The family travel guide to london


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Visiting London as a family is just one of those must do experiences. However, when it comes to travelling as a family, does this mean a huge expense on just getting there?

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The family travel guide to london

  1. 1. The Family Travel Guide To London By SecretHotels.eu 1
  2. 2. Getting HereVisiting London as a family is just one of those must do experiences. However, when it comes totravelling as a family, does this mean a huge expense on just getting there?CarThis may seem an easy option and great for transporting luggage, but it is worth rememberingthat London isn’t the easiest place to negotiate with no prior knowledge. If you are stayingcentrally, don’t forget congestion charges and that parking is at a premium. For these reasons, itis often worth considering the alternatives, and they can also often turn out to be cheaper thanthe petrol costs and parking costs, even for the family unit.TrainOne of the most obvious ways to travel to London is by train. As a capital city, the networks linkin to the main stations and with the underground system being literally on your doorstep whenyou arrive, travelling by train is a sensible option. Indeed, your onward underground journeycan be linked into your ticket cost meaning no fumbling in your luggage for change for theunderground, or you and your growing ever more tired children queuing at a ticket booth assoon as you have got off the train from your main journey. Do your research well and your journey won’t cost the earth either. Booking in advance is theway to go. Train companies release their tickets a couple of months in advance and are keen toget your business at that stage. Real bargains are there for the taking, but don’t forget thatfamily railcard. This idea has been going for what seems like a lifetime, but that’s because itworks. In just one journey, you can make back the outlay cost and even have money to spare.One last tip – consider reserving your seats. For a small cost, you take away the risk if standingor being separated on a long journey. Even if you get on an empty train, many seats will alreadybe reserved so it is well worth doing.CoachOK, so it may take a bit longer, but these are a very cost effective option. Catering for cashstrapped students and tourists alike, there are companies who will charge you almost literallypennies. Today’s coaches cater well for their passengers, with refreshments and toilets that youcan use without fear of falling out of the side door or everybody staring. Drivers are legallyobliged to take breaks so you can utilise service station facilities too.PlaneIt may at first make you think of cost, but if you begin to do your research, it may not be ascostly as you believe. If you can make savings with accommodation and eating out for examplewhen you are in the capital, this option may not even ultimately work out more. The advantagehere is speed, as you can arrive in the capital in super quick time. Regular train and bus servicesrun from the airports and of course there are numerous taxis to hire. 2
  3. 3. AccommodationLondon is a vibrant capital city, visited by tourists from all over the world who flock toexperience its sense of tradition combined with an enviable edginess.And catering for all tastes, the accommodation is varied and to suit all budgets.The hostelFor those on a serious budget, the hostel offers basic but clean accommodation for those whoare happy to share all facilities. A great advantage of this type of accommodation is not onlycost, but also location. They are often in locations that other establishments would crave, andrun by people who are extremely enthusiastic about the city and more than willing to shareknowledge. This can include knowing information about places more off the beaten track –hidden gems – so you get to know the London behind the tourist market. Don’t think hostels arejust for students and backpackers, as they are used to having families stay also.Budget chainsIf you prefer your own company but are not looking to break the bank, consider the budgetchains and you won’t go far wrong. Family rooms are spacious and clean and don’t cost a lotmore than a smaller room made for two. Many chains offer deals throughout the year that arevery appealing, and if you are happy to stay a bit further away from attractions, you can expectto pay even less. The advantage of such accommodation is that more often than not, you knowwhat to expect and this takes the worry away of staying somewhere unknown.HotelsOf course, London has an amazing choice of hotel accommodation. With the internet beingreadily accessible for other people’s opinions of accommodation, you can get some idea of whatto expect before you stay. However, always remember that people have very differentexpectations and standards so it is always best to take a general overview of reviews as opposedto take it is fact.Many hotels combine deals with popular tourist attractions with their costs. This could becombining with a West End show, and usually offers a genuine saving. Do your research or use asite that specifically caters in providing you with the best deals available – for the daring visit for the very best secret hotel deals London has to offer.LuxuryLondon is home to some of the world’s most iconic luxury hotels. If money is no object, or youreally are looking to indulge, then London is the place to do so. The people that have seriousmoney, and royal families from other continents, wouldn’t stay anywhere else, and the peoplewho run the establishments are used to looking after your every need. 3
