We just came home from our Thanksgiving trip to London on Sunday. We flew out of Frankfurt Hahn on Wednesday morning at the wee hour of 6:30 am. Since we were fly out early we decided to stay at a hotel nearby so we stayed at Hotel Fortuna. I am really glad we decided to stay up near the airport since it snowed. Unfortunately I made a huge mistake I put in the wrong dates for our reservations (oops!), but luckily they had availability for us. They gave us 2 King bedrooms. The rooms are pretty big and the beds are comfy as well. The great thing about this property is that they also offer a shuttle to the airport and they have parking! The parking is 3 euro per day. Even if you don’t stay at Hotel Fortuna you can still use their parking, but you can’t use their shuttle to the airport.
We traveled via RyanAir to London Stansted. I booked at the end of September and our round trip tickets were $140 TOTAL for 5 people. Checking in was a breeze and getting to our gate was very easy as well. NOTE: If you fly out of Hahn and you want to NOT buy drinks/food on board buy them BEFORE you get to your gate! Our flight to Stansted was very quick (1 hour). NOTE: London Stansted is a pretty large airport! If you have booked bus tickets be sure the time is open as to when you get on! Also when you get onto your flight to the UK ask if you can get some Custom Forms as we were not given any. For a family of 5 and having to fill one out for each of us took so time. Be sure you know the address of where you are staying and your flight number. Customs took about 30 minutes to get through.
We traveled via Stansted Express into/out of London and the trip is about 1 hour each way. The have toilets and serve snacks on board the train (which is nice). Plus if you do not have any British Sterling they do accept credit cards! NOTE: DON’T FORGET TO CALL YOUR BANK TO LET THEM KNOW YOU ARE TRAVELING! Also don’t forget to do the 2 for 1 deal. AND No… unfortunately it isn’t what you think it is. 2 people go for the price of 1.
Underground: Oyster Cards! GET THEM! Kids under 11 years old are FREE to travel with their parents! The underground can be difficult since some lines go ALL over the place (i.e. Northern Line (black line)). We did all of our travel in London via the underground!
Apartment: Booked via Wimdu…was located in Colindale in London which is in zone 5. It took a good 35 minutes to get into London. I highly recommend looking to see where you are staying since it will cost more to transfer into the city center. Our apartment had everything that we needed to survive. Plus there was a grocery store and a few fast food restaurants nearby as well.
London Eye: (Wednesday) LOVED IT!!! We used our 2 for 1 deal from the Stansted Express to pay for this attraction. Absolutely AMAZING views of London. We went on the London Eye around 6pm and there was NO line at all. With the price of the ticket you get to view the 4D movie of the London Eye. It was good movie, but of course my kids were more anxious to get on the Eye.
Swarovski Ice Skating Rink at the Natural History Museum– EXPENSIVE! But a great experience. Though unfortunately the ice was melting really badly. My 5 year old was completely soaking wet so be sure to bring extra clothing. We went around 4pm and there were not many people (maybe 20-30) people on the ice. I overheard that people come around 8-10pm and it is packed. So if you are wanting to have the ice skating experience go during the day.
Natural History Museum: Gorgeous building! There was a small line since they check bags at the door. Also you can store your coats and other items in their Cloakroom. The museum is gorgeous! We only saw about half of the museum since our children wanted to go ice skating.
Christmas in London! We went to the Hyde Park “Winter Wonderland” on our second day. It is absolutely HUGE and I highly recommend going there… with a budget of course since it is pretty expensive. My children were only able to go onto 2 rides each. All rides were 2£ at least. We really loved the Bavaria-themed market! Tip: Come with a budget
London By Night Bus Tour: Booked via Viator and for the 5 of us it was $103. If you book through this company you HAVE to have a printed receipt. I actually lost ours somewhere but they allowed me to email it to them. I went to the Ritz Hotel and they allowed me to use their WiFi to do so. It was a great tour and we saw a ton of London. We sat on the top and it was very cold. I would either sit towards the front of the bus or inside (during the winter). Tip: Make two copies! Unfortunately my cell phone died so I wasn’t able to take any photos.
HMS Belfast: is a beautiful World War II battle ship on the River Thames. It is a rather large ship and it took us a good 2-3 hours to complete it. You do get to see quite a bit of it such as the bridge, quarters for officers and enlisted, the kitchen, sick bay, the “big guns” and a LOT more!
Can Not Miss: Big Ben! It is absolutely gorgeous! While you are there keep walking (away from the bridge) to Westminster Abbey! Every single British and English King and Queen have been coronated there. Plus there have been 18(?) Royal weddings there as well. Buckingham Palace’s gates are absolutely beautiful! Needing a break from walking? There is a playground for kids in St. James Park. One place I wish I would have been able to go to while in London was the Tower of London which is by the London Bridge, which we were able to see from the HMS Belfast.
On our last day since we were going to be homeless for a bit between checking out of the apartment and then taking the Stansted Express back up to the airport we decided to check our luggage into Access Self Storage at King Cross. The price was 20 pounds for all of our luggage for the entire day. The only thing is that they close at 5:00pm and you need to make sure to pick up your luggage no later than 4:30. If you need something for a longer time I was told by Access that there are 50 other storage facilities all over London. We picked up our luggage around 3:45 pm. Caught the underground to Liverpool and boarded the train to Stansted. If you are staying at one of the hotels nearby the airport there are shuttles. We stayed at Premier Inn. It is a VERY nice hotel with very easy check-in and a restaurant. We chose not to eat at the restaurant and we wanted something quick so we went to McDonald’s instead.
Overall our trip to London was very pleasant and the kids really enjoyed everything that we did together! Hope you all enjoyed reading about our London adventure too! I am sure we will be in the United Kingdom again before we can say Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious 100x without taking a breath.
Note: I just want to give you all a heads up… and I am so SUPER sorry. Right before we headed out to London my wonderful camera decided it wanted to go swimming. So I apologize for my blurry cell phone photos.
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