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Old Mar 25, 12, 10:26 am   #1
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24 Hrs London: Suggestions for Maxing the Experience

FT Friends,

In late April, my spouse and I have a 24-hour layover in London. We arrive in LHR around 11:30 a.m. and depart from LHR the next day at 9:30 a.m. We're staying at the Hyatt Andaz.

I thoroughly toured London as kid, about 20 years ago, but not since then. My spouse and I visited London last November, which was her first time, but I was there for work, so we didn't have any time together, and she only saw a few sights with some other spouses.

Can you help us maximize the 24 hours?

Our initial thoughts are taking a hop-on/ hop-off tour bus, so we can have easy, fun transportation to the places we want to see on foot. Then, cap off the day with a ride on The Eye.

We're looking for further suggestions for day-time activities, lunch and dinner, and nightlife. (FYI, we're in young adults and active.)

Final note. I'm sure that this topic has been repeatedly vetted in the past, and I'm tearing through the research. But, with any dynamic city like London, things change so quickly that we thought we'd solicit advice from the community of thought leadership.

Thanks!
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Old Mar 25, 12, 10:38 am   #2
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24 hr lAyover? Looks more like 8 hours to me! You won't get to the hotel before 2pm and it will be dark at 7ish I guess. You will also need to be up at the crack of dawn to get public transport to LHR as your hotel is in a very bad place for the airport. You can probably manage a bus tour at about 3.30 pm for 2 hours, then I would head back to the hotel. All the action for young uns in Hoxton and Shoreditch near the hotel, so wander that way - Loungelover for drinks, Les Trois Garcon next door for dinner would be one option, perhaps with drinks on the roof of Boundary to finish.
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Old Mar 25, 12, 11:22 am   #3
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For the Eye, I'd say it's weather dependent -- if it's not clear or at least partly cloudy it can be a bit of waste.

You might like the London by Night bus tour - it's in the evening....great time to see the city - I recommend the one that leaves at 7pm - nice mix of evening and city lights.
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Old Mar 25, 12, 11:25 am   #4
  
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I think you can buy before you arrive, so you can get going immediately you drop your bags:

www.londonpass.com/
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Old Mar 25, 12, 12:10 pm   #5
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Originally Posted by oscietra View Post
I think you can buy before you arrive, so you can get going immediately you drop your bags:

www.londonpass.com/
London Pass is unlikely to be good value in this instance; they would need to be visiting three expensive attractions before they'd be saving against the 46 cost.
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Old Mar 25, 12, 12:24 pm   #6
  
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You might want to look at this recent thread with a similar query for more suggestions.

As others have said, your hotel's not in a great location for Heathrow, but still fairly well connected. Depending on how much luggage you'll have with you, you might consider getting the tube or Heathrow Express into the centre of town, picking up a tour bus, and heading to your hotel after you've done that.

There's plenty of nightlife in the area, though - a short wander up to Shoreditch will find lots of bars and great restaurants. Bear in mind you'll need to leave at least 90 minutes to get to the airport in the morning, so don't enjoy it too much!

(Raffles - given it's still light now, I think that means the sun doesn't go down till about 8.30pm in a month from now)
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Old Mar 28, 12, 12:48 pm   #7
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Thank you all for your thoughtful responses and suggestions.

Quote:
For the Eye, I'd say it's weather dependent -- if it's not clear or at least partly cloudy it can be a bit of waste.
My spouse was thinking the same thing. What are the queues like during the day?

Quote:
You might like the London by Night bus tour - it's in the evening....great time to see the city - I recommend the one that leaves at 7pm - nice mix of evening and city lights.
Thanks! I'll check it out!

A few other questions and notes.

1. I'm thinking that taking The Tube (vice the Express) would be a better bet, when analyzing price and flexibility. Any recommendations on where to get off and start our on-foot journey?

2. I'm thiking it'd be wise to get an Oyster Card. Do I need to get one for my spouse, or can we share?

3. What are the hit shows to see at the moment?
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Old Mar 28, 12, 1:00 pm   #8
  
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24 hr lAyover? Looks more like 8 hours to me! You won't get to the hotel before 2pm and it will be dark at 7ish I guess.
More like about 9:00 pm.

On 30 April the sun sets at 8:23 pm and it will likely stay dark another half hour after that.

http://www.timeanddate.com/worldcloc...&afl=-11&day=1

Don't worry - all is not lost.
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Old Mar 28, 12, 3:33 pm   #9
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My spouse was thinking the same thing. What are the queues like during the day?
They can be long on the weekend...weekdays can still be okay.


Quote:
1. I'm thinking that taking The Tube (vice the Express) would be a better bet, when analyzing price and flexibility. Any recommendations on where to get off and start our on-foot journey?
The Tube is definitely your cheapest option - if you PM me your email address, I can send you a list of suggestions that I've sent to friends and family in the past.

Quote:
2. I'm thiking it'd be wise to get an Oyster Card. Do I need to get one for my spouse, or can we share?
You would each need an Oyster Card. Given the short duration of your stay and going between central London (zone 1) and LHR (zone 6) each day, I would just get a Zone 1-6 Travelcard.

Quote:
3. What are the hit shows to see at the moment?
Since you'll only be there a short time, I suggest wandering over several hours at a show.

I have friends who saw Singin' in the Rain this past weekend and really enjoyed it.

You may also want to check out londontown.com.

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Old Mar 29, 12, 12:06 am   #10
  
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Unless there's something you're dying to see (check this out: http://www.officiallondontheatre.co.uk/), I'd suggest playing that by ear. You can wander over to Leicester Square and check out the 1/2 price tickets for the day: http://www.tkts.co.uk/

The first time I was in London I made careful theatre reservations for the second night and the first night I kicked myself when I wandered over and saw the same seats at 1/2 price as well as a bunch of other shows.
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Old Mar 29, 12, 3:22 am   #11
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As time is at a premium, you could skip the London Eye and book yourself a slot in the bar at tower 42, just down from the Andaz. Great views all over London (but not cheap!)
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Old Mar 29, 12, 3:51 am   #12
  
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Originally Posted by stut View Post
As time is at a premium, you could skip the London Eye and book yourself a slot in the bar at tower 42, just down from the Andaz. Great views all over London (but not cheap!)
When I visited as part of Open House London last year, the chap showing us round pointed out that a glass of bubbly at the bar there costs less than a trip on the Eye - and (provided it's not too busy), they don't chuck you out after half an hour.

Of course, they'd probably rather you had a second glass
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Old Mar 29, 12, 11:28 am   #13
  
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But look on the bright side - you've had two glasses of champagne!
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Old May 29, 12, 9:44 pm   #14
  
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I am facing a somewhat similar situation but with different times: Flight lands LHR around 2100 and connection departs LHR the next evening around 2000. Will have luggage that I don't want to carry around while touring, nor do I want to go through several Tube connections with it. First question is should I stay near LHR (and just go into the city the next day) or go to a hotel in the city? And specific, convenient hotel suggestions? Something comparable to a Courtyard Hotel (in the US) would be fine. Does not have to be a chain hotel. A non-smoking room is important, though. Hilton Paddington is showing more than $500 USD for the night I will be there, and that is a bit pricey.

I have been to central London twice before, so I am not trying to do it all in a few hours. Possibly interested in a catching a matinee before my connection.

Thoughts are appreciated.
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