Hi all, I’m taking my two teenage granddaughters to London in October (we hope, Coronavirus permitting). This will be their first trip abroad. I’ve booked rooms for four nights in two alternative hotels, both fully cancellable: K&K George London Kensington (smaller room), and London Marriott Kensington (large room). Would appreciate feedback from other family travelers or folks who’ve stayed at either hotel recently. Thanks much for your input!
What ever you do don’t book anything non refundable.
Things aren’t just popping back to normal that quickly - and a second wave could hit by then .
Both hotels are fine - take the one with larger room .
I have not stayed at either. What made you choose those two?
I travel fairly extensively for work and get tired of cookie cutter hotels and motels. The good news about Marriott, Hilton and similar properties is that you know what to expect. The bad news is they are like McDonalds, there will be no surprises but there are much better hamburgers to be had. Because of that, I'd lean more towards K&K after looking at the websites for both.
When my wife and I travel, we avoid staying at American style hotels. I suggest you consider stepping out of your comfort zone and look for a B&B in the same area. You can find them for the same price or less than the two you are considering. For instance, I found a charming B&B in an Edwardian building. It's the Merlyn Court Hotel. They offer larger rooms with three or four beds. It's family run. It doesn't have in room TVs, which I consider a plus. If you are doing London right, you won't be in your room long enough to watch TV.
I hope your trip makes. This will be a wonderful time for them. My wife was 14 when she went to Europe for the first time, back in 1966. I was on the same trip and London was on the itinerary. We were in London exactly a year ago, but we stayed at the Royal Society of Medicine. She was there leading graduate students on a Studies Abroad trip. She was also inducted into the Florence Nightingale Society. The ceremony was held at Westminster Abbey.
We've also not stayed in either but both have good enough reviews to be horse apiece. Still, with 2 adults, 2 teenagers and luggage for 4, I'd opt for the larger room. Yes, you'll only be in there to sleep but you'll want to reduce the amount of tripping over each other when getting ready to head out in the morning and for bed in the evening.
K&K George is closer to a tube station (Earl's Court) than the Marriott (looks to be equidistance of Gloucester Road and Earl's Court) but no problem if you don't mind the longer walk.
Thanks for the responses, everyone. I appreciate the input and will look into that B&B as well.
Premier Travel Inn London County Hall has rooms that look right at Westminster Bridge, Big Ben, London Eye right outside the window. Marriott or Hilton may have nicer decor but as far as location the PTI County Hall can’t be beat.
We never stay in US chain hotels when traveling abroad either.
You may have already made up your mind, but you might consider an apartment rather than a hotel. there is so much more room to spread out and your teenagers could have a bit of privacy.
To be a contrarian, the part of the post that jumped out at me was two teenagers. I’m thinking the Marriott is the best choice. You know your family better than I do, but I think most teens would want more space and fast WiFi over cute and quaint. Larger and efficient showers over a bathroom with perhaps too much local charm.
Hopefully you and your granddaughters will be able to make this trip. London is an exciting city to visit and explore.
That said I’ve not stayed at either of the hotels you’ve mentioned but suspect I’d prefer the Marriot if it’s an American hotel chain you desire.
Adding to their first trip abroad experience might you consider a B&B? The Aster House on Sumner Place is in a lovely neighborhood and IMHO one of the better run B&B’s in London. Safe, secure, good location, fair prices, free wifi and breakfast included in the rate.
Typical B&B in an older Victorian townhouse which means residential area with nearby shops, cafes and restaurants. No elevator which helps one appreciates the art of packing light. Room sizes will be smaller than they are used to but that is what a first trip abroad is about, experiencing the differences.
To add to their first time London travel undertaking:
www.walks.com ( have them review the walks and see if any are of interest)
Do an afternoon tea.
Walk along the Thames path.
See one or more theatre performances.
Take in an Evensong.
Meander through Carnaby Street
Meander about Brick Lane
Enjoy pub lunch. Try The Mayflower Pub in Rotherhithe.
Enjoy a Sunday Roast at the Victoria Paddington pub.
Be sure to take a train ride somewhere...Hampton Court. Or a day trip to Whitsable, Oxford or Cambridge.
And definitely ride atop a double decker bus. It will be slow but with nearly floor to ceiling windows always an impressionable first visit ride.
Same with their first London Underground experience.
Walk about Hyde Park and into Kensington Gardens to see Kensington Palace.
Visit the Hampstead Heath and explore Hampstead Village.
Get lost in Harrods or Selfridges. The shoe department in Selfridges goes on forever.
Visit Liberty simply because it’s so unique.
London is a fabulous first time abroad city to explore.
Take them on a combo Thames Rocket with the London Eye. Took 16 year old granddaughter and she thoroughly enjoyed this.
Step way out of the comfort zone and go for a hostel. Many have private rooms, but also have a lot of school groups. They might allow your granddaughters to meet some actual European kids. Breakfasts at such places are usually crazy busy. We've (67 and 71) have stayed in hostels in Beograd, Munich, Bucharest, Brasov, and Salzburg. Inexpensive and fun.
You know your family better than I do, but I think most teens would want more space and fast WiFi over cute and quaint. Larger and efficient showers over a bathroom with perhaps too much local charm.
