There are few more iconic sights associated with London than its fire engine red buses, which are often used in the establishing shots of films, perhaps driving past Big Ben or Tower Bridge, and which adorn postcards, t shirts and mugs the world over. Over the last couple of years, the new fleet of Routemasters have recaptured the spirit of London’s most iconic buses, with alighting platforms at the rear – though, of course, they have been updated for the modern day, with heating, comfortable seats, and Oyster card readers instead of waiting bus conductors. While for many visitors travelling on London’s buses is a tourist attraction in itself, it shouldn’t be forgotten that they are a fantastic way of getting around the city. Far from being a moving museum piece for the benefit of visitors’ photograph albums, they serve London’s working population as one of the most common means of commuting, and the fact that – unlike the London Underground (for now at least) – many buses run throughout the night, seven days a week, they are also a primary means of navigating London’s famous nightlife. Marble Arch by Montcalm’s location in central London means that a great number of bus routes serve the area, and you’ll easily be able to travel to any central London attractions via bus, and get back to the hotel at any time of day or night from any location in the city.
For those for whom the new Routemasters just aren’t retro enough, there are still Heritage Routemasters in operation, which are in the traditional style and do have conductors. They also benefit from being fully integrated, like all the other buses, into Transport for London’s payment system, so all travel cards and Oyster cards which you can use on the Tube or other buses will work. The difference is that, just as in days gone by the conductor would come around to check your paper tickets, today they carry portable Oyster card readers. A single journey, as on all London buses, will cost £1.50 on your Oyster card. Route 15 is a great one on which to experience the Heritage Routemaster, as it takes in such iconic and historical sights as Trafalgar Square, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Monument and the Tower of London. One of the great benefits of travelling London by bus is that this cost remains the same regardless of where you get on and how far you travel; unlike the Tube, say, which charges you more the further you go according to a Zone system. This makes bus travel in London potentially very cost effective, as you could conceivably travel the whole length or breadth of the city for just £1.50 – considerably cheaper than the same journey would cost you by Tube or by taxi. The double decker nature of the vast majority of London buses also makes them a great means of seeing the sights. Obviously this is an immediate advantage over taking the Underground, but the height of the top floor seats and long windows means you can see a lot of London’s most iconic sights from your seat. Any bus journey in central London is likely to take in at least one famous attraction if you keep your eyes peeled.