Planning a Fabulous Weekend in London
I arrived at St. Pancras Train Station in London from Paris after a two hour ride on the Eurostar. With only two days to spare in London, I wanted to see as much as possible. After settling quickly at the close by Russell Hotel, I made my way, via cab to the London Eye.
The Eye (as the locals call it) is a giant ferris wheel looming over the Thames near Waterloo Station. A flight on the Eye lasts about 30 minutes, taking you to a height of 135 metres for a 40km panoramic view, on a clear day, offering stunning views of London and its famous landmarks. The difficult choice is whether to visit during the day when landmarks are most visible, or after dark for a truly spectacular vista of London's lights. The London Eye, River Cruise and its facilities are all accessible for guests with special needs. (£13.95 adult and £6.95 child). For group rates E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.londoneye.com.
After this quick preview of London’s spectacular historic landmarks from the Eye, I was anxious to take a more in-depth ride on The Original Tour bus scheduled for the next morning.
Although the tube is an inexpensive and easy mode of transportation (daily pass for about $16) I opted for a cab ride to enjoy London on my way to Trafalgar Square where one can catch all six (color coded) Original Tour bus routes, as well as their three guided walking tours.
The Original Tour bus is “brilliant”–a marvel of organization–and a superb way to visit the best of London at your leisure on an open-top bus. They also offer speciality tours and cruises, plus attraction tickets through their box office.
The (24 hour) daily pass can be booked in advance online or purchased on the street for about $4 more per person. With your ticket in hand, you can hop on and off all routes as often as you wish, including a free Thames River cruise that you can also take at your leisure, as well as the free walking tours and free Kids Club.
Walk in the foot steps of Jack the Ripper through notorious Whitechapel or chill out on the Cool Britannia walk (music, movies, fashion, food) or take in a bit of tradition at the Changing of the Guard with English commentary. You can stop at the Sherlock Holmes Pub for a tasty meal or schedule your afternoon tea break at the Café in the Crypt.
I enjoyed the sights while learning from the excellent commentaries in many languages (red route) and a live, entertaining guide (yellow route). Plus, the Museum route included a stop at Russell Square which I used to get back to my hotel.
Whether you’re visiting London for the first time or not, and truly want to experience this legendary city, both the London Eye and The Original Tour bus offer an unforgettable experience. E-mail email@example.com or visit www.theoriginaltour.com
Visit www.visitbritain.com and www.visitlondon.com.
June 2008 feature
Top Hotels Make Britain, A “Brit” Easier to Sell
Travel agents can assure UK-bound clients that Britain isn’t as expensive as they might think. Some of London's top luxury hotels are offering commissionable dollar prices to US travel agents, and 2008 is the perfect time to head to London and Britain. Agents might call 800-462-2748, or download from www.visitbritain.com/trade
The five-star Athenaeum Hotel and Apartments (www.athenaeumhotel.com) in London is offering dollar rates for American travelers in 2008, beginning at $350 for an executive guestroom with a four-night stay. The current pound sterling rate for that room category is £350, so the saving represents a pound for dollar rate.
Call 800-335-3300 or use GDS code YX.
Red Carnation Hotels (www.redcarnationhotels.com), a group of six luxury boutique hotels in London, is offering guaranteed dollar rates for your clients through January 31, 2009. The dollar rate is set at $1.80 to one British Pound, and includes complimentary continental breakfast and tax (VAT at 17.5%). Agents can book through their GDS or through each hotel, requesting the guaranteed rates. For example, during low season (July 28 through September 4, 2008; and December 15, 2008 through January 31, 2009), the dollar rate is $296 a night at the group's four-star The Rubens hotel which overlooks Buckingham Palace's Royal Mews; while the rate at the five-star
The Milestone hotel opposite Kensington Palace is $497.
The Royal Garden Hotel (www.royalgardenhotel.co.uk), a five-star property in London's Kensington neighborhood, is offering a 'Guaranteed Dollar Rate' with a Superior Room costing $450 including taxes and continental breakfast. Family rooms, which comfortably sleep two adults and two children, are $700. Valid through the end of 2008 and is commissionable at 10% by contacting hotel reservations.
The Cadogan (www.cadogan.com), a luxury hotel in London's Knightsbridge neighborhood, is offering dollar rates starting at $399 per night for a double room inclusive of tax and continental breakfast for two, through 2008. That rate is a $294.25 saving on the rack rate, and is commissionable at 10% for travel agents; when they contact the hotel directly.
Chewton Glen country house hotel in England and The Stafford in London are offering a “Bright Lights and Country Sights” package from $2,043 per person double through 2008. The package includes two nights each in a Bronze Room at Chewton Glen midweek and at The Stafford in a King Room over a weekend, and a one-way chauffer transfer between the two properties, continental breakfast daily, three-course dinner one evening at The Stafford with a half bottle of wine per person, three course dinner both evenings at Chewton Glen, and one afternoon tea per person per stay at Chewton Glen. Tax (VAT at 17.5%) and service charge included. Visit www.chewtonglen.com; www.thesttaffordhotel.co.uk.
