One boring Tuesday afternoon my COO calls me into his office, throws me his AmEx card and said “I’m sending you to the London, don’t kill my budget.”
I have never been on a business trip in my life, and an international business trip I never imagined in my wildest dreams, I’m in payroll, we don’t travel much. But as easy as that, I was being sent to implement a new service provider, I am a big deal.
Luckily I had been to London a number of times before, I love this city! It the closest city I can relate to New York, but cleaner, and prettier, and simpler to get around. I was just going for 4 days. So in my normal usual self I looked up all of these late night tours and festivals I could go to because I was going to be in London around Christmas! How exciting, so much to see. Boy was I soooooo wrong. I incredibly busy trying to keep up with my UK office during the day and then my NY office in the evenings. On top of it caught a terrible cold on the plane! So as one can imagine, my sightseeing itinerary was thrown to the way side. My one stroke of luck was my hotel was right in Leicester Square, and they were having a Christmas market, I ventured out almost every night to check out the stalls and mostly grabbing a waffle ice cream or kebab for dinner.
By my last day before leaving I could finally breath again. So I decided to go for a walk for some cold fresh air. My hotel was within walking distance to Trafalgar Square so I figured that would be a good place to walk to. I was able to find it easily with my Google Maps and took some pictures in front of the National Galley. It was a really nice afternoon and I realized Parliament Building was not that far away. I plugged it into my Maps and it told me 20 mins, my sick butt could walk for another 20 mins. It was an easy walk, I walked past the Prime Minister’s residence and made it to Big Ben no problem. From there I was able to get to the other side of Westminster Bridge to get some pretty amazing shots of sunset behind the Parliament Building!
I decided I was going to take a longer walk, it was too nice of a night not to venture around. I was in a really good area that I didn’t feel unsafe walking by myself. I ended up doing an enormous circle around Central London. From Big Ben I walked across Westminster Bridge and was able to see the London Eye, and then afterwards I made my way to Westminster Abbey. I saw Buckingham Palace was another 20ish min walk from the Abbey so I got a good couple of shots in front of the Queen’s house. From there I made a shortcut through Green Park, which was full of walkers, and landed in Piccadilly Circus. Here I spent a lot of time window shopping and looking at all the streets lit up for Christmas. I was able to get a couple of bottles of gin, that were small enough to fit in my carry on, as that’s all I brought!
From there Piccadilly is straight on to Leicester Square where my hotel was. Upon googling the entire circle the Maps tell you it can take up to 1 hour and 2.8 miles to do the entire walk. I ended up taking 3 hours and 6 miles. I got lost more than once, walked around stores and crossed the Westminster Bridge back and forth to get the best sunset pictures, which I did not account for.
I felt by seeing a couple of serious London landmarks made up for everything I was not able to do while I was visiting this lovely city. I highly recommend that if you are there for an extended layover to try this out. From Heathrow Airport it’s a 1 hour train ride in the Tube to Leicester Square Station on the Piccadilly Line. Or to make the trip around shortened just get out at Piccadilly!
I listed below my Hotel information, I found that for where I was located, right off a major train line, close to Chinatown and everything I listed below I wouldn’t mind staying here again!
Radisson Blu Edwardian, Hampshire
31-36 Leicester Square, London WC2H 7LH, UK
Leicester Square to Trafalgar Square -5 mins
Trafalgar Square to Big Ben -13 mins
Big Ben to Westminster Abbey – 5 mins
Westminster Abbey to Buckingham Palace – 15 mins
Buckingham Palace to Piccadilly Circus -19 mins
Piccadilly Circus to Leicester Square – 4mins
Total Walk 1 hour depending on speed total 2.8 miles