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January 24, 2012 4:19 PM   Subscribe

We want to go to London in somewhere else? And some more specific questions.

My boyfriend and I are planning a trip to London in late March. Is there anything we shouldn't miss happening around March 17-22?

Where should we stay? We want to be near Russell Square (he lived there ten years ago and misses it, so that's fairly non-negotiable). After going through the question history we're pretty sure we like the Ridgemount, but a lot of folks recommend the Imperial Hotels in the area. Is any one better than the others?

The plan right now is spend a few days in London and then spend a few days somewhere else before heading back home. Where should we go? We'd prefer somewhere not as pricey as London, within 3 hours by train or plane (we don't drive, so that's out), and has things of interest to late 20s/early 30s types. So it's basically open-ended! Where have you spent a great day or two in Europe?

posted by troika to Travel & Transportation around London, England (14 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
For Europe, I would get on the Eurostar and go to Paris. Easy-peasy. Score a cheapish 2*/3* hotel, live off baguettes and cheese and cold cuts and coffee, get a Metro pass, you're set.

In the UK, you could also take a day trip to Brighton on the south coast. About an hour by train.
posted by carter at 4:24 PM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

Paris, definitely. The Eurostar offers quick, easy, and remarkably pain-free international travel—and there are still £69 return tickets available for March. Two and a quarter hours on the train and you're straight away tucking into the tastiest duck confit and sauteed potatoes you ever had.
posted by hot soup girl at 4:38 PM on January 24, 2012

I stayed at the Imperial Tavistock and I found it to be solidly fine.
posted by Duffington at 4:41 PM on January 24, 2012

You could get to Souhhampton and then take the ferry/catamaran to the Isle of Wight in around 3/3.5 hours.

Check out Cowes, Osbourne House, Carisbrook Castle and scenic rambling/cycling.
posted by devymetal at 4:44 PM on January 24, 2012

I think the train to Southhampton is out of Paddington, btw.
posted by devymetal at 4:46 PM on January 24, 2012

What are you into?

I had a great time in and around Chichester, but for very specific and incredibly geeky reasons that may line up with nothing you'd care about (in fact, I'm pretty sure that's the safe way to bet).
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 5:21 PM on January 24, 2012

Here's a general Brighton link. I lived there for a few years, it's a pretty cool place. A big advantage is that it's accessible from London mainline stations, and there is a frequent service (it's actually a commuter route).
posted by carter at 5:55 PM on January 24, 2012

Brighton is fun. So is Manchester if you are into that kind of scene (a bit grungy/industrial and a big music scene). I think you could maybe get there by train in 3 hours? Otherwise: fly to Edinburgh, if you've never been. It is sooo beautiful.

As for prices: Manchester is a little cheaper, Edinburgh about the same, Brighton about the same. Downside with flying is that it can be time-consuming and expensive to get to the airport, depending on your savvy with buses/trains.

Stratford-Upon-Avon is accessible by bus and you can see Shakespearean plays and sweet villages, but prob better with a car.

I would personally not go to Paris if you only have a few days-- in fact I would avoid flying anywhere. The time that you will lose with trips to and from the airport will detract from the pleasure of the experience in such a short time, imho. Of course, if this is your only opportunity you may little to be more whistle-stop about it.

On the other hand, if I had to pick one for sheer worth-it-ness, I'd do Edinburgh. So so beautiful.
posted by jojobobo at 6:01 PM on January 24, 2012

Addendum: true that the EuroStar would help if you can get cheap tickets. I have never been able to.
posted by jojobobo at 6:03 PM on January 24, 2012

Response by poster: Ahh these are great suggestions! Thank you! We were initially thinking Brussels but after some consideration decided to open it up, there's nothing tying us to any particular location. I personally would looooove to take the Chunnel.

Kid Charlemagne: If it helps, here are our "musts" for London: the Darwin Centre, the British Library, the spice shop on Portobello Rd, an afternoon around his old stomping grounds and the BFI if there's something cool on.
posted by troika at 6:18 PM on January 24, 2012

Hmm, you could also fly to Istanbul, though the flight is around 3.5 hours so a little over your time limit.
posted by lulu68 at 7:42 PM on January 24, 2012

Brussels is great, much more laid-back than Paris. I got an excellent price for a 4* hotel there via Priceline.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 12:20 AM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

We were initially thinking Brussels but after some consideration decided to open it up

The same Eurostar trains will take you to Paris instead of Brussels. So do that, if thats what you're interested in.

I just moved out of Russell square after living there for three years, so I know the area really well. Great place to stay in central London - walkable to pretty much everything.

This includes nearby St. Pancras station which is the Eurostar terminal. There is something exciting about just hopping on a train and being in the center of Paris or Brussels in about 2 1/2 hours. Buy your tickets as soon as possible. Now, actually. The prices start going up rapidly closer to your travel date.

I've put family up at the Imperial and it is what I'd describe as a good value large hotel. The Ridgemount is more of a smaller Georgian B&B type place along the very busy Gower st. Looks basic as well. Most of the Georgian townhouse hotels will have smaller rooms of course and the buildings are older, which is both a plus and a minus. Anyways, the ones on Gower st. are more budget focused while the ones on Bedford Place are a bit more upscale with prices to match.
posted by vacapinta at 1:22 AM on January 25, 2012

I would go to one of three places, based largely on how many days you want to spend in London.

Paris is of course great, but I don't think I'd do it for 'a day or two'. Maybe two; My first trip there was 48 hours, and it was almost enough, but I walk like a maniac on my trips. If you take it any slower, even with two days you'll miss some really great stuff. If it can be three days, I'd do it.

For one or two days, I'd probably try to sell you on Brussels with a day trip to Bruges, which is I think 45 minutes away by train. Maybe five hours Bruges (they have Jesus's blood!), the rest of the time in and around Grand Place in Brussels. I could sit there for hours and hours. If you end up doing this, I'd like to recommend eating at this place.

The alternative to either of these would be Amsterdam. Very short and cheap flight from London, and truly perfect for two or three days. I'd probably do this, and save Paris for a longer trip (we did ours three days Paris, a fourth in Brussels and Bruges), but that's just me.
posted by troywestfield at 6:25 AM on January 25, 2012

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