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Need advice: Family of four, six days in London

Need advice: Family of four, six days in London

Jul 2nd, 2013, 12:12 PM
  #1  
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Join Date: Jul 2013
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Need advice: Family of four, six days in London

Hi All,

We are a family of four (husband, wife, 2 girls aged 9 and 3) and we will be in London from July 12 (noon) to July 19 (noon). Here is our itinerary.

July 12th evening - London Eye
July 13th - Tower of London, St. Paul's Cathedral
July 14th - Day trip to Bath
July 15th - Westminster Abbey, Hampton Court Palace
July 16th - Day trip to Oxford
July 17th - Buckhingam palace, Trafalgar Square, Big Ben, The National History museum
July 18th - Kew Gardens
July 19th - Get ready to go back

I am looking for feedback on the following.
1. Does the itinerary look doable?
2. Are there places I should add to this list?
3. Are there places I should remove from this list?
4. Is London Pass worth it or should I do pay as you go model for the above places? (Cost is roughly about the same but London pass will make things a little rushed. However, London Pass offers us the flexibility of avoiding longer lines)
5. Are the lines really long for the above places (which makes London Pass a must)?
6. For the day trips what kind of pass should I buy? We are traveling from US. Should I book the day trip tickets/ pass in advance (before landing in UK)?
7. What travel card should I buy? Is Zone1 and Zone2 enough for the places we are planning to go to?
8. What kind of clothes to pack? Is the weather warm enough for skirts/ shorts?
9. Do we need a jacket?
10. Do the grocery stores sell rice? I am thinking of making our own food a few times but not sure if I need to pack ingredients from here or can I easily buy it there.
11. Finally, recommendations on good places to eat (Thai, Indian, Italian, Mexican are our preferences)

That's a long list of questions hopefully someone can help me out here. Thanks a ton in advance.
ranjinim is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2013, 12:42 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 841
4. The London Pass is rarely worth it, the 2 for 1 deals would be better for you and your family.
http://www.daysoutguide.co.uk/?gclid...FSfLtAoddg0AOQ
Although it seems to be only valid for train travel, travelcards for the tube, bus and DLR bought at a TRAIN STATION are valid.
8. Who knows, UK weather is very unpredictable.
9. As above.
10. Yes.
Hooameye is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2013, 12:47 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 660
Hi,
after just spending a week in London with my 2 and 4 yr old I may be able to help.
For starters..where is your base? We stayed in South Kensington.
Loved this location because we were able to walk to some places and take black taxis for others. I really did not like the feel of the tube but that might be because of my 2 yr old and safety etc but each for our own.
One thing I didn't expect was the jet lag to be as bad as it was for my kids. We decided to do a HOHO bus tour. This worked well for us because the adults could listen about the sites etc and then if the children slept it was fine. If they were awake we got off and had a look then jumped on again (they come every 15mins) I really wanted to do the London eye but I just didn't want to be in a big line with the kids and then have them throw a tantrum by the time it was our turn and we were half way etc.
I am not sure about day trips to those places. I did hire a private driver for the day trip to Thomas Land and I am sure that could work for you with Bath . .not sure on tour prices etc. I guess the big part is budget and what you are aiming for. I found waitrose ..I think that was how you spell it . .great for getting a small amount of food like rice ..we hardly wasted/threw out anything when we left. Make sure Hyde Park is on your list. The kids will love the squirrels and getting icecream and walking through the gardens. If it is a hot day you could let them have a play in a little water garden. Try and link in the changing of the guard when you visit the palace. also the toy kingdom at harrods and Hamleys are pretty great places for the kids to get a small treat from doing what you like to do.
In regards to eating out. There are great places in every location . .a safe bet for ease Byron bugers and Jamie oliver are somewhat reasonable with amazing food!
Good luck and happy planning!
crazyfamilyof4 is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2013, 12:56 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 63,540
1) yes - though July 15 will be a bit rushed. HCP is about half a day's worth. If you do the Abbey right when they open then you could manage both. July 17 only has one 'visit' - the Natural History museum. The others are just quick walk-by's so you have lots of time this day to fit in something else.

2) tons - but you don't have all that much time w/ all the out of town trips.

3) not really - but while both Bath and Oxford are terrific -- I personally don't think you have time for two full days out of the city.

4) NO!

5) Typically he only place w/ really long lines is the Tower. But you want to get there early - maybe 20 minutes before opening to avoid the crowds and lines.

6) There are no passes for those two out of town trips.

7) Every London site is in zone 1 or 2 except for HCP.

8) Probably warm, cool, cold, rainy, sunny - and maybe all on the same day.

9) A jacket or cardigan

10) Of course they do . . .

