Whether your coming from Richmond or Runcorn, Greenwich is a major tourism town that sees thousands of people paving its streets every year. This year has seen a rise in tourism again and with lockdown officially behind us all, the streets of Greenwich are starting to fill up.
I originally published this post in August 2020 but have revised it again to keep it current with this year’s events. Spending a day trip visiting Greenwich during the summer holidays can be easy, cheap and very enjoyable for the whole family. Train companies usually offer GroupSave discounts when travelling during summer holidays if you’re coming from outside of London.
If you’d seen my post a couple weeks ago, I was so happy to announce that I was able to book us for a short two-night staycation. Last week, we stayed at the Kits Coty Glamping site in Aylesford, Kent. I booked this family trip for us during the summer holidays and it was the only set of dates that were free to book in Gretel House at the time of searching.
How to travel to the Kits Coty Glamping site
The glamping site is in Aylesford which is near to Maidstone in Kent. It’s about a 50 minute train ride from Greenwich however we decided to get a minicab to take us which was about 30-40mins journey in the car. Train tickets are about £15-20 per adult (book in advance for cheaper return tickets or two single tickets) then you’d need to either get a bus or minicab from the Maidstone station to the glamping site. On the way there we did get stuck in a bit of slow-moving traffic as it was approaching rush hour when we left. Check-in at Kits Coty is after 3pm which was perfect because it meant that the kids didn’t have to miss school on arrival day.
If you have your own car and want to drive to the site you can do, Gretel House has its own car park area and the other accommodation have a shared car park area. For driving directions, make sure you read the details in the Kits Coty guestbook which you can bookmark on your phone.
Arrival day at Kits Coty
Once we arrived, we were greeted by the super-friendly Ami who owns the site with her husband Mark. She told us that we were lucky enough to have the site all to ourselves as it was a school weekday so no-one else was booked to stay at any of the other accommodations. Yay! I was super thrilled as it’s usually rare to have a site like this all to ourselves but it did make everything a little easier for us and the kids, especially considering all things COVID. Ami showed us around and to our accommodation which we fell in love with seeing immediately. It looked even more beautiful and magical in person. Little Man said to Ami “Wow! It’s even better than in the pictures!” and boy was he right. 🙂
Kits Coty – Gretel House
Inside Gretel House
Whimsical bunk beds for the kids
Gretel House is a wooden cabin (I believe it’s cedarwood) and is ideal for small families with two adults and two children. It could probably fit a cot-bed or crib in the house too but do check with the owners if this is allowed. The charming sized bed for me and Daddy P looked so romantic with the flower wall behind the bed. The whimsical wooden built-in bunk beds for the kids were as cute as ever. The beds were super comfy and so warm we never got cold at all. There’s also a radiator in the room but we hardly needed to turn it on.
Gretel benefits from having its own eco toilets (a urinal and a sit down toilet) but it’s only for those emergency wees. It did come in handy for us as the kids needed to wee (what felt like) almost every hour or two.
We unpacked our small suitcase and bags as fast as we could before exploring the grounds. The glamping site has a magical fairytale theme – we spotted the White Rabbit’s hole (Alice in Wonderland) as well as the Cheshire Cat.
What and where to eat during your stay…
If you’ve brought your own food or are able to drive to the nearby supermarkets, you can keep all of your perishable foods in the communal fridge and freezer. We only brought dry cupboard foods with us so we kept that in our cabin and ordered takeaway for the two nights. The first night we ordered the local Chinese takeaway which was tasty and affordable. The second and last night, we ordered Dominos which arrived fast and tasted good like usual. If you have a car you may be able to drive out to eat out but as we don’t drive we were bound to the glamping grounds.
If you plan to make all your own meals, there are gas cooking rings available by the kitchen for you to take back to your accommodation and use. If you didn’t book any meals before you can still do so on site but be aware that Ami and/or Mark require 24hrs notice to prepare your booked breakfast/evening meals.
Things to do at Kits Coty Glamping:
make a fire and toast marshmallows
have a little barbeque or picnic in your own garden
book a stone-oven pizza making experience
go on one of the nature walks around the estate to see the animals, the woods, the Kits Coty stones, and Kits Coty House
tie a ribbon onto the Wishing Tree and make a wish (bring your own ribbon!)
