Jul 092009

Your Theatre Breaks issues dealt with one by one

This is the second of Theatre Breaks Magazine’s FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) which each deal with a topic that might get in the way of planning, booking and enjoying theatre breaks.

Mr Notsure’s Dilemma

Mr Notsure and his partner were off to London for a romantic weekend to see Phantom of the Opera. He’d found a web site that promised good value. He booked right away, dismissing the idea of going by train without a thought. Later that night he started to worry. “What if the taking the car means I get stressed out driving there? What about parking in London? Oh dear, and what about that congestion charge too?

Let’s see if I can help  Mr Notsure’s  sort out those ‘what ifs?’ about theatre breaks by car.

What if the taking the car means I get stressed out driving in London?

To avoid getting stressed out on the journey:

  • Allow yourself lots of extra time. Use the AA online route planner if you don’t have Sat Nav.
  • Try to avoid arriving anywhere near London at peak times. These last longer than you might assume as people try to spread their travel times. Aim to arrive and leave after 10am, before 3pm or after 7pm.
  • Check for any known road works on your route before you set off.

Theatre Breaks by Car

Congestion Charging

The congestion charge applies in Central London between 7.00am and 6.30pm, Monday to Friday

  • Basic fee- £8 per day if you pay the charge on the day of travel.
  • Pay on the first charging day after travel you pay £10.
  • If you do not pay the charge by the end of the first charging day after your journey you will be subject to a  penalty charge which is a whopping £120 !

Ideally you should pay in advance, either online or by post.

You can download a free map of the Congestion Charge Zone from Transport for London

What if I get lost in London?

It can happen to anyone, including Londoners! Even if you have sat.nav and a current A-Z you will inevitably take a wrong turn, encounter unexpected road works or meet some other problem that takes you off your planned route. If you decide you are hopelessly lost, and London signage isn’t always terribly helpful if you are, then according to a new web service, The Knowledge , there is an answer. You can ask a cabbie!

The Knowledge is a  24 hour helpline  manned by licensed London taxi  drivers and provided by Knowledge Capital Limited. By calling 0906 265 6565 you will be connected directly to a licensed London taxi driver.

The promise you the assistance of an off duty cab driver. The calls cost £1 per minute from a BT landline and are likely to be much more from your mobile. I cannot imagine you’ll be ringing from your landline so expect it to be expensive!  I’ve never used the service but it might just be worth it if you are driving round lost and in a panic.


Pull over somewhere safe and make the call.

What about parking in London?

If the hotel offers parking it is always mentioned in the description. Often it will mean an extra charge, usually between £15 and £20 per day. You need to arrange this with the hotel. Give them a ring and they’ll usually be quite happy to sort it out for you.

Parking in Central London, especially near theatreland is very difficult. To be quite honest I simply would not recommend you even attempt it!

Choosing Your Hotel for Theatre Breaks by Car

Traffic near theatreland can be heavy. Park your car at the hotel

Traffic near theatreland can be heavy. Park your car at the hotel

One good solution can be to drive to your hotel, park the car and use black cabs or the tube to travel around the city.

For this to work best you should choose a hotel outside the congestion charge and use the tube or black cabs to get into and out of the centre. That way you can avoid the worst of the central London traffic and still have the comfort of your own car for the journey home. This gives you  much more flexibility and means that you don’t have the stress of driving in the worst of the city traffic.

Theatre Break Magazine FAQ

This was the second post of Theatre Breaks Magazine’s FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) each of which  deals with a specific topic that might come up when you are planning, booking and enjoying theatre breaks.

(Photo Credit – Archangeli cc image via flickr)

  2 Responses to “Theatre Breaks by Car”

  1. I’m going to see the Lion King tomorrow and I’m a bit worried about the congestion charge. I commute to London by car for work quite a bit but my company usually deals with all this. I guess I’ll have to make sure I get this all sorted today then. My company’s looking into these new eco friendly cars at the moment. I hope we get them because it will definitely cut out all the faffing around with congestion fees.

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