Not quite the harsh sentence it sounds, a 48 hour weekend in London’s Docklands is a pleasure… After many years of visiting for business, we finally decided to skip Heathrow and staying in the Westend or Kensington for the weekend, opting for City Airport and the Docklands instead, we loved it and here is why…
London City Airport & BA Cityflyer
Time on a 48 hour trip is important so a convenient, quick and simple Airport experience is key. London City Airport has this, 20 minutes from touch down to the DLR. On the return trip, 30 minutes from hotel room, through security is the kind of Airport experience we would all hope for, on every journey.
We combined the experience in London City Airport, with the excellent British Airways Cityflyer service. Using modern Embraer 190SR, these small powerful jets with plentiful legroom, headroom and overhead space are a great way to be shuttled across the Irish Sea. The 2×2 seating is ideal for a couple, combined with a highly competitive fare on the weekend, you have a compelling travel package.
Getting around & The Docklands Light Railway
Connected to the airport and with 45+ stations and 4 lines, the DLR gets you where need to go. Its quick, cheap and easy to use, a precursor to light rail systems like the Luas in Dublin, it makes getting around the docks seamless. Once you have an Oyster card you’re set to go. The transport system is brilliantly integrated, allowing you to use the system in combination with the Tube and even the Thames Ferry and Emirates Air Line Cable Car.
We used the DLR, Tube and even an early morning one way trip on the Emirates Air Line. At £3.50 with the Oyster card, the Air Line must be up there with the Star Ferry in Hong Kong for a scenic travel experience that costs a normal fare with no premium tourist tax. Not for those afraid of heights though…
Marriott Hotel & West India Quay
Located on the northern edge of Canary Wharf, we decided to stay in the Marriott West India Quay. A true 5 star hotel, though with 3 star weekend pricing due to the focus on business customers during the working week. An excellent hotel with a new Gin & Tea bar, renovated rooms and close to DLR and Tube stations. Very close to the hotel, on West India Quay in the old dockland buildings, there’s a few restaurants & bars, including Browns Brasserie, The Sipping Room and Burger & Lobster. All of which we sampled during our trip and highly recommend.
Canary Wharf & The NEW CrossRail Station
The docklands area has over the past 20 years been undergoing a quiet evolution. Underground shopping and lots of dining, albeit with a slightly grey feel and constant reminder of the Danny Boyle 28 days films can mean a strange weekend experience in a slightly surreal part of London when the offices are closed, but it has character all of its own. Not for everybody perhaps, but the location, value and ease of access make it an ideal location for us.
One new element to Canary Wharf since our last visit was the new Crossrail station. The architecture is exceptional, even when compared to another of Foster’s local cathedrals to travel, the Canary Wharf Tube station. It is spectacular and looks like an alien space craft has landed in one of the disused docks. The outdoor roof garden is very impressive and you really forget where you are. Worth a visit, specially before it opens for train service later in the year, as it will undoubtedly get much busier and harder to enjoy its details. Two of our favourite coffee spots were Notes and Ole & Steen. We didn’t get to try Notes in the evening when it converts to a wine bar, one for next time.
In Canary Wharf, there’s an endless list of restaurants, shops, cafes and bars. We had an incredible Sunday Lunch at Boisdale (more on that in a later post) and did a little shopping in Cabot Place too (not much though, hand luggage only this trip).
Getting to the City and West End
Jubilee line to Bond Street from Canary Wharf station or take the DLR from Popular to Bank, accessing the City and West End is simple and quick. An Uber back after a few drinks post lunch, was a little less efficient at around 45 minutes and £30 pounds, but the combination of a few drinks on board and the appealing Mercedes E Class meant the DLR was never in the running – more on our Lunch at Murano and time in the Westend soon.
Disclaimer: Nothing gifted, sponsored, comped here – we paid for our flights, hotel, everything we ate, drank and enjoyed from our own pocket. I debated whether to include this but it seems there’s often doubt so in the interests of avoiding any doubt, I can confirm, we paid with our own money for every part of this weekend!