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London with infant and toddler

  • Sept 2007

    We're off to London in a couple of weeks with our infant and toddler. The archives on this city are a few years old, so I am hoping for updated advice on places to go, things to do, places to eat, etc. I'd especially be interested in any advice on what NOT to do. If you've been to London recently with your young kid(s), please pass on some helpful tips! Thanks so much!

    We were in London last summer when my daughter was just two years old. We spent time in Regent's Park, where there is a beautiful lake with geese, amazing rose garden, my daughter loved seeing all of the birds and flowers. Great place to run around. I'm sure there were other great places, but we were there for only a short time. mary
    My family of 4, including a 2 1/2 year-old boy and a teen, stayed in London for 4 nights in early July. We stayed near the South Kensington tube (very close to Natural History and Science museums)in a little apartment, so we could eat at home sometimes and shop at the local supermarkets- cheaper and easier, even got some great Indian takeout for the grownups. My son's favorite experiences there were riding the ''tube'', train and the double decker bus. He also really enjoyed the Natural History museum (which is one of the many free ones)- it has a cool dinosaur exhibit, amongst many other things. You could spend hours and hours there (and at the Science museum). Running around in Kensington Park (the Princess Diana Memorial Playground is impressive) and Hyde park are fun, and so is Regent's park. We didn't try to do much in the way of visiting the historical sights, in part because we didn't want to wait in long lines in the busy tourist season. One book you may want t! o get is ''around London with kids- 68 great things to do together in the city and beyond''- I found this little book helpful. Overall, we didn't try to do too much, tried to stick to normal nap and bedtimes as much as possible, and we had a great time. Hope you have a great trip! Feel free to e-mail me if you want to chat more. kat
    Can't recall what time of year you'll be going, but if the weather is warm, I highly recommend Hampstead Heath. The whole Heath is lovely - but for little ones there is a fantastic playground and a huge but safe paddling pool (both brand new in 2006)just south of Parliament Hill.

    We approached via Kentish Town tube station, taking a short bus ride to Highgate Road, where there is a nice child friendly bakery/cafe just outside the park (much better than the cafe in the park). Note: Hampstead tube station is closer, but it's very hilly right around there and not much fun with a stroller and a slow walker. In the summer, there is also free kids' entertainment at the bandstand (we saw a magician).

    It's also where the locals go (mums and nannies), so it's easy to start up conversations and get some good advice on kid friendly things to do. You can download a pdf map at the City of London website. http://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/Corporation/living_environment/open_spaces/hampstead_heath.htm#visitor Mom of Two

    We had a lovely time in London a few years ago with our then 2yo daughter. I highly recommend taking your little ones to the Princess Diana playground. It's frequented by locals and is the most amazing playground I've ever seen. It's not a typical tourist spot, our concierge didn't know anything about it. But it's worth seeing if you're looking for a place for the kids to play around freely. It's nearby Kensington Palace and if I remember correctly, convenient to the tube.
    We had a chance to live one semester in Hampstead, London, postal code NW3, when the kids were 3 and 7. It is a posh, highly desirable area just off the Tube or the bus #24(?). Convenient, safe. Maison Blanc Bakery on High Street is heavenly. Giraffe Restaurant is family friendly and tasty. The local playground is small, but very friendly. There are also some other areas off the Chalk Farm northern line that are also worth considering. Have a fabulous time! anon.

    London place to stay for family of 4

    March 2007

    Our family of 4 (kids ages 2 and 16) will be visiting England early July, and plan to spend about four nights in London. I'm looking for recommendations for centrally located hotels or small apartments that would be comfortable for four. I'd love to be near a nice park for my 2 year-old, but it would be great to be near the major sights, theatres and museums too. I'd be open to staying a short tube ride away from central London if people have a good recommendation for such a place. I want to spend no more than 150 pounds ($300.00) per night. Thanks a lot, Kate

    Hello Kate, We were in London for a week last August. There were 5 of us: parents, grandma and two kids 2 and 12 years old. We rented a 2 bedroom apartment through the internet. It is near the South Kensington tube station. We loved the location. The apartment is not big but sufficient and having a kitchen is great with a two year old. I am not sure they rent for 4 nights but you can inquire and find out. Their web site is chelsea-cloisters.co.uk There were other web sites that responded to our inquiry homefromhome.co.uk and euracom.co.uk Good luck and have fun London is great

    Family of 5 visiting London & Scotland<

    March 2007

    We are traveling to London and Scotland in late July/early August and are looking for suggestions on where to stay in central London and Scotland as a family. We would love to know what other families have enjoyed doing with teenagers. We have two 15 year olds and one 12 year old. Thanks for any help you could offer. Dana

    When deciding where to stay in London, be sure to look into renting a flat. They are usually no more expensive than hotels. They have the added advantage of providing you with a kitchen, laundry facilities, and more space. We stayed in London 2 years ago in a South Kensington flat. We used the kitchen frequently because restaurants are very expensive, grocery stores were nearby, and prepared foods from the stores were pretty good. I'm not recommending any particular neighborhood because I think that so many of them would be great. The most important thing is to be walking distance to an underground station. To find flats to rent, check out vrbo.com, homeaway.com and greatrentals.com. Nancy
    Lucky you! My husband and I and my 3 kids (13,16, &19 at the time) went summer before last, and it will remain in our memories forever as a golden moment.

    We stayed at Morgan House B (taking 2 rooms) on Ebury St just behind Buckingham Palace. I've stayed there before, so familiarity helped make the decision. The folks there are beyond wonderful, and the place itself is beautiful.

