This is a guest post by Lisa Herms from Florida, USA, currently a resident at urbanest King’s Cross. She is studying International Health Policy (Health Economics) Masters course at London School of Economics.
Interesting fact: I actually enjoy reading Shakespeare…and all types of classic literature!
“What I love most about London are the people, the shopping, the history, the atmosphere!”
Getting Around in King’s Cross – Transportation
Transportation is one of my biggest monthly expenses, and yet so very vital to life in London. Nevertheless, with a student Oyster card, a bit of walking, and – most importantly – good route planning, you can get anywhere in London (or abroad) very easily and fast. I frequently rely on my beloved app Citymapper for planning, but to help you get a feel for the possibilities right at your feet, here’s my compilation of the best ways to get around London King’s Cross, including a few of my personal tips.
Probably the most convenient way of getting around, starting from Urbanest King’s Cross, is to take the 390 bus which stops right in front of our door. It takes 4 minutes to get to King’s Cross and good to keep your feet dry when it’s raining out. With a monthly oyster card, I often choose the lazy option and take the bus home, especially when I’m loaded up with groceries. It may be less healthy, but definitely a nice backup plan to have.
What’s nice about the 390 is that it goes straight through the city and can pick you up in front of your doorstep, and drop you off at King’s Cross, Tottenham Court Road, Oxford Street, Selfridges, Marble Arch and Hyde Park, to name a few. It also serves as a night bus – and hence can drop you off safe and sound without the need to do a lot of walking after a night out.
If the 390 doesn’t go to your destination of choice, there are many others – almost all London routes – that stop at King’s Cross, so only a short walk away.
My personal favorite method of getting around is via the famous London Underground – lovingly referred to as the “tube”. Right at King’s Cross, you will have all of the major running lines, with a few minor exceptions, running every 2-10 minutes. Try to avoid some of the peak times, if you can, where there will be huge crowds queuing in front of the ticket tills, but even then, I am always amazed at how quickly it works and how efficiently it is organized. Plus, even if there is a lot of traffic, the tube is pretty much guaranteed to run and arrive somewhere within a certain timeframe – as opposed to the buses, which sometimes get stuck in traffic. Starting in fall 2015, select lines will also run throughout the night, offering you another easy and safe way to get home (though, in my opinion, nothing beats the 390 night bus).
If neither tube, bus, nor walking – in any possible combination – can get you where you want to be, when you want to be there, taking a typical London black cab is always an option. It is quite pricy, but also definitely the most comfortable way to travel. Also, if you’re not 100% sure where you’re going, the cab driver will probably know where to go, even if you don’t. There are also some handy cab apps that you can now use which are much cheaper than a black cab such as uber, cabbie etc.
Both King’s Cross and St. Pancras railway stations are right down the street from us at Urbanest King’s Cross and St Pancras.
King’s Cross serves as the Southern terminus of the East Coast Main Line, with high-speed services to Yorkshire, the North East, as well as Scotland. Virgin Trains East Coast operates through here, serving Leeds, Newcastle and Edinburgh. The Great Northern also uses King’s Cross, with services to the suburban areas and other regions north of London and fast services to Cambridge, amongst others. Right next-door is St. Pancras International, which most prominently houses the Eurostar. What many people forget, though, is that STP also has other services, including high-speed routes to Kent and Brighton, via the Southeastern and the Thameslink.
Together, these two stations, in addition to King’s Cross Underground Station, constitute one of Britain’s largest transportation hubs. Fascinating to me, though, is the efficiency and speed with which how everything works, despite the tremendous number of travellers passing through each day.
If you enjoy getting some fresh air and being a bit physically active, try the bike hire urbanest offers! And this is absolutely free! Contact reception for details, but basically, you fill out a form and presto (bike comes all ready with padlock and lights) and can then use the bike for a year or for your contract period.
It is surprising how many people do ride their bikes around the city. It is arguably even faster than taking the tube. For those worried about driving on the wrong side of the road, it is not as big of an issue as you might think. It is fairly straightforward, and chances are that you’ll have other bikers in front and behind you, so that you can’t really go the wrong direction. Furthermore, though you should obviously always be careful, most of the cars and buses are familiar with and always on the lookout for bike riders around.
For the bike-lovers, you can also find rental bikes all throughout the city – Barclays Bikes (though they will soon be renamed after their new sponsor Santander). However, these cost GBP 2 per day, so if you’re staying at Urbanest, I would take advantage of their free bike hire instead!
Another method of transportation you will get all too familiar with in London is walking. Often times, this is the easiest way to go, especially for short distances. For example, I usually walk to King’s Cross instead of taking the bus (except if it rains or I have too much to carry). Walking to and from King’s Cross every day will soon acclimate your feet to it, and you quickly adapt. Soon you will get used to travelling many distances on foot, within a certain radius. I personally like walking, because it also exposes you more to the city. If you walk, you get more of a feel for the streets, directions, and the neighbourhoods. If you see a cute shop or café, a nice apartment complex or a little park, you have the freedom and flexibility to stop and appreciate it for a little. Though riding the bid red double-decker buses, the black cabs, or the infamous tube (“Mind the gap!”), are worthwhile, walking on your own two feet through London gives you a unique experience, allowing everyday trips and travels to expose you to the city around you.
See Lisa’s journey from King’s Cross to LSE here too.