England, home of a once great empire on which the sun never set. Situated on a green isle in the North Atlantic, comprised of three unique kingdoms of England, Scotland and Wales that make up the United Kingdom together with Northern Ireland.
From King’s and Queens to parliamentary democracy, no other country in the world does over the top pomp and ceremony as well as England. About a third the size of Texas, England is comprised mostly of low hills and plains with chalk cliffs, moorland and moody weather to match. Given its size the country boasts 10 national parks and 34 Areas of Outstanding National Beauty with 2,795 miles of craggy, beach-fringed coastline – culminating in the imposing and stunning White Cliffs of Dover.
First inhabited by humans in the stone age 10,000 years ago, England gets its name from the Angles, a post-Roman Germanic tribe that settled the island. A living history that can still be seen today with castle ruins, monolithic stone structures, tombs and stone circles. The country side is dotted with extravagant country homes and estates perched amongst great forests and grasslands. Quaint towns and stately palaces crop up showcasing the vast history of monarchy and the commoners.
King George VI once said that it is not the walls that make the city of London, but the people who live within them. The walls of London may be battered, but the spirit of the Londoner stands resolute and undismayed. The center of the world for many generations, London has always been a trendsetter and home of political heavyweights like Sir Winston Churchill, that punch above their weight class. London desires to be explored, from royal palaces to urban parks to the shopping mecca of Sloan street and Kensington High Street. World Class museums dot the city together historical sites like the houses of Parliament and Big Ben. England however is more than London. The cobbled streets of York, the Roman Baths in the City of Bath, Oxford’s Academic spires, Newcastle’s art galleries and winding shopping streets in Brighton. All of them worthy of venturing outside of the city of London.
British food has long been a butt of international jokes about its bland offerings with mint sauce. And while many foodies will get their fix in the national capital London, traditional English cuisine across the country can sometimes still be bland, greasy and boring. London’s restaurants range from cheap pubs offering fish and chips and Sunday roast to high priced Michelin starred celebrity chef restaurants that cover every world cuisine you could possibly imagine. Breakfast can be as traditional, like the full English breakfast fried bacon, sausages, eggs, tomatoes, mushrooms, baked beans and fried bread – or as simple as a take-away (takeout) sandwich and coffee from the local patisserie. Don’t confuse tea (dinner) with high tea (the indulgent afternoon tea and snacks). London’s afternoon high tea offering is varied, but most major 5-star hotels will have some form of high tea service – mostly attended by tourists. Working Londoners generally seek out the nearest pub, grastropub or bar at 5 pm.
One of the greatest exports of England are High Tea and English Pub culture. Tea and beer play a central role in English social life. Coffee culture has seen a drastic increase over the last years, but it still plays a backseat to locally brewed beer and is a must try. There are many locally grown wines with over 400 vineyards with the southeast winning many major awards. Nightlife in England generally revolves around pubs and bars (which are more upscale, busier and louder than pubs). If there is one place you can find your clubbing Nirvana, it will be in London. Home to some of the biggest, most notorious and iconic nightclubs in the world. From the many bars and clubs in London’s SOHO district to uber clubs like Xoyo, Cargo, Supa Dupa Fly, Phonox, The Grand, Osclo to smaller venues like Jazz Café, Shaka Zulu, The Old Queen’s Head, Concrete and Montezuma. Londoners knows how to party.
For a successful vacation you must book ahead, especially during the extremely busy summer months and long weekends (bank holidays). We recommend booking at least 4 months ahead of your scheduled travel date to have the best options. Rooms in hotels in major city centers are sky high and are generally smaller and significantly tighter than their American counterparts. This is also true when staying at American brand chain hotels as most of them are in historic buildings built during the Victorian era. A regular American hotel room would be considered a suite in England. We do not recommend booking B&B’s or Airbnb style apartments, as sometimes they can be 20 miles away from where you want to be. Contact Trip Concierge for the latest London hotel prices, suite upgrades, early check in and late checkout, complimentary breakfasts and spending credits with over 1000+ hotels around the world.
