Advice about London trip(17 Posts)
I'm traveling from oop north to Canada from Gatwick in July with my husband and two children, 4 and 6. The plan is to travel down to London (probably kings cross?) by train the day before, go visit a museum, preferably the natural history, stay overnight in a cheap and convenient hotel, then get to the airport early the next day for a two o clock flight.
The thing is, I've never really traveled in London at all. I'm presuming I could get a taxi from whatever station I get in to, drop bags at hotel. Is Victoria station good for getting to Gatwick? And I know it's daft, but if I'm in a hotel ten minutes walk from the station, can I get a taxi that will take all my bags and kids to the station? You don't need car seats in black cabs, do you?
Generally any advice would be really welcome. I don't fancy trawling two kids and five bags or so round London, though I'm very happy to go on the underground once bags are dropped off.
Victoria is pefect for Gatwick. Fast or slow trains depending on your budget.
Black cab will take 4 people plus luggage (though will charge for luggae) no car seast required.
Easy enough to tube it to South Ken (museums) from Victoria (or vice versa) on district lines. NOt sure there's many cheap hotels around there though.
Thanks that's really helpful, I haven't taken a black cab for nearly a decade and never with kids. I'll look for something in that area first, don't want any unexpected delays on the day of the flight.
The other option for Gatwick is to take the Thameslink from London Bridge. There's a Premier inn nearby with family rooms for around £120. You can get the Jubilee line to Westminster and then take the District to South Ken for museums.
Look at The Premier Inn's Family Room by King's Cross or Euston (walking distance,) drop your bags and go! Walking distance to The British Library (awesome free exhibition) and The British Museum. Use google Directions to navigate the streets.
If you are travelling to Gatwick on a week day there will be direct trains from St Pancras so you could walk to a hotel in KX/St P and drop bags and then travel direct from there the next day.
top tip for to and from Gatwick - never use the Gatwick Express. It costs a lot more and saves you 10 minutes max.
and no, you don't need car seats in black cabs. London traffic is so gridlocked that it isn't an issue.
Thanks everyone, lots of options there and good info about the links to Gatwick.
Worth noting there's no such thing as a cheap hotel in London (well, none that you would want to stay in) so book well in advance.
I would do as Teds suggests, and stay near Kings X (there's a Premier Inn right next door, albeit it is eye-wateringly expensive) and get the train from St Pancras to Gatwick. Do check which station your trains come into, though, it could be Euston rather than Kings Cross or St Pancras.
If you want to visit the Natural History Museum, be warned it is mobbed at weekends and in school hols. I was there on Tuesday and the queue was hundreds of people long, I think people must have been queuing for two hours to get in. However, you can jump the queue if you have timed tickets to an exhibition, so this will be money well spent.
If you do Science first then NHM can be quieter later in the afternoon.
I would also consider bypassing London altogether and heading straight to Gatwick. You will have to check in around 2-3 hours before your 2pm flight the next day.
If you do want to stay in London the day before then you need
to book a hotel well in advance. Look at chains like Holiday Inn or Premier Inn. There is really no such thing as a cheap hotel in London.
Would agree with comments re the Natural History Museum; its often rammed full of people and the Science Museum can also be very crowded even on weekdays. July is also in the school holiday period.
Attilla - I had a similar thought, like maybe the coach direct to Gatwick and stay out at Gatwick (coming into London to do something if desired). It seems surprisingly difficult to get from the North to Gatwick without going through London - I had assumed National Express would have a coach that went there but from Leeds at least you have to change either at Victoria or possibly at Heathrow. (I used Leeds in my search as that's where I live).
I think I would either drive to Gatwick or even contemplate a taxi (I just quoted it and it's £280 from Leeds to Gatwick, which doesn't seem massively unreasonable compared to the cost of 4 train fares). Or even send the luggage on ahead using something like Send My Bag.
From Leeds you will come into kings cross. Get the tube to Victoria (Victoria line, pale blue). Stay near Victoria, get southern train to gatwick the next day. After dropping bags at Victoria get district line (green) to south Ken to visit museums. I wouldn't bother with a cab there is really no need. Have fun
There is a youth hostel within walking distance of the museums. They do family rooms now. We use them as there are 6 of us so we can get one room rather than having to get 2 rooms in a Premier Inn or similar. I think they have lockers you can use for your luggage while you can't use the room.
You don't need tube tickets to travel in London for kids. The cheapest way for you to travel is to use your contact less card as it will charge you the same an an oyster. You then only need to buy a ticket from Victoria to gatwick (probably have to pay for 6 year old but don't get gatwick express as not especially quick and normal train is cheaper.
I recommend the St Pancras Holiday Inn... you can drop your bags off with them , as its just across the road from the station, and then get the tube to South Ken.
Did the same with my DC the other week... the tube is as much part of the adventure as the museum... and they travel free on the underground.
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