Saturday Night Sunday Morning In London

The Southbank is where we normally stay on our London trips – this time was no different. What differed was our choice of abode for the night. Having dabbled with the Premier Inn chain in the summer we decided to try out their place at County Hall. It was the price that initially tempted us – £128 for the room and breakfast in central London – pretty darned good. By the time we left we were in agreement it wasn’t all about the price – everything else was spot on too. First up the location – in the magnificent County Hall building with the London Eye right outside and Big Ben just over the bridge. Add to that proximity to tube stops and within walking distance to most of the capital’s attractions, it is a location nothing short of perfect.

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Our room on the 6th floor was spacious (ginormous in London terms) and verging on the smart. No wardrobe but open hanging space, tea and coffee, a monster TV, bathroom with bath and shower and the most comfortable bed I have slept in for a very long time. Breakfast though busy was impressive. All you can eat and buffet style, the choice was excellent – almost unbelievable for the price. Son, normally showing a complete disinterest in food (unless it’s ice-cream or chocolate) made good use of the under 16’s eat free rule and packed away a hearty feast. The Premier Inn definitely seems to be making waves in the budget hotel world and definitely gives the (far) more expensive chains a run for their money. Their slogan “A Good Night Guaranteed” was certainly our experience.

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County Hall is one of the Southbank’s iconic landmarks. Not too shabby from the outside, this building opened in 1922 as the headquarters of London County Council and then the GLC but now has two hotels and various entertainment options taking up the interior.

Our Saturday evening was spent with Willy Wonka at the Theatre Royal but we had a short while in Covent Garden beforehand – an easy 20 minute walk from the hotel. A (too short) browse in the shops for me then we dined at Fire And Stone which turned out to be the perfect pre-theatre dining spot. Trendy, contemporary but with a relaxed atmosphere we all loved it. Their motto is “a deliciously different pizza restaurant” and that just about sums it all up.

We passed their gigantic wood fired oven on the way to our table and struggled to choose a pizza from the impressive menu. Based on different cities and cuisines from around the world – from Canberra to Cape Town, there were over 20 pizzas to choose and all were unusual, definitely not your normal pizza toppings. Son, living on the edge, asked if he could have a Margherita and they were happy to oblige. Husband and I chose the Lisbon and Montego Bay respectively. No complaints, happy diners all round. Happy too when the bill arrived – surprisingly reasonable, this was a great place.

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Sunday morning we headed over the bridge to Westminster Abbey and then spent a couple of hours strolling along the Southbank. The gushing River Thames on one side, no end of interesting buildings to look at and best of all a vast expanse of pavement and no traffic to contend with, this is the perfect place for a Sunday afternoon walk.

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Plenty going on, we were entertained by a plethora of street artists and buskers with our favourites being some lithe limbo dancers / acrobats who we could have watched all day. Icy temperatures drove us onward as far as the Royal Festival Hall where we took sanctuary inside to warm up. Primarily a hall for major concerts, the foyer was buzzing and we found an interesting (and free) exhibition on the 1951 Festival of Britain.

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Tucked under Waterloo Bridge we spent a while at the Southbank Book Market – row upon row of dusty old books, our idea of heaven so browsing had to be done.

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Our stroll took us just short of St Paul’s Cathedral. Son had a quick ten minutes skimming stones on the beach then it was time to retrace our steps. A short stop to watch the BMX bikers and skateboarders show off their considerable skills at the skate park under the Queen Elizabeth Hall and some time in the playground by the London Eye, then all too soon our time in London was up and it was time for the train home.

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58 thoughts on “Saturday Night Sunday Morning In London

  1. If you are back in the area soon, check out the neat rows of old houses in between Kings College and Waterloo East – it’s like stepping back in time. There’s a great pub called the Kings Arm in the area aswell, well worth a visit!

  2. Love walking along the Southbank. Earlier this year we saw these street performers too (aren’t they awesome!) and had a good time browsing at the book market and admiring the skateboarders 🙂 Your hotel sounds like a great deal.

    • We always try and squeeze in a Southbank walk when we’re in London – I love it too, always so much so see and so much going on. Those guys were amazing – really funny but so skillful too. The hotel was great, perfect location and so reasonably priced plus a very nice room. Definitely recommend it!

    • It was a great walk Kerry – loads to see and loads to do along the Southbank. The hotel was superb, we have always stayed at a hotel just a street or two away for double the price (and then thought for central London it wasn’t too bad) but this one was great, will be using it again (hopefully!).

  3. I know why I love to follow you: You always post about my favorite places!!! I love London. Have been there three times and could go again and again. Four years ago my daughter spent 6 months in Salisbury and went to London several times. She also spent the days around last New Years eve in London. Thanks for sharing these impressions. I am sure we are going to see more.

