London or Paris



Fishy

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We're heading overseas in August for a Northern European cruise out of Dover.

Plan is to head over a few days early and spend some time in either London or Paris - can't really decide.

We're not really interested in food, so that's not a factor. We like nice, clean hotels. Emphasis on clean. It has to be clean. If it's not clean, my wife might fly home. Clean. Not quaint. Clean. (Clean)

London is easier - Dover is just a 70 mile train ride away.

Paris is a little harder - would have to take a train to Calais and then take the ferry to Dover. Not sure of the time needed, but that seems like it would bite into one of our two days.

I like to be set in the city that the cruise departs from at least one night in advance, so we'll spend one day in Dover. From the pictures, Dover looks a lot like a place that you would not want to spend more than one night in.

Advice?
 

8893

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No, you don't want to spend any more time in Dover than you have to.

Since you don't care about food and London is easier, it seems like a no-brainer to chose London.
Clean hotel will not be a problem there.

With your interest in history you should find plenty to occupy you. On our recent trip to England, Ireland and Wales we spent five days in London and still felt like there was a lot more to do. You, personally, have to see the Churchill War Rooms, even if your wife and daughter aren't interested.

Tower of London and Westminster Abbey are musts for all. British Museum is free and mind-boggling in scope. You cannot believe what they pilfered from the rest of the world to display there. If possible, a play at the Globe is also an awesome experience for all. Groundling tickets are something ridiculous like $10, and you can bring your own food and drink. London Eye is also cool.

Check out the London Pass and see if it makes sense for what you want to do and the time you have. You really need to be efficient to make it worthwhile, but it can be very beneficial if you are so inclined.
 

storrsroars

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As part of our trip noted in another thread, today my wife (who also demands "clean" over "quaint") was looking at using miles for our hotel needs. She choked at the cost of decent London hotels. Not so much Paris. If that's a factor you want to consider.

Anyway, we'll be spending more time in Paris than London...
 

tzznandrew

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I like Paris a lot more than I like London, and it is cheaper.

That said, London is definitely cleaner than the parts of Paris you're going to, and food doesn't matter. Do Paris.
 
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Eurostar exists, but you’d still need to get to/from crappy Dover. Just make your lives easier and plan a separate, future stay in Paris and France. Plenty of stuff to do/see in and near London, clean hotels, restaurants of all quality levels, and Brexit may make for relative cost benefits this summer. Can’t go wrong either way. Bon voyage
 

Chin Diesel

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I'd go with London as well. Generally well kept and, as of now, free of yellow shirt riots. I was over there for work and brought the wife over for a week. We primarily stayed in Cambridge but did a full weekend in London. Stayed in the Westminster area which worked out great. Westminster Abbey, St. James park leading to Buckingham Palace, Parliament and Big Ben were all within 5 minutes of the hotel. You can also get up to Hyde Park no problem and also walk towards the Eye of London and along the River Thames.

I would actually recommend the double decker bus tour if weather is okay. Such a huge city to try and see within a few days. You are better off picking one or two things you want to do and getting a drive by on the rest. I was hoping for a good concert or show at Royal Albert Hall but nothing was on the docket. Not much in to theater so didn't even look in to that area.

London Underground subway is supposedly cool. We got fortunate with good weather and either walked or took the cabs everywhere. Food wasn't a major concern.

We hit up a couple of British pubs and restaurants so Mrs. Diesel could try some traditional British food- Bangers and mash, fish and chips (got her to like minted mushy peas) and a few others.

Next time I go, Tower Bridge and Tower of London are my top two must sees. Didn't get any time there beyond the bus tour. Also, I believe there were some bus tours focused strictly on movie and music areas of interest. Probably will do that too.
 
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I would vote for London. Both are touristy in the summer months; but, Paris is nearly devoid of locals in August and some places, even the museums, may have limited hours in August. Plus, in August, it is very common for the Metro, RailFrance, or the Airport unions to go on strike, sometimes all 3 at the same time.
 
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Fishy

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they actually have beer in london that isnt an ipa too
That could seal it, although I did find an IPA last weekend that I didn't hate.
 

Fishy

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Eurostar exists, but you’d still need to get to/from crappy Dover. Just make your lives easier and plan a separate, future stay in Paris and France. Plenty of stuff to do/see in and near London, clean hotels, restaurants of all quality levels, and Brexit may make for relative cost benefits this summer. Can’t go wrong either way. Bon voyage
Here's what I know about Dover....the top-ranked hotel in town in a Travel Lodge and the runner up is a Best Western.

I have to spend a weekend near the Nassau Aquatic Center in Long Island next month - my hotel options there were five times as good as Dover.
 

