Subject: London Trip
Just returned from London. Not the best trip I've ever taken, but all in all it was okay. Flight over was horrific - left an hour late and plane was jam-packed - no sleep, squished, etc. etc. Arrived with a terrible cold and a surly 21 year old!

Hotel Russell is quite grand - (I would recommend the internet service that I booked with). They just completed a hugh renovation of the public spaces (lobby, restaurant, bar, etc.)It is a fabulous example of victorian architecture and opulence - marble staircases, leather chesterfield sofas, lots of crystal chandeliers. Three of the seven guest room floors have been redone, and are quite expensive (probably running about $350US per night). However, I got a great rate of $107 inc. b'fst for 2 through a site called Our room, of course, was on one of the floors yet to be tackled, so it was pretty well-worn but quite adequate. It was a large room, clean, just old and worn. Beds, though, were quite lumpy and soft. The continental breakfast was very extensive - everything from soup to nuts! (You could upgrade to a full english breakfast for an additional 4BPS - we didn't because the array of goodies available was definitely enough to hold you throughout most of the day). Location of the hotel was good because the tube station is right around the corner and it is only 2 or 3 stops to theaterland, which is where we spent most of our time. Aside from the usual tourist sights (this was our first time), we included the Globe Theater and new museum, as well as the Theater Museum in Covent Garden. If you are a theater hound, both are wonderful.

Went to Bath and Stonehenge on a day tour on Sunday - it was okay to see Stonehenge (went more for the kid than me), but Bath was beautiful, albeit touristy. Great architecture. Will definitely not do a bus tour again though (I hate them anyway) because once en route we found out they would not return us to our hotel in the evening. We ended up being left at Gloucester Road in Kensington at 7 p.m., ladened with packages and exhausted and had to take the tube up to Russell Square - a real pain after a long day. But I guess it was better than renting a car and having to deal with traffic in and out of London.

Prices are outrageous in London - food in particular. We tried to find out of the way, off beat places for late lunches or dinners and found that we spent, on the average, about $35-$60 per meal. I thought that was high considering we were at some dives.

Vanessa Cutchogue, NY