11) There are thousands - budget? Indian ( South Asian) and Italian are around just about every corner (only a slight exaggeration).

I'd avoid any sort of Mexican. There are a couple of decent-ish places but nothing worth the effort.
janisj is online now  
Jul 2nd, 2013, 01:02 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 63,540
>>I did hire a private driver for the day trip to Thomas Land and I am sure that could work for you with Bath . .<<

the Geography is a little off. Bath is nearly 150 miles from Tamworth (ThomasLand)

ranjinim: Are your kids into Legos? An excellent day trip and probably better for the kids is Windsor. Easy train from London, amazing castle, and Legoland.
janisj is online now  
Jul 2nd, 2013, 01:22 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Posts: 246


Yes. We even have water, gas and electricity to cook it with. Amazing isn't it?
Havana128 is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2013, 02:55 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
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We spent about 5 hours at Hampton Court Palace and loved it. Easy to get to by train--I think only a 30 minute ride if I am not mistaken. Check their schedule and see if they have the live kitchen demonstrations going on the week you are visiting. My son then aged 10 really loved lighting the tinder box and turning the meat on the spigot. Because of the live kitchen demonstrations that day we spent a lot of time in the kitchen. We also loved the gardens there. We did Kew on the same day because it was open late that day but we really didn't get a chance to see Kew fully so I don't recommend combining them. I would suggest going to Hampton Court early and when done and back into the city try to fit in something else if you have time.

Tower of London also plan on getting there early. We also spent about 5 hours there as well. Lots to see and do there.

When do you arrive on July 12th? If early enough try to do Westminster Abbey and then walk across the bridge to the London Eye. That would leave more time for Hampton Court Palace.
europeannovice is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2013, 03:30 PM
  #8  
 
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Posts: 7,563
<<1. Does the itinerary look doable?>>
Yeah, except the HCP day will be long and you should see Big Ben easily enough by looking UP near Westminster Abbey.

<<2. Are there places I should add to this list?>>
Hamley's toy store for the girls. Jermyn Street for the hubby.

Cabinet War Rooms. Imperial War Museum. British Museum.

<<3. Are there places I should remove from this list?>>
Oxford maybe - kids likely will not be interested in it.

<<4. Is London Pass worth it or should I do pay as you go model for the above places?>>
The London Pass is one of the biggest effing rip offs available for tourists in London. The cost is NOT roughly the same.
(a) You need to get 7-day travelcards at a National Rail station for zones 1-2, not the included zone 1-6 card for the Pass.
(b) You need to go to www.daysoutguide.co.uk and print off 2for1 vouchers for the Eye, Tower, HCP, St Paul's (if available) and Cabinet War Rooms.
(c) Save a TON of money with the vouchers (21 quid on the Tower, 15 on HCP, etc.).

Now, the LP has no purpose and you can tour at your leisure.

<<5. Are the lines really long for the above places (which makes London Pass a must)?>>
Only when marketers for the LP talk about it. In real life, the lines aren't that bad EXCEPT for Windsor Castle - but it's not on your current list. If you add it, check into vouchers at Waterloo or Paddington when you buy train tickets - we purchased vouchers for Windsor with our train tix that saved 3 quid per on admission and also SKIPPED the line.

<<6. For the day trips what kind of pass should I buy? We are traveling from US. Should I book the day trip tickets/ pass in advance (before landing in UK)?>>
Huh?

<<7. What travel card should I buy? Is Zone1 and Zone2 enough for the places we are planning to go to?>>
If you ignore Janis and me, you get a card with the London Pass. If you're not daft, just 1-2 will do.

<<8. What kind of clothes to pack? Is the weather warm enough for skirts/ shorts?>>
Go Googling. London weather changes by the hour. Be prepared for cool and rainy.

<<9. Do we need a jacket?>>
Yeah, it's London. You don't say exactly where you're from. If you're from somewhere near the equator, or the Southern US, you'll wonder about all the fuss when it turns 20C (68F) -see London Marathon 2009 and the "hundreds of" reports of heat exhaustion when the temps didn't top 70.

<<10. Do the grocery stores sell rice? I am thinking of making our own food a few times but not sure if I need to pack ingredients from here or can I easily buy it there.>>
Oh dear G-d. London has 7.7 million people and a huge population of East Asians whose primary staple is . . .

