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Pre-Cruise in London Day 1
Monday, October 6, 2014   Related topics:
Whenever the opportunity arises to sail from Southampton or Portsmouth, we always try to spend at least a couple of days in London before the cruise. This is one of our favorite major cities in the world. You actually need four or five days to fully experience London. We settled into our British Airways Club World seats for the eight-hour flight from DFW to London. We prefer BA over American Airlines whenever traveling to London. The service is better and we still earn AAdvantage miles!

Rickee settles into her Club World seat on flight 192

Fortunately, the overnight flight to London was uneventful. We landed at Heathrow ahead of schedule at 9:20am. After disembarking, we took the train to the main terminal building where we breezed through passport control. After collecting our luggage, we exited Customs and began looking for our driver. I had arranged through Heathrow Shuttle After collecting our luggage, we exited Customs and began looking for our driver. I had arranged through Heathrow Shuttle ( to have a driver meet us at the airport for the transfer to our hotel. There were dozens of drivers holding signs for people as we exited Customs, but none with my name on them. Before panic set in, we walked to a nearby Airport Information desk where a nice young lady actually called Heathrow Shuttle for us on her iPad. As it turned out, we were just way ahead of schedule. I had arranged for the driver to meet us at 11am to give us plenty of time to get through immigration and Customs. My bad.

Airport Information at Heathrow is very helpful

Sure enough, by 11am, our driver showed up holding a sign with my name, albeit slightly misspelled. He placed all of our luggage on the cart and escorted us to the parking lot where his van was parked. All of our luggage was loaded into the new Mercedes van and off we went. It was a 40-minute drive from Heathrow to our hotel which was located near Kensington Palace.  The cost for the transfer was £70 ($117 US).,

Driver from Heathrow Shuttle my shows up right on time (my name slightly misspelled)

We arrived at The Milestone Hotel at around 12 Noon, and were greeted by Teddy, the Bellman, who graciously unloaded our luggage and escorted us to the Reception desk. Check-in was swift and soon the hotel butler, Fran, was taking us through The Milestone on a short tour of the property. The hotel has tremendous history with some of the structure dating back to the 1600s. We were so jet-lagged that I am not sure how much of the tour I remember, but I clearly remember when we arrived at our 5th floor room. All I could think about was how fast I could lay down on that bed and take a nap! Before I passed out from exhaustion, we were treated to complimentary Mimosas, which we enjoyed in our room. After the Mimosa, I laid down on the bed and the world went dark for the next two hours.

Complimentary Mimosas are served at The Milestone

After a restful nap, we decided we had better get out and do some exploring. The Milestone is conveniently located just across the street from Kensington Palace and Hyde Park, so there is plenty to see within walking distance. We checked with the Concierge before heading out on our own and he offered some great suggestions for lunch as well as providing us with a city map. We first started walking down the street, looking for a place to have lunch. After walking a few blocks, we stumbled upon Byron, a London burger chain. After looking over the menu, a "proper burger" sounded too good to pass up. Rickee and I each enjoyed a delicious burger, cooked perfectly and supplemented with French fries and onion rings.

The battered onion rings at Byron soon disappeared

Fully energized from our meal, we set out to explore Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. This is a beautiful place for a leisurely walk and some much needed exercise. Kensington Palace is a working royal residence where William and Kate live along with Prince Harry. The grounds are manicured, as you would expect, and very popular with locals. We walked through the grounds, the gardens and through adjacent Hyde Park before returning to The Milestone. It was an enjoyable first day in London. Tomorrow, we plan on doing more exploring after a good night's sleep.

Originally posted on: 5/15/2014
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