How We Plan Our Free And Easy Trip To London!

Free and Easy in London : Logistics and Planning

With the British pounds value falling, more people are opting to visit the United Kingdom. It's finally more affordable. I remember the first time I visited the UK, the exchange rate was £1 to SGD $2.40. But now, it's about SGD$1.80? So, why wait? This is the best time to visit!

1) Getting there: 

There are 2 main ways to get to London - by plane or by train.

If travelling from Paris, the most convenient and fastest way is to take the direct train by Eurostar (Travelling time : approximately 2.5 hours) Tickets could be purchased online. I prefer trains to flights because I don't have to spend time checking into the airport 2 hours before my flight time or wait for my luggage bags. It is advisable that you keep your eyes on your luggage... in case it get stolen. #sotrue

If your flight is at Heathrow airport, you can take the tube from Heathrow terminal underground stations (Piccadilly Line) to London city. However, your best option depends on the location of your accomodation. I find this website helpful in planning my route from Heathrow.

If your flight is from Luton Airport, this is probably the most inconvenient airport when you are lugging big heavy luggages. You will need to take a train to Luton Airport Parkway station before transferring to a shuttle bus (at an additional cost of £2 per adult). My personal take: If possible, try not to book any flights from Luton airport.

If your flight is from Gatwick Airport, opt for the Gatwick Express which will bring you to London Victoria station in 30 minutes at an interval of 15 minutes. Although this sounds really convenient, there are days whereby you hear issues like no drivers on the train or cancelling their train rides.  In fact, its very common to have such train faults, delays or upgrading works. It is possible to get a refund but the process is super tedious. Because of that, my recommendation to you is to purchase a single way ticket rather than a return ticket.

When such things happen, the next alternative is to get a cab (one hour car ride). Very unlucky.. it happened to us during our recent trip and that cost us £110. *SUPER HEART PAIN*!!!

2) Accommodation: 

London city is segmented into zones, which is visible from the tube station map (scroll down and you'll see the map). Zone 1 is the most prime area. Most of the famous tourist attractions are located at the tube stations along this zone. Although staying in Zone 1 is convenient, it is relatively pricier.

For us, we chose to stay at 2 different hotels which are located just outside of Gloucester Road Tube Station. It is located in Zone 1. Both the hotels had a supermarket, 24 hours convenient store and many eateries which are less than 5 minutes walk away. They are also of 5-8 minutes walking distance to Natural History Museum and Victoria and Albert Museum. Check out more accomodation options in London at Agoda website and get the best deals.

- Millennium Gloucester Hotel London Kensington
We secured a free night stay in this hotel with our free hotel voucher we got from our Amex's Krisflyer Ascend Card. The hotel has an impressive lobby and that's the only thing that amazed me.  Although not the best I've stayed, the room is decently clean and spacious. The room feels abit old and worn out. It felt like there is minimum maintenance to upkeep the grandness, unlike their lobby. Because it is free, I would say it's still decent.

Our room at Millennium Gloucester Hotel 

- Crowne Plaza London - Kensington

If you follow us close enough, you will know that we are fans of Intercontinental Hotel Groups (IHG). When we were planning for our trip, we chanced upon a flash deal on IHG website and we got our room at just £89. This hotel's rooms are comparatively cleaner and "fresher" compared to Millennium Gloucester. The bed is super comfortable. There is a pillow spray and balm to aid us in our sleep. Our disappointment comes from our expectations of the hotel to do something special for their guests when we checked into our room on Valentine's Day. We were anticipating some value-added service, be it a rose or wishing us Happy Valentine's Day. I am a strong believer in good hospitality and I think this is something the hotel should consider working on! 
My tip to you is to opt for a hotel room that's facing the main road. Our room view is some construction work. (Read my review on Tripadvisor)

Our room at Crown Plaza Kensington

3) Public Transport to travel within the city: 

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The tube is the most convenient way to travel around London city. An oyster card can help you to save some costs. However, in general, riding the tube is not cheap. A single trip ticket cost £4.90. With an oyster card, any single trip around Zone 1 cost £2.80. Most of the time, we just walk to our destinations and take the tube only when it is really necessary.

If you are thinking of doing a hop on hop off along zone 1, it's better to opt for a day pass that cost £12.10. We spent most of our time walking the streets.
Read more about the Oyster card at London's official tourism site, VisitLondon

For an added experience, opt for a short distance ride on the London cab. The bad traffic jam and expensive meter fees will convince you that tube is a better choice. We opted for this when we were heading to Victoria station from our hotel (with our heavy luggage). We avoided needing to carry our luggage down the stairs within the tube station.

4) Food expenses in London

A good and comfortable budget for you to enjoy your holiday would be to budget about £40 per pax per day and you alternate between restaurants, fast food and cafes. Am I exaggerating? Not really... Here's some examples of our food intake in London~

 Breakfast at Paul's cost an average of £7-£10 per pax. 

The very popular Burger and Lobster cost an average of £27 per pax. 

A takeaway English style fish and chips box cost about £7. 

A meal at the famous Four Seasons Chinese restaurant can cost you at least £20 per pax or more. This duck is one of the best things you can find in London.

These costs excludes the tips which you may need to pay to your waiter/waitress. You can also opt for cheaper alternatives such as weekday lunch deals, takeaway boxes or cheap buffet to fill the tummy.

4) Weather:

London In Winter

We have been to London twice, once in winter (February) and once in summer (August). 
Summer weather would mean longer day time, air-con temperature on the streets and higher possibilities of attending a summer festival. We love that because more day time means more time for sightseeing!!
Winter weather is relatively colder and wetter. Sometimes, we would have dark and gloomy skies with light drizzles. Sometimes, the sun is shining bright and well. The best person to consult on the day itself is the weather forecast. It would be better if the winter vacation is done during Christmas period because that's where you get to visit interesting Christmas markets and outdoor skating rinks etc. We saw none of those in February.

Each season has it's own beauty but my personal preference would be summer. I don't like rainy weathers in general because I had to bring along a bulky item like umbrella. That also means certain outdoor attractions would be cancelled due to bad weather conditions.

Now that you have a more realistic understanding towards touring in London, do keep a lookout for our next post, which we will be telling you What To See And Do In London! Meanwhile, feel free to ask us any questions!!

Note: Information are accurate as of 2016 and may be subjected to changes within the country. All photos are credited to Mr and Mrs OOPS. Follow @mrandmrsoops and @djoops on Instagram for more instant updates. Not sponsored or affiliated.

Mr and Mrs OOPS

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