London Staycation with National Express!
This trip was sponsored, but all opinions are my own. I do not accept or write about sponsored trips unless I truly enjoy them. With international travel still so limited, I have spent the past few months on a mission to see as much of the UK as I possibly can. However, with train ticket prices seeming to be soaring at the moment (anyone else feel this?) and my own personal hatred of having to drive into a new city and navigate all the constant lane changing and the imminent threat of parallel parking, I have recently very much been on a hunt to find a new way to travel the UK. Luckily, I was approached by National Express and invited to try out their Holiday by National Express package! If you aren't from the UK, National Express is the largest operator of coach services in the UK and is now officially my favourite way to travel. The Holiday package allows you to book your coach and hotel super easily in the same place, and they even have a best price guarantee, making it the perfect companion for budget travellers. I decided to head to London as I've been seeing so many gorgeous shots on Instagram at the moment, and was itching to go see these places for myself. I bought my boyfriend Kee along with me, and we booked our tickets to leave from the coach station in the centre of Bath. The coach was at the station early, and the driver helped to load everyones luggage on. I am a chronic over-packer - it honestly gets quite ridiculous. Even if I am just driving somewhere for the day, I will load up my car with spare jumpers, jackets, shoes and socks (I have an absolute obsession that my shoes will rub and I will need to change socks) so the generous luggage allowance by National Express is nothing short of a life saver- you can bring two suitcases which can go in the luggage compartment, and a carry on bag as well! I was super impressed with the coach as soon as I stepped on board. It was super light and airy with sky lights and all felt very modern- the average age of a National Express coach is only 3 years old! The seats were also leather which made them really comfortable, with a good amount of leg room and a plug, which is super useful if your phone is anything like mine and likes to die after a few hours of usage. Most importantly- there's a toilet on board! I have the weakest bladder ever, so I always really worry about long journeys with no toilets so it felt super relaxing to me to know there was the option. The coach also felt very safe in terms of COVID- everyone was wearing a mask, all coaches are undergoing more rigorous, deeper cleans and have been fitted with new air filtering systems. The journey was really smooth, and felt like we were into London in no time! Our hotel was booked through Holidays by National Express package which made it really seamless and easy. We stayed at The Clermont in Victoria, on Buckingham Palace Road and it was honestly one of the most beautiful hotels I've ever stayed at! We were a little early for check in, so we headed into the reception area (amazing high ceilings, huge glittering chandelier and beautiful sweeping staircase) and dropped our bags off then headed off to explore Central London! I will do a full blog with all the 'Must See's' in London, but here were our best budget activities of the weekend... - Visit the Sky Garden The Sky Garden is London's highest public garden, and is an absolutely amazing experience and a must do when in London! Shoot up to the 43rd floor of the Walkie Talkie and enjoy amazing 360˚ views over London whilst surrounded by nature. Best of all- tickets are absolutely free, but definitely need to be booked in advance! Grab your ticket here: https://skygarden.london/booking/ - Explore London's Markets London is filled with amazing markets, and you can usually find one to explore every day of the week. My favourites are Nottingham Market and Camden market. Head there hungry, as there are mountains of stalls of delicious smelling food as well as stands selling jewellery, clothes and other items! - Visit the Top Secret Comedy Club: If you are looking for a budget activity to fill your evening, head to the Top Secret Comedy Club in Drury Lane. Tickets get more expensive as the night progresses, but we went to the 5pm show and it was only £5 per person which I thought was such a bargain for the level of comedy we saw! Would definitely recommend. After the comedy, we headed back to our hotel to check in. I was so blown away by how wonderful the staff were and when we saw the room I was honestly in awe. It was such a lovely size, with an absolutely massive bed and huge windows that looked out over Buckingham Palace Road. The hotel had included so many amazing little touches, like a welcome platter with a chocolate pastry and the home-screen of the smart TV was personalised to welcome us. There was also complimentary soft drinks in the fridge, as well as (of course my favourite part) a Nespresso machine and coffee pods. My dream hotel. We had also been given drinks tokens for the hotel bar so we got changed and headed down. The bar was so beautiful, and there was a massive range of drinks to choose from. We both went for the Signature Cocktail- absolutely delicious! I don't know about you, but I find London so exhausting so after our drink we fell straight into our King Size bed. The Clermont Hotel even goes the extra mile and gives you an entire menu of pillows to choose from to meet personal preferences, making it the best nights sleep I've had in a long time! The next day we woke up and had breakfast at the hotel. The breakfast is served downstairs in the restaurant and starts with croissants and different pastries. I am avoiding eating gluten at the moment, so they bought me gluten free pastries which was so lovely of them! This was followed by a full cooked breakfast, with (of course) coffee and juice. This kept us filled up for basically the entire day. We very sadly checked out, and then headed for another day in London. LEFT OUR BAGS. Our coach home was leaving from Victoria Coach station, which was really handy for us. It was really easy to navigate finding which bay our coach would be leaving from, and once again the driver was so friendly and helped us with our bags. We left right on time again and after a busy weekend in London, it was so lovely to relax back into the leather seat and watch the city rush past us. We arrived back into Bath right on time after a comfortable and relaxing journey. I was so impressed by National Express and the entire Holiday package, and will definitely be using them again! The travel industry has sadly been one of the most affected by COVID, so I think it's so important to support them wherever we can (especially when they are as easy to love as National Express!). Let me know your thoughts on coach travel! Saz xxx