>UK travel bleg

>Since all you netizens and web-dwellers were so helpful last year when I was planning on spending a month in London for research last summer, I thought I’d ask for help again. Two updates below.

Query/Problem #1

I’m going to the UK for two weeks this summer from July 17 to the 31 (already have my round trip plane ticket from Big Rust Belt to Heathrow). On the 17th I need to get from London to Swansea, Wales. Advance train tickets are only 12.50 GBP, and the train is direct and takes less than 3 hours. That’s great! Except for one thing: it seems you can’t buy tickets online unless you have a UK address. Grrr. And I believe it’s a UK *billing* address the online booking agency (Trainline) wants. It really shouldn’t matter since I’m trying to purchase the ticket to pick up at a self-service kiosk, but apparently, it does. Same day tickets are now 61.00 GBP — a big difference! — and by the day itself they could be more.

Meanwhile, after Swansea, I’m going to Leeds and then from Leeds back to London. Were I able to purchase of all this right now, online, it would only cost me about 45.00 GBP. Now, I may be able to get those second two legs at Paddington when I arrive there, and thus still get some kind of advanced fair, but it’s subject to availability.

So here’s what I’m asking: is there any way a US resident can purchase advance train tickets online?? Am I missing something?

Update: Using a UK address and choosing the first class post option on thetrainline.com solved my problems. If I didn’t have a friend in the UK to receive the tickets I’d be SOL, though. It’s totally stupid that choosing the electronic kiosk method requires a UK billing address. I’ve written to customer service about it. Oh, and as one commenter points out, if you call the appropriate train company directly, you can order the cheap advance tickets over the phone, to be picked up at the self-service kiosk. So why you can’t do it online is beyond me — especially since National Express, the coach service, has e-tickets you print out from your own printer! (If hadn’t been for the fact that the coach tickets are actually *more* expensive *and* slower, I might have gone that route.)

Query / Problem #2

I need a place to stay in London for the nights of July 27, 28, 29, and 30. I know about Goodenough Club and actually stayed in one of their student rooms last summer. But I’d be surprised if they have a student room available this late — though I’ve written to ask — and the club is a little pricey. Yes, I know it’s London, but does anyone know of a decent B&B near the Kings Cross/British Library area that’s under 100 pounds a night? Given how much I may end up spending on train travel, I want to minimize expenses on accommodations.

Update: I’m still looking for suggestions here. Also, does anyone know anything about the Euro Hotel, the Alhambra Hotel, or the Wardonia Hotel? Along with the Penn Club, suggested by Rebel Lettriste, these look like possibilities, especially the first two.

All leads and advice appreciated! Thanks!

25 thoughts on “>UK travel bleg

  1. >I’m willing to buy the train tickets for you if you like.Here’s the advice I received last time I asked my f’list about cheap places to stay in London. It’s far cheaper than what you’re asking about, actually, since I was asking on behalf of students, but you still may wish to consider them.

  2. >Sorry to be inefficient in commenting, but it now occurs to me that I think my mother has bought train tickets here before using *her* billing info and *my* address. It’s worth a try for you – you buy them, and have them sent to a UK address to wait for you.

  3. >You’re welcome to give my address and I’ll post the tickets on, recorded delivery. Actually, I live near London: I could hand them to you in person when you get here. Either way, you’re welcome to use me as a third-party mediator person :o)

  4. >Ooh, this is all very helpful. Thanks all!RL – The Penn Club looks lovely! Owlfish — I’ll go look at your suggestions (I think I remember when you posted that, but it’ll refresh my memory).I checked out raileurope.com and the prices are the high-end, non-advance prices you get in the UK, so I’m thinking about doing what owlfish and db suggest and using a UK friend’s address with Trainline. I mean, how can I pass up the chance for a 10 quid ticket from Leeds to London, even if it takes a little subterfuge.But if anyone else has any other ideas/suggestions for either travel or accommodations, keep ’em coming!

  5. >This is a good idea – my friend and I were planning on buying the tickets the day of in London, but it might be better to try to get it in advance. One question, I just tried to get timetables on Trainline from Paddington to Swansea and it said it couldn’t get them. How are you searching to find such a low price? We have friends in London whose address we can use, but I can’t find the price!

