I got this book through the Amazon Vine program, it was a timely offer since I am planning a trip to London in spring of 2010. This book gives a very nice overview of the city with a small chapter of things to do outside of the city. It should be noted that in my book some of Chapter 7 “Exploring London” has been replaced with pages from “Exploring Paris”. Pages 281-296 are all from the Paris guide; this is supposed to be a finished copy of this book so I am not sure what is up with that.
Overall I think this is a decent travel guide. A lot of information is provided on all the places detailed. I really liked the suggestion of what to see for 1 Day, 2 Day, or 3 Days in London. The addition of a Chapter on day trips outside of London was also nice. Care is taken to show which activities and places are kid-friendly. For the GLBT crowd there are small sections on travel information and night clubs. A very nice map of London that tears out is also included; it is map out of thick paper and laminated so it should stand up to wear and tear well. See details on the contents of each chapter below.
I will update this review after I use this book for my trip to England.
Chapter 1 – Lists the bests of London. The best food, museums, hotels, activities for families, etc. are listed here
Chapter 2 – Gives a very concise history of London. Special sections on art and architecture are included. This is very concise, but nice background information.
Chapter 3 – General information on planning your trip. Includes climate info, visa info, customs info, holidays/festivals, transportation guides, special resources for specialized travelers (women, GLBT, senior, individual).
Chapter 4 – Gives the lay of the laid. Has decent maps of London Central and the outskirts. Gives nice itineraries for 1 – 3 day stays in London.
Chapter 5 – Where to stay. Gives ranges of hotels from expensive to inexpensive by region in the city. Focuses primarily on hotels; with some mention of bed and breakfasts. No mention of vacation rental properties or other alternatives.
Chapter 6 – Where to Dine. Has a short “Best Of” dining list. Then lists restaurant by cuisine – making note of star rating and price range. Then they go through London by neighborhood and list the best places to dine in different price ranges. All information to contact the restaurant is included.
Chapter 7 – Exploring London. Starts with a great summary chart of sites by neighborhood; each site is given a star rating and a page reference. Goes through the top sites giving their history, tour schedules, contact info, etc. The sites have special designators for which are kid-friendly. Very nice maps showing where everything is located. Unfortunately part of this chapter is missing and replaced with “Exploring Paris”.
Chapter 8 – Shopping London – Shows shopping places by neighborhood. Gives them a star rating and provides contact info (website, phone number). Also gives general info on sale tax.
Chapter 9 – London After Dark. Goes through where good theaters, nightclubs, opera houses, and cocktail bars are located. My favorite part was the pub crawl section that provides a map and description of the “The World’s Greatest Pub Crawl”.
Chapter 10 – Side Trips from London. Gives details on taking day-trips to Windsor, Oxford, Cambridge, Stratford-Upon-Avon, Salisbury, and Stonehenge. I was a little disappointed that there weren’t more places covered; like York, Canterbury, and Glastonbury. But, this is a book on London, not England. So it was nice for them to offer up some easy day-trips.
Chaper 11 – Fast facts. Just a quick list of fast info on embassies, hotels, airlines. Kind of a mix of things that you might need to know quickly.