We thoroughly enjoyed our nature walks in the woods. It was so relaxing and therapeutic – like the perfect escape away from all the hustle and bustle of city life, away from the stresses of COVID and lockdown, and it was the family time we were craving for to strengthen our family bond.
Our Best Bits at Kits Coty…
My favourite part of our staycation were the nature walks and toasting marshmallows in the fire pit. Luckily, Daddy P knew exactly how to build a campfire so we didn’t have to figure it out. The wood logs are provided for by the site but you’ll need to bring your own firelights or buy them from Kits Coty which only cost 50p so it was not a massive investment. Our fire was burning for a couple hours and the crackling of the fire burning was a lovely soothing sound. The warmth of the fire kept us nice and toasty.
The kids loved the whole experience but said they really enjoyed relaxing in the hammocks and sleeping in their Gretel bunk beds. They also enjoyed the nature walks and seeing Daddy P climb up a tree in the woods! LOL
So do I recommend Kits Coty for first-time glampers?
100% I do! We had the best family experience glamping and I am so thrilled that we got to do it at Kits Coty. Years ago, I’d taken the kids camping at a family festival however after that experience, I’ve realised that I love glamping soooooooooo much more. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed being with nature and the outdoors but I also love my creature comforts just as much. I need a warm bed, hot showers and flushable toilets no matter where I go haha! I just can’t do with being fully immersed in nature just yet – especially when I can’t stand creepy crawlies so if you’re squeamish or not a fan of bugs, crawlies and anything else that has several legs or eyes, you might not be a massive fan of glamping. Our Gretel cabin wasn’t 100% bug free but that’s to be expected when you’re outdoors. We had a couple spiders in the cabin but quite a few daddy long legs flying about at night which scared the children. I reassured the kids that they don’t bite and eventually, they were able to get over it and had a good night’s sleep.
We will definitely be coming back to glamp again at Kits Coty next summer if we don’t go abroad. The site was amazing and I have no doubt that during the holiday season, this place will be fully booked. I was super chuffed that we had the site all to ourselves because if there were other families around, some things may have been very different ie. we might’ve had to queue to use the kitchen, toilet or shower, we would’ve been trying to manage bathroom timings so we don’t take too long in the communal areas and other things.
We’re looking forward to our next family travel adventures!
PARIS, the capital of France is only a 2hr train ride via Eurostar from London St. Pancras or a short 45mins flight from London Stansted or Gatwick. However, train tickets and flights can cost you an arm and a leg if you don’t book far enough in advance. But fear ye not, because I’m going to tell you how you can visit Paris on a budget AND do it in a day (Well, sort of – I’ll explain later)… Happy days!
How to travel to Paris cheap
If you really want to travel to Paris the cheapest way possible, it would be by coach. But for that dirt cheap price comes the compromise – time. The journey is approximately 7-9hrs and depending on which coach company you go with, you can either arrive close to the centre of Paris, the airports or the suburbs of Paris.
This is why I previously wrote “sort of” for doing Paris in a day. If you want to be able to explore Paris in a day, you’ll need a night coach journey so you’ll arrive in Paris early in the morning allowing you to have all day to explore the city.
The main coach companies taking you to Paris from London are Eurolines, Flixbus and Ouibus. Coach tickets will set you back £11-15 one way and if you’re lucky, you might even find a next day return ticket for as little as £18! Now take that into consideration to a £49+ one way Eurostar ticket. However, saying this… IT IS POSSIBLE to travel to Paris from London cheaply on the Eurostar if you book during their promotion sale. These start from just £29pp one way which is amazingly cheap plus, it’s the quickest way to get to Paris.
When my sister and I went on our impromptu day trip to Paris from London, we took a night coach and arrived early morning. We spent all morning and afternoon exploring and sightseeing then caught an evening coach back home. We spent around £100 each for our day trip which included a few Uber rides in between. I bought a lot of dry food to bring back home with me so that added to our expenditure however it is possible to eat cheap, skip the hotel and save your money for the attractions and museums.
