7 Ways to Make Your Vacation Cheaper in London

London is a popular destination for tourists but has a reputation for being expensive. Here are some ways of making your stay cheaper whilst having fun in Britain’s capital city. This gives you more money to spend on sightseeing, shopping and world-class restaurants in London.

1. Travel Off-Peak

London’s transportation system is efficient, but can be confusing. Chill out with breakfast in London’s Melia White House hotel and buy a One Day Travelcard after 9:30 a.m. After three trips, you’ll have saved money and seen a lot of London.

2. Visit a Museum

Many of London’s museums are free to visit, making them a bargain for visitors. Try the British Museum, with displays of Egyptian mummies, or the Victoria and Albert Museum, which is famed for its costumes, ceramics and other decorative arts.

3. Ride a Boris Bike

Want a free ride? If you stay at one of London’s hotels such as Park Plaza Sherlock Holmes you’ll be near Boris Bike stands- an incredibly convenient way to get around. These are part of London’s public transport system — named after former London mayor Boris Johnson. You’ll need a credit card deposit, but you get 90 minutes free cycling through London. Try Hyde Park or The Mall for a scenic route. When you finish, simply deposit the bike in one of the many racks around town.

4. See a Parade

London does pageantry well with marching bands and traditional parades. There’s the Trooping of the Colour in June for the Queen’s birthday and the Lord Mayor’s Show in November, a traditional British pomp and circumstance parade with carnival elements. These are both free to watch in the streets, but do book a hotel in London well in advance. You should also check out the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, which takes place nearly every day and is free for visitors to watch.

5. Listen to a Free Concert

London has several venues where visitors can catch a free concert. Try St Martin in the Fields at lunchtime for some beautiful classical recitals. St James Church in Piccadilly is another good venue for classical music concerts.

6. Tour London for Free (Or Almost Free)

Many walking tours of London are free. Ask the concierge at your hotel, as there’s likely to be a free, or reasonably priced, walking tour nearby. Show up at the advertised time and pay what you think the tour is worth. There are tours for every taste. Check out tours of royal London and the old city, seek out tours of haunted locales or discover the stomping grounds of the world’s first serial killer with Jack The Ripper tours. See some of the unusual aspects of the city as well as the famous sights tourists adore.

7. Go Walking

One of the best ways to see London is to walk. Start from Westminster Bridge where you can explore the parliament area and head towards St Paul’s Cathedral on the Thames Path. You’ll have some amazing views of the London skyline and see many of the famous buildings in the city.

London is an amazing city to get to know, especially when you can explore it cheaply.

This post was posted by thehipmunk on Hipmunk’s
Tailwind blog on July 29, 2015.

The 10 Best Family-Friendly Activities in London

London offers such a wealth of attractions that it can seem overwhelming to whittle down the choices for a trip. And of course, even the best-made plans may be foiled by the city’s notoriously fickle weather. Add in some potentially picky kids, and the UK capital can seem like a traveling family’s nightmare. But London’s amazing selection of family-friendly activities far outweighs its occasionally gloomy weather. Here are some of the best family activities to enjoy in London, rain or shine!

Outdoor:

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1. The London Eye

A bird’s eye view of the city is a great way to kick off any visit to London, especially with the visibility of a clear day. It holds the title of Europe’s largest ferris wheel, and families can enjoy its breathtaking views in large pods that hold up to 25 people. The pods have seating, but guests are also free to stand up and roam around to experience the view from every angle. The London Eye is also close to the Strand Palace, a beautiful and centrally located place from which to base your visit.

2. Kensington Gardens

One of the most enchanting spots for children in London is the Peter Pan statue in Kensington Gardens, the site for which was personally chosen by its author J.M. Barrie. Nearby is the Peter Pan-inspired Diana Memorial Playground, built to the memory of the late Princess of Wales. The park includes an enormous pirate ship in a sandy lot, lush plant life, play features for kids with disabilities, and plenty of seating for accompanying adults. Bring a picnic lunch to the park to make the best of a sunny day in the city. Lines can get long at peak times, so the adjacent Thistle Hyde Park is a great accommodation option to use as a home base.

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3. Changing the Guard at Buckingham Palace

For a diversion that’s both iconic and free of charge, head to Buckingham Palace to witness the famous Changing the Guard. Both kids and adults will love the pageantry and pomp, and the ceremony is relatively short, lasting about 45 minutes. For added entertainment, download theChanging the Guard app, which offers answers to kids’ frequently asked questions, as well as in depth details about the ceremony and its history. To rub shoulders with the Queen, the lovely Grange Wellington Hotel is a great alternative to pricier options in this neighborhood.

4. Coram’s Fields

Coram’s Fields offers an expansive outdoor experience in central London. The park offers a huge range of activities: kids can visit the duck pond or city farm, climb the playgrounds, dig in the sand pit, or zoom around on a zip line or aerial slide. Adults will appreciate the excellent coffee atPistachios in the Park, which also offers cakes and healthy snacks. The park is a registered charity and entrance is free of charge. And if you’re looking for a child-friendly hotel option in Bloomsbury, Hotel Russelloffers childcare and free internet service.

