Stress Free Travel Out of Gatwick Airport with Hampton by Hilton

 

As a Londoner without a car, there is nothing more stressful than an early morning flight.

Let’s say, for instance, you have a 8am flight out of Gatwick. Ideally you should arrive at the airport by 6am or 6.30am at the very latest. That means you need to be on a train to Gatwick by 5am. That presents a problem since most Tube lines don’t get up and running until about 6am. Your only solutions are to (1) take a scary and long night bus (2) take a taxi to the train station (3) take a taxi directly to the airport.

None of these options are particularly pleasant and none of them solve the issue of having to wake up at 4 in the morning.

hbhgatwick_bedroom

Our Room @ Hampton by Hilton Gatwick Airport

Facing yet another morning flight out of Gatwick last week, this time my boyfriend and I finally discovered a solution that solved all our problems:

We booked a room at the Hampton by Hilton Gatwick Airport and arrived the night before our flight.

Our flights were on Sunday, so we woke up late on Saturday morning and enjoyed a leisurely day of packing and getting ready for our trip. After a nice dinner out, we took the Tube to London Bridge and hopped on a train to Gatwick. I didn’t even bother to look at the time or when our train was due to arrive at Gatwick, because it didn’t matter!

Hampton by Hilton Gatwick Airport

Hampton by Hilton Gatwick Airport

Hampton by Hilton Gatwick - Lobby (Medium res)

Hampton by Hilton Gatwick Airport

We arrived at Gatwick on Saturday evening and strolled directly over to the hotel. The Hampton by Hilton is connected to Gatwick’s North Terminal, which is where our flights were departing from. The check-in process was a breeze and we found the hotel to be clean, modern, and very practical for our needs. Here are some of the perks that as travellers, we appreciated the most:

  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Free hot breakfast
  • Hot food served until 10pm
  • 24/7 lobby bar with snacks available (and you can bring your drinks into your room!)

Normally when we go on holiday, the rush to the airport is so stressful that we can’t relax until we’re buckled into the plane. By booking a hotel room (one that is connected to the airport, no less) we were never stressed to begin with. We enjoyed a lovely Saturday, nipped on over the airport, and even kicked our holiday off a little early at the hotel bar.

After a lovely night’s sleep, we got up the next morning, had some breakfast, and proceeded to the airport. The whole process was so simple and stress free that I can’t believe I hadn’t thought of opting for an airport hotel stay before. There have been times when I actually paid [significantly] extra for an afternoon flight just so I could avoid the stress of early morning travel. It’s good to know that I don’t have to do that anymore and I also never have to take another 5am taxi ride ever again.

My stay at Hampton by Hilton Gatwick Airport was complimentary. However, all opinions are my own.

 

 

 

Announcing: Girl in London Guides

 

Girl in London Guides

It is with great excitement that I am announcing the launch of Girl in London Guides!

After years of blogging I’ve had countless people tell me that I should write a book about moving to London and living in London. Well, I’ve finally taken all that advice to heart and have started writing a set of guides to help my fellow Anglophiles move to, live, and thrive in the UK capital.

The first guide that I have available is … (drumroll please) …

Applications for UK Work Visas and Indefinite Leave to Remain: Getting it Right the First Time

This is for all of you out there who are currently going through the [excruciating] process of filling out your visa or ILR application. I’ve done it three times myself and each time it took days of research to get everything right.

The guide translates the UKBA’s ambiguous instructions into plain English, and provides lots of examples so you can fill out your application(s) with confidence.

The guide is £9.99, but since this is my first ever e-book, I’ve got a discount code for you all!

Use the promo code girlinlondon and you’ll get 50% off!

girl in london guides

Happy reading!

xoxo
Girl in London

Inside the New Yurt Cafe at Limehouse

 

yurtcafe_pan

It’s not everyday that a yurt suddenly appears down the street from your flat, but that’s precisely what happened earlier this week here in my neighbourhood of Limehouse.

My boyfriend alerted me Wednesday morning that free coffee vouchers were being given away at the front of Limehouse station. When I did some investigating, not only did I learned that there was a new coffee shop (inside a yurt) coming to the neighbourhood, but this was in fact all a part of a much greater development project by St. Katharine’s Precinct.

