We arrived into London Luton Airport for the Bank Holiday Weekend in late August. From Luton Parkway £15 gets you into the centre of London on the train within 35 minutes. Arriving at Blackfrairs Station in the city we then caught a London black cab to the Holiday Inn Express Vauxhall (Nine Elms), South London.
The hotel was excellent value for money, newly renovated, quiet, (ask for the side away from the road), a hearty all inclusive breakfast, very clean and best of all it is only a few blocks from the Royal Vauxhall Tavern (RVT) which is one of the oldest and most famous gay bars in all of London.
The first thing we did was to buy our Oyster Cards for the London Underground and red buses at Vauxhall station which is just a short walk away from the hotel and right on the Victoria Tube line. We strolled around the corner to the Sainsburys Super Store to purchase a few necessities. A short rest back at the hotel and it was time for dinner at the Portugal Restaurant, a short distance away. The Bacalhau, Portuguese salted cod, was simply delicious.
Our second day started with the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. The guards start marching towards the Palace at 11:00am but be there by 10:30am to secure a good viewing spot. (See this link for details. https://changing-guard.com/changing-guard-buckingham-palace.html)
Then we were off to the Royal Mews just around the corner from the Palace. The Mews houses mainly the Queen’s carriages and a few horses are also stabled there. The four ton Gold Carriage used only for coronations is a masterpiece. A late lunch of scrumptious fish and chips at Balls Brothers Wine Bar just down from the Mews was a perfect choice.
In the evening we made our way to Piccadilly Circus to see the Book of Mormon at the Prince of Wales Theatre. The show was not only a first class musical but the laughs came thick and fast and the brilliant cast poked fun in every possible way at the teachings of the Mormon Religion. The Theatre was easy to find right near Piccadilly Circus station. There are loads of restaurants in this area for a post-theatre supper and you will find yourself in the heart of Soho if you walk towards Old Compton Street via Rupert Street or Wardour Street.
The next evening we ventured into Chinatown for a delicious Asian dinner. We were back in Soho where many of London’s gay bars are located. Some of the most popular and worth a look are GAY BAR, Rupert Street Bar, The Duke of Wellington, KU, Comptons and the Kings Arms, London’s most famous Bears’ Bar.
In Vauxhall there are bars and clubs like Fire, The Eagle but whatever you do don’t miss Sunday Social at the RVT with the D. E. Experience. It’s a gay institution and has been running for well over ten years.
Just up the road from Vauxhall is Clapham and here you’ll find the famous Two Brewers. We can also highly recommend XXL London for a big man’s late night out. On a Friday and Saturday Chariots Sauna right under the arches in Vauxhall is very busy.
Back On Tour
On our last day in London we took the Tube to Covent Garden where there is plenty of street life, live bands and market stalls. At one of the stalls we bought a unique set of cuff links hand-made from old Imperial typewriter keys.
We enjoyed a Sunday pub lunch which is a must when in London. We chose the Wellington Hotel adjacent to the Lyceum Theatre. We had pre-purchased matinee tickets to the Lion King which was outstanding, with wonderful music, amazing life-sized puppets, phenomenal costumes and a fantastic cast; a bucket list thing to do in London.
We have been to London several times before and below we have included our list of iconic things we have enjoyed doing on previous visits.
London Eye, Tate Modern, Notting Hill, The National Gallery, Madame Tussauds, Tower of London and the Crown Jewels, Hampton Court Palace, Buckingham Palace Tour (Only in August), Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre , Shopping at Harrods and Selfridges, Westminster Abbey and St Paul’s, a day trip or overnighter to Brighton, a trip to Hampstead Heath, a walk through Hyde Park, Kensington Palace tour, and the Shard (the tallest building in Europe and one of the latest things on the must do list).
We found the following link useful to explore some of London’s lesser known attractions: Things To Do In London. Whether it’s watching the pomp and ceremony of the changing of the guard, enjoying a choice of the best live theatre on offer around the world, or meeting some of the many handsome men out partying on the gay scene, we know you’ll enjoy this amazing city as much as we have on every visit.
Know Before You Go
- Vauxhall in South London is a convenient location to stay and much less expensive than north of the river.
- We used Agoda.com to book the Holiday Inn Express Vauxhall, Nine Elms
- Buy an Oyster Card for the tube at any underground station
- Purchase theatre tickets online before leaving home to get good seats.
- If travelling by train out of London purchase tickets online well in advance to save.