  4. 4. Top Tourist Attraction – London ZooLondon is a city that truly delivers something for everyone, so if you love your animals, youneed look no further than visiting London Zoo.Like a lot of the capital’s tourist attractions, London Zoo has a lot of history to add to itscredentials. Indeed, London Zoo is the world’s oldest scientific zoo, opening for the first time inApril 1828. Originally meant purely for scientific study, it was eventually opened to the public in1847, so has been doing what it does best for a lot of years!Being situated near Regent’s Park, London Zoo is ideally placed for the city tourist wanting ataste of what a zoo has to offer. Whilst all zoos went through a period of uncertainty due topublic opinion on keeping animals away from their natural habitats, this is now a very differentstory as all zoos work very hard to protect endangered species, so are helping us retain wildlifethat may otherwise no longer exist.Visit London Zoo and you will be instantly struck by the passion the employees have for theirvocation. Not only do they care for the animal’s welfare as their utmost priority, but they wantto share their knowledge with you. Gone are the days of visitors walking past cages and lookingin, as there is now a more interactive feel to the whole attraction. There are regular talks andanimal shows, which provide the chance to get close to the animals and truly find out moreabout every aspect of their lives.Of course, if you really want to get involved, there is now the chance to actually enter certainenclosures and meet the animals. These are a truly fantastic gift idea for the genuine enthusiastand provide life long memories. There is even the chance to experience being a zoo keeper for awhole day, and yes, that does include mucking out! But if you prefer your animals from adistance, why not adopt an animal and receive regular information on how it’s getting on?As a tourist attraction, London Zoo offers a full day out for the family. With dedicated picnicareas, you can enjoy quality time together relaxing with one of the most amazing backdrops youwill ever have, or indulge in the zoo’s wide variety of eat in or eat out refreshment stations. 4
  5. 5. Big Ben And Houses of ParliamentLondon is a capital city that is famous throughout the world for its strong sense of traditionand long established history. And when it comes to combining both of these strengths underone roof, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament surely over deliver on both counts. Here youcan witness one thousand years of history whilst absorbing what is surely some of the moststunning architecture to be found anywhere in the world.Perfectly situated on the banks of the River Thames, the Houses of Parliament used to be aroyal palace, and this explains why they are so visually striking. Known also as WestminsterHall, this is the place where the important matters for the country are debated and decided.Whilst you would therefore imagine that it is a no go area for the London tourist, access isactually encouraged with not only regular tours, but also the opportunity to get involved inwhat is happening. Visitors can attend debates as well as witness committees in session, sothis is a real interactive experience like no other.Proud of our tradition and heritage, the tour is keen to share all the facts that have made itthe place it is. As such, not only is it an interesting place to visit as a family, but you are alsoenhancing your child’s education at the same time.That very British sense of tradition, sprinkled with a quintessential amount of Englisheccentricity, is very apparent when it comes to the tourist who wants to visit the Parliament’sclock tower, Big Ben. The name Big Ben refers to the bell that sits in the clock tower, andcan be accessed by a staircase consisting of 393 steps. Overseas visitors are unable to visit,but with prior agreement from your own MP, you may be able to ascend. If you make thateffort, this may well be the best family trip ever.The bell itself weighs 13 tons, or 13760 kilos. Each dial in the clock face is seven metres indiameter, the minute hands are 4.2 metres long and the numbers are approximately 60 cmlong. Big Ben is keeps regular time by a stack of coins placed on the pendulum, and it is anextremely rare event if it ever doesn’t chime. It is this type of fact that will fascinate both youand your family, making it a must see attraction on a family visit to London. 5
  6. 6. Madame TussaudsName of London’s most famous attractions and Madame Tussauds will be mentioned again andagain.As the name suggests, Madame Tussaud was from France, and in the 18th and 19th century, wasknown for her artistic skill using the medium of wax. At one stage, she even made the deathmasks for executed aristocrats, but eventually used her talent to make likenesses of morepopular historical figures. This was the start of what we know today, although Madame Tussaudcould never have envisaged how her idea would develop and that it would still be in existencealmost 200 years on.Situated in Marylebone Road, Madame Tussauds has been in its present location since 1884, andhas attracted visitors in large numbers ever since. It mixes figures of not only celebrities butalso politicians, world figures, sporting giants and of course the Royal family. Not only is thereliterally someone for everyone, but the eclectic mix under one roof adds a quirkiness thatportrays the English eccentricity to perfection.Madame Tussauds has ensured it has remained popular by ensuring its waxworks are always ofpeople who are of current interest. By making sure that no exhibits are yesterday’s news, theyhave avoided appearing stale. But another way they have remained popular is by addinginteractive features. This is no longer a place to simply walk around and take photos, butexhibits are now placed into realistic sets and you have the opportunity to become part of thatscene. For example, in post-Olympic Britain, the heroes that made the event so special areactually exhibited in action, so you may actually be next to them on the starting blocks. It isthese touches that make visiting Madame Tussauds less of a passing attraction and more of afamily day out.As with most of London’s top attractions, it pays to do your research when it comes to entryprices. Family tickets will bring you immediate savings, but London is all about deals. You canpurchase tickets to a few attractions up front, either via the internet, from your hotel, or fromagencies that specifically deal in saving you money, and buying in bulk can give you instantsavings. Or look out for money off coupons on money or coupon sites – this is the new savvyway to shop. 6
