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Family trip to London - advice on must-sees and best area to stay in, please!

(9 Posts)
SpanishFly Thu 16-Jan-14 14:49:52

In the summer we are thinking of doing 2 or 3 nights in London (with 2 DSs aged 10 and 3).

My DH has never been to London, neither have the DSs. The last time I was there was probably 18 years ago, so we need some advice, please! We do enjoy sightseeing, but dont want to be so exhausted that we just get ratty and keep falling out. Is the open-top bus worth doing?

What do you recommend as must-dos? DH wants to see Buck Pal, DS1 wants to go see Tower of London and go to Ripley's and Madam Tussauds (I dont see the point of waxworks, so I'll try to talk him out of that blush ). I want to do the London Eye. Any other interesting/unusual/obvious suggestions are very welcome.

Any restaurants/cafes etc particularly worth a visit?

Where do you recommend staying? Somewhere safe, as cheap as possible, preferably near some eating places so we dont necessarily have to get a taxi or Tube for dinner each night. We've been recommended the Premier Inn next to the London Eye - any advice on this...? Are the "sale" prices with Premier Inn ever available in London hotels?

Is it best to go midweek or weekend, or are the touristy places always busy regardless of the day?

I didnt realise I had so many questions confused . Any suggestions would be so much appreciated. Thanks in advance x

SpanishFly Thu 16-Jan-14 15:02:33

Oh, and we may take the car, so are there any good parking options where we can leave it for the few days - eg park and ride - so we dont need to take it into the city centre, given that we wont actually be using it?

SpanishFly Fri 17-Jan-14 14:35:24


TuttiFrutti Sat 18-Jan-14 19:37:07

London Eye definitely, and possibly Madame Tussaud's. I have never needed a hotel in London but I imagine it might be hard to find anywhere cheap - but maybe try around Victoria? It won't be super-expensive because near the train station, but you can walk to Sloane Square for shopping/cafes, and Buckingham Palace. On the other hand, if you can afford to stay anywhere in the West End you will be able to walk everywhere, as central London is quite small. Try the open top bus tours, and the boat cruises. And museums of course - I have taken my 6 and 8 yos to the national gallery and it's doable if you limit it to one painting each - I make them go to the shop first and buy postcards of their favourite pictures.

Sorry for rushed post, on my way out. Good luck!

bluesky Sun 19-Jan-14 16:24:39

Hi Spanishfly,

Can't help on parking I'm afraid, but if you can get into Premier Inn County Hall, then definitely stay there. Really good sized family rooms, comfy beds and because its a big old building, they have solid thick walls! We enjoy the breakfast there, unlike other Premier Inns, a huge choice, eat loads and it really sets you up for the day. You could book it for the first day, see what you think and then decide whether you book it for the rest of your stay or go elsewhere. There is a small newsagent opposite the entrance, useful for water and snacks for the room or your trips out. (If it's fully booked, and no it doesn't take part in the offers, there is a new Premier Inn just behind it that is fine, we stayed there last time).

Great location as you will be close to the London Eye, book your timed slot before you go, also in the same building is the London Aquarium, its good, the sharks are fantastic, but it is expensive, I would only go if kids mega keen and I could find special offer somewhere.

You are on Southbank here, which is a lovely place to wander with street entertainers, musicians, skateboarders, you can see the boats on the Thames. Great choice of restaurants along here, Giraffe, Wagamamas in particular are always popular for us. If little legs fancy a good walk you can walk to the Tate Modern and have a look round there.

From under the London Eye you can get a boat that takes you to The Tower. Definitely recommend this, we had a great time there, great tour with the guard full of stories, amazing up close to Crown Jewels, decent food.

You can also pick up the open top bus ride from the bus stop near the London Eye bridge. If you go to a Tourist Info website, I think you can get the ticket and it gives you money off London Eye, money off boat etc. You can also pick up the usual london buses from here too, which will get you to most places. Or take the tube from Waterloo station which is situated just behind the Premier Inn. It's all signposted.

I wouldn't waste time at Madame Tussauds, mega queues, heaving, and SO expensive. Mine love Ripleys in Piccadilly Circus, there are usually offers around, i got really good prices last time through Tesco, but again I wouldn't pay full price to go. From there my two like to eat at Planet Hollywood (again look for vouchers!) good menu choice.

Its good to see the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, google the timings and info. You could then walk up the Mall to Trafalgar Square and see the big lions. The National Gallery is there to pop in and see some mega paintings. From here you can walk to Covent Garden, fun for entertainers, shops, market stalls. Good M&S outside the tube station for sandwiches/picnic/treats!

The Natural History is in South Kensington and has the dinosaurs and it is also joined to the Science Museum, so that is a complete day out!! Exhausting but really good. Take a packed lunch to save money and you can eat it downstairs where they send the school trips or outside on a bench. If sunny and DS's still have energy walk north to the Princess Diana park, and have a nice play before getting bus/tube back to hotel.

Hamleys is also worth a trip, it makes a good loo stop too! It's on Regent Street, which you can walk up to from Ripleys.

I'd do three nights if I were you, helped by using lots of tokens where you can find them, packed lunches and not rushing! And you'll have a fab time. (in the summer it will be busy 7 days a week).

SpanishFly Tue 21-Jan-14 12:56:46

wow, thank you both SO much for your ideas.

I will definitely book the London Eye before we go. Liking the idea of the ticket that includes a glass of champagne...

I hadnt thought about water taxis etc so that's a fantastic idea - thank you.

We've given up on the driving idea, and will probably get the train, so long as it's not extortionate. I also discovered that most of the big attractions allow 2 for 1 entry if you have a valid National Rail train ticket - so that could make a big difference to the budget too.

That's us booked up for the Premier Inn, 3 nights. CAN'T WAIT!!

Thank you both again - so very much, it really helped us a lot. x

bluesky Wed 22-Jan-14 10:54:36

Brilliant, come back to this thread and let us know how you get on. Have fun! (and wear comfy shoes!)

bluesky Wed 22-Jan-14 10:55:30

ps: if you book your tickets as early as you can, you should be able to get better prices

ylloyd888 Thu 20-Feb-14 17:21:48

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

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