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Late Summer London: Two Special Months for an Inside Look

June 8, 2004 -- We'd like to remind you that August and September are two special months each year in London. During this (roughly) 60-day period, the general public is allowed inside two of the city's most historic and famous buildings: Buckingham Palace and the Houses of Parliament. These alone are worth a hop across the pond.

From July 31 to September 26, the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace will be open daily to the public. As the official residence of the Queen in London, they are replete with great treasures from her Royal Collection, including masterpieces of painting, sculpture, porcelain and furniture. In addition to the stunning interiors, visitors will also be able to stroll the grounds. You can get more details at

The Houses of Parliament in the Palace of Westminster will open from July 24 to September 4, and again from September 18 through October 1. Tours will operate every few minutes. These are the only dates when the Houses of Parliament are open to foreign visitors. Included are the chambers of both the House of Commons and the House of Lords, as well as the Queen's Robing Room, the Prince's Chamber, the Royal Gallery, the Central Lobby, Peer's Lobby, St. Stephen's Hall and Westminster Hall. Learn more at .

On Your Own

Independent traveler, you say? Then you would be wise to check out a fine group of apartments and other lodgings at Coach House London Vacation Rentals, which has over 65 properties on their books. These range from small apartments for two persons to grand mansions that sleep up to 12. As a full member of Visit London, the capital's official visitor organization, they come highly recommended.

Some properties still available at time of writing for August and September include a quiet mews house in Bayswater, sleeping four, for £115 per night (about $205); a riverside flat in an historic part of old London with wonderful views of Tower Bridge, sleeping six, for £145 (about $260) per night; and a rambling six-bedroom Victorian family house in Kensington, sleeping ten, for £450 (about $800) per night. If you don't want a flat or manse, consider the Coach House itself, where prices range from £33 (about $55) per person per night, including a big English breakfast. There are full details at

Another Great Tour

At the height of the season, you can't expect too much in the way of bargains, so it's nice when a moderately priced trip comes along, especially one like this: For just $719 out of New York or Boston, you can fly to London from July 25 -- August 31, and spend three nights at the Kensington Close Hotel & Health Spa, at a great location in the Royal Borough. This midweek package includes roundtrip air, lodging for three nights, daily continental breakfast, and hotel tax and service charges.

From Miami or Los Angeles the price is $845, from Chicago $875, from Dallas $889. If you're able to get yourself there, the land-only price is $245. Other departure cities are available, of course. Prices don't include airport and security fees and taxes, and are per person, based on double occupancy. For more information, contact the organizers at or phone them at 888/801-8808.