London, the Capital City of Great Britain is famed for its landmarks. From Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, The Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, to the London Eye; there is so much to do that when we planned our weekend away it was difficult to choose where to go first.
We arrived at Kings Cross station at midday by train. We had booked with Virgin East Coast Trains and travelled in First Class. Amazingly, when we had booked our train tickets a few weeks prior it was cheaper to travel First Class than in Coach.
With First Class you have access to Virgin’s First-cClass Lounge. This includes free tea, coffee or a soft drink if you prefer, and an assortment of snack and sandwiches at no extra cost. The same service was offered on the coach travelling down and is a huge benefit to you bank balance. The seats are bigger and recline making it a more comfortable journey.
After arriving at Kings Cross we headed to our hotel, The Conrad St James. We used the tube from St Pancras International Station which is positioned next door to Kings Cross. Using the Victoria Line, we transferred at Victoria onto the District Line to St. James’s Park. The whole journey took around 20 minutes and we arrived almost outside our Hotel.
We checked in but was unable to enter our room until 3.00pm. This is usual for most Hotels in London as most now have a later check-out time. We were however, able to leave our bags with the Concierge whilst we explored the City. They were waiting for us when we returned.
The Conrad St James is a beautiful 5-star Hotel. The staff were exceptional, and they managed to resolve any issues quickly and efficiently. This included our very own. After accidently sending us to the wrong room we were given a free bottle of wine and some treats as an apology. One wasn’t needed but the apology was much appreciated.
The room was exceptional, and the beds were delightfully soft. There were all the usual additions that you would expect, though the coffee machine was an excellent touch. We also had the option of a newspaper delivered in the morning to room service and a mini bar. The overall cost for two adults in a deluxe twin room was £544.18.
The location of the hotel was brilliant as it was within walking distance of many of the more popular attractions and locations in London. We were metres from Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament.
After settling into our room, we decided to visit The Hard Rock Café for dinner. This is a restaurant displaying famous artefacts from a collection of the most celebrated musicians. It was a fantastic place to eat and visit and positioned within close proximity to Buckingham Palace and the West End. It is worth noting that the Café is extremely popular and reserving a table before arrival is highly suggested. We booked our table in the morning and managed to get a table with ease. You can either ring the restaurant or book online. We chose online as it was quicker.
The food is glorious, serving mainly burgers and other meat delicacies as well as ice-cream for dessert, it is a quintessential American diner mixed with a rock ‘n’ roll experience. We ordered two classic burgers with fries and a Pepsi which came to £16.35.
Our 2nd day began with a visit to Westminster Abbey. We had booked our tickets in advance the night before. They cost £20.00 each for an adult admission. The abbey was incredibly busy, and we queued for around 40 minutes just to have bags checked. Because we had pre-booked our tickets we were able to skip the other queue for purchasing entry on the day and got straight into the Abbey. Westminster is open Monday to Friday, 9.30-15.30, Saturday 9.00-15.00. It is closed on Sunday as it is a service day.
The Abbey is a must see if you decide to visit London and with the new Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries you’ll experience an added treat. With the graves of some the most respected and known Kings and Queens, Philosophers, Scientists, Poets and Authors you can’t help but feel you’re walking through history. The new exhibition, at an added cost of £5.00 enhances this experience. With the added look at what was voted Europe’s greatest view, it is a £5.00 worth spending.
Afterwards we visited the Houses of Parliament. Costing £20.50, a same day ticket for the audio tour, it was brilliant. The tour includes both the House of Lords and House of Commons and the Central Lobby, though it is worth noting that photography is not permitted in these parts of the tour.
We ended our 2nd day by dining at a small pub next to Buckingham Palace, ‘Bag ‘O’ Nails’. Serving traditional British pub food, it was scrumptious and didn’t cost too much.
Our final day was spent at Tower Bridge, though not before catching The Changing of the Guard, which is well worth experiencing.
We travelled by the tube from St James’s Park Station to Tower Hill by the Direct Line for the Bridge. This took around 20 minutes and the station is placed next to the Tower of London. It is a 5-minute walk to the Bridge and entry costs £9.80, this includes the latest addition, the Engine Room.
Reaching the top promenades by lift, both have glass floors revealing the traffic and Thames below. It is a brilliant, if not nerve-wracking experience. The engine room, which is positioned beneath the bridge is very interesting, seeing first hand how the lowering and raising of the bridge works. This doesn’t cost any extra and you can choose whether you want to see the engines or not. We would suggest doing so and it adds a different perspective to this feat in Victorian engineering.
Afterwards, we visited the Banqueting House. It consists of one large room, the only surviving part of the original Whitehall Palace and the under croft. Costing £8.20 for one adult entry it is a quick visit, but one worth seeing and being positioned opposite Horse Guards Parade it is within walking distance to Buckingham Palace and St James’s Park.
For lite bites the café in St James’s Park is the place to eat. Looking out over the lake and serving hot or cold food its idyllic of London City life.
We returned to Kings Cross Station by the Thames Line from Blackfriars Station which took around 15 minutes. It was free on Sunday and trains run frequently. We used the Virgin First Class Lounge, which led directly to the platforms and boarded our train back home.
Having visited London many times throughout the years it felt refreshing this time around. The City was buzzing with life and the speed, which sometimes can be quick didn’t feel so. If London is a place you’re wishing to visit, then the places suggested above are a must-do. The Conrad St James is also the place to stay and I wouldn’t recommend anywhere else. So, get yourself down to London and experience the city dubbed the Capital of the World!