My husband and I were planning a little anniversary trip, which initially was just the two of us, however due to family illness, we didn’t have childcare. We decided rather than scrap the trip we would go with the kids.
First things first we needed to book a hotel. Now London is not the cheapest place to stay over night, but with a bit of shopping around and using comparison sites I managed to bag a bargain, the Holiday Inn Express West Kensington for just £89 with breakfast. This hotel was perfect for us as it was just a few minutes walk from the tube station and then just a few stops from most of our desired tourist spots. The hotel was clean, it had free WiFi (in the room too), fantastic breakfast, and parking was just £20, which was very handy as we were able to leave the car there for the whole of our stay which worked out at less than £1 an hour.
Once we arrived we mainly walked or used the London Underground to get around. I’ve always worried about taking a buggy on the Tube, and although it was a bit difficult, it really wasn’t as bad as I though. We did get a little naughty and start using the escalators instead of hunting for hidden lifts, and the stairs where a good workout (not all tube stations have lifts and/or escalators, but disable access stations are marked on the maps). If you have a contactless debit or credit card you can use this instead of an Oyster Card, which is very handy, and capped at £6.40.
The first day was mainly set aside to visit the Natural History Museum . Being the summer holidays it was very busy, and we did have to queue, but once inside it was a dream come true for my three year old son Gethin. Of course his favourite exhibit was by far the Dinosaurs, especially ‘Dippy’ the Diplodocus in the main hall. It was a amazing place, and completely free (some charges apply for short term exhibits). If you can, try to avoid peak times of the year, it did make it a little difficult to get around, especially as we had a buggy with us. We all thoroughly enjoyed it and would defiantly visit again.
After the museum we took a short walk to Kensington Gardens/Hyde Park for ice cream and a paddle in the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain which was absolutely fantastic.
We set off after a hearty breakfast, taking a few extra bananas, apples and croissant to snack on during the day.
If you take children to London there is one thing you must do, visit the mecca of the toy world Hamley’s on Regent Street. Wow! It’s crazy, kids can play with toys and watch demonstrations. A visit to the store is well worth it even without spending a penny (although they do have toilets on the top floor, pardon the pun), but we did pay a visit to Build a Bear Workshop …oops!
After the mayhem of Hamley’s we took a stroll to Leicester Square to take a look around M&M World and the Nickelodeon Store. Although M&M world is really fun and worth a look around, it was extremely busy and ridiculously over priced. The Nickelodeon Store is a little more relaxed, good fun especially if your little ones like Dora, SpongeBob or The Ninja Turtles.
The final part of our trip took us down the South Bank and Embankment for a look at Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, and the London Eye via Trafalgar Square and Downing Street. We happened to arrive at Big Ben just at it decided to Chime, which impressed the kids. South Bank is always a great place to wonder around, I love the street performers and different places to eat.
A trip to London is never going to be cheap, especially as we were there for two days and obviously had to feed and water ourselves. But there are plenty of things to do and see for FREE! If you visited for just one day and took a picnic you really could pay a visit to London for next to nothing.
Tube Tickets: £17.60
Food & Snacks: £98
Other Costs: £28
Total Cost: £252.60
We had a fantastic trip, we were all worn out by the time we left, but it was well worth it. Highly recommended!