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Getting around London

Public transport

Transport for London (tel: +44 343 222 1234; www.tfl.gov.uk) operates London’s public transport network and provides comprehensive information on all forms of transport in London. The London Underground, commonly referred to as the ‘Tube', is the oldest underground system in the world. The network is divided into six zones, determining the price of tickets.

A pre-paid electronic Oyster card is the cheapest way to travel around London – enquire at a Tube station for details. Alternatively, you can buy a Visitor Oyster card before you arrive in London and have it delivered to your home address.

Buses are one of the cheapest ways to travel around London - all London bus journeys cost the same. You must pay with a Visitor Oyster card, Oyster card, Travelcard or UK-issued contactless payment card.

There are a range of river services on offer along the River Thames – choose from a fast and frequent river bus or a more leisurely river cruise. Thames Clipper River Buses run between Savoy Pier (central at Embankment) and Royal Arsenal Woolwich Pier, with stops including Canary Wharf Pier, Greenwich Pier and London Bridge City Pier. A high-speed commuter service runs from Chelsea Harbour in the west to Blackfriars.

A cable car across the Thames, the Emirates Air Line, connects Greenwich peninsula in the south to the Royal Docks in the north. Linking The O2 and the ExCeL Centre, the Emirates Air Line journey takes five minutes and runs daily.

Taxis

You can hail black cabs in the street or book them through Dial-a-Cab (tel: +44 20 7426 3420) and Radio Taxis (tel: +44 20 7272 0272).

Minicabs should be booked over the telephone; a reputable city-wide firm is Addison Lee (tel: +44 20 7404 9000).

Driving

There is a daily charge for all vehicles entering the congestion charging zone in central London from Monday to Friday between 0700 and 1800. See www.cclondon.com.

Off-road parking is available 24 hours at NCP garages (tel: +44 345 050 7080; www.ncp.co.uk) situated around London. Street parking in central London can be extremely expensive.

Car hire

Major car firms include Avis (tel: +44 808 284 0014; www.avis.co.uk), Budget (tel: +44 808 284 4444; www.budget.co.uk) and Hertz (tel: +44 20 7026 0077; www.hertz.co.uk). There has been a recent growth in budget/internet car hire companies, spearheaded by easyCar (tel: +44 800 640 7000; www.easycar.com).

Bicycle hire

London has a public-use bicycle scheme called Santander Cycles (https://tfl.gov.uk/modes/cycling/santander-cycles). Over 10,000 bikes can be found at 700 docking stations situated every 300 to 500 metres across the city. Bikes are available on a pay-as-you-go and membership basis. For pay-as-you-go access, go to a docking station with a credit or debit card to get started. Bikes are available round-the-clock and year-round.

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Featured Hotels

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The Soho Hotel

Rooms at this trendy hotel are sumptuously appointed in a modern, eclectic style, not forgetting flatscreen TVs, huge, ultra-comfortable beds, and sleek bathrooms kitted out in grey granite, glass and oak. Befitting a hotel nestled in the heart of London’s entertainment district, there is a swish private event space and two private screening rooms. Onsite restaurant Refuel has an attractive dinner menu, as well as serving afternoon tea and an extensive selection of breakfast dishes. 

The Dorchester

Sat beside Hyde Park, the glamorous Dorchester is a stately cavern of old-school British class. Dining includes high-end Asian restaurant China Tang and purveyors of modern British cuisine The Grill at The Dorchester, while the extensive spa in the basement is an exceptional pampering space. For all-out luxury, there’s the baroque and rococo Oliver Messel Suite, perched a-top the hotel, with a terrace offering prime views across the London rooftops. 

Point A Hotel Westminster

This no-frills Asian hotel chain in the heart of Westminster is a fantastic option for those seeking value for money in the capital. The concept is simple: by stripping out costly extras, such as room service or windows, you can enjoy staying in a clean room with an ensuite bathroom for very little money. If you want extras, such as towels, toiletries, an in-room safe or a window, you simply pay for them. There are four hotels in the capital but this one in the centre is excellent if you want to be close to heart of the action.

Park Grand - London Lancaster Gate

The Park Grand is a boutique hotel located between Paddington and Lancaster Gate underground stations. Featuring modern guest rooms, a club lounge for executive visitors and a well-stocked bar. The hotel also offers links to Heathrow airport and major train stations.

 

Hoxton Hotel

In the heart of Hoxton, in the same premises as the popular Hoxton Grill, is this wallet savvy establishment. The Hoxton Hotel forgoes the money-making mini bar and instead has free milk and bottled water in the fridge, and sells the like of sweets and wine at reasonable prices in the lobby. Wi-Fi is also free, and guests receive a simple but tasty breakfast from coffee house chain Pret A Manger delivered to their room. 

The Zetter

This converted warehouse in the heart of Clerkenwell is pretty affordable considering its desirable location. Its 59 rooms are decked in sleek upholstery, cool mood lighting and in-room entertainment systems. Nice little touches, such as hot water bottles and old Penguin paperbacks, add a homely feel. The Zetter’s popular restaurant, which serves modern Mediterranean food, occupies most of the ground floor and looks onto St John's Square.