Ah, delays. They have become a norm in this blog and even on the Youtube channel I started. I would apologise but I’m afraid that won’t change anything so let me just jump right into the post.
We are still on our Europe trip but we will now discuss how we travelled from Paris to London. I’ve mentioned this before although I think I should just do so again: my husband is a huge fan of trains.
So during our trip, we took this mode of transportation whenever we could. Of course, we had to take into consideration the time and cost effectiveness of it whenever we chose between rail and flying. We also booked everything in advance to make sure we were getting good deals.
From Paris’ Gare du Nord station, we boarded the EuroStar that took us to London’s St Pancras station. We took the earliest train (we boarded at 7am) and I was practically sleep walking. However, we do want to make the most of our trip so sleep had to take a backseat during the whole three weeks that we were in Europe.
The journey took 2 hours and 17 minutes and most of it, I spent snoozing. Arrival at St Pancras was a breeze since British border control officials will already process your travel documents in Paris.
Platform 9 and 3/4
From St Pancras, we didn’t make our way to the hotel right away since there was something of utmost importance for me to do the moment I arrived! I had to get my photo taken at Platform 9 3/4 in King’s Cross Station!
It was just across the road from St Pancras and my 11-year-old self will never forgive me if I missed the chance.
(RELATED: Travel + Ultimate Guide: The Making of Harry Potter – Studio Tour (UK))
King’s Cross is quite a modern train station. It’s nothing like what you saw in the movies, my fellow Potterheads. Once you enter from the main doors, just go straight and just look towards your right (walk past the entrance to the actual platforms). You will find a long line of kids waiting to take a photo with the iconic sign and the ‘disappearing’ trolley.
The line is going to be long, mind you. I waited for a good 20 minutes to have my photo taken. Good thing the husband is patient enough to let me get my geek on. He’s really the sweetest. If your significant other is not as patient, I would recommend that you skip this. Just get your photo taken at the Harry Potter Studio Tour (Warner Bros) which I’m sure you also plan to visit. There will be a lot of this ‘set-up’ there and waiting time will be less than 5 minutes.
I wanted to go for authenticity so I waited. I had to do it there. I just had to.
There will be assistants at the end of the line who will ask you which House you’re in. 😉 They will let you borrow the corresponding scarf and have their own photographer take your photo. One of them will count and twirl your scarf to add some production value into the shot.
Tip: Ask someone to take your photo. Don’t just rely on the one they will take because it will be hella expensive to have it printed at the Harry Potter shop inside the station.
They won’t force you to buy it so no worries. Although it won’t hurt to have a look at the store. Selection is limited compared to the Studio Tour’s gift shop though so if you’re in a hurry, you can skip this.
After the geeky wife has been satisfied for the day, my husband and I proceeded to take the subway (or as the locals call it – London Underground) to where our hotel was.
I often get asked how we keep our travel costs low. Aside from the fact that I get sponsors (read: Thanks, family! Love you all!), we are not fussy travellers. We book early, fly economy, and we are not picky with food and accommodation.
We tend to scrimp here and there without sacrificing too much of our comfort. While I won’t say no to a bit of luxury every now and then, my husband and I are the type who would pick great experiences over it any day of the week.
Accommodation in London is not cheap at all. It’s also known for tiny, old hotel rooms. When we were looking for a place to stay, my husband and I agreed that we want to see a lot and looking at our itinerary, we would be leaving early every day and will be home late every night. We only needed a place to catch some sleep
I told him to get us the cheapest room he could find and my only non-negotiables are: 1.) It has to be clean and 2.) the hotel/airBNB should have good wifi. We ended up booking a room at Tune Hotel in Lambeth North.
While some may sneer at the choice, I have to admit that I actually loved our stay there. For one, the location is amazing.
- An Underground station is right across the street
- The Imperial War Museum is a 3 minute walk away from the hotel
- There’s an awesome pub right next to it where we could have a drink
- There are grocery stores and food joints nearby – there’s a Costa on the ground floor!
- Places of interest are easily accessible (a stone’s throw away from Westminster)
- Yet it’s not so crowded!
This budget hotel is definitely a winner when it comes to location! Oh, and we paid GBP55 per night during our stay and that is crazy-cheap for London standards.
I have to admit though that the rooms are tiny. You definitely won’t have any room to practice your summersaults but you will have enough space to walk around and even fix your luggage.
A room with a window would cost more so we asked for windowless. Their rooms are well-lit though so no worries about that.
You do get a television set and a small workspace/charging station attached to the wall. The room was clean and despite the size, you get a side table for convenience and there’s actually an area to hang our jackets. The mirror above the headboard also made sure the room looked bigger than it actually is.
The toilet was small which I didn’t mind as long as it was clean. I did fit just fine. I asked my husband and he said so did he.
Everything worked fine especially the heater. Oh, yeah. That’s another non-negotiable. A working water heater is something I’m always in dire need of whenever I’m in Europe – in any season. I get cold easily.
All in all, we had a pleasant stay in Tune Hotel. The staff were friendly and helpful. They’re also great in giving suggestions as to where to go for drinks and food.
They also helped us get an affordable car service at 3 in the morning when we had to leave early for our flight to Copenhagen! I would really recommend this hotel to budget-conscious travellers!
Thanks for reading this post! Hope it was helpful to anyone planning to travel to London soon! I hope this post also changes the perception on diplomats and diplowives a bit. Not all of us are fussy and picky! 😉
Do come back for more on London soon!
*Trip is not sponsored by any country’s tourism department, company, or brand. Although almost all of our expenses were shouldered by my side of the family who want to see me more often. Thanks, fam!????