Join David Hobby for an in-depth discussion in this video Getting there and knowing where to stay, part of The Traveling Photographer: London.
- Logistically speaking, going to London is very similar to going to Paris, which we covered in detail in our last episode. Just remember this: get to sleep as early as you can on the plane, drink a lot of water, and make sure you stay up late the next day, and you'll be jetlagged pretty quickly this way. Once you arrive in Heathrow, you have about four options to get in to town. The subway probably makes the most sense, at $8.40 and about an hour in to town from the airport. If you're pressed for time and you're by yourself, you may want to splurge and take the Paddington Express train, which will get you in to town in about 15 minutes for about $35.
Back to the subway: it's fantastic in London. In fact, you can get an all-you-can-eat Oyster card for one week of unlimited rides at about $50, and you definitely wanna do that. You'll be using the subway a lot, and your Oyster card will also get you on to the buses, which complement the subway. If the subway is running east and west, for instance, the buses are probably running north and south in that same area of time, so you'll do yourself a lot of good by just learning the one or two bus routes that you need to complement the subway from your location.
A private car may make sense if you have three or more people in your group. It's about $60 and up depending on where you're going in town, but if you're splitting that over three or more people, it can get economical pretty quickly. A taxi is the worst option. They're about $150. Avoid that one. So, where to stay in London? Here's the bad news: everything is gonna be expensive. Even if you're looking for a single bed with a shared bathroom in not the best part of town, you're still gonna be looking at 100 bucks, and a typical, very basic hotel room is gonna be north of 200 bucks.
If you're staying with a family, expect to get completely hosed. So, I strongly recommend going with a rental apartment in London, just because there are lots of options. Here are the three things you're gonna be balancing: how close is it to everything? How nice is it? How much is it gonna cost? You can't have all three of those. You can, most of the time, have two, but if you're going for cheap, you can't have either of the other two. So here's the way we solved our problem: we wanted to get a little further away from town. We're a 30 minute walk into the center of town, but we're right next to a train station.
In fact, we're right at Vauxhall Train Station, which is right on the Thames. It's a little out of the way. We've got a fantastic apartment for, I think it was $250 a night after the conversion. So for that, which is about the price of a standard, very small by American standards, hotel room, we have two bedrooms, two full baths, a gourmet kitchen, fast Wi-Fi, we're right on the water, we're in this nice little community. It's actually fantastic, and it's so much a better deal than a hotel room would have been. You can spend three, $400 a night on a hotel room and not get a fantastic place to stay.
It's a completely different standard and a completely different price range over here. So, pay careful attention. Where is your place, how fast can you get in to town, and finally, how much are you wiling to spend?
Find more courses in the series, including the vital first installment, The Traveling Photographer: Fundamentals, on David's author page.