Tips for a London visit

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As I’m a more frequent traveler to London and Dublin these days, and having most recently visited both cities in December ’05-January ’06, I thought I’d pass along some tips and information to my fellow ITN readers. In this letter, I’ll write about London.

After landing at Heathrow Airport, the most inexpensive way to the city is via the underground. If you intend to make more trips on the tube that same day, buy a one-day ticket for zone 6, which gets you into London in about 45 minutes and includes unlimited travel for that day.

Around town, single-trip fares on the tube are now up to £3 (about $5.60), so one may even consider buying a multiday pass. Ask for options at the ticket window.

Traveling from Heathrow, you’ll be on the Piccadilly line, where I would advise getting off at Gloucester Road and my “personal best” accommodation: Astons Apartments (31 Rosary Gardens, London SW7 4NH, U.K.; tel. 011-44-207-590-6000 or, toll-fee from the U.S., 800/525-2810 or visit www. astons-apartments.com). Book well in advance.

Astons is just a short walk from the Gloucester Road tube. To get there, upon exiting the station turn right, and a couple of blocks down on the left side of Gloucester Road you will see The Hereford Arms pub. Directly across from the pub, turn right onto Wetherby Gardens, walk up two blocks and then left onto Rosary Gardens.

Astons features fully equipped rooms each with refrigerator, microwave, tea maker, dishes, cookware and utensils. Yes, you can be self-sufficient; it’s almost like home. A single costs £65 (about $122); a double, £90 ($169); a 3-person apartment, £125, and for four persons, £165.

Astons is quite popular, as one might expect, with an accommodating, helpful staff who will let you check your e-mails upon request.

After checking in, reverse course back to Gloucester Road for a brief tour of this great neighborhood. (All the establishments I mention here are within five minutes’ walk, more or less, from the Gloucester Road tube.)

First, The Hereford Arms has about the best “pub grub” I’ve found plus a bar that’s always crowded and friendly, especially in the evening. Prices are reasonable, ranging from £7.95 ($15) for outstanding fish-and-chips to £12.95 ($24) for an excellent 10-ounce steak platter with all the trimmings.

This place will certainly become your “local,” where you stop in after a long day seeing the sights of London. Tell Mick, the “landlord,” that ITN recommended it and he’ll certainly treat you to a pint of British beer.

Back up the road a block, on the right, is Dino’s for great Italian food. The daily specials run £9.95-£10.95, with à la carte from £13 for pasta. Veal Milanese with pasta is £20.

Directly across the road, on the corner, you’ll see a fairly new restaurant, The Green Door (152 Gloucester Road), which has the look and atmosphere of a typical New York steakhouse. By the looks of the nightly queue waiting to be seated, it’s already a success. If you must wait a bit, don’t fret; Gary, the manager, will buy you a pre-dinner cocktail. (Tell him you read it in ITN.) As with every good, upscale steakhouse, it’s a bit pricey, but it’s well worth the splurge. Prices start at £17.95 for a small filet steak.

Walking toward Gloucester Road tube, two doors up from The Green Door is the neighborhood café. You can’t miss it; just look for the maroon awning with “Coffee Shop” in big letters. It opens early, with students, resident backgammon players and newspaper readers in attendance for coffee along with croissants for just £1.50 and a bacon roll at the same price. Highly recommended.

Walk on to the tube, and inside the station, on the right, you’ll find the local supermarket where you can stock up on groceries and supplies for your apartment at Astons. You’ll feel like a Londoner in no time at all. In short, you have just about everything in this convenient neighborhood.

Now, what if you didn’t book well ahead and Astons is booked for a few days? You might try the Sally Usher B&B (34 Wandsworth Bridge Rd., Chelsea; tel. [011] 44-207-731-2805, mobile 44-79-77-545-843 or e-mail salusher@ virgin.net) in nearby Chelsea. Close to the famed Kings Road for shopping and just a short taxi ride from Astons/Gloucester Road, this is a private, comfortable home with a friendly hostess, Sally herself, and four rooms to rent at just £40-£50 ($75-$94) per night with breakfast.

If you decide to take a trip up north to, say, Manchester or historic Chester, a “Beatles tour” of Liverpool or perhaps a side trip via SeaCat fast ferry to Dublin (about two hours), by all means insist on Virgin Trains (Box 713, Birmingham, B5 4HH, U.K.; phone 0870 789 1234 or visit www.virgintrains.co.uk). It took a while, but Richard Branson, Virgin’s head man, has it right.

The new Pendolino and Voyager trains tilt on curves and maintain a speed of 125 mph, though you can’t tell. They feature ergonomic seats, outlets for computers, earphones for free music and a full range of beverages and hot or cold snacks.

Certainly the equal of France’s high-speed TGV or any train, for that matter, they leave from Euston Station on a frequent schedule. It’s highly advised to look into an advance ticket purchase to save plenty of pounds.

JACK CARROLL
New York, NY

Read Jack’s tips on Dublin next month.

