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Would love feedback on London itinerary

Hi again! I'd love any suggestions to this itinerary. I am trying to combine key historical sights with London experiences/markets and neighborhoods. Here goes:

Friday:
3 pm Land at Heathrow
5 pm Arrive at flat in Mayfair
6 pm Reservations at Kings Arm in Shepherd Market or The Iron Duke or Coaches & Horses in Mayfair
7 pm Drink at The French House (since it is on EVERY historical pub list)
8 pm National Gallery (Art History major daughter wants to show us 3-4 pieces)
9:15 pm Cocktail at Bar Termini
10:15 pm Pizza at Cecconi's Pizza Bar
**OR I scrap all this and do London Walk's Knightsbridge or Thames River 7-9pm Pub Walks LOL

Saturday:
10 am Westminster Royal Walking Tour
12:30 pm Tube or walk to Borough Market for lunch
2:30 pm Walk Southbank to see Southwark Cathedral, Shakespeare Globe and Millennium Bridge to St. Paul’s
3:30 pm The Viaduct Tavern for a Gin & Tonic
4:30 pm Tube to Bond Street Station, Walk through Grosvenor Square
7:00 pm Meet London Walks at Hampstead Tube Stop for Pub Walk
9:30 pm Tube to Embankment or Waterloo to see Thames River at night

Sunday:
Train to Oxford
**We were going to do Blenheim Palace in the morning, lunch and walking tour in the afternoon but many on TripAdvisor are saying it's too much. So, the revised day is:
11:00 am Cycle Tour of Oxford
2:30 pm Turf Tavern for lunch, a little shopping
5:00 pm Train back to London
Evening open - would love Sunday night suggestion

Monday:
10 am - 12:30 pm Tower of London
1:00 pm Lunch at The Old Bank of England
2:00 pm Walk to Inns of Court, Temple Church
**OR HAVE WE SEEN THIS PART OF TOWN WITH WALK TO ST. PAUL'S ON SATURDAY AND SHOULD GO ELSEWHERE AFTER TOL? Marylebone? Old Spitalfields? The Mayflower Pub if it's a nice day?
4:00 pm Carnaby Street, shopping
5:00 pm Dinner reservations at Dishoom Carnaby
7:30 pm Hamilton at Victoria Palace Theatre
Would love after theatre suggestion

Tuesday:
9:30-11:30 am Westminster Abbey
Cut through St. James Park
12:30 pm Tea at Ham Yard Hotel
2:00 pm British Museum (1-hour highlights tour)
4:00 pm Kids head to Warner Bros. Studio
Me and Husband head to Princess Louise, Brick Lane OR Gordon’s Wine Bar for dinner
7:00 pm London Walks Hidden Pubs of Old London Town (Meet at Temple Tub Stop)

Wednesday - Friday:
Edinburgh

Saturday:
12 noon Arrive Notting Hill apartment
Stroll Portobello Road Market
Cut through Kensington Gardens
3:30 pm V&A Museum (Last Guided Tour of the day)
6:00 pm Self-guided walking tour of South Kensington, Chelsea, Knightsbridge mews and pubs: The Grenadier, Nags Head, Star Tavern, The Churchill Arms, Portobello Gin Distillery

Sunday:
Gail's for breakfast
Stroll through Kensington Gardens toward Albert Memorial
12:00 noon Depart for Heathrow
3:25 pm Flight to Los Angeles on Virgin Atlantic

I know it is jam-packed! Clearly, I'm not good at making decisions. :/ Thank you in advance!

Posted by
507 posts

It sounds very busy and not allowing much time for just wandering. I like that you have already picked out different pubs and restaurants already.

In London, I usually focus on seeing plays and going to museums. But I have loved Hampstead Heath and cemetary, the Tate Modern. I am not sure you are allocating enough time at British Museum. Hyde Park is delightful.