  6. >For accomodations go to the London Bed and Breakfast site (I think it’s londonbb.com). I usually book there. You get a private room, breakfast, etc. They have accomodations in Zone 1, but my favorite place is in Zone 2 in Stamford Brook (I know tube ride). It’s quiet, you get a huge room, she has Liberty sleigh beds, super nice linens, a beautiful little lockable wardrobe, desk and television. I also love staying with her because the bathtub is just so amazing. You can find it on the londonbb.com site. Look under singles and then Stamford Brook. She’s just off of King’s Road, so near lots of restaurants and things to do (and because it’s not in the center of the city, decently priced).

  7. >last time i was in london (too long ago!) i stayed in an actual hotel with tiny but superclean rooms right by King’s X for 45 pounds a night… it was run by the Ukrainian mob, however, and i’m pretty sure the leggy girls working as maids and receptionists made most of their money doing something else. i wish i could remember the name of it, though, as a potential back-up location for you. if it hasn’t been raided.and, while i’m really bummed you’re not visiting me in the next few weeks, i totally understand. plus it will give me more time to train for the tri at the end of june. and, as self-centered as it sounds, i love when you go to the UK in the summer because i get such kickass birthday booty!but you’d better get here before the snow returns! that means by october! (btw, southwest seems to have crazy cheap flights to/from denver).ooh… i’m so excited. i can actually read the word verification without squinting and twisting my head all funny…

  8. >my mum recently bought uk rail tickets with an australian credit card (and no uk address) with no problems. are you using this site:nationalrail.co.uk?(different from the dot.com i think.)but if you do manage to do it, check that they send you a confirmation email…

  9. >ps. from the rail site i mentioned above, when you actually buy the tickets it links you to any number of ticket-purchasing agencies. nationalexpress east coast seems to work.

  10. >Can’t help you with train travel or lodging in the UK, but I can tell you this: I don’t yet have a snow globe from Swansea or Leeds… So be on the lookout. I’ll owe you and Bullock a pint next time you’re in Portland.

  11. >I bought my tickets from London to Swansea the other day, and I ran into the same problem. All you have to do is call the rail company on the phone. You give them your (American) information and a very nice man with a thick accent will then give you a reference number which you use to collect the round-trip ticket at Paddington (using, of course, the same credit card with which you made the reservation). Calling long distance is obviously a pain, but — enh — less of a pain than 61 BP. Bon courage. – TJO’D.

  12. >I’ve discovered two ways to purchase the tickets while still in the USA:(1) via telephone, as above(2) use a fake UK billing address, such as that of the place you’ll be staying. Just set up an account and list that address (I think I sued a dorm at Leeds) and then get your tickets from the machine at the train station when you arrive.Qjump (http://www.qjump.co.uk) allows you to do this, will send a confirmation email, and will then allow you to pick up your tickets at Paddington. I’ve been using Qjump in this way for about four years with not problems.

  13. >Thanks everyone! I’m going to try using my friend’s address and if that doesn’t work, try the phone method, although that will mean calling at least three different train companies (all of which annoyingly use TheTrainline — the source of the original problems — for their online purchases! Gr!)

  14. >Mmm, no… it was too small to be a Novotel. Dang it, I wish I could find the business card I took. Though the Chinese takeaway guy next door, when he learned where I was staying, said it was “a bad place.” I dunno… I spoke to them all in Russian and had no troubles.

  15. >Pirate — Don’t worry about it. It sounds too scary for me, anyway, especially since I don’t speak Russian! (Was it, by any chance, to the east of KingsX? Between there and Islington is supposedly a major prostitution neighborhood.)

  16. >Oh, and Medieval Woman, you might have hit the site at a busy time. I got the same error once, but otherwise I’ve gotten to the prices. Just click on the “check availability and prices” button. I’m looking at the 12:45 and 13:45 departures, btw.

  17. >I stayed at the Euro Hotel last year during ISAS. Nothing luxurious, but nothing gross, either. Tiny room, tiny little beds and the exact same chair and lamp that my family had in 1975 (though these looked newly manufactured). Great location very close to the British Museum. Ok breakfast. I did a lot of late-night walking and enjoyed how quiet this part of London is after, say, 11 or 12 p.m.

  18. >Thanks, Mike, that helps. Personal reports give me a better sense of the place than online reviews — or at least it seems that way.I’m leaning towards the Euro or the Alhambra — with the Penn Club as a back-up since it’s farther from the library and train station. And then the no-breakfast, super-budget, cabin-sized rooms Wardonia as a back-up to the back-up.

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