    Activities we enjoyed: First, a tour on the top of a double-decker bus to get oriented. Then, in no particular order: Tower of London (go as soon as it opens in the morning & you get a private look at the Crown Jewels!), St. Paul's (to the very tippy top), London Eye (13 year old went bungee-jumping next door to the Eye--height of the trip for her), River trips to Hampton Palace, Kew Gardens, & Greenwich, shopping, British Museum, Nat. HIstory museum, Chelsea Physick garden (they do one of the best teas in London! Kensington Palace Orangery's tea is also not to be missed), the V, John Soane museum (a must see if you're interested in unusual architecture or interior design), a few train trips (Cambridge--leave from King's Cross & see platform nine-and-three-quarters--Kent, & Canterbury in our case), walks along the Thames, (esp. at night when the bridges are lit up in Chelsea), tour of Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey (one kid was into the Da Vinci Code bigtime--so WA was a pilgrimage for her--she would have also visited Temple Church if she could have), Trafalgar square, concerts at St. Martin-in-the-fields, the Imperial War Museum, the Garden History Museum (in a deconsecrated church--Captain Bligh's tomb is there). Also, if you stay in Belgravia as we did, DO NOT miss The Chocolate Society on Elizabeth just off Ebury, the deli across the street from it, or the great Italian restaurant nearby (called Oliveto!)

    Also, when you have teens (as opposed to toddlers or tweens) you can split up & do what different people want to do, which was an incredible boon. Just give them some money, put them in one of the wonderful cabs, & agree on a time & place to meet up again! My kids loved the freedom & feeling of being intrepid world travelers. We also bought some of the wonderful needlepoint kits that they sell in the museum shops & oldest daughter & I whiled away evenings, waiting time, & resting time soothing our travel-roughened nerves with handwork.

    One further suggestion--save brochures, tix stubs, postcards, etc. & take these & your photos to do a family scrapbook project when you get home. We did this one night a week in the months after the trip, and it was like we got to go back to London every week. The more elaborate the book, the longer you get to prolong your ''trip.''

    Oh, this is making me wish I could go again! Bon Voyage! And have a wonderful trip. Laura

    My wife and I took my son (then 13 months old) and father to the UK last spring. We all had a great time, and I'd be happy to give you more information if you like. We flew straight from Heathrow to Edinburgh, stayed a week in Edinburgh, stopped in York and Newcastle, and then a week in London before returning home. We did not rent a car.

    In Edinburgh, I'd highly recommend the Knight's Residence to stay. It is located just south of the Castle in a quiet neighborhood, and is either newly built or recently renovated set of apartments. We had a 2 bedroom with kitchen, washer/dryer, and dishwasher, and very comfortable rooms for reasonable rates. The staff were very friendly, and there is a library of movies to borrow. Rosalyn chapel was an easy bus ride away, if anyone has read Da Vinci code. St Andrews is a bit further by bus. Sterling Castle sounds nice; we didn't go, but should be an easy train ride.

    York is a well-preserved medieval walled town, but it is very touristy. Still, it is worth a stop. We stayed at a B about a half mile outside of the walls and walked in to town. If you stay at any smaller towns, there is a tradition of Sunday roasts for lunch. Most pubs will advertise them, either turkey, lamb or Roast beef with all the trimmings. Nice local custom to try, and most pubs outside of city centers have a family area.

    London is expensive, but the tube is so easy and convenient, don't hesitate to stay out further and take the bus/tube. I've stayed in both Earl's Court area and Chelsea, and found them convenient. We rented a 2BR at the Chelsea Cloisters last time, but I think their minimum stay is a week. The Tower of London shouldn't be missed for you and the kids. Across the river from the tower is giant outdoor food market on the weekends.

    LondonWalks has a huge set of guided tours; the one we took was a great way to see an area. They also have things like a Beatles tour. I would assume Da Vinci code too :-) The options for day trips is huge as well. Bryan

    London in December with Teenagers

    October 2006

    We will be going to london in decebmer for about 16 days. What are places to visit that teenagers will enjoy? any money saving tips? we are on a tight budget. thanks for the advice.
    excited but a bit apprehensive

    What your teens would enjoy will depend on your teens. (If they want to meet local teens, you should get introductions to English families arranged ahead of time, through friends and acquaintances.) For tourist attractions, my friends strongly recommend the Tower of London (jewels! dungeons!) and, outside London, Windsor Castle (dungeons with waxwork torturers). There's always Madame Tussaud's for celebrity waxworks, and the Eye (a giant ferris wheel on the Thames). There are certain shopping districts that are more hip than others. There are music clubs, including traditional singing in pubs, and there may be rock or jazz concerts. There's incredible theater with half-price tickets. Rather than the British Museum (with its great Egyptian and Greek stuff), I like the Victoria & Albert museum and the National Portrait Gallery off Trafalgar Square, because they are about people. Don't miss Harrod's, and Fortnum & Mason's for food. There's the Vampire tour of London, and possibly other tours that are lively (Harry Potter in London? Sherlock Holmes?). In December there may be Dickensian living history events. There's also High Tea at the fanciest hotels, or lunch at Simpson's on the Strand. St Paul's cathedral is impressive, and at its best with Evensong or other choral services. Try to leave some time to just enjoy being there. Within three hours of arriving in London last summer, my teen walked over to Westminster, saw a lot of police about, sat down on a park bench to watch, and saw-- Prince Charles and Camilla come out and drive away in a Rolls! So you never know what will happen. have fun
    Almost all the things my teen enjoyed the most were free or practically so. His favorite thing was going to flea markets in London. I think the Camden market was the one he liked best. I liked the Portobello Road market. Some of the markets are only on one day of the week so google it before you go. I recommend the walking tours also - London Walks is the famous one. The Jack the Ripper walk would be popular with teens. They are not expensive - maybe 5 pounds. Look at the websites for the various museums and see what the shows are while you're there. The Tate Modern was a big hit, and we lucked into a really incredible Japanese anime exhibition at the Barbizon and a sci-fi exhibit at the Natural History Museum. Hamleys Toy Store on Regent St - 7 floors of toys - good place to buy trinkets to take back home to the friends. Riding on the tube, lunch in pubs, walking through the parks, maybe a boat paddle at Hyde park. LondonTown.com is a good resource as are the travel guide websites like fodors.com and also check Wikipedia. Have fun! Ginger
    Hi London is an amazing city and you will have a great time-but it won't be cheap! The exchange rate is horrible and it's a pricey city, that said, here's some ideas
      Shopping: TopShop reasonably priced teen heaven like H Accessorize-Fab accessories Covent garden-outdoor street stalls Camden town  Sights London dungeon -Gory wax musuem Tower of London- a don't miss Hampton Court Palace-good castle has re-enactments around xmas that are pretty amusing Walk around the Parks, Big Ben etc. 
    Get out of the city
    Any charming little village, will be cheaper, cleaner and easier to get around Lewes near Brighton is good and there's a boardwalk similar to santa cruz. Lots of historical sites as well

