You find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford. -Samuel Johnson
The last time I set foot on London soil was twenty years ago. Then, I was working in the foreign service, and would stopover in London en route to a European city to attend a conference. My last memory of London was attending a Commonwealth training in a castle with other young Commonwealth diplomats and made very good friends with a Jamaican and a Maldivian colleague. Food wise, it was bland, and the most interesting was some sort of stewed rabbit. When I’m on my own, my lunch consisted of a slice of One pound pizza. I looked forward to losing weight after London. Thereafter I did my MBA in France, worked for a company where the HQ is in France, and was never tempted to cross over the pond. France has too much to offer. Paris, as Hemingway described, was a moveable feast.
Why London? Because of the Chelsea flower show. Finally. Received permission to go. A friend who was a member of the Royal Horticultural Society helped buy tickets.
Took the midnight flight and arrived at 7am in London. Thereafter the queue just to past the customs was 45 mins. I got a prayer book out to read and pass the time. By the time I got my bags, I heard a Singaporean voice trying to buy tickets to the Heathrow Express which was going at a off-peak discount of $10. I had meant to get an Oyster card, and take a 45 min train on the Piccadilly line to the Gloucester station where my hotel Citadines South Kensington was situated.
1. Book a hotel (online) on the Piccadilly line.
2. Take a midnight flight, sleep on the plane (resist temptation to watch movies) and arrive fresh.
3. Get an Oyster card (7 days) from either the airport or any major train station. Cost 40 pound but limitless rides on bus and tube. Minus hassle of changing coins. Zone 1 and 2 is sufficient. If you’re in London for 7 days, its totally worth it, as single rides can be very expensive.
4. With the Heathrow Express, it took only 10 min to reach Paddington station. From Paddington station, the taxi ride was another 10 mins.
5. If you’ve big suitcase, a more convenient way is to book a taxi online (airportonly.co.uk). It cost about 40 pound one way. Be sure to tell them how many luggages beforehand or they’ll charge you.
London subway stations do not have lifts all the way as they were built since ancient times.
- I’m pleased with my hotel Citadines South Kensington (Gloucester station). But apparently, not everyone thinks its good. I met a HK lady staying in the same hotel, who told me her previous experiences with Thistle were better. She preferred staying near Bayswater – Chinese food, but was changing to this place for variety.
- A friend who stayed at Eden Plaza, opposite to the Natural History Museum and Victoria and Albert Museum preferred that hotel.
- Another friend stayed at Grand Plaza service apartments near Bayswater tube station. Rooms are old. But its near Roast duck restaurants if you must eat chinese food everyday.