Tag: "London"

Where should I look into cashing in a few dollars for pounds?

Reader submitted question: I am going to London for the New York Giants football game.Where should I look into cashing in a few dollars for pounds?


The best thing to do would be to plan to take money out of an ATM while in London as you will get the best exchange rate. Some American banks have British counterparts (decreasing or eliminating fees). For example, Bank of America has been affiliated with Barclays in the UK but I am not certain if that relationship still exists (I will be finding out). Also, be sure to let your bank know that you will be traveling abroad so they don’t freeze your ATM or credit cards while you are traveling.

You may want to arrive with some British pounds in your pocket and you have several options for acquiring those before you leave. Several banks offer currency exchange. I am using Bank of America again as an example because I am a customer – I plan to get about £100 before I leave through BOA. As of today, their exchange rate was $1.3488, which is not great but not the worst exchange rate I’ve seen (Currency Exchange International quoted me $1.3679 today). If you are a member of AAA, their stores offer (or at least used to offer, I haven’t checked lately) packets of small change – probably around £50 worth) but the exchange rate is not usually great and you will want to pay in cash or with a debit card. If you pay for it with a credit card, it will be treated as a cash advance. However, the AAA option can be the most convenient way to get some small change foreign currency before traveling, especially for those who don’t live in a big city.

London Sets the Standard in Luxury Hotels

London is one of the most visited capitals in the world and for good reason. England as an Empire ruled almost half the world and so its capital London has a history that can equate to most of the world. Perhaps London’s history is as interesting as anywhere else. The city’s full history dating back to before even the Roman times, can be seen at the Museum of London. Then there is the Tower of London with its own 900 year history and which today, is the home to the British Monarchy’s Crown jewels. Add to that the legendary changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace which is still the primary home to the world’s longest ruling Monarch, the beautiful Trafalgar Square with its magnificent Nelson’s Column and you have plenty of reasons to visit. But where to stay for that visit is a question that many ask. Luckily, part of this city’s history includes setting the standard for luxury hotels. If it is luxury that you want whilst on your visit, you have wide range of choices to book five star hotels.

Perhaps of special note is The Ritz Hotel, whose name alone is often used to replace the word luxury and elegance. Located in Piccadilly it has one of the finest addresses in the city and it is ideally situated for visiting London’s Royal Parks or the famous Piccadilly Circus. Decorated in France’s Louis XV1 style throughout, this is a prime example of how London’s hotels have set the standard in luxury for the last 100 years. For at least 50 years a hotel that has always been attached to London when there is talk of luxury, is the Dorchester with its views over-looking Hyde Park. Located between the notable Hyde’s Park Corner and Marble Arch, this hotel is ideally situated for shopping at Harrods.

Of course though, these are not the only luxury hotels in London. Among the others is one noted in a personal travel blog, The Trafalgar Hilton. This luxury hotel with its pendulum lamps and walnut furniture offers luxury at its best. The Trafalgar Hilton also provides excellent views of the popular Trafalgar Square.

Yes, London is well worth a visit even without its history. A stay in one of these famous luxurious hotels is alone worth a journey. And for those that are not so keen on history, London also offers other attractions if you wish to pry yourself loose from your hotel’s luxurious elegance. Among these other attractions is the Coca Cola London Eye which offers visitors 32 capsules which can hold up to 25 people each. The Eye raises you above the city so you can see as many as 55 of London’s famous landmarks, including of course Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament and Tower Bridge. Another London attraction, one which has recently been given a new look, is the legendary Wembley Stadium where, by taking a tour, you can learn of some of sports most famous moments.

Visiting England without the Hype

Most people that visit England want to visit the attractions that London has to offer. Although these are plenty, the city like most other capitals in the world, can be a busy and hassling place to stay. In order to see the city attractions yet stay out of the city as much as possible, a growing number of people are opting to stay outside of London where they can enjoy sights of the beautiful English countryside on their way to each particular London attraction. One of the ideal places to stay for this purpose is Basingstoke in Hampshire. Although Basingstoke is located off both the M3 and M4 motorways, both of which can take you to London, it also has a station on one of the railway’s main lines to London, allowing passengers to reach the heart of London in just 45 minutes. Then they can get the famous underground or one of London’s equally famous taxis to any of the city’s attractions. You can get to know the exact locations and travelling distance on Travelodge Nottingham. This means that you can enjoy watching some of England’s beautiful scenery whilst on your way to visit Coca Cola’s London Eye from which you can get some magnificent panoramas of the city or, visit the Tower of London with its 900 year history. Of course you could enjoy that same scenery on your way to visit the legendary changing of the guards at Buckingham palace or perhaps go shopping on Bond or oxford streets, perhaps even in Harrods.

