When we visit London, we stay at the Premier Inn, which remains our go-to hotel.
For some reason, it is just hard to get a room in London for a family of four. Seriously. Either their rooms do not have the capacity for four people or they are quite expensive. It’s almost like an outlandish request if you want to stay together in one room, with your two small children.
But not at Premier Inn. We get the family room and they provide a double (which is basically an American queen) bed for us and two cots for the kids all in the same room for about £120/night. We stayed at one in London Southwark near the Tate Modern, and tried another one near King’s Cross. Both were ridiculously quiet, efficient, clean and consistent.
Even the check-in process is streamlined so you can use a glorified vending machine to get your keys. I’ve never seen anything like it in the U.S.
Plus, kids get a free hot buffet breakfast the next morning (and about £10.50 per adult). We ordered it every morning that we stayed at a Premier Inn because it’s just easier with small kids to be able to get breakfast quickly and taken care of – but the spread was very traditional, with fried eggs, British bacon (boo!), black pudding (double boo!), tomato, beans, croissants (plain, chocolate and almond varieties, yay!), cereal, fresh fruit, toast, crumpets, pancakes, coffee, tea. You name it! It was a smorgasbord of great options! Better than any Embassy Suites breakfast and I don’t say that lightly!
(Note: I am not being paid to say any of these lovely things about Premier Inn. But they really are awesome.)
It’s been awhile since we’ve been back to London, but when we do, I’m bringing Time Out Magazine’s list of 101 free activities to do with kids in London.
Alex Richards is an American writer, who recently moved from Brooklyn, New York to Bradford-on-Avon in England with her British husband, her 3-year-old daughter and one on the way.
I’m always on the hunt for sweet and inexpensive wall art for my kids’ rooms and stumbled upon Land of Nod, which currently has some great decor with some British flavor (and also a great blog for inspiration, Honest to Nod).
Check out their personalized wall art ($129), featuring Big Ben and double decker buses, which can be personalized with your child’s name.
I also loved their Lately Lily London quilt ($189), with an appliquéd and embroidered London scene, which would work perfectly with … their Lately Lily London bedding set!
Sorry I’ve been MIA for the past two days. My daughter caught a stomach virus and it’s been rough. She’s doing much better now. My car, on the other hand, still smells of vomit. C’est la vie.
Speaking of kids, I wanted to share this video from stand-up comedian Michael McIntyre, which cracked me up and spoke to me as a parent. (BTW, last year, he was reported to be the highest grossing comedian in the world. Who knew?)
Last week, my daughter turned 4!
And she had her first big birthday party with her friends. There was a bounce house, a cake with whipped cream, fresh strawberries and princesses on it and a good old fashioned British game for the kids – Pass the Parcel.
I’ve never played the Pass the Parcel before, but the kids loved it. It’s one part Musical Chairs, one part Hot Potato, one part Russian dolls. You’ve got a wrapped present and the kids sit in a circle and pass the present around and around. When the music stops, whoever is holding the present gets to open it! But the present has been wrapped so many times in different types of wrapping (we alternated with wrapping paper and newspaper) that you’re never sure when or who will get to the actual present inside all of the wrapping.
My husband did an awesome job leading the game and he had wrapped the present nearly 20 times ahead of time, so each child who came to the party would have a chance to open the present at least once! You can only imagine the fun of finally getting to the bottom of it – it was a little apron with Paddington Bear on the front from our trip to the U.K. earlier this year and the lucky winner was a lovely 3-year-old girl who quietly beamed when she realized that could open the present and keep the gift!
Be still my heart! This is officially the cutest little British skirt I’ve ever seen. It’s currently on sale for $45.90 (which is killing me. I don’t think I can justify such an extravagance!) and available in sizes as small as 1 1/2-2 years all the way up to the 11-12 year size.
Look at it! So sweet, right?!
After our visit in Devon, we headed back on the train to visit friends in the town of Lewes for a couple of days. Lewes is a gorgeous little town just an hour from London on the southeast coast.
One of our favorite moments was having afternoon tea and cake in the children’s shop Wickle. The shop sells beautiful clothes, high-quality toys and games and tucked in the very back of the store is a little cafe, perfect for children and grownups. The kids got the most decadent hot chocolates and we sampled ginger cake, brownies, millionaire’s shortbread and victoria sponge cake.
How cute are these little summer dresses? I wish Boden made them in adult sizes!
All Mini Boden (and Johnnie B) items are 25 percent off, plus free shipping, for the next 24 hours (ends today at midnight)! No offer code needed.
And those gorgeous broderie dresses above can be found here for $42 (on sale from $56!).
Before you attempt to head into the U.S. carrying Kinder Surprise eggs from the U.K., beware! The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol seized about 25,000 Kinder Surprise eggs in 2010 and reissued the warning that Kinder eggs are banned (due to the non-edible prize inside each egg). Rumor has it that if a Kinder egg is seized by customs, you can be fined for $2,500!
If you’ve never had a Kinder Surprise egg, they are quite fun little toys (i.e. cars, characters, even stamp rings) tucked inside a half milk chocolate and half white chocolate shell of an egg. You never know what you’re going to get! Nearly 30 billion have been sold worldwide.
And check out the Americanized version of the Kinder Surprise: The Choco Treasure! It launched last month.
Also, here are the top 10 items not to bring back from your international holiday.