Recently, Pepper and I had the great pleasure of meeting Ryan Taerk in Aspen. Ryan is a remarkable young man and a passionate, well seasoned traveler. We are very proud to have Ryan as a contributing travel writer in our ENJOY section. We hope you enjoy his articles as much as we do. Please allow us to introduce you to Ryan…Soffia & Pepper
My name is Ryan Taerk, and unlike most sixteen year olds, I have a passion for planning amazing family holidays. For a few years now, I have planned and booked my family’s winter holidays, spring breaks, and incredible summer adventures to destinations that most people dream about. Some of my favorites are Alaska, Australia, Hawaii, but I want to start with my number one summer destination Europe.
I planned a trip for my large family of eleven. We travelled to five great European cities. We journeyed to London, Paris, Venice, Florence, and Rome. We wanted to experience Europe from a first class point of view, and that’s exactly how I planned it.
I have divided our “once in a lifetime” vacation into a five part blog series including daily itineraries, hotel choices, restaurants, and some helpful travel tips.
Part 1: London Calling The trip started in jolly old London England, where my family spent five days touring, sightseeing and shopping. The first step in planning this vacation was choosing the best hotel for my family’s needs. What was most important to us, given the age range of the all the children, was to have child friendly amenities available at the drop of a dime, no a pound! As a result, I assisted in selecting hotels that had a range of child friendly activities.
Hotels My family chose to stay at the Berkeley Hotel in Knightsbridge, one of London’s most luxurious areas. The hotel is very accommodating to families as it offers connecting rooms and a roof top swimming pool that children are allowed to use at select hours of the day. If you are traveling with children, staying at a hotel with a pool is a bonus, because at the end of the day when the children are tired from touring or shopping, they will enjoy a swim in the pool. Many high-end European hotels are located in renovated historic buildings in the centre of cities and don’t always have the space to build a swimming pool. If you are traveling with children during the summer, a pool is definitely something to consider.
For adults, The Berkeley offers The Blue Bar, a very popular London celebrity hangout. Keep your eyes open for Gwyneth Paltrow or Madonna when visiting. If you are looking for a traditional afternoon tea, The Berkeley Hotel also offers one of London’s most authentic and beautiful high teas. It is a great experience to share with family.
If a pool is not a priority, then I would suggest staying at the Four Seasons Park Lane. The Four Seasons Park Lane offers the level of service that Four Seasons is known for around the world. This recently renovated hotel is located in Mayfair, a fabulous area for sightseeing and shopping. This hotel is also family friendly, however it does not have a swimming pool. The Four Seasons is also within walking distance of some fantastic places to eat.
Touring If you plan on sightseeing, I recommend working with a tour company to help organize your daily activities. Lets face it; you’re on vacation too. You should enjoy every moment without having to worry about directions, reservations, or timing. Allow the experts with their extensive knowledge to show your family the most significant sights, and provide the most accurate information on the amazing things you are seeing. The tour company that I worked with set up great daily tours that started after breakfast and ended mid-afternoon. The tour company ensured efficient transportation, provided a great mix of historic sites and shopping. They covered it all. Some of the sights visited included Buckingham Palace, the London Eye, Westminster Abby, Big Ben, The Crown Jewels at the Tower of London, Parliament, The British Museum, and the Churchill War Rooms. For those of you who like the classics, you can also plan a day walking in the paths of Chaucer, Shakespeare, Dickens, or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Another great day trip just outside the city is Her Majesty’s favorite residence, Windsor Castle.
All photos in this article by Matt Taerk
The city of London has tons of treasures, museums, and galleries. I highly recommend using a tour guide to assist you and your family. The one I booked was an accredited Blue Badge Tourist Guide. These highly qualified guides are allowed to tour in areas that other guides are not permitted to. The best part still was that the guide and I were able to customize a tour that catered to my families’ interests and needs. The most important part of your vacation is that you are comfortable and enjoying it.
Restaurants London’s unique dining experience spans everything from traditional English Pubs to restaurants that house some of the world’s most famous chefs. In Knightsbridge, you can find a quaint English Pub, which was once the sight of an old officer’s mess. The Grenadier Pub has old English favorites such as meat pies and beef wellington, traditional pub food that in my opinion is like no other.
Mayfair offers an equally exceptional dinning experience with restaurants owned by some of the world’s most famous chefs. One of the world’s greatest sushi restaurants is in Mayfair, Nobu. You must make a reservation before going. If you are in the mood for an amazing steak, you must try Wolfgang Puck’s, CUT, his first European restaurant. CUT is located in the brand new 45 Park Lane Hotel. It is London’s newest 5 star boutique hotel, owned by The Dorchester Collection. This restaurant offers breakfast, lunch and dinner.
One of England’s most famous chef’s, Gordon Ramsey, has an amazing steak house in Mayfair as well. The Maze Grill is an excellent restaurant with a cool atmosphere. For an added experience, ask to be seated at the chefs’ table.
Shopping Some of the most well-known and highly regarded fashion houses are located in London. Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney, Viviane Westwood, and the iconic English brand, Burberry. In Knightsbridge, only a block away from The Berkeley Hotel, you can find the world famous Harrods department store. Harrods has a department for everything you could possibly be looking for. It’s an experience in itself. Down the road from Harrods is Burberry’s flagship store, the largest Burberry store in the world.
Mayfair is also one of London’s top fashion areas. You will find luxury brands such as Brunello Cucinelli, Charlotte Olympia, and the famous Savile Row within walking distance from The Four Seasons Park Lane. In my opinion the shopping is wonderful, but if you are looking for the best shopping experience in Europe, you must go to the City of Lights, Paris.
Ryan’s London Travel Tips
- If you are traveling from London to Paris, and you want to show your children a different and exciting way to travel, you must take the Chunnel.
- If you are taking a train or plane within Europe you should ask the Concierge at your hotel to book a porter at the train station or airport to assist you with your luggage. Porters need to be pre-arranged at most stations and terminals.
- If you need to buy tickets for museums or galleries, purchase them ahead of time online, so you don’t have to wait in a long line to purchase tickets. Also, see if they offer VIP tickets, often these are slightly more expensive but are great time-savers and can also provide special opportunities.
We invite you to read, part 2…Paris-The City of Lights
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