London was calling us back for the Nitto ATP Finals, at the O2 Arena. The November event was a great tournament to watch Men’s Professional tennis at its very best! There were so many reasons to visit the United Kingdom. The tournament provided a great vehicle to both see and play tennis as well as do some sightseeing! The areas that we chose to visit were hours from London, but well worth the drive.
Our Trip Plan:
Last year, we attended the Nitto ATP Finals during the semi-finals rounds, at the end of the tournament. This trip, we decided to go during the beginning of the tournament. We purchased our tickets to the event prior to booking our flights and hotel accommodations. There were day and night sessions each day of the indoor tennis tournament, with one showcase court! This year we decided to watch both a day and night sessions on the same day. That way we were able to see four of the top eight men’s professionals in one day! We flew out of Newark, New Jersey directly to London Heathrow Airport on a Friday evening, which landed early Saturday morning in London. Our tickets were for Monday so then we focused on our sightseeing and where we were going to play tennis!
London, England – tennistravelsite.com
In previous trips to the UK, we had experienced London proper as well as trips out to Dover, Canterbury, Leeds Castle, Warwick and Stonehenge. We are very big fans of the Poldark show and Cornwall was an area we were very interested in. Although the time of year meant that the weather would be dicey, we committed to seeing Cornwall on this trip. It might be that the fourth season of Poldark had just begun and we were totally immersed in that story! Cornwall was not showing much in the way of tennis opportunities, so a second venue was looked for that would provide our desire to play.
My husband had always desired to stay in one of the Castles in the UK. He had tried to book us in different properties on previous visits, however things never worked out. After some research, I found a perfect property… St. Pierre’s Marriott Hotel and Country Club in Chepstow, Wales. The property had tennis as well as many other amenities. I didn’t share with him that it was a castle until we were on our trip!
So our plan was to rent a car and travel to Cornwall, England (a train was available to take to Cornwall, but we wanted to be able to drive around the area as well), then to Chepstow, Wales before attending the Nitto ATP Finals in London!
First Stop: Poldark country!
The drive to Cornwall, England was a little over five hours from Heathrow Airport (Travel tip: In England driving a car is on the left side of the road, through many roundabouts, while driving on the right side of the car, usually manual transmission. It sounds daunting, however you do get the hang of it and it makes for a very exciting first part of the day). Again, we chose Land’s End, Cornwall, England, mainly because we enjoy watching the Masterpiece series, “Poldark.” One of the stars of the show was the beautiful green rolling countryside with rough coastal views. We were not disappointed when we reached Lands End. We had booked a room at the Land’s End Hotel, which was a Bed and Breakfast Hotel at the mostly westerly tip of Cornwall, England. It was also known as the first/last stop in England. Land’s End overlooked the endless roaring Atlantic Ocean.
The Land’s End Hotel was family oriented, yet at the same time many newlyweds were honeymooning at this resort with the most incredible ocean views. The Land’s End Hotel had a separate area with children’s activities. As you walk into the entrance, the Hotel had a beautiful banquet room which would be a perfect place for a reception or party because the room is surrounded by glass windows, overlooking the ocean.
Land’s End, Cornwall, United Kingdom – tennistravelsite.com
After spending many summers of my childhood on the Oregon coast, I’ve developed a deep respect for the ocean. Although the endless crashing of waves seemed wild and strong, at the same time, paradoxically, the sound of the Atlantic ocean was soothing. I felt very at home. You cannot take the Oregonian out of the girl! Our newly refurbished, fantastic room at the Land’s End Hotel was literally the furthest point of England, just a stone’s throw away from the roped off cliff.
We drove around the area and walked about some of the old tin mines, in the countryside of Cornwall. The mines and Cornwall landscape were straight out of scenes from Poldark. You could almost imagine if you looked across the endless land, Ross Poldark on his horse, galloping across the path near the cliffs. We were very pleased to enjoy a beautiful sunset straight from the doorway of our Penwith Studio (en suite…tip ask for room 1)! Like the other side of the UK, they had preserved the land near the waters edge and hiking/walking paths which allowed you to explore this incredible venue first hand.
The next morning, we had breakfast at the bed and breakfast hotel, and were nicely surprised. We were seated in one of the many window tables with a great view of the ocean, for the buffet breakfast! We were told that we had gotten lucky with the weather. The previous couple of days had rain and winds over 100 miles an hour! Although we had gotten a little misty rain, the temperature was in the 50’s and we saw blue sky with clouds. It was a very romantic place that exceeded our expectations. A great start to our long UK weekend.