Posted by
623 posts

Your itinerary is so jam packed I almost got a headache just reading it. But that's just me - and I'm sure my idea of a nice stay in London would give you a headache, lol. People are different and that's a good thing! So here are some practical things that jumped out at me when I read your post. There's "jam packed" and there's the issue of is it physically possible or at all probable that this is a do-able thing.

Friday:

3 pm Land at Heathrow

5 pm Arrive at flat in Mayfair

Two hours between the scheduled time that your plane touches Heathrow's runway and your arrival at your Mayfair flat? Don't count on it. Landings get delayed. Planes can land on time but find that there's not a free gate, so they park out on the tarmac and buses ferry passengers off the plane to the Terminal. It's happened to me at least twice at Heathrow. You're lucky to get to the terminal building in less than 20 minutes after landing in that scenario. Even if you land at the gate it takes awhile for the plane to unload. Then you walk a LONG way to border control and stand in line. The new e-passport system may shorten that line. Unless you are flying carry-on only you will then have to go to baggage claim to get your bag(s). And make your way out to your selected mode of ground transportation to get to London.

But, hey, anything's possible, I suppose.

6 pm Reservations at Kings Arm in Shepherd Market or The Iron Duke or
Coaches & Horses in Mayfair

7 pm Drink at The French House (since it is on EVERY historical pub
list)

8 pm National Gallery (Art History major daughter wants to show us 3-4
pieces)

Have you factored in the time it will take to travel between these places? For instance, it may take nearly 20 minutes to walk from the King's Arms to the French House. Transit may take a few minutes less but probably at least 15 minutes. Do you intend to have a meal in the 40 - 45 minutes you'd have at the King's Arms? It seems like it if you have reservations there.

There are a lot of stops in this first evening in London when you are, I assume, just off a long international flight. Seems like you will be literally flitting and out of restaurants/pubs. The list is confusing so pardon me if I have misunderstood. It looks like you are going to have a meal at 6pm and then pizza at 10:15 . . .? You should probably come up with a Plan B that allows for leaving Heathrow at 5 PM or later, and includes only the absolutely positively necessary places for this evening. Or go with the London Walks idea.

And there's Sunday's plan:

12:00 noon Depart for Heathrow

3:25 pm Flight to Los Angeles on Virgin Atlantic

You should check in at Heathrow three hours before your international flight, so should adjust this bit of your schedule accordingly.

Posted by
561 posts

Thanks Both!

I agree I'm not leaving time to just wander (although hoping my family thinks they are "wandering" along SouthBank, Fleet Street and Hampstead.) That said, what can I remove? I don't think I'll come back to London ever but I know I can't do everything.

Posted by
5635 posts

Wow! Please don’t take offense but you itinerary looks like a military operation.

There’s No leeway.

Things happen so you need some flexibility or you are going to be miserable. It’s a vacation which in my frame of mind means a relaxing time of exploration.

It’s London it’s not going anywhere.

Instead of rushing trying to make reservation times slow down and truly experience what’s around you!!

Posted by
4546 posts

Your first day looks unrealistic to me. Are you arriving from the U.S.? I know that I wouldn’t be able to manage a pub meal, two drink stops, a museum, and pizza in that timeframe while jetlagged and exhausted. At the very least, I’d suggest that you go from your dinner to the museum and do your drink stops after the museum.

Posted by
561 posts

This is all great feedback! Thank you! I really am looking for help. I know it’s too full. Can my days be rearranged? What can I skip?

Posted by
648 posts

HI CaliMom,
I have been to London more than a dozen times (at various times of the year). I know how tough it is try to fit everything into a trip. Here are some potential suggestions to help you make the most of your time.

Friday arrival day: : as others have mentioned, it can take at least an hour to get through immigration and depending upon your transport to your flat, at least an hour. You may be rushing to hit a 6:00 reservation, so I would suggest picking one place for a light meal before you head to the National Gallery, that way if you are tired, you can head back and save drinks/pizza for another night.

