London w/ my son: brief trip report

Old Apr 14th, 2007, 07:52 AM
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London w/ my son: brief trip report

Traveled to London in mid-March with my 12 year old son. I had been twice; this was his first visit and first international trip. Wonderful trip for us both with many fond memories to enjoy!

Review of hotel, The Capital, posted in this forum (linked to detailed review posted at tripadvisor).

First, itinerary; second, our favorites; third, helpful web sites for planning; last, advice for traveling w/ kids.

Arrival day - Gatwick arrival was easy, peasy, Southern train to Victoria, taxi to hotel, check in, rested, ate at good ol' Mickie D's, visited parts of Harrods (it was a stone's throw from our hotel), city tour on red double decker bus(concierge recommended "Original London Sightseeing Tour")

Day 2 - London Eye (did this first b/c weather was great, and in London, you never know when the weather will turn), Thames boat ride (transported us from Eye to Tower), Tower of London, tube to hotel, pre-theater dinner at Rules, RSC's The Tempest w/ Patrick Stewart as Prospero.

Day 3 - coach tour out of London w/ Premium Tours, toured: Windsor Castle w/ changing of the guard, Stonehenge, Oxford; saw a lot and rode a lot; ate dinner at Le Metro restaurant near our hotel

Day 4 - Tube to King's Cross station track 9 3/4 (Harry Potter "site") for photo; manuscripts, sacred texts, etc. at British Library; British museum; Covent Garden; afternoon tea at hotel; Phantom of the Opera

Day 5 - Globe Theater tour; Tate Modern (& slides, of course), ate lunch on the top floor of the museum then toured museum; Cabinet War Rooms/Churchill museum; ate dinner at Hard Rock; packed for departure

Day 6 (a Monday a.m.) - Gatwick was crazy; total chaos -- Advice: allow more than enough time for check in, security, etc. Strangely, they were more particular about who's leaving rather than who's arriving???

Our favs:
Son enjoyed Windsor Castle; he thought it was great that he had been in the same rooms where the Queen of England and other world leaders spend/have spent time. Also, he loved the Cabinet War Rooms/Churchill museum; he loves military history. The museum is new and uses lots of interesting technology. He also loved both theater productions. Surprisingly, there were many, many young people (high school age-ish) at The Tempest.

Highlights for me were the manuscripts and texts at the British Library and both theater productions, even though I had seen them before. Theater is so much better over there! And the weather was perfect, sunny and dry everyday -- my face got sunburned!

Most seated/served meals in London are very pricey compared to non-touristy cities in U.S., but here are comments on two nice restaurants that stood out for us:
Rules Restaurant in theater area - recommended by our concierge; oldest restaurant in London; very nice, very British; we liked it a lot. <>.
Le Metro in Knightsbridge - casual, cozy (about 8 tables, and it's underground), busy but relaxed atmosphere, great bar tender (she made a perfect wine recommendation for very tasty shepherd's pie), very friendly service <>.

This website proved helpful for finding restaurants, attractions, etc.
near tube stops - <> - click on the map in the middle, then choose a tube stop

Oh, I also used the web site where you can get 2-for-1 coupons for some attractions; just sign up for "updates, news and offers" and print coupons for as many attractions as you want to visit --

Advice: When traveling with kids, plan to go at a slower pace; have a plan but remain flexible; schedule a mix of thought-provoking with lightweight activites each day; and most important, convey the joy and thrill of travel.
scoutjewel is offline  
Old Apr 14th, 2007, 10:05 AM
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Thanks for the trip report. We might have been in London at the same time - our trip was March 9-18 and we had sun every day.

You two really did a good mix of things. The theatre really is a favorite experience for our children as well. And the Cabinet War Rooms. Next time, you might want to take him to the Imperial War Museum. My husband goes there every time he's in London.
noe847 is offline  
Old Apr 14th, 2007, 10:17 AM
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Great report. You guys really managed to get in a lot and a good mix. I definitely second the Imperial War Museum for next time - a major, major must for kids especially those already interested in military history.