    Amesbury is a free alternative to stonehenge, it's messier but still pretty cool, also there are usually some pretty interesting characters wandering round take the chunnel to Paris for the day-it's not that much and you can go in the morning and be back for dinner

    Don't drive if you can-it's terrifying, roads are tiny, zillions of cars, tickets are rampant due to CCTV it's everywhere (almost no speeding-which is good)

    Take the tube, bus, or train all cheaper than driving and easier public transportation is excellent there.

    Have fun -you'll love it! london calling

    A semester in Oxford with 2 kids

    Feb 2006

    We'll be in Oxford for a semester or two with our young kids (1 and 3). We'd love advice on life there, including where to live (preferably close to the university), how to find childcare, things to do, places to visit there or further afield. Thanks! Temporary Expat

    I visited a friend on a postdoc in Oxford 2 years ago, for a couple of days with a 3 1/2 year old. They lived in Stanton St. John, a village nearby. It was an idyllic setting on a country lane. The village preschool looked terrific and they walked 4 blocks from the house. I don't think you can drive into Oxford, so you drive to a parking lot and take a shuttle bus in. Other than hang out with them, we went to Warwick Castle nearby. Sharon
    Hi -- I grew up in Oxford and have gone back to visit frequently with our 2 small kids (4 & 1 last we went). Around Oxford itself there are plenty of parks & playgrounds, you can walk along the Cherwell River or if you're brave & the weather's nice take a punt (boat) which is great. About 1/2 hour from Oxford, near Burford, is the Cotswold Wildlife Park -- basically a zoo, but set eccentrically on these country house grounds. It's a bit pricey, but fantastic with little kids -- in warmer seasons there's a little train, there's a huge playground, & all around there are lions, rhinos, zebras, monkeys, penguins, etc. There is also an old historic farm on that same road to Burford that is fun to go to. I'm happy to give you some more thoughts about neighborhoods, buses, the Covered Market, etc if you want to get in touch -- Have fun! Oxford is a beautiful city as I'm sure you know... Sylvia
    I am from Oxford. We lived there until two years ago when my son was three. There is a book called 'Oxford for the under eights' which is very useful. It lists things like daycare, days out, schools, swimming lessons etc. I may be able to find my old copy for you but they were just bringing out a new edition when we moved away. You can probably get one on amazon.co.uk. and they will ship it to you here. You can contact me by email if you have more questions, I would also be happy to meet with you if you think that would be helpful. Tiffany

    Babysitter in London & Oxford

    April 2005

    I will be in London and Oxford for three weeks from 13 June-5 July. I need someone to play with my 3 yr old while I work from home in the mornings or afternoons. We'll be staying near the Hammersmith tube station. Any recommendations of babysitters? Or suggestions how I might find a babysitter? Mary

    Many hotels will set you up with a babysitting referral service. Call yours and find out. Expect to pay a lot more than you would at home, although you may get someone more experienced and qualified than your average teenager. We used a babysitting referral service in Florida last month that was $16 an hour! David

    London family-friendly hotels

    March 2005

    We will be traveling to London with our 11-yr-old this summer and are looking for an affordable place to stay for about a week. Ideal find would be between $100-$150 USD (or less!) per night. Has anyone been there within the last year who can make a recommendation? Would also love to hear of any out-of-the way discoveries or tips people have for visiting London, great day-trips, places to score cheap(er) theatre tickets before we leave the US, etc. Thanks.

    Try the County Hall Travel Inn. Travel Inn is a chain in the UK, and the County Hall location is part of the former London County Hall, which was turned into the more budget concious (~$120 US) Travel Inn in one half, and an upscale (~$400 US) Marriott in the other half. The location is great - on the Thames right beside the London Eye, a 5 min walk to Big Ben, and a 3-5 min walk to the Waterloo Tube Station. The rooms are comfortable, with beds and fold-out couches and ensuite bathrooms with showers. I had a good stay there in 2003, and have a friend who regularly stays when she is in London on business. Barbara
    I was in London in November of 2002, so some of my information may not be up- to-date. We stayed at a bed & breakfast walking distance from Victoria Station, which cost us $100 US a night (I don't recall the exchange rate at the time). We booked it on-line from California, but then when we got there, we realized we could have just gone to Victoria Station and found a reasonably-priced hotel in the area without an advance reservation (mainly because it was off-season). As far as attractions and museums, I strongly recommend getting a copy of the magazine Time Out when you arrive in London. You can also get a copy at Cody's on Telegraph, I believe. Time Out has listings for absolutely everything in London, from West End shows and dance performances to offbeat attractions.

