A citytrip to London was on our bucket list for quite some time. So when Pasar magazine asked us to do a story about London with kids, it was kind of a no brainer for us. Felix wondered how big the Big Ben really was. Mirtha always wanted to ride one of those red double-decker buses. And Lucy? Well, she had an appetite for a big English breakfast, with plenty of beans and sausages. “The proof of the pudding is in the eating” is what our British neighbours say, so we took the train to find out for our selves what the British capital had to offer.
Mayfair / Piccadilly
Fancy an unforgettable all out British experience? Then you might want to book a seat at Sketch
for their afternoon tea. You’ll have to wait in line though, so reserve a spot a couple of weeks in advance. Sandwiches, tartlets, scones and buckets of tea will be yours to satisfy whatever sweet tooth you might have. The scenery cut right out of the pages of Alice In Wonderland – designed by India Mahdavi – will sweep you of your feet and into a realm of wonder.
Fortnum & Mason
can’t be overlooked when you visit London. The all out British doorman welcomes you into a Walhalla of British culinary culture. Floors filled with tea, chutney, marmalade, porcelain… will be yours to discover. And your young ones will marvel at the sight of chefs cooking up all these delicacies in an open kitchen. Ever wondered what “Scotch Eggs” are made of? This is the ideal place to discover it. And buy some edible souvenirs.
Former dingy neighborhoods like Spitafields or Shoreditch rapidly changed into friendly places during the past couple of years. This is where Banksy began his artistic crusade, quickly followed by numerous street artists. Result? A stroll around the neighborhood becomes a jaw-dropping experience. You can spot a genuine Banksy in Rivington Street… behind glass. Oh the Irony!
A city is best discovered on foot. And that’s no different with kids. So whenever you need to take a break from all this walking about, you might want to enjoy a beautiful view. On the Boundary Rooftop Terrace
, in the heart of Shoreditch, you can do just that. Order a fresh mint tea or a cocktail while resting your tired feet as you sit on a cushion and blanket covered bench, gazing at Norman Fosters iconic skyscraper “The Gherkin”. Which actually is called 30 St Mary Axe, but be honest, gherkin sounds so much better.
“A dream come true” is but the least you can say about Dark Sugars Cocoa House
. This delightful shop-café on Brick Lane has a swinging African vibe, and makes sure all your chocolate needs will be fulfilled. For this we have to thank the Ghanaian proprietress, who grew up on her families cocoa plantation. Her hot chocolate with whipped cream was instantly rated as “best ever” by our youngest travel companions.
Poppies is a jolly place with an impeccable reputation since 1952. Their Fish & chips are a big hit with every child (and accompanying parent). Big fries and superfresh fish, friendly on the budget, what’s not to like? You’ll be served by the nicest people, in an interior that takes you back to the fifties. Prepare for hours of glancing at the décor.
In a former tea warehouse at the heart of Shoreditch is where you’ll find Pizza East
. No, this is not your regular Pizza joint, they’ll serve you a pizza topped with Scamorza, egg-plant and pesto for instance. Straight out of the wood fired pizza oven. The younglings get crayons and color plates on top.
Not in the mood for making your own breakfast? Pop over at Bel Air
on Paul Street. Lucky for us our apartment was just down the road, so we could get some crispy avocado toast, smoothies and coffee. All delicious!
Grocery shopping at The Grocery
is like having a ball. They only sell locally grown or manufactured goodies and “fair trade” is one of their benchmarks. You’re also more than welcome next door at the cosy bistro if you fancy a drink while enjoying the scenery.
Our three bedroom apartment
in the heart of Shoreditch is the perfect place to stay for a family visit to Britain’s capital. Up to six people can enjoy the well equipped kitchen, cosy living room and sleep in the very comfortable beds. It even has a terrace, how cool is that!
City of London / Southwark
“Shakespeare probably did his shopping here”, at least that’s the claim Borough Market
makes. But what we know for sure is that this indoor market is the place to be when it comes to discovering London’s culinary riches. We tasted Bread Ahead
’s olive bread, Kappacasein
’s raclette, Pieminister
’s pumpkin pie, cheese by Neil’s Yard Dairy
, chocolate from Rabot 1745
, honey from Hackney by The Golden Company
and sausage by Hobbs Meat Roast
. All so delicious and filled with flavor.
