacks, dinner items, etc. as well as being able to secure Oyster Cards (London's version of the Metro Card) in advance.
There was also a Catholic Church right up the block, which I was unaware prior to booking, which was wonderful, since we were in London for Easter Sunday!
I opted for booking a one bedroom apartment (for budget reasons), but two bedrooms are also available. However, this place was clean, with daily maid service, newly renovated and decorated very simply and pleasant.
If I had any "complaints" (and I say that with the least possible emphasis), it would be that there were not as many outlets as we Americans are used to when frequenting travel accommodations. Actually, it was more of a complaint for the girls, with all of their devices.
Additionally, since we had a one bedroom, we had one king bed and a roll-away bed. Fortunately, the mattress on the cot was of good quality, making it as comfortable as could be for Gianna.
The cost for nine nights was $2507.00.
Definite Thumbs up for Dolphin House.
HOTEL MERCURE PARIS CENTRE TOUR EIFFEL
20 Rue Jean Rey, 75015 Paris, France
I have one word for Hotel Mercure - Location, Location, Location!
Wow! Walking right out the door and having that gorgeous, beautifully-imposing structure in full view, a few short steps away would have been worth staying anywhere.
But, the Hotel Mercure Tour Eiffel was also an adorable, eclectic hotel with clean, contemporarily styled and modest rooms.
Although the lobby area was relatively small, there was everything one needed - reception desk, concierge, bell services and a restaurant.
We were only there for one night, but there is no doubt that I would book this hotel again, if my goal is to be close to the Tower.
The cost for one night was $176.
Thumbs Up for the Hotel Mercure Tour Eiffel.
Eurostar is a high-speed railway service connecting London with Avignon, Brussels, Lille, Lyon, Marseille and Paris. All its trains traverse the Channel Tunnel between the United Kingdom and France, owned and operated separately by Eurotunnel.
Our little journey was from London, St. Pancras Station to Paris, Gare du Nord station and back.
As far as trains go, they were clean, well serviced with polite and accommodating staff members.
Eurostar has three classes of service including Standard, Standard Premier and Business Premier.
As in air travel, the train classes offer better amenities as you go up in level and so too, does the price. We went Standard Premier to Paris and Standard on the return to London.
Premium was more comfy, which even provided pillows for passenger added comfort.
Just a note, there is no wifi in Standard, it's a bit more cramped and there is no meal served to you in your seat.
On both rides, we opted for a table, which made it a bit more intimate and gave us a surface for laptops.
Additionally, other British calling points include Ebbsfleet International and Ashford International in Kent. Other calling points in France are Calais-Fréthun and Lille-Europe.
The total Cost for our round trip ride was $638.00
London to Paris, in Standard Premier was $178 pp for me and Gianna ("youth") and $125 for Kelsey ("child").
The return in Standard was $53 pp for me and Gianna and $44 for Kelsey.
I'm sure many would think that spending this amount of money, plus the hotel cost (total of $814) is nuts for one overnight, but as I said in my video blog from the foot of the Eiffel Tower, nothing compares with being up close and person with that amazing iconic structure, so it was more than worth it for the experience for me and the girls!!
B BAKERY AFTERNOON TEA BUS
Absolutely delightful!! Total thumbs up!! (I couldn't even wait till the end to say that!!)
These vintage London buses will drive around Central London, taking in some of the City’s best sights, while you can indulge in the fabulous B Afternoon Tea.
The bus tour can be joined at one of two locations - Victoria Coach Station and 8 Northumberland Avenue, off Trafalgar Square. We boarded out of Victoria Coach Station.
They offer a variety of options on the types of tours, though the route is always the same; and accommodate all dietary requirements including Vegetarian, Gluten Free, Pescatarian, Halal and Gluten Free Vegetarian.
I paid $157.00 for the three of us.
I would do this again in a second and recommend it highly!
CHURCHILL WAR ROOMS
Clive Steps, King Charles St.
The Churchill War Rooms is a museum in London and one of the five branches of the Imperial War Museum. Two friends INSISTED that I visit and boy, am I glad I did.
My only regret is that I did not have as much time as I would have liked to spend HOURS perusing the museum and the MANY things to see.
I purchased my tickets on-site, for which I selected the Family Ticket (1 adult, 2 kids) for L32.50, which included a donation, otherwise it would have cost L29.35.
Worth every penny! And ironically, with all of my girls' carrying on, they actually enjoyed it!
Clearly, not as much as me, for I could have spent hours there being the World War II buff that I am AND the fact that Winston Churchill is one of my all-time favorite historical figures...next time...
Double Thumbs up or the Churchill War Rooms!
TOWER OF LONDON
St Katharine's & Wapping, London
Hours: 10 - 5:30
The Tower of London, officially Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London, is a historic castle located on the north bank of the River Thames in central London.
This was something that, with all the times I have been in London, have never visited!! Can you believe it?
Well, this time, I wasn't going to miss it this time, especially, with the kids.
I purchased my tickets in advance and the cost was L50.30 (around $54.00).
My price included self-guided tour headsets. The only thing I would do differently in the future, is that I would get on one of the scheduled free tours.
We opted to follow along with the audio guide, but as we were leaving, we walked past one of the tour groups and after overhearing the guide talk and explain things, I realized we would have gotten much more out of the experience with great explanation from a human guide.
However, in spite of guiding ourselves, The Tower of London was one of Gianna's favorite places and truly an amazing site to see!
I asked the girls about their "favorites" from the trip and I was a bit surprised on a few.
Let me preface this with the fact that, my Kelsey generally gets homesick on our travels and this trip, she told me was the first one she did not experience home sickness!!! Yay - there is hope of turning my little girl into a world traveler like her mom!
Secondly, Kelsey also told me that London was her favorite place ever, outside the United States and said she thinks she would like to return for her 13th Birthday!
* Afternoon Tea
Gianna said it was a tie between The Rubens at The Palace and The Chesterfield (Charlie & the Chocolate Factory theme)
Kelsey, hands down was The Chesterfield but she also loved The Delauney - our only afternoon tea with our cousins!
Kelsey's was the Afternoon Tea Bus and Gianna said it was a tie between The Afternoon Tea Bus and The Tower of London.
* Underground or Double Decker Bus
No contest - they loved the Underground - they thought it was fun!
Dolphin House or Mercure
Dolphin House for comfort and amenities - Mercure for location!
What a fun trip - for the whole trip - day by day - CLICK HERE!
I'm off to get my many things done - see ya back here tomorrow for Travelin' Tuesday!