Are you considering a vacation to London or another European destination? If so, Amanda Watkins Travel knows all of the best places and can add the best perks. Learn more about AWT or get started planning the vacation of your dreams.
London is the perfect spot for first-time visitors to Europe and families who want to test their kids' "travel strength" by jumping the pond. An added plus is that many cities offer direct, overnight flights into London! If you add a heavy meal, movie and a snooze, the flight passes quickly.
Luxury family European travel is one of my specialties. I have planned countless trips abroad for both my own family and many clients, but here I want to focus on London. The city, itself, is a great mix of history and modernity and has so many options for exploring. My family loved it. While each and every itinerary I create is highly bespoke and carefully curated, here are a few of my "must see" activities in "The Smoke:"
Amanda Knows Best: What to do in London
Private Tour of the Tower of London
Yes, it’s pricier than going at it at your own, but if you want a riveting account of this castle turned prison, see the jaw dropping crown jewels and receive a true education, a private tour is the way to go. AWT has access to some amazing guides who can truly bring your experience to life with historical antidotes your kids are sure to remember.
Sherlock Holmes Tour
Want to really engage your kids? How about a walking tour in the footsteps of Sherlock Holmes where your family is engaged in a game of Clue - tracking down London’s most famous real or fictitious criminals?
Walking Tour of Royal Westminster
A great way to orient yourself to the city is a walking tour of Royal Westminster. If the budget allows, my private guides can usher you past the queue for an unforgettable (and very exclusive) behind the scenes experience at the Changing of the Guards.
The above picture is team Watkins posing with one of the Royal Guardsmen. The kids even got to try on his hat! And, ok, maybe I did as well.
Get Your Naan On
Most people think fish and chips, mushy peas and baked beans when it comes to English food. British cuisine does not have a historically great culinary reputation, but this has significantly changed in the past decade. Indians make up the largest ethnic group in England and great curry (and naan- Indian pita-like bread) can be found everywhere from street food to Michelin-starred restaurants. Many curry restaurants do not allow children, but some do. Let me recommend a few of the best ones.
Imperial War Museum
For war history buffs, the Imperial War Museumis a must-see. This free museum chronicling war in the last century is so fascinating and well-organized, taking visitors through a visual and auditory trip back in time to what it was like to live during World War I and II, including the Holocaust. Not to be missed.
Between Harrods, Selfridges, Hamley's Toys, Bond Street and Covent Garden (just to start), the city sets the international standard for department stores and shopping. There are numerous streets with endless luxury brands that make any shopaholic swoon.
Amanda Knows Best: Where to Stay in London
If you are looking for a quintessentially British experience with a top-notch staff, look no further. The Milestonehas 44 deluxe guest rooms and 12 luxury suites overlooking Kensington Palace and gardens and is minutes from Royal Albert Hall and the West End. Your AWT booking could include a room upgrade (on availability), full English breakfast and $100 in dining credit.
One of London's most iconic and well-known hotels, the Dorchester never disappoints. To the east of Hyde Park, this prestigious hotel opened in April of 1931 and retains its 1930s ambience and furnishings despite being modernized. There are five restaurants including 1 of only 4 of Britain's Michelin-starred restaurants, Alain DuCasse. Your AWT booking could include a room upgrade, $85 in food or spa credit and daily continental breakfast for two.
This grand hotel combines luxury, history and modern touches in its 283 rooms. With a phenomenal location within walking distance to many tourist destinations, definitely consider the Corinthia. AWT bookings could include the amenities of breakfast for two daily, room upgrade (on availability), $85 in food/beverage credit and $200 GBP hotel credit for select suite bookings.
With 161 rooms, this Edwardian-era hotel was originally built as a debutante hostel for nearby Buckingham Palace. Today this 5-star hotel does not disappoint, with a homey and friendly feel despite it's first-class setting. Check with AWT to see which rooms afford the best views and what perks we can add.