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Help with location.

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Help with location.

We are a family with 2 kids, ages 7 and 9. We are planning a trip to London in the end of Sept into October. The dates I have in mind will have us there from Sept 23 to Oct. 6. We travel often and we take our kids. So I am not too worried about them. I am worried about public transport, we were in Rome almost 2 years ago, and thankfully we did not take them. We got around fine, but don't think I would have been able to take subway with the kids.

Here is where I am stuck:

I am planning on staying in London for 6 nights. Is staying in the docklands/excel area ok?

I have found a good deal on hotels. I don't mind not being right in the center of everything because we will be going every which way to see what we want to see. However it is important to have restaurants and bakeries within walking distance. I do not know the hotel yet, since it is a hidden deal on ho*wire.

We want to see the usual sights. However kids want to go to Zoo, aquarium, and museums also. So logistics and itinerary of these places will be a different post.

We are planning on spending one week outside of London. Here is where I am stuck. We would arrive at Gatwick airport. I want to rent a car. I am planning on renting the car from the airport.

I need opinions on where to stay so that we are about an hour drive from these attractions;

we will be going to LEGOLAND one day, Windsor castle, Stonehenge, and spend the days touring the Cotswolds.

Do I stay 2 nights near Windsor.

Arrive around 10:30 am, pick up rental car. Drive to Windsor hotel. Relax and maybe go see Windsor Castle in the afternoon. Day 2 go to LEGOLAND.

Next day drive by Stonehenge on way to Cotswolds. Then stay the other 5 nights in Costwolds. Return car and take train into London?

Or, (this is what I would prefer, especially with kids) find a place in South Cotswolds, stay full week in one spot. Drive to all of the places we want to see from there. Then head into London?

I know what we want to see and do. However DH and I would like to not move around too much because of the children.

All input welcomed.

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London, United...
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1. Re: Help with location.

There is not a lot in the way of shops/restaurants/bakeries around Excel and transport is limited to the DLR which although good can be a bit slow, and you will be quite a way from museums. The Excel area is being developed so it might be a bit desolate for you! I would suggest looking a little closer to the centre if possible.

Your children are old enough to be able to travel on public transport with no problem but best to avoid rush hour is you want any sort of comfort.

I think you would be better staying in one place for a week if you have children as they would be more settled but the Cotswolds can be an expensive area so why not look just outside somewhere like Oxford would have hotels and give you fairly easy access to Windsor and the Cotswolds as well as plenty to do there with shops and restaurants. Malmesbury is a nice little town but maybe a bit small to spent a week in although you will be out most of the time. Do you need to be around the Cotswolds for a week, if not what about staying in Bristol, you can get to the Cotswolds easily and to Bath, Stonehenge, Glastonbury plus as it is a city there is plenty to do there if you fancy not driving one day, traffic in Bristol can be a pain though!

London, United...
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2. Re: Help with location.

Would not recommend the Docklands, being near to everything isn't possible in London but the Docklands is a bit too much out on a limb, try South Kensington if your kids love museums for you will be near to the Natural History Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum, or the Bloomsbury area is pretty central, some idea of your budget might help.

Dallas, Texas
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3. Re: Help with location.

Have you considered the Premier Inn chain of hotels? They are reasonably priced, have family rooms and have multiple locations in central London.

Stanley, Falkland...
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4. Re: Help with location.

Try the great Cotswolds Wildlife Park, near Burford ("Gateway to the Cotswolds"). Excellent for kids.

The area might also be a base for Stonehenge etc.

Do you have to arrive at Gatwick? Heathrow would be so much easier to get to Windsor. It would only be a short taxi ride, and then you could visit the castle and Legoland at leisure....then hire the car.

You, and your children, will very soon tire of the journey to and from Excel. There is a reason that hotel is on offer. It is NOT convenient for central London. It's a soul-less business/exhibition district.

County Dublin...
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5. Re: Help with location.

Staying out by ExCel would be a false economy.

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6. Re: Help with location.

Thank you all for the suggestions. I will be arriving at Gatwick. I know Heathrow would be better, but not an option.

I do not have a place in mind where to stay outside of London. However wanted somewhere quiet, more scenic but still close enough to restaurants and grocery store. A bit different side of UK, somewhere kids can relax outside and go for walks. However I want to be able to visit Stonehenge, LEGOLAND, Windsor or Warwick castle would do, broadway tower, and the other days would be visiting cotswolds, relaxing, and taking it all in before heading to London.

I will look around at other locations in London. Maybe even look at a flat or apartment to rent while we are there.

Thank you. Will research all the suggestions given.

London, United...
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7. Re: Help with location.

I would look at another area of London . Docklands and nearby is full of business and commercial buildings and somewhere like Kensington would be more appropriate for a tourist.

You can do LEGOLAND and Windsor as day trips by train from London

For the Cotswolds you might consider Stratford upon Avon as a base. A medium sized town, lots of William Shakespeare links obviously but also quite handy for trips into the Cotswolds, to Warwick castle and more.

Oakham, United...
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8. Re: Help with location.

The places you mention are fine, but it's a very predictable list that seems to be used by almost all US visitors on TA (Stonehenge - amazed how popular that seems. Personally I'd prefer Avebury). There are other castles than Warwick (which is hideously expensive) and plenty of attractive areas of countryside that are not the cotswolds - eg the area around Stamford (Burley House) (lovely stone built town) and adjoining Rutladn (lovely villages mostly with nice pubs). Just saying your list is fine, but on the well trodden tourist route :)

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9. Re: Help with location.

Thank you for the information. I am open to other castles. I don't really have one in mind, however I know my kids and DH would love to see one. The bigger and more historical the better.


U.S. expats
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10. Re: Help with location.

If you want to stay in Windsor, then I can recommend these places...

The Park Farm, less than a mile from Legoland. They cater to families, and usually have an offer for Legoland.


Another you might consider is the Prince Albert Pub...


Or the Windsor Trooper, which I believe has family rooms.


If you would rather stay near to Windsor and the Castle, it will cost more. I know that the MacDonald is highly thought of and has connecting rooms. But it is not cheap.


Keep in mind that hotels convenient to Legoland will be less than convenient to the center of Windsor and the rail stations, and vice versa. There is a shuttle that takes people in Windsor to Legoland and vice versa.


I would overnight in Windsor, as Legoland will be a full day, and Windsor Castle about a half day. There is lots more to do.

Edited: 24 January 2014, 21:53