  7. 7. Open top bussesThe London double decker bus is one of the capital’s most iconic items. Visit the city’s souvenir shopsand you will most certainly find an item related to the red buses to take home and remind you of yourtrip.Perfect for the tourist who wants to see the best London attractions that no trip to the capital cityshould be without, the open top bus trip means you can beat the crowds and avoid the tube, whilsthaving the perfect vantage point for taking those essential photos. For the family looking to exploreLondon, not only is the open top bus an exciting element of your trip, but it is also likely to take in thelandmarks that will form part of your child’s education as some point. It is also a safe option, meaningyou are not having to access public transport multiple times and ensuring you are together with nofear of the busy London crowds separating you.Like in most major cities, there are now many companies trying to get your business, and it alwayspays to do your research.There are many advantages to seeing London from the top of a bus the unpredictable UK climateallowing. One of the main ones has to be the information that the tour provides. Quite often, this willbe by audio via a headphone set, and for international visitors, translated versions are available.Children find the headphone option very appealing. It is a proven way of both absorbing and retainingvital information, and of course it means they are not having to ask you constant questions. Sometours have a tour guide who is there to not only explain where you are and what to look out for, but isthere to answer any questions also. This interactive experience can be a memorable one, and quiteentertaining if you get the host who likes to perform his words!And if you want to spend some time at the landmarks, look out for tours that give you the option to geton and off. This offers the ultimate in flexibility – spend as much time as you like at preferred places(the tour timetable allowing of course), then simply get on the next tour bus for your chosen companythat passes, all at no extra cost.Of course, all open top bus tours aren’t about the famous and expected landmarks. If your family’sinterests are more unusual, then there is likely to be a tour for you! But always be aware of streetsellers who are looking to take your money off you. Scams exist in any major city, and London is noexception. Always look for official selling points, and if things don’t seem right, simply walk away –your gut instinct is probably correct. 7
  8. 8. London theatresLondon is renowned the world over for its theatres and shows, and many a trip to the capital ismade specifically for that reason. So when you are looking to spend time as a family, why notinclude a trip to a show and make the visit something that you will never forget.London is the place to be to see both the latest musicals and plays, and of course those that havestood the test of time. Seeing your favourite show in London takes it to another level, withtechnology and sets that will literally astound. Of course, the top names in musical theatre andacting are drawn to London theatres so you can expect to watch world class performances thatyou wouldn’t get in any other UK city. This obviously comes at a higher premium but there areways to ensure you get the best deal.If seeing a show is a priority, it is worth considering a package that includes your hotelaccommodation and tickets, and sometimes travel. Often this means that whilst you can’t chooseyour specific seating, you will get a position in the theatre that whilst many not be front row, islikely to not disappoint. To save on costs, there can be an option to choose the rating of yourhotel without knowing the exact place until you arrive. Knowing that the standard is guaranteedand it will be within a reasonable distance of the theatre is reassuring for the family visit. At theend of a busy day in the capital and the thrill of seeing a show, it is good to know that you cansoon be back in the comfort of your hotel room.If the purpose of your trip is to see a specific show, it is wholly advisable to book in advance,especially when it comes to the possibility of disappointed children. However, if you are happyto take a risk, savings can be made by waiting for last minute returns. If your children are olderand happy to be separated maybe whilst seeing the show, visit one of the capital’s many ticketagencies to see what availability they have. Newer shows and plays often try to pull in theaudience by selling off tickets at very low prices for a very limited period. If you are happy to getup early and potentially queue, a number of cut price tickets for as low as £5 each cansometimes be obtained on the day of the performance. Whilst it may not be the most popularshow in the city that day, it may be the one to break records tomorrow. 8
  9. 9. RestaurantsVisit UK’s capital city and a world of gastronomic excellence and diversity is literally at yourfeet.Like many of the world’s capital cities, London is a literal melting pot of cultures, and this is verymuch reflected in the diversity of the food that can be obtained here. Don’t expect to find justgreat British food, as world class food such as French and Indian to name only two are easilyfound. But if it is British food you are after, and the very best of what there is, London is home tomany of the top chef’s eateries. For example, Gordon Ramsay has more than one restauranthere, but perhaps the most well-known would be ‘Gordon Ramsay at Claridge’s’, the worldfamous luxury hotel. Jamie Oliver now has restaurants to suit differing tastes, but if Italian is one of yours, one of thebetter known names under Jamie’s ownership is ‘Fifteen’. This flagship restaurant was set upwith the purpose of introducing people who were unemployed to the career of being a chef, andtrue to its word, has continued to take young people and give them a successful career withinthe food industry.If you like to know what you are getting, London is home to the majority of well-known chains.Catering for tastes such as Mexican and Italian, they cater for different price brackets and areoften ideally located. It is often worth browsing the internet before you leave to see if therestaurant is offering any discount vouchers or family meal deals, and often eating withincertain hours can save on cost. For example, eating ‘early doors’ at around five o’clock is quieterin general, but can be ideal for families looking to get an earlier night.For families wanting to spend every possible second experiencing what London has to offer,there are a lot of fast food establishments conveniently located. The major chains are very wellrepresented but there is a growing trend for street food, with the emphasis very firmly being onsupreme taste and quality. These street vans are setting up in the outdoors whilst being far fromcheap and cheerful, and this is often where food diversity really comes to the fore. Experienceauthentic worldwide cuisines without the expense of paying for a table and service and dine inthe real streets of London. 9