Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

Family needs help with one week visit to England

Family needs help with one week visit to England

Sep 17th, 2010, 05:28 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 472
Family needs help with one week visit to England

We are a family of five with three boys aged 6, 12, & 13. We will be going to England in November and would love some advice on where to stay, what to see, etc.. It will be the first trip to England for our sons.

We are thinking that we would like to spend two nights outside of London-- maybe Bath? We would like to see Bath, Stonehenge & Windsor Castle. And we would spend the remaining five nights in London-- is this enough? We would appreciate any and all recommendations of things to do that would appeal to three boys (They enjoy sports, most outdoor activities, & reading (yes, they love Harry Potter). The oldest has an interest in history as well).

We also would like recommendations for hotels or B & Bs to stay at that are well located and child friendly.

What should we expect in terms of weather toward the end of November?

Finally what shows are playing in London right now that would be appropriate for three boys and of course their parents? Can I purchase the tickets via the internet?

Thanks so much for your feedback!
jeanned is offline  
Sep 17th, 2010, 05:36 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 10,298
Hello there

For shows, you can see whats on here: http://www.londontheatre.co.uk/

You can also book I think 7 days in advance at the official half price ticket office here www.tkts.co.uk but not all shows will be available. You can do this when you are in London at their office in Leicester Sq.

I think the best site in London is The Tower of London. Its worth a good 1/2 day and the boys should love it. Dont forget to do the free beefeater tour.

Weather wise - expect grey and drizzly, with perhaps a few sunny spells. Definitely bring an umbrella and layer your clothes. It likely wont rain the whole time, but expect it to drizzle throughout most days. You may be lucky though and hit a few beautiful sunny days. It will be chilly so bring warm jackets.

Enjoy London!
jamikins is offline  
Sep 17th, 2010, 05:38 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 10,298
Here's the Tower's website: http://www.hrp.org.uk/toweroflondon/

They may also enjoy Hampton Court (although with Windsor and the Tower that may be one castle too many
jamikins is offline  
Sep 17th, 2010, 06:00 AM
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 1,237
My 10 year old son loved the Tower of London and Hampton Court Palace. We went the first weekend of the month where they dressed in period costumes, and gave live demonstrations of the kitchen area. My son roasted the meat on the spit--he got to turn the wheel. They also let him start the tinder box to light the fire. The gardens were fabulous too but I don't know how they will look in November.

If you can try to get out to Hampton Court Palace. My son loved that more than Windsor. It was a quick 35-40 minute ride on the Southwest train from Waterloo station.

He also enjoyed the City cruise boat ride over to Westminster, Cabinet War Rooms and Churchill Museum in Westminster and the Imperial War Museum. Highly recommended places especially for boys.
europeannovice is offline  
Sep 17th, 2010, 06:01 AM
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 1,239
Think about taking them on the London Eye, it's a really good experience for guys of that age. Also there's Madame Tussauds and the London Dungeon.
Lifeman is offline  
Sep 17th, 2010, 06:39 AM
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 1,588
HMS Belfast would be good too
alihutch is offline  
Sep 17th, 2010, 07:03 AM
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 1,825
No, five nights in London isn't "enough" but you can see a good bit in that time! Definitely the Tower--half a day. (Get there at opening.) Definitely take them to British Museum, for a few hours anyway--another half-day (a morning maybe). They'd probably like the Imperial War Museum (free)(but do have them skip the Holocaust part) and I've heard good things about the Churchill Rooms (not free). If you can fit in either St. Paul's (they'd like the trek up to the Golden Gallery for a great view of London if they're not too tired!) or Westminster Abbey (so much history and can be done in 2 hours for a first look), I'd introduce them to great churches/cathedrals with one at least of those. Hampton Court might intrigue them if you can fit that in for half a day. The boys might enjoy Greenwich (maybe a boat ride to or from it?)--prime meridian and good maritime museum. That would be a half-day expedition. I think a day trip to Oxford would be great (are they also Narnia or Lord of the Rings fans--Lewis and Tolkien sites galore in Oxford) but maybe no time for that this time.

You probably have, but do include them in the planning, showing them some options and seeing what they think they might like to do. Probably plan 2-3 major sites each day only and don't overdo. Some "stuff" is just walk-by or walk through and can be done on your way to and from your main destinations.
texasbookworm is online now  
Sep 17th, 2010, 08:11 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 472
Thanks for the great advice-- keep it coming.

I think that they will enjoy the castle, especially my youngest who is intrigued by knights, etc.. And I know that they will enjoy the British museum and the war museum-- will they be crowded this time of the year?

My oldest son loves Narnia and Lord of the Rings so Oxford may be a good side trip as well. Once we figure out all the sites/activities that we are interested in, then we'll start to prioritize and see what we have time for.

Any recommendations on a good show for them?
jeanned is offline  
Sep 17th, 2010, 08:36 AM
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 5,140
Museums in London are often crowded at weekends and at times during weekdays too but as they are free you can pop in and out at your convenience.

Maybe the boys would enjoy Stomp? Here's a link to youtube

sassy_cat is offline  
Sep 17th, 2010, 08:37 AM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 2,184
I would recommend renting an apartment instead of looking for a hotel room for five people. Some apts prefer 7 day rentals, but you can probably find one that will do a shorter stay.

