Hampton Court Palace vs. British Museum

Hi: I'm afraid that I haven't allowed enough time for the British Museum on an upcoming family trip (2 kids, 8 and 13) My daughter was interested in visiting Hampton Court, particularly the kitchens, but now I'm a little concerned that with travel time to Hampton Court, we'll use up most of one of our very limited days sightseeing. Is it worth the time away from the heart of London on a short trip? Thanks so much for your feedback!

Posted by Karen
Fort Wayne, IN, USA
1730 posts

The closest I got to the British Museum was meeting up with friends on the steps and deciding to go for a drink first. Never made it back...I hear it's fantastic, but, your daughter has expressed interest in Hampton Court. That should sway you quite a bit. My daughters and I loved the palace, especially the kitchens. It's also more "active" with gardens and a maze. There's quite a bit of historical fiction featuring the Tudors. Some of it you may not want your 13 yr old to read, but in years to come, having been to Henry VIII's palace will make reading about him more real. "We went to another museum." "We went to a palace!" What do you think they'll brag about to their friends?

Posted by Laura
Virginia, USA
3249 posts

If the weather is nice, go to Hampton Court. I loved seeing the kitchens there, but I think the grounds with gardens and maze are wonderful. On the other hand, if it is raining, go to the British Museum.

Posted by Dick
Olympia, WA, USA
1183 posts

Good advice above. I'd rather have seen the palace than (another) museum when I was 8 or 13. Hampton Court is maybe half an hour by train from Waterloo, half a day for a thorough look at everything inside and out plus travel. The kitchens are especially interesting. Also the contrast between the Tudor and late Stuart sections, a couple of hundred years apart, nice learning opportunity for the kids about history and architecture. British Museum is great and it will still be there when the kids are older. Might be a better choice if it's raining hard or if they're especially into particular exhibits (mummies?).

Posted by Susan
Marin County/San Francisco
3691 posts

I would pay and fly to London just to visit Hampton Court Palace again.. even if I only had that one day. It's very worth it imo. The lasting impression will last a lifetime for your daughter. Every time she hears anything about British history, Henry VIII or Elizabeth I, she'll be more interested and remember it for having been there.

Posted by Lesley
Sidney, BC, Canada
435 posts

The British Museum is an amazing plan e but for kids a couple of hours is probably more than enough. Hampton Court is an easy train trip from London and the palace is a short walk from the station. As others have said the grounds etc. are lovely and it's right on the river. Make sure you see the"real" tennis courts where the original version of tennis, as played by Henry VIII, is still played. You might get lucky and see some players in action. And yes the kitchens are worth the visit!

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
11635 posts

and on the other side, the British Museum is hardly another museum. It has some seriously super cool stuff. The entire collection is on their website so you can see which things interest, there are always several very kid friendly interactive activities, including hands on touching some of the seriously cool stuff, - and it is free. Also open at least one evening a week. Hampton Court Palace also cool. Huge, but cool. Not completely free though. The gardens will be best June through August.

Posted by Carolyn
La Crescenta, CA
16 posts

We took our daughter to both the BM & Hampton Court when she was 7, and she still has fond memories of HC, but probably does not remember the BM at all. HC is much more interactive for children, in addition to the features other members have listed, kids get to put on velvet court robes, sit at the dining table, etc., and when we were there, there were actors playing Henry, Anne & others dramatizing a typical day in the castle as they moved through various rooms, etc. It did in fact rain the day we were there, but we just put up our umbrellas and walked the grounds & did the maze anyway. It's also great that the train ride gives everyone a chance to rest both on the way out & back; it's not just another relentless day of the London rush.

Posted by Stacey
Kansas City
123 posts

We went to both, and I preferred Hampton Court Palace. The British Museum is huge and you will easily spend more time their than traveling to HCP and seeing everything there. The British Museum was fantastic, but I felt overwhelmed after a while, and it is definitely set up as a museum with items to look at. Hampton Court Palace, on the other hand, is more of an experience. It is set up the way it was when it was lived in, and the kitchen are great. Only you can really decide what your sightseeing priorities are, but I think it is very worth it to take the train out there. The trip did seem shorter than I thought it would be.

