London has character and lots of it. There are wonderful sights with beautiful architecture and history. There are colors and sounds and flavors to entice the palate of even the most critical of travelers. Most of all, it was fabulous for our family travels and the kids and adults had lots of fun!
Where to stay? London is full of options when it comes to accommodations. I went about looking for a place to stay by first deciding what part of the city I would like to be near. I decided I wanted to be centrally located so it was easy and quick to get around the city for day-to-day sight-seeing. At the same time, I wanted to be in a bit of a quiet area so after a long day of sight-seeing, I could come back to a peaceful place. We ended up staying at the Saint James Court Hotel. This hotel did not disappoint. It was well located just steps from the Buckingham Palace. We were able to walk to the palace to see the changing of the guards. This was a lot of fun for my children. The hotel staff was amazing with the children. As we had arrived on Easter Sunday, the city was very quiet. We arrived at our hotel early in the morning and the staff offered my children hot chocolate in the lobby upon arrival. They loved it after a tiring flight. It just so happened that the hotel was hosting a small Easter egg hunt in the hotel lobby that afternoon. My kids had a great time participating in that event. Another option to consider when looking for a place to stay with children is a serviced apartment. There are several companies that offer this option and can be great if you wanted to have a more at home feeling, yet have some of the amenities of a hotel. I found a great resource of information on this topic to be at the official Visit London site. Lots of staying options in a range of budgets are featured there.
What to do? The changing of the guards at the Buckingham Palace happen every day at 11:30am. This ceremonial display of the changing of the guards in a must! One thing to remember is that it is crucial to get there early. I would say about 45 minutes early is a must to be able to see what is happening inside the palace gates. If you get there late the crowds build up and it becomes very difficult to get a close view or any kind of view for that matter.
The London Eye is a fun site to see and the kids really enjoy it. It is a giant ferris wheel that lets you see a beautiful view of London. It takes about a half an hour to go around and allows you time to just sit and relax while taking in the sites.
Next to the London Eye is the London Dungeon. If you and your family enjoys a bit of creepy fun then this is the place to go. This is a tour of the historical past of London of things gone a bit wrong.
The Tower of London – this is a very picturesque and historical place to see. When you enter with your ticket you can follow a guide who will give you a narrative about the background of the place. It is very insightful and fun. After the guide is finished, it is well worth going inside the building where the Crown Jewels are housed. They are very beautiful to see.
London Bridge – This famous Tower Bridge is very beautiful and can be see with the Tower of London. If you want a bit of a frightful and fun experience added to this you can go one of the London Bridge experiences.
Where to Eat? Food options are incredible in London. If you are a foodie, this is the place to explore. I have compiled a list of some great eats but please send me some comments on some of your favorites.
Gymkhana – Fabulous Indian dining experience like no other. The food was absolutely outstanding. It makes my mouth water to think about it. Definately worth trying but make sure to book in advance. This is a very popular place and reservations fill up quickly.
Nando’s – If you love some good chicken you must stop and eat here for a quick bite. They serve some amazing grilled chicken with a yummy Peri-Peri sauce that is incredibly good. It comes in different heat levels from mild to very spicy.
St. Moritz – They serve up some nice Fondue and other swiss eats that are great for a rainy London day. The staff is very friendly and the restaurant is small and quaint. My kids loved the fondue experience here, especially the chocolate fondue at the end.
Trishna – Michelin star awarded Indian restaurant worth a try for more upscale experience.
Colbeh – This place has wonderful kebobs and other persian cuisine. This is a great casual place for tasty food for the family. I found this to be a hidden gem. 6 Porchester Pl, London W2 2BS, United Kingdom +44 20 7706 4888
Maroush – They offer up some great Lebanese food. There are several locations around the city, some of which are more casual that others but the food is consistent and yummy.
Selfridges Food Hall – There are some wonderful food options if you are shopping and need to break for a meal. The variety is great and the food is tasty.
Where to shop? Shopping in London is vast and wonderful. The options are endless. You can pretty much find anything your heart desires. I have listed a few to get you started.
Harrods – This is the department store of all department stores. An experience in itself.
Selfridges – A great department store and must see of London. A bit more modern then Harrods but wonderful. It has a luxurious feel to it.
Oxford Street – This street is fun to walk as well as take a few double decker bus rides if your feet get tired. There are endless shops and cafes. Lots of hustle and bustle but lots of fun.
Piccadilly Circus – Worth a trip as it is one of the oldest and busiest squares in London. It reminds me of New York’s Time Square only smaller.
Hamley’s – This is a must see for the kids. My kids enjoyed exploring here. There are 7 floors of fun for kids.