I just wanted to thank everyone for all their help. We just got back from our 2 week trip to Europe, the first 4 days had been London.
We stayed at the Holiday Inn Kensington Forum. I did enjoy it - the hotel is nice, but I'd not encourage getting the executive room unless you are looking for a bigger room. I didn't care about that - I don't even know how much bigger the room is. I booked it because it was our honeymoon and sounded like a more pampering type experience. However, the "free chocolate" ended up being one kit kat bar a day to be shared between the two of us (when they remembered to put one in the minibar), and the free orange juice was one can each, each day from the minibar - same with the mineral water. One small bottle each day. There was one bathrobe for the two of us. So really, the upgrade was a bust - we could have had a dinner out for the extra $45 USD each night, or bought plenty of fine chocolate to take home.
The hotel also had mentioned online that they had free internet - but the business center was closed the first two days we were there, and the charges for the computers were posted. I just went to the internet cafe.
I didn't find the people at the hotel particularly friendly or helpful, but they were okay - kind of like London itself. As far as cities go - we visited several, and Paris probably was overall the friendliest. You have to be really careful about crossing the streets, the drivers are crazy!
The hotel was VERY well situated. I went to both Waitrose and Sainsburys for different things - including chocolates and teas to take home. I wish I'd packed them up at the post office, so I'd have had more room for other souvenirs on the rest of our trip. I would do that next time. The chocolate and tea prices are excellent - and if you do a little shopping for things like bread and peanut butter, chips, snacks...the prices are extremely reasonable and sometimes cheaper than the US.
We didn't stick to our schedule as much as planned - and due to that, Slough was bumped off the list. Though it probably would have been better than the Big Bus Tour. I'd not do that again, it is expensive and we barely went anywhere in the two hours we were on the bus. People who we couldn't pick up because it was too full said were complaining to our driver that they'd waited a half hour for it. My opinion - take that time and WALK. We could have seen SO much more if we'd done that.
I didn't get my morning walks in because we walked - and climbed - so much during the day.
The London Eye was so much higher than I expected - and I do have a fear of heights, and I was terrified! At least I was on the way up - for whatever reason, I do much better going down (including while flying) than I do going up. I was shaking a bit on the way up (and sitting), but after we rounded the top, I walked around a bit.
We really liked Deep Pan Pizza - much better than the pizza at Ask. A number of places had takeaway specials.
The Cabinet War Rooms were well worth the visit. And it was really interesting on our trip - we did that, Omaha Beach in France and then Dachau in Germany....it was like seeing WWII from several sides.
We did the Stonehenge/Portsmouth tour - it was great! There was only a half hour in a town in the New Forest, and a couple of hours at Portsmouth and an hour or so at Stonehenge. It was a lot of riding in the bus - but it was interesting to see the English countryside. Also, the tour guide gave us more information on London going out of the city then I learned on the Big Bus.
The Tower of London definitely needs at least 4 hours. I really enjoyed this!
We took Southern Trains in to get a discount for the Tower (though we didn't end up going the first day we arrived - so we paid full price the day we did go - I forgot about AAA!) Anyway, Southern Trains was fine - it got to the city pretty quickly.
We saw Les Miserables - I got a good deal on higher-up tickets. Next time, I'd pay a higher price for great seats (there are some places that sell run-of-the-house tix - you don't know where you'd sit - at higher prices).
My favorite place that we stumbled upon was St. James Park. We went there twice - I wish we'd been there more. It is a BEAUTIFUL park!
I wore a money belt for the first time ever - it worked really well.
We took the Eurostar going out - it never felt as fast (to me) as it was, I was a bit nervous about that ahead of time. And the time in the tunnel goes really fast.
We went through London Gatwick on the way back from our trip yesterday, and if you get into the international terminal there, they have shops such as Harrods with decent prices. I wish I'd had more time - we decided to go to Garfunkels for breakfast, and had the SLOWEST waiter. Ugh. The breakfast was okay, we spent nearly $30 US dollars for something that would cost half of that here.
If there is one thing I'd do when going back - I'd just walk more and use the tube less (and definitely stay away from the Big Bus!) I learned that lesson and did a lot more walking in Paris - it was wonderful seeing the city.
Oh...we went to the British Museum for an hour and a half or so. We saw the rosetta stone, and some of the ancient area. You can't see the whole museum in a day, but you can go in and see a bit anyway. I don't remember why we left so early, I think my husband was just getting tired. It is a fairly long walk to get to from the tube - and worth whatever time you can give it.
I am looking forward to going back sometime - I'd love to see Phantom there, and see other museums that we missed.