    One of those attractions we went to was Dennis Severs' House (more information here: http://travelguides.wanadoo.uk.com/sisp/?fx=event_id=59776). This is a combination historical house/museum. The house consists of several rooms, all of which have been restored to 1900 and before. We did the candlelight tour, which is a bit pricey at 12 pounds per person. But it's well worth it as one gets the feeling of how people actually lived at this time. You do need to make reservations in advance, and their hours that they are open vary. Lori

    Bringing Baby to London

    October 2004

    We're planning a trip to London with our then 8-month-old baby. Trying to figure out logistics of getting around with stroller (worth it?), where to eat, how to get a baby used to the new time zone, will I be able to breastfeed in public without offending people (have heard ''no'' but wonder), any London hotspots for changing diapers on the go?, etc. Also, does anyone know if you can push a stroller through the British Museum? Any advice and recommendations welcome!
    Baby-Packin' Mama

    Some friends brought their baby, younger than 8 months I believe, from Europe to the US, and the kid had no problems with jetlag, as opposed to the parents...

    The main way to get around in London is the subway/tube, and some of the stations have plenty of stairs, though mainly escalators. I imagine most, if not all, have elevators, but you'll want to try to plan your tube-trips outside the rush hours! British Museum should be fine; even if there's trouble with elevators the 1st floor has enough to see for many days :) (Bring plenty of water & something to snack on for yourself, too!) Areas like Camden and Brick Lane (highly recommended!) are great for walking.

    The Brits are probably not too impressed with public breastfeeding. And diaper-changing should absolutely take place in restrooms - there are plenty of MacDonalds' there to utilize... I've been to London many times, although without baby/stroller, but feel free to e-mail me offlist if you'd like further inputs, if so, tell me what you like/would like to see, and I'll be glad to share :)

    (A hot tip is to get a copy of London's Time Out Magazine, either before you go or as soon as you get there, to check out basically everything that happens.) http://www.timeout.com/london/ http://www.thebritishmuseum.ac.uk/ Good luck! Kat

    Oh boy, you'll have a great time. Yes, take the stroller. Indispensable. British Museum, no problem. You'll all need to get used to the time change, but a couple of days should do it. My recommendation is to stay up as late as you can the day you arrive and then go to sleep when you're too exhausted. The baby you're just going to have to let adjust as s/he can. British Musuem has a wonderful cafe/restaurant in the new central section. TGI Friday's and Hard Rock Cafe are both fun places to eat, although the latter is probably too noisy for the little one.
    Did this with an 8-month-old about 3 years ago. DO take your stroller - London is famously walkable and it's good to have the baby inthe stroller rather than toting him around. Added plus, the first couple days when baby is adjusting to the time change he can just fall asleep while you are walking around or visiting museums or whatever. I don't recall having any problems bringing the strollers into museums but you should check their websites before you leave to make sure - some museums in the US don't allow strollers. Jet lag was much harder for the adults than for the baby but it does mess up their schedule for a while. Caveat: make sure your stroller is lightweight. You WILL be carrying it up and down the stairs at the tube stations. Sometimes a LOT of stairs. We got pretty good at doing a 2-person carry of the stroller but the heavier the stroller, the more painful this will be! Our MacLaren umbrella has survived almost 4 years of many plane trips - highly recommended. Ginger
    hi! , i brought my son to london at 8 months and again at 2 years. Yes, bring a stroller. it's great at the airports, museums, streets, naps.... and it will go right into those big cabs without breaking down! BUT stollers are impossible in the tube which has lots of stairs, so i recomend bringing another carrying option, sling maybe so you can fold up the stroller to carry on the stairs. (obviously this is easier with 2 adults, but possible alone). at the airports you can bring the stroller right up to the airplane and then they will take it from you to put in the lugguge hold and have it ready for you as you get off the plane. Yes, nurse in public nurse on the plane while ascending and decending to help your babies ears. nurse in the museums, in the streets, in the parks. with the jet lag and new environs nursing is to important a feeding and comfort tool to consider compromissing. i nursed in public in london, florence, rome, and CAIRO....

    jet lag is a pain. i always find that we'll be up for some part of the night ... like 1am till 4am.... for a week. be ready with snacks and toys. it's nice if you staying where you can turn on the lights and not worry about waking anyone.then plan a nap in the afternoon. it's a great city. have fun. Kristin

    Hi there - go ahead and breastfeed in public when in London. I'm from England and I breastfeed whenever I'm back visiting the folks. Just be discreet the way you are here and no one will bother you at all.

    As for catching up on the jetlag just be prepared to take your time, our kiddies have gotten through the time difference in their own time, sometimes waking up a little more at night, sleeping more in the day but after a couple of days it all balances out.

    Getting around with a stroller in London; the Tube system is pretty old, and deep underground, not many elevators around (as far as I remember) so take a light umberella stroller to get up and down those escalators. Go ahead and have a great trip, London is full of life and a lot of fun!! Cathy

    We took our 3-year-old to London, and I think taking an 8-month- old would be easier. Also we went in January, so it was cold. You will have problems using a stroller. There are not many ramps, and the Tube is a nightmare with a stroller. I carried my little guy and his stroller up so many stairs, it was unbelievable. If the baby likes something like the Baby Bjorn, you should bring that; it will be much more manageable. As for breastfeeding, I don't know what it will be like in London, but I breastfed my baby all over Florence recently and didn't get a single negative reaction, that I noticed. It could be quite different in Britain, but I say do it anyway. Getting meals might be a problem for you. Many pubs don't admit children, and they are very smokey. There are a few ''family pubs'' in London that have rooms specifically for families with children and they are ''smoke-free'', however, they are difficult to find.

