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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.

The best beginner points and miles card out there.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

The Points Guy Assessment:

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great pick for the beginner and the frequent traveler. The CSP has superb travel benefits, double points on certain purchases, and a 50,000 point sign up bonus. The $95 annual fee is waived the first year so this puts it as one of the less expensive cards, while still allowing you to earn one of the most valuable point currencies.

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More Things to Know
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® named a 'Best Travel Credit Card' by MONEY® Magazine, 2016-2017
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
17.74% - 24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$0 Intro for the First Year, then $95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent Credit

The Platinum Card® from American Express

The American Express Platinum card has some of the best perks out there: cardholders enjoy the best domestic lounge access (Delta SkyClubs, Centurion Lounges, and Priority Pass), a $200 annual airline fee credit as well as up to $200 in Uber credits, and mid-tier elite status at SPG, Marriott, and Hilton. Combined with the 60,000 point welcome offer -- worth $1,140 based on TPG's valuations -- this card is a no-brainer for frequent travelers. Here are 5 reasons you should consider this card, as well as how you can figure out if the $550 annual fee makes sense for you.

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More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
  • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
N/A
Annual Fee
$550
Balance Transfer Fee
See Terms
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.