Going on a family vacation to London? Planning your extensive stay in London can be a nightmare—especially with regards to children. Where can all of you stay—and stay comfortably? It would be awfully unwise to leave these arrangements for the welcoming booth at your arrival airport. With the need for family rooms, instead of double rooms, you will notice that the nightly rentals will suddenly spike. So why not grab the best possible deal by booking one online instead? Do your research and keep fixed bookings.
You will soon learn that there isn’t much room for maneuver when it comes to traveling with children. Narrow down your search to the hotels that fall within your budget. Then, scroll down the page for every accommodation, and read the policy carefully on children sleeping in the room. Chances are, if you have one or two very small children, they can conveniently use existing bedding in your double or king size room. For bigger children, you should either choose a hotel with a double room that allows for extra bedding, or choose one that has family rooms.
Recommended website for hotel reservation
Various websites can aid you in your cause. Most booking websites feature a “family” page—for example, www.visitlondon.com is an extensive website that advertises various family-friendly hotels, some complete with child-only concierges that have your children’s favorite DVDs and snacks ready for your arrival! Anything you require, you can find via Visit London—the very threshold of activity for all London visitors.
Looking for apartment to rent?
If you’d rather go for a self-catering option, you should only look for apartments in the city. An advantage with this kind of accommodation is that you can buy fresh fruit, poultry, meat, and vegetables from a local shop, and cook food exactly the way your kids like it. Access to a kitchen or kitchenette will also allow you to make healthy picnic baskets, for some eating, some skipping and some sun-bathing in one of the many gardens around London. This will also keep tabs on your dining budget. The Chelsea Cloisters at www.chelseacloisters.co.uk, offer some of the cheapest apartments in Knightsbridge – one of the poshest locales of London. Some other websites offering homes in London, to tourists are www.vrbo.com and www.airbnb.com.
Open to more options?
If you’re on a budget and into house swapping, look to www.homeexchange.com. You could find a family—just like yours—searching for their own vacation on a budget. Swapping homes allows your “homestay” to be entirely free. You’ll just need to do extensive background checks and extensive chats with the other family in order to maintain a level of safety in your traveling.
Staying in a reputed chain
Some of us always prefer to stay in a reputed chain, with standardized facilities. We agree. Booking at such facilities can provide the added comfort of knowing what to expect. In London, the following chains will be your best bet.
- The Holiday Inn or the Holiday Inn Express – most of their properties come equipped with rooms with double beds and a sofabed that will allow two children to sleep. Check www.ihg.com for all options in the International Hotels Group.
- Etap Hotel or Ibis Budget hotel – they will usually have rooms with a double bed, and a single bunk bed. Be prepared though that although it’s a comfortable establishment, the Ibis Budget will look and feel much more basic than a Holiday Inn or a Holiday Inn Express. If you are on a more leisurely budget, www.accorhotels.comwill offer booking options with Mercure and Novotel too, among others.
- Travelodge is a budget hotel chain with premises all across the UK, and if you book well in advance, you could rent a room for less than £40 a night! Visit www.travelodge.co.uk. 4 – Tune Hotels at www.tunehotels.com is a no-frills, modern accommodation that again has a couple of facilities in the city.
You should also search for student apartments that are sublet in the summers, while international students are away. Google summer student accommodations, and you are likely to find space in the dorms across the University of London campuses – whether it’s Imperial College, King’s College or University College, London. Also try the database at http://www.universityrooms.com/en/countries/GB. Tips: use hotel reviews on Yelp or TripAdvisor. They’re helpful—and usually accurate.
The 3 golden tips when booking online
- Be sure your hotel is close to an Underground or Bus Stop for public transportation. See www.tfl.gov.uk for more information.
- Most of your attractions on your London trip are located centrally in the city, so your hotel or accommodation should also be centrally located. Children cannot travel as far or as well as you can. Tired kids are grumpy kids. You’ll thank yourself later.
- Whether you plan to rent an apartment or a hotel, make sure there are elevators in the facility if you’re not accommodated on the ground floor.
Purchase the Kids’ Travel Guide – London to you kids and make sure they will get the most out of this beautiful city.
For more advice and useful information, you can see the full Parents’ Travel Guide – London .