Chin Diesel

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Here's what I know about Dover....the top-ranked hotel in town in a Travel Lodge and the runner up is a Best Western.

I have to spend a weekend near the Nassau Aquatic Center in Long Island next month - my hotel options there were five times as good as Dover.

I'll say this about the Best Western brand. In England almost all the Best Western's would be bed and breakfast or country style boutique hotels here in the states. They are nothing like what BW is in the US. I would imagine any Brit who has stayed at a BW in the UK would be mortified to find out what the US's BW's look like.

I stayed in a BW in Kings Lynn England for 40+ days last year. It was a country side wedding destination hotel with a full service spa and onsite pub. Restaurant was plenty good enough for anything a Yankee would want.

I have nothing to explain Travel Lodge.
 
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Here's what I know about Dover....the top-ranked hotel in town in a Travel Lodge and the runner up is a Best Western.

I have to spend a weekend near the Nassau Aquatic Center in Long Island next month - my hotel options there were five times as good as Dover.
If you absolutely have to stay in the Dover area, what about Canterbury? Its 20 miles away and has bit more history, a major cathedral, and a decent downtown from what some friends have told me who live around London.
 

8893

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If you absolutely have to stay in the Dover area, what about Canterbury? Its 20 miles away and has bit more history, a major cathedral, and a decent downtown from what some friends have told me who live around London.
Tremendous idea. It is a great little town with some nice restaurants. A perfect half day and I am certain there are very nice places to stay there. The Canterbury Catherdral is an incredible historical site. The audio tour is excellent.

You could easily plan to stop at the Churchill residence Chartwell en route; also highly recommended and very easy.

PS: It is very clean. Like storybook clean. Clean.
 

SubbaBub

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Paris>London but since you are only staying a couple of days it doesn't matter. Assuming you haven't been to either you will only be able to scratch the surface of the surface of either city.

Each is about a hour from the respective airports.
If you like museums in London you have the British Museum (looted Egyptian artifact) is very good, the National Gallery is also good, the National Portrait Museum is right next door in Trafalgar Sq, Buckingham Palace and the West End aren't too far away either. The Tate Modern in across the river (meh) and the Tower of London is a short transit ride.

If you don't mind walking a few miles, Sandeman runs a free walking tour of the highlights every day.

I recommend the Thistle Trafalgar Square Hotel for price, location, and cleanliness. The rooms are very small and there is a free breakfast. For a beer you can find a pub in the Leicester Square area. There are several underground stations nearby to get you where you need to go.


In Paris, you'll need to take the train from CDG. It goes direct to the St. Michael area, near Notre Dame, the Pantheon, the Latin Quarter (entertainment/tourist district), the Louvre is nearby. Very easy to get around from here on the Metro subway. It's not near the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe or the Champs but those are a subway transfer away. The downside of Paris is that everything takes a long time to see/do. Not a place you can skim over in a couple days, even in August. Most of the attractions are open and the crowds are the lowest of the season, so there is that. You can see the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, and a few of the other biggies at the Lourve in a morning or afternoon. The Tower will take you a while (pre-book a tour). The Arc is best at sunset (go to the top). Buy the Museum pass at the airport and skip the ticket lines. The Orsay and Orangerie are better pound for pound museums than the Louvre.

I can recommend the Hôtel Parc Saint Séverin in the Latin Quarter and La Rose de France Restaurant on City Isle. You can catch a river cruise at Pont Neuf nearby. The sunset cruise without dinner is a good value.

That is more than you can do in two days.
 
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Paris>London but since you are only staying a couple of days it doesn't matter. Assuming you haven't been to either you will only be able to scratch the surface of the surface of either city.

Each is about a hour from the respective airports.
If you like museums in London you have the British Museum (looted Egyptian artifact) is very good, the National Gallery is also good, the National Portrait Museum is right next door in Trafalgar Sq, Buckingham Palace and the West End aren't too far away either. The Tate Modern in across the river (meh) and the Tower of London is a short transit ride.

In Paris, you'll need to take the train from CDG. It goes direct to the St. Michael area, near Notre Dame, the Pantheon, the Latin Quarter (entertainment/tourist district), the Louvre is nearby. Very easy to get around from here on the Metro subway. It's not near the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe or the Champs but those are a subway transfer away. The downside of Paris is that everything takes a long time to see/do. Not a place you can skim over in a couple days, even in August. Most of the attractions are open and the crowds are the lowest of the season, so there is that. You can see the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, and a few of the other biggies at the Lourve in a morning or afternoon. The Tower will take you a while (pre-book a tour). The Arc is best at sunset (go to the top). Buy the Museum pass at the airport and skip the ticket lines. The Orsay and Orangerie are better pound for pound museums than the Louvre.

