Did you know that the school holidays are in fact the best time to take a break in London? Me either, but apparently this is the time that most hotels aren’t busy, and so are offering some of their best discounts? We stayed in a fantastic hotel at half term : Royal Garden Hotel, which is in Kensington (High Street) to test out the theory, and it actually was the perfect time to visit the capital.
I think like most parents, if I’m taking a break with my family, I don’t necessarily want to relax and do nothing, I want us all to have fun, and family time together in whatever form that takes. Yes taking break during a half term can be costly but in actual fact choosing somewhere like London, can make it a really cost-effective break.
First up though, I wanted to talk about the Royal Garden Hotel and what it has to offer.
As I mentioned they have lots of offers available during half term. We took advantage of a reduced rate room (33% off) they also have half price interconnecting rooms to, and guarantee them when you book, unusual for a hotel.
The Royal Garden really is a beautiful looking hotel, as soon as you enter the revolving door, you are transported into an area that is calm elegant and peaceful, not at all like the hustle and bustle of Kensington High street where it resides. We were welcomed very warmly by receptionist, who took her time to talk to us as a family, including my youngest Miss A who is 5. She then took us up in the lift to see our family room.
It was a very generous room, with a huge queen bed, large hallway with two separate double wardrobes, a safe, and tea/coffee-making facilities. The room had a sitting area with a sofa, that would be converted to a bed in the evening. There was a table too by the sofa, so it was great for playing games and catching a movie, if you had time.
The bathroom was also perfect for a family, as it was really spacious, it had a bath and a HUGE separate shower, big enough for two people!
Not forgetting the adults though, the bathroom had luxurious bathrobes, and Penhaligons toiletries. There was also an ipod dock, and a clock radio in the bedroom something we didn’t need as we have our very own alarm system, in the shape of our youngest daughter. Also small details like controls for the lights by the main bed too, little things that make a stay in a room with children so much easier.
Miss A was given a Royal Garden backpack full of goodies to play with, some healthy snacks from Whole Foods (which was just across the road from the hotel) even a cuddly toy to play with. She was delighted with her own pass-key for the lights too, and raced to the room each time so she could be in charge of them!
Once we’d unpacked we took in the view the our room had. We were overlooking Kensington Palace and gardens, boy what a view it was! We had been told by our receptionist that we could use the hotel Micro Scooters (they had lots to choose from including adult models) to explore the gardens, as well as use any of