Saturday:: Since you have two walking tours scheduled and you are going to be on your feet as you walk from Southwark to St.Paul's, I would recommend take more time on that walk, even consider stopping at Tate Modern (your Art Major daughter will really like this museum) or doing a tour of the Globe and skip the Bond street to Grovesnor square and take some time before you pub to relax.

Sunday: overall your plans look manageable, For Sunday evening, I would suggest a nice dinner. If you don't mind standing in line and like North African food, the Barbary in Covent Gardens is amazing:https://thebarbary.co.uk/. It is all bar seating and while not tapas, it is small bites with great service. All the food is cooked right in front of you, so it is like food theatre. The other favorite of mine (if you can get reservations) is Rovi: https://ottolenghi.co.uk/rovi, an Ottolengi restaurant. We went for our anniversary dinner in December and the food is amazing. My recommendation is to ask to sit at the bar, rather than a table and you can book through OpenTable.

Monday: on your afternoon choices, I would suggest you play it by ear. If you are tired, go to the pub. If you really like shopping, then head to Old Spitalfields and the area around Brick Lane. I like Old Spitalfields market, cool little booths and the surrounding area has really great more hipster-style shopping. I personally love this area. If you decide to go, then I would do a bit a research of the art in the district, some of the best street art, not just murals, but sculptures. This is something your daughter may find cool. Since you are a CaliMom, you may be familiar with the murals in the Mission in San Francisco (kinda has that vibe). I like Dishroom for dinner as well.

Tuesday: you need to allocate time to get into the British Museum, if you have tour tickets in advance, you can go through the express entrance, otherwise, there could be a wait. A hour in the British Museum is really short, so the tour is a good idea, but just check our timetables so that the kids can get to the Studio Tour on time. That tour, you need to book well in advance.

Saturday: the only recommendation is that you take a bit more time at the V&A, especially if they are running any special exhibits. This is one of my favorite places to visit and their rotating exhibits, lectures, etc are amazing. Since your daughter is an art history major, she may also be interested in photography and they have a great exhibit that includes films on the history of photography. If you want to have tea and not add and extra stop in your trip, this is a good place for English tea and a nice break after your walk in the morning.

Sunday: It will take about an hour to get to the airport and check with the airline on the recommended time to arrive. Your time table looks a bit tight.

Hope these ideas help. Enjoy your trip.
Sandy

Posted by
626 posts

A regular visitor to London who makes YouTube vlogs about his and wife's trips videoed a walk from London Bridge to Tower Bridge on the South Bank and back to London Bridge on the North Back, under an hours walk. It took them 5hrs. They they kept finding things to look at, pictures to take, foods to try. One of the many joys of London is wandering about, taking your time and discovering. I’m tired just reading your itinerary... it’s unrealistic imo.

Posted by
4758 posts

As others have already said, you have too much packed into most days and you haven’t factored in anything like enough time to travel between places.

Day 1 - you are hitting London in the middle of rush hour on a Friday night when everyone is dashing to get somewhere or they are going out after work for a drink. If your flight is on time, you maybe at your apartment by 6/6.30pm - 5pm is highly unlikely. You will be jet lagged, so all you maybe fit for is to grab a quick bite to eat then head to bed. Alcohol will make you feel more jet lagged.

Day 2 - it always takes me several days to adjust my body clock when returning to the U.K. from America, so I wouldn’t want to be on a 10 am walk that’s prebooked in case I didn’t feel up to it. Borough Market has become a victim of its own success and is hideously busy on a Saturday. No longer a pleasant experience as I was jostled so much the last time I was there.

Sunday - check that there aren’t any engineering works on the rail line before you travel.

Your final day - you will need to leave for Heathrow about 11/11.30, so your plans are too ambitious.

On Saturday you have allowed an hour to walk along the South Bank to:

see Southwark Cathedral, Shakespeare Globe and Millennium Bridge to
St. Paul’s

Presumably you have no interest in going inside at all? Or looking at Tate Modern, which is right there?

Because after that you set aside a whole hour to drink a gin & tonic, and later what seems like 2.5 hours to walk across Grosvenor Square (which takes five minutes).