Posted by Heather
10 posts

I must say that the responses to this question fascinate me (and confuse me a bit). We have traveled extensively with our two boys and from a young age they have enjoyed the museums we visitfrom art museums (they spend hours in these and seek them out themselves on the map) to history museums to science museums. And I agree with Nigel: the British Museum is hardly another museum! My boys (now 14 and 17) have a list of six or seven museums that they are looking forward to visiting in the UK next year...and believe me, the British Museum is at the top of that list! I wonder what it is that causes some kids to love museums and others to chafe at the idea... (I noticed, Gretchen, that you did not suggest your children get bored with museums. I am reacting with curiosity because of the responses you received.) That said, I must agree that if your daughter has expressed a keen interest in Hampton Court, then you should make that a priority...it will be a valuable and memorable experience in its own right and fostering a child's interest is an important way to develop a love for travel. I had not heard about Hampton Court's kitchensI'll have to do a little reading on the palace!

Posted by Susan
Marin County/San Francisco
3691 posts

Many kids don't like museums. There are, of course, exceptions. My son's been traveling in Europe since he was young and he does like museums.. to a point. Two hours is both his and my limit. He (and I) would much rather be outside experiencing the place and the culture we traveled so far to visit.. not being inside a museum no matter how good it is. If you had time for both, I'd highly recommend both.. but since you said you only have time for one or the other, Hampton Court Palace would be my choice by far.

Posted by Gretchen
13 posts

Thanks so much for all the great feedback! We're definitely going to make time for Hampton Court. A focused on the highlights couple of hours at the British Museum should be enough for this trip. Thanks again for all the help - we're super excited to see the Palace!

Posted by Pam
Troy, Idaho, USA
1740 posts

Gretchen, as you enter the British Museum be sure to pick up one of the site maps. They have the highlights marked on there (Rosetta Stone, Elgin Marbles, Lewis Chessmen, mummies) so it is pretty easy to target them. It is much harder to not get diverted as you go thru the rooms though!

Posted by gone
2081 posts

Gretchen, If you want to please your daughter, then go to Hampton Court. i just loved the British Museum and wouldnt hesitate to go back again. i know i missed some stuff, but i should go back tomorrow since i have a little time, but im raiding Thorntons chocolate and Hard Rock Cafe again and then maybe the British Musuem. happy trails and have fun in whatever you choose.

Posted by Brian
Los Angeles, California
1986 posts

Hampton Court is one of my favorite places in/near london. So many different things to see and experience. For kids from 1-99, Hampton Court hands down Am just back from London, visited the British Museum also this time- it is huge and very tiring. Even i could only handle a few hours and a few selected rooms (my particular interests). Unless your kids have a particular interest in one of the subjects, you can definitely skip the BM. For specific subjects it is interesting but extremely tiring.

Posted by Thomas
Snyder, Texas
504 posts

I think a trip to Hampton Court is a great way to spend part of a day. The train leaves from Waterloo station and takes about 30 minutes, maybe a bit more. Just buy your tickets at the station. The way out to Hampton Court is marked as you leave the train. It is a short walk to HC of about 10 minutes. It is a most enjoyable place to visit. If you get an early start, you will finish around lunch with time left over for another adventure once back in London.

Posted by LA
55 posts

Reading your posts makes me wonder if we should try to fit in a trip to Hampton Court. My kids are older 12 and 16. We are going in Nov. would it still be a good idea to go then or would the weather spoil it? Hope you do not mind me asking on your post. By the way my kids love museums. We went to 15 when we were in Paris two years ago. Enjoy your trip.

Posted by Brian
Los Angeles, California
1986 posts

If your teens have any interest in English history- or even how the rich lived in those times- they would enjoy a visit to Hampton Court. Or a visit to their gardens or the maze