Dale, you make some really good points. It's been more than half a century since I was a teenager in Europe and the times and Europe have changed a lot, but for me one of the reasons to travel to Europe is to see not everybody does things "the American way".
WiFi and large bathrooms made me think of when my boys were 12 and 14, they survived a 30 day road trip in a pop up camper spending most nights in primitive campgrounds with pit toilets. Every third day we'd splurge and stay where there were showers and flush toilets. The often remark it was the best vacation ever, much better than Disney World.
My 20 year old grandson just returned from two years in university in France. Some of his favorite experiences were when he and some friends bummed around Italy and Greece during a school holiday. They stayed in hostels and ate on the cheap. I think teenagers are still remarkably adaptable.
I don't think 4 nights of "cute and quaint" would be to much of a burden. If pitched right, they could see it as part of the grand adventure!
On the cute and quaint part and teenagers preferring what they were used to--we were in Nafplio Greece a couple years ago with our young adult children. Our youngest was 20 at the time. We were staying in this oddly laid out house--upstairs and downstairs did not connect and there was no way to shut the upstairs door and not have it lock. The most challenging thing from my husband and my perspective were the bathrooms. The upstairs one had a bathtub and a sprayer and no shower. The downstairs one was a small bathroom that was a shower room--the shower had no curtains or door and got the whole room wet. We didn't quite get how to do this and initially got the toilet paper wet!
Anyway, I commented to my son that I was fine with the quirkiness of the place but I really wish the bathrooms had conventional showers.
He replied "but then it wouldn't be Greece".
That’s why I always mention in comments that you know your family better than I do. In high school, I would have been a travel nightmare had everything not been as American as possible. It wasn’t until college when I met new people and experienced new things that I became more flexible and go with the flow.
Cute and quaint and me at 17 would have been a good sequel to Mutiny on the Bounty. I would have thought I had a Magna Carta guaranteed right to a fast WiFi connection and a ‘normal’ shower.
It’s always a good thing to think about when arranging travel. I freely admit I was a horrible brat in my teens. But, knowing your travel companions is important and expecting things to just come together can ruin an expensive trip.
I think it is hard to know how those who have not traveled abroad yet will respond. My 20 year old son who embraced Greece would not look at a guide book or even watch a video prior to our trip. Yet he was totally taken by all the differences between the USA and Greece. He even was interested in museums! I would never have predicted his response from any thing in his history. A whole new world was opened to him.
You’re all giving me great input-thank you!
I, too, struggle with balancing the comfort factor with the adventure and goal of exposing young family members to the wide world we live in. I have traveled enough myself over 20 years, both on my own and on RS tours, to value all these suggestions. Keep them coming!
Hi. I realize this is totally off topic for the question you actually asked but maybe something to consider? I took my two teenaged granddaughters to Paris for 10 days last summer. I found letting the girls share a room and me having my own room not far away worked out very, very well. Of course, this would depend on your hotel budget and the age of the girls. You don't specify whether they are younger or older teens and of course, that would make a difference. One of the my grandgirls had just turned 18 and the other was 17. They had an amazing time; doing each others' hair and nails and chatting deep into the early morning hours, I'm sure. And I actually was able to get some sleep!!
EDIT: after reviewing both hotels your considering I’ve changed my mind and say go with the K&K George. The ease of transport via the tube at Earls Court and the numerous busses available along Earls Court Road would be a benefit. Also like Knowing there’s a COSTA Coffee, Nandos and Mazala Zone within very easy walking distance. There’s also a Lloyd’s Bank ATM for your cash withdrawals.
Do hope you’ll be able to make this trip a reality!
Another vote for Premier Inn County Hall for its great location and lots of easy things to do in the area after a busy day, especially just strolling the South-bank in the evening. There are casual restaurants along the way. Daytime, walk down to Borough Market, passing the Tate Modern and Globe along the way (and many other things to see, but for that I refer you to a guidebook or websites listed above). Or, walk across Westminster Bridge and over to the Abbey, etc. It really is a prime location with grocery options at the Waterloo station, just a stone's throw away. I would choose Premier Inn which is on the side of the building which does not face the Thames, as the Marriott on the other side of the building is much more expensive.
That said, I think Claudia has offered great ideas to explore. I hope you travel and enjoy.
Our girls did not last long in museums. They loved Harrods and would have spent hours there looking and shopping. Doubt they would have appreciated Liberty. They loved Waitrose also.
Then again, not all teenage girls are the same (my sister and I learned to appreciate museums when we were elementary schoolers) and London has some wonderful museums and historic attractions. The many museums which are free - the Museum of London, Victoria and Albert, British Museum, National Gallery, etc. - are also great budget stretchers, and I'm sure you can choose a couple which would be of interest to your granddaughters. Same with some of the sites which, while not free to visit, are important to the history of the city, such as the Tower of London and Westminster Abbey.
I believe it would be helpful to your planning to ask your grand daughters what they’d like to see while in London. Museums? Markets? Theatre? Etc.
That way you can get an idea of what might be fun to experience together. Might be as simple as riding a double decker bus, walking by Kensington Palace, watching the Horse Guards on the parade grounds or meandering about Portobello Road. Once you hear from them then plan a day around what they’ve expressed an interest in.
Again as stated before I do hope this first time in Europe happens for the teens! It’s a great city with lots of eye candy and history!