2 days in London

Dec 31st, 2005, 05:03 PM
  #1  
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2 days in London

We have a 2 full day layover in London via Heathrow. What can we do with our time? Where should we stay and what about transporation? We have 3 children--16, 13, 8. We'd prefer to not have to rent a car but we are not totally opposed if the masses think this is the best bet. This is our first time in London.
sher11 is offline  
Dec 31st, 2005, 05:15 PM
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Stay near the British Museum or the Victoria and Albert Museum. The must-sees with children are the Tower of London--buy the tix beforehand and go early--and the BM with the huge Assyrian statues (the kids will be impressed by the size and will probably be poking them.) If you had time, I would have also suggested Dover Castle--a fort that dated from Roman times, and it's full of military significance (which might impress even the teens!)

We stayed in Earl's Court, near the Earl's Court stop. While it's a bit far, it's not as crazy as around Leicester Square or Victoria. We (including Mom) stayed at the K&K George Hotel which was run by an Austrian company. Had the most filling full English buffet, with decent coffee. When we loaded up on the breakfast, we can often manage with just tea before doing dinner...

Have fun!

Lil

lilleyl2 is offline  
Dec 31st, 2005, 05:16 PM
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Thank you so much for your reply.
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Dec 31st, 2005, 05:18 PM
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sher11

I can't imagine that anyone would recommend renting a car for a short stay in central London. That would just be nuts.

I am not sure when you are traveling, but there are some colleges in London that rent dormitory rooms, and some in have family rooms, when school is not in session. I myself have stayed in these accomodations.

Try a google search for dormitory stays or accomodations in London.

If you are planning on being there during school sessions, Sandra Gustafson has some very good recommendations for apartments that rent by the night in central London in her book Great Sleeps in London. Some of the best sounding of these are in excellent locations.

For a short stay, I would recommend staying as centrally as possible.
tuscanlifeedit is online now  
Dec 31st, 2005, 05:21 PM
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If you are spending your time in London, you definitely should NOT rent a car. Furthermore, no knowledgeable traveler on this board will recommend renting a car for getting around London.

Since you have 5 in your party, it will probably be less expensive to use a car service such as Just Airports to get into the city. Once you are in the city use the public transportation, such as the tube or the bus.

http://www.justairports.com/

On your first day I recommend the hop-on, hop off bus tour for a great overview of the city. You can get off the bus at any major site, or you can take the whole tour at once and come back to the places that interest you the most. The one place I think you should not miss is the Tower of London. That should be fun for the entire family. Another thing I enjoy in London is the walking tours, however the Jack the Ripper tour would not be appropriate for your 8-year-old. Also I recommend seeing a show at night. There are too many shows to name, but most are appropriate for people of all ages.

Have a great trip.
P_M is offline  
Dec 31st, 2005, 05:21 PM
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Thanks--we'll be there the 1st week of August. Does the tube system run from Heathrow to the downtown area?
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Dec 31st, 2005, 05:24 PM
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Yes, the tube does go from LHR to Victoria Station. The tube takes a lot longer than the Heathrow Express, but for 5 people it would be considerably less expensive. I don't know how it compares to a car service that I mentioned in my post above, so please check it out.
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Dec 31st, 2005, 05:33 PM
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sher11

As to my earlier suggestion of dormitory rooms: the first week of August is great timing for that. You could easily get a family room.
tuscanlifeedit is online now  
Dec 31st, 2005, 05:38 PM
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Check out the Family Travelcards for getting around:

http://www.tfl.gov.uk/tfl/fares-tick...rd-day-3.shtml


And this map will get you everywhere you want to go (bus and Tube stops are shown):

http://www.tfl.gov.uk/tfl/pdfdocs/tourist.pdf

A six-zone travelcard will get you in from Heathrow (and back) on the Tube, and all over town on buses and underground for one day.

Stay where you can find the best value. It only takes about 20 minutes to go from one end of Central London to the other. Most things are within a five-minute bus ride of one another.
Robespierre is offline  
Dec 31st, 2005, 05:45 PM
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Thank you all for your prompt and informative replies!
sher11 is offline  
Dec 31st, 2005, 05:47 PM
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I hate to sound so uninformed, but what is the Heathrow Express?
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Dec 31st, 2005, 05:49 PM
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http://www.heathrowexpress.com/
tuscanlifeedit is online now  
Jan 1st, 2006, 02:24 AM
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There are several hotels in the County Hall area which is a popular area for families. At the budget end, the Travel Inn County Hall is a good option. Marriott County Hall is also popular but pricier.
mclaurie is offline  
Jan 1st, 2006, 10:58 AM
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Re: the travelcard for the tube--we discovered to our shock that we could not use it as is because what we got was a voucher through the mail when we purchased it before we got there. What we had to do was to pay to go to Victoria or one of the central stations and exchange our voucher for a travelcard.

Just something to look into beforehand so that you can hop on the tube at Heathrow, immediately after you get there.

Also, when we tried to hop on the tube at Earl's Court, shortly before 9 a.m. GMT, the trains were so _packed_ that we couldn't even get on. IMHO, I would time your arrival such that you're not trying to hop on the tube trains any time near rush hour. It will be a majorly unpleasant experience for all.

