Base outside London (insider’s tips)

This item appears on page 12 of the January 2011 issue.
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A suggestion for those of you coming to London for a repeat visit — why not stay just outside of central London (viz., outside of the West End), where there is good train service into the city centre?

Staying outside of the shopping and entertainment areas (Westminster, Kensington, Chelsea, etc.), you are much more likely to meet local people if you head back there from central London for dinner or even spend some time in your chosen location. As locals, my wife, Vivien, and I always seem to be in the minority when we go “up west” within London, where it’s mostly visitors.

We live in Wimbledon (about eight miles out but still part of greater London), with eight trains an hour making the 16-minute journey into Waterloo in central London — but, though we have quite a lot to offer here, I would recommend going another three miles west and staying in Kingston-on-Thames, where you’ll find at least four trains an hour into the city, a 25-minute ride away.

As indicated by the name, this is a riverside town, one with excellent shopping, a great variety of eating places, a multiplex cinema, a good theatre, markets and good public transport links. If you rent a car from Kingston, you can get out and about with far less trouble than from central London. The M25 freeway, which rings London, is close by.

There is a variety of accommodation in the area, including motel chains that offer great value if you only want a base from which to go out and at which to rest your weary head at the end of the day.

Of course, there are many similar towns around the outskirts of London. I just happen to frequent Kingston and enjoy what it has to offer.

For travel into and around London there are inexpensive Travel Cards and Oyster Cards (personally, I recommend the former). For full details and a journey planner, visit www.tfl.gov.uk.

A one-day Travel Card for six zones (covering greater London) costs about £8 (near $13) and gives unlimited travel on all forms of public transport, including Underground, buses, trams and DLR (Dockland Light Railway — driverless trains!). A seven-day Travel Card for six zones costs around £48 ($77). Fewer zones means cheaper fares. These are off-peak prices, where your journey starts after 9:30 a.m. (rush hour).

If you travel by train (overground) or even simply buy your Travel Card from a railway station, you can take advantage of the two-for-one offer for admission to most of London’s attractions. This deal is sponsored by our rail network, so your travel ticket must bear their logo; beware of buying in advance or from another source.

The necessary vouchers can be obtained online, but it is better to pick up two-for-one guidebooks at a railway station, as these give vouchers for completion and indicate the attractions covered and the prices to be paid. (This can be a big saving; an attraction such as Madame Tussauds usually costs around £28 per person.) Go to www.daysoutguide.co.uk for information.

Both of the websites given above are very informative but may seem quite difficult at first. Should you need help with these (or any other advice), just write to me or, from the US, phone 011 44 20 8946 8651. (I can call you back at no cost to myself.)

PAT ERRICKER

West Wimbledon, London, U.K.

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

A suggestion for those of you coming to London for a repeat visit — why not stay just outside of central London (viz., outside of the West End), where there is good train service into the city centre?

Staying outside of the shopping and entertainment areas (Westminster, Kensington, Chelsea, etc.), you are much more likely to meet local people if you head back there from central London for dinner or even spend some time in your chosen location. As locals, my wife, Vivien, and I always seem to be in the minority when we go “up west” within London, where it’s mostly visitors.

We live in Wimbledon (about eight miles out but still part of greater London), with eight trains an hour making the 16-minute journey into Waterloo in central London — but, though we have quite a lot to offer here, I would recommend going another three miles west and staying in Kingston-on-Thames, where you’ll find at least four trains an hour into the city, a 25-minute ride away.

As indicated by the name, this is a riverside town, one with excellent shopping, a great variety of eating places, a multiplex cinema, a good theatre, markets and good public transport links. If you rent a car from Kingston, you can get out and about with far less trouble than from central London. The M25 freeway, which rings London, is close by.

There is a variety of accommodation in the area, including motel chains that offer great value if you only want a base from which to go out and at which to rest your weary head at the end of the day.

Of course, there are many similar towns around the outskirts of London. I just happen to frequent Kingston and enjoy what it has to offer.

For travel into and around London there are inexpensive Travel Cards and Oyster Cards (personally, I recommend the former). For full details and a journey planner, visit www.tfl.gov.uk.

A one-day Travel Card for six zones (covering greater London) costs about £8 (near $13) and gives unlimited travel on all forms of public transport, including Underground, buses, trams and DLR (Dockland Light Railway — driverless trains!). A seven-day Travel Card for six zones costs around £48 ($77). Fewer zones means cheaper fares. These are off-peak prices, where your journey starts after 9:30 a.m. (rush hour).

If you travel by train (overground) or even simply buy your Travel Card from a railway station, you can take advantage of the two-for-one offer for admission to most of London’s attractions. This deal is sponsored by our rail network, so your travel ticket must bear their logo; beware of buying in advance or from another source.

The necessary vouchers can be obtained online, but it is better to pick up two-for-one guidebooks at a railway station, as these give vouchers for completion and indicate the attractions covered and the prices to be paid. (This can be a big saving; an attraction such as Madame Tussauds usually costs around £28 per person.) Go to www.daysoutguide.co.uk for information.

Both of the websites given above are very informative but may seem quite difficult at first. Should you need help with these (or any other advice), just write to me or, from the US, phone 011 44 20 8946 8651. (I can call you back at no cost to myself.)

PAT ERRICKER

West Wimbledon, London, U.K.