If you are looking to travel to Europe for the first time from the good ol’ US of A, then London will ultimately be the first point of call. It is familiar and safe, and you have heard about the multitude of attractions, West End shows and museums which you simply have to visit, otherwise your stay in the capital is a wasted one.
This is all according to hearsay, of course. Usually Americans arrive in London and are completely pole-axed by how different the place is, based on their initial expectations. TV shows and films do a fantastic job when it comes to depicting a traditional ‘London’ which does not actually exist, and it can be extremely daunting for inexperienced travellers looking for a truly British experience.
In order to make the most of your time away in the thriving, bustling hub of Southern England, then just follow these few simple guidelines and you are guaranteed to have a memorable and enjoyable trip.
You really do not need to take as much baggage with you as you think. London hotels are relatively small, and there will not be ample room for huge amounts of luggage. Re-define what you think is essential when on the move and try to keep everything limited to one single carry-on, and one small checked bag.
The weather is reasonably mild all-year round, so pack accordingly. Apart from small, sudden bouts of rain you can guarantee that you will not need heavy boots or chunky knits when searching through your wardrobe, so dress accordingly and you could save space for an extra pair of heels.
It is still advisable to pack an umbrella or light waterproof jacket, as it could rain at any time, and you do not want to be soaked through in the middle of a shopping spree. Upon arrival in Britain, you then have to figure out how to get into the centre of London from one of the main airports which are dotted around the region, namely Gatwick, Stanstead and Heathrow.
You might be tempted to just take a black cab and head straight into town, but this is not a good idea if you are travelling on a budget as it could be extremely expensive, and a longer journey than you may think. Take into account traffic delays and waiting times, and see if there are any viable alternatives.
Most Americans choose to get to the centre via Heathrow Airport, so the best route is the Heathrow Express train, as it is a direct service which gets you to London Paddington Station in just under a quarter of an hour. It also costs about a third of what a taxi would charge. From Paddington, you can take the tube or hail a cab straight to your hotel. If money is really tight, then take the Piccadilly Tube line directly into the city.
Even if you take up too much space during rush-hour with your luggage and belongings then it does not matter if you get to your chosen destination on time and save heaps of cash in the process.
London has no shortage of tourist traps, but there are some which you should avoid, as you could be waiting for hours. Madame Tussauds, the Changing of the Guard and the London Dungeon can become incredibly crowded, and full of eager beavers waiting to witness the delights which the capital has to offer.
Piccadilly Circus is also difficult to navigate, and Portobello Market is mobbed by tourists all year round. The London Aquarium is also extremely busy, and you can see fish at so many other locations, so maybe think outside the box and look for quieter places where you can get a taste of the true London lifestyle.
St. Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey and the London Eye are ideal if you want to sample all the cultural pleasures which are waiting just around the corner. The London Transport Museum, Camden Lock Market and Covent Garden are also fantastic places to take a sneaky peek at if you have enough time, as you can spend the entire day wandering around at your leisure without having to spend a single penny.
If you have never taken public transport before, then navigating the Tube can be extremely intimidating. Maybe study your Tube map before going on the Underground, and plan ahead so you have a good idea of how the system works. This will make things so much easier as a whole, especially when you are trying to figure out where to go in order to make a connection with minutes to spare.
Budget accommodation London does not come any better than the Park Grand London Lancaster Gate Hotel. Both travellers and locals are clamouring to book a stunning suite at this beautiful guesthouse, as it is charming, relaxing and offers complete peace and tranquillity.