a VirtualTourist member asked on Mar 10, 2013
Please help. Family of two needs to get to the Marriott London County Hall Hotel on 3-31-2013 on a budget. What is the least expensive way to get there with 2 bags of luggage each? Can not afford a private taxi, nor can we afford a rental car. Can you please list detailed instructions, and or details on how to save money to get to our hotel? We would really appreciate your help.
Also if we only have US Dollars currently, how do we get money to pay in the British Pound or Euros? We are new to travelling outside of the United States. We do not have a travel agent. We purchased our plane tickets, and hotel on Priceline.com
Any tips on fish and chip shops near the Marriott London County Hall would be awesome too! We hear that fish and chip shops are a must to visit when in London.
Skye and Terri
Here are the options from getting from Gatwick to London, I've only taken the Gatwick Express which will be the more expensive but faster option. If you take one of the trains or coaches (buses) that go into Victoria Station, you can then catch the tube (subway) to Westminster. From Westminster, you walk across Westminster Bridge to get to the Marriott County Hall (5-10 minutes at most)
Getting British pounds is simple, some people like to get some before they depart the US but I've never had any trouble getting them once I arrive in the UK. I would bring a small amount of US money in case you have to exchange some at the airport, bring your ATM card and withdraw at Gatwick. Your bank may charge you a withdrawal fee, check with them before you go. It's also a good idea to notify them and your credit card company before leaving since they may flag your account for odd activity.
The cheapest way to get from Gatwick with your bags is to take the bus:
and then take the Tube (nearest Tube station to the hotel is Westminster).
Or you could take the train:
and then Tube.
A car in London is a massive hassle and no advantage whatsoever.
To get GBP you can just use the ATMs inside Gatwick or the Travel Exchange booths. Remember to tell your card provider/s that you will be abroad and your travel dates. The rate may be better form an ATM, but you will need to check your card provider's foreign exchange fees.
Fish & chip shops are, in the main and to be honest, much of a muchness and...to be even more honest...the best ones are not found in London. Fish & chips is a UK speciality, not a London-centric one. Proper 'traditional' chips should be cooked in fat, not oil, and I don't think that's done in London.
You might like to explore this listing:
but there are loads of others...hopefully London Vt-ers can advise!
I got the same hotel on Priceline for June, there are a couple of places nearby that I intend on eating. The 1st is the Laughing Halibut for fish and chips, I've eaten there a couple of times before and have enjoyed it
The other is the Regency Cafe for breakfast, it was featured in one of my favorite British movies "Layer Cake" and it's a real working man's diner, order before you sit down and then listen for your order
That'll be a 'caff', Dabs...we don't have 'diners'. :-))
Just noticed...please do not try to pay for anything in the UK with eruo. The euro is not a pan-European currency: it is the legal currency *only* of those countries which have adopted it as their legal currency.
The legal currency of the UK is GBP. Whilst you may, in London, come across places which will accept euro (because of the vast number of visitors from European countries where it is the currency) it really isn't a good idea to use them. The exchange rate you get will inevitably be poor, not least because the seller must cover his/her own exchange costs.
So get GBP, either before you come or when you arrive, and only use GBP whilst you are in the UK.
Sorry, speaking in American, Regency Cafe is what we would call a diner. :-)
Another option to get to your hotel is to take the train from Gatwick to Waterloo, it requires one change of train but then you wouldn't be required to transfer to the tube. The Waterloo and Westminster tube stations are equidistant from the Marriott, it's .1 miles to get from either one. And I think the walk is a little easier from Waterloo as you aren't fighting the Westminster Bridge traffic with luggage. The Gatwick airport website gives an estimate of 35 minutes for the train and 85 minutes for the bus so it's time vs. money. On Southern trains I'm finding a fare of about 12.90£ per person off peak (March 31st is a Sunday and considered off peak) for the train with a time of 44 minutes including the 2nd train from Victoria to Waterloo. I wouldn't prebuy tickets for the train, if your plane is late then the tickets might not be valid
Look at my last response, Victoria is about a mile from your hotel so you will have to take the tube or take the 2nd train to Waterloo. If you look at Marriott's website they have a map and it shows that the hotel is in between Waterloo and Westminster stations.
