I tagged along to London with my sister and her family and our parents for a spring break trip (April 2018) from upstate NY to London. I got a lot of information from this site and thought I’d write a trip report to share what worked for us and what didn't. This was a 6-night stay to fit into the spring break time frame. I went into this trip with the expectation that I would be back someday with my husband so wasn’t trying to cram in everything. Also, as a tag-along, this was not my trip so I did not do quite as much research as I otherwise would have.
Background: We are a family of 7 - My sister, her husband, and me (all mid-40s), two kids (12 and 14), and our somewhat mobility impaired parents (early 70s). I have traveled quite a bit including to Europe and Asia, but never to England. My sister’s family has traveled quite a bit domestically but this was the kids’ first trip to Europe. This was my parents’ first trip to Europe as well.
Day 1: I flew over solo on United out of our small regional airport. The rest drove to NYC and flew British Airways. We met up on the Heathrow Express platform. I know people say it is expensive, but with tickets purchased ahead of time and it being a weekend, we thought it was good value. It was a quick, easy ride to Paddington. We stayed at the Stylotel just a few blocks from Paddington Station. This turned out to be a convenient location for us.
After dropping the luggage, the plan was to go to Greenwich. Unfortunately, I did not research this part of the trip and it seemed like we did a lot of wandering without knowing exactly what we were doing. We did have lunch in town and walked up to the observatory. We got back to the hotel, checked in, had an early dinner and called it a night.
Day 2: I started the morning with a run in Hyde Park and really enjoyed that! Our first family stop was at Paddington Station to get one-day London Passes. Remember the part about this not being my trip? This probably did not make financial sense but the convenience factor was worth something.
Our first sightseeing destination was the Churchhill War Rooms. We did not buy timed entry tickets but I would highly recommend that others get a timed entry. Our London Pass got us in, but did not allow us to skip the line. We were there by probably 10am and waited close to 45 minutes. Everyone really enjoyed this.
After we left the War Rooms, we split up with my parents and I going off on our own and my sister and her family heading for the Tower of London. We walked down to the Horse Parade and saw the Horse Guard. We used our London Passes to get on the HOHO bus (Big Bus) near there. We ended up staying on for most of the loop. It was little chilly on top of the bus but it was a good way for my parents to see a lot of the sights and the live commentators were both very good. We got off the HOHO at the Tower of London.
After a quick snack, we went into the Tower site. We didn’t have a lot of time til it closed but it ended up being a perfect amount of time for us. We did not go in the White Tower because I knew it would be too many stairs for my parents. I had my RS book so we mostly followed his tour including the Crown Jewels (not at all crowded in the late afternoon). Next, we walked along the Thames toward the Tower Bridge hoping to meet up with my sister’s family. We finally got in touch with them and met up for dinner at a German place.
After dinner, we put my mother and niece in a cab back to the hotel and the rest of us went on the London Walks’ Jack the Ripper Walk. The guide (Oliver) was really good and we got to see some parts of London that we never would have seen otherwise.