Despite my occasional flirtations with the fantastic, I tend to think of myself as reasonably rational and not particularly prone to superstition. But I find it hard to let go of a twinge of a feeling that I could “jinx” renewed plans to visit London merely by saying aloud (or the written equivalent) that we have, indeed, made new plans to travel there the end of April. <deep breath> </deep breath>
This time around we’re not booking an all-in-one (and therefore all-or-nothing) vacation through an airline or travel bureau, but are using frequent flier miles for the air travel (luckily we found seats, no longer so easy to do, given recent stories like this one in the Washington Post that arlines are permitting fewer and fewer frequent fliers on any given flight); the additional benefit here is that we can travel business class rather than coach, which will make the transatlantic crossing much more pleasant.
We’ve also reserved rooms at a cool hotel that, while not cheap seems of a significantly higher quality than the norm–London hotels as a class are ridiculously expensive yet have rooms and facilities that are notoriously cramped and in disrepair–and for which we managed to take advantage of the hotel’s Best Rate Guarantee, whereby the hotel matches a verified cheaper Internet fare for the same room over the same days, and throws in an additional 10% to boot. We managed to get the room for about two-thirds the original rate, and 10% less than we found anywhere online for that hotel. The City Inn Westminster (photo gallery here) is a multiple award-winning contemporary hotel near the Tate Britain and Parliament (so a great location for walking to Buckingham, Westminster Abbey, Parliament, the Tate and the London Eye, and convenient to Victoria train station, the Gatwick Express, and two Tube stations as well, with the Thames less than a block away). And there’s free wifi in the public areas and high-speed broadband in the rooms, a feature which is quickly becoming a make-or-break item for us when travelling.
So, knock on wood, in a few weeks we’ll be having tea in the orangery at Kensington Palace, shopping for sugared violets at Fortnum & Mason (thanks for the tip, Gene), and taking in a show in the West End, among other touristy outings amidst the beauty of London in late April (averaging five hours of sunlight daily, and mid-40s to mid-50s Fahrenheit) as opposed to mid-February (two hours of sun and 35-45 degrees). Wicked!
[Update: Turns out Jeff was writing a post about the same thing at roughly the same time, but I beat him to the punch only because he decided to save publishing his for after he got home. And we both used the word “jinx” in the same way; we’re so alike sometimes it’s scary.]