Ciao Bambino’s trip to London was covered by HouseTrip. As always, our opinions are our own.
Children become much more interested in a foreign city if they can relate to it. And one of the best ways of getting them to do this is through literature. London features as the backdrop to many world famous children’s books. Focus on these books, instead of traditional guidebooks, before your arrival and they can start to make a list of all the places that they have become inspired to visit.
A Literary Tour of London with Kids
They can attempt to follow Harry Potter through the wall into Platform 9 and three quarters at Kings Cross St Pancras Station. Just a few stops along the Metropolitan line they can try to seek out the statue of Paddington Bear at Paddington Station. Then you can all hop back on the tube to Baker Street where you can stop off at 221b Baker Street, the home of the legendary detective Sherlock Homes. Despite this fictional character never residing here, the address has been turned into a museum dedicated to him.
Whilst you’re visiting London Zoo look out for the statue of the brown bear named Winnie that inspired the Winnie the Pooh books. And, after an afternoon climbing the pirate ship at Kensington Gardens, check out how many fairies and animals you can see climbing up the statue of Peter Pan.
Then get political and head down to Number 10 Downing Street, the home of the prime minister, to see where the mother in David Walliam’s Mr Stink story had her heart set on living.
Or pop down to the Imperial War Museum at Lambeth or the Royal Navy battleship HMS Belfast and put your undercover skills to the test in their Horrible Histories Spies exhibition based on Terry Deary’s books from the Horrible Histories series.
London Shows with Kids
Next let the stories come to life by taking in a show. There are normally several theatres in London staging shows aimed at children and these are often inspired by children’s stories. The Sound of Music, Matilda, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and We’re going on a Bear Hunt are some of those running at the moment.
Introduce older children to the Bard at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, the reconstructed copy of the Elizabethan Globe Playhouse where William Shakespeare performed and staged his plays.
If all this inspires them to start writing and acting out their own stories, then the final stop must be the Discover Children’s Story Centre at Stratford – that’s Stratford in East London, not Shakespeare’s birth place. This hands-on creative literary centre is aimed at children up to 11 years old, aiming to spark their imagination, curiosity and creativity, through play, art, experimentation and a rolling programme of activities.
Experience Life as a Londoner
To really experience life as a Londoner opt to stay in one of the little villages that it is really made up of. Situated between Queens Park and Kilburn, is this hip three bedroom, two bathroom apartment through HouseTrip.com. It comes with a free parking space out front so you can hire a car for a few days and take a trip out to the Warner Bros Studios for the Harry Potter tour.
There are quite a lot of stairs involved so it’s not ideal for young children, but perfect for school age and above. It’s within walking distance of Queens Park with its buzzy pavement café scene, boutiques and beautiful park, which has a great playground, pitch and putt course and even a little zoo. Whilst in the more urban Kilburn you’ll find the Tricycle Theatre, which puts on some great family shows.
Whilst this two-bedroom ground floor flat right in the heart of Notting Hill is more suited to younger kids, as there are no stairs to navigate. It has a chic, but homely open-plan living area and two sun-filled bedrooms. But the real pull, is that it’s in the heart of Notting Hill with its boutiques, restaurants and bars and Portobello Market.
And just up the road you’ll find a garden square complete with a playground. Be sure to pop to the Lutyens and Rubenstein book shop to pick out a lovely British children’s book to read at bed time!