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London Travel Tips

4.0 stars

Insider advice for your London vacation


Elizaoprisor
Finding emergency accomodation 4 stars
After being told that there was no hot water at the Generator Hostel, where we had booked our stay, my boyfriend and I practically had to choose between not taking a shower in three days or searching for another hostel/hotel. Luckily there are many hotels around King's Cross Station, and I mean MANY!. We entered almost all of them , inquiring about room rates. Some of them were really cheap, about 35 Pounds, but the rooms looked horrid and the bathrooms looked 10 times worse. Some other hotels looked ok, but they had very high prices. Actually, prices range, but really proportional to the quality. We were really lucky to finally find the Winchester Hotel, which I will deal with in another Cosmotip.

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melissa
London: take the car 4 stars
This is going to sound crazy, but hear me out. The first ten or fifteen times I went to London I took the train down and relied on public transport (i.e. the tube) to get around, and I never felt like I was connecting with the city in the way I wanted to, beacuse I would be underground and then pop my head up and magically be somewhere else. Then I finally decided to get smart and ignore everyone shouting at me not to take the car. What a difference! Driving in London, despite the legend, is not any worse than driving in any other big city, and the sense of connectedness you gain is well worth it. You can drive from neighbourhood to neighbourhood and actually see how these places relate to each other on the grid, and you feel like you're a part of it all. Sure, you could do it all by taxi, but it would cost a lot more and you wouldn't have the bragging rights. I'll never take the train to London again.

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Marijke
Wong Kei´s - Chinese Restaurant 5 stars
This restaurant offers good Chinese food at friendly prices at a great location on the edge of China Town opposite the Chinese Gates. Still this is not why the locals love this place so much. Keeping up their reputation for an odd sense of humor they mostly enjoy what would be entirely unacceptable in any other place: rude waitors. They snap at you, they let you wait, they will even rip the menu right out of your hand if you take the liberty of studying it for more than 2 minutes. It´s the most amusing thing, especially when watching guests who are not in the know. Be prepared to share tables or wait a little at peak times. Wardour Street, Tube: Piccadilly Circus/Leicester Square

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manasi
Lion King 4 stars
The last time I was in London, it was time to finally - finally! - do one of the things I have been dying to do since 1997: watch Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre!

What can I say about Lion King on broadway that hasn't been said already? It helps, I'm sure, that I bring the perspective of a person who has watched the movie a million times, knows the dialogues and songs by heart, and has dreamt about this day since she was a little girl in New York who couldn't get tickets to see the musical at the Minskoff Theatre.

Unfortunately, that little girl was disappointed. She could not find the magic that she looked for. But the slightly less demanding person permeating the vestiges of that little girl loved the show for its music and the sets and its happy, happy songs. Lion King was three hours of good, solid theatre, and there is probably nothing quite like it for bringing a story about animals to the stage, but there will always be a part of me that will prefer the dvd.


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manasi
Mousetrap 4 stars
I went to St. Martin's Theatre to watch Mousetrap - the 22,082nd show, to be exact. Mousetrap is the longest running play in the world. Unfortunately for me, I've read the short story version of the play, Three Blind Mice, and knew the ending. But despite that, I thoroughly enjoyed myself at the show. It has several twists and turns and the ending is really not predictable.

It is a show that some critics have found dull and obsolete lately, possibly because of certain qualities it possesses that I ascribe to tradition alone. I know it's old-fashioned, but it's Agatha Christie! It's supposed to be old-fashioned!

At the end of the show, the actors ask you not to reveal the ending to anyone. It's a really cute tradition.


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manasi
Spamalot on Broadway 3 stars
If you're in London, you must watch at least one show at the West End. The musicals are simply fantastic. A great deal of effort goes into each of them. It's thoroughly enjoyable. One of my favourites is Spamalot, a musical spoof based on the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail. It's fun and hilarious.

The thing about Spamalot, more than Spamalot itself, is really its atmosphere. When 1500 Python fans get together under one roof, the bonding that takes place is like no other. Bear in mind that these are 1500 people who have watched Monty Python and the Holy Grail more often than they have seen their own reflections in the mirror, and, therefore, know all the songs and dialogues by heart, and there is no way these people will allow Sir Lancelot to dance a lot without chipping in and singing along. Yessiree, whether it's the bright side of life that we're looking at or the braveness of Sir Robin that we're commending, we're not going to shut up. We will sing along, chorus "Ni!" joyfully, and proclaim our lack of deadness with conviction. Most importantly, we will cheer violently when God's feet come onstage, because, after all, John Cleese is God.

