Two girlfriends and I spent 6 days in London, England, UK in October 2011. Transportation is a hot topic and one we lingered on for weeks before we traveled. Everything seemed so confusing! Well, here’s what we did. We took the Heathrow Express (not the Connect!) to Paddington Station. It was cheaper (£16), but yes, it had a few stops (I think 3). When we arrived at Paddington Station, we went to the ticket desk and asked them what they recommended. Because we were site seeing and mainly were staying in zones 1 & 2, they recommended the standard Travelcard, which was good for 6 days and cost us £27. This card took us anywhere in zones 1 & 2, which was where the vast majority of sites were for us. It allowed us to ride any underground train or public bus in those areas. For general London transportation, it was more than adequate. Super easy too, just shove it into the machines and it scans and pops back out, just like DC Metro. The train lines were a little confusing. If you can handle the Metro, you can probably handle this, but I’d recommend mapping your route beforehand, because the crossovers are very crowded and no one wants to wait while you check your map. While on the subject of transportation, it’s a good idea to map out the route from your closest tube station to your hotel. We neglected that little piece and ended up traipsing around for probably over an hour trying to find the hotel which was supposedly very close to the tube station. …dragging our heavy suitcases… It’s a mistake we won’t make again. Or, better yet, just get a cab from Paddington to take you to your hotel. We took the tube and it was a huge pain to lug those suitcases up and down the steps of the underground. We were all tired and sweaty by the time we arrived at the hotel.
Regarding the hotel, it really was not that far from the tube station, probably 4 blocks or so. Once we found it, we were able to find an easier walk between the hotel and tube station. The hotel is also close to Hyde Park. The location was decent, but we took the tube everywhere and didn’t a lot of time in the hotel. Our room was small, but we understood that space is at a premium in London. We were quite cramped with 3 women in a room with a double bed and a twin bed. Closet space is tiny, the bathroom was tiny. We were fine with it, but if you have a lot of clothes or lots of hair/beauty products, this would be too small. Though it would probably be fine for 2 people. Also, the tub was super high up, a gigantic step up, and I did almost break a leg trying to step into the wet tub one morning. If you plan to stay here and aren’t super spry, you may want to inquire about the tub before you make your reservation. The beds were fine, but I sleep good anywhere, and there was very little road noise. The room was clean when we arrived and the maid service kept it clean the entire time.
We did have some confusion with the reservation. We had booked through Expedia and had paid up front. When we checked in, the staff tried to charge us a second time for the hotel. Once we explained and they checked, they did not double charge us. But, we also had confusion with using the computer and phone. Keep in mind, the staff are all foreign, and didn’t seem to speak English very well. They made us put a credit card down for the computer (in the lobby), and for the phone usage. One of us gave a credit card for computer/phone use, and then THAT card got charged for our stay AGAIN!! So we paid through Expedia, then my friend was charged again after we left. She had to call the hotel and get everything sorted out. It was a bit of a fiasco. I still don’t understand why we couldn’t just pay cash for the use of phone and computer. And the cost for the computer was crazy. I didn’t use it so I don’t remember what it was, just that it was nuts. Why not offer free internet, Lancaster Gate?
We did not eat at the restaurant in the hotel, so I can’t comment on that. But the hotel did arrange a car for us to return to Padding for the Heathrow Express on our way home. It was £10, which sounds like a lot, but for 3 girls to put 6 bags into a cab was MUCH MUCH easier than us lugging all that crap down to the tube station, down all those steps, into the train, then back up the steps at Paddington. Recommend you just take a cab both ways. Unless you pack light.
Regarding your stay in London, we noticed some cultural differences between Londoners and Americans. For example, we got the stink eye every time we said “bless you” to someone who had sneezed. Apparently that’s an old-timey thing over there and not many people say it. Also, your wait staff at most restaurants will be foreign. Don’t be afraid to ask for the check when you’re done eating. Otherwise you’ll sit for hours, because they won’t bring it unless you ask. Oh, and don’t rely on the websites for museum hours. They were wrong in almost every instance. Our itinerary was shot when we arrived at 3 locations only to find they were closed. Recommend you call each museum or place of interest ahead of time. We purchased our Tower of London tickets online prior to travel, and that was super easy when we got there. We spent hours in there, it was very cool. We also purchased train tickets to Edinburgh and tickets to the castle, and again, that was super easy. So in those instances, doing some preplanning online saved a bit of time and stress. If you get the chance, the castle in Edinburgh is TOTALLY worth the 4 hour train ride. Other things we enjoyed were Westminster Abbey, Picadilly Circus (where we found and had dinner in Chinatown), changing of the guards at Buckingham, river tour of the Thames, HARRODS!!!, and the British Museum. Hope this is helpful to any Americans looking to stay in London.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Lancaster Gate Hotel is located across from Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens and is a short stroll away from Portobello Market, The Albert Memorial, Albert Hall, Marble Arch and Oxford Street. The hotel has 196 rooms with modern amenities and special facilities for business travellers and families. Our Serpentine Restaurant & Bar offers international dining options as well as our popular breakfast buffet. We also provide 2 meeting rooms for small-scale business meetings, conferencing and events. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Park Inn London
- Park Inn Hyde Park
- Lancaster Gate Hotel London