Family Christmas city break in London

We enjoyed a family Christmas city break in London last weekend. This article aims to provide ideas to other families who are planning a festive city break in the capital.

Our primary reason for visiting London was to meet with Santa in his Christmas grotto at Harrods. We have been eagerly anticipating our visit since we booked our tickets a few months ago.  We were not quick enough last year and missed the opportunity to book as tickets sold out very quickly. We were therefore determined this year not to make the same mistake twice!

The journey
We travelled from our home in Gloucestershire to London by GWR train. As we have family and friends all over the UK, we regularly spend many hours on motorways stuck in traffic.  It was a rare luxury to sit back and relax onboard the train without the worry of traffic, car parking issues and London congestion charges!


Charlie and Harry were highly excitable waving at all the passing trains and Harry did not stop ‘choo chooing’ all the way to London.  It did not take long to make ourselves at home in the comfy leather seats and by spreading out our belongings across the spacious table.

Both boys were delighted to have our undivided attention for a few hours and fully made the most of the opportunity!  (My husband bought a copy of the Sunday Times to read which was highly ambitious of him…. Of course the paper sat unread whilst we both repeatedly read Thomas the Tank Engine books!)

By the time we arrived into Paddington train station 2.5 hours later we had all enjoyed our onboard refreshments and were ready to experience Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park.

My husband hopped on the tube and dropped off our bag at the hotel whilst the boys and I walked the pleasant 20 minute walk to Hyde Park. Although it was only 2pm, the Christmas lights at Winter Wonderland were already creating a magical atmosphere.  We only stopped by to watch Zippos Christmas Circus an entertaining 45 minute show, as we had plans to return in the morning to enjoy the park when it was less busy.  Click here for our review of Zippos Circus.

Winter Wonderland, Hyde Park

Natural History Museum
Briefly breaking with the Christmas theme we stopped by the Natural History Museum for a couple of hours to get up close and personal with the dinosaurs.  If you have children who are dino fans like my two sons, I cannot recommend this free attraction highly enough.  The exhibits are very life-like and there are many interactive displays perfect for inquisitive little minds!

My husband and I were astounded at how much information Charlie could recite about the dino exhibits… clearly he has learnt a great deal from watching Andy’s Dinosaur Adventures!  We only had time to explore the blue zone where the dinosaur exhibits are however the Natural History Museum is huge and we will definitely return to spend more time there.  We were surprised that some of the exhibits did not scare Harry however he did not flinch, even when he came face to face with a gigantic T-Rex head!


Departing the Natural History Museum we stumbled across another magical Christmas event taking place in the grounds of the museum, with traditional carousel, ice skating rink and festive market stalls.


Winter Wonderland
We were invited to review the Magical Ice Kingdom at Winter Wonderland on our second day and jumped at the opportunity to experience the largest attraction of this type in the UK. It is a unique experience and great for all ages, (ignore Charlie’s face on the image below, he did enjoy it, honestly!).  We were amazed at the craftsmanship involved in carving and detailing the ice sculptures.  Click here for our review of the Magical Ice Kingdom.


Harrods Christmas Grotto
After enjoying rides and festive treats from the market stalls we headed over to Harrods to meet with Santa.  It took a while to make our way through the store to the fourth floor (the place is like a maze, especially when you have to navigate with a pushchair!) where we embarked on a magical journey through Father Christmas’ toy workshop before meeting him in his winter cabin.

The toy workshop was interactive and great fun for kids (and big kids!)  We threw presents into baskets, had our photos taken, played on a floor piano and watched the Christmas cuckoo clock.  The highlight of our time in the workshop was Charlie’s reaction when his Daddy was put on the naughty list.  He quickly informed the Elf that the machine must be broken because his Daddy was not naughty!


Our visit with Santa in his winter cabin was very memorable.  It was decorated beautifully and we were all made to feel incredibly welcome.  We enjoyed personal family time with Santa for at least 20 minutes.  Santa and Charlie had an adorable chat about how important it was to leave out refreshments on Christmas Eve and tidy his bedroom (thank you Santa!).  Before departing we had our professional photo taken and left with special gifts for both boys, presented in luxurious keepsake bags.  Charlie was delighted with his juggling set and Harry was quite smitten with his rattling cube.

As the regular grotto tickets had sold out within a couple of hours of going on sale we had booked a package with buffet in the Disney Christmas Café.  The food was, as expected, tasty and very moreish!  The boys loved the Christmas decorations in the Disney cafe and it was a lovely end to a very pleasant day.  A couple of hours later we rolled out of the store and into a taxi to the train station after trying most of the dishes and desserts on offer!

We stayed at the Premier Inn, Kensington.  This hotel is perfectly located within walking distance of the Natural History Museum and Harrods.  With prices from £50 and rooms large enough to accommodate a double bed, single bed and cot bed, it is an ideal choice for families.


We have stayed in Premier Inn’s before and have always been very impressed with the general cleanliness, comfortable beds and how well they cater for children.  The brand prides itself on providing free breakfast for children under the age of 12 and offering very reasonably priced kids dinner menus.  We found there was a good variety of food for both breakfast and dinner with healthy options as well as your typical kids choices.  We would not hesitate in staying at this hotel again for future family city breaks in London.