In Basingstoke though, especially if you stay at a luxury hotel, you can spend the odd day relaxing without a trip to the city. The right hotel will have comfortable rooms and offer guests a wide choice of culinary delights like a combination of fish or a Rump of English roasted lamb off the bone in their Vespers dining room or choices like an 8oz Gammon steak or Salmon Fillet from their Brasserie. If you prefer something lighter, the Tea Room offers a variety of sandwiches and pastries accompanied by your favourite cup of tea or if you prefer, a glass of champagne. The delightful Library bar also offers food in the form of 8oz burgers or London pride battered fish and chips. If you think that this is too much food, you can always burn off some of the calories in the hotel gymnasium or just let the meal digest whilst enjoying a massage in the hotel’s spa.

The town of Basingstoke is not without its own attractions which a luxury travel blog recently noted. Among the town’s attractions is the Milestones Museum. This is a museum that displays over 20,000 objects from Hampshire’s history, uniquely placed in historic replicas of streets from the 1800 and 1900s. Another attraction for those that may not be feint hearted, is the Airkix Indoor Skydiving complex which, apart from offering visitors a chance to experience indoor skydiving, also gives them the opportunity to try a choice of 2 indoor Ski slopes, surfing without water and the challenges of a climbing wall.

London, luxury hotel deals, tragedy in Israel

So in London I’ll be staying at a Korean B&B: House of Elizabeth – the website is not English though. It’s kind of like a hostel but they do have a “suite” that’s going to cost us 90 GBP a night. It has a private bathroom. The location is supposed to be good – near Victoria Station. The food will be rice and side dishes in the morning. For dinner you can cook yourself Ramen noodles and they have rice. We’re assuming we can bring our own stuff to cook if we want since the noodles aren’t all that healthy.

And here are a couple of articles I thought were worth sharing:

Interesting article here about travel deals for luxury hotels as corporations and individuals are not going to fancy resorts like they used to:

For example, Four Seasons hotels in New York, Miami and Scottsdale, Ariz., have been offering a third night free. For Christmas, the Boca Raton Resort & Club in Florida has a family holiday package that offers two connecting rooms for the price of one (starting at $249 a night), as well as access to the resort’s kids’ camp, which normally costs $65 for each child. In Miami’s South Beach, the sleek Angler’s Resort is now offering rooms on the weekend of Dec. 26 for about $260 a night, almost $200 less than the price quoted a little over a month ago, while the popular Hotel of South Beach, which reported being completely sold out for that weekend a month ago, now has rooms available starting at $267 a night, rates more comparable to what the hotel charges in the off-season.

In the Caribbean, the Bitter End Yacht Club on Virgin Gorda, which rarely offers discounts during the high season, is offering 25 percent off through April for travelers who book its seven-night Reefing the Rates deal by Jan. 5. CuisinArt Resort & Spa in Anguilla is handing out $500 resort credits to guests who stay five nights between Jan. 4 and March 2009. Caneel Bay on St. John and Little Dix Bay on Virgin Gorda are offering a fifth night free from Jan. 3 through April. And Parrot Cay, on a private island in the Turks and Caicos, is offering seven nights for the price of five between Jan. 10 and March 12. That brings a weeklong stay in a garden-view room to $3,875, down from $5,425 – a deal that can be combined with an “early bird offer” of breakfast and dinner for the week at no extra cost, if booked by Jan. 31.

They say corporate travel has been declining ever since that AIG controversy a while back.

This article caught my attention because it’s about travel agents hurt in Israel. Apparently the driver was trying to race another bus and lost control. I hope he gets in big trouble.