Second Stop: Playing tennis and staying at a Castle in Wales.
The drive to St. Pierre’s Marriott Hotel and Country Club in Chepstow, Wales took three hours from Cornwall. It was exciting to drive through the front gates of the hotel via the former Castles’ Carriage house. Rumor had it that St. Pierre’s was a haunted castle! Once you passed through the gates, you were in a courtyard in front of the castle/hotel! On the way in, we passed the putting green and golf course. Turned out this hotel was a golf destination, as well as a castle.
Not only did this hotel have a fabulous golf course, surrounding the property, but it also had a large fitness area, indoor pool and two outdoor tennis courts (with lights). As soon as we checked in, we stopped at the fitness reception and booked our tennis court. We enjoyed hitting tennis balls after a long drive, with a castle as our backdrop. We played at dusk, under the lighted tennis courts, surrounded by the beautiful golf course. As you might have read in previous posts, we enjoy a great sunset playing tennis!
Our room was a lakeside, with a great view of the lake (travel tip: bring an outlet adapter with you during your travels, so you can charge your phone). In the evening, across the lake, an area was lit up with the name St. Pierre’s. The quiet dark lake mirrored the full moon. It was truly peaceful. We dined at the hotel’s restaurant, as the bar was full of people watching the soccer match. Soccer was a big deal in England! I noticed William checking out the score of the game. We had a very nice dinner at their restaurant, with excellent service. Of course we had to try to the fish and chips, along with a salad. After a great day of tennis, and fun exploring the castle grounds, we looked forward to our tennis tournament in London the next day, at the O2 arena!
St. Pierre Marriott Hotel and Country Club, Chepstow, Wales – tennistravelsite.com
Final stop: the Nitto ATP finals at London’s O2 arena.
Surprisingly, it had only been two days, but we had covered almost 700 miles. We drove the three hours to the London O2 arena. (O2 arena tip: Reserve parking in advance, stress free). There were many reasons why we attended this tennis event. The Nitto ATP finals week long event is a tournament for the top Professional Men’s Singles and Doubles Teams in the world. Every match was tennis played at its highest level. The event will be played each year at the London O2 arena until at least 2020.
London O2 Arena, London, UK – tennistravelsite.com
We parked in the designated area next to the arena. We timed it perfectly. We sat in our seats right when the players were walking on the court. We had tickets for both the day and night session. We watched fantastic tennis (we missed Rafa Nadal this year, who was out of the tournament due to surgery), both doubles and singles, the top 8 of men’s singles and doubles tennis, in the world. We noticed that the fans were from all around the world. We ended up on a day that had Americans playing in both a singles match and a doubles match. We quickly purchased a USA Flag to cheer on the American Tennis players (Huge tip: show your flag – best way to make it on to the kiss cam! Finally!).
After the tournament, on our last evening we stayed at the Radisson Hotel, Heathrow Airport (directly across from Heathrow airport). We had rented our car from SixT car rental. When we picked up the rental car, we noticed that there was a Hilton Garden Inn across the street, which would have been a more convenient choice. The next morning, we found it more convenient to hire an Uber driver to take us to our terminal, rather than hop on a shuttle bus that made many stops (Uber ride was just over 5 pounds. The shuttle was 4 pounds per person). And, then we were flying back to the United States.
A great tennis weekend!
There were many reasons to visit London, England. Land’s End in Cornwall was well breathtaking. Our trip there led us past Stonehenge (we just looked at each other and said…that’s Stonehenge)….which was pretty phenomenal, as we made our way through the United Kingdom country to Land’s End. During our short weekend, we stayed in a room with an ocean view, a room at a former castle and then ended with our full day at the O2 Arena, at the Nitto ATP Final. It does take a lot of planning, but seeing parts of the United Kingdom, in a long weekend, is very doable as well as rewarding.
Stonehenge, United Kingdom – tennistravelsite.com
Global Entry: When traveling internationally, when returning to the United States, breeze through customs with Global Entry (instead of waiting in the long lines), you just have to input information in the Global Entry Kiosk. Some credit cards will reimburse the application fee for Global Entry.
Train travel could have taken some of the stress out of my husband’s weekend. But you would need to factor more time and dragging luggage (tennis racquets included) with you along the way. Driving the english countryside was a very nice way to experience the UK.
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