For me, the South Bank plus St Paul’s just across the river would repay a whole day, or at least several hours.

I guess I’m puzzled that you’ve drilled down into incredible detail what and where you’re going to drink but allowed zero time to actually see some amazing sights.

Posted by
3533 posts

While respecting your stamina and determination, I have a suggestion: Slow down. And start consulting Google Maps or similar services such as Transit for London for more realistic timing. Your first evening, for instance, proposes an hour at a pub to consume your meal and also move to a second establishment. But the transit will require at least 15 minutes on the Tube plus the walk to and from the stations. At that rate you must be gulping the food and drink. And then racing to a last-minute glance at an art gallery. And likely still jet-lagged.
I can't run marathons, and I can't visit places that are better enjoyed at a stroll. Slow travel is best value for money and energy.

Posted by
561 posts

I really appreciate the feedback! I am trying to put together a mix of sights and pubs/walks. A family of five means five different interests unfortunately. One wants to see art, one wants to sit in a 300-year old pub, etc.

The difficulty for me comes from needing reservations (whether it be a tour or a restaurant or an entry time) because it holds us to that schedule. Will make some of these suggested adjustments. Thank you!

Posted by
1044 posts

A family of five means five different interests unfortunately.

I don't want to sound impertinent, but do you have to stay together every minute of the stay? I have had good results from separating (e.g. my mother and sister going shopping, my father and I visiting the Thames Barrier), then meeting later. If you have mobile phones you can always stay in touch and arrange to meet up.

Posted by
651 posts

Also be aware your dinner reservations are really very, very early, you will probably be the only ones in there, if they are actually taking bookings that early, I would go for reservations about 7.30/8pm for a more atmospheric and enjoyable time.

Posted by
561 posts

Hi lp, Good point.

This is my eldest daughter’s (age 22) third trip to London in the past year. She worked for a summer in Geneva, spent a semester in Paris, is in currently Nice for six weeks (after college graduation from Vanderbilt) and meeting us in London. She has seen a lot already on her own... My second daughter (currently at UCLA) is spending 2020 studying in Europe so she too will have the opportunity to see London again and again. It’s me never getting back to London that I’m concerned about, or at least never getting back with my kids.

Posted by
623 posts

Okay, sorry if this is impertinent, but what does your family think of this itinerary? Will the art lovers really enjoy sitting in a pub and will the ones who'd rather sit in a pub soaking up some atmosphere, readily hop up after 20 minutes and rush over to the next museum? The more I look at this itinerary, the more "forced march" it seems.

What can I skip?

I don't know you or your family, of course, but I wonder if you'll end up skipping things when enough of them rebel at the relentless pace and insist on spending time on things they enjoy vs. rushing off to the next scheduled drink.

I encourage you to prioritize. What things would YOU regret not seeing/doing on this trip because YOU want to see/do them? Same for your husband: what will he really regret if he doesn't see/do? Take those lists as the basis for a reasonable, humanly possible plan. Then factor in what your kids - at least two of whom are certainly not in the "last chance to see London" category for this trip - want to see/do. Figure out when to move around as a five person unit and when to split up.

The only priorities I can glean from your list are grabbing drinks and food at very specific venues. I don't discourage visits to the British Museum and the V&A, but those places are huge and you could literally spend days exploring. What specific exhibits are you and your family interested in at each place? (In my case the new-ish photography area of the V&A was nirvana, just as an example). It seems that your daughter has focused on some paintings at the National Gallery which is a great foundation for that visit.

And I am not the greatest at planning OR setting priorities. I sort of feel your pain, but I encourage you to take several deep breaths and dump some of those pub visits and fly-by "walks" and be sure you build in time to get from one place to another.

One rule of thumb is to plan on two, or three, major sites to visit in a day, arranged geographically if possible, then build in other things to visit in those areas with the understanding that those are contingent and you may not make them all.

