2018 was an amazing year for me and my family. So we wanted to end the year right by traveling to a beautiful destination for the holidays.
In October, I started looking for places to go for the holidays. I wanted to go somewhere different so I put in information into my travel spreadsheet to find the best and most cost effective options. I checked out places like Argentina, Hawaii and even as far as Singapore. But since we were only going for a week, I wanted a decent flight (nonstop preferred) preferably somewhere in Europe since we’ve never been before as a family.
There was a number of things to consider for the trip. What is the weather like, where to go, where to say, what to see, what to do and where to eat. After living in Miami, Florida for the past three years, I was sorta open to the idea of traveling to a cold weather location.
* I go to Kayak and click on Explore to get prices of flights all over the world from my home location
* Then I compare flight prices using Google Flights, Expedia and Southwest (if applicable)
* Next I plug in the best prices and flight times into the spreadsheet
* After that, I go to Expedia and search for resorts in the locations based on stars, price and guest ratings
* Lastly, I put in prices and the spreadsheet then calculates the estimated total price based on the number of days of travel
Once I have the total cost for flight and hotel, I indicate whether the resort is all-inclusive or if we will rent a car to determine the estimated daily expenses. I always choose hotels because I love hotels. Once I have all of this information, the formulas calculate the grand total. I now have the information I need to determine what’s the best destination based on my budget.
Why I picked London, England
Everything starts with flight prices, duration of the flight(s) and how long we are traveling. I have two young kids (7 & 5) so I am always skeptical of spending too much on plane tickets. Based on my analysis, the finalists were Rio De Janeiro, Cartagena, Milan, Madrid, Paris and London. I ran the results by my wife to get her feedback. Initially I thought we would go to Rio, but my wife didn’t want to go there for the holidays. Milan and Colombia were scratched off the list because we figured we would go there another time. So it was down to Madrid vs. London.
I was torn between where to go so I did a poll on Facebook.
The results of the poll were Madrid by a landslide. I ran this by my wife and she really wanted to do London because she heard it was so beautiful during the holidays. At the time, I was still a little hesitant about traveling to the cold. But after rechecking flight prices, London was the choice. I warmed up to the idea of being in cold weather with kids for Christmas so now it was time to go shopping.
Time to go Shopping
When you live in Miami, Florida for 3 years, winter clothes are not needed. Sure we have a few items lingering since we lived in Washington, DC for so long, but we had to get prepared for the trip. All of our warm clothes were old and the kids outgrew all of theirs winter gear. I went to Google and figured out everything that’s needed for a London trip. I went to Amazon and bought coats, sweaters, boots, thermals, umbrellas, universal adapters, portable charges and so much more.
We flew out in the evening on Christmas Eve and would and arrive in London around 7:00am. The mock up of our itinerary looked like this:
12/24 – fly out of Miami at 6pm
12/25 – arrive in London (LHR) at 7:35am
check into London hotel
12/27 – check out of London hotel
take Eurostar out of LHR at 7:15am
arrive into Paris (CDG) at 9:30am
check into hotel in Paris
12/29 – check out of hotel in Paris
take Eurostar out of paris at 6:15pm
arrive in London (LHR) at 6:25pm
check into different London hotel
12/31 – check out of different London hotel
fly out of London (LHR) at 10:10am
arrive in Miami at 3:25pm
We were all set and ready. Unfortunately when you travel with two young kids, it’s never that simple.
We loved our experience at the Rosewood Mayakoba on so many occasions so it was a no brainer to try the Rosewood London. Once we arrived at the hotel, we were greeted by a huge Christmas tree and a very welcoming staff. After they checked us in, I went up to the room to put some of the presents we got the kids. I went back downstairs and my wife, Bryce and Bria were all sleep, tired from the long flight. I wake them up and the kids were overly excited when they opened their presents.
The Rosewood London is an amazing property with nice restaurants and an excellent bar with nightly live music. The staff is outstanding in all areas and the complimentary breakfast was such a huge treat and enjoyable. This place is highly recommended and we will be back.
Our London Experience (both times)
We did a lot in London and honestly we could have spent another week there doing so much more. I sorta wish we would of stayed through the New Year, but we had to get back to work. Anyway, here is a run down and some pictures of all the amazing things we did:
*Ate at Cut 45 for Christmas dinner
*Did some shopping at Camden Market and saw the amazing light display on Carnaby Street
*Checked out the Christmas lights in Chinatown
*Visited Sketch London for tea time
*Had dinner at the Coppa Club at Tower Bridge and did the Walk of Thames
*We checked out the Enchanted Forest at Hyde Park twice
*Headed over to the Sky Garden at the Walkie Talkie Building
We took the Eurostar from London to Paris. The train is comfortable, clean and fast. The check in process can be confusing so be prepared for that, but it’s much better than riding on a plane. Depending on the ticket you buy, they feed you and give you wine. I accepted and slept much of the ride both ways. Make sure you allow yourself plenty of time to clear immigration and security (we missed our train by seconds from Paris back to London). The trains run every hour for the most part, but leave in enough time for any delays.
When we arrived to Paris, it took us a while to find an Uber because none of the drivers spoke English and we suck at French. Finally we arrived at the Mandarin Oriental Paris and from start to the end of our stay, the staff was excellent. We heard a loud noise in the morning due to some construction going on near the hotel. We informed the staff and they upgraded us to a much bigger and nicer room overlooking the courtyard. I didn’t get a chance to visit the spa but I did work out at the gym and it was fabulous. Overall I could not have expected a better hotel stay during our time in Paris.
Our Paris Experience
We did not get a chance to do a lot in Paris because we were only there for a few days, plus it was very cold. As soon as we arrived, we took an Uber to see the Eiffel Tower. We wanted to do the ice skating around it, but apparently they didn’t offer it this year. And this was probably good but the cold a little much to bear. Our main plan for Paris was to not have a plan. We took long strolls throughout the city without a destination in mind. We stopped at every chocolatier shop we could find, we went to some unique Christmas markets and happened to pass by the Louvre Museum.
The concierge at the Mandarin Oriental set up our sitter service and made our dinner reservations at the Sur Mesure par Thierry Marx, which is awarded two Michelin Stars. We enjoyed Paris, but next time we go back, I would prefer it to be a lot warmer.
Corinthia Hotel London
Our plan was to stay at the Rosewood London when we returned to London, but some of our friends encouraged us to check out the Corinthia Hotel London and oh my this was one of the best hotel experiences I’ve ever had.
The hotel is located on a quiet street that is central to all of the London attractions. The interior is amazing, the rooms are spacious and the bathroom included a deep soaking bathtub with a tv. The customer service was simply the best and this hotel epitomises a 5 star luxury experience. But as great as the hotel is, the award winning spa is even better. We will definitely be back to the Corinthia in the near future.
A European trip to remember….
If I had to do it all over again, I would of just did London for the entire time. I really think that place deserves at least two weeks. But overall it was a great experience for my family at both places and it was definitely a European trip to remember.