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London’s one of my favorite cities but when I was planning my trip to Vietnam, I had the option to fly Vietnam Airlines via London or Paris and ended up choosing Paris. I wanted to fly Vietnam Airlines’ A350, but on the other hand, I had award availability through London. Considering I’d never done a trip on the Eurostar train from London to Paris, I figured it would be a great opportunity to cross that off my list.

My overnight stay in London was short and sweet, and I had an awesome time exploring some off-the-beaten-path hotspots with my friend Fletcher Cowan, a TV host and general man about town. Check out the places we went in the latest episode of TPGtv, below.

Staying at Starwood’s new Tribute collection property, the Great Northern Hotel, was an awesome way to kick off my London layover. Not only was the hotel located right by St. Pancras Station, where I would catch my Eurostar train to Paris, I was also able to score an elite upgrade from a Couchette room to a Cubitt room, named in honor of the hotel’s architect — elite upgrades are one of the things I’m worried about once the Marriott merger happens, so fingers crossed! Thanks to my Starwood Platinum Elite status, I was also able to snag free breakfast, which normally would have cost $40 per person.

When I stayed there last fall, the property was still a Category 5 hotel and rates were from $325 or 12,000 Starpoints for a one-night stay, a value of 2.7 cents per point. I always try to get at least 2.5 cents per point in value, so this was a pretty good deal at the time. Starwood usually updates and adjusts its hotel categories every year in March, so make sure to lock in this year’s rates before then for next year’s trips if you can. Rates at the now-Category 6 Great Northern Hotel start at about $215 or 20,000 Starpoints per night in May, so depending on your dates it may make more sense to pay cash than redeem points.

I learned so much on our tour at The Gin Journey.
I learned so much on our tour at The Gin Journey.

I had a great time spending the next day exploring the city’s sights and restaurants. Neil’s Yard Remedies, located nearby in London’s Covent Garden neighborhood, is awesome and I highly recommend a visit. Our trip to The Gin Journey was really fun, too. I’m a vodka drinker myself, but I learned a lot about gin from Leon Dalloway, otherwise known as @TheGinBoss. While I’m not officially converted, it was still a fun, quintessentially kind of London thing to do.

I loved having dinner at Duck & Waffle on the 40th floor of the Heron Tower.
I loved having dinner at Duck & Waffle on the 40th floor of Heron Tower.

We grabbed some drinks at the Free Range People Café before enjoying a delicious dinner at Duck & Waffle. The food was great and we were able to enjoy amazing views of the city below from our perch on the 40th floor of Heron Tower. I made sure to pay with my Chase Sapphire Preferred card so I’d earn 2x the points on dining — it was nice not having to worry about racking up pesky foreign transactions fees, too.

Can’t wait to see what I’m working on next? Follow along with all my travel adventures on Facebook, TwitterInstagram and Snapchat for a behind-the-scenes look at what’s coming up on TPGtv, and don’t forget to subscribe to The Points Guy on YouTube — you’ll be notified as soon as each new episode appears.

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