Lil
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Jan 1st, 2006, 06:36 PM
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I agree that the Hop-On Hop-Off buss is a great way to get the lay of the land. The "Don't Miss" spots will include the Tower of London (with the Crown Jewels), Westminster Abby (w/ Big Ben and Houses of Parliament), and the kids will probably like Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum.
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Jan 1st, 2006, 06:54 PM
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Our boys 10 and 12 loved the Cabinet War Rooms (underground bunkers where Churchill hid) and the War Museum too. The hop on/hop off bus was great for viewing everything - the ones with the live narrator were entertaining. Definitely no car is needed. The tube is easy - for the first few trips we didn't realize how much the family card would save us - however, I think it is only good outside of rush hour. The London taxis were fun for a 1-time ride. The Tower of London tour by a beefeater guard was about an hour and just fascinating and also the guard was hysterically funny - I had to eat my words, since I told everyone I would go under duress. The British Museum was great. They have a little restaurant up top where they serve a very nice (simple) afternoon tea - we got a table overlooking the huge library - we liked this so much we went twice. Our favorite meal was Thai food at the Churchill Arms Pub (in Notting Hill) - I was surprised that all 4 of us loved the place, even the pickier eater - unusual setting among lots of plants - very casual and also pretty inexpensive. I hope you enjoy your layover. I was surprised by how much we loved London!
travelgirl2 is offline  
Jan 1st, 2006, 07:10 PM
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I second the notion of staying close to the British Museum. My stay in the Earl's Court area a couple of winter's ago was fine for my hubby and I, but it's not that great of an area, and wandering about isn't as much fun in the rain during a tube strike. Also, besides the Eye, Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, taking London Walks tours at night and the museums, your children might like standing on the international date line in Greenwich Village, seeing the Cutty Sark and eating in the historic naval pubs there. Several of my 4th grade students have mentioned that to me as particularly memorable. It's a short ride away on the rails or by Thames boat cruise. Enjoy London!
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Jan 1st, 2006, 11:28 PM
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With just two days, I'd bet you'll leave London wishing you had even more time!

Do not -- NOT -- rent a car!!!

It might be a good idea to arrange for a car transfer or shuttle from the airport to your hotel so you don't have to deal with potential hassles while jet-lagged in an unfamiliar city and burdened with luggage.

After that, I highly recommended the tourist travelcards for the Tube and buses -- they're economical and save you the trouble of buying tickets repeatedly. With children, it would be perfect. We used the travelcards constantly and loved them. Be aware, you must buy them before you arrive in London (unless the rules have changed since 2002). Use the Web site already posted.

I've never been there (and probably will never go) but Madame Tussaud's wax museum might entertain your young ones. Ditto the London Eye.

Also, the St. Martin-in-the-Fields church just off Trafalgar Square offers brass rubbing and a cafe in the crypt. I'm pretty sure my nephews, who are about your children's age, would enjoy it. Either making their own brass rubbing if they're feeling "young" that day or the creepy feeling of a cafe set up over burial stones, if they're feeling "older" that day, would satisfy. For the oldest, watching the doings in Trafalgar would be great.

I'd also recommend the hop–on, hop-off bus tours for a good, relaxing overview of the city's major sites. These are great tours for when time is short.

You might consider the Imperial War Museum as well. It's seriously one of the best museums I've ever been to (and I only went reluctantly because my husband wanted to). Its exhibits are extremely well done, telling stories instead of just displaying artifacts, and offersa lot of multimedia options that kids and teens might enjoy. I can't say how impressed I was -- and I'm a tough customer about museums, having had some training in the field.

Have fun!
Worktowander is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2006, 01:39 AM
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When you buy tix for the Tower, get them at Tower Hill tube station, not the main ticket office. Much faster and no queue!

Use the tube but yes, try to do it outside rush hour. After 9:30, day travelcards are cheaper.
luckykat is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2006, 05:37 AM
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We were in London lst Thanksgiving with 2 teenage boys (19 and 14). After musch research we stayed in 2 connecting double rooms at the Rembrant Hotel booked thru British Airways. Since rooms are small and we get 2 baths, 2 tvs, this seems to work best for our family to get ready and out the door quickly in the morning. The location is wonderful being just across from the museums, Science, V & A Museum and another one I cant remember right now. The tube is only 3 minutes walk, Harrods, 4 minute walk, breakfast buffet included, lots of activity and restaurants, french bakery, etc just down the street. My boys loved the Imperial War Museum with WWI trench recreation, Cabinet War Rooms, Tower of London and British Museum with Egyptian Relics. We caught the hop on, hop off bus about 1 block from the hotel which I think included a boat ride down the river. I believe we rode the London Eye in the morning, got McDonalds or Burger King and took it on the boat, ate it below and then finished the ride up top. I think we took it to the Tower of London where we took a Beefeaters tour. (Worth it). The boys really like WWII so loved the War Museum and Cabinet War Rooms (audio tour is a must. British Museum is a striking building with a great Library to popo in on, the Rosetta Stone, wonderful Egyptian artifacts, and the Elgin Marbles. We only do Museum highlights or sections that interest them because the guys seem to enjoy and get more out of it when we work that way. Anyway, I cant tell you how many times they come home from school and will relate back to these places after something is covered in school. We all loved "Rules" restaurant a old classic English restaurant I think in the Picadelley Circus area, where you could walk around after dinner. Although pricey, it was only slightly more than any evening meal in London.
No car - the tube is wonderful and great for the kids. Bring extra passport pictures - I think we needed them for my youngest to get a discounted child pass - but maybe that for a week pass. Check the website for that - probably not necessary for a day pass.
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