Is a day trip to Paris via Eurostar worth it? Plus, what to do in London for 5 days!
DAY ONE – WHAT TO DO YOUR FIRST DAY OF LONDON WHILE JETLAGGED!
We arrived at Gatwick Airport around 10:45am after a 10 hour overnight flight without an ounce of sleep. Needless to say, we were exhausted.
Before I get into the big trip…
Find out WHAT I ATE IN LONDON by clicking HERE! (includes pictures!)
Still, we didn’t want to waste the day and decided to make the best of our jetlagged state.
We arrived at our hotel at 1PM, about an hour’s train ride from the airport. After grabbing some lunch and checking into the hotel, we hopped on a bus and headed into the heart of London.
As we crossed the massive bridge over the river Thames I caught my first sight of Big Ben and the London Eye and gasp. This was going to be a beautiful trip.
We decided to use our first day to do one museum: The British Museum. This museum, I warn you, is massive and hilariously, we gave up on it after wandering through for about 20 minutes. Sometimes, there is such a thing as too much choice.
We quickly realized the vast city was quickly going to swallow us whole if we didn’t get out bearings, so we decided to find Big Ben on foot and get the lay of the land. This turned out to be an amazing idea since we accidentally saw a ton of essential sights. Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus, Westminster.
Eventually, jetlagged, we decided to go back to the hotel and order room service.
Real party animals, right?
DAY TWO: THE TOWER OF LONDON
We slept in until 10 am (which has never happened in our 5 years together) and then hop on a bus to… Dun, dun, dun! THE TOWER OF LONDON!
We bought tickets in advance on Expedia and saved some money and hassle.
I was overwhelmed by the towers greatness and consumed by the stories I’d read and watched about Anne Boleyn’s execution and the queens who stayed there for better or worse.
Stepping through its towers and viewing the spot where Anne Boleyn and Catharine Howard were buried was chilling.
The husband and I both agreed our Beefeater tour guide was amazing and funny, while still showing respect to undoubtedly sad the existence of this place is. He also posted twitter pictures of our group!
We crossed Tower Bridge and can’t believe it’s now nearing dinner time. The Tower of London can definitely eat up your time so make sure you have the whole day free to devote to it!
This one is a must-see, especially for history buffs.
DAY THREE: HAMPTON COURT, HARRODS, KENSINGTON PALACE
We hopped on the train and were there on an easy-peasy route within an hour.
The town surrounding the castle is amazingly charming. It was easy to see why this was Henry VIII’s favorite residence.
I was endlessly fascinated by being in the same castle Henry VIII stole from Wolsey and redecorated with Anne Boleyn to reflect their “endless love”.
The great hall was awesome and the gardens were simply stunning.
We left the Palace and ended up at Harrods department store. It was dreadful (my husband liked it though!). Busy up to your nose with a layout that could confuse the most well-intentioned architect.
We weren’t expecting to have free time left for the day, but we id1 So we decided to see Kensington palace and had a lovely walk through their gardens (which were specially done up for some kind of Princess Diana anniversary).
DAY FOUR: THE ENGLISH COUNTRYSIDE AND CITY WONDERS TOUR BATH, COTSWOLDS, AND STONEHENGE
This was out big exploration day! We booked an (expensive!) tour with City Wonders. It was about 13+ hours long and cost a WHOPPING $175/pp CAD. We met them at the train station at 7 am and were quickly greeted by cheerful hosts with a City Wonders flag.
ROMAN CITY OF BATH
Getting to the Roman city of Bath took 1 ½ – 2 hours by coach, putting our arrival time around 10 am. We had 2 hours to spend in Bath at our leisure.
Bath is a beautiful city with a breathtaking drive along the English countryside. This was especially appreciated after being in the city for three days straight. The green and yellow rolling hills left nothing to be desired. The city itself was chalk full of amazing architecture.
Our City Wonder tour had two guides, Alex and Rob (who was particularly awesome).
They told us we had 2 hours in Bath to do what we like. Either go check out the Roman Baths in which the city was famous for (33 pounds per person) or go on a walking tour with them. We opted for the baths.