The whole idea behind the project (I think) is to bridge the awkward stretch of no-man’s land between Limehouse and Wapping/St. Katharine’s Dock. The Yurt Cafe, which is housed inside a genuine yurt, just opened a few days ago and I have to say I was pretty impressed.

Yurt_Cafe_Menu

Limehouse doesn’t have a great cafe scene. In fact, it doesn’t really have a lot going on — the area around Limehouse Basin is almost entirely comprised of residential units. So the fact that a little cafe has just opened up within a block of the basin is a pretty big deal to us locals.

The Yurt Cafe looks small on the outside, but the inside is pretty roomy. The cafe features that ‘upcycled’ look that’s so en vogue these days. There’s a little fireplace in there, as well as plenty of seating across a large open space. In addition to a range of coffees and teas, the cafe serves breakfast and lunch foods. When we visited yesterday we opted for two lattes, one lemon polenta cake, and one vegetable quiche. It took a little time for the food to come out, but everything was delicious.

Yurt_Cafe_Fireplace

Going forward I’ll definitely be popping over a few times a week to grab a quick takeaway lunch here. If you’re ever in the neighbourhood, I definitely recommend stopping by — even if it’s just to check out the yurt!

Top 5 Places to Celebrate Thanksgiving in London

 
Thanksgiving in London

Image Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/notahipster/

When I was a kid the 3.5 weeks between Halloween and Thanksgiving couldn’t seem further apart. Now that I’m an adult, the whole month of November seems to fly by.

Time is relative, after all.

Anyways, I suppose it is that time of the year when those of us who indulge in the Thanksgiving tradition need to start thinking about what we’re going to do for the holiday. Over here in London, there are actually quite a few places to chow down on turkey, stuffing, and all the fixin’s.

Keep it Classy and Traditional with the Benjamin Franklin House

Thanksgiving in London

Image Source: http://www.benjaminfranklinhouse.org

The Benjamin Franklin House is hosting a traditional Thanksgiving feast- complete with turkey, stuffing, veggies, and pumpkin pie – on the evening of 26 November at the beautiful Clothworker’s Hall in central London. It’s a little pricey at £80/Adult and £45/child, but all proceeds go to supporting the Benjamin Franklin House here in London town. For more info, click here.

Have a Hipster Thanksgiving at the Breakfast Club

If traditional isn’t your thing, then you might want to take a look at what the Breakfast Club is offering this Thanksgiving. The faux American diner is cooking up a Turkey Day menu on 26 November at all its outlets across the city. Some sample dishes include spicy pumpkin soup and baked kale mac n cheese. At £28, it’s one of the cheaper deals in town. For more info, click here.

Enjoy a Traditional Thanksgiving for Less at Bodean’s

Bodean’s sets the standard for American BBQ in London, so it’s only fitting that they serve up a traditional Thanksgiving meal every year. Each of its branches are offering turkey, ham, and all the trimming for a very reasonable £23.95/person. Find the branch closest to you and book ahead – seats fill up quickly!

Tuck into Lobster at a Louisiana Style Thanksgiving with the Big Easy

If you’re in the mood for pit smoked turkey with a heaping side of Lobster, then you’ll want to head on over to the Big Easy on 26 November. Their £30/person Turkey Day menu (+£10 for Lobster) also includes homemade pumpkin pie. Mmmmmm. Click here for more info.

Have a Posh Turkey Day at Christopher’s Grill

This celebrated American establishment in Covent Garden is offering up a delectable Turkey Day menu for £55/person. The menu includes lots of fancy stuff, like goat cheese soufflé, roast corn and chorizo chowder, and pear and almond cobbler. Far from traditional, but it might appeal to the sophisticated side of your palate. Click here for more info.

Can I be honest with all of you for a moment?

I don’t really have the time to list ALL the restaurants offering a Thanksgiving menu – I tried to highlight a wide range of options above, but there are a lot I missed. Here’s a list of other places to chow down on Turkey on 26 November.

Honourable Mentions

The Narrow (see menu here)

Beas of Bloomsbury (takeaway only – see menu here)

Villandry

The Diner

Porky’s

Balthazar London

The Difference Between Indefinite Leave to Remain and Citizenship

 

uk citizenship

It’s been a couple of weeks since I was granted Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) and I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who sent their congratulations. I know I’m terrible at responding to comments and emails, but I do want to let you all know that I really really appreciate all the kind words that have been sent my way. You guys keep me going!