How to get around the city
The easiest and cheapest way to get around the city is by metro (underground). It’s fast, frequent and pretty reliable. Just like London travel, you’ll need a ticket to get around – a day pass is the cheapest at 12EUR (about £8) but they also offer 3, 5 and 7 days passes if you’re staying longer than a day or two. The main parts of Paris are within zones 1-3 but if you need to get to the airports (CDG and Orly), Palace of Versailles or Disneyland Paris, they are outside of the zones so you’ll need a separate ticket. If I’m not wrong, you can buy an extension which can be added onto your zone 1-3 pass.
What to see and do in Paris
Just like London, there are LOTS to do and see in Paris. However with only a day to spare and doing it on a budget won’t be easy so your planning skills need to be on point here. Research beforehand on Google maps all of the main attractions you’re interested in and see where they are located and how close they are to each other. Below are some great touristy places to see. I’ve included all of these locations in the Google Maps, just click on the markers to view them.
For a day trip, visiting 4-5 attractions should be enough to satisfy your wanderlust without burning you out and still leave you with time to relax and have something to eat and drink. Check admission prices online to make sure you stick to your budget. Alternatively, skip entry and make up for it with lots of photos instead.
Arc de Triomphe
The Catacombs of Paris
Palace of Versailles*
*ONLY if you decide to make them your only attraction to visit in Paris.
Tickets to Paris museums are free if you are a child under 18 or a student under 25.
One weekend a month, the museums do offer free entry to everyone but this varies from museum to museum so check out their admissions/tickets page for more details.
Another fantastic way of seeing many attractions in one go is to go on a walking tour.
‘Free’ Paris walking tours
You basically pay as much or as little as you like. Some are completely free and you can just tip instead. My sister and I did a free Montmartre walking tour which was a great way to see the area and learn some cool facts along the way. Ours was a tip-only tour so we tipped our guy €5-10 for his time.
Top tip: make sure you wear comfortable trainers or walking shoes when embarking on a walking tour as they can range from 1-3 hours.
Where to eat in Paris
Just like London, there’s all different cuisines for you to try from in Paris. The Independent online compiled this list of the best cheap eateries in Paris with main dishes coming in less than €10 it’s a win-win situation.
Top tip: AVOID the restaurants opposite the Eurostar Gare du Nord station because not only is it severely over-priced, the food is absolutely terrible! I made the mistake of eating there once and spent over 60EUR for our family of four and the food was terrible! We would’ve been better going to the McDonalds also on the same row of restaurants.
Not sure what to order?
Try some French classics; order an onion soup for your starter or a creme brulee for your dessert. If you’re feeling really brave, why not try their delicacy of snails… let me know how that one goes! Paris is well known for their pastries so head to a café and order something sweet, team it up with a hot drink like a latte = café au lait (“kaffay-aw-lay”), hot chocolate = chocolat chaud (“shoh-koh-lah-shaw”). If you fancy something stronger, ladies would usually order a red wine = vin rouge (“van-roozj”) or a white wine = vin blanc (“van-blohn”) and men typically a beer = bierre (“bee-air”).
If you have some cash to splash, buy a box of delicious Ladurée macarons. The macarons come in many flavours and colours and the box packaging is to die for!
I was craving some home cooking and headed out to a local-looking Vietnamese cafe in Choissy and ordered traditional dishes. The starter was around €4-5 and main was between €9-13. I spoke to the staff in Vietnamese (which was nice) and funnily enough it felt really comfortable like being at home. I think most Vietnamese cafes in this district are family-owned which is nice because there are so many chains and franchises nowadays it’s nice to support small and local businesses.
Where to stay in Paris
If you want to stay in Paris on a budget, the best option (if you don’t mind sharing) is a hostel. Unless you have a lot of cash to splash, most hotels in Paris are budget hotels and 1-2 star. It’s usually not much different from a decent hostel in my opinion. Some hostels like the Generator Paris offers single rooms with private bath/shower rooms at a premium so at least you have the option to choose.
The Generator Paris hostel is a popular choice – voted by The Independent Online and the Budget Traveller as one of the best places to stay in Paris. It offers free WIFI, sharing rooms (dorms) and private rooms, female only rooms, bar, lounge area and more.
I hope that this post has given you some inspiration or ideas on how to construct your day trip to Paris on a budget. There’s so much information online and Paris in a day is usually already on most travel blogger’s list so don’t be afraid to read their experiences and recommendations.