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5 Reasons to Visit London This Fall
Embrace crisp air, reduced hotel rates and fewer crowds in autumn.
In the shoulder season, you can snag discounted hotel rooms and explore the city's can't-miss attractions and art exhibitions without dealing with crowds of spring and summer.(Getty Images)
While London has always been on the top of any traveler's mind come spring or summer, when gardens and parks are in full bloom and must-see outdoor sights are in their full glory, autumn is also an ideal time to visit thanks to crisp air, vibrant markets and fewer tourists. Plus, when the weather starts to dip and summer crowds subside, so do room rates and flight prices. With that in mind, here are five reasons to plan a trip to London in the shoulder season.
1. Luxury Hotels and Airlines Offer Promotions
With a myriad of new hotels opening this year, there's no shortage of upscale lodging options to choose from in London. And during November, you can take advantage of more availability and discounted rates than the peak summer season and during the Christmas holiday. For a luxury stay at a wallet-friendly price, consider retreating to the Langham London, which currently features promotions such as half-priced additional rooms for families and 25 percent discounts for booking at least 14 days in advance of your stay. And thanks to its prime location, smack-dab in the center of London's West End, the property offers a convenient and comfortable place to stay that's ideally situated nearby can't-miss attractions, like Oxford Street and the British Museum.
What's more, you can start your journey across the pond off right with a relaxing flight on Virgin Atlantic, which offers high-tech entertainment systems (and Netflix streaming capabilities on Virgin America's new ViaSat planes). Plus, the carrier is currently offering low fares for economy-class tickets from New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco to London's Heathrow Airport. One-way economy-class ticket prices from Newark Liberty International Airport to London's Heathrow for flights booked by Dec.1, 2015 for travel by Dec.10, 2015 are currently starting at $348.
2. You Can Take Advantage of Free and Discounted Attractions
London overflows with iconic attractions that won't cost you a dime. Start your jaunt at the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square, which offers free admission (excluding special exhibitions) and showcases art by masters like Paul Cézanne and Vincent van Gogh, including Impressionist works, like Claude Monet's "The Water-Lily Pond" and Van Gogh's "Sunflowers." Or for a small admission fee, make your way to the new 'Goya: The Portraits' exhibit in the museum's Sainsbury Wing (open from Oct. 7 to Jan. 10, 2016), which showcases 70 works from the artist.
Another must-see is the Tate Modern, which is world-renowned for its modern art collection that spans pieces from beloved artists like Picasso, Dalí and Matisse, among others. The museum is reachable from the Southwark and Blackfriars Tube stops, and entry to the museum is free (excluding special temporary exhibits). And if you purchase tickets far enough in advance online, you can enjoy a speedy entrance and reduced admission to St. Paul's Cathedral. Afterwards, make your way to Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, a model of the 1600s theater where William Shakespeare's plays were enacted. And if you need a break from taking in the city's sights and sounds, stop by the new Mondrian Sea Containers next to The Globe to savor creative cocktails and take in unobstructed views of the River Thames at Dandelyan.
3. You Won't Have to Battle Crowds to Enjoy High Tea
London is famous for its classic afternoon tea, and it would be hard to visit the city and not spend a couple of hours relaxing over quintessential tea and scones at a traditional salon. For a memorable afternoon without swarms of tourists by your side, visit London's West End enjoy the fabulous and entertaining Mad Hatter's Tea at the Sanderson in autumn. Leisurely sip China Black Tea infused with hints of vanilla, blackcurrant, citrus, bergamot paired with sandwiches, like croque-monsieurs and classic cucumber and pastries, such as red velvet cake and chocolate-covered macaroons.
If you prefer cocktails to tea time, make your way to the American Bar at The Savoy along the north bank of the Thames for an inventive American-inspired drink menu that's been perfected since the The Savoy first served transatlantic patrons in 1889.
4. You Can Still Snag a Table at Top Restaurants
There's no better time to land reservations at London's coveted restaurants than fall, before a crush of tourists ascend upon the best dining establishments come winter and spring. For a meal to remember, book a table at Céleste at the Lanesborough Hotel. With menu items crafted from acclaimed Chef Patron Eric Frechon, who holds three Michelin stars and Executive Chef Florian Favario, you can expect first-class dining from start to finish. For a less expensive, but equally impressive alternative, venture to Brasserie Chavot in Mayfair, which dishes up boundary-pushing plates like beef bourguignon and tiger prawns harissa paired with slaw salad.
5. There Are Beautiful Open-Air Markets
In autumn, the storied Borough Market, perched on the south bank of the Thames, overflows with colorful stalls selling seasonal produce, cheeses and confections. And in the fall, you'll find a wealth of special seasonal events catering to food lovers. Plus, you can people-watch over drinks or a sit-down meal at a variety of dining spots in the area, such as Bedales of Borough. And if you're looking to bring home a souvenir or two, you can't miss exploring Portobello Road Market for everything from antiques to vintage fashion accessories to fresh produce.
About En Route
Practical advice on the art of traveling smarter with tips, tricks and intel from En Route's panel of experts.
Contributors have experience in areas ranging from family travel, adventure travel, experiential travel and budget travel to hotels, cruises and travel rewards and include Amy Whitley, Claire Volkman, Holly Johnson, Marsha Dubrow, Lyn Mettler, Sery Kim, Kyle McCarthy, Erica Lamberg, Jess Moss, Sheryl Nance-Nash, Sherry Laskin, Katie Jackson, Erin Gifford, Roger Sands, Steve Larese, Gwen Pratesi, Erin Block, Dave Parfitt, Kacey Mya, Kimberly Wilson, Susan Portnoy, Donna Tabbert Long and Kitty Bean Yancey.
Edited by Liz Weiss.
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