Days out diary - child friendly and family activities

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Some time ago we spent a couple of days in London with our baby daughter. I've finally got around to writing up about this trip. This may be of help if you are looking to travel to London with a baby or young child. Our daughter was about 7 months old at the time of the trip.

The first decision about travelling to London is how to get there, as this can influence where you stay and whether car parking is needed. Normally if I travel to London I try and take the train, unfortunately the cost is pretty expensive. If you can get travel on the weekend or out of peak time then you can get a cheaper train, but for an adult return travelling from Coventry Mid-week during peak time doesn't give much change from £100 (per adult), it's a little cheaper from Warwick Parkway, but for two of us to travel this would still be very expensive.

To keep the cost down we decided to drive, and therefore looked for a hotel, outside of central London, but near a tube station with parking available. In the past we have stayed at Heathrow, however it is not possible to walk to a tube station from there, so you either need to take a free bus into the airport where the underground station is, or catch a bus into / towards central London.

Travel Inn Premier, Wembley Park, London, England

This time we went to a hotel at Wembley Park. The hotel was the Wembley Park Premier Travel Inn.

This hotel was accessible from the M1 motorway, and only a few hundred yards/meters from the Wembley Park Underground Station. You also got to see the new Wembley Football Stadium being built as we walked to the tube station. This was only a few days before the incident at the stadium with the roof rafter failing. The car park at the hotel charges £5 per day. The parking is paid for when you check-in and you are given the code for the exit barrier when you check-out. We arrived during the morning of the first day, and left in the afternoon of the second day, only paying for one day parking.

Another reason for choosing Travel Inn for the hotel is that they allowed you to book a baby cot in the room. This was a modern folding cot that was set-up and ready when we went into the room. This was very useful and although travelling by car we could have taken our own, it was good that the hotel provided one, very few hotels have the same level of facilities for babies. The hotel is very modern and as such the rooms were very well kept.

We were originally planning to eat our evening meal in London, however by early evening we were getting quite tired as the day had been quite hectic and we didn't really feel up to lots of travelling across London. So we went back to the hotel for the evening meal. They provided a high chair and the food was very good.

Travel Inn Premier, Wembley Park, London, England

There is a charge for breakfast on top of the hotel room rate. We did not request breakfast when we checked into the hotel instead paying in the morning (in case we decided to have breakfast elsewhere). We did look around for a cheaper breakfast, but the few cafes around the hotel did not look particularly suitable to take a baby, and we wanted somewhere a bit more comfortable than trying to feed our baby in the hotel room (although that would have been a cheaper way). There was a McDonalds, but we try and avoid junk food from the fast food places. The breakfast in the hotel was acceptable although the English breakfast was a bit limited, like most hotels it was very expensive. One problem was that the hot water tap is set back behind the coffee machine, and I burned my hand slightly on the hot coffee when trying to get hot water. The restaurants offered free breakfasts for children, I don't believe this included baby food, but our baby did enjoy the mini muffins :D

For the baby milk we sterilised the bottles using disposable water sterilisers and used ready made cartons. Aptimal provides single feed, cartons at 7floz, although we normally make up 9floz for most of our baby's meals she rarely drinks the full amount, and we managed fine with that.

Wembley Park underground station is on the Jubilee line and the metropolitan line. During peak times (on your return journey) be sure to check whether the train stops at wembley park as some express trains only stop at certain stations.

We had a folding stroller / pushchair that we used to get around. It was possible to get around most of the time with the baby in this, but it was hard work. Where there were lifts then we used those, but more often took the pushchair on the escalators. There are also a number of places where you have to carry the pushchair up a flight of stairs. Normally these are only a few steps at a time, the biggest climb we had was Farringdon station where there is a single flight of stairs just higher than the tunnel (probably the equivalent of one and a half to two flights of stairs in a house). In most instances we took the pushchair onto the train with the baby still in the pushchair. Most of the trains had an area that had signs giving priority to pushchairs / wheelchairs, but few people actually moved from them to allow you to sit down with the pushchair. It wasn't too bad standing next to the pushchair.

Rush hour was a different story and although we tried to avoid rush hour we did make one journey through rush-hour going back to the hotel. We were still able to get around the stations with our baby in the pushchair, but we had to take her out to go on the train. My wife carried the baby and in most cases someone else stood up to allow them to sit down. There was however one instance where someone was occupying two seats as he had a bag on one of the seats. After asking him to move it he did move his bag.

Some underground stations were more pushchair friendly than others. Westminster had lifts as well as the escalators, but it was not obvious which lifts went where. We did work it out in the end, the key being that you need to follow the signs for lift to the booking office, rather than looking for exit signs.

We bought a day ticket which works our cheaper if you are going to be making more than about 3 journeys. It's also a lot more convenient as you only need to queue to use the machine / booking office once.

There is also a map showing which underground stations can be accessed without having to go down stairs / escalators. Accessible Tube Map

We enjoyed taking our baby to London, and it was rewarding, but it is a lot of hard work negotiating the underground.

See below for more details about some of the attractions in London suitable for kids and babies.