London is a city filled to the brim with new experiences and culture that is just begging to be explored. Whether it’s the cute coffee stores, the markets or the beautiful museums and architecture – this city will entertain you from sun up to sun down. But how is it doing all the above with your children in tow? Can it be done and is it recommended? We spoke to Lee-ann, who has recently returned from her trip to London alongside her husband and three kids and were curious to know what her experience was like!
“My husband and I love London with its diversity, smells, colours, eating, shopping and history. But we were not sure how London would translate when travelling with 3 kids ages 11, 7 and 6. It turns out London is awesome at any age – and the history and atmosphere even transcends 3 degrees Celsius, and the occasional rainy London day.
The key to London with kids is staying in a central location. Access to the tube and buses, and proximity to shops and major tourist destinations will make your holiday.
London is a HUGE city, so staying close to a tube station with multiple accessible lines that is essential. Riding the tube could not be easier to navigate, and the kids loved hopping on and off like they were true Londoners. You don’t even need to buy metro cards anymore, you can simply tap on your regular card you would use for tap and go in Australia at one end, and then use again at the other. Kids travel for free so it is a convenient and cheap way of getting around.
We stayed in a serviced apartment in South Kensington which ticks every box for convenience and location. Surrounded by shops and cafes accessing healthy and relatively inexpensive food is very important when with kids. We had a kitchen in the apartment complete with dishwasher, and a clothes washer and dryer. It was cold weather in December and our apartments were warm and welcoming. We were across the rd from a tube station with 3 main lines, as well as also having multiple buses right outside our doorstep. We were within walking distance from Harrods and about a 20-minute easy walk to Hyde Park and Buckingham Palace, past the incredible Natural History Museum, which is incredible with kids.
The kids embraced every part of London’s history. We utilised the hop on/hop off bus on the first day for initial viewing of the city, which is something we like to do when we get to a new city, and to take us to the Tower of London. The Tower is great fun for kids, full of stories of blood and gore and kings and queens of the past, complete with swords, knives and torture equipment. What more could a child want? They enjoyed the first 10 minutes of the Changing of the Guard, after that it turns out the changing is quite a boring and pompous affair. But still how can you beat the unique experience of standing at the gates to the palace where the actual Queen lives and where there are real princes and princesses? This is the stuff we read our kids in fairy tales.
Other things we did in London worth mentioning:
- English Football!!! – if your kids are like mine they will love the football (soccer). The highlight for my sons was seeing Chelsea play on their home-ground. An incredible day for everyone being part of the crowds and atmosphere, and shopping at the Chelsea mega store.
- The London Eye – I think this is worth it. It’s huge, and the view over the city is amazing. You can see ‘Big Ben and Parliament…Look kids…” (hopefully you all know the reference from National Lampoons)
- Lego store in Leicester square – probably somewhat overrated as the ‘world’s largest Lego store’ but still fun
- Shopping on Oxford Street – this has to be with the right age, but my 11 year old daughter loved this strip and the shopping was actually very good
- Portobello Markets and Notting Hill – the kids loved wondering down this quirky market with old nick knacks. Great food along the way, this is where the hipsters come to life
- Babysitting – we utilised an excellent babysitting service with all the appropriate checks and balances in order to enjoy all the wonderful restaurants and excitement on offer for adults at night. Our kids were very happy after long days in the blistering cold to enjoy the warmth and stay in at night.
All of this was done in mostly freezing temperatures. We got lucky – we had only one London rainy day otherwise the skies were blue. This is the challenge with London, what kind of a day will you have? But it was Christmas time and it was magical. As we drove along the streets lit with Christmas lights we knew we were on an adventure far from home. It is a cold time of year but I think well worth it. But, the point is, London is fun with kids any time of year.
Accommodation: Cheval Harrington Court serviced apartments – Anywhere Travel can get the best possible rates for this property. We stayed in a 2 bedroom apartment, ample for 3 kids and 2 adults.
Babysitting: http://www.rockabyebabysitters.co.uk/ – came highly recommended by the hotel and utilised by many of the major hotels in London. All nannies are full background checked and can provide ID.”
Get in touch with Anywhere Travel to plan your next trip to London!