Eighteen months ago my daughter and I got tickets for Harry Potter and The Cursed Child, The new Harry Potter play that you can only see in London. Nine months ago we experienced a house fire and thought there would be no way we could take the London trip. We pretty much forgot about it. I tried not to think about it because I was sad over not being able to use our awesome tickets. Throughout the last few months I checked airfares and they were always out of our price range. Fast forward to mid February and Travelocity. I have used Travelocity before, but just to book hotels. You can saved hundreds or even thousands by bundling your flight, hotel, and even rental car, booking through sites likes Travelocity. This is how we were able to book our trip at the last minute.
We flew United from Houston to Newark and Newark to London Heathrow. We arrived in London at approximately 8 am ready to see what the city had to offer.
Navigating our way through Heathrow Airport was daunting as it is one of the biggest and busiest airports in the world. Then it took about an hour to get through customs and then take the Heathrow Express into Paddington Station and central London. It immediately became obvious that in booking last minute I had not done enough research on hotel areas. Most London attractions are located in Zones 1 & 2, our hotel in Ilford was located in Zone 4, about fifteen to twenty minutes outside of the city. As luck would have it the trains to Ilford were not running on weekends and it was a Sunday. Rather than face a bus ride with luggage we opted to stay in a Holiday Inn Express in the Shoreditch area. It was perfect and even offered Handy, a phone that you can use and make free international calls during your visit.
After a quick nap we woke up starving and hit up a brick stove pizza place called Homeslice on Old Street. It was absolutely delicious and such an awesome experience. After that we took the Underground to Piccadilly to catch the See London at Night double decker tour. I highly recommend this spectacular 90 minute tour of the city highlights. The sights of London are even more beautiful at night! The bus has a personal tour guide and passes by the Houses of Parliament, the London Eye, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Tower Bridge, Big Ben, Trafalgar Square, Westminster Abbey, and the Tower of London. After the fantastic tour we made our way back to the Holiday Inn Express for the night.
Early the next morning we packed up and made our way to Ilford to check into our new hotel. Ilford is full of very affordable hotels, but is outside of central London and takes a bit of a trek to get back and forth. If you are looking for the absolute best hotel prices in London, Ilford is the place for you. It is still easily accessible by the tube, but is out of the way. If you are looking for a hotel closer to the main attractions then you will need to spend a little more. Our hotel, Hotel Alto, was a nice hotel with excellent customer service. In the future will stay more centrally located.
After checking we made our way to Piccadilly Circus to tour London’s (Times Square). We visited tons of souvenir shops along the way. I had gotten a Groupon for Ripley’s Believe It or Not and we had a lot of fun with that. I also purchased a Groupon before we left for Planet Hollywood. We were very impressed with the selections at Planet Hollywood. We have ate at several of their locations and this was by far my favorite. For twelve pounds each we received an appetizer, entree, and drink. cc
We spent most of the second day seeing the sights we saw the night before in daylight. We shopped and had tea at cat cafe. What is a cat cafe you may ask. It is a cafe that numerous cats call home. You can wonder around and see all the cats, play with the cats, or simply enjoy tea or a snack while watching the felines nap and play. It was a unique and fun experience.
At this point in the evening we were wore out and headed back to our hotel. There are numerous fast food options in Ilford and we opted for chicken and fries. We went to bed to get ready for day three – Warner Brothers Studio Tour – The Making of Harry Potter.