I would opt for the 2nd train being as it's your 1st time in London, I think that would be much simpler than trying to figure out the tube while carting your luggage around.
There really isn't a benefit to the Gatwick Express, it's more expensive and goes to the same place as the Southern trains. It only cuts 5 minutes off the journey time and you would still have to figure out how to get from Victoria Station to Westminster or Waterloo.
THank you. You answer read my mind. :) We are handicap so walking the Westminister bridge would be dangerous. So the Gatwick to Waterloo option for 12.90 per person is exactly what we need! How do I find the option to purchase it on line. We would stay at the airport for an hour or so to freshen up and eat breakfast. So ticket times 2 hours after we land should be safe for pre-purchase in case the flight is late.
Thanks for the fish and chips tip. Sounds like you know London well.
Thank you doe much for your help and opinions. The are both welcomed, and appreciated.
Westminster Bridge isn't actually 'dangerous'...there are pavements (sidewalks) and pedestrian crossing points with lights. But it can be busy with people, so dragging bags might well be a hassle.
The Nationalrail site gives all trains from Gatwick to London, including the Gatwick Express. Just select 'London (all stations)'. But getting a train to Waterloo, even with a change, will make things easier for you...especially if you have mobility difficulties.
As for buying a 'round-trip' ticket (we call it a 'return') just ask at the ticket office or choose the right selection on the ticket machine.
Thank you very much! So pre- purchasing a any "anytime return" ticket on line for our two dates of travel is best I would assume?
Skye + Terri
If you do take the train, ask when you purchase if there is a savings for purchasing a return ticket. I don't see that option available on Southern's website for Gatwick-Waterloo, and it appears that the price is the same whether you pre purchase or walk up and buy the fare. There is a prepurchase £5 fare for Gatwick-Victoria but you have to pick a specific train. I don't like that option because then you either wait or miss it and lose the price of a ticket. No way of telling how long customs will be or if your flight arrives on time.
If you are considering some day trips, some trains from London have a significant savings by pre buying, ie London-Bath, but some have no difference, ie London-Windsor or London-Hampton Court
I'd agree with Dabs...there's no real point in buying a return ticket unless it saves you some money. If it doesn't, it's just another bit of paper to worry about keeping safe.The anytime return is 29GBP for Gatwick>Waterloo, which will save you absolutely nothing at all. Two singles (one-way) total 29GBP.
I too would be very wary of buying a ticket online in advance, even at a good saving. There is no telling what inbound delays you may encounter.
So it's up to you whether you buy return tickets to start with or simply buy a one-way ticket at the start of each journey.
Westminster Bridge isn't dangerous, but when we crossed it with luggage it was a bit of a hassle. Guys running shell games, tourists taking photos, no one looking where they are going.
Wait until you get to Gatwick, look for the Southern trains and buy your ticket from an agent. Tell them you are returning on April 9th and they should issue you a round trip ticket, saves you from having to stand in line again on your return.
If you are handicapped you might find this section of Transport for London's website of use, it tells which of the station are step free
Makes complete sense. You are a very educated traveller. I forgot about going through customs. I am on Southern Trains site now. I think its best to purchase round trip tickets as a walk up like you suggested. It could save a lot of time, and headache, and stress. Without you we would not have been able to find decent prices to get to the hotel and back. Thank you so much. We will let you know what we think of the Marriott County Hall when we get back since you are staying the same place. We got 8 nights for $897 on priceline.
Do you know if WI-FI service on our cell phones will work while we are there? We have AT&T Samsung Galaxy Note II phones.