    Have fun. I love London and can't wait to take my two boys back there...when they are much older and can appreciate the history. Susan

    London with a baby is a lot of fun. Museums are free and child friendly. But if you haven't done it already - get used to carrying baby in any kind of baby carrier/bjorn/wrap/backpack or sling. Why? Most of the Underground stations, built in the Victorian era, aren't fully equipped with escalators or elevators, so if you are out with the stroller, you'll be carrying it up and down lots of steps. The buses are crowded so it's hard to get a stroller on a bus. And it's easier to walk on the streets with baby in a sling. But the stroller might be good for short walks or the airport. London lover
    We took our 2 boys to London last December. I can't give you advice about diaper changes, but I can about getting around, since our younger one was 3 at the time and we brought the stroller. We bought transit passes that were good for both the Tube and buses and if you can buy them ahead of time (go to visitlondon.com). It's a great deal, too.

    That being said, it is NOT easy to get around London with a stroller. Remember, London is an old city. Most of the Tube stations are old and don't have lifts (elevators). An 8-month old is easier to lift up and down stairs, of course, but you should be prepared. And, people are generally really nice and may offer to help you. Once you're on the platform, it's easy just to push the stroller on to the train. If you are going around with your partner, you'll have an easier time. The newer buses are easy to get on and off of, but the double decker ones can be trickier. We resorted to cabs more often than we would have liked, but the drivers were always patient as we collapsed the strollers and helpful.

    We did go to the British Museum. You didn't say what time of year you're going, but in late December, it was so crowded and difficult to wheel a stroller through. It wasn't the most relaxing trip in the world, but I am really happy we went. Hope this helps. Mollie

    Take the baby to London! We've taken our 1st son twice to London to see my family - at 6 months and 18 months. England in general is VERY child friendly. As for the stroller, the British practically invited it. We took our McClaren stroller every where, and due to the time change our son slept while we hit all our favorite museums and restaurants. When you arrive at Heathrow with a child, airport officials at customs put you into a special express line for people with children. The taxi's are large enough to accomodate a stroller too. The only thing we had to do was carry the stroller and our child down the stairs at some of the tube stations. Overall, London is very baby/child friendly. Loves London
    This isn't really about London specifically, but I just returned 2 days ago from Germany, Austria, France, and the Czech Republic with my 10 month old. We decided to bring a backpack rather than a stroller since that's what she prefers at home-- no regrets. There are more opinions about that in the archives. I had no problems with breastfeeding in public anywhere. About eating, I recommend baby-friendly fast food chains like McDonald's-- they are everywhere, provide good high chairs, bathrooms with changing tables, and a bit of noise from your little one won't bother anybody. Alternatively, picnicking works if the weather is good.

    When I was last in London (pre-baby), I found good, fresh deli-type take-out for picnics in Marks & Spencer food departments, and at a deli chain called Pret-a-Manger, though there are lots of other possibilities. As far as feeding the baby, we pretty much regressed temporarily to exclusive breastfeeding for convenience, though it helped to always have a few Cheerios on hand to keep her occupied while the adults were eating. Hope you have a great trip! Evette

    London with a stroller can be hard - you're forever on and off buses or up and down stairs in the Underground. However, it is done by locals all the time. Just pace yourselves and bring an easily collapsible stroller. You might already know about the weekly guide - Time Out - http:// www.timeout.com/london/ for more ideas and suggestions on baby- friendly dining options, things to do, etc. If I recall, the Natural History Museum had a great child exploration center on the lower floor - things just for babies and toddlers to play in and with.

    Yes, you can bring a stroller to the British Museum, and every other museum as well. Breastfeeding - like anywhere - just be tactfully discreet. You may even find breastfeeding rooms or comfy ''Ladies Lounges'' in hotels or department stores, which usually happen to be near enough to most of the tourist sights.

    If you're going soon, it'll be cold and wet, so remember to get a rain cover for your stroller and probably even one of those ''sleeping bag'' type things they sell in colder climes that slip over the end to keep your baby's feet warm (the UK baby shop Mothercare calls them ''cosytoes''). Have a great time! Ellen

    We took our baby to London last summer when he was 4 months old, and it was a great time to do it. I would strongly recommend a baby backpack rather than a stroller because most of the Tube stops have many stairs (no ADA rules there!). We had taken both a stroller and a backpack and abandoned the stroller after 1 experience with those Tube steps. Also a heck of a lot easier on crowded buses. We also found that the Brits were absolutely FASCINATED with the baby backpack concept -- they just don't have them there -- and it was therefore a natural conversation starter with locals.

    I don't know if you can take strollers in the British Museum, but I know that you can take baby backpacks in. I never had any problems or bad vibes breastfeeding anywhere in public (including on a bench in the British Museum and on the steps in front of St. Paul's Cathedral). One nice thing about England is that, unlike in the US, you can take your baby with you into the pubs if you and your husband want to have a pint of ale or a meal. The downside is the amount of cigarette smoke, but it's simply unavoidable and our baby hasn't seemed to have suffered any effects from it. Again, the baby was a great conversation starter and we met many locals that way.