<<11. Finally, recommendations on good places to eat (Thai, Indian, Italian, Mexican are our preferences)>>
Not Mexican.
The others are fish+shotgun+barrel. See timeout.com. Stating a budget will help for more personalized recommendations.
BigRuss is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2013, 05:07 PM
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<>

If you are interested in food, I suggest a visit to the Food Court at Harrods. I think you will find rice. And much else besides.
drlaz is offline  
Jul 3rd, 2013, 07:59 AM
  #10  
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Thanks all for your wonderful replies. This is very helpful. I will look into 2for1 vouchers. We are from Seattle so looks like London weather is very similar. About buying a pass for day trips, in visitlondon website, it said that buying before landing in UK is cheaper - hence that question. I seem to have ticked some folks off with my question about rice - I was just trying to find out if the regular groceries will carry it or I need to go to a special ethnic store. Apologies for not being clear. Thanks again for all the great tips. I can't wait for our trip
ranjinim is offline  
Jul 3rd, 2013, 09:49 AM
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Since when is rice "ethnic" - unless you are looking for some special type of obscure rice. Any market will have the basic options. (Have you ever seen a market in the US that didn;t have rice?)
nytraveler is offline  
Jul 3rd, 2013, 10:57 AM
  #12  
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July 17th looks a bit all over the place. Scratch Big Ben (you'll see it when you visit Westminster on the 15th). I would add Hyde Park after a trip to Natural History Museum. Also, the Science Museum is next to the Natural History Museum and is also great for kids. It has a really good gift shop too -- lots of fun little toys to occupy children at restaurants or in hotels if all their toys are at home!

If you cancel one of the day trips (I would, but that's just me) you could do Buckingham Palace and Trafalgar Square another day. You could add in the National Gallery -- it houses some of Monet's Water Lilies and Van Gogh's Sunflowers, your 9 year old might be familiar with those. Also, on the square is St. Martin in the Field, in the Crypt (not scary, there's a café) you can do brass rubbings. My 8 year old really enjoyed it and they make excellent souvenirs!

Mexican is getting better in London but the best places aren't really convenient to your plans and would probably be more expensive than what you can get in Seattle. Pizza Express and Prezzo are decent, cheaper Italian places.

Other than that, your itinerary doesn't scream child friendly. Lots of museums and things to LOOK at, but not much time to run and play. Could you and your spouse split up with the children? Your 9 year old would probably love a musical, Wicked? Mathilda? Shrek? Maybe a matinee to coincide with the 3 year old's nap? Or in the evening and the little one can just have an early night in.
BKP is offline  
Jul 3rd, 2013, 01:20 PM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
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If you have picky eaters (I do) you might want to pack a favorite snack food in the event of a melt down towards the later part of the trip. Cheerios would have gone a long way on our recent trip (at the end of week three, my son said I'M SICK OF CROISSANTS!)

Definitely visit Fortnum & Mason and Harrods Food Courts!
amy_torres_sd is offline  
Jul 5th, 2013, 10:15 AM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,119
Things that our 10yo liked on his first visit to London: Cabinet War Rooms, the Imperial War Museum, St. Paul's, Westminster Abbey (I was a bit surprised about that) and a LondonWalks tour of "Spies and Spymasters" (don't think they do that one any longer). Two shows, including Agatha Christie's "Mousetrap." We insisted on the British Museum for a short visit that included the Rosetta Stone and the Parthenon frieze (Elgin Marbles).

Fun English foods that will be a little different but not too much so: fish and chips, pasties/pies, sausage rolls. For dessert, sticky toffee pudding is the BEST.

DS wanted to do a real English afternoon tea, but we didn't want to spend that much. Richoux offered a nice compromise; he got an English tea, I had cream tea, and DH had "regular" lunch food.

Enjoy!
Lexma90 is offline  
Jul 5th, 2013, 11:52 AM
  #15  
 
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Oops. Imperial War Museum in London is closed until July 29. Scratch that idea from my list.
BigRuss is offline  
Jul 7th, 2013, 04:54 PM
  #16  
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Thanks to everyone for the additional suggestions. Are the 'Harry Potter tours' (London Walk and Warner Bros Studio)worth the time and money? As you all have rightly pointed out, our current itinerary would not be ideal for the kids but my older one is a HP fan and would enjoy these if those are good. Appreciate your inputs.
ranjinim is offline  
Jul 8th, 2013, 09:24 PM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
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I would take children to the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden. Great fun for them and my husband and I enjoyed it too.

If I were with two little girls in London I would take them to tea. The Milestone Hotel has a Prince and Princess Tea that's not too expensive for children but looks rather for adults. I've had tea at the sister hotel, the Montague on the Gardens and it was quite nice.
http://www.neverstoptraveling.com/sa...-way-in-london
Scootoir is offline  
Jul 8th, 2013, 10:42 PM
  #18  
 
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I am in London at the moment and the weather has been very warm and sunny and is predicted to stay like this for at least a week.
All the young people are in shorts or cute short dresses. Some older people in shorts too, not so cute.

There are tons of places to eat, you will be spoiled for choice.
raincitygirl is online now  

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