EDITED later to add: If there's nothing in particular that you want to see in the British Museum and/or the V&A, IMO you should skip them. Same for the other big name venues. I've been to London at least nine times and haven't seen everything. I didn't visit the British Museum until maybe my 5th visit because it wasn't a priority and TBH I wouldn't have huge regrets if I'd never visited it. OTOH I kicked myself for not visiting the Treasures Room at the British Library earlier, or more often. I'm glad I've been to the Tower, and absolutely must visit St. Martin in the Fields church and its crypt on every London visit because it's my sanctuary from the madding crowds. Just examples from my own visits, but food for thought for you, I hope, as you rank your priorities.

Posted by
5635 posts

So am I reading this correctly now?

Even though daughters have European travel experience you are still trying to create an itinerary that covers their interests.

I get you are with family and trying to please everyone BUT it's you that seems to be fretting you'll not be back.

If that's true then be a little selfish.

WHAT do you want to see???

Not enough hours in the day for your schedule. Remember some places don't open till 10am.

Step back, and as advised schedule only or two "iconic" sites for a day. Leave hours open to discovery or meandering. Longest I've ever spent at an "iconic" site was in a December visit to Hampton Palace where besides one group of 15 children and a few others I had the Palace and grounds to myself. I have a photo of the gardens in back with nary a soul in the image.

That said you aren't traveling off season so you will have to deal with the masses. So yes best to book such popular sites as Westminster Abbey, Tower of London in advance.

As Emma has rightfully pointed out travel time to and from places will take longer than you've allotted time for. Simple reality. There will be queues. Those take time.

Again I ask what is it that you want to see in London? Might not be of interest to the rest of the family but that shouldn't mean you need to sacrifice seeing it. Make a list. Email the your daughters. Find a happy medium.

Posted by
11263 posts

I agree with all the advice above. But one thing I want to emphasize:

If you are indeed flying in from LAX to Heathrow, don't even THINK of having anything reserved for that first day, or you will be sorry!! And the fantasy that you will have the awake-ness, not to mention the alertness and stamina, to have dinner, have drinks, see the National Gallery, have more drinks, and have more food, on your first jet lagged day with an 8 hour time difference, is just that - a fantasy.

Accept that the day of arrival is likely to be a jet lagged haze, for at least some of your group. Furthermore, time indoors (like at pubs, bars, restaurants, and museums) will only make it worse. So, while it's fine to have picked out a place near your hotel for your first meal, that's all the "planning" I would do for that day. I definitely would avoid anything that would be hard to change on the fly, such as a dinner reservation. And don't think everyone will be able to stay awake for your proposed pizza time.

Sorry to be negative - but forewarned is forearmed.

Posted by
561 posts

Thanks Suz, Yes I definitely thought skipping the British Museum but thought those in this Board would kill me LOL. I kind of think the Rosetta Stone is a must see in my lifetime but maybe not. The Getty Center and Getty Villa (both in my backyard) have wonderful ancient and medieval art collections.

Rearranging a bit:
*Friday could be straight to National Gallery followed by a cocktail at Bar Termini and dinner at Cecconi’s.
*Saturday could be Westminster Walking Tour in the morning followed by Westminster Abbey; skip Borough Market in a Saturday.
*Monday could be TOL, Borough Market, Southbank Walk; Hamilton at night.
*Tuesday could be Marylebone shopping followed by Tea at Charlotte Hotel / British Museum; then kids off to Warner Bros.

This way activities are booked better geographically. 2 Questions: Is the queue to get through security at Westminster Abbey after lunch going to ruin the experience? (So many on TripAdvisor say you MUST get to TOL and Westminster Abbey 30 minutes before they open in the morning). Other issue is food markets are high on our list, particularly Borough Market. Am I missing it if we go on a “limited market” day?