    As far as getting used to the time change, I admit that it did take a few days, but it was tolerable. Have fun! Katy

    We went to London to visit my husband's family when my daughter was a baby and had a great time! We actually didn't take a stroller because she was happier travelling in the backpack and we found it easier...however, London is full of babes in strollers, I think it would be fine if you prefer a stroller. We did actually go to the British Museum...we had a backpack, but there were plenty of strollers there. Breastfeeding in public is certainly not as common as it is here...but its not completely unheard of. In most public places they actually have these really cool babycare rooms (can't remember exactly what the term is)...think ladies lounge in Norstroms...with couches, changing tables, sinks, etc, that are really convenient for feeding & changing. In an emergency situation, if you are discrete, you can breastfeed in a shopping center.

    I found, regarding the time change, it was best to just bite the bullet and get onto local time as quickly as possible. My daughter woke up in the night for a few nights, but proved to be remarkably adaptable. And she went back to her old schedule almost immediately when she returned. Have a great trip! mom of UK baby

    We took our daughter last Xmas to london(she was about 15 months) but we were staying with relatives. I think our daughter did great with the time zone but she had a tendency to wake up at midnight and stay up for about an hour. But she was so much fun when she did. She was keeping to her regular sleep times though. A stroller is a must I think and the larger the better. with the weather and all it is a must. Strollers are everywhere in london. Take the rain cover for the stroller. I don't remember the stroller issue at the museums because we did use a backpack for her as well which was not a problem there. Good luck and have fun. Suzanne

    Lake District

    September 2003

    This is a vacation we've done and I'd do it again at the drop of a hat.

    One of our favorite places in the world is the Lake District of England, just south of the Scottish border. Beautiful scenery, walks about marvelaous lakes ranging from the easy (Tarn How) to strenous (Wastwater), Beatrix Potter land for little kids, easy day trips to Yorkshire (Fountains Abbey should not be missed) and Hadrian's Wall, boat rides on Coniston Water. I'd rent a house or houses (depending on how much time you want to be in each other's company) in Ambleside and spend a week. Fly Continental into Manchester via Newark and rent a car for the easy drive to the Lakes. Then I'd drive down to London (unless I wanted to hop up to Scotland for a few days to see Loch Lomond and Loch Ness), with a stopover in Warwick (Warwick Castle is hecka fun, although now run by Madame Tussaud's) or Stratford (Shakespeare country). Drop the rental car at Heathrow (no way will I drive in London) and have transport company pick you up for drive to hotel or, again, rental flats. We love having the extra space/privacy of a flat and the ability to have breakfast and the occasional dinner in rather than always having to go out for food. Theaters (there's something for every age group: Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap, Queen's We Will Rock You, Les Miz, Shakespears at the Bobe Theatre, etc. etc. etc.), history (the Tower, Buckingham Palace), museums galore (and most of them free). Day trips to places like Windsor (not just the castle, Legoland Windsor is 10 times better than San Diego), Stonehenge (touristy, but still magnificent), and Hampton Court (Henry VII's place and fantastic tour guides in period costume). No problem finding a week's worth of things to do. For a third week, you could take the channel tunnel train over to Paris.

    If this sounds interesting and you want any specifics, like rental agencies for the Lakes and/or London and ideas about getting around (e.g., best buys for Tube passes), drop me a line and I'll be happy to give you web sites, phone #'s, etc. Happy travels, wherever you go. norm

    Taking Kids to England

    re: travelling to england. We spent 6 weeks in England last summer with our then two year old daughter. You don't mention the ages of your kids but if they like to travel they will have a great time. The Cotswolds are lovely and I also highly recommend the Lake district- its beautiful and there are sheep cows etc roaming all over, loads of green fields and walks-country living!(Beatrix Potter lived and painted there). Kids love castles and there are plenty to choose from but they can be very espensive to get in so take the time to investigate costs before you choose. Cornwall is lovely too, but more touristy as its coast and beach. Brighton is always a lot of fun for the kids because of the amusement park type rides on the boardwalk and the beach (rocky beach cold water but thats england for you-its still loads of fun).

    As to cheapest stays: With families your options are more restricted, but there are hostels with family rooms (so family all sleeps together) still much cheaper than other options. Next best bet are B and Bs but quality varies tremendously to great to awful, so again cull through travel guides before you book. Book ahead as summer is a difficult time to find accomodations.

    In London, the tower of london and madame tussauds are what kids usually like to see. Greenwich is a lovely outing as well (loads of green space views lots of other kids and play areas, some deer...). Get to greenwich on a double decker bus, and sit upstairs it gives you a great view of the city and the kids will love it. Have a good trip. Christina

    London B - parent + 14-year-old

    January 2003

    I'll be in London with my 14 years old in March for a few days and I wonder if anyone could recommend a clean, affordable (up to $150 per night)B or hotel (with private bath) in a nice location. Thanks.

    We stayed in a place called ''Chequers'' in Kensington two years ago with our then-13 year old. Nice little apartments with in-wall kitchenette and private baths. We slept in the bedroom and our teen had the fold-out sofa in the living room. Walk to Goucester tube station and Whitrose grocery store, the Natural History Museum, Victoria and Albert and Harrod's! The rate was reasonable for us, especially since it was part of a package deal thru Virgin Atlantic Airlines. Becky
    My teenage daughter and I have stayed at the Cavendish ( http://www.hotelcavendish.com/ ) and at the Fielding ( http://www.the-fielding-hotel.co.uk/ ) in London. The Cavendish is very funky, no private bath, no working tv, but is very pleasant: quiet, lovely garden, nice people, good breakfast. Cheap and a block from the British Museum. Popular with college kids from the continent, which seemed very cool to my daughter. Ask for a large room with a view of the garden. The Fielding has the best location imaginable (for me, at least), right in the heart of Covent Garden, though my daughter thinks Bloomsbury and Camden Town are much more interesting. For its location it's very affordable, with private bath, but not very charming. Its clientele is mostly theatre people, for obvious reasons, and children aren't entirely welcomed. We're careful to be on our best behavior. No breakfast, no view, but most of London's theatre and bookstores are within five blocks of the hotel. ~Randall
    Scott and Jeanne Mills run great Trips Unlimited out of Portland, Oregon, and handle a number of flats in London (and elsewhere). I think some of them may be available for short term stays like you plan. We had a fantastic 2-BR flat in the heart of Chelsea for a week last summer. I've used other brokers in the past, and dealing with Jeanne & Scott was a breeze. Helps that they're in same time zone and handle all the communications with the London end. Can even arrange for airport pickup & delivery, which we found a lot nicer than hopping on the tube at the end of that long plane ride. Their web site is http://www.gtunlimited.com/ and I highly, highly recommend them. Norm


