Wednesday, August 17, 2016

How to Get the Best of London on a Budget with Kids!

Well hello there and welcome back to our budget family road trip across the UK! So far we’ve driven over 300 miles in 3 different countries, just four of my children (aged 9,9,8 & 4) & I. We visited Legoland Windsor (HERE) which is one of my most popular posts to date and Warner Bros. Studios home of Harry Potter (HERE), both posts have a moxy load of tips on how you can do them too. 

This week I’ll tell you about the second hotel we stayed in, closer to central London and what we got up to in the hopes it inspires one of you to take trip to London with your kids. Harry Potter Studios took us just over four hours so when we were finished we hopped in our hire car and headed straight to our hotel to check-in.

Where to Stay in London with Kids

There were a few factors in deciding where we stayed. I didn’t want central London so I could avoid the congestion charge as we had a hire car. I wanted somewhere that didn’t charge a fortune in parking fees, did you know that some places charge up to £50/€57.82 for 24 hours parking?! I needed a hotel that was on budget and had public transport links.

I chose Travelodge Kew Bridge just around the corner from Kew Gardens as it had everything I needed. I paid £142.80/€165 for 2 nights B&B and booked us in as 2 adults and 2 children. Parking onsite cost £6/€6.94 for 24 hours or a discounted rate of £15/€17.35 for 3 days.

The hotel itself is very basic, the reception area is just a desk and a vending machine but it does its job perfectly well. Our room was spotless with a double and two single beds overlooking a church next door that was being renovated but we weren’t disturbed by the noise. We were pleasantly surprised by the breakfast; it consisted of a full English breakfast served buffet style with lots of other options available such as cold meats, fresh fruit and cereal. The staff were really friendly and chatty in the restaurant, they were so helpful offering assistance to my little ones.

How to get around

There’s a train station a 10 minute walk from the hotel but I wanted a tube station so we hopped on the very frequent number 65 bus literally at the foot of the steps outside our hotel for a 10 minute journey to Kew Gardens Victoria Gate bus stop then a 2 minute walk to the Kew Gardens Tube Station. From here we took the District line to central London only 15 minutes away.

Stone Travel Tip: You need an Oyster Card to travel on a bus in London; luckily I still had mine from a previous visit, any credit left on it doesn’t expire. You can order one online or buy them at most tube stations.

Children under the age of 11 can travel free on all Tube, DLR, London Overground and Tfl Rail services so I was just paying for one adult. When using an Oyster Card all journeys are capped at £6.40/€7.40 so even if you make 20 journeys you’ll only be deducted £6.40/€7.40 from your Oyster Card, making public transport in London with kids cheap as chips.

What to do with 3 hours in London

As I mentioned at the start we had finished our tour of Harry Potter Studios and checked into our hotel where we found ourselves at 5pm wondering what we could do. I didn’t particularly want to just stay in the hotel but I was also mindful that I was on my own with 4 kids whom I wanted to get to bed a reasonable time. 

A quick check of google maps and we were on our way out the door. We caught the District Line Tube to Earl’s Court where we hopped off, I didn’t tell the kids where we were going and they were shocked when we walked out of the station to find a real life Tardis in front of them. My daughters are crazy about Dr Who so they were thrilled to see it; we took a few photos before getting back on the district line to Embankment station.

I surprised them with a visit to Sherlock Holmes Pub and Restaurant on Northumberland Avenue. Unfortunately the restaurant was closed for a party so we ate dinner in the bar area. They love Sherlock Holmes and the bar was crammed full of memorabilia. They all devoured fish and chips from the kids menu costing £4.95/€5.72 each and I had a burger and chips costing £13.95/€16.13, to be honest my burger wasn’t the best at all but the chips were lovely.

We strolled the 5 minutes back to Embankment Tube Station but I brought my kids a few steps further and up onto one of the Golden Jubilee footbridges because they have fabulous views over some of the most iconic sights in London such as the London Eye and Big Ben which makes for a perfect photo opportunity. 

Check back next week where I’ll tell you all about our jam packed day out in London including visits to Stamford Bridge, home of Chelsea F.C., Tower of London to see the crown jewels, Sky Garden and the London Eye.

Have you been to London with little ones? Any tips? 

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