London remains to be my favorite holiday destination; having said that, the city does get overwhelming for travelers especially if the trip hasn’t been planned well. My husband visits London on work all the time (read every other week), this was my 2nd time there, despite some familiarity, we made some solid mistakes. My post here is an ode to you not making these! Therefore, without further ado, here we go. Brace yourselves.
Underestimate the LONDON traffic
It’s been 3 years in Switzerland and using public transport. You are almost never a minute late; you could be a minute early but hardly ever late. Forgetting our roots (New Delhi and Bangalore), we totally underestimated the peak office hours and even with a good buffer, missed our trip to Bath and Aveburry village. This was the most disappointing accident for us, since we woke up early despite a late night at the theatre. Oooh bummer! I would highly recommend the tube as opposed to UBER’s, the traffic: well one just cannot predict.
TIP: On the tube, make sure you follow the etiquette, don’t stare at people (yes old people in CH do this all the time, I find this really annoying). Also on those crazy deep escalators, do not, EVER stand on the left side and block the way!
Not create an Itinerary
London is a big city and has tons of stuff to do. There is something for everyone.
For instance, I love holidays with great food, good cafes, musicals, art galleries and museums, shopping and tons of pictures (no, not just of myself).
My husband is the more adventurous type, so he needs to see the mountains, lakes, rivers and walk a lot. And my daughter, who’s a huge POTTER fan obviously wanted the trip to be centered around this particular theme.
If we didn’t plan it to the liking and compromises of these very unique and individualistic tastes over 5 (very short) days, we would have ended up pissing each other completely and not having a good time. Thanks to a good plan, everyone got their piece of the pie. And how did we accomplish this? Our itinerary this time, was not recommendation but interest based. One very common theme that appealed to each one of us was – Indian food, and we had that to our heart’s content. (Check my IG feed for those deets). All in all, London has enough to do for weeks, or months, hence one needs to make sure that they get the most from their time as well as spend.
TIP: Do not pay for Art/museums in London (National Art gallery, Royal Academy and Tate Modern), all the good ones are FREE. Carry a sketch book for inspiration.
Select a HOTEL bang in the city center, unless you are loaded
I am not a fan of Airbnb, and the reason I am not is because of my experience with a particular one, ironically this was in London. And the last time we were there, it was just the 2 of us, no way was I risking our stay with our 8 year old. Just FYI – Hotels to my child (and most children her age) are extremely important, she loves jumping on the bed and playing some pretend games while in the room. It’s crazy cuz the same things at home aren’t as exciting! Nevertheless, all the hotels in the center of the city are atleast a 3 times the price to the ones which are a little further.
We stayed at the Clayton Crown hotel, and were quite pleased with our stay over there. Right outside the hotel – there were enough options to eat and a bus station, which takes you to nearest underground. There is always uber, in case you don’t prefer public transport. There are enough and many reviews of the hotel – I would rate this one 3.5/5.
Not have a trip budget
London is not just overwhelming, it is expensive. A combination like that could be lethal to your wallet. Hence, after you book the hotel, it is a good idea to make a day vise budget – food, drinks, transport, entertainment and tour tickets. A good itinerary with a clear wish list enables this, to a large extent. Having an overall budget helps you NOT run out of money by the end of it. Save some for shopping, I bought some work wear at Oxford street, and am totally loving it.
How can you visit London and not shop!
TIP: Buy the harry potter tour tickets (the WB one) in advance, these almost always sell out very quickly irrespective the weather outside. I covered the studio extensively, follow me on IG, and have a look at my highlights to decide if this one is for you.
Plan the trip in the PEAK tourist season
Rather choose months that are good on the wallet and comfortable weather vise. Summer holidays are the worst months: since it’s not just expensive but it is crowded which is quite a downer while sight seeing/shopping. I recommend May, September and October, I think we chose a good time! The sun was out on all days, and one jacket was enough – I hate winter travel which embodies layers, and inners, and sweaters, and hats and gloves and what not! (Already fretting our winter vacation for the year!)
Tip: Always carry scarves/mufflers, it’s always pretty windy at some point of the day or the other.
Some more tips before I sign off, Do NOT:
- Miss out on the Indian food: Dishoom, Veeraswamy, so many…
- Book air tickets on an airline other than Easy Jet
- Miss out on a traditional English tea with the 3 courses
- Miss out on one or the other one of the top class Musicals at Piccadilly
- Forget to book a photo tour as opposed to a walking tour if you’re into pictures
My list would go on, however, do check out my IG account and look the highlights under the “Travel” and “Harry Potter” sections. I promise you tons of visual tips for Edinburgh and London.
I hope this post helps you avoid all the common pitfalls that travelers often go through. Here’s wishing you a super enjoyable holiday in London.
All pictures by Arturo Noriega