On that note I wanted to keep the ILR theme going this week and talk about the differences between ILR and UK Citizenship.  There is a lot of overlap, but they are definitely not the same thing.

Indefinite Leave to Remain

Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland [Permanent residents of the UK can live in England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland]

Indefinite Leave to Remain effectively equates to permanent residency. As a permanent residence, I am free to live and work in the UK without restrictions. I can also leave the UK and return as a please, as long as I’m not away for more than 2 years (in which case I would have to re-apply for settlement).

Having ILR also means you qualify for EU/EEA tuition rates at UK universities (provided you’ve lived in the UK more than 5 years), and it also makes it much easier to secure loans from banks.

Citizenship

Bruges Belgium

Bruges, Belgium [UK citizens can live and work anywhere in the EU/EEA]

UK citizenship is similar in that citizens are also free to live and work in the UK without restrictions. They can leave the UK and return as they please, but without the 2-year restriction. In other words, a UK citizen can move to Japan for 10 years and come back to the UK whenever he or she wishes, no questions asked.

See Also: What Does it Cost to Become a UK Citizen?

Obviously, citizens also qualify for EU/EEA tuition rates at UK universities and can secure loans and other financial accounts more easily than temporary residents.

Where the primary difference lies between IRL and citizenship is that UK citizens are also EU citizens. This grants UK citizens to live, work, retire, and enjoy unrestricted travel throughout the EU. Permanent residents of the UK do not have this right. Anyone who has traveled to an airport in Europe will notice that immigration is separated into two categories: EU/EEA Passports and All Other Passports. UK citizens use the EU/EEA line, while ILR holders like myself must still use the All Other Passports line.

Of course, another major difference between citizenship and settlement is that adult UK citizens have the right to vote. Permanent residents do not.

Obtaining UK Citizenship

In order to qualify for UK citizenship, you must first obtain Indefinite Leave to Remain. Most applicants must meet a 5-year residency requirement and hold ILR for at least one year before becoming a naturalised UK citizen. Applicants married to UK citizens have it a little easier – they qualify for citizenship directly after receiving Indefinite Leave to Remain, provided they’ve also met a three-year residency requirement.

FAQ: Don’t you have to give up your American citizenship to become a British citizen?

This is a question a lot of Americans ask me. For some reason there is prevailing myth that Americans are not allowed dual citizenship. This simply isn’t true. Regardless of whether you obtain additional citizenship through birth or naturalisation, dual, triple, or even quadruple citizenship is perfectly acceptable. In fact, the last time I visited the US Embassy here in London, the woman next to me was a citizen of FOUR countries (The United States, United Kingdom, India, and Italy).

Regent’s Park in all its Autumnal Glory

 

RegentsPark

It’s probably bad ‘blogging practice’ to write about the same topic twice in a row, but you know what?

I don’t care.

Autumn in London is just so nice, I’m going to write about it twice.

Two weekends ago, a day after receiving Indefinitely Leave to Remain, I celebrated with a walk through lovely little Southwark park.

This past weekend I couldn’t resist the opportunity to head to Regent’s Park – probably my favourite of all London parks in terms of beauty.

This is not the kind of post that needs a lot of words, so I’ll let the photos do most of the talking…

Regent's Park in Autumn

Gazebo in Regent’s Park

Colourful trees at Regent's Park in autumn

Colourful trees at Regent’s Park

Tree-lined pathway in Regent's Park

Tree-lined pathway in Regent’s Park

Fountain at Regent's Park

Fountain at Regent’s Park with the BT Tower in the distance

Yellow and gold trees in Regent's Park

Yellow and gold trees in Regent’s Park

Regent's Park

Couple sitting on a park bench

We got really lucky with the weather last Sunday. The temperature was cool and crisp, but the skies were clear. The result? Lots of people headed to the park. There were tourists, Londoners, couples walking down tree-lined paths hand-in-hand, little kids playing in piles of leaves, and no shortage of adorable dogs running around.

The atmosphere in the park that day was really special and for me just acted as a reminder of one of the many simple pleasures of living in London.