Be on time when you want to visit 20 Fenchurch Street skyscraper, a.k.a. the walkie-talkie. There’s limited access daily in the mornings, untill 10 o’ clock. On the upside, there’s no entrance fee. That’s not the case however at “The Shard”, the nearby 310 meter skyscraper by architect Renzo Piano. The elevator swiftly brings you to the Sky Garden:
a lovely tropical rooftop garden at the 35th
floor, where you have a staggering 360° view of London’s skyline.
A stroll through the elegant Bloomsbury takes you to the house of Virginia Woolf. This is where the famous author of “A room of one’s own”, “Orlando” and “To the lighthouse”, used to brainstorm with her infamous Bloomsbury Group.
The Wellcome Collection shows all things weird and wonderful regarding the human body, health and medicine. The children stand in awe when they see England’s fattest man. They ‘re also asked to sum up what they ate that day, and try to find out where which organ goes. Highlight of the day however is their discovery of a pierced skull from 2000 BC.
Caravan is a hip and happening restaurant and roastery, where you can pop in for an excellent coffee or a light lunch. The dinner menu is fusion oriented and encourages you to share your food with your table guests. The service is very considerate towards younger guests. A big plus if you ask us.
The enormous British Museum
needs no introduction. It harbors about thirteen million pieces, combining over a million years of human history. Take your pick, because this monster is too big to conquer in one afternoon. From time to time they organize exciting workshops for the youngsters, like ‘Build Roman Britain in Minecraft’.
Generator Hostel is one of the new kids on the block. Perfectly situated in the heart of Bloomsbury, everything is clean and well designed here. Make sure you get a room away from the general staircase though…. It can get noisy.
Planet Organic allows you to assemble your own lunch as you stroll through the buffet. In the meantime, you can do some grocery shopping as well. All in a good price range and very tasty.
Westminster / Waterloobridge
Fancy some hilarious British decorum, choreography and music? Say no more, you need to go watch the famous Changing of the Guards
at Buckingham Palace. It remains an absolute highlight for the kids.
After you have visited Big Ben and Buckingham Palace, Saint-James park
is the ideal spot to chill out and let the hours pass while looking at the London sky.
In Southbank Centre
, located at… you guessed it, the Southbank of the river Thames, you can watch interesting art exhibitions. There’s always a lot of stuff going on, but our favorite is definitely … the Singing Elevator. It brings Martin Creed’s Work No 409, composition for elevator and choir and even has its own twitteraccount, @singingLift
Hamley’s is the biggest toy store in the world. Up to 7 floors crammed with whatever comes to mind for kids to play with. Lucy and Mirtha immediately fall madly in love with a gigantic teddy bear by Steiff. It’s almost as large as its 3000 pound price tag.
A short boat trip on the River Thames takes you to the UNESCO-site in Greenwich park
The Maritime museum is the heart of the picturesque village of Greenwich. This is where Britain’s glorious maritime history comes to life. The kids receive an iPad and walk on a large worldmap on the floor. At every stop they make, the iPad gives them facts about the place they’ve arrived at. The perfect way to keep them on board.
Here you can visit the Cutty Sark
. It’s the only tea clipper left in the world. Built in Scotland in 1869.
You get to learn all there is to know about our galaxy, dark matter or galaxies far far away at the Astronomy Galleries
. Also the world’s oldest asteroid, about 4,5 billion years old, can be viewed here.
And of course the timeline at the Royal Observatory
is a must. This is where the famous Greenwich meridian
literally slices the stone path into two time zones. ‘You can go back to an hour ago’ Mirtha says, as she’s standing with one leg in the past. Time travel has never been easier.
Everybody finds something they like at the Greenwich Indoor Market
. Whether you fancy Indian or Mexican food, a hot dog or a donut.
Jamie’s Italian is just around the corner. Here you can eat all kinds of Italian comfort foods. There’s even a special children’s menu with sustainable fish and vegetables!
Traveling with the Eurostar
is super comfortable. It only takes 2 hours to get from Brussels to London Saint Pancras Station. A piece of cake!
Arriving in London, take the subway or “underground” (tube), a double-decker bus or a typical London cab. To quote the kids: “This is like sitting in a lounge”.