Subject: Re: London & Paris
Hi Charla,

Yes, London is very expensive. And London weather has a nasty tendency to be ... well, London weather. That being said, London is still one of my favorite cities.

I've been fortunate enough on many of my visits to be able to stay with my daughter. However, my experience with London hotels is that they are never cheap, the rooms tiny, and, in general, don't meet my expectations. (In that department, the same thing that would seem quaint and charming to me in Paris, hits me as seedy and dingy in London -- and probably would in NY, too.) There is one hotel, though, where I stayed a number of years ago, that I would recommend on the basis of it's location. The Vicarage Hotel +44 20 7229 4030

http://www.londonvicaragehotel.com is located just off of Kensington

Church Street on a charming little square. It doesn't have a lift, so you need to be in good shape if you get a room on an upper floor, and at the time I was there, the facilities were down the hall, but that was never a problem for me.

In terms of food, I generally buy a prewrapped sandwich, a piece of fruit and some water at a store to take with me on my day's wanderings. That way I don't have to worry about finding a restaurant at lunch time and it's far, far cheaper. For dinner I generally stick to ethnic restaurants, they're generally pretty good and on the inexpensive side (BTW, same goes for NYC and other big cities with diverse populations.)

Nando's is an inexpensive chain of Portuguese chicken restaurants located throughout London. Food is good and ranges from mild to spicy. I don't eat meat, so was pleased to find that they have an excellent veggie burger.

Al-Dar is a very nice little Lebanese restaurant with several branches (phone number for their Kensington High Street restaurant is 020-7584-1873).

As a former Manhattanite transplanted to upstate NY, one of the cuisines I often find myself craving is Indian. In London I can feast to my heart's content. Two of my favorite Indian restaurants are located on the same block in Bayswater.

Standard Indian Restaurant Telephone:  0207 229 0600 23 Westbourne Grove, London, W2 4UA

Khans Restaurant Telephone:  0207 727 5420 13-15 Westbourne Grove, London, W2 4UA

Before I end my ramblings, I just want to say, in reference to accommodations in London and a lot of other places, if you have expectations, it is extremely important to ask very specific questions and try to get pictures if you can. The story of washing machines not being in the apartment reminds me of spending a week in a villa in Mallorca with my sister and my daughter. We had all packed light because we knew there would be a washer and dryer. But, but much to our dismay, there was none and it was hard to hang things out to dry because the Mallorcan weather was being ... well, London weather. Finally, toward the end of the week, I was nosing around the property and poked my head into a little shed -- which turned out to be a fully equipped laundry room complete with a brand new washer and dryer!

Landra in New York State