    From: Wendy

    I can't give specific recommendations because my children are much younger, although a boat ride along the Thames to Greenwich would probably satisfy all of you. I would suggest that you look into the White Card (family and individual cards available). This gets you into a number of museums for one price. You buy it at the first museum that honors it and it's good for a full week. (I think there are also 3-day cards available too.) Anyway, check out your guidebooks for this deal.

    Also, if you go the public transportation route, be sure to look into the various passes available. For some, you need a passport size picture, which you can pay for at a machine at some tube stations, but it may be more convenient to get the pictures here before you go.

    From: Laurel

    It has been almost ten years since I was in London, but I do remember that the theaters sell half-price tickets the day of the show. They go on sale at noon, I think. However, I don't remember the name of the square where the sales are. We bought tickets to see Bent with Ian MacClellan and Paul Rhys, and our seats were in the Orchestra, 6th row center -- for half price (I think 6 pounds each). I highly recommend going this route. I assume you can call any theater in London and ask where the half-price tickets go on sale, or you can ask your hotel concierge. Good luck, and have fun,

    From: Angela

    To the woman asking for recommendations for a trip to London and Wales: London tends to tempt adults into visiting museums non-stop, but the British Museum is definitely fun for all ages, especially the archaeology section (the Rosetta stone, the huge Egyptian artifacts etc). To make the typical 15 year-old happy, go to Camden market. It's a HUGE market in an old factory area featuring lots of antiques, interesting second hand and flea market stuff, but also high quality ethnic art and all kinds of curiosities (I forgot on which weekdays it is - ask when you arrive in London).

    Practically every 11 year-old is delighted if you let him/her figure out how to use the tube system and how to get from one place to another. It's vast compared to BART and is the fastest way to get around, and fun to use.

    If you get to Wales and you and your kids are into books, go to Hey-on-Wye (spelling?). It's a small village in which one out of three houses is a second hand book store, worth a visit if you like that kind of treasure hunt. Nearby Black Mountains are a great hiking area, with remains of medieval churches and monasteries along the trails.

    London with a two-year-old


    Does anyone have any recommendations for activities a 2 year old might enjoy in London? Are there restaurants in central London which are particularly toddler friendly? I am particularly interested in indoor suggestions, as it will undoubtledly rain much of our stay. Thank you.

    I have been going to London every year with my daughter since she was 10 months old. The outings she enjoyed most at 2 were: The little farm in Battersea park (just across the Chelsea Bridge). Just a five minute bus ride from Sloane Square. This place is geared for small kids with the cleanest petting animals you have ever seen. Also little merry go round and pony rides. You can easily spend a morning or afternoon there. There is also a great playground there for tots.(not expensive! actually very cheap by London standards). For kid friendly restaurants there are many along the King's road (again not far from Sloane square). If you go to Harrods you may want to try Planet Harrods a restaurant surrounded by TVs that show cartoons. Food is simple but very good. They provide luxurious high chairs, bibs and all kinds of baby food. Let me just warn you it is on the fourth floor in the middle of the amazing toy section!! Not a coincidence, I am sure. Pizza on the Park at Hyde Park Corner is good as well, but a little fancier. All the local libraries have kid time (you don't have to live there to join in a session or two). The Natural History museum is great as well. Try late in the afternoon if you are just going to stay for a little while. (No entrance fee). This might be a little overwhelming, so you may want to show your 2 year old just a small section of it...but it certainly could keep the family entertained for days!! Check out TimeOut for plays and puppet shows for kids. We went to see a puppet show on a barge in little Venice. It was fabulous. Old fashioned puppets performed the three little pigs. The whole setting was magical. You might try to check this out before you go since kid performances tend to sell out quickly and you may want to book in advance. Good luck. Ariane
    Just having returned from London with a 1 year old, I can point out a few spots. The Science and Technology Museum across from the V is terrific (Kensington area); lots of hands-on and interactive exhibits that appealed to my daughter (the steam engine was a particular favorite). The British Museum (Russell Square area) was another hit; lots of Egyptian, Greek and Roman statues to. Be forewarned: not all restaurants are kid friendly and the Tube can be a nightmare with a stroller. There are not very many lifts (elevators) to the actual platform so you are left carting child and stroller up and down numerous flights of stairs. (Fortunately, Londoners never failed to assist me when I was by myself, and what a pleasant surprise that was!) Museum cafeterias were surprsingly good. Garfinkles is an American-style chain that worked out pretty well and we ate lots of Indian take-away. Alexandra
    A simple but nice afternoon: On Hampstead Heath, the south side, (next to the adventure playground) - ie use the Constantine road entrance. There is something called the '1 o'clock club', where every afternoon from about 1 to 3 pm toddlers play together in sand etc while mothers can sit and chat. It's in a fenced in area, so safe, and perhaps a good way to meet people on a sunny afternoon. And it's free. The Heath itself is good to run around on; people fly kites at the top of the hill. Kenwood House, at the North side of the Heath, has a big grassy slope looking over ponds, again good for running around, and in the house itself is a popular tea room where you can get tea and cakes, or ice cream. Very popular with my children when we lived in London! Janice
    The Princess Diana Memorial Playground, in Green Park (I think), is a truly exceptional playground, featuring a large pirate ship, an area of strange devices that make sounds, amongst much more. It's free, but only a certain number of people are let in at a time, and on busy days queues have been known to form. It kept out two-year old very happy for hours. C.
    My suggestion would be park at Kensington Palace. There's a great big children's playground where nannies take their kids. There's a toddler area and another area for older children. Karina
    There's a chain of pseudo-American restaurants called Garfunkels which are very toddler-friendly -- the one we went to provided a splendid kids' fun pack with crayons, colouring book etc. The food isn't bad: pizza, spaghetti, salad bar etc. For activities, all I can think of offhand are non-rainy-day things like feeding the ducks in Regent's Park, going to the Zoo, or going for a boat trip down the Thames. We enjoyed that and so did our (then) toddler. Indoors, you and your toddler might enjoy the dinosaurs and other impressive creatures in the Natural History Museum in South Kensington. Hannah

