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London Family Travel Guide: How We Planned the Perfect Five Day Itinerary

London Family Travel Guide for the Perfect Five Day Itinerary

We recently returned from an early Summer trip that started in New York City, then to Paris, before ending our trip in London.  We spent five nights in London, which gave us four full days to explore the city, before flying back to San Francisco (SFO) from London Heathrow (LHR).   

In this new series titled, "Just Got Back", we go over a quick trip itinerary report on where we stayed, what activities we did, where we ate and our top recommendations on things to consider adding to your own trip to London.  

There is so much information available out there online and on social media on where you should go, stay, things to do and where to eat for every destination imaginable, but with this new series, "Just Got Back", I hope to provide a quick and easy way for you to take a glimpse into our travel style and of our trip we just got back from and show what we did as a traveling family of four.

Where to Stay

There are many great options to consider staying at when visiting London that depend on your particular preferences, travel style, hotel location and budget.

One of the things to consider when traveling in Europe with kids is being able to find hotels that accommodate up to 4 people in one room or suite.  Most hotels max occupancy at 2 or 3 people per room, even for larger suites sometimes, so it can become very challenging to find a hotel and room category that will work and not break the bank at the same time.  And if you can't find a room for at least 4 people, then you may end up having to book two rooms (and not break the travel budget) and hope the hotel offers connecting rooms.

For this trip, we stayed at the Marriott London County Hall, which boasts a prime location on the River Thames, overlooking the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben and the London Eye.  The convenient location on the South Bank at the Westminster Bridge is perfect for exploring the sights of London.  

We stayed here for 5 nights in a Family Room that offered two double beds for a family of four and featured views of Big Ben and River Thames.  Staying for five nights was the perfect amount of time for exploring the city and still having enough time in London to relax and be spontaneous as well, instead of always feeling like we had to be on the go if we had less travel days here.    

We selected this hotel since we have hotel status (Marriott Bonvoy Titanium) that unlocks extra benefits/amenities like free breakfast (saved us ~$100+ a day) and since we had lots of Marriott Bonvoy points that could help cover the cost of our entire stay.  I plan on writing more about this in an upcoming post and how we used a lot of Marriott hotel points to cover a majority of our trips for 2022 and the reasoning behind it.

Things to do

Here are some of the sights we visited and things we experienced on our recent trip to London:

  • The British Museum
  • Natural History Museum
  • Matilda the Musical at Cambridge Theater
  • London Eye
  • Big Ben, Houses of Parliament
  • Tower of London and the Tower Bridge

  • St. Pauls Cathedral
  • Tate Modern
  • Covent Garden
  • Borough Market
  • Platform 9¾ at Kings Cross Station and The Harry Potter Shop
  • Charlie & the Chocolate Factory Afternoon Tea at One Aldwych Hotel
  • Buckingham Palace and Hyde Park
  • Trafalgar Square
  • Piccadilly Circus 
  • Shopping on Regent Street at Oxford Circus
  • The Shard
  • Sky Garden

I plan on writing more in detail about each of these items, including our experience with a private family tour of London with Context Travel, how to book and the best way to plan out each activity to maximize your day.

Places to Eat & Drink

London is very walkable and no matter where you are in the city, it seems like there is a restaurant, pub or cafe on every corner. 

The places we ate at largely depended on which part of London we were in around lunch or dinner time and location mainly dictated the available restaurant options for us.  

For example,  I always like to plan ahead and research food options closest to where we would be so we don't have to hunt around too long to get a bite to eat.  Knowing what options we have and where they are located comes in handy when traveling with younger children, but for this trip I didn't make a list of places to eat and figured there would always be something close by where we were that would work for everyone.

For breakfast each morning, we ate at the hotel (Marriott Bonvoy Titanium breakfast benefit) at The Library, which offered amazing views of River Thames and Big Ben, as well as helping us save over $100+ a day on breakfast alone.  Typically, breakfast would be served in the M Lounge, but we were pleasantly surprised to see it moved to the Library for breakfast at the moment.  

Other sit-down restaurants we enjoyed on this trip while exploring London include: 

  • Dishoom (popular and trendy Indian Restaurant featuring amazing food)
  • Oblix (at the Shard featuring great views of London)
  • Gillray's Steakhouse & Bar
  • Pizza Express near Borough Market (so many small restaurants and stalls)
  • Sticks 'N' Sushi at Covent Garden (lots of restaurants here) 
  • Osteria Dell'Angolo 
  • Tower Bridge Cafe (just outside the Tower of London)
  • Charlie & the Chocolate Factory Afternoon Tea at One Aldwych  

Since we had a hearty breakfast most mornings, we ended up having lunch and dinner at odd times throughout the day after visiting an attraction so didn't experience long waits for meals.  We did see some very long lines for popular restaurants, but when traveling with kids, we never wanted to wait very long to be seated so didn't really research much into the best places to eat.  It was more about convenience for us and depended on where we currently were in London.  

Connect with The Family Travel Guy

Let me know what you think of this new trip report series, "Just Got Back", and if you find it useful for planning and getting ideas for own trips.