I hope this article helps you to plan a memorable Christmas family city break in London!  If you need more inspiration check out My Travel Monkey’s top ten things to do in London this Christmas.  Please do let me know if you have any questions, I would love to help if I can.

Disclosure – We would like to thank Winter Wonderland, GWR and Premier Inn for inviting us to review their services.  All opinions and words are, as always, our own.

All images copyright Travel Loving Family

Packing my Suitcase
Wander Mum


  1. 19th December 2015 / 6:34 pm

    It sounds like you had a great time. The sculptures at the Magical Ice Kingdom look amazing. How cute that Charlie jumped to his dad’s defence :) Merry Christmas to you all! #MondayEscapes

    • Lisa
      22nd December 2015 / 3:12 pm

      I know bless him! The elves all thought it was very cute too:)

  2. 15th December 2015 / 11:37 pm

    There is always so much to do in London (we live there!) but it always seems very special this time of year. We agree about Premier Inns, we often stay in them when we travel around the UK, as the family rooms are nearly always good and the prices reasonable too. #Citytripping

    • Lisa
      22nd December 2015 / 3:16 pm

      Yes we have booked some very reasonable rates with Premier Inn Sarah and the small touches like free breakfast definitely help to keep down the cost of a family break.

  3. 15th December 2015 / 9:25 pm

    This sounds like the most perfect time in London! I’m from London and I love spending Christmas there – I always feel like it is so magical and warming during the festive season :)

  4. 15th December 2015 / 12:52 pm

    I am very impressed at how much you did in London. Wow! Sounds like an awesome, Christmassy break which the boys must have loved! I love the optimism of your husband buying the newspaper – it was a nice thought…Thank you for sharing on #citytripping

    • Lisa
      15th December 2015 / 1:53 pm

      LOL yes the newspaper still remains unread on the coffee table Elizabeth!

  5. 14th December 2015 / 9:42 am

    Boy that Magical Ice Kingdom looks awesome! Do they do that every year? #MondayEscapes

    • Lisa
      14th December 2015 / 12:16 pm

      Yes Lolo its an annual event! It seems to get bigger each year too:)

  6. 14th December 2015 / 9:06 am

    What a memorable trip for your family this Christmas! London is magical at the holidays. I’m glad you got to enjoy it. #MondayEscapes

    • Lisa
      14th December 2015 / 12:17 pm

      Yes I agree Susan, London is very magical at this time of year:)

  7. 13th December 2015 / 9:33 pm

    It looks such a fantastic event – we have been to the Natural History Museum and loved it! Kaz x

  8. 13th December 2015 / 8:07 pm

    Wow, you really did have an action packed break, I feel tired just reading this. I would really love to visit these attractions with my family. The circus sounds amazing but the highlight for me would have to be the Harrods Santas Grotto.

    • Lisa
      14th December 2015 / 12:18 pm

      Yes it was our highlight too Rachel, well worth waiting for. If you want to go next year you have to sign up now as a Harrods member, as you have to be a member to purchase tickets.

  9. 13th December 2015 / 7:49 pm

    What an amazing day out! Lamb would love everything you did. I’ve been to winter wonderland once, but it was years ago when I was at uni in London. It looks so much better now! X

  10. 13th December 2015 / 7:47 pm

    It sounds like you had an amazing time. I’m having a little Christmas break in London, so this came at the perfect time

  11. 13th December 2015 / 7:57 am

    What a fun weekend! Perfect for Christmas too – I definitely think we need to make it to Winter Wonderland next year.

  12. 13th December 2015 / 4:50 am

    Oh wow, what a fun filled weekend you had. My sister and I went to winter wonderland too last weekend and we had so much fun except we didnt get to see santa but we played loads of games and went on one of the rides.

  13. 12th December 2015 / 6:00 pm

    Oh my God! I want to do all of this! The grotto looks amazing and so does the Winter Wonderland. I’m also desperate to visit the National History Museum.

    • Lisa
      12th December 2015 / 11:37 pm

      Thanks for stopping by Tori, yes Harrods grotto was very tasteful and Winter Wonderland is magical. We will be returning to the Natural History Museum soon because we only had a flying visit and there was so much more to see.

  14. 12th December 2015 / 4:39 pm

    It sounds like you really packed so much in! What a wonderful Christmassy way to start the festive season. We went to see Santa at Harrods last year and real enjoyed the experience. Funnily enough, we also went to Winter Wonderland – seeing as it’s just around the corner. The Premier Inn in Kensington looks like a great find and a great location, too. The boys looks so happy! Thank you for mentioning my post too, that’s very kind of you.

    • Lisa
      12th December 2015 / 11:39 pm

      You are so welcome Ting. I was going to write a post re: top London attractions and then felt it seemed foolish as your post is just perfect for what my readers will be looking for.

  15. 12th December 2015 / 4:33 pm

    Oh wow what a lovely break to the Capital – we love going to the Natural History museum – we visit it each time we are in the city.

    Laura x

  16. 12th December 2015 / 4:25 pm

    It looks and sounds as though you had a great time, I havent yet made it to Winter Wonderland, but I am hoping too x

    • Jane
      13th December 2015 / 11:39 pm

      Enchanting it looks amazing to take a family you make it sound so exciting. Must agree we have found Premier Inns always clean comfortable and reasonable. Great input, informative reading.

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