I can recommend the Hôtel Parc Saint Séverin in the Latin Quarter and La Rose de France Restaurant on City Isle. You can catch a river cruise at Pont Neuf nearby. The sunset cruise without dinner is a good value.

That is more than you can do in two days.
Just a few more additional points. In London, I have recently stayed in the Knighstbridge area due to where my company's office is on the Tube and its easy to get to from Heathrow via the 'Blue' line or the Paddington Express. It's a good, safe, and convenient neighborhood to stay and the hotel prices are lower than the ones in Mayfair or Piccadilly. Booth The Natural History Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museums are right there plus Hype Park to for a quiet escape and the big Harrod's to challenge your credit card limits. There's also a good number of pubs nearby centered around the South Kensington and Gloucester Road Underground Stations (and a really good Thai take-out place right on Earl's Court. From this neighborhood, you can easily walk to St/James & Green Park where the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham take place and its maybe another 15-minute walk to Westminster, Big Ben (I think its under renovation right now) and the London Eye. In between under Whitehall is the very cool (if you are into history) Churchill War Rooms. Just north of Big Ben is of course the National Gallery and the Trafalgar Square/Piccadilly Circus entertainment district. While it's only a small slice of London, its a compact neighborhood that you can tackle in 3 or so days.

As for Paris, if you go to the Louvre, go early, check to see if the 'side' entrance the directly connects to the Metro is open and have a plan. Use a map and determine what route you want to take to see what you want to see (to see each exhibit there would take days) so that you can 'briskly' walk from exhibit to exhibit unless you want to fight through tourist packs of 50+ per group to get a picture of the Mona Lisa. I also second visiting the Musee d'Orsay and a river cruise. I also usually get-up early another day so that I can make my way up to Sacré-Cœur on the north side of Paris for sunrise. It's a sight. There's also a good Dali museum nearby. For a off-the-beaten-path idea, go to the 14th arr. to the Denfert-Rochereau Metro stop and take the underground, self-guided Catacombes de Paris tour. It's basically a 1 kilometer path (the network is massive, this is just the ara carved out for the tour) under the streets of Paris filled with stacks or human skeletons. The skeletons were moved to the old limestone mines under this part of Paris when Napoloean III transformed Paris with his 'Grand Boulevards' projects in the mid 1800's that displaced a lot of old cemeteries. During WWII, the French Marquis used the Catacombs to move around, though the Nazis periodically chased them down into the maze resulting in what I can only imagine some really eerie gun battles.
 

SubbaBub

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Second, using the underground Metro entrance to the Louvre. You can see the Glass Pyramid on the way out. Buy the Museum Pass and walk right in using the underground entrance.
 

Fishy

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Excellent advice here - thank you all. My wife read all of it. Her first comment was ‘this is good stuff.’ Her second comment was ‘you can tell these people what to do and they’ll do it?’

Family pow-wow this morning settled on London.

Now....where do we stay and what do we do?

Again - hotel has to be cleaner than clean. We don’t do quaint. Food isn’t important and neither is rest - we generally wring the hell out of day. We’ll get there on a Wednesday night and will probably leave for Dover on Saturday afternoon.

We’re staying at the Travel Lodge in Dover because that is the premier hotelier in town and we only stay top-shelf.
 

8893

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Excellent advice here - thank you all. My wife read all of it. Her first comment was ‘this is good stuff.’ Her second comment was ‘you can tell these people what to do and they’ll do it?’

Family pow-wow this morning settled on London.

Now....where do we stay and what do we do?

Again - hotel has to be cleaner than clean. We don’t do quaint. Food isn’t important and neither is rest - we generally wring the hell out of day. We’ll get there on a Wednesday night and will probably leave for Dover on Saturday afternoon.

We’re staying at the Travel Lodge in Dover because that is the premier hotelier in town and we only stay top-shelf.
Can’t help you with London hotel as we stayed with my cousin who lives in Surrey and commuted in from there.

To do:

Check out London Pass if you are truly wring-the-hell-out-of-the-day people. That is also my bent; not so much Mrs. 8893 (nor any one or more of three teen daughters on any given day), so we didn’t maximize it as much as we could have. I think it might work well for you, and the cut the line feature is very nice.

Churchill War Rooms
Tower of London
Tower Bridge
Buckingham Palace (just go by and watching changing of the guard)
St. Paul’s Cathedral
Westminster Abbey
British Museum
London Eye
Hop on/off double decker bus tour
Thames River boat ride to Greenwich and back
Play at Globe
View from the Shard

In general I am a big fan of audio tours and recommend them for the attractions where they are offered.

