Traveling to London

My family and I, 5 adults, 1 teenager, and 2 children will be traveling to London in August for a few days. I'm having a hard time trying to find what district or area for a hotel where most things are in walking distance. We would love to have some shopping, cafes, and entertainment but not to crazy as we have small children, but yet entertaining without the hotels being ridiculous in prices. Is there an area that has some of these exceptions but included in that a decent priced hotel? I'm not looking for budget nor am I looking for ritzy. I think West End/Covent Garden is top dollar. I'm just afraid of having a hotel in a residential quiet neighborhood or drunken crazy neighborhood. We have our fair share of both here and don't want to wind up in those type of areas, We've never been there and heard it's amazing, so we decided to make that our first stop. Is it true that the tube and trains only run in certain areas? We plan on taking a train to Luxembourg and from there renting something to travel a bit of Germany on our own doing a bit of genealogy work. Kinda nervous as the family has left me in charge of all this planning. eeekk!! :) Any thoughts or help would be greatly appreciated. Kind Regards,
TIffany

Posted by BG
Albany, CA, USA
1410 posts

You really should purchase Rick Steves' London Guidebook, it will be of great help to you and answer all of your questions. I recommend the Premier Inn at County Hall. It is reasonable, and in a fantastic location that I am sure you and your family will enjoy (it is recommended by RS as well). the Premier Inn chain of hotels is good - I have stayed at several of them in London. If you chose the County Hall one, try to book a room on the outside, rather than one facing an inner courtyard.
Good luck, and I know you and your family will really enjoy London!

Posted by Tim
Minneapolis, MN, USA
8646 posts

In addition to the Rick Steves London guidebook, buy the Lonely Planet London guidebook. Between the two of them you'll find lots of suggestions on where to stay and what kinds of hotels and B&Bs are in each area. If you stay anywhere in central London, you'll never be more than a short walk from a Tube station. If you pick up a car in Luxembourg and drop it off in Germany, you'll pay a stiff international drop off fee. It will be cheaper to take a train into Germany and pick up a car there.

Posted by Elaine
Mission Viejo, Calif., USA
783 posts

My husband and I stayed at the Crowne Plaza, South Kensington area, three years in a row. It is directly across the street form the Gloucester tube station. The hotel and the area are top notch. We were right down the street from the Kensington Gardens. There weren't any rooms available this past June, do the the Olympics preparation. This past June we stayed at the Doubletree, Westminister area. We were right on the Thames. We were high up and could see the Thames, to the left, right outside of our window. We could walk a very short distance, along the Thames, to the Parliament, Big Ben, The Tower Bridge, Horseguards Parade, etc., etc. There was a tube station, but the bus were closer by the hotel. We took buses more this time than the tube. We have stayed in London for a total of two months during these past four trips and enjoyed London to the fullest. We loved both hotels. London, Bath, York, Cambridge, Oxford, Cotswolds, etc. are beyond fantastic. We enjoy just walking down the streets near the Crowne Plaza hotel, or by the garden adjacent to the Parliament bldg. It is called the "Dean's Courtyard". We even got to watch two Houses of Parliament in action.

Posted by David
Florence, AL, USA
1972 posts

My preferred location in London is the Kensington-Craven Hill area. This is just north of Kensington Palace/Park and due west of downtown London 3 miles. This is THE PLACE to be. And they have accommodations in every price range in this area. The Tube runs through both neighborhoods an exit apart, and connections are easy to everywhere. Train to Luxembourg? How about taking the train to the more interesting Amsterdam for the same time/price? The autobahn will take you due south down the Rhine River Valley to Cologne and points south. It's very easy drive from The Netherlands.

Posted by Emily
Chicago
256 posts

I like the Bloomsbury area, near the British Museum. It's close to Tottenham Court and Oxford Street, but there's also charming rowhouses and quiet pubs frequented by the academia type (a university is not far from there). Lots and lots of B & Bs and some boutique hotels are the norm there.
As far as crazy drunks go, it's London. The British drink. And drink a lot. You will probably see plenty of drunken fools in every neighborhood. However, partying seems to be more concentrated in some, like Soho or Brixton. Usually, the drunks are out after the tourists go to bed, so unless you are hanging out past pub closing time, you're not going to mingle with them too much.

Posted by Keith
United Kingdom
683 posts

You are right that the tube does not go everywhere but it will mostly go to the places you want to go, and if it doesn't the buses and other transport will. To narrow down your locations, look at the tube map and find the circle line (yellow), and stay within that, if possible close to a tube station. And yes, one of the many attractive features about us is that we drink a lot and don't care what foreigners think about it - but generally we try not to disturb others when we are drunk, so I wouldn't worry about it, just avoid staying next to a student pub or in Cardiff.

Posted by Rebecca
Nashville, TN, USA
645 posts

I agree with BG; Premier Inn at County Hall. Great location. You are walking distance to the London Eye, all the South Bank attractions, walking distance (west) across the bridge to Westminster, and beyond that (if you keep on walking) Buckingham Palace. If you walk east from your hotel along the south bank of the Thames River, you can walk (across a bridge) to St. Paul's or walk farther to Tower Bridge and Tower of London. Quiet area at night, yet lots of pubs and restaurants nearby. Unlike the U.S., a pub is not a place for drunken brawls all night long. In London a pub is more family oriented, serving good meals like a plate of fish and chips, or sandwiches, and even small children are taken there to eat with their families. I agree once again with BG; you really should purchase Rick Steves' London Guidebook.

Posted by steven
white plains, ny, usa
649 posts

Just another thumbs up for BG's comments about the Premier Inn chain . Having followed Rick since the early 80's and learned a great deal from him , one point on which I am of a different opinion is chain hotels . On our first trip to Europe in 2010, we spent five weeks in England and Scotland and in London and throughout the country used the Premier chain to a great degree . Always found a clean , well maintained room at a reasonable price . We also make good use of Accor properties on the continent and I have really never been disappointed with quality and service there as well . We do use independent hotels and small family run places as well , but see nothing wrong with using chains . Having said this , when in London we stayed at the Premier Inn in Earl's Court . Ten to fifteen minutes on the tube to Trafalgar square and a quiet , convenient location

Posted by Terry kathryn
Ann Arbor, Mi
2608 posts

My main question is what kind of vehicle are you planning on renting that will accomodate all those people and luggage? You will defntely need a van and should start looking for that asap. Since the family has left all the planning to you, hopefully they will all be okay with what you choose and just go with it. If they are like some families or friends they will let you do a ton of work and then want to add their two cents to the mix, once they see what you have come up with:) Also, be aware of the car seat laws in Germany. Hopefully Jo will post as I think I have seen something from her about the laws...or you can do a search. Good luck! I just did the drive from Luxeombourg to Germany about a month ago...and while there were good roads I can't say it was a particularly scenic drive. Also, definitely be aware of the drop charges for your vehicle. You might be better off just taking the train directly to Germany, then rent there.