I will be traveling to London in August (6 nights), with my husband and 13 year old daughter. We each have lists of places we want to go and things to see, but I don't want to spend all of our time traveling. Husband wants to see a soccer game, daughter wants to spend the night in a castle. I'm very interested in going to the Cotswolds area. Any suggestions on how to fit these activities into a week would be helpful. We're starting out in a London hotel near Hyde Park. And we'll also want to spend a good amount of time sightseeing in London.
A visit to a football game is an essential part of English culture. The Premier League season starts on 17th August although there will be friendly matches before the competitive season starts. The fixtures are announced on 19th June. If you are spending several days in London it would be best to try for tickets for one of the London teams. Tickets are not cheap and not particularly easy to obtain but there always seem to be lots of overseas visitors at the biggest London teams' grounds so there are ways of getting hold of them
I would head west towards Bath and the nearby countryside rather than the Cotswolds but that is only my preference.
Send him to the football and go with her to Windsor Castle for the day, including the Doll House. I also think the Cotswold are too far, and with only 6 nights, I'd stay put in London. There is so much to see and do there, and you'll lose too much time if you try to change hotels. I did a quick internet search for castle stays. The only one close to London (about 100 miles) is in Coventry. From the website, it looks like lots of fun. You can leave all your things in storage at your London hotel for one night, just take an overnight bag. http://www.celticcastles.com/castles/coombe-abbey/
While Coombe Abbey is an evocative place almost exactly 100 miles from London and might meet the needs, it is not, and has never been (note the name) a castle. Maybe others will chime in but I'm not aware of any genuine castles within a reasonable distance that can be slept in by tourists. Many are open to the public by National Trust and English Heritage, and some National Trust properties do hire out holiday lets or have private holiday lets in the grounds but not usually for one night. Most of the rest are in private hands as private residences or attractions. Wales has a lot more castles than southern England but is quite far. I'd have thought for a future trip to Germany, particularly the Rhine area that castles with overnight guests would be easier to arrange.
Even in Wales, all I can picture of things that call themselves 'castle hotels' are newer hotels built up against the wall of a ruin. One thing you have to watch out for (look at a picture) is that the place is really a castle and not more of a palace/stately home. There's some in Scotland. Spain and Portugal have some paradores that would fit the bill, but ...
Depending on the dates of your trip, you may be interested in the London Walks daytrip to the Cotswolds. http://www.walks.com/Standalone/The_Cotswolds_–_Sightseeing_Tour_–_Guided_Walking_Tour/default.aspx
The B&B in the Astor Wing at Hever Castle in Kent is a splurge place to stay for a special treat. Canopied 4-poster beds, breakfast in the castle's Great Hall, access to the castle's park-like grounds after the day visitors have gone - it's a time machine back to a past era - right up there in the same 'treat' category as a night spent on Mont-St-Michel, only far-nicer luxury accommodation and food.
Thank you everyone for your feedback! This is helping me tremendously in planning for our trip.
Anne, your daughter might enjoy the V&A Museum of Childhood (FREE admission). There's an astonishing amount of variety in the Collections, but she might especially like the Dolls Houses and Miniatures. I know that 13-yr. old American girls are already into make-up and boys, but looking at the museum's website makes me think 'how could anybody not find this totally enchanting?'. It's on my list for my visit to London in September. http://www.museumofchildhood.org.uk/collections/ http://www.museumofchildhood.org.uk/collections/dolls-houses-and-miniatures Note that it's NOT at the location of the regular Victoria & Albert Museum in the Cromwell Road. The V&A Museum of Childhood is in East London, a short walk north of the Bethnal Green Tube station. It would take about 30-40 minutes to get there from central London.
I loved Hever Castle. It was the family home of Anne Boleyn and some millionaire bought it as a ruin and restored it. What a great idea to sleep there. I visited the Museum of Childhood. It's a wonderful collection of old toys - if you think your daughter would be interested and not too far out, on the Central Line (underground - the red line). But at the V&A itself, if you are there on a Friday at 2 p.m., there's a Theatre & Performance Galleries Tour (1 hour), described thus: Take a guided tour of the V&A's exciting theatre and performance collections, including rock & pop posters, theatre and ballet costumes, puppets, stage sets and more! See new costumes from the Lion King now on display.
Hello Anne. Six nights is a short time. I recommend : stay in London the six nights. Go on two day trips from London. One of the day trips should be to Windsor castle (a palace of the royal family). I think the public can not go in Windsor castle when the Queen is there.
We were able to make reservations at the Hever Castle on our first night. They typically take reservations only 8 weeks prior, however, they had some dates open in August and we were able to accommodate us. I'm very excited!
Anne, If its me and I only had 6 nights, I'd use London as a base. As others have mentioned, you might have an easier time getting football tickets to one of the London clubs - just be prepared to pay a few pounds. The Cotswolds seems a little far for 6 nights if you are starting in London. Me, I'd rather head to Bath, as I could get there and back easily by train in a day (besides which, Bath is wonderful). You can even make a long day trip of York if you wanted to go a little further afield. There are several castles you can visit (but not sleep in) easily from London. Warwick, Dover, and Windsor come to mind immediately.