Allen On Travel

A 30 year veteran of world travel (but knows nil about Orlando-area attractions), Will Allen III writes about his weekly odysseys by air on business and how the airlines rob him--and you--of time, the most precious commodity on earth. Time: It's all we have, and the airlines routinely take it from us. This blog challenges the airlines to keep their basic promises.

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Location: Raleigh, North Carolina, United States

Born 1948 in Kinston, NC and raised there in beautiful eastern North Carolina, I now live in Raleigh and commute around the country and the world.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Hotel Comfort, Bus Revelation In London

Nice shelter if you can get it

Praise heavens for the London Millennium Mayfair Hotel!  Situated in the heart of Mayfair on Grosvenor Square close to the American Embassy, it's a great location for business or leisure travelers.  

I booked my family in there over Spring Break and got a good deal, too--at least for a Central London hotel property.  Our $282 rate included a gigantic room even by U.S. standards (room 438).  With the fold-out couch for our two kids open all day, there was ample room to move around.  

We also enjoyed a complimentary full breakfast buffet every morning, use of the executive lounge throughout the day (which included complimentary cocktails and wine in the evenings), a daily £15 discount for room service or in the lobby bar, and 20% off at the swanky in-house Avista Restaurant.  The nice front desk staff also let us check in early, a real plus after an all-night flight.

The hotel's location on Grosvenor Square means it's quiet and calm. Being in the center of Mayfair, much of Central London is within reasonable walking distance, too. 

The seventh floor executive lounge was spacious and dignified, and always staffed by professionals.  Lounge staff always made us feel welcome and anticipated our every need.

Also memorable were the bathroom features:  The shower's water pressure like the Colorado River after the spring snowmelt, so strong that you literally have to brace yourself not to fall over from it.  No wimpy toilet flush like the USA, either; at least two times the pressure and water volume of American toilets.  Straight-across shower curtain instead of the bowed-out ones.  Bath sheets big as blankets instead of ordinary towels to dry oneself.

Perhaps best of all was the service throughout the property.  We encountered a great number of staff in several departments, and they were universally kind, helpful, and upbeat.  Not a rotten egg or sourpuss in the bunch.

Such courteous service makes any hotel experience, especially on business. That's one reason this is my preferred property when in London on business.

London Transport city buses?  Really?

On business trips to London I always take a taxi to my clients' workplaces (or walk, if close).  Cabs are very expensive, of course, especially with the extra Central London "congestion" charges applicable in Mayfair.  

Since this was a pleasure trip, we eschewed cabs and used London Transport's Oyster Cards, good for all-day travel on the Underground or city buses. We pre-purchased cards good for zones 1 and 2, which includes most of Central London.  To my great surprise, we found the buses wonderfully easy to use.  In fact we never used the Underground at all this trip.  

London Buses on Piccadilly near Green Park
as seen from the upper deck of a similar bus

I have my wife to thank for the bus discovery.  Before we left home, she printed a one-page bus map of Central London which we found indispensable.  

It was all so easy.  I've been traveling to London since 1973, and yet I never tried to master the city buses until now.  How sad is that?  Next time I am there on business, I will use the buses instead of cabs wherever I can.  

The Central London bus map can be found at:

It doesn't include every route, just the major ones. But that's sufficient.  Here it is:


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're spot-on about the Transport for London bus system. In the early 2000's, London Mayor Ken Livingston brought in Bob Kiley as Commissioner for Transport. During the 1980s, Kiley had used public bonds to refurbish New York’s subway and he proposed to do the same with the London Underground. In a clash of titans, Blair and Brown wouldn't give up central govt control of the Tube to "Red Ken". The Mayor did have control of the surface transport, so Kiley took on the bus system.

The buses run on time, they are clean, the arrival times are posted (live) at bus stops, the system WORKS, (and in the midst of Tube-stikes, the buses still run...)

Sign me: An erstwhile UK-resident.

And thanks for the map!

4/26/2013 5:54 PM  

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