Fosse Manor Hotel, located in England's Cotswolds region, is offering a "Mid-week garden lover's break" from £124 per room per night for bookings of two or three nights. The offer is available for bookings through September 30, 2008, and includes: accommodations with breakfast, entry tickets to two nearby gardens – Batsford Arboretum and Snowshill Manor, three-course dinner in the hotel restaurant on one night of the stay. Visit www.fossemanor.co.uk
The Draycott Hotel, a luxury townhouse in London, is offering guaranteed dollar rates through the end of 2008. A double room starts at $421 per night including tax. The hotel offers guests complimentary tea with homemade cookies at 4pm each day, champagne at 6 pm, and hot chocolate at 10pm in the drawing room. Visit www.draycotthotel.com
The Leonard Hotel & Apartments – an independent Eighteenth Century townhouse hotel in London – is offering a three-night dollar rate package valid in August. A deluxe room costs $1,469 for the package, which includes car transfers to and from London Heathrow Airport, continental breakfast or afternoon tea on the day of arrival, English breakfast daily, VAT (taxes); during high season the rate is $1,574. Visit www.theleonard.com
Cotswold House located in the English Cotswolds, is offering a 20% fixed dollar rate saving on a two-night stay. The package starts at $850 for a double room and includes two nights accommodation, full English breakfast and tax, valid for stays from Sunday – Thursday until Dec. 31, 2008. Visit www.cotswoldhouse.com
Eleven Cadogan Gardens – a luxury townhouse hotel in London – is offering a 20% fixed dollar rate saving on room rates. The package starts at $405 a night and includes full English breakfast and tax, valid for stays from Friday – Sunday, subject to availability. www.number-eleven.co.uk
Premier Inn is one of Britain’s leading budget hotel brands, with room prices starting from £48 a night. With 480 hotels across the country, Premier Travel Inn also has some of the best locations in London including London County Hall beside the River Thames with rooms from £99 a night. The brand offers a ‘Good Night Guarantee’ whereby they guarantee guests a clean, comfortable room and friendly and efficient service – if they don’t live up to their promise, they will refund your money. www.premierinn.com
VisitBritain offers "The Essential London Kit" at just $119, which contains a three-day London Travel Card (Peak, Zones 1-2), one London Eye ticket, one Tower of London ticket and one Original London Sightseeing bus tour ticket, which also includes a Thames river cruise and two walking tours. "The Essential London Kit" can be purchased online.
VisitBritain offers the Great British Heritage Pass providing American visitors with unlimited entry to around 600 stately homes, castles and properties in England, Scotland and Wales. A four-day pass costs $60; seven-day $88; 15-day $99; and 30-day $117. (Can be purchased online.)
Visitor Oyster Cards are the new money-saving answer for travelers using London's buses and subway. The smart card guarantees that travelers will never pay more than the equivalent day TravelCard price. They can be purchased through VisitBritain.
VisitBritain has joined forces with American Airlines for a new promotion to help boost visits from the United States to London and the rest of Britain. Some 630,000 American Airlines and VisitBritain customers will be offered the chance to take advantage of a series of special offers on travel in and around London as well as attractions and train travel to other parts of Britain. Visit www.visitbritain.com
April 2008 Issue
The city of Liverpool in England is wearing the European Capital of Culture crown this year, and 2007 marked the city’s 800th anniversary. The next two years of special events, festivals, new hotel openings and other tourism developments make Liverpool a "must-visit" destination for Americans.
With a $38 million cruise liner terminal just opened, and a $290 million arena and convention center that debuted in January, Liverpool is awash with new developments. The Hard Days’ Night hotel just swung its doors open, and the famous Beatles Story exhibition is doubled in size this year. Sir Paul McCartney will return to his native city to headline ‘The Liverpool Sound’ concert at Anfield Stadium on June 1, 2008. The Liverpool Culture Company and major cultural institutions will present the series with artists, performers at venues throughout Liverpool, Merseyside, and beyond. Tickets, visit www.liverpool08.com.
Building on Liverpool’s reputation for excellence in the visual art world, the year will include a city-wide public art program commissioned by the Liverpool Culture Company in association with Liverpool Biennial. For more than 12 months, public art will animate parks, plazas, pavilions and transport. Impossible to miss, this will work in tandem with a program of local and international street theater. Pavilions are at the forefront of the public interventions program, reflecting Liverpool’s cultural life and its varied communities, including the city center’s surrounding neighborhoods. Three specially commissioned and spectacular pavilions are planned, launching between March and May 2008.
Artichoke is planning a magical new show, created specially for Liverpool 2008, commissioned by the Liverpool Culture Company. Will You Find It? will take place across Liverpool between September 26 – 28, 2008. It will be a large scale, unforgettable piece of live theater, played out against city landmarks. Register for updates on www.willyoufindit.co.uk.
Visit www.visitliverpool.comor www.visitbritain.us