With Stonehenge just under a two hour drive from central London it is easy to see why visitors stay in London and take a day trip out to see this ancient site. And it is testament to the fascination, that this 5000 year old pile of stones, invokes for visitors to the UK that, in their thousands, tourist turn their back on London’s lights for a chance to spend an afternoon getting as close as possible to Salisbury plain and the home of pagan religion and spiritual worship in England. But as London is such an easy coach journey from the monument it does make perfect sense to combine the two.
So you know what Stonehenge has to offer, but what should be high on your list for a short break to London.
One of London’s main attractions is Theatreland, which is popular destination for tourists and staycationers alike. With its wide range of musicals and plays, London theatres really offer something for everyone – from romantic couples on the lookout for musicals such as “The Bodyguard” and “Once”, to fun loving families booking to see “Disney’s The Lion King”, award winning “Matilda – the Musical” and last year’s runaway success: “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”.
Families with younger kids should also watch out for “The Tiger Who Came to Tea” which will be returning to London in the summer 0f 2014.
Of course it is not all musicals and big stars come to London all the time to appear in plays and comedies. 2014 will welcome Angela Lansbury in Noel Coward’s “Blyth Spirit”, Kristin Davis (from Sex and the City) in a new stage adaptation of the Hollywood thriller “Fatal Attraction” and silver screen legend Kathleen Turner in the West End premiere of Stephen Sach’s award winning comedy-drama “Bakersfield Mist”.
The wide range of shows is matched by the wide range of hotel available in London: from 5 star “palaces” to family-friendly guest-houses – although a three star hotel is probably as low as I am willing to recommend in central London, for whatever reason you are coming to town. There are so many companies offering deals that with a quick search on the internet it should be easy for anyone to find the hotel that will suit them. Personally I find the 4 star Holiday Inn Kings Cross Bloomsbury perfect for my family (and they are not paying me to say that!). It is handy, well established and has excellent facilities including a nice pool so that the kids can go crazy for an hour at the end of the day (if they have the energy!) Kids under 13 enjoy free breakfast too when sharing with 2 adults.
For romantic couples who can’t afford The Ritz, the Guoman Charing Cross is very grown up and Kingsway Hall near Covent Garden handy for all the theatres. The Rubens in Victoria is LOVELY and the staff are great too – again I’m not being paid to say these things!
But back out and about in London…
Although most shows have afternoon matinee performances most people will go to the theatre in the evening, leaving the day free for other sightseeing (including Stonehenge): The London Eye is usually high on people’s lists, as is the Tower of London and of course Buckingham Palace.
There are also many fascinating free places to visit in London: the British Museum, the National Gallery, The Natural History Museum… in fact most of the larger museums and art galleries in London are free. In the summertime don’t forget the Royal Parks that are dotted around central London offering a relaxing venue to play, picnic and explore.
So next time you are looking for a short break idea with a bit of variety why don’t you come to London for a couple of days, see a show, enjoy the capital’s other sights and attractions and then, for a change of pace and a change of scenery, add a half day tour to Stonehenge?
Author Simon Harding has been organizing culturally-led short breaks, including Theatre Breaks, around the UK and Europe for over 30 years. He also writes for www.theatrebreaks.co.uk