Spamalot is one of the world's great life-affirming experiences because there are really only two types of people in the world when you think about it: Python fans and fools. And there were no fools in the audience that night.


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LittleFairy
London Rush Hour 4 stars
Rush Hour may not be a real event in general but for London it is a real phenomenon. The so called office people do not live in the city. They come here every day, from Monday to Friday to go to work. Only 6000 people live in London, however over
300000 work here. They come in trains, in busses, on the underground, on bikes or in cars. They all come in one hour, called the Rush Hour. From 8.30 to 9.30 in the morning and in the evening from 5 to 6 everything goes crazy. I was amazed to see how many people suddenly appear and fill the place up.


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LittleFairy
People: Cockneys 5 stars
London has some strange people like the Cockneys. The small Church of St- Mary- le Bow is also called the Cockney Church. The Cockneys are the Londoners that can hear the Baw bells from their houses. I was lucky enough to visit the Peticoat Lane on a Sunday. The Cockney’s were all dressed up with funny and shiny clothes. I first asked why all these costumes and someone answered that they were Sunday clothes. The Cockneys have pearly “kings” and “queens” of their own. They call them pearly because of the many beads and pearls on their clothes. It is an interesting site to see. Just be careful, they will try and sell you all sorts of things.

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LittleFairy
Event: Lord Mayor’s Show 4 stars
Lord Mayor’s Show is a traditional ceremony. Londoners may be usually serious and restrained but they also love to have fun. And how better to enjoy themselves than by mixing a traditional ceremony, choosing a lord mayor, with an outdoor party? The people of the city of London choose a Lord Mayor every year. The coach takes him to the Mansion House in a long procession. The coach was pulled by 6 horses all wearing colored garments. Soldiers were on each side of the coach, but also in front and at the end, protecting the newly elected Lord Mayor. The streets were filled with people that clapped and yelled and so did I, not because I was proud but because of the joyful atmosphere.

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LittleFairy
Event: Ceremony of the keys 4 stars
The ceremony of the keys is an important and old celebration in London. It is a very old event, 700 years old. The keys in the ceremony lock the gates of The Tower of London. The Chief Warden of the Tower, who is wearing a long red coat, is carrying the keys. With four modern guardsmen, he marches to the gates and locks them. Then he takes the keys to the Governor of the Tower. This ceremony is every night at 10 o’clock. To think that every single day for 700 years, at an exact time one does the same thing is incredible. This ceremony is a perfect description of tradition.

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LittleFairy
Event: Jubilee 5 stars
The Jubilee is a ceremony in London that means 25 years. It is an event that celebrates the 25 years of reign of Queen Elizabeth the second, from 1952 to 1977. This is considered a big and important celebration by all London. Unlike many other festivities, this time, even the poor are included in the feast. There are numerous parties. People from all over the world come and visit and enjoy the Jubilee. The many paper crowns and t-shirts or party decorations, in the colors of the flag can be seen all over London. I was invited to take a seat and eat at a special Jubilee meal in the middle of the street. The food was good and everyone, especially the kids were loving this celebration.

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LittleFairy
Event: State Opening of Parliament 4 stars
The State Opening of Parliament is considered an important London event. The Queen’s visit to the Houses of Parliament in one of her royal coaches is the whole ceremony. I am not a Londoner but I still think that this celebration is pretty useless. Just to take a look at the Queen is an exaggeration to me. I think it shows the feelings the people have towards monarchy and this is something I simply cannot understand. I was looking at the coach, the golden lines and the old model made me forget the century I was in. I tried to take a glance at the Queen but she was not waving and I could not see her inside the coach. It was a fast and pretty useless experience.

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Marc888
Camden to Regents Park 4 stars
Further down there were a few more pubs, most of which seemed to be regular haunts for the many Camden market traders and residents, and further down still I came across some more street sellers and performers. As I was almost at the end of the Lane I decided to head for the car. Within 20 minutes I was driving out of the area, but with time still to spare, and having seen a sign for Regents Park, I decided to take a look at it. Regents Park is a very large area, which has an outer and inner ring road. Indeed as you are driving around it, it is hard to actually size up the place, but I did have a map to hand and was able to navigate myself to the inner ring road and then towards the central roundabout.

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Marc888
Parking near the market 4 stars
Whilst I did park briefly in the High Street I realized that it was too good to be true since the restrictions would definitiely mean that I would be towed away, and so I thought that it would be best to find a better place. Since most advice suggests that parking anywhere in the immediate vicinity , i.e. within walking distance to the market, would be impossible, I was pleasantly surprised to find plenty of parking spaces just 2 or 3 streets back from the main Camden High street. Although to reach them required driving around the one way system, it wasn’t long before I was able to find a parking space. I bought a cheap pay and display ticket and left my car just 10 minutes walk away from the main Chalk Farm Road that holds the markets.