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5. Hackney City Farm

In operation since 1984, Hackney City Farm is an educational and enjoyable treat for both children and adults. Animals like sheep, chickens, rabbits, bees, and donkeys can be viewed in the grazing area, and the farm also features a butterfly house and a vegetable garden. Farm staff aim to educate kids on caring for plant and animal life in an environmentally conscious way, and to this end offer a variety of classes in subjects such as pottery, animal grooming, and beekeeping. One of the biggest draws at Hackney City Farm is the on-site restaurant Frizzante.  Its Italian agriturismo-inspired menu and friendly atmosphere have made it a popular stop for families in the area. Staying at the nearby Re London Shoreditch will also put you conveniently close to the Tower of London and London Bridge.

Indoor:

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6. Museum of Childhood

Part of the fantastic Victoria and Albert Museum, the Museum of Childhood features a large collection of historic children’s toys and games. Interspersed with the exhibits are interactive features for kids to get involved with and even sometimes handle the objects, such as antique dollhouses and figurines. The museum also offers classes in arts, storytelling, and crocheting.  The gorgeous 130 Queen’s Gate Apartmentsare a great hotel alternative in the area.

7. The Wallace Collection

For a manageable but exciting alternative to the huge London museums, bring the family to the Wallace Collection, a museum displaying the collection of Marquesses of Hertford and Sir Richard Wallace. Kids will love trying on knights’ armor at the Conservation Gallery or following a trail of Warrior Kings, and adult art-lovers will appreciate the many fine works of art, including pieces by Rembrandt and Poussin. Entrance is free of charge, and the museum also houses a lovely little cafe.  For accommodation nearby, it’s hard to beat the beautiful Park Plaza Sherlock Holmes London.

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8. Hoxton Street Monster Supplies

This hilarious and charming shop is a must-see for every kid with an active imagination. It’s operated as part of the Ministry of Stories, an initiative founded by Nick Hornby to encourage writing and creativity in kids and young adults. The store itself provides a writing space where workshops are offered and sells products such as Impacted Earwax, Fang Floss, and Flayed Skin in apothecary-style packaging. Stay at theAce Hotel London Shoreditch for a cool and contemporary lodging option in the neighborhood.

9. London Aquatics Centre

Rainy days can be frustrating for active families, but the London Aquatics Centre is a great way to get moving indoors. Formerly used for the 2012 Olympics, it features top notch facilities and equipment. Kids can swim in either lane or lap pools, go diving, take swim lessons, or try the Aqua Splash obstacle course. Admission is under 5 pounds, and it makes for a day of energetic family fun. The Westbridge Hotel is a great option in the Stratford area and will give you easy access to the Olympic Stadium as well.

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10. Children’s Theatre

A trip to London wouldn’t be complete without experiencing some of the city’s vibrant theatre scene. There are plenty of theatres and shows geared specifically toward kids, but the musical Matilda, produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company, is a great option that’s sure to excite the whole family. Based on the classic children’s novel by British author Roald Dahl, the musical’s catchy songs and fiery performances have propelled it to many awards, among which was Best New Musical at the 2012 Laurence Olivier Awards. Stay at The Montague On The Gardens near Trafalgar Square to be close to the theater and many other London attractions.

This post was posted by thehipmunk on Hipmunk’s
Tailwind blog on July 15, 2015.

Top Things to do at Sunrise in London

There’s no better way to enjoy the best sights in London than at sunrise. It is amazing how much is within easy reach of most hotels in the city. If you are an early bird or just want to pack as much as possible into your stay in the British capital, here are some ideas of what you can do at dawn.

Go for a Run

There’s nothing quite like a run to energize your day. One of the best places to run in London is Regent’s Park. Listen to the call of the animals in nearby London Zoo while running past immaculate gardens on the Inner Circle. Head up to Primrose Hill for a mesmerizing view of the city skyline at sunrise.

Head to the Pub for Breakfast

In the heart of the City of London, Smithfield Meat Market ceases trading at 6 a.m. The porters and butchers traditionally head to the pubs for breakfast. For a traditional cooked English breakfast alongside night workers and those heading to business meetings in the city, spend the early hours at a pub in Smithfield. Fox and Anchor and Smiths of Smithfield are among several good places to try.

Take a Hot Air Balloon Ride

For a panoramic view of London, a hot air balloon ride sounds exactly what you need. There are launch pads near the Tower of London and many of the balloon flights take in some of the most famous sights in the city. Set up camp at Fraser Residence City Hotel and head out for an early morning adventure . Glide over commuters, the River Thames and the Houses of Parliament as the city wakes up to a new day. This is one of the best times to view London from the air, especially as the sun rises.

Go for a Walk

Sunrise is a beautiful time to walk through London. Take the path up through Greenwich Park to the Royal Observatory and the meridian time line. You can even stand on Greenwich Mean Time as the sun comes up. Want a shorter walk? Watch the sun come up from Waterloo Bridge, and then head down the trail along the River Thames towards St Paul’s Cathedral as the early sunlight glimmers on the water.

London is full of things to do. Which activity will you wake up to from yourhotel in London?

This post was posted by thehipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind blog on August 13, 2015.