As I set some of my novels in London, it’s great to visit quite often – purely for research purposes, you understand. I’m not just swanning around enjoying myself or anything…
For our most recent trip, we got a room at the Liverpool Street Travelodge, which came in at £79. It turns out it’s OK for 3 adults and one child to share a family room, which worked out well since our eldest is now over sixteen. (Obviously, it was lucky she was still happy to slum it with the rest of us. Four people in one Travelodge room after a family argument is never a good thing…)
The staff were great, looking after our bags since we’d arrived before check-in time, and offering maps and a ready knowledge of local eateries. It was also fantastically central, of course. The downside was the noise. I often find there are people making a racket in the corridors after hours at Travelodges, and I’m guessing they don’t have the security or staff to ensure order. But I’ll take the rough with the smooth when we’re paying under £20 each to stay right in the city.
We decided a boat trip would be a nice way to see the sights and bought a family River Red Rover ticket from City Cruises. This gave us unlimited hop-on, hop-off access for 24 hours from piers at Westminster, Waterloo, Tower Bridge or Greenwich. It worked out at £9 per person, which again seemed like a good deal.
The crew were at pains to point out that the price didn’t include tourist commentary, which they felt was a shame, but, out of the goodness of their hearts, they were prepared to give us their spiel anyway, if we’d like it. We all put up our hands, eagerly. Turned out there was bucket at the end in case any of the hand-raisers wanted to show their appreciation… But I couldn’t really grudge them; the commentary was amusing. (They said they’d use the money in the local hostelries, tirelessly researching more anecdotes for our enjoyment…)
The Prospect of Whitby, was one of the places they waxed lyrical about. Apparently it’s London’s oldest riverside pub, dating back to 1520, and as well as once having been popular with smugglers and thieves, it’s been frequented over the years by everyone from Charles Dickens to Paul Newman.
The other thing we tried was the Emirates Air Line, a cable-car ride over the river, between the Royal Docks and the Greenwich Peninsula. Our one-way ticket was £11.90 for two adults and two teens – again, less than I’d have imagined, given the views we got in return.
So, all in all, a very happy trip. I do love London.