Apartments are great because you generally get more space than a hotel room. Plus there will be kitchen facilities. You can stay in and cook, or get cheap take aways, if you're all exhausted at the end of the day. You can have fruit, yogurt, cheese and cereal for breakfast if you have earlier risers or some people take longer to get ready. In the evenings if your boys go to bed earlier you and your husband can stay up later in a separate room. You also experience the city in a different way, shopping at markets, eating at the same cafes repeatedly, etc. You might even be brave enough to let your 12 and 13 year olds wander around the neighborhood, or go down the street to the corner store for supplies.
BKP is offline  
Sep 17th, 2010, 08:47 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 472
BKP, can you recommend a web site for me to find apts in London? I will check out VRBO but thought that there might be a British site that is better.
jeanned is offline  
Sep 17th, 2010, 09:08 AM
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 7,142

Here are a few:

http://www.rentals.chslondon.com/ (5 night min. stay)

http://www.homefromhome.co.uk/ (no minimum stay)
bardo1 is offline  
Sep 17th, 2010, 09:25 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 530
Looked at the website that jamikins gave for what's on in London. I've seen many of the musicals with my kids at various times in their lives, so here is my take on some good ones. The only real caveat is the ability of your youngest to enjoy a theatre experience - not everyone takes their kids to live theatre and 6 can be an iffy age. But if you've got a "mature" 6 year old, or at least one who is pretty easy going, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend:

Lion King - we actually saw this in London many years ago, kids were 9 & 11 - we all LOVED it and I think it is legitimate theatre, not just a re-do of the cartoon. Perhaps the best choice for the entire family. Getting seats on the aisle means you get to have the giant puppet/actors walk right next to you on opening number.

Wicked - also good for all.

Shrek - haven't seen it, but would probably be entertaining

Oliver - watch the movie ahead of time (especially for the 6 year old). Some might worry about it being too sad, a little adult for the 6 year old.

Les Miz & Phantom of the Opera - such great music. I know people who have taken children as young as 4 or 5 to these, but it would be helpful to have some prior knowledge of what is going on (for ALL).

Billy Elliot - except for lots of cursing but might go over the top of their heads anyway with the accent. A possibility.

Please remember that Avenue Q is VERY R rated. Even with notices outside the theatre I've seen people bring their young children.

London/England is a great trip for boys. They'll love the castles, mine did!
AtlTravelr is offline  
Sep 17th, 2010, 09:38 AM
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 5,140
Shrek doesn't open until 2011 and I've not been able to get half price tix for Lion King yet

We also enjoyed Wicked and half price tix are easy to come by.
sassy_cat is offline  
Sep 17th, 2010, 05:47 PM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 11,469
Stomp is fun - lively and entertaining. I think your boys would enjoy it.

Lee Ann
ElendilPickle is offline  
Sep 17th, 2010, 10:22 PM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 2,184
I live just outside London so haven't had to rent an apartment there. But, I do rent apts when we go to Paris, Rome, NYC etc. It's always the first thing I recommend for traveling families.

If you do a search, I've read plenty of threads about apartments in London.
BKP is offline  
Sep 19th, 2010, 07:51 AM
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 1,237
Son loved Oliver if it is still playing while you are there. He unfortunately got food poisoning and was feeling the effects that day so he missed the ending but he really enjoyed the parts he saw.
europeannovice is offline  
Sep 19th, 2010, 03:19 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 472
For the couple of days that we will be in the country, do you think Bath makes the most sense? My husband also wants to see Stonehenge.

How far is Bath from Heathrow? I am thinking that we will fly in on Saturday and head straight to Bath (or elsewhere in the country).
jeanned is offline  
Sep 19th, 2010, 03:47 PM
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 4,268
Hi jeanned,
You will hear a lot on this board about people driving to their destination after just arriving on an overnight flight. It is not recommended. Especially by the Fodorites who live in England.

As for distances: Bath is 100 miles from Heathrow. You might consider seeing Stonehenge on your way back to London, as it is pretty much a quick visit. We really enjoyed staying in Wells and visiting Bath on a daytrip.

michele_d is offline  
Sep 19th, 2010, 03:51 PM
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 1,825
I would recommend not driving on arrival; start out your trip in London, get over any jet lag, before driving. This past August on our 13 day trip, we drove 9 days and my husband did great, but it was after 4 nights in London and was VERY tense-ness-producing! Some may suggest getting as far as Windsor the first day. But the hassle of getting the car at LHR and figuring out the roundabouts and traffic and driving on the opposite side--not something to do upon arrival, in my opinion.

Also, you might look into staying the whole time in London and taking day trips via train--some places give a bit of discount for staying a week and you wouldn't have to mess with a car. November will mean short day-light hours but you can ride the train in the dark of morning or dusk and use daylight for seeing. We rode train to Salisbury and got on a tour bus at the train station and rode to Stonehenge--the Stonehenge Tour--and then spent the afternoon in Salisbury. I think you could do that and spend another day trip to Bath. Just an idea. We couldn't have done our trip this year without driving and I'm glad we did, but the whole car thing really is a bit of a hassle.
texasbookworm is online now  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 05:22 AM.