VISITING LONDON: A GUIDE FOR PARENTS
London is a fabulous place to visit as a family. As well as being home to some of the UK's most famous sites, it has attractions to suit all ages and interests. Educational and exciting in equal measure, a family break in London is a treat you will never forget.
Of course, the size and busyness of the capital can make it seem like an intimidating place for families to navigate. Our practical guide will arm you with everything you need to know to explore the city with confidence, and to keep the kids happy at the same time.
Families and the London Underground
Conquering the busy tube often seems like the biggest challenge for parents, particularly if you have a buggy with you. However, there are some simple tricks to follow to help make your journey around London a breeze.
- Find buggy-friendly stations: While most major tube stations are accessible, there are some that have a lot of steps or narrow platforms, which can pose problems for parents with pushchairs. So, when planning your journey, don't only consider speed - check which stations will suit you, too; Transport for London's step-free tube map is perfect for this. Or, for parent-specific advice, download the Gobaby app, which not only provides information on accessible tube stations, but also the locations of baby-changing facilities.
- Avoid rush hour: The Underground is notoriously packed during rush hour, so for a smooth and stress-free journey, it's best avoided if possible. That means avoiding travelling between 7am and 9am, and from 4pm to 6.30pm Mondays to Fridays.
- Leave large buggies at the hotel: If you can swap a large buggy for a more compact version or, even better, a sling, it will make getting on and off the Tube much easier.
Keeping kids happy on the tube
Of course, keeping the children happy will make for a much better travel experience. So, be sure to carry drinks and snacks to stave off rumbling tummies while getting from A to B. It is also worth packing a little entertainment, such as books or games, to keep them occupied. These will prove particularly useful should there be any delays.
Other family-friendly transport in London
The tube is not your only option for travelling around London. Overground trains, buses and walking are all good alternatives. Indeed, walking is often a quicker option than the tube, particularly if you are travelling just a few stops in central London. It will also give you the opportunity to see more of the city.
Overground trains generally offer more space than the underground and are easier to access, so if you have the opportunity to travel on them, take it. Buses generally have dedicated buggy spaces that make them a convenient choice, and can often take you much closer to your chosen destination than the tube or overground trains. Indeed, buses leave directly from outside the Royal Garden Hotel to destinations such as South Kensington, where you will find London's finest family-friendly museums, and Marble Arch.
Boats are an often overlooked way of getting round the capital. Thames Clipper Services give you the opportunity to escape the crowds on tubes and buses and have a really relaxing journey that children will be enchanted by. Click here for routes and fares.
Picking the right hotel is particularly important for family holidays, as you want to enjoy a welcoming environment for the children. At the Royal Garden Hotel, our young guests receive the five-star treatment, with early dining options, toys to play with and other finishing touches to make sure they have a fun-filled stay.
Of course, it's your holiday too, so don't forget to pick somewhere that has a lot to offer you as well. The Royal Garden Hotel offers five-star luxury complete with stunning dining options, so you can enjoy the perfect balance of indulgence, relaxation and family-friendliness.
Take advantage of local attractions
When travelling as a family, it's best to take advantage of as many local attractions as possible, so you needn't tackle too many long journeys. The Royal Garden Hotel puts you within a stone's throw of some of the capital's best-loved museums, parks and other sites.
Indeed, the fantastic Science Museum and Natural History Museum are just a ten-minute bus or tube ride away, while Kensington Palace, Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park are actually next door to the hotel.
Forward planning and ticket deals
While you don't need to have every minute of your holiday mapped out, a little forward planning can make all the difference in making your trip run smoothly. So, once you have decided where you would like to visit, take the time to research the routes you can take - this way, you can avoid accidentally getting caught in a station with lots of steps, or stuck in the commuter rush.
Also check which attractions are close to one another and, if it won't overload your day, visit them both in a single trip. This should reduce the number of journeys you need to make.
It is also worth bearing in mind that some attractions can be visited as part of package deals that reduce the overall amount you spend. The London Eye, for example, can be visited with SEA LIFE London Aquarium or the London Dungeon - click here for more details. Or, purchase a London Pass for entry to more than 60 attractions, as well as a guidebook and a variety of other little perks.
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