What did you have a Rule's? I was last there just in Feb and again had a wonderful meal.
janisj is online now  
Old Apr 14th, 2007, 10:24 AM
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Thanks scoutjewel - my but you guys got a lot done! I also want to know what you dined on at Rules? Only been once and had soup starters and then the roast beef & Yorkshire Pud.
tod is offline  
Old Apr 14th, 2007, 11:25 AM
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Good god. I looked at the Rules site and those prices are disgraceful. You can eat at a Michelin starred restaurant for that.
nona1 is offline  
Old Apr 14th, 2007, 11:26 AM
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That was a "slower pace"? It sounds like you packed in a lot!

Thanks for posting. I'm copying much of this info for our trip next year.
LCBoniti is offline  
Old Apr 14th, 2007, 12:21 PM
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Nice report. I may have to have my parents take me to The Rules when I meet them in London! It looks like a nice restaurant and not too expensive for a high-end London place.
JoeTro is offline  
Old Apr 14th, 2007, 12:27 PM
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"Good god. I looked at the Rules site and those prices are disgraceful. You can eat at a Michelin starred restaurant for that."

Really? Do tell. Which Michelin starred restaurants in particular? And do they begin to approach the history and atmosphere of Rules? Sometimes dining is more that just about the food, which I also happen to think is wonderful (albeit very traditional) there.
NeoPatrick is offline  
Old Apr 14th, 2007, 01:15 PM
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Great report. We took our son for the first time at 14 and he loved London as well. I also was in London at the same time March 9-19.
Can't wait for the next trip back.
tudorprincess is offline  
Old Apr 14th, 2007, 01:36 PM
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I really liked the menu at Le Metro (had to adjust your link) & the small hotel/B&B attached to it looked wonderful!
Carrybean is offline  
Old Apr 15th, 2007, 02:27 AM
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Well, if the food really is fantastic then those prices are ok, but I've heard that Rules is more of a tourist attraction than a serious restaurant?

Anyway, you can have lunch at Gordon Ramsey's at Claridges for that money. Or dinner at L'Escargot, another very famous restaurant with tons of ambiance. Plus many of the other one star places.
nona1 is offline  
Old Apr 15th, 2007, 04:00 AM
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Oh goody! - the Rules discussion again....
audere_est_facere is offline  
Old Apr 16th, 2007, 10:09 PM
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Thanks for the report! We will be in London for 6 days this summer with our three boys 12,10,7. It was great to read what your son really enjoyed.

KatyBelle is offline  
Old Apr 19th, 2007, 04:20 PM
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Hello everyone. Thanks for your interest. Some responses to your responses.

Cabinet War Rooms – was on the agenda but ran out of time. Look forward to doing next time.

Rules restaurant – I had a Rules cocktail, goat cheese fritters, steak with peppercorn sauce and chips (f.f.); son had fish and chips, as usual; he alternated between this dish and the hamburger. We both really enjoyed the atmosphere and thought that the food was quite tasty. (Really wanted to have sticky toffee pudding for dessert but didn’t have time.)

Slow pace?? – When I traveled there with my husband, our days were longer; we saw more sites each day and spent more time at each site. I guess I’m comparing this trip to that one. Slow for me, but not for a twelve year old boy.

Variety of activities – imperative when traveling with kids

Almost forgot – Another thing that my son really enjoyed was traveling by so many different forms of ransportation. In his first two days, he: flew on an airplane, rode a train, taxi, double-decker bus, observation wheel (London Eye), boat and subway.

Grateful for – I was especially pleased that my son had a truly international experience. Beginning with our first stop, McDonald’s, there were diners from various countries, speaking their own language, and in some cases, wearing clothing unique to their country. Also, right away, he learned about exchanging currency. And while in our hotel room, he watched athletes playing cricket and soccer on television. I enjoyed watching him (an avid baseball player) analyze the cricket game and its rules.

Have experienced serious withdrawal from travel. Am already contemplating next destination.
scoutjewel is offline  
Old Apr 19th, 2007, 05:48 PM
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Oops! Meant Imperial War Museum instead of Cabinet War rooms in previous post.
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