Bill and Mary Reals Tour London and Paris
Exterior of the Victory Services Club, London. Photo from http://www.vsc.co.uk/
My wife and I just returned from visiting London, Paris, and their surrounding country side. During our visit in London, we stayed at the Victory Service Club in downtown London, near the Marble Arch. The club is open for allied Officers, NCO’s, and is very centrally located from a transportation standpoint.
Their rooms are very clean, small in size but livable, and the staff is very helpful. There is a library, internet access, a lounge bar, and a two restaurants. You have to join the club in order to stay there, or have reciprocity with another military affiliated club in the world. The fee is in the neighborhood of$75.00. You can pay online, and you get a membership number immediately which enables you to make reservations online very quickly. They also issue a membership card which is mailed to you within a couple of weeks. Of note, there are a number of former British Military that utilized the club for meetings, etc. There is no problem about making reservations in their dining rooms, and the service and food is quite good.
Photo from http://www.vsc.co.uk/
Photo from http://www.vsc.co.uk/
We enjoyed our stay there, and I plan on keeping the membership for reciprocity purposes in the world. Highly recommend it and it is easy to see London by staying there. It is only 10 minutes by taxi to Paddington Station and half-mile walk to the Underground. We had no problem in getting anywhere in London from the club. It is a good place to stay, and I will stay there again.
Cercle National Des Armees exterior. Photo from ttp://www.cnaparis.com/
I joined the “Cercle National Des Armees,” (National Officer Club of Armies). This club is centrally located in downtown Paris, and there are good connections for taxis and the Metro. It is two blocks from St. Augustin Metro Stop. The club is available to allied Officers, and the members in France are of their Army, Air Force and Navy. The club is managed by French Naval Officers.
The room we stayed were old and comfortable. However, they are in a remodeling of their rooms, and you have to walk through the construction zone to get to our room. The public facilities are very nice. The Lounge where they served breakfast and is a bar was very clean and the service was good. All speak English and were helpful. Getting a membership to this is very difficult. You can apply online, and they will respond to you in French. It is necessary to translate with Google Translation if you do not speak French.
Photo from ttp://www.cnaparis.com/
They require paper documentation that you are a member of the American military active or retired. Do not give them a copy of your ID card because of Social Security or Military ID number. I scratched out a copy of my military ID and sent them a certificate of Retirement which substantiated my status. However, they have to vote on your acceptance, and then send a formal letter of acceptance to you before you can make reservations.
They require you to send a bank draft to their account in Paris, before issuing a membership. Once completed you can make reservations via their webpage, and also view the rooms. They present the card to you once you arrive by the President of the club who is a senior Naval Officer. They do send a photographic copy of the membership card with your photo prior to your arrival. I don’t know if I would stay there again. However, it is centrally located.
Portsmouth Royal Sailors Home Club This is located in Portsmouth near the Royal Navy Base, and Historic Royal Navy Dockyard where the: HMS Victoria, HMS Warrior, Mary Rose Museum, or other ship attractions. You can see the Royal Navy Base through the fence since this is their largest Navy base in England. The rooms are adequate but basic, they have a restaurant which is fine. They did provide us with a sack lunch because we were leaving before the restaurant was open for breakfast. It was very reasonably priced.
The club is open to all former service people. No club membership required, however, you need to show them a military ID to stay there. It is also very close to the Port of Portsmouth if you are planning to take the ferry to France. It is a 10-minute cab ride to the ferry terminal. The people are very cordial and helpful. It is clean and adequate for overnight stay. It is also 20 minutes by cab to the Portsmouth Overlord D‑Day Museum which is very good, and something to see before going to Normandy. I would definitely stay there again.
COL Bill Reals, USA, (Ret.) and Mary Reals Mission, Viejo, CA email@example.com
Reprint from Nov–Dec 2014 • Volume 44, No. 6