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How to tackle your Contiki pre-departure in London

Oxford street at night in London

If you’re set to head out on a European Contiki soon your first stop is most likely going to be London. And if you’re in London you might just spot us here in our little glass box at the Contiki Travel Hub. 

What is the Travel Hub you may ask? Well, the Hub is the only Contiki customer service base in Europe and is open seven days a week so we’re always here to welcome and support travellers before or after a trip. 

We meet a lot of travellers everyday and spend a lot of time answering questions, so we thought we’d go ahead and create a list of some of the most common questions we get asked by travellers.

Where will I be meeting my group?

So you’ve found yourself in London in the lead up to your trip and now you need to figure out where you’ll be meeting your group. Enter the Royal National Hotel… 

All our trips with a London departure depart and arrive from the Courtyard of the Royal National (RNH), and being the largest hotel in the U.K it’s unlikely you’ll miss it. Being so centrally located means that there are also great public transport connections which make both getting to the hotel from the airport and exploring the city simple. 


Image source:Contiki

How do I get to the Royal National Hotel?

London is one of the most visited cities in the world, and is an international business hub with people flying in from all over the world. That’s right, London has not one, not two, but five airports you can fly into (bit of an overkill if you ask me). 

Now there are a ton of different ways you can get to the RNH from any of these airports, but I’ve included the simplest route for each airport below. 

From the Airport

You can of course also get an Uber or Taxi from any of these airports, and if you are arriving very late in the evening or early morning this would be the recommended option.

My biggest tip for getting from the airport and navigating London would be to download the CityMapper app. It’s like Google Maps, only better in (almost) every way. It will give you alternative routes, train/bus times & costs, and will live track your journey. And in a city with as large a public transport network as London, this is extremely helpful. 

Bonus Public Transport Tip: You don’t need to buy paper tickets or use an Oyster Card on buses, trains, or the underground within London. Instead, you can just tap your debit card, credit card, or phone at the station and on the buses. 

Will I meet other travellers before your trip starts? 

A lot of travellers choose to stay at the hotel or at one of the nearby hotels or hostels as it makes getting to the RNH on departure morning much less stressful. It’s also the place where you might meet fellow travellers before your trip starts. 

If you’ve booked pre-night accommodation in a twin share or triple share room through Contiki at the hotel, chances are you’ll be sharing the room with someone else from your trip. And if not, you’ll see more than a few travellers hanging out at The London Pub in the hotel courtyard. 

It’s completely up to you whether you want to meet up with your fellow travellers before the trip starts (there will be plenty of time for that later), but if you do, don’t be shy about it. Log in to your My Contiki portal to access the Chat feature to start the conversation, share what you’re most excited about, or  organise a meet up pre-trip. 

Tip: If you have planned a pre-trip meet up, head to the nearby Marquis Cornwallis Pub, or to the Brunswick Centre for dinner at a nearby restaurant (some of our favourites include: MeatLiquor, Hare & Tortoise, or Nostimos). 

What can I bring with me on my trip? 

When packing for your Contiki, ‘less is more’ is a good rule to follow. 

Europe is a land of stairs and you will be hauling your bag across several countries so you need to be mindful of how much you pack. Whether you chose to bring a suitcase, backpack, or wheeled-bag it needs to be no more than 20kg. If however, you are travelling for an extended period of time or are a bit of an over-packer (no judgement), you can store extra luggage with us at the hub for £2 per day for the duration of your trip. 

girl picking up baggage

Image source:Contiki

Is there time to get breakfast before meeting my group? 

Your group will be leaving very early in the morning, and surprisingly London isn’t a 24 hour city. Most coffee shops and cafes don’t open until at least 6-6:30am in the morning. So if you are someone who needs to eat as soon as they wake up or before a long drive, bring snacks. Not only will you be the envy of everyone on the coach but it always pays to be prepared.

You will have a chance to grab a proper breakfast once you’re onboard the ferry, but that 2 hour drive to Dover can feel very long on an empty stomach. 

What can I expect from the first day of my trip? 

The night before your trip starts is an exciting time as both nerves and anticipation start to build. But despite this, my advice would be to head to bed early to get a good night’s sleep because you’re going to be up before the sun. 

Why do we force you to endure the torture of such an early wake up? Well, you’ve got a ferry to catch.

All of our Paris & Amsterdam-bound Coach trips meet sometime between 4:45am and 6:30am, which gives your group plenty of time to get to Dover to catch one of the morning ferries. So you will need to make sure that you are at the Royal National, ready to go at the time advised by your Trip Manager in the Welcome Email. 

We then get to the most terrifying part of this experience… weighing your bags. Your bag will be weighed by either one of our Hub staff or your Trip Manager and once you have the okay, you’ll check in with your Trip Manager and meet the rest of your new Contiki family. 

From there you’ll head out in your very own Contiki coach on the adventure of a lifetime. 

Our entire team wants you to have an amazing trip, and here at the hub, we work hard to make sure your time in London both before and after your trip goes smoothly. So, if you’ve read this article and still have some burning questions send us an email!

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