    • Thanks Erika!! We love London too – this was just a flying visit, got there Saturday morning and left Sunday afternoon but it worked really well – going to try and do that more. New Years Eve in London must have been a lot of fun for your daughter – I’m sure there was a lot going on!! Hope you have a wonderful weekend….

      • Actually she and her boyfriend spent it with a BicMac menue in the hotel room. They were standing on a bridge and the people got more and more. It must have been crazy. She was scared and still made it out before they closed up. But the rest was like coming home for her. She was so happy to be there again. Wonderful weekend to you too!

      • We always watch the New Year’s Eve fireworks from London and always thought it would be amazing to see for real. Never thought about the crowds I must admit, but perhaps best to watch on telly!! That sounds especially bad on the bridge – still at least she enjoyed everything else!!

      • Also it was very cold that time around, especially on the bridge. They were happy in their hotel room as well! Just thankful to be at least in London 😉

  4. It’s definitely a great spot and that’s a fantastic price for London. We stay in chains when we need a hotel / motel too. They’ve really improved the finish and quality of them in the last 20 years. Some work especially well for us as they offer a family room that can accommodate six. Living on the outskirts of London was very annoying at times but I do miss everything London has to offer – and often free too.

    • My friend recommended this chain to us – I was genuinely surprised at the price and the quality, we will be using again!! Some of the things I love most about London are free – this Southbank walk being one of them – and unlike some of the free museums, it’s not too crowded on a weekend. Speaking of which, hope you have a great weekend Laura.

    • We always try and have a walk down the South Bank when we’re in London – I love the vibe and just the views are gorgeous. Fire and Stone was great too – really different pizza toppings to the norm and really reasonably priced – especially for Covent Garden. We would go back for sure!

  5. Do you live far from London? It’s always great to have a city like London in (or close to) your backyard. It’s an exciting city and there’s always something to see and do there just like NYC. Been there 2x and I never ran out of things to do. Thanks for the post!

    • We live about 200 miles away – just a couple of hours on the train though – not really close but close enough to be able to visit often. I love it – love NYC too, like you say always something new and different going on!

  6. I once got to stay at the Marriott County Hall (on a friend’s points) so got the view as well as the location – for New Year’s Eve, no less. Agree the location is great, and have thought about staying at the Premier, but the price is usually too high for a solo traveler.

    • We walked past the entrance to the Marriott and it looked very nice!! The views must have been gorgeous and for New Year’s Eve, well super special treat – lucky you!! No views at all from the Premier Inn but with 3 of us it worked out a reasonable price. It’s tricky for solo travellers – my sister always has this problem when she travels.

  7. Have to remember to check out that hotel next time we’re in London! Great price, for London. And great size, for London:) Love the book market under the bridge! 🙂

    • You don’t get a view – but we didn’t mind as we hardly spent any time in the room. For such a great location (and a really nice room) I thought the price for London was really good. Be sure to check out the book market too – if you like books it’s a great place to browse. We always seem to be drawn there!

  8. Sounds a wonderful weekend Joy and the photos are lovely even it was cold! I could walk around London for hours there’s always something of interest to catch your eye or keep you entertained 🙂 We have stayed in Premier Inns quite a bit – first discovered them up in Yorkshire where we stay at the Harrogate one if there’s more than just me (my dad’s spare room is tiny!). Their breakfasts are always one of the highlights – when you’ve just landed from Australia into a for us very cold English spring it’s a wonderful start to the day! We indulge with the full breakfast and then have to walk it off for the rest of the day! Unfortunately they are fully booked for early April so we’re staying in an apartment for a few days instead. My elder daughter and her family also stayed in the Euston Road one last April for nearly a week and that was very convenient too though she remarked that the London prices were quite high (it was still cheaper than most other hotels and you get more space too). I’ve really enjoyed this trip round London with you and am so looking forward to being there myself in April! Have a lovely weekend 🙂

    • We will definitely be using the Premier Inns as our hotel of choice in future Rosemary!! I was so surprised by how good they are, I also quite like the fact you know what to expect. We’ve stayed in far more expensive places (especially in London) and had a tiny room that was less than desirable in other ways. They’re so clean and comfortable and you definitely can’t beat the breakfast. We thought we might try a different branch each time we go to London and get to know a different neighbourhood each time that way. Not long to wait now until your trip, you must be counting down the days!! Enjoy your weekend too.

