This is a recap of our trip to London with kids.
As we prepare to embark on our next trip, it’s well past time to talk about the first one, right? Our first official Spring Break Family trip was a week split between Paris, France and London, England. For the sake of our sensitive reading eyes, we split this into two posts. You can read about the first part of our trip in Paris [here].
Continue reading for more insight on visiting London with kids!
Disclaimer: I love agendas. I love knowing what to do and when to do it for every moment of my life. My girls do not. Somehow, in all their glory, their naps and hungry bellies always seem to put my best laid plans to rest. Solution? Realize the destination is the agenda, create a loose framework, and go with the flow.
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DAY ONE: EUROSTAR, TRAFALGAR SQUARE & COVENT GARDEN APPLE MARKET
This was Part Two of our trip so we took an early afternoon train from Paris Gare Du Nord to London St Pancras Int’l. As with most things these days, it is much cheaper to book online and in advance. The sooner the better. Taxis around the train station are plentiful so we grabbed the first available one and went straight to our hotel.
Hotel: Citadines Trafalgar Square, Westminster Borough
Overall Rating: 4.5/5 — super convenient location, wonderful breakfast, incredibly spacious
We stayed in a 2 bedroom apartment in this aparthotel (think of a bunch of 1 & 2 bedroom apartments in a building with a full lobby). This was a nice change from our London accommodations because the girls got their own bedroom. It was two stories [yes, the apartment itself was two stories], had a full sized sleeper sofa, and a full kitchen. There were also two bathrooms. Even though only one of them had a shower, being able to tag team toilets got us out the door much faster in the morning.
There is no housekeeping in this aparthotel but we didn’t need it. Everything was clean when we arrived and it was easy to keep it that way.
This hotel is super close to everything. That is not an exaggeration. Almost everything we wanted to visit was within walking distance.
Our favorite part was definitely the breakfast! It was nice mix of English, French, and American style breakfast with plenty of options for the kiddos. But truth be told, we are all suckers for a free breakfast!
We docked it to an A- instead of an A+ because the stairs in the apartment are a little precarious [for adults and little ones] and the helpfulness of the front desk was a mixed bag.
First stop was Trafalgar Square. The large lion statues gave me serious “The Wiz” vibes but the girls loved it. We walked around a bit, read the plaques around the square, and took pictures of the infamous Big Ben — which coincidentally is not as big as you’d think.
Covent Garden Apple Market
We then walked to Covent Garden Apple Market to explore our food options [there were plenty!] and take in the scene. If you’re curious, we had dinner at Joe’s Southern Table and Bar. I know, I know — eating American food all the way in London is ironic but we all needed a little taste of home by that point in our trip. It was a little expensive [like everything in London] but yummy.
Bonus: If you’re looking for red telephone booths, this is the place to find them! Just try not to have an impromptu photo shoot in the middle of the market…. but we won’t judge you if you do ;)
Afterward, we picked up dessert from Patisserie Valerie and went home to rest. I’ll rave more about Patisserie Valerie later.
DAY TWO: CHANGING OF THE GUARD & AFTERNOON TEA
Changing of the Guard
We lucked out and were in London the day the Changing of the Guard was scheduled at Buckingham Palace. Number one tip: Get.There.EARLY. Really early. Really, really early. It is packed even during off-season. Some websites recommend anScheduling a tour might help with this but since those usually don’t fit in the budget, we planned it on our own.
Get there early.
The ceremony starts up the street — coincidentally, the same street we walked up from the hotel — so keep an eye out. Prime placement is near the gate but across the traffic circle works too. The ceremony can be long for small kids [and impatient adults] so don’t feel compelled to stay until the end.
Buckingham Palace provides more specific tips for visiting with kids. Check those out here.
After snapping a few pictures, we cut across the Green Park to catch a cab and find lunch. The place we’d intended to visit had a queue down the street. Thank God it did because we stumbled across Bodean’s BBQ about a block away. They serve Texas style BBQ. In London. Yes, you read that right. It’s like angels descended from the heavens and sang a sweet aria. We are super critical of our BBQ [how could we not be when Texas is the birthplace of all things BBQ?] but this turned out to be our favorite restaurant visit of the entire trip. Their food tasted like love personified. Delicious.
The heavy lunch left us all needing an afternoon nap.
We woke up right in time for afternoon tea! Afternoon tea is like a British, kid friendly happy hour. Even though it says afternoon, it is usually what we consider early evening — 4-6pm. Many cafes in the area offer specials during this time frame so that you can drop in for tea, clotted cream, finger sandwiches, and assorted pastries. We ended up back at Patisserie Valerie! Each of the girls selected a treat [or two] and a tea. We aren’t very fancy people so the cafe’s informal setting was perfect for us. Plus, the food was delicious. Even Mr. Macho [aka Phil] enjoyed it!
We then burned off the energy of our newly found sugar high by walking around to explore. We visited Chinatown, pretended we had tickets to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child [ok, maybe I did that part alone], played in the Lego store, and bought some cool M&Ms in Leicester Square.
DAY THREE: THE LONDON EYE & BOROUGH MARKET
The London Eye
At this point of the trip, we were all getting a little tired so condensing our activities was a priority. We decided to go to the London Eye. It was directly across the Westminster bridge which was a short distance from our hotel.
Despite the advice we normally give others, we did not purchase tickets online in advance. Instead, we waited in line at the attraction. Don’t be like us. Buy your tickets online in advance. The fast track tickets are a little more expensive but definitely worth it. There is no way the girls would have survived standing in line [or leaving and coming back for our assigned time] so it was a worthwhile expense.
The view from the eye is absolutely amazing! Whether you’re an amateur or a professional, you’re bound to find some perfect photo opportunities. It is a perfectly smooth ride but if you have kiddos that are afraid of heights there is seating in the middle of the pod where they don’t have to feel the elevation.
From there, we headed towards Borough Market. It is not within walking distance of the London Eye but we’d read good things and were determined to go. It was really neat and we picked up some yummy pastries BUT it is crowded. Extremely so. Our littlest one was in a folded stroller and we couldn’t navigate it anywhere. We ended up picking up the two we could carry, clutching all of them tight to our chests, and slinking out of the masses in a single file line.
We ended the day and our trip by walking around and exploring the area. Buckingham Palace at dusk is absolutely gorgeous!
The following morning we took the Eurostar back to Paris to return home.
Want to see a quick video summary of our London trip? Check out our YouTube video!
Have you been to London? Do you have anything to share? Feel free to leave a comment below!