London was our first stop on our European Holiday - which was our first time venturing that far from home. Landing at Heathrow was such an incredible feeling - the first reason being that I survived 20 hours back to back flying with 3 kids (and one being a boisterous toddler), and the 2nd reason - well we were in LONDON !!!
Just driving from the airport to our hotel was amazing, seeing the Christmas lights throughout the streets, the lights of Harrods, seeing our first red phone box, and of course driving past the likes of Buckingham Palace. Our excitement was out of this world !!!
ACCOMMODATION - We stayed at the Park Plaza Westminster which was a beautiful and well located hotel. The room was big enough for us all with a double bed, and a pull out sofa in a separated room for the kids. The cot fit in fine, and we had a little kitchenette type area with bar etc. And the views were awesome. It was only a 5-10min walk to Big Ben and the London Eye which was a great base for us.
SIGHTSEEING - We walked absolutely everywhere in London ( Using the tube again wasn't something I was comfortable with , especially after a man had his throat slashed a few days before we arrived !). So we walked , and some days Id say around 15-20kms. We did catch black cabs also, which were great as we could leave the pram set up with Jay strapped in and chuck him straight in.
TOWER OF LONDON - We walked to the Tower of London which was a very long way but being our first day there was so much to see along the way. The tickets were around 60 pound for our family of 5. There was a fantastic tour guide there who was quite the comedian, he really did make the tour! Hubby spent most of the time following the tour guide while I spent most of the time chasing the 2 year old who was chasing birds, but we all met up and explored ourselves at the end. The history is amazing and the kids absolutely loved seeing the real crown jewels on display. Defnitley a must do when you come to London !!
HAMPTON PALACE - We took the train out to Hampton Court Palace which was absolutely beautiful and my favourite palace out of all the palaces we visited in Europe. We paid around 50 pound for our family of 5 for the tickets. The kids had a fantastic time as they all had audio guides and enjoyed being able to explore the rooms at their own time whilst learning the history. There is obviously lots of talk of beheading etc so if your kids are sensitive to that perhaps don't give them an audio guide 🙂 It is so cool to be in such a historical place imagining the royal families who graced the property so many years ago ! The gardens are here are absolutely breathtaking, I could have wandered around them all day. Again this is a must visit for families if visiting London. (Also there is a gorgeous little English style pub across the road near the river, amazing food and views !)
KENSINGTON PALACE - This is a more modern and smaller palace than Hampton Court, but it has some great displays inside like Princess Diana and the queens dresses which my daughter loved. Kids under 16 enter free and adults are around 18 pound. Again the gardens here are gorgeous, it was a wet day when we went so we didn't get to wander around too much but it was absolutely beautiful. This palace was interesting to my older kids as they both know all about Kate, William and Harry so they found it a bit fascinating to be at "their" palace !
WINTER WONDERLAND at HYDE PARK - If you are heading to London at Christmas time, this is a MUST !!! We went on our first night in London and were blown away. I'm a sucker for anything that feels like "alpine ski resort" and the atmosphere here was defnitley that. Little market stalls set up with Christmas ornaments and gifts, stands with mulled wine and warm apple cider, rides galore, ice skating rinks and alpine style restaurants. It was free entry, the kids didn't actually go on many rides so it wasn't an expensive night at all. I wish we went back as it was so beautiful. The walk to Winter Wonderland was also gorgeous, lots of squirrels playing at Park and a walk down Downing Street.
KIDZANIA - Ok so my hubby wasn't impressed that I decided to take the kids on an impromptu visit here but it was so worth the ridiculous cost . Here is their website. It cost us well over $200 for the kids to enter, and they get 4 hours of fun. It is basically a mini city for kids up to age 14 where they get to "work" and earn money which they can spend at the gift shop at the end or bank into a bank for those that are regulars. Other activities they can pay to do, like making ice cream or chocolate. Alysse worked as a journalist interviewing H & M about their fashion shoots and writing an article, a hairdresser, got a degree in engineering and learnt how to ring church bells. Max learnt how to change tyres in the pit crew, became a world famous soccer player and worked at a grocery store. Jay just had a ball in the early learning centre for toddlers. It really is such a great concept for the kids and my two had such a great time. There is so many jobs they can do and so much to learn ! Definitely recommend this place.
Other places we recommend visiting is of course Buckingham Palace, a walk through Kensington, various ice skating rinks if going in winter, shopping on Oxford Street, a visit to Harrods and a turn on the London Eye.
FOOD - We absolutely loved the traditional little English pubs, the food was great and the atmosphere so cosy like little houses filled with fireplaces and Christmas decorations. As we didn't have a proper apartment to make breakfast we had Mcdonalds most mornings (don't judge it was cheap haha!) then had proper lunches and dinners , or room service. We found the food in London fairly good pricing and so yummy !
One place I must suggest if you like curry is Brick Road. A friend of mine recommended it and it was proper traditional curry which was so cheap and ammazzzing ! The whole street on the day we went (I think a Sunday)was buzzing with markets and stalls and we stumbled across a proper London swapmeet which was random. Lots of fun!
TRANSPORT - As I mentioned earlier we walked or caught black cabs everywhere. By the end of the day the kids were knackered but I was so proud of how far they walked every day with very minimal complaints . We only used the train once to get to Hampton Palace as the tube was just a tad out of my comfort zone.