London with kids
To say I was apprehensive travelling to a large city with young kids is an understatement, the fear of so many things including navigating tubes, walking long distances, where to eat, what to do and many more.
I can honestly say that this weekend was one of the best breaks we have had together and in someways more enjoyable than our summer holiday, perhaps it's due to the fact that is a distant memory, we were in the midst of selling our house or that I didn't set high exceptions on this trip due to my worries but it has left me with holiday blues and scrolling the photos with the fondest of memories. We hope to be back in February/ March time to explore some more.
Where we stayed...
We were kindly offered a complementary stay in Citadines South Kensington, Apart-hotels that offer home like privacy but with the security of being in a building and a reception team on hand if help is needed. The one bedroom apart'hotel was amazing for us, the apart'hotel itself was clean, simple and minimal. It had a kitchenette, dishwasher and everything you need to cook if you wished. We made breakfast in the morning and ate dinner out however if we had been staying any longer we would have made dinner in the apartment due to the cost eating out for a family of 4.
Being in an apart'hotel meant for us that Colin and I got to sit up and stream a movie with a glass of wine when the girls went to bed instead of the normal drinks sitting on a cold bathroom floor to keep quiet and the place dark or like once before, just go to bed at 8pm.
Though like most scenarios with kids involved not everything goes to plan. After a lovely evening having drinks on the Friday night we decided to get Nachos, wine and a movie for the Saturday night...
Idea- Nachos, wine, movie... no distractions, perfect!
Reality - pour glass of wine, hear child cough, be sick and walk in to a horror scene of sick.
Don't worry she was totally fine, not phased at all and annoyed that I insisted on washing her, just a case of too much apple juice before bed. I was thankful to have the reception on hand to ring down and ask some poor soul to remove the sheets. We got fresh linen on, said child washed and tucked back in to bed but glad we had that support on hand which we wouldn't have had in a regular apartment. The perfect mix of privacy with the apartment and also security and help when needed.
Colin and I did get to sit back down to that bottle of wine but it made us giggle in a "sure if you didn't laugh" kind of way!
We stayed in South Kensington on Gloucester Road, which I loved. After a night in Leicester Square we loved coming back to such a quiet location. Harrods, The Natural History Museum and lots of pretty streets were all within walking distance.The nearest tube was Gloucester Road and only a 3 minute walk from Citadines apart'hotel with independent delis and supermarkets on the door step as well as a Tesco Express and Starbucks.
What we got up to
We could have filled our days with so much to do and see. When we return we hope to visit Shrek World as it got so many fab recommendations. We went straight away to the Ice Rink at the Natural History Museum which cost £40 for a family of 4 but it was worth every penny! The girls loved it so much and still talk about it. We had to have a go on the Merry Go Round after but everyone was so hungry so we went for food instead of going into the museum. We planned to go back but didn't make it... again, maybe next time.
I think why our trip was so enjoyable was that we removed all pressures, we decided if we got to see nothing but had a nice time dandering around as a family then we were winning and everything else was a bonus. The last few months have been so busy and stressful that it was amazing just having time together.
We visited Hamleys on the Friday night, essentially an over priced and over sized Smyths but there were lots of assistants on hand to put on glitter tattoos and paint nails and the girls had a ball! Bella and Annie recommend.
Later that evening we took a walk up Regent Street (where Hamleys is) and popped into the Mulberry light exhibition, we happened to stumble upon it, with a warehouse filled with lights and music the girls loved it.
We went around Leicester Square after dinner, visited the Christmas market, the M&M store and the Lego store (which was a huge hit!!) the buskers alone were so entertaining.
On Saturday we took a super quick trip to Covent Gardens but dashed off to meet family. I love Covent Gardens and hope to take the girls back again, the shops and restaurants are lovely and there's always a really lovely atmosphere.
On the Sunday we visited Peggy Porschen for some coffee and cake. It is beautifully decorated outside to match the season, the coffee and cake is lovely and you will be sure to see some entertaining sights of blogger poses outside! Girls loved the beautifully decorated cakes.
Where we ate
This is probably where it would have paid to be more planned and organised though I couldn't think of anything worse than traveling across London with kids and rushing for food.
For lunch on the Friday we ate in Bella Italia in South Kensington, 5 minutes from the Natural History museum. The food was lovely and reasonable and the atmosphere was great too!
For dinner we ate in TGI Fridays in Leicester Square. Annie is such a fussy eater and only wants a cheese burger or Sausages (and not any old sausages) which limited us. As we left I spied Shake Shack across the road which many recommended.
The Saturday morning we made breakfast in the apartment, we brought in cereal, bread and fruit and Colin done a Starbucks run for fresh coffee next door which was really lovely, stress free and nice to sit and plan Tubes etc.
We had lunch when visiting family in Richmond. For dinner we got off the the Tube to Leicester Square again but as it was a Saturday night it was so so busy (wouldn't recommend taking kids here on a Saturday night if you don't like places too busy) we decided to head back to Gloucester Road to near The Citadines apart'hotel where there was lots of places to eat including a lovely Pizza Express and small independant restaurants but for Annies choices of sausages, beans and potatoes we ate in Garfunkals. Great service, reasonably priced which made up for the quality of food. Did the job for us but would recommend trying somewhere else.
We would have been lost without the pram. Yes Annie is now 3 but both days we walked between 12,000- 14,000 steps which is an awful lot for little legs. Bella used a buggy board to hop on and off at the back. We used the tubes at quieter periods of time and tried to plan our travel around rush hour. So many people offered to help with the pram up and down the Tube station steps and when Colin had the luggage (one case between 4 was the handiest) I took the offer of help with the pram while I held on to the girls.
The girls loved the adventure of the tubes and guessing what was up above us.
We got around a lot on Uber and it was so reasonably priced! We broke up our tube travel with Ubers and most trips cost between £6-£8. Have the app already set up on your phone and payment method linked before going.
I use this app every time I go to London and would literally be lost without it. It uses GPS to track where you are and shows the quickest way for you to get where you need to go showing the options and directions for walking, tubes, bus, train, Uber. It also lists exactly the Tube lines you need to get on and how many stops before you get off. Takes the stress and thinking out of London travel.
As mentioned before Citadines kindly offered us a complimentary stay, its location, the room and space was perfect for us and to have the chance to take time to ourselves in the evening when the kids went to bed was the icing on the cake. As always, all words and images are my own... the opinion that we had such an amazing weekend is shared by us all.