Mayflower Pub is a fun place for a meal and a cool story behind the pub. A little bit out of the way but a nice diversion.

PS: When you do the British Museum you should go in with a plan of attack for what you want to see most and how much time you have to spend. You cannot conquer it all on one visit. We spent three hours on three floors before Mrs. 8893 and the girls pulled the plug. Obviously you want to see the Rosetta Stone; we focused on Greece, Ancient Egypt, Assyria and walked through some of the other major rooms.

PSS: Rick Steves has a lot of free audio tours you can download for many of these sites; I am also a big fan of his travel books and frequently review his travel videos before going to an attraction to have a better sense of how to maximize the visit.
 
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huskypantz

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I stayed at the Novotel Waterloo London where we got a great rate - worked out well for us. We paid under $200 per night and when we got there the listed rate was $500/night. I had a 1 year old and pregnant wife, so we wanted reasonable convenience at a good price. The Big Red Bus has a stop next to the property, and that gives you hop on/off access to all the tourist stuff. There is a tube stop that was a moderate walk from the hotel. There are not really any shops of restaurants in the immediate area. My morning runs from the hotel (it's on the Thames) routed me through buckingham palace, parliament and past big ben.
 

tzznandrew

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I'm obviously a nerd, but seeing a play at the Globe was a highlight. You can do it midday. I was a groundling and drank beer the whole time though an excellent performance of Macbeth.

We stayed out by Victoria station: pretty cheap, easy access to the tube and most major sights, etc while also being an easy walk to Buckinham or Westminster (20 min or so; I love walking cities).

I didn't love London. Beer scene was good (though you better like it closer to room temperature), and the museums are top notch.

Got to get Indian food there; it's excellent. We also found a bibimbap (Korean) place that was superb. Really, the non-English food scene in London is excellent.
 
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Again - hotel has to be cleaner than clean. We don’t do quaint. Food isn’t important and neither is rest - we generally wring the hell out of day. We’ll get there on a Wednesday night and will probably leave for Dover on Saturday afternoon.

We’re staying at the Travel Lodge in Dover because that is the premier hotelier in town and we only stay top-shelf.
The last few times I have been in London for work, I have stayed in the Knightsbridge area as noted above and as I am a Marriott guy (I guess that make me a Starwood cousin now, too), I've stayed in the Marriott Kensington. It more 'modern' that some of the older, traditional hotels in London and the room are above average for London in terms of size and ease. As it more of a business hotel, the only downside is that the elevators during the morning rush can be a bit slow. I've also stayed nearby at the Park Tower, which is a bit nicer and closer to Harrods, and the JW Marriott Grosvenor House, which an old traditional London hotel next to the former US Embassy complex, when I got lucky on rates. Near the JW, I have heard of mixed reviews on the Sheraton Grand Park Lane and good things about both the St, Ermin's Autograph Hotel, which tucked away in the Westminster neighborhood, and Marriott County Hall, which is right on the Thames next to the London Eye.

A few years before then, I worked for another company whose office was near the Tower of London and I always stayed at the Threadneedles, which was good; but, its a stuffy business crowd there. The only other stay I had there was in transit from Chester to Amsterdam by train for work, so I stayed at the St. Pancras Renaissance. Its an architecturally interesting building, overlooks the Harry Potter 9 3/4 Platform set-up for a lively hotel bar, it a bit too lively and loud (duh, its on top of a very busy Underground station and two of London's biggest train stations) for my needs.

I've also been told to avoid hotels, such as the W, in the Trafalgar Sq/Piccadilly area as they attract a late, rowdy crowd.
 

8893

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I'm obviously a nerd, but seeing a play at the Globe was a highlight. You can do it midday. I was a groundling and drank beer the whole time though an excellent performance of Macbeth.

We stayed out by Victoria station: pretty cheap, easy access to the tube and most major sights, etc while also being an easy walk to Buckinham or Westminster (20 min or so; I love walking cities).

I didn't love London. Beer scene was good (though you better like it closer to room temperature), and the museums are top notch.

Got to get Indian food there; it's excellent. We also found a bibimbap (Korean) place that was superb. Really, the non-English food scene in London is excellent.
Agree on the Globe. It was a standout for the whole family in almost three weeks of highlights. We saw an excellent, very hip and edgy performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. My daughters admitted they had been dreading going and couldn’t believe how captivated they were. We also had groundling tickets and brought our own food, cider and wine.
 
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Agree with those pointing out the highlights of London are theater scene and Indian food. You have to do at least two nights of theater, yes to the Globe and then just a random West End buy, stand-by tix, nearby Indian restaurant etc...
 

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