I wouldn’t say London was high on our list of places we wanted to visit, but when an error fare showed up, we didn’t hesitate to book! We flew nonstop from LAX to LHR on United for just $321/person. I used miles for my ticket, making our airfare a grand total of $642 for all 3 of us. Can’t beat that! The flight there started at 5pm, which means there was a good portion overnight. Because we use the 1st Class Kid Travel Pillow, Milana was able to sleep like a queen the entire night! I highly recommend this pillow, it’s one of the best travel purchases we have made.
We split our stay in London, going to Paris and Madrid in between, which means we stayed at two different hotels. Our first hotel was the Double Tree Hilton Kensington, which was in a great location with lots of restaurants and sights nearby. I used points for this hotel, however it wasn’t something I’d recommend. Aside from the location, it wasn’t great but for 2 nights, we weren’t picky. We had a queen sized bed and Milana had her own, so it was fine for the 2 nights we were there.
Our second hotel was also in a great location. The Park Plaza Victoria was walking distance to Buckingham Palace with lots of restaurants nearby. It was a steal on Priceline ($123/night vs. the nearly $300/night advertised on their site for our dates) and a great hotel for families. Milana had her own bed here as well.
THINGS TO DO
London has a lot of famous landmarks, and we happened to be there when it was in the 60s for part of the time, so perfect time to walk around and explore! We walked to Big Ben and because of the weather, everyone and their mother was there as well! Still, I managed to get great pictures of Milana.
Buckingham Palace was a short walk from our hotel, so we headed there one day to check it out. Milana has been fascinated by the guards and loved watching them salute inside the gates.
And of course, what’s a visit to London without seeing the London Eye? It’s across the street from Big Ben, so you can easily do those the same day. We didn’t want to ride it, so we just took pictures from the outside.
Before coming to London, we read lots of books about the city to Milana. One of those books talked about the lions in Trafalgar Square and Milana was very excited to see them in person. She even posed for photos with the huge statues!
Picaddily Circus is another great place to walk around with kids. Unfortunately the huge neon sign it is known for is under construction til August I believe, but we still had a blast checking out the different stores and restaurants.
Not too far from the center of Picadilly Circus is the oldest and largest toy store in the world, Hamleys. There are 7 levels, each filled with different themes. Milana loved this place and we spent quite a bit of time browsing and playing with the toys.
One the bottom floor of Hamleys was a waffle stand, and Milana insisted we have one.
When we went to Bangkok in August, we discovered an awesome kid place called Kidzania. The whole concept of Kidzania is to have kids role play different careers, while earning Kidzania bucks that they can later spend at the shop inside. This activity is recommended for kids 4-12, sine younger kids would have a hard time following instructions/performing the tasks. We were there for 4 hours and Milana had a blast! Just a note-London’s gets packed and once they reach the maximum number of kids, you won’t be able to enter so it’s wise to book ahead. There are Kidzania locations all over the world, so check their site to see if your upcoming destination has one! It’s one of our favorite places to visit while traveling.
A 20 minute walk from our first hotel was the Diana Memorial Playground, in Kensington Gardens. Adults can’t enter without children (the entire playground is gated) and kids can’t leave without an adult, making it a great place for families with young kids. While it was nice to find a playground, I honestly wouldn’t make a special trip for this. Milana was done after just 30 minutes and I hear on busy days, there’s a long queue to get in. We happened to be there with just a few other families, so no wait.
Children’s Afternoon Tea
While in London, I knew we had to do an afternoon tea. I searched the web and quickly found out that many of them offer kid-friendly teas alongside the adults. It was so hard to choose just one (so many themes!) that we ended up going to 3.
The first one we did was the Grover Tea at the Park Room at the Grosvernor House Hotel. Grover is their mascot, an English Bulldog. We have an English Bulldog (Porkchop) at home, so I knew we had to do this! At the end, kids get their very own Grover to take home, which of course Milana loved. The price for the children’s tea here is £15 and adult tea is £42.50. This hotel is beautiful and the Park Room is stunning, a great place for afternoon tea! The food here was really good and they walked around replenishing items the entire time. Milana chose the mango strawberry tea, and it was delicious.
The second tea we tried was the Buzzy Bees tea at St. Ermin’s Hotel. The tea room here wasn’t as nice as the previous one, and they didn’t do a good job of replenishing anything. While the theme was super cute, I wouldn’t come here if you are only choosing one place. The children’s tea is £15 per child and adults pay £29. The kids could order tea or juice, and Milana chose their apple juice sweetened with their in-house made honey.
After you finish your tea, head to the 3rd floor to the Bee Hotel. This hotel houses bees and makes their own honey.
The last children’s tea we tried was the Charlie and the Chesterfield Afternoon Tea at the Chesterfield Mayfair hotel. This one was awesome in a beautiful room with a great theme. The staff here was very attentive and replenished things quickly. Milana loved this one, probably because of all the candy they handed out! The children’s tea here is £19.50 and the adult tea is £38.50. The kids were given a choice of tea or milkshake, and Milana chose to have a milkshake.
Since 3 of the 6 days we were there we had afternoon tea, we didn’t visit as many restaurants as we had wanted to because the food at these teas was so filling. London is known for Indian food, however after trying 2, we came to the conclusion that their Indian food isn’t so good after all!
The first one we tried was Dishoom, a 2 minute walk from Hamleys toy store. Dave ordered a curry dish and Milana and I shared some spiced chicken. They were ok, but not worth traveling here for.
The second Indian restaurant we tried was in Leicester Square, Salt’n Pepper. The food was ok, but again nothing spectacular. Milana and I shared the butter chicken while Dave had a vegetarian curry dish and a mango lassi.
One of the best finds we happened to stumble upon while walking around our hotel area. The Hereford Arms is a pub in Kensington with some really good food. The strawberry lime cider I had was amazing, I’m hoping to find it here in the US! Dave had the fish and chips, I had the gnocchi with mushroom sauce (best gnocchi I’ve ever had and it was at a pub!) and Milana had the kid’s burger, which was the best kid’s burger ever. I highly recommend this place and given how crowded it was, it’s definitely a neighborhood favorite.
Another place we tried was the popular Burger and Lobster, which serves as you guessed it-burgers and lobster! There are several locations in London, but we went to the one on the 5th floor of the Harvey Nichols building. We tried the lobster rolls and burgers, and both were delicious. They don’t have a dedicated kid menu, however Milana isn’t picky and devoured her burger the way it was.
Across the street from our second hotel was the best breakfast place ever. Le Pain Quotidien serves mostly organic food and coffee and some of the best croissants you’ll ever have! We ate breakfast here every morning and Milana still asks for the gruyere and ham croissant. I grew up eating soft-boiled eggs (something that’s not very common in the US) so I was happy to see them on the menu! And their mocha was delicious. There are many location all over the world, you might even find one near you!
Another place directly across the street from our second hotel was Giraffe, another London chain. They serve food from all over the world, so the many has a ton of different options. Dave chose the chicken malay curry and I had the rodeo chicken burger. If you see one of these restaurants, give them a try! They are all over London and even at the airport.
As you can see, there is a ton to do and see when exploring London with kids. We loved our time here, though I don’t think it’s a city we would ever come back to. There are too many places we haven’t seen yet!