When planning my most recent trip overseas, I thought it would be nice to bring our kids. We settled on London, a city that's generally pretty kid friendly, easy to navigate and no language barrier to worry about. I've gone back to London a handful of times over the years and still feel like I haven't even scratched the surface.
So off I was with one husband, two children under the age of eight and my mother (a big treat to have someone to watch the kids for an evening or two) I was expecting something out of National Lampoon's European Vacation, but thankfully things turned out far better than I could've imagined.
Traveling with young kids overseas might seem like a challenge, or a waste of money to some, but if you plan things well enough the trip can be a breeze. A direct flight from San Francisco to Heathrow helped. My tip: Don't over schedule yourself, sometimes it's nice to wander the streets and discover shops, restaurants and just sit down to people watch.
London has thousands of hotels and can be extremely expensive, so figure out what sites you want to see and pick a neighborhood accordingly. I'm partial to the Knighsbridge/Kensington area just because I've stayed there before. Getting around can be done by taxi or the Tube, London's underground rail system. Don't be shy about taking one of those big bus tours, it's a great way to see the city in a short amount of time.
- Citadines Kensington This apartment style hotel is a great alternative for families. With a kitchenette, laundry facilities and is within walking distance to Royal Albert Hall, the V&A Museum and many shops. Go for the duplex room, the extra space is great to have
- Covent Garden Hotel Located in the heart of the theater district, close to Soho, many great shops and restaurants. Be sure to visit the cozy library, with a fireplace and bar
- Knightsbridge Hotel My favorite London hotel located on a quiet tree lined street, steps away from Harrods and Hyde Park
- Apartment rentals are a great option if you're staying for more than a week
- The London Eye Get an unobstructed view of London from Europe's largest ferris wheel
- Victoria & Albert Museum One of my favorite London museums
- Borough Market London's oldest market dating back to the 13th century. Chock full of British cheeses, breads and veggies
- Don't forget Buckingham Palace!
Eating & Shopping:
If you love Indian food then this is your city. Zaika on Kensington High Street is a great choice. From one of my favorite cookbook authors, Yotam Ottolenghi, is NOPI, with Middle Eastern and Asian inspired food. Enjoy an evening drink in typical British style at Bar 190 in the Gore Hotel. For a great view of Hyde Park and family friendly food, stop at Serpentine Bar & Kitchen.
My kids love to shop, so dragging them around Harrods is no big deal. Toys, clothes and an over the top food hall make for a fun day. At Hoxton Street Monster Supplies you can purchase goodies such as cubed earwax and milk tooth chocolate.
Traveling with your kids can be a great experience if you take a deep breath and relax...