    London Hotels & Rentals

    Finally if London is part of your plans I highly recommend renting an apartment for one or two weeks-you have full kitchen livingroom etc and this cuts down on food expenses plus gives you space and time to get over jet lag (your kids will be up at 2 am, at 4am etc wanting something to eat etc. and its nice to know you aren't disturbing anyone else and you can set your own schedule). Its also way cheaper than a hotel in London (one of the most expensive cities for accomodations).( FYI:Do NOT BOOK thru Europa-let as the woman is unreliable and never refunded our security deposit despite a call from our lawyer). Guide books have apt rental agency listings-if you can work directly though someone in london you save the commission.


    August 2001

    My husband and I need to travel to London the third week of Sept. for an interview. We both need to be there and will be taking our two year old daughter. I am six months pregnant as well, and a bit overwhelmed about the logistics. Can you recommend an inexpensive place to stay but most importantly, advise us on how to set up childcare arrangements in advance? We will need one afternoon and one evening of care. Or, does anyone know of someone coming from London from the 22-29th of Sept. to the Bay Area who needs a place to stay? We could trade houses. Any help would be greatly appreciated. gia

    We just came back from London with our three year old son. We stayed at The Cranley at 10-12 Bina Gardens, South Kensington, London. They were very reasonably priced for London and we used their childcare for three nights. The childcare was provided by staff and was very good. Our son was well taken care of. The staff are very helpful and friendly. This is a small quiet hotel that is welcoming to families. The e-mail address is lorycaprioli [at] mail.com and their web site is www.thecranley.co.uk Susan
    We have stayed in the Travel Inn near Euston Station -- very ugly and modern, but large and centrally located with rooms large enough for a crib or extra child's bed; rooms cost in the order of $80-100, which is very cheap for central London. (The nearby Ibis Hotel which is part of a large French chain costs about the same but is extremely unwelcoming to children and the rooms are tiny.) I don't know about childcare but I have heard of a service called something like Universal Aunts which friends have spoken very well of. Hannah
    There are some good hotel bargains listed on LondonTown.com Virgin Airlines also recently ran a kids fly free promo, and do package vacations which includes accomodation in small apartments. I would also check timeout.com/london - London's weekly magazine that lists almost everything you need to know about staying in London. These are several agencies that rent houses and flats:
      gowithIT.co.uk  euracom.co.uk  homefromhome.co.uk  gonative.co.uk  aplacelikehomelondon.co.uk  citadines.co.uk  
    Almost all of the above sources can assist in finding safe and secure childcare as well (in particular, www.timeout.com/london/kids/taking_a_break.html and babysitter.co.uk) Have a great time! Stacey

    Oxford with 1 year olds

    We are going to Oxford, England, for a week in June with our 1-year old twins, and I'm wondering if anyone has any suggestions for:
    - What to do with them in the area (parks, restaurants, entertainment)
    - Travel tips - To stroller or not to stroller? How to get from Heathrow to Oxford? Renting a car (with carseats). What items should we absolutely bring with us, and what should we leave at home?
    - How to adjust to the time change
    Thank you for any and all advice/recommendations! Leigh (2001)

    I don't have kids but I am from England and can recommend some things. Firstly, if you're going to rent a car, and I always do, make sure you book it from the US, as the price will triple when you get there if not. You can order car seats for the children, and is enforced by law. I would pick the car up from the airport and get on the orbital motorway, M25, and go clockwise, which would be north from Heathrow. Signs are excellent there. Driving in the UK has 2 main rules besides driving on the left. 1. keep the flow of traffic moving,i.e., let people in, and 2. always keep to the left unless overtaking. Americans tend to putter along in the fast lane, and the Brits won't stand for it. It's illegal there to overtake on the left. Most restaurants are child friendly, same as restaurants in the US, although I don't think many provide toys,crayons etc. To be honest, Oxford is my favorite city, but I don't see much attraction for 1 year olds. A lot of college's, churches, and cobbled streets, and pubs too. You may have to be imaginative, and bring your own entertainment. Adjusting to the time change, you'll probably arrive early in the day or noonish and feel tired. Do not go to bed, even for a nap. Go to bed early that night, say 8pm, and you'll wake up about 7am and feel ok. Coming back is a different story I would stroller, they are called pushchairs there, because in Oxford you'll do a lot of walking. Cars aren't allowed everywhere. Hope this is helpful Paula