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Nov trip w/ 2 teens - advice needed

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Dallas, Texas
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Nov trip w/ 2 teens - advice needed

I am doing a 5 trip with my daughters (13 & 16).

First question is where to stay - considering AYH Central London hostel. 5 nts in a 4 or 6 person women's dorm room with ensuite bath is $400 on hostelworld.com - is that a reputable booking company? Has anyone stayed there? The reviews make it sound more family friendly, and I think the experience would be interesting for my girls. Alternatively, Parkwood Hotel triple is $560 (but up 4 flts with no lift and shared bath). Both locations look pretty good. Any other inexpensive suggestions?

Second - what to do?

We get in on Sun at 8:00 am. and leave Fri morning. Sunday we need to do something active and outside - maybe visit speaker's corner in Hyde Park. I am looking at Frommer's recommendations of what to do in 3 days, but will cut out some I know the girls won't like and add some shopping - they love outdoor markets & bargaining. Definitely want to do Tower, London Eye, British Museum, London Museum, Westminster Abbey, St Paul's. Afternoon tea is a must (maybe even twice). Might do a play one night and a walking tour another night.

What about a 1/2 day trip to Windsor Castle? Is it worth it? Is Windsor better or another castle?

I think on Tues I would like to do a day trip to Stonehenge, Salisbury & Bath. What tour provider is good & economical?

On Wed considering trip to Stratford Upon Avon, but not sure - advice?

Thanks for any & all advice.

Vancouver, Canada
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1. Re: Nov trip w/ 2 teens - advice needed

Before booking a YHA hostel at hostelworld.com you may want to email the hostel (that's the property on Bolsover Street, yes?) to enquire whether booking three people in a four bed room will require you to pay the rate for four people or whether you'll share the room with a single traveller. If you book in a six bed room you will very likely share with others.

Have a look at the Gower Street hotels: the Arosfa, Ridgemount, Jesmond and Arran House. They offer basic and ensuite rooms with breakfast, have great transport options and will offer a bit more privacy than a hostel.

Evan Evans and Golden Tours both offer day tours to Stonehenge and Bath. Trains to Windsor & Eton Central depart from London Paddington and to Windsor & Eton Riverside from London Waterloo; you need not book in advance for either service.

If you add a day trip to Stratford-upon-Avon (trains depart from London Marylebone) you'll leave very little time in London itself but it's up to you.

Have a look at www.daysoutguide.co.uk for details of two for one offers. You will need paper Travelcards bought at a rail station ticket office to take advantage of the offers; since you're likely to need Travelcards in any event you might as well buy paper tickets and use the offers.

Seven day cards for adults cost £25.80 for unlimited travel in zones 1 and 2; £12.90 for children again for unlimited travel. There are no time constraints on seven day cards so they are more handy than one day cards. You will also get a small discount on rail tickets to Windsor with Travelcards - and every saving helps.

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2. Re: Nov trip w/ 2 teens - advice needed

Hi: Re your trips outside of London - what have your girls expressed an interest in?

An alternative suggestion for Sunday would be to take a river trip (giving you a nice overview of London from the river) down to Greenwich, which is a lovely place in its own right and has a wonderful market your two (and you) would enjoy. Also historical - where "time" began.


Windsor would give you a nice half day to explore the castle, river and Eton. If you'd like an afternoon tea without the London prices, then try one at the Harte & Garter Hotel, or at the Crooked House.

I'd also recommend you look at Hampton Court Palace as an alternative to Stratford-upon-Avon. Closer to London too, and could you give you time to do something else in London. Although having said that, I was there recently with some American friends, and we spent about 5 hours there, there's so much to see! Personally, I prefer it to Windsor Castle as it's more fun, and is interactive, but both places are worth visiting.

I reckon, based on what you've said so far, you need a good 3 days for London itself. You might squash it into 2.5 with a 1/2 day in Windsor.

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3. Re: Nov trip w/ 2 teens - advice needed

I have to say you seem to be trying to cram too much in. With 5 nights in the UK you only get 4 full days (and a lot of Sunday by the sound of it), so maybe almost 5 full days.

Note if you get in a 8am it may well be the middle of the day by the time you get settled into your hotel so you may lose half on Sunday anyway.

If you are here only 5 nights then I would not consider two trips outside London, and certainly not 2 days running.

Assuming you dont have a car then trips both either Stonehenge/Bath or Stratford, are both going to be long days.

To be blunt, I think a 13 and 16 year old will find Stonehenge boring. To many young people they are some old stones stuck in the middle of a fields in the middle of nowhere.

I think you are far better finding things in our around London than travelling so far away.

Windsor, Hampton Court, Greenwich etc are all on the fringes of London and places of great history and significance.

To be honest you could probably spend ALL your time in London and stil find plenty to see and do.

Covent Garden and Trafalgar square are two places your children would find interested (they are both public spaces but there is walways something going on.

The thing I have noticed about many people asking about trips to the UK is that lots of them want to go the same places (Bath, Stonehenge, Lake District, York etc), almost as though they are the only places in the UK worth seeing. I guess these are listed as "must see" in guide books.