Posted by
4528 posts

Sunday: Train to Oxford … 5:00 pm Train back to London

Why head back so early when the journey is only an hour or so long? This day actually looks amongst the most sparse you have outlined with just a bike tour and shopping. I think you possibly over-reacted to the TripAdvisor lot here. Personally I would junk the tour and let people indulge their own interests whether it be the art and other culture in the museums, the rather silly tour of Oxford Castle / Prison, shopping, or crawling round the many pubs (or visiting the gin distillery). Meet up in the evening.

Posted by
194 posts

My mother-in-law can produce similar travel schedules. Busy schedules can be great, as long as you realize that there will be times that you will have to be flexible and accept that there will be changes in the plans.

My suggestion is that you plan your days with AM, PM, and EVE activities and prioritize, rather than include specific time slots for each activity. And, specifically schedule some open times and more flexibility. Those open times can have suggested activities, including activities from previous days that you just couldn't fit.

For instance, your Friday, Day 1 plan could look like this:

FRIDAY
PM - Arrive Heathrow, pass through immigration and travel to flat in Mayfair.
EVE
- Dinner at Kings Arm/The Iron Duke/Coaches & Horses
- National Gallery
- Drinks at French House and/or Bar Termini
- Cecconi's Pizza Bar

You ensure that you have a nice Pub dinner in a great atmosphere. After dinner, you see what time it is and how everyone is feeling. Remember jetlag. You can recalibrate as needed. You might decide to then head straight to the National Gallery. At that point, you might find that no one is really hungry for a pizza bar and instead decide to grab a drink and then meander through the London streets back to your flat. You will likely find additional and unexpected opportunities just simply wandering around.

Also, your Saturday schedule has a ton of walking. Will you even want to do the 7pm Pub Walk after a day already full of walking? Remember that you will be adjusting to jetlag; and I don't think anyone can count on how well they will adjust.

Posted by
561 posts

Hi Claudia, HAHA yes, we've all been to Europe several times. Everyone was in Paris last year, Barcelona the year before. This is just our first trip to London as a family.

We can and do go hard. Kids were all raised as straight A students, after-school sports, music lessons, weekly volunteer work, church, and more -- it's the only way they get into schools like Vanderbilt and UCLA nowadays but that's a frustrating discussion for a different board ;)

Anyway, yes, I will take another look at what my husband and I want to do versus what the kids want to do. We're not ones to wander aimlessly but we all love guided walking tours. Maybe we skip the British Museum (I want to see Queen Victoria's coronet and the Rotunda Chandelier at the V&A). TOL, Westminster Abbey and Borough Market remain as my "big" sights.

Posted by
441 posts

Hi CaliMom-I just want to offer my own experience in the hopes it may help.
I also had a very ambitious itinerary for our Oxford/London trip last week and soon realized I would need to reassess our(my) priorities. My kids are younger than yours (teens) but they did not want to do all the walking I had imagined we would do, though they were troopers for sure. And they wanted to linger in the museums longer than I had planned (totally fine). And meals took longer. And the tube/bus travel took longer. Basically, I had to cut about one thing per day, so we did not make it: 1) into St. Pauls (but saw it from outside) 2) to Notting Hill/Portobello Rd market, 3) Spitalfields market, 4) Kensington Gardens/Palace, and 5) London Eye. The only things I was sad about missing were St. Pauls and the markets, as we did not really make it to any. But what we did get to do was a leisurely South Bank walk, stopping to watch street performers, with an unplanned stop in Tate Modern, which has a balcony for amazing views. Also, picnics in St James Park. And a trip for my son to the Imperial War Museum, which he researched on his own and decided he wanted to see, but I had not planned on. And a full, more relaxing day in Greenwich starting with a river cruise (rather than the half day I originally alotted). Basically, I allowed us all to slow down and I think we all enjoyed ourselves more. I am working on my trip report but I am slow lol. I think its good to prioritize the some must-sees/dos, build in more free time (sounds weird but it is necessary on a long trip to have downtime) and let the rest happen as it may. Have fun!! London is great, we really enjoyed it!!

