How Much Did This Cost?
- JFK-LHR in economy with AA: 27,000 miles x 2, taxes and fees $5.60 x 2 = $11.20
- 1 night at Hilton Garden Inn London Heathrow Airport: 30,000 Hilton points
- 3 nights at an Airbnb in London: $360
Total costs for 2 one way flights and 4 nights in London: $371.20 or $185.60 per person
How Did I Do It?
- Tran and I had leftover AA miles from our Paris trip.
- Hilton account: In early 2016, my prospective employers allowed me stay at Hilton properties for job interviews and I accumulated enough points to redeem for 1 night.
- Created new Airbnb account. Please use my link if you don’t have an account. Thank you.
Last June, my residency graduation gift to the person that not only gave me life but continues to be my pillar of support and the source of my wisdom was a trip to Europe.
While she doesn’t have an advanced degree, my mom is a well-read woman. One of her favorite characters is Sherlock Holmes. Therefore, I decided to take her to my favorite international city, London, for the first leg of this short European trip. Arriving at 10pm, we decided to stay at the Hilton Garden Inn next to the airport. The next morning, we took the tube into city center to check into our Airbnb in the Canary Wharf neighborhood. Not having many hotel points at that time, Airbnb was our best option as I didn’t want my mom to stay at a hostel.
Once settled in the studio, we went across the street to stock up on water, fruits, and snacks. Every time I travel abroad, I always shudder at the sticker prices. Food is definitely cheaper in America.
My mom had never eaten ramen so I took her to Ippudo. The restaurant’s decor was clean and modern but the food was subpar. NYC’s Ippudo is better.
Canary Wharf is the financial district of London. It is a great place to see some amazing buildings. I’m a sucker for men in suits so enjoyed people watching. 😉 It reminded me of Wall Street in NYC.
The following day, we took the tube to Baker Street Station. Right outside the station is the statue of Sherlock Holmes, near his fictional home at 221B Baker Street. Mom was excited to take a photo with her favorite fictional detective.
After she was satisfied with the photos, we walked half a mile to the colorful Queen Mary’s Rose Garden, located within the Inner Circle of Regent’s Park. Since we visited in the second week of June, the roses were in full bloom. It is free to visit. There are plenty of benches to rest or to just enjoy being around the fragrant roses. Being flower lovers, we spent several hours at this park. It ended up being one of our favorite places in London.
From Regent’s Park, we walked a mile to King’s Cross Station. As a huge Harry Potter fan, visiting Platform 9 ¾ was on the top of my list. King’s Cross is one of the most gorgeous stations in London. It is airy and lofty with a combination of old and modern architecture. The line at the Platform was long but it moved quickly. You get to choose the scarf from your favorite house, hold the trolley, and run through the wall. Of course, Gryffindor was the most popular so I opted for Slytherin. The employee would take the photo(s) but you could also ask someone in line to take a photo with your camera. Once done, the employees ushered you into the store to check out other HP merchandise. You’re not obligated to purchase anything. However, we did buy a framed photo of us.
We then took the tube to St. Paul’s cathedral and wandered around the area.
To finish the day, we went to Cafe Mama Pho, a small and quaint Vietnamese restaurant relatively close to our Airbnb. The portions were much smaller than what we are used to in the U.S. Prices were reasonable for London. It was one of the better meals we had in Europe.
On our third day, we walked around London’s most famous landmarks in our Vietnamese dresses.
London may be one of the most expensive cities in the world but there are plenty of free things to do. We didn’t have time to check out the free museums. Interestingly, my mom enjoyed NYC more than London. Maybe I just have a weakness for British accent.