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manasi
Westminster Walk 4 stars
One Friday morning, I was left to my own purposes, as most people that I know in London have classes and jobs and lives to get back to. I spent the morning walking through the gorgeous, gorgeous Hyde Park, where I stood unabashed and clicked photos at the Marble Arch, the Wellington Memorial and the Speaker's Corner, and the gorgeous, gorgeous St. James' Park, where the colours of autumn, ungreyed as yet by rain and winter, were on full, proud, magnanimous display, finally ending up at Buckingham Palace, where a practice session was being conducted of a parade for the arrival of the King of Saudi Arabia - because apparently, it's hard for a hundred soldiers to take half a step per minute till the crowds watching them begin to suffer from brain atrophy due to sheer boredom. Well, practice makes perfect.

Making my way through the royal horses, which are really so well-behaved it's a little disturbing, I walked down the beautiful South Bank pier, staring up at the Houses of Parliament, the Big Ben and Westminster Abbey, went into St. Margaret's Church, climbed up the Jewel Tower and learned all there is to know about the British Parliament. While we're on the subject, I would warn the unsuspecting tourist that the Jewel Tower isn't really as great as it is made out to be, so save those five pounds for something else.

I then walked down Whitehall, peered into Downing Street, because peering is all you can really do, walked through Horse Guards and the old war office, bought a sandwich for lunch and finally ended up at Trafalgar Square.


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Marc888
Tower of London Parks 4 stars
It isn’t necessary to pay a single penny to admire some of the Tower of London’s attractions. That because, around the perimeter are some wonderful open spaces that are adorned with just as much British heritage as you would find inside were you to visit on a tour. I sat in the small park just outside the Walls of the Tower of London, that looks over the River Thames and had time to admire the large canons that can be seen dotted around the lawns. In addition these spaces are not so busy and afford, in my opinion, better views of the Tower of London Buildings.

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Alibaby
Tube, London 4 stars
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
The tube in London is one of the essential ways to get around the city quickly and efficiently. Sometimes a particular line might be closed but it is simple to negotiate a different route to your chosen destination. Carriages can be a bit crowded, especially around rush hour, but if you walk down the platform you may be likely to get a slightlier emptier carriage.
In summer the Tube can be stupidly hot, so bear that in mind as people are known to faint or feel queasy when shoved like sardines, at rush hour on a fast moving jugernaut.
Get yourself an Oyster card, it makes travelling in london, on bus or tube, cheaper and easier. Do not leave home without one!


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Alibaby
Bus Services, London 5 stars
The bus services in London are pretty awesome. They operate 24 hours, so can take you home late at night after the tube has stopped. Granted it takes a bit longer, but it's way cheaper than a taxi, plus the buses are a darned site easier and more frequent than taking your chances on a taxi being available.

Make a cheap ride even cheaper by using an Oyster card. Oyster caps the price at a certain amount, so you could use the buses all day and night long and it won't charge you over a set amount. Plus it's alot easier than fiddling with your change to give to the driver. I have seen busdrivers refuse people acess to a bus if they didn't have an Oyster card. Plus you can use Oyster on the tube too - so it is a great multipurpose travel must have!

Buses in London can be alot more reliable than the tube, which is frequently closed due to works on the lines etc.


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Alibaby
St. Pancras International Train Station 5 stars
St Pancras International Station is a magnificent feat of architecture. Much of the station has been closed off until recently due to renovation work, and the installation of the Eurostar service. St Pancras was recently chosen as one of the seven wonders of London in a Time Out feature, and it truly is a blooming gorgeous station! I have not sampled the Eurostar service, although now that it is so easy for me then I will. I live in the Midlands and all the trains to London arrive at St Pncras, so it is a matter of time before I try that out and no doubt update cosmotourist about it too.
The new St Pancras has lots of shops, including a Hamley's toy store. A real song and dance (literally) was mde about it's reopening, so I suggest you pay it a visit , to check the place out and maybe even catch a choo choo!


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lala30
The Apse (American Memorial Chapel) 4 stars
In the Apse of St. Paul's Cathedral you can find the American Memorial Chapel that has been dedicated to the memory of American servicemen and women who died during World War II and were stationed in England. The roll of names contains more then 28.000 Americans and it is held right in front of alter. The windows of the chapel date back to 1960 and have images of sacrifice and service but also images that represent American Armed forces. The American Memorial Chapel is located right behind the High Alter and was dedicated in 1958 in the presence of the Queen and Richard Nixon.

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