While they were amazing, we definitely wished we went with a tour guide instead!
THE COTSWOLDS: LACOCK
We arrived in Lacock after less than an hour’s drive from Bath. Because of our good timing, we had almost 3 hours to spend in this picturesque village!
This was one of the things I was most excited about and it didn’t disappoint. Thatched houses that looked like a hobbit should burst out of the doors at any second. We went on a small informational walking tour with one of our guides which took us through the whole village! They gave us some very interesting tidbits about the town before letting us explore on our own.
NOTE: The tour said “Bath, Cotswolds (with lunch!) and Stonehenge” as its title. We thought this means that the lunch was included in the gastronomic price. But ta-da… it wasn’t!
After lunch, feeling rejuvenated, we snuck into the Abbey and took pictures. We also got to smell the beautiful spring flowers in blood.
We got back on the bus and drove another hour to…
I had already decided that Stonehenge wasn’t worth our time back in Canada. I’d read all sorts of mixed reviews that seemed to split down the middle going “A MUST-SEE!” to “Meh… they’re just some rocks.”
Yet, as we approached them and our guide Rob began to rattle off statistics, I was enthralled. How did they get there? What’s it all about??
This was my absolute FAVORITE part of the day and I’m so glad we didn’t miss them. The stones were… well, just look at them!
I can’t impress on you how overwhelmingly grand they were. Smaller than I thought (husband said bigger!)
Our tour guide, Rob, really came to life at this point. You could tell he was fascinated. No matter how many times he’d done this tour he was still passionate about the information he was giving. We had 2 hours in Stonehenge, which seemed like a long time but it went by in a flash!
More about City Wonders English Countryside Tour
One of the little extras about this tour that I really appreciated was how helpful the guides were. They offered plenty of suggestions about visiting the rest of London to the tourists and made genuine conversation with the group.
We also drove by Windsor Castle and got a fantastic view of it. They also gave us neat tidbits about the castle and the fire that happened there.
We arrived back in London by around 9ish due to traffic. All in all, this tour was awesome for those who want to see some of England outside of the city!
DAY 5: A DAY TRIP TO PARIS FROM LONDON VIA EUROSTAR!
We were told it couldn’t be done… But we spent one day in Paris via 2-hour-Eurostar-train from London! Here are all our thoughts about spending one day in Paris: READ IT BY CLICKING HERE!
Our stay was at the Best Western London Peckham Hotel. It isn’t fancy, at all.
No free breakfast (not even continental!) and no pool. It did have a large bed, TV, and excellent transportation options. The bus into central London was literally right outside.
Final rating: Don’t stay here. We ignored the Trip Advisor reviews and hoped for the best, this was a mistake. The hotel was so loud. There was no carpeting in the first floor rooms (which also had no windows!) so you could hear every slam of the other guest’s doors. And believe me, they slammed them a lot. We called security twice during our 5-night stay and asked to be moved twice (but the hotel was fully booked).
When checked out they asked how our stay was. My husband (ever polite) said: “Good!” while I interrupted and said “Loud.”
The man’s response? “Well, we had a lot of guests.”
I’m sorry? So do a lot of hotels but I’ve never heard their literal footsteps 24/7. They also charged us for a meal we never had (which they did take off).
Do. Not. Stay. Here!
Overall Thoughts and London Tidbits
- Restaurants/Service: Many, many, many restaurants here do not do table service. This means you usually walk up to the bar and order + pay, and then they bring you your food, never to be seen from again. I believe we went to literally 1 restaurant that had table service.
- Rainy London? There was not a spot of rain our whole trip except when we walked to the train station the day we were leaving. Not. A. Spot! In fact, it was the mid to high 60s most every day and sunny. Score!
- Any regrets? Was there anything I wished we did but didn’t? No! If I could go back I think I would see Windsor castle up close and check out Leeds and the white cliffs of Dover. But all in all, I think we did amazing at seeing the city and getting the most out of England while we were there. I would definitely say that planning is going to be your BEST. FRIEND.