Newstalk takes a look at London on The Hard Shoulder

Novel London

This week I’m chatting with Ivan about taking a summer break to London after I took a cheeky break there last weekend to check out The Chelsea Flower show and see what’s new.

First stop before planning your visit is the website which has all the information you need to know about how to get around London and what’s happening this summer.

Everyone has a London story. Mine includes a summer spent working in Harrod’s food hall when I was a student the same year as Live Aid, followed by frequent visits during my Halcyon Days as a sock designer. But every time I visit I find so many new things to do.

Michelle at the Gherkin

How to get there?

Fly with Ryan air or Aer Lingus and if you are lucky you will pick up really cheap fares even in the summer July from 17.99 to Standstead and Aer Lingus lead in July €29.99

Best way into the city from the three main airports is by the Stanstead express from £29.90 or the Heathrow express£37 return and Gatwick with the Gatwick Express from £33.70 – london city airport is serviced by the DLR

How to get around London?

Oyster cards and travelcards in London

Whether you’re making a one-off trip to London or you’re a regular visitor, using an Oyster travel smartcard is the easiest way to travel around the city’s public transport network. Remember that the tube map is not geographically correct and you might be quicker walking some trips than actually getting the Tube.
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London Pass

Get a London Pass if you want to visit up to three attractions

Enjoy the best of London’s attractions while saving time and money with The London Pass — a hassle-free sightseeing credits package that lets you explore over 80 attractions.

With access to some of the city’s most popular and iconic sights — including must-see museums, palaces, historic buildings, castles and tours.

What’s included with The London Pass?

  • Visit 80+ top sights and attractions — including The View from the Shard, the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, Windsor Castle and much more!
  • Get your digital pass instantly — simply print your pass at home or use on your mobile device and you’re ready to enjoy London right away!
  • Skip the queues — enjoy fast track entry at some of the busiest and most popular attractions in London
  • Explore with ease — the pass includes a one-day hop-on-hop-off sightseeing bus tour (choose from Golden Tours or Big Bus)
  • Maximise your time — you’ll receive a free digital guidebook to help you plan your trip to London
  • Get access to exclusive special offers at a range of restaurants and shops
  • Save at least £20 per day on entry prices when you visit just three top attraction
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Family Attractions
Many of the attractions are pricey but you can save by booking online and pool together some of the attractions in a deal – buying your ticket to Madame Tussauds includes entry to Sea Life, The London Dungeon and the London Eye
from £50 for three attractions.
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Free things to do in London

Many of the best museums in London are free. Here is a list of some of them.
  1. Come face-to-face with a roaring T-Rex and experience the earthquake simulator at the Natural History Museum.
  2. Be inspired by the beautiful objects on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum.
  3. Learn about the history of the river Thames at Museum of London Docklands.
  4. Head to Greenwich to swing by the Queen’s House and the National Maritime Museum.
  5. Discover more than 2,000 paintings from the Middle Ages to the 20th century at the National Gallery. See works by Western European masters of painting such as Da Vinci, Botticelli, Caravaggio and Van Gogh.
  6. Experience the wonders of science first-hand with the Science Museum’s interactive displays. Showcasing more than 15,000 objects, the permanent collection includes must-see exhibits such as Amy Johnson’s Gipsy Moth plane.
  7. See how a power station has been transformed into London’s centre for modern and contemporary art at Tate Modern. Find world-class paintings, photographs and performance art, embrace the stunning view of the river from the gallery’s cafe, and explore the newly-opened Blavatnik Building.
  8. Discover the troubled history of modern war at the Imperial War Museum. Interesting displays guide you through the stories of modern conflicts, from the First World War to the present day.
  9. Retrace the history of aviation at this fascinating London museum. With a huge amount of aircraft memorabilia under one roof, the Royal Air Force Museum gives a spectacular account of the inner desire to take flight and the scientific endeavours to make it real.
  10. In the middle of Hyde Park, the Serpentine Galleries (Serpentine Gallery and Serpentine Sackler Gallery) are two exhibition spaces devoted to displaying international contemporary art. Every summer, a new Serpentine Pavilion is set up in the Serpentine Gallery’s garden, showcasing the talent of a specific artist or architect.

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Where to eat?

Bob Bob Cite

There’s a brand new restaurant in the city called Bob Bob Cite, a sister restaurant to Bob Bob Ricard in Soho, it has a great location in the Leadenhall Building (aka the cheesegrater) under the gaze of the Gherkin Building. This trendy restaurant is similar in style to a rail carriage with the fabulous press button champagne feature found on The Orient Express.

