In November 2014 we cashed in the remainder of our Citibank rewards points, used an excess of miles to upgrade to Premium Economy on Virgin Atlantic, and escaped the madness that is U.S. Thanksgiving for a week in London. It was wonderful.
It was our first time traveling after my surgery a couple of months before, and I didn’t really know how I was going to handle the flight plus all the walking, but I was willing to give it a try. We stayed across from Hyde Park at the Hilton Hyde Park, an okay hotel that isn’t remotely a four star property … but I find it hard to complain when the room was basically free. We chose the location since I’m basically a nut for Regency London and Hyde Park features quite prominently in about 80% of the regency romance novels I’ve read. So yeah, I wanted to be there instead of somewhere maybe more centrally located. It worked out alright though because the hotel is right around the corner from two tube stations and we love taking public transportation on our travels (it makes us feel like we could be locals).
FULL TRIP REPORT
(Click on the links below to read each day’s detailed description)
Day 1 – Not really a full day in London since by the time we got from the airport and checked in to our hotel it was already dark outside. We ventured over to the overwhelming Winter Wonderland Christmas Market and spent a few hours there.
Day 2 – We started the day at Spitalfields Market, getting there in the pouring rain, before heading over to the Victoria & Albert Museum where they had – surprise! – an exhibit on regency clothing. I practically swooned.
Day 3 – Excited to see the rain had passed, we began our day with a very freezing hop on/hop off bus tour. I kind of refuse to sit inside on these things which was problematic since I didn’t wear the warmest clothes. Oops. We also visited the National Gallery Museum and the National Portrait Gallery. We closed out the night with a rather lackluster walking tour of Westminster that advertised us being able to go inside the Parliament Building. We didn’t.
Day 4 – We left the confines of the city for an all-day bus tour that started at Warwick Castle, then went to Stratford-on-Avon, and finished up in Oxford.
Day 5 – We toured the Tower of London, spending some extra time with the raven master there, then walked over to Borough Market (you know I have a thing for markets on our travels!), before deciding to tour Shakespeare’s Globe on a whim. We stopped in to one of the oldest pubs in London, and then made our way to dinner at St. John’s, a restaurant I’d wanted to visit since I first heard about it. We weren’t disappointed.
Day 6 – We took another bus tour out of the city, starting at Windsor Castle, then on to Stonehenge, and finally finishing up in Bath. This was a really rough day for me physically and mentally, but in the end, we had a really great time and I’m glad took on such a long day.
Day 7 – Ah, our last day in London. We walked through Hyde Park, down Rotten Row, and had tea overlooking the Serpentine. Regency romance fans will know why this appealed to me so much. We also spied an episode of House Hunters International being filmed, which made me giddy. This was the day we did the most walking, going all over town on foot. Hyde Park, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, and the London Eye. If memory serves we walked well over ten miles that day.