      • I know exactly what you mean about London rooms Joy! You pay a fortune and there’s barely room to swing a cat – we toyed with staying at the Premier Inn in London in April but have decided to treat ourselves to the Plaza Sherlock Holmes at near Regents Park. It’s on the Bakerloo line which we’ll need to get out to our daughter’s place though she’s currently looking for somewhere new so hopefully we won’t be on the wrong side of town! What a good idea to try a different Premier Inn branch each time you go to London – they do vary the one at Hornbeam Park in Harrogate is great if you ever need to go there. My daughter liked the Euston Road one (recommended by my Uk family who’ve stayed there) though she said it was so expensive compared to the Harrogate one and one in Glastonbury. Yes my trip is getting ever closer – still in the midst of renovations it’s always the way we are rushed off our feet before we leave trying to set up everything for a month overseas (we have a house and pet sitter moving in). Once I get to the airport and we’ve dropped off our bags I relax! Have a lovely week 🙂

  9. Hello, Joy – it appears that you had clear weather for your trip to London (I’m sure it was cold, though) is this fairly common for January? I prefer off-season travel, but I also like to do walking tours. What do you think? Cheers!

  10. Yes Melissa, we had lovely blue skies but it was so icy and cold!! Typical January weather for London but then with the UK weather you’re never quite sure what you’re going to get – even in summer!! It was a good time to visit, London always has a lot of people but in January I think the crowds are not too bad, it was a lovely walk as well. Off season travel is definitely the best.

  11. Sounds like a wonderful weekend. Once again you’ve described things that I will have to have on my list for a next visit to London. Thanks for a most interesting post.

    • The South Bank is just a wonderful place for a stroll in London – you can walk from Westminster all the way to Tower Bridge and there’s so much to see and do along the way. I definitely recommend you check it out – we always try and walk at least part of it when we’re in the city.

  12. Was it a special deal or is it the regular price ? It’s good to know about it ! Last time I stayed in London, I was in a guesthouse, and I paid 80£ and it was nearly the worst night of my life. I could hear every car from 4 am to midnight, it was so so noisy It wasn’t clean and when I opened the TV the first evening, I was stuck on a Russian porn channel.. it was an horrible experience D: I wouldn’t mind paying a little extra for a room like yorus !

    • It wasn’t a special deal, we booked in November for a night in January and that was the rate on the website. The rate can vary depending on when you want and when you book, but there are loads of Premier Inns in London offering different rates at different times so it is possible to get a good deal. We looked at a night in May at this one and were quoted £78 for the night!! We stayed in another Premier Inn a bit further out of the centre of London in the summer and thought it was great too!! The location of this one is perfect if you want to see the main sights though. I know what you mean about London accommodation – never cheap and it can be really awful. I’ve tried out my fair share of terrible hotel rooms there. We will stick with this hotel chain in future!!

      • 78£ ??!! this is crazy 🙂 We are going to Manchester in two weeks and we are going to try accommodations proposed through air b&b, we will see ! I will keep you posted, but it sounds good and cheap. Now.. let’s see if it’s like that in reality.

      • I know – the prices can sound crazy, to be honest it put me off a little in the past as I thought if a hotel was that cheap there must be something wrong!! Not our experience so far though…… Would be good to hear how airb&B goes in Manchester, I’ve thought about using them but kind of stayed away, three of us travelling and with a child I wasn’t too sure if it would be suitable. Would be great to know what you think!! Hope you enjoy Manchester.

      • I hope I will enjoy Manchester, I will have a look at the John Rylands Library ! I read your entry, and I think it should not be missed ! the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester is also on my to-do-list. There is an exhibition about 3d printing and it sounds awesome. Do you know good places to eat (obviously not too expensive) ?

  13. Good calls – John Rylands is lovely and the museum is great too – they usually have good exhibitions going on and entry to the main museum is free. There are lots of cool/quirky/very reasonable places to eat in the Northern Quarter of the city. Chinatown has loads of places that are great too and Manchester has its own “Curry Mile” with Indian restaurants (all good and all very cheap) which is famous. In the centre we really like Dimitris, also The Splendid Kitchen and Bill’s Restaurant – these are all really close to John Rylands – had nice food in all of them recently!! Hope that helps.

  14. Joy, I want to take my husband to London this year. Great recommendation on the hotel. Thank you! Your son is so fortunate to see so much at his age and I hope to be able to do the same with my daughter when she is older.

    • We would definitely go back to this hotel and use this chain again – we’ve stayed on past trips to London at another hotel just over the road and paid double the price per night!! The location of this one is great, the room was really nice, the only slight negative is that the reception area isn’t too fancy but the rooms and the breakfast is really superb. Hope you get to organise the trip – looking forward to reading about it!! We’ve had so much fun travelling with our son, you have all this to come with your little one!!

  15. The hotel sounds really great. I haven’t tried the Premier Inn hotels yet but I’ve stayed a couple of times at Travelodge in London. They also have various locations and good prices.

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