To dine in Bob Bob Cite is to have a culinary experience inspired by travel. The menu features the best ingredients you can expect such as caviar and oysters of course but with rustic french elements making the food tasty and hearty. We shared a Beef en croute and the aged Scottish beef was so lean, full of flavour and easy to cut I mistook it for wagyu.

Dinner at Bo
Dinner at new restaurant Bob Bob Cite

The owner Leonid Shutov has been attentive to every detail in the decor, styling and menu of this new restaurant and although bob bob Cite is only open a little over a week it will no doubt become a well established favourite in The City.

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Where to stay?

I stayed at the Royal Lancaster Hotel which is ideally situated close to Hyde Park and has undergone a complete refurbishment. The rooms and suites have amazing views over the park with the city skyline of the London Eye, The Shard and BT tower in the distance. It’s hugely convenient to Heathrow too being a 7 minute walk from Paddington Station.

Royal Lancaster Hotel

The breakfast is generous catering for all nationalities with views of the treetops overlooking Hyde Park. We had a night cap in the bar which is ultra relaxing and I couldn’t fault service or friendliness. If you’d like to take a theatre package then you can stay at this luxurious hotel and take in a show with Keith Prowse


from €259 pp including ticket and hotel (not including flights)

Keith Prowse offer the best packages combining the best seats in the house, with a great range of London hotels making for a fabulous theatre break away.

Choose from a fantastic choice of West End shows including Les Miserables, Annie, Aladdin, The Lion KingThe Phantom of the Opera, The Girls, Mamma Mia, Wicked, An American in Paris and more. You can round off any of their London packages with great value dining options, and sightseeing, add a trip on the London Eye, a ticket to Madam Tussauds or a hop-on/hop-off sightseeing tour. With so much to see and do in London, booking a theatre break package is the perfect way to explore the city and take in a top West End  show too.


London Theatre Breaks include:

Great value London theatre breaks include top price tickets to a leading West End show and two nights’ accommodation with breakfast.   Prices are based on weekend travel with show tickets for the Friday evening or Saturday/Sunday matinee.   Can offer mid-week packages for all your favourite shows. Price varies according to your travel date and show of choice and supplements apply for mid-week travel and for all newer shows.

Extra nights are also available.


Flights are not included in London Theatre Packages. However, but they have the most modern technology for searching for best value flights to London, including all low-cost carriers, allowing us to book you the best flights at the best prices for a fully coordinated service.

Special Occasion packages

Keith Prowse also offer special occasion London Theatre packages in the Lancaster London Hotel which include champagne and strawberries, balloons and birthday cake and sparkling wine in your room on arrival. They can create the perfect London package for you. A great way to celebrate!

Call  on 01 878 3500 or email for a personalised quotation.

Wallace Travel Group also have theatre breaks including flights 
  • Return Dublin – London Flights with Aer Lingus
  • Hand luggage only
  • One-Two-Three Nights in a 3* or 4* Hotel
  • Ticket to your show of choice

Our 3* hotels. 

  • One-night 3* Hotel & Ticket packages from: €269pps
  • Two-night 3* Hotel & Ticket packages from: €335pps
  • Three-night 3* Hotel & Ticket packages from: €409pps

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Click and Go Package to London

Staying at the Doubletree Hilton in Chelsea which is also a staff pick and including flights is this great package for €296 pps going out on July 18th 2019

  • DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel London – Chelsea
  • Board:
     Bed & Breakfast

Holiday makers

Adults: 2


From: Thu, 18 Jul 2019 To: Sun, 21 Jul 2019 for 3 nights

  • Flights*

    Outbound Aer Lingus – EI230 Dublin – London Gatwick

    Direct flight 07:05 – 08:45

    Inbound Aer Lingus – EI249 London Gatwick – Dublin

    Direct flight 22:40 – 23:55

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RHS Flower Shows Hampton Court Palace

Its flower show season everywhere even in Dublin with Bloom starting Thursday

Visit the Hampton Court FLower Show in 2019 with Keith Prowse.

Thursday 04 July – Sunday 07  July 2019

Visit the fabulous the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, one of the world’s biggest annual flower shows. There are over 300 stalls brimming with gardening products and delicious food. Listen to inspiring talks from the world’s most renowned gardeners and see the latest in gardening designs.

From €529 pps plus airlines 

Return flight to London (fly from Dublin, Cork or Shannon), Two nights hotel accommodation with breakfast in the 4* Strand Palace Hotel and ticket to the Flower Show

For more information or to book this and other gardening holidays, Call 01 878 3500, email


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