A weekend in the City of London / 27th-29th July

It’s been a couple of weeks since Jonny and I went on a short weekend adventure to London. Our main reason for going was for a meeting I had, but we thought we’d make a weekend of it. We headed down on Friday 27th July after work and got a late afternoon train back on Sunday 29th. After a long summer heatwave, it was the weekend the rain came – obviously.

London is quite expensive so I had to weigh up whether I was going to stay the weekend. With the train tickets being costly on their own and the meeting being quite long on Saturday, it made more sense to stay overnight and have a fun weekend in London.

I love London. I’ve been going to London on a regular basis since I was a teenager. Back then it was mostly for medical stuff but I’ve always managed to squeeze something in. There’s always something to do in London. Having such good public transport links means that you can cover a lot of ground in a short space of time and you can make it up as you go.

Last time I went to London for a long pleasure trip, my experience with attractions was pretty up and down but fortunately we had a better experience this time.

We didn’t have a great start to the weekend, with our train being over an hour delayed due to the heat. This left us a bit of time to wander round the apocalyptic streets of Warrington Bank Quay, get a kebab and sit on the platform and read the reviews of the hotel we were staying in.

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have noticed that the reviews fell short of reassuring. They ranged from ‘missing a window pane’ to ‘poo on the shower’ to ‘would rather stay in Auschwitz’.  There were complaints about the steep spiral staircase with no lift and the unbearably hot bedrooms. The room that we’d booked said that we had an ensuite but several reviewers who had expected an ensuite found they had a shared bathroom. Another reviewer said that they didn’t have any plug sockets. This was a big issue for me because I would need to charge my pump.

I was worried. The delayed train made matters worse because it meant that we wouldn’t be arriving in London until gone 11pm which would make finding somewhere else impossible. We passed the time on our extended journey by searching hotel vacancies. Unsurprisingly, most places were booked up at 9.30pm on a Friday night. We even debated ringing round to see if we could secure a room elsewhere and sacking off the hotel we’d booked. In the end, we decided to chance it.

Kings Hotel, 36-37 Argyle Square

The hotel was an 8-minute walk from Euston, or opposite Kings Cross Station. It was in a great location as it was so central. This was one of my reasons for choosing it (it obviously wasn’t the reviews since I didn’t bother to read them!). We paid a little over £80 per night for the hotel which is an absolute bargain in central London so I wasn’t expecting anything fancy. I was just hoping it was safe. When we arrived, we were greeted by a friendly member of staff who gave us our key and directed us to our room.

Up the dreaded staircase we went (which actually wasn’t that bad). We were on the second floor, (which was about enough climbing for me) and in room 34. The room was a small basic twin room. It was exceptionally hot when we arrived, but it had an old slide-up window which opened wide and the room quickly cooled down. We pushed the twin beds together and we both had a double plug socket to the side of our beds (only one worked on Jonny’s side). We had a TV on the wall with a remote and a small ensuite which had a toilet, sink and cubicle shower. In some of the pictures on booking.com, the showers/bathrooms appear to be in the bedroom and not a separate room, but this wasn’t the case for us.

The room was small, basic and a bit shabby (my bed had the knobs missing off the end) but it was clean and smelled fresh. We had duvets and a thin sheet on our bed and one pillow each. The beds were extremely comfortable and we both slept like logs.

We were given a clean towel each day as well as a new bar of soap and a sachet of shampoo. Jonny had a wall lamp next to his bed, but it didn’t work so we just used the TV as a night light. There was WiFi in the hotel, but we didn’t use it so I’m not sure how well it worked.

In terms of access, I had everything I needed with an ensuite and a plug for my pump next to my bed. I may have struggled with another flight of stairs. I can’t imagine this hotel would have any wheelchair accessible rooms due to the size and the stairs would be an issue for many people with mobility impairments.

All in all, it was fine for us. Perhaps the other rooms weren’t as nice as ours or perhaps the other reviewers were being a bit harsh. For a hotel in central London at such a low price, I was pleased with it.

Would I stay there again? Probably.

We got into bed as soon as we got there as we were pretty tired and I had to be up fairly early the next day for the meeting.

Cappadocia, 293 Grays Inn Road

After we were up and showered (little more than a dribble), we searched for some local café’s for breakfast and decided to go for Cappadocia, based on the pancake-porn uploaded to trip advisor. It advertises ‘vegetarian, vegan and gluten free options’ which sealed the deal.

