london: 3 days with a 13 year old

Apr 2nd, 2002, 03:21 PM
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We haven't tried the Earl's Court one mostly because we remember Earl's Court being Party Central, which doesn't quite seem to fit this trip. Have things changed?

We did spot that the Putney Bridge TI looked waayy closer to the tube than Tower Bridge, also thought it would be quieter. Ultimately, all we'll be doing there is sleeping.

Thanks to all for all your ideas.
Apr 2nd, 2002, 06:05 PM
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Earls Court isn't more "Party Central" than any place else. But it IS much closer to the center of things than Putney. Earls Court is primarily a concentration of budget hotels and the Earls Court and Olympis exhibition centers. It is near south Kensington and there are excellent tube connections. I don't usually stay there since I normally rent a flat in Pimlico or on the south bank. But after County Hall, Kensington/Earls Court is the best located London Travel Inn.
Apr 3rd, 2002, 05:06 AM
david west
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Putney is "party central" believe me, its where I "party" (not very often as I am too old). It has umpteen bars restaurants etc catering for an upmarket young crowd. The travel inn is just by Putney Bridge tube, which is 20 mins from central london. You are also on the Thames, which is nice.

Earls court is a sterile desert full of commercial barns (Exhibition halls).and not good at night (safe but barren).
Apr 3rd, 2002, 09:32 AM
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david - the way marnie worded her message I assumed she was trying to avoid "party central" - probably because of her young son.
Apr 3rd, 2002, 09:50 AM
Ben Haines
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If I may disagree, I think the Royal Adelphi runs neck and neck with the Travellers Inn County Hall as a cheap and central hotel. Websites are and and the charge last year was 45 or 80 pounds including breakfast. The hotel is five minutes down a pedestrian street from Embankment Gardens, which have space for walking but not for games.

Putney High Street and the neighbourhood is fine, verging on posh, and perfectly safe. As Janis says, the trouble with Putney is the distance from most places you want to go. Tower Bridge is a shorter distance by tube from most tourist spots, but is quite isolated from shops, pubs, and civilised streetscape.

Please write if I can help further.

Ben Haines
Apr 4th, 2002, 07:18 AM
David White
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You've gotten loads of good info here so far. As the father of a 14 year old boy, who has visited London many times, here is my "two pence" worth:

--Science Museum is probably my son's favorite museum anywhere he has been. This is a very interactive venue. The nearby Natural History Museum runs a close second.

--other museums worth considering include the Imperial War Museum...a little off the normal tourist path, but worthwile if your son is interested in the subject. The IWM operates the Cabinet War Rooms, which is a great place to visit in central London, both for kids and parents who are interested in World War II history. The HMS Belfast, a warship moored in the Thames near the Tower Bridge, is also a hit with some teens.

--The London Transport Museum in Covent Garden is interesting, but at 13, your son may be on the upper end of the ages that seem to love this museum (maybe not, if he is interested in subways, buses, etc).

--The Tower of London is worth several hours to explore, and the advice to go early is sound. Also, if you are interested, you could write away for passes to the Ceremony of the Keys at the Tower. (look for other postings about this event, or email me for details).

--A boat tour of the Thames can be a fun way to view the city. Try a tour right at sunset if the weather is good. Also, your son might enjoy the amphibious "Frog Tours" that go through London streets then onto the Thames.

--if you could find time, a daytrip to Greenwich, Hampton Court, or Windsor would be great too

Hope these suggestions are helpful. Feel free to contact me if you have questions.

David White
[email protected]
Apr 4th, 2002, 10:04 AM
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Just came back from London, haven taken a 13 and 16 year old. The highlight for each of them was witnessing the Ceremony of the Keys at the Tower of London.

You'll need to write soon if you want to get tickets (which are complimentary).
Instructions are on the Tower of London web site. Do be certain to list several alternate dates, in order of preference, and include the names and ages of attendees.

Apr 4th, 2002, 12:13 PM
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I'm the mother of a 13 year old boy whom I took to London. The London Eye (hopefully on a clear day) is an absolute must do! It is something that may not even exist, still, when your son is grown. If you are going to Covent Garden, then I think the London Transport museum will also be fun. My kids also like Harrods and, believe it or not, the fancy afternoon tea in St. James's Restaurant at the top of Fortnum and Masons.

Since you will only have 3 days, you will have to make some choices. I, for one, would skip the Tate Modern. Was there last month and hated it. Hated the building, too...but then I'm not a fan of modern art. The kids also enjoyed the Brass Rubbing Center in the basement of St. Martin in the Field's Church.

As to theatre, consider going to the production of "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, Abridged" by the Reduced Shakespeare Company. It is hysterical and will be especially fun if you see a real Shakespearean production prior.

Highly recommend you start your first day with the double decker orientation bus tour, either the 'Round London or the 'Big Bus.
Apr 4th, 2002, 05:26 PM
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I have to disagree with Leslie about Tate Modern. My 12 and 15 year olds thought it was one of the highlights of our trip last fall (me too). It is amazing how they converted a basically ugly derelict power station into an icon of London. The most amazing spaces. The Turbine Hall (the largest space) is really huge and the people feel very insignificant.

My 15 yr old daughter is kind of "punk" and loved the art while my son didn't understand a lot of it. He did enjoy the Picassos and the kinetic pieces. But he really loved the building.
Apr 10th, 2002, 05:58 PM
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Hi all. I'm just delighted to see yet more postings after a few days' absence. Ben, we'll look into the alternate hotel. Thanks. I hadn't actually figured on a 20 minute tube-ride for the Putney Bridge TI. Whew. It's been a long time since I've lived in a city of real size!

And Sharon, David and Georgine, thanks too for your report on what your children enjoyed. Clearly, our problem is three days rather than thirty!


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