The Tube. High Tea. Randomly running into Tom Hardy.
OK, that last one didn’t happen on my recent trip to London, but it was fabulous nonetheless.
My visit reminded me of how good UX design makes chaos manageable and even a bit fun. I was able to easily navigate the sprawling metropolis thanks to its excellent Tube, walkable neighborhoods and ever-available curry. If you’re making plans for a London, trip, here are few tips I can offer:
Take the Tube from Heathrow. It’s easy and relatively cheap. It’s a bit of a slog to get through customs, walk for what seems like miles on those moving sidewalks and head down to the trains level, but once there, it’s easy to buy an Oyster Card there that will set you up for your stay.
Stay near a Tube station. We stayed near the Earls Court station and it’s a perfect junction of the Piccadilly and Junction lines. (There’s also a handy Caffe Nero and Pret a Manger.) Staying by the Tube helped us save money on cabs and avoid traffic. Our flat was about three blocks away just next to the Earls Court Youth Hostel. We found the place through VRBO.
The home of the prime minister is heavily fortified complete with mounted royal guards, which of course makes it a prime selfie spot. (see below)
To get a selfie with a replica No. 10 doorway, (minus the guards) go to the Churchill War Rooms nearby.
Get Your Kitsch Fix. Take in the The London Dungeon. It’s silly but fun to walk through London history with over-the-top actors portraying plague victims and Victorian meat pie makers.
Party at the Gardens. Take a stroll through Kew Gardens. A 30-minute train ride across the Thames over in Richmond, it’s a relaxing break from the city. Make time for high tea in The Botanical or simply grab-and-go tea and biscuits in the gift shop cafe, where I was entertained by the resident peacock.
Get out of town. If you have time, plan a day trip out of the city. We booked the English Bus tour to Bath and Stonehenge and enjoyed our driver’s nonstop commentary on everything from his wife’s crush on Benedict Cumberbatch to the Brexit backlash. It’s a full day, but we really felt like we got our money’s worth and it’s interesting to actually see the English countryside, even if it’s just along the M3 and M4.
See a show. It’s easy to book your tickets online, even checking out the vantage point of your selected seats, before your trip. I highly recommend Kinky Boots, which was a hit with my teen.
Pack rechargers and your power plug adaptors. I forgot the recharger for my camera, but managed to find a compatible model at the London Camera Exchange.
Of course it’s impossible to see everything in just a week or two in London. I’m already making plans to go back. And if I can’t meet the real Tom Hardy, perhaps I can check out the lifelike replica recently unveiled at Madame Tussauds Wax Museum.
Please let me know your London tips in the comments section. Pip, Pip, Cheerio.