God Save the Jet-Lagged

Yes, It’s Possible: How to Spend a Long Weekend in London

Just how far can you stretch a weekend? With the launch of a Seattle-to-London flight from European discount airline Norwegian, bare-bones round-trip flights start at $400. Here’s how to spend your mini break half a world away.

By Allison Williams December 20, 2017 Published in the January 2018 issue of Seattle Met

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The concept of a weekend came, not from Henry Ford, but from nineteenth-century Brits who partied so hard on Sundays that employers started giving them half-day Saturdays off if they’d promise to show up sober on Mondays.

2pm Wednesday

Sneak out of work before lunch to make an afternoon flight. Hopping eight time zones for a weekend jaunt is daunting, but repeat this mantra: You’ll sleep on the plane. Norwegian’s LowFare option means no free food, assigned seat, or extra carry--on, so drop serious coin at the Hudson News snack aisle before boarding.

Noon Thursday

The Scandinavian airline’s crazy-cheap fares are partially thanks to its efficient 787 Dreamliner fleet, but it’s still tight quarters and no complimentary peanuts. After the nine-and-a-half-hour journey, London Gatwick’s airport train whisks passengers into the city, where it’s easy to reach, say, Covent Garden by midday.

4pm Thursday

London is a pedestrian utopia due to its ancient tangle of tiny streets; hop from British Museum sarcophagi to a parade of Henry VIII’s wives at the National Portrait Gallery. Expect to crash early, maybe after half pints at the French House, where legend says a drunk Dylan Thomas once left a manuscript under a stool

Noon Friday

Though its intersections date back to the Roman Empire, London’s hangout scene has Seattle roots: Ace Hotel Shoreditch, all exposed concrete and industrial chic, is part of the chain that launched in Belltown. Locals on laptops fill low couches and long shared tables in the multiroom lobby.

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Image: Nick Shepherd

6pm Friday

South of Shoreditch, the Thames River winds past London’s biggest tourist sites: Tower Bridge, the Tate Modern, then Big Ben, and the Houses of Parliament. Spot them all from the London Eye, a Ferris wheel taller than two Seattle Great Wheels stacked together.

10:30pm Friday

West End theaters aren’t the only shows in town. At Royal Vauxhall Tavern, a historic gay bar south of the river, the weekly drag show is performance art—sketch comedy meets David Lynchian weirdness.

Noon Saturday

Sleep in before hitting more museums—so many are free!—or return to stylish Shoreditch, where a two-story string of shipping containers were repurposed into a popup mall of cafes and galleries called BoxPark. Don’t leave London without sampling Indian fare; wildly popular Dishoom earns its long lines. 

10pm Saturday

End the trip with a nighttime train back to Gatwick Airport and capsule hotel Yotel, mere feet from Norwegian’s check-in desk. It’s everything you need (shower, bed, television for goofy British talk shows) and nothing you don’t (like a window), starting under a hundred dollars per night for the capsule rooms.

9am Sunday

Though Norwegian doesn’t offer first class, larger Premium seats are luxury within reach: The airline auctions them to LowFare passengers for as little as $240 in the days leading up to the flight. Even back in coach, the flight ends in Seattle before noon Sunday.

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