Travel Guide: London

ept-thumb-promo.jpgIn less than two weeks, the European Poker Tour returns to one of the biggest, and most popular destinations on the season schedule -- London, England. Whether it's recalling all of the hotels that you wanted to buy on Mayfair and Park Lane in your earlier years playing Monopoly, watching scenes of the Royal Family at Buckingham Palace, secretly singing along to the Spice Girls or laughing to episodes of The Office, we've all had a piece of London in our lives at some point. If you haven't had the chance to visit this metropolis yet, then there's no better time than now, that way you can tie in a European Poker Tour stop with your inaugural visit. EPT London runs from Sept. 30 through Oct. 6, 2011 at the Hilton London Metropole on Paddington's Edgware Road.

Season 7's Main Event was the biggest poker tournament ever held in the UK with a whopping 848 players. The lucky player who made it out on top was David Vamplew, the highest-earning player to ever come out of Scotland after his £900,000 victory.

Season 8's London stop includes a wealth of events such as the £5,250 Main Event, the £20,500 High Roller and £2,150 European 8-Game Championship.

Check out the full EPT London schedule.

Being such a mammoth Main Event means multiple Day 1s, and of course only eight can make it through to the final table, so there will be quite a few of you with a day or two to spare away from the tables. If you find yourself in that category, then don't despair, because there are countless things to do in London, no matter what may tickle your fancy.

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How

If you're flying into Heathrow Airport, keep in mind that it is the third busiest in the world, so give yourself plenty of time to get through it. The most efficient and budget way to get into, and around, town is using The Tube. It's a train that connects most of metropolitan London, including Heathrow Airport, turning into an underground maze of exceptional transport throughout central London Town. Wherever you need to go, you can be sure there's a line on The Tube to get you there.

Where

As mentioned, EPT London will be held at the Hilton London Metropole on Paddington's Edgware Road. This hotel is located directly across from Edgware station, which is just one station away from Paddington. Luckily for us, Heathrow Airport offers the Heathrow Express, which gets you to Paddington underground station in just 15 minutes.

Paddington is the perfect area to base yourself while in town for the PokerStars EPT. If you haven't yet booked your accommodation then be sure to visit EPThotels.com to do so. With your Tube Map in hand, the major sights of London are just minutes away from the Paddington area, tucked between both Hyde and Regent's Parks.

What

The easiest way to squeeze in the major sights in town is to jump on one of the many tour buses, including the infamous double-decker buses, but it's actually possible to see the sights in one day while on foot (with the occasional ride on The Tube). Being such a huge city, the main attractions are surprisingly closer to each other than you may think, and if not, there will be an underground station nearby.

Keep in mind that England is certainly not known for its sunshine and now that winter is creeping closer, the average temperature is between 60-65°F (15-17°C), so be sure to bring some warm clothes.

Here's a list of just some of the many things to see and do while in town during EPT London:


Sights

  • Leicester Square -- a taste of the West End's cinema and entertainment capital, described as one big, youthful party.
  • Piccadilly Circus -- Connected to Leicester Square, this is London's version of New York's Times Square, a busy thoroughfare of London's West End.
  • Buckingham Palace -- a jaw-dropping dose of gargantuan royal residency. There's never a time during the day when there aren't groups of people outside of the gates snapping pictures. For £17.50 you can get a tour inside the property, but be sure to go before Oct. 3 since that's when they close for the season.
  • St James's Park -- a peaceful escape from the city buzz as you walk through from Buckingham Palace at one end of the park, to The Ritz at the other.
  • River Thames -- the mammoth sights continue with the waterside such as Big Ben, the London Eye, Houses of Parliament, and Tower Bridge a little further down.
  • Shopping

  • Harrods -- situated in the fancy Knightsbridge area, Harrods is the most extravagant department store you will probably ever seen. It's unlikely you will open your wallet, but it's definitely worth a look.
  • Oxford Street -- The world-famous shopping district that's much more affordable for the average person than Harrods. Here is where you'll find all of the mainstream brands.
  • Carnaby London -- A dainty, boutique shopping and nightlife district close to Leicester Square that is a refreshing contrast from the grandness of the surrounding areas.
  • Portobello Road -- this street is filled with one of the many markets around London. This one is in the heart of Notting Hill and is considered the most popular for vintage items.
  • Camden Market -- Another world-famous market in London, this is for those after something more alternative.
  • Special Events

  • London Free Festival -- Now through Sept. 30: Every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday evenings there's a free, outdoor screening of classic, cult and contemporary films in the heart of London.
  • London Story Telling Festival -- Oct. 1 through 10: A 10-day festival of comedy shows in Leicester Square.
  • London Restaurant Festival -- Oct. 3 through 17: A citywide celebration of eating out, from Michelin-starred restaurants to neighborhood bistros, this festival is all about lifting the lid on London's finest cooking.
  • Regent Street Food Safari -- Oct. 3 through 17: Sample cuisines from around the world at acclaimed restaurants along Regent Street.
  • London Bierfest -- Oct. 5 through 7: Think Munich's Oktoberfest, but in London.
  • Leonardo da Vinci: Anatomy at the Queen's Gallery -- Now through Oct. 7: the largest exhibition of Leonardo da Vinci's anatomical drawings at the Queen's Gallery inside Buckingham Palace.
  • Merge Festival -- Now through Nov. 20: An arts and music festival hosted in venues large and small around the Bankside area.
  • London Film Festival -- Oct. 12 through 27: if you stick around once EPT has wrapped, you could catch the UK's biggest celebration of international cinema.

  • Lynn Gilmartin
    @PokerStars in European Poker Tour