The weather is at its best, but accommodation costs are at their peak and destinations very often sold out, in particular in August (school holidays).
The rates are somewhat lower and the weather is still good, but expect sudden rain or foggy periods. If you are lucky September and October can be balmy Indian summers.
This is the wettest, coldest and foggiest time of the year, with the occasional snow fall in the north. However, most tourist sites operate year round.
London Heathrow is the main airport for International flights with London Gatwick serving many European discount airlines and international low-cost carriers. Both are connected to the city centre with the Heathrow Express (20 minutes) and Gatwick Express (45 minutes), respectively. London Heathrow might be busy and overcrowded, but it is still the best option to get to England with Gatwick taking second place. Stansted Airport located about 35 miles northeast of central London handles mostly charter and budget European flights. London Luton about 35 miles north of central London, is the preferred departure airport for vacation package airlines. London City focuses on flights to/from European and other UK airports. Regional airports include Manchester, Newcastle, Southampton and Birmingham.
England is an island and as such has no land borders. If you want to stay on land you can connect with hourly ferry service either by foot, rental car or using one of the many bus services like Eurolines and National Express. Vehicle drivers use Eurotunnel (www.eurotunnel.com). At Folkestone in England or Calais in France, you drive onto the train via ramps, cross the tunnel on the train and drive off at the other end. You can book ferry service directly using www.directferries.co.uk, a single site offering all sea-ferry routes, and Eurotunnel.
The Eurostar train (www.eurostar.com) via the Channel Tunnel (Chunnel) connects France and England’s capitals in 2 hours and 30 minutes and Brussels in 2 hours. Rail tickets across Europe can be purchased from Rail Europe (www.raileurope.com).
If you decide to go away, book your hotel, flights and activities through our trip concierge for discounts and benefits. We offer free upgrades, free breakfasts, free hotel credit and VIP gifts at many luxury hotels for the same price as the hotel’s own websites. (Book direct and you don’t get these benefits so why would you?). Our packaged vacation prices tend to be considerably cheaper than flight and hotel prices available online.
Domestic airlines in England include British airways, Flybe, easyjet and Ryanair offering cheap connections on long-distance routes.
If you are planning to visit the countryside then a rental car will make best use of your time, with major motorways offering a quick way to get around the country. Just remember to drive on the LEFT. Or the right (correct) side as the British will no doubt tell you at every turn. Petrol prices and rental prices are not suitable for budget minded travelers. If you are planning to stay in major city centers or connect between them its best to use the public transit options listed below as traffic in England’s major cities can quickly bog you down.
Train, Taxi and long-distance buses are the main public transport options. Train services between major cities operate on a regular schedule but require advance booking to ensure you get a seat. There are about 20 train operators offering code-share services. Go to the National Rail Enquiries (www.nationalrail.co.uk) to find your itinerary and then simply follow the links to book your tickets. Off peak times can offer major discounts on tickets. National Express (www.nationalexpress.com) and Megabus (www.megabus.com) operate a wide network of bus services. Taxi’s operate under three banners, the one’s with meters that you can hail on the street, minicabs that are called by phone and the unlicensed mini cabs that operate almost everywhere (avoid if possible). London offers the famous black cabs which are an experience by themselves. Want to be a true Londoner? Make sure to tell the cabi your destination while still outside of the car and through the front driver window.
London offers Santander Cycles where bikes can be rented on the spot using automatic docking stations and a major credit card. Nextbike (www.nextbike.co.uk) bike-sharing scheme has stations in Bath, Exeter, Oxford and Coventry, while York and Cambridge also have plentiful bike-rental options. Bicycles can be taken free of charge on most local urban trains, except for peak times.
The local currency is the Pound sterling (£), haggling is not permitted. ATM’s (cash machines) are widely available and major credit cards are widely accepted. Tipping in restaurants is around 10% and is not compulsory. Taxis usually expect you to round up to the nearest pound. London has many money changers (currency exchange offices), many of them however offer poor rates and charge outlandish fees. It’s less expensive to pull money from an ATM even with international charges added.