But with such a short time here dont spend most of two days travelling to Stonehenge or Stratford, make the most of the days you have in London.

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4. Re: Nov trip w/ 2 teens - advice needed

As a follow up to my append above, lets look at your itinery in detail.

You arrive Sunday at 8am, but with customs, travel to central London, and finding and settling in to your hotel you will lose a lot of the morning (possibly all of it). So you only have half a day Sunday.

Your leave Friday morning so by the sound of it have no time free on Friday to visit anywhere.

So you have about 4 and a half days (Sunday afternoon, and Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu).

You are considering going to Stonehenge//Salisbury/Bath on Tuesday. This is a LONG day (even if you can do it - Bath is 114 miles from London ) and you wont get back till VERY late. No time for anything else that day.

You are considering Stratford on Wednesday. This is 85 miles from London and will be about 2 and a half hours travel time by train (each way). This again will be a long day and little time to do anything else.

So now you only have 2 and a half days left.

You are considering a half day in Windsor (Monday or Thursday are your only choices), and now only have 2 days left (assuming you only spend half day in Windsor, it could easily last all day - so leaving you only 1 and a half days left).

And in those 1 and a half days you want to go shopping (markets etc), Tower of London, London Eye, British Museum, London Museum, Westminster Abbey, St Pauls, Afternoon tea (twice), a play, and a walking tour.

I am sorry but you will not have time for all of them in 1 and a half or maybe two days.

You could easily spend half a day visiting the Tower of London, British Museum, St Pauls or Westminster Abbey (half a day EACH).

You could easily spend a day shopping or visting markets.

And you may discover EXTRA things you want to visit when you get here that you have not thought about (Covent Garden for example).

Note that most London plays are not on Sundays so you can only visit a play on Monday or Thursday (when you may be in Windsor !).

So sorry to be so blunt, but as I said you are trying to cram far too much in.

I would ditch one or the other of your long day trips (or even both) and concentrate on things in and around central London.

There is more than enough to see in London without having to spend hours getting to Stonehenge or Bath or Stratford.

Edited: 22 August 2010, 12:43
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5. Re: Nov trip w/ 2 teens - advice needed

I wouldn't expect much entertainment from Speaker's Corner. Sunday is the best market day so I'd drop your stuff and head out - Camden or Brick Lane/Spitalfields, or Greenwich if it's a nice day.

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6. Re: Nov trip w/ 2 teens - advice needed

I know lots of Americans come to London for a few days and spend half of them charging around England, but you don't have to. You won't get bored in London in four or five days - not unless you dislike historical attractions, in which case going to Bath and Stratford isn't going to help, and you probably wouldn't be coming anyway. Given your accommodation options, I assume you are on a fairly tight budget, and travelling a hundred miles out of London could add considerably to the cost. There are lots of free things to do in London - most of the museums are free for a start. If you want to do something connected with Shakespeare, you can take a tour of the Globe Theatre in London. I don't know what your girls are into, but there are a lot more ways to keep teenagers entertained in London than in the day trip destinations you mention.

Dallas, Texas
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7. Re: Nov trip w/ 2 teens - advice needed

Thanks for all the great input

Greenwich on Sun sounds like the perfect outing if the weather is decent.

I'll talk to the girls more about what they want to do with your comments in mind.

I think touring the Globe Theater in London will be better than going to StratfordonAvon for their "shakespeare fix". They would probably prefer another castle than a long day on a bus, so Hampton Court Palace will probably replace Stonehenge etc unless they prefer differently.

At the AYH hostel, they will put another person in our room unless I pay for 4 people and book as a private room. But I think I am ok with sharing a room; I will talk with the girls thought to be sure they are. It is only $25/nt extra for a private, but that puts the cost closer to some hotels. I will check out the hotels you all mention.

thanks again! I can't travel w/o TA!

West London
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8. Re: Nov trip w/ 2 teens - advice needed

Greenwich is a great idea (three markets!). If you want a Shakespeare fix, then go to Southwark Cathedral, which is where Shakespeare buried his brother.

Different things in London happen at different times of the year (to state the obvious), so there may be something special occurring during your visit if you tell us when it is.

For example, 1st weekend = Bonfire Night; 14 November = Lord Mayor's Show. The State Opening of Parliament is sometime in the middle of November, i.e. procession, queen in her coach, etc; late November and the Christmas lights get switched on.

So, when are you in London?

PS I always mention this to Texans, get your daughters' teachers to tell them about this before they arrive


Edited: 22 August 2010, 21:06
Dallas, Texas
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9. Re: Nov trip w/ 2 teens - advice needed

we will be there from Sun Nov 21 - Fri morning Nov 26

I think all those events are before we get there. BUt maybe some Christmas decorations or something will be going on later in the month


El Dorado Hills...
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10. Re: Nov trip w/ 2 teens - advice needed

We are going to be in London the same days with our daughters (just 14 and almost 17)... are your girls Harry Potter fans? I know our 14 year old does not want to miss some of the spots from the filming, such as Kings Cross station Platform 9 3/4. They also want to see the last movie while we are there, which premier's on the 19th, right before we get there.

I also have read that the hop-on-hop-off bus is good for independent touring.