As the sun was still holding on, we opted for an outside seat. I ordered an orange juice, tea with soya and a round of toast and Jonny ordered the eggs, bacon and pancakes with orange juice.

cof

The food and drinks were good, service was a bit chaotic and slow and they didn’t take card. There was a cash machine on the road opposite, but it was out of order, and I had a rough time finding another one (it wasn’t nearby!). This put us behind schedule a bit and left me in a bit of a rush when we got back to the hotel room. Food – good, service – not so great.

I may or may not have mentioned that I was accepted to to join Attitude is Everything’s board of trustees a couple of months ago. The first board meeting came less than a week after I was asked to join which meant that I only had enough time to Skype into my first meeting. This time I was down in London for my first away day with the other trustees. I had a great day – it was really interesting and exciting to be a part of conversations with other people who are equally as passionate about accessibility in the live music industry. The meeting went on for most of the day and was followed by a few drinks in the sunshine outside a local pub.

After I was finished there, I headed off to meet Jonny and Sean in Hyde Park and from there onto Soho for a few drinks. We decided to walk back to the hotel because I was so done with all the steps in the tube stations. I find it easier to walk a longer distance on the flat and find steps a bit of a pain. It was quite busy which can cause extra problems with my bag and feeding tube in the confines of a tube train. We stopped a few times on the way – once to pick up a pizza (from Franco Manca in Bloomsbury – highly recommend!) and once to grab some drinks.

Jonny wasn’t ready for heading back to the ‘manky hotel’ but I was shattered and needed my bed so back we went. After eating his pizza Jonny was out like a light and we both had our heads down for 10pm. Party animals.

We hadn’t been given a check out time and took advantage of that with a lie in the next day. Once we’d checked out, we dropped our bags off at the luggage hold in Euston Station and then went for some breakfast at Café Ritazza. I ordered a decaf caramel macchiato and after raving about how amazing it tasted for a decaf, I soon found out that it wasn’t a decaf. I’m not very tolerant of caffeine; I can manage it in tea but in coffee or energy drinks it makes me feel really dizzy and sick.

The Wellcome Collection, 183 Euston Road

The Wellcome Museum has been on my list for the longest time but this is the first time I’ve managed to check it out. If you’re in the health field, have an interest in health or have morbid curiosities for weird stuff, this is for you. The museum is right opposite Euston Station, so it’s a great way to pass the time if you’re waiting for a train.

For morbid curiosities head to the ‘Medicine Man’ exhibition which features an excellent haul of Henry Wellcome’s weird and wonderful objects. One of my favourites from this permanent exhibition was the Sri Lankan health masks (or ‘disease demons’), believed to cure sickness in ancient times. You’ll also find Napoleon’s toothbrush, an uncovered mummy (not for the easily spooked) and some shrunken heads.

 

 

 

We checked out the ‘Teeth’ exhibition which lasts until mid-September, the permanent ‘Medicine Now’ exhibition which had an interesting feature on diet and obesity, the library and the restaurant.

oznor

There are two restaurants in the museum and we went to the slightly fancier (and quieter) restaurant on the first floor. Jonny treated himself to some swordfish and we both had some fancy lemonade.

I’m keen to go back again for another look at the Wellcome. It’s easily my new favourite museum in London.

Accessibility was great with level access to the building, lifts to all floors and level access to all the exhibits. There were audio guides in every room, as well as large print pull-outs within the exhibits.

The Thames

From there, we caught the tube from Euston to London Bridge and went for a walk along the Thames. It had been raining pretty heavy throughout the morning but it had slowed down to a drizzle by lunchtime so we were able to snap a few pictures along the river.

 

The Golden Hinde

We stumbled across the Golden Hind Ship on our walk and we were intrigued enough to pay £5 each to have a look inside. When we got in, there seemed to be some live dramatic re-enactment going on for an audience of small children. It was fairly cramped and involved a lot of crouching or crawling, which made avoiding the children’s entertainment quite awkward (and terrifying) at times but it was good fun for a fiver. The boat was very tactile with no areas closed off. You could aim a cannon, poke your head out of the windows, sit in the captain’s quarters and even take the helm.

 

It was completely inaccessible for wheelchair users and generally not very accessible due to the nature of it. We were asked to go down all the steps backwards and treat them like ladders for safety reasons and there was a lot of crouching involved. That said it was very small which meant there wasn’t too much distance to cover. Great for history lovers and great for children who want to climb about and touch things.

From there, we headed back to the station and that was the end of our weekend in London. Fortunately, our train back home was smoother than the one out and I was totally ready for my bed when I got in.

I have two more trips to London in the next few months – for hospital and charity things. If you have any recommendations I’d love to hear them. Tell me what you like to do in London?

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