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

As I’m a more frequent traveler to London and Dublin these days, and having most recently visited both cities in December ’05-January ’06, I thought I’d pass along some tips and information to my fellow ITN readers. In this letter, I’ll write about London.

After landing at Heathrow Airport, the most inexpensive way to the city is via the underground. If you intend to make more trips on the tube that same day, buy a one-day ticket for zone 6, which gets you into London in about 45 minutes and includes unlimited travel for that day.

Around town, single-trip fares on the tube are now up to £3 (about $5.60), so one may even consider buying a multiday pass. Ask for options at the ticket window.

Traveling from Heathrow, you’ll be on the Piccadilly line, where I would advise getting off at Gloucester Road and my “personal best” accommodation: Astons Apartments (31 Rosary Gardens, London SW7 4NH, U.K.; tel. 011-44-207-590-6000 or, toll-fee from the U.S., 800/525-2810 or visit www. astons-apartments.com). Book well in advance.

Astons is just a short walk from the Gloucester Road tube. To get there, upon exiting the station turn right, and a couple of blocks down on the left side of Gloucester Road you will see The Hereford Arms pub. Directly across from the pub, turn right onto Wetherby Gardens, walk up two blocks and then left onto Rosary Gardens.

Astons features fully equipped rooms each with refrigerator, microwave, tea maker, dishes, cookware and utensils. Yes, you can be self-sufficient; it’s almost like home. A single costs £65 (about $122); a double, £90 ($169); a 3-person apartment, £125, and for four persons, £165.

Astons is quite popular, as one might expect, with an accommodating, helpful staff who will let you check your e-mails upon request.

After checking in, reverse course back to Gloucester Road for a brief tour of this great neighborhood. (All the establishments I mention here are within five minutes’ walk, more or less, from the Gloucester Road tube.)

First, The Hereford Arms has about the best “pub grub” I’ve found plus a bar that’s always crowded and friendly, especially in the evening. Prices are reasonable, ranging from £7.95 ($15) for outstanding fish-and-chips to £12.95 ($24) for an excellent 10-ounce steak platter with all the trimmings.

This place will certainly become your “local,” where you stop in after a long day seeing the sights of London. Tell Mick, the “landlord,” that ITN recommended it and he’ll certainly treat you to a pint of British beer.

Back up the road a block, on the right, is Dino’s for great Italian food. The daily specials run £9.95-£10.95, with à la carte from £13 for pasta. Veal Milanese with pasta is £20.

Directly across the road, on the corner, you’ll see a fairly new restaurant, The Green Door (152 Gloucester Road), which has the look and atmosphere of a typical New York steakhouse. By the looks of the nightly queue waiting to be seated, it’s already a success. If you must wait a bit, don’t fret; Gary, the manager, will buy you a pre-dinner cocktail. (Tell him you read it in ITN.) As with every good, upscale steakhouse, it’s a bit pricey, but it’s well worth the splurge. Prices start at £17.95 for a small filet steak.

Walking toward Gloucester Road tube, two doors up from The Green Door is the neighborhood café. You can’t miss it; just look for the maroon awning with “Coffee Shop” in big letters. It opens early, with students, resident backgammon players and newspaper readers in attendance for coffee along with croissants for just £1.50 and a bacon roll at the same price. Highly recommended.

Walk on to the tube, and inside the station, on the right, you’ll find the local supermarket where you can stock up on groceries and supplies for your apartment at Astons. You’ll feel like a Londoner in no time at all. In short, you have just about everything in this convenient neighborhood.

Now, what if you didn’t book well ahead and Astons is booked for a few days? You might try the Sally Usher B&B (34 Wandsworth Bridge Rd., Chelsea; tel. [011] 44-207-731-2805, mobile 44-79-77-545-843 or e-mail salusher@ virgin.net) in nearby Chelsea. Close to the famed Kings Road for shopping and just a short taxi ride from Astons/Gloucester Road, this is a private, comfortable home with a friendly hostess, Sally herself, and four rooms to rent at just £40-£50 ($75-$94) per night with breakfast.

If you decide to take a trip up north to, say, Manchester or historic Chester, a “Beatles tour” of Liverpool or perhaps a side trip via SeaCat fast ferry to Dublin (about two hours), by all means insist on Virgin Trains (Box 713, Birmingham, B5 4HH, U.K.; phone 0870 789 1234 or visit www.virgintrains.co.uk). It took a while, but Richard Branson, Virgin’s head man, has it right.

The new Pendolino and Voyager trains tilt on curves and maintain a speed of 125 mph, though you can’t tell. They feature ergonomic seats, outlets for computers, earphones for free music and a full range of beverages and hot or cold snacks.

Certainly the equal of France’s high-speed TGV or any train, for that matter, they leave from Euston Station on a frequent schedule. It’s highly advised to look into an advance ticket purchase to save plenty of pounds.

JACK CARROLL
New York, NY

Read Jack’s tips on Dublin next month.