Skye + Terri
Unless your cell phone is one of those which works in Europe it won't work at all (does that make sense?). I'll leave it to Dabs to cover the options if it will work (something to do with tri- and quad- bands) as, obviously, I have no experience that way round.
What I do know is that I had to buy another phone when I went to the US because my own does not work there (bands....). If that's the case with you, there are plenty of phone shops selling cheap pay-as-you-go phones (in supermarkets too) if you need an emergency phone whilst you are here. But those with wifi access won't be cheap, nor will the pay-as-you-go element be cheap.
I would be amazed if the Marriott did not have at least one computer for guest use, so maybe doing without wifi won't be a major issue?
There is no need to buy your train tickets online in advance and, in this case, no point either. Unlike Amtrak, fares do not rise as departure date nears or demand increases, and UK trains cannot get so full-up that no-one else can board. Just buy them at the airport once you've got yourselves landside and together.
Just a thought - it won't be as cheap as changing trains or taking the Tube, but if you are new to visiting London and will be carrying 2 bags each (and have mobility problems?) , it might be simpler and more convenient to take a taxi from Victoria to your hotel.
I have an iphone with service from AT&T and what I do is put it on airplane mode and turn off data roaming, that way I do not get charged for international roaming fees. I am going to guess that Marriott does not have free wifi as most of the more expensive hotels do not but ask when you check in. Booking.com says they allow guests 1 hour free wifi in the lobby with charges if you want to use it in your room.
Since I'm staying there as well I'll see if I can find some other spots, someone said that some of the train stations have it, perhaps Waterloo does
Awesome! You two are awesome. Thank you both so much for the advise. If we have anymore questions before our trip we will ask you both. Your help and opinions are appreciated!
Glad we could help...do feel free to ask anything else! :-)
Sally might have a point about the taxi, I wasn't really thinking about it from your perspective. The transfer between lines is at London Bridge station and the 44 minute time I was giving you involves a 11 minute change of train. That would be very easy for me, even with luggage, but for someone on their 1st trip with mobility issues it might be easier just to go to Victoria and take a taxi for the last mile. BTW you don't change trains at Victoria, the quicker option changes trains at London Bridge, the slower at Clapham Junction. Maybe a local Londoner can tell you which is the more efficient transfer. Or you could try finding an email for Southern trains and see what they would suggest.
Of course with an open ticket if you miss the 10 minute connection there will be another train along after that you can get on. Maybe you can see how you feel when you land, if you've never flown overseas jetlag can be a real energy sapper
Hi [VT member 411f2],
Great idea. We appreciate it. We are meeting friends there. They may log in and ask for help. They are coming from Heathrow airport.
Awesome makes complete sense, the Marriott has WI-FI available but the rates were way too have per day. We are budget travelers :)
Your friendshave already posted, and we've already replied to them! :-))
The regency cafe looks like a winner for breakfast! We will definitely be eating there for breakfast! How far is the Laughing Cafe for fish and chips from the hotel?
The 'Laughing Halibut' is about 20 mins walk from the hotel (maybe more, depending on how long it takes you to cross the road). The Tube won't help but buses 148,. 507, 211 (maybe others) stop near the hotel and near(ish) to the L Halibut.
You can check bus routes on the map here:
The link I gave you for the Laughing Halibut has a map under transport options it says Westminster is .49 miles. You could also take the tube to St. James' Park but by the time you go in and out of tube stations you'll probably walk the same distance. Maybe the hotel can give you a bus route if a 1/2 mile is too far to walk.
Another place I like for fish and chips is up near Bond Street, if you are shopping on Oxford Street or stop by the Wallace Collection you'll be close by. That one is the Golden Hind, that's more for sit and eat, I've only carried out from the Laughing Halibut although I think they have some seating.
BTW if you like the Guy Ritchie style of films (Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch, Rock N Rolla), watch "Layer Cake" before you go to the Regency Cafe, there's a scene where Daniel Craig is sitting at a table in the front window :-)
Cool. Thank you very much!