Posted by
1867 posts

If it was me, I'd regret it if I only had 2.5 hours at Tower of London. We were there from 9 till 3 last Fall.
Westminster Abbey, 2 hours might be tight again. Do you know what you want to see while in there? I'd suggest a tour with London Walks.

Posted by
623 posts

I second the recommendation for London Walks. They offer quite a variety of walks. I have never been disappointed and I have taken many of their walks over the years.

Posted by
18911 posts

I have read several times on this forum that Borough Market early in the week is no big deal. I've only been there toward the end of tne week, so I have no personal experience to share. You have a lot on your plate, more than you'll be able to accomplish. I'd suggest tentatively planning to stop by the market on Monday if you're going to be in the area anyway, but recognizing it isn't going to be all that you're hoping for. Unfortunately, travel schedules are like that, with too many things sometimes lining up on one day so we have to make unpleasant choices.

I am interested in food, too. I try to have one real meal in an interesting restaurant each day. I succeed in doing that no more than half the time, because when push comes to shove I prioritize sightseeing and getting enough sleep to enjoy the trip. My hit rate in London is amazingly bad because of there are tons of interesting things to do that align with my personal interests. I would never attempt to have more than one specific, sit-down, food experience per day, because I know I couldn't make it happen. If the food and pub experiences are your priority, I think you'll need to accept that a good number of the traditional sightseeing stops won't happen. And there's nothing wrong with that if they are not your top priority.

The Rosetta Stone: As of last September there was a replica of the Rosetta Stone in the ground floor of the British Museum. I could walk right up to it. My guess is that the real one is in a harder-to-reach part of the museum and probably surrounded by members of tour groups most of the time.

Posted by
561 posts

Thank you Ferrin. Yes I assume some of this will fall of the schedule. Good idea about marking my must-sees. Will look for your trip report. :)

Allan and Suz, for Westminster Abbey, I was planning on getting the Verger Tour. I see London Walks has a tour but it's at 10:45am which feels a bit late in the day to me since the Abbey opens at 9:30am. If we need to sleep in this day for some reason, I will keep it mind.

The only London Walks I have planned is Saturday night at Hampstead Heath. We thought it a way to see a "village" and a couple of historic pubs. And my husband and I have the Old London Town pub walk planned for Tuesday night when the kids are at Warner Bros.

We could go to Oxford on Monday instead of Sunday and be back in time for Hamilton at 7:30pm. I was thinking that London and the tourist destinations are crowded on Sundays that it would be a good day to get out of town. But if we switched plans, that would leave us Sunday for TOL and another London Walk in the afternoon (there are several interesting walks on Sundays) and dinner in the evening.

Posted by
1128 posts

I agree with what has been mentioned earlier, this itinerary is far too ambitious. I respect that you’re a driven ambitious family, but wouldn’t you all want some to relax on a vacation?

I also suggest some splitting up so various people can peruse their own interests and have more time to do so rather than trying to shoehorn everyone’s interests into one massive itinerary.

I love the National Gallery and I think it is worth far more time than 3-4 pieces. There are other pubs nearby, might be an option for a split up. I personally have no problem with jet lag + alcohol, but I understand that we’re all different.

London Walks are just wonderful, I’d take any single one of them and I’m sure I’d enjoy it. Since I’ve been to London 6 times, I’ve been doing more of them each trip as I just can’t handle the crowds at the big sights most days.

Unless a pub/restaurant is an absolute must, I’d hold off on advance reservations, I’d think that same day would usually be good enough and if not, well there’s 1000s of other choices.

Posted by
561 posts

Thanks Dale. I was thinking a family of 5 might have a difficult time getting a table. But it sounds like we won't make our 6 pm reservation on our first night; and who knows if anyone will be hungry. I like your strategy of London Walks to avoid crowds. That said, they offer a guided tour of TOL on Sunday at 11 am and Westminster Abbey on Monday at 10:45 am. But so much for getting started early....

Posted by
5635 posts

There is a reason for London Walks schedules the Tower of London walk at 11am. Tower hours are from 10am to 5pm.

Uncertain why they can't start at 10am but its still a stellar way to visit the Tower.

Westminster Abbey is a functioning cathedral not merely a tourist attraction. On Sundays its all about church worship services, not tourism.

Posted by
561 posts

True... I should've hired a travel agent! Joking not joking!

Posted by
5635 posts

A travel agent wouldn't have helped.

Forum posters have tried.

Still too much on each day but you've explained that's how your family travels. So be it.

and BTW you will pass the Albert Memorial on Saturday when you walk from Portobello Road Market to the V & A. Not certain why you need to see it again on Sunday. Lastly on Saturday at 1pm at Portobello Road Market term stroll isn't correct. By then it will be jam packed like your itinerary. Pinball wizard comes to mind.

Posted by
561 posts

Thanks everyone, so much! I love the help from experienced travelers. :)

So, we've made some progress and removed a few things:

  1. National Gallery (Art history daughter says given what we've seen in NYC, LA and Paris over the past year, AND that we have to remove some activities, this one can go. Instead we'll go the British Museum Friday Late OR The Thames 7pm Pub Walk and see Southbank.

  2. Dishoom on Monday - we're going to go in Edinburgh instead which frees up an early 5:00 pm dinner reservation before 7:30 pm Hamilton. Maybe find a cool place closer to Victoria Palace Theatre so the reservation can be a touch later. Not sure removing Dishoom really helps. Hmmm.....

  3. Tuesday's Afternoon Tea at the Ham Yard Hotel could become Monday's early dinner before Hamilton with a 5:15 pm reservation at The Wolseley. Yes, here I go again with a reservation but I'm killing two birds with one stone. AND it frees up a couple of hours on Tuesday after Westminster Abbey.

I'll keep at it! :)

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I will add that I’ve done the London Walks tours of the the Tower of London and Westminster Abbey and they’re excellent! I can’t recommend them enough. The guide will ask about interests and will make sure they add something unique to the tour. Well worth the money even if you also do the Beefeater tour at TOL and the verger tour at Westminster Abbey.

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561 posts

Dale, do you see the Crown Jewels on the London Walks tour of the Tower of London?

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3173 posts

3 pm Land at Heathrow

5 pm Arrive at flat in Mayfair

6 pm Reservations at Kings Arm in Shepherd Market or The Iron Duke or
Coaches & Horses in Mayfair

7 pm Drink at The French House (since it is on EVERY historical pub
list)

8 pm National Gallery (Art History major daughter wants to show us 3-4
pieces)

9:15 pm Cocktail at Bar Termini

10:15 pm Pizza at Cecconi's Pizza Bar

**OR I scrap all this and do London Walk's Knightsbridge or Thames River 7-9pm Pub Walks LOL

I'm just focusing on this. You have not allowed for jet lag and travel exhaustion. I would only do the London Walks plan as it will keep you outside. Scrap the rest of this. Have dinner earlier than 10pm too on your 1st night.

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561 posts

Thanks Emma! Yes, I have reservations at The Wolseley at 5:15pm. Tea is from 3-6pm there. (I just need to let go of my reservation at Dishoom in Carnaby as soon as I confirm this itinerary.)

Continential, this first day is now scrapped. :) I'm removing a few destinations from our itinerary making it more realistic.

I like the idea of doing a London Walks walking tour on our first night. We typically don't suffer much from jetlag as we can all sleep on planes (thank goodness!). That said, a second London Walk pub walk the next night might be too much (family is split when I ask them.)

For Saturday evening, do we could go up to Hampstead on our own or maybe out to The Dove for dinner and walk along the Thames in Hammersmith/Chiswick Mall?

Milling around Covent Garden seems super crowded and touristy with the street performers, etc. The grunge of Camden and Shoreditch isn't appealing -- we have plenty of that in Los Angeles. And we're not shoppers.

Suz, I think you mentioned somewhere having a difficult time leaving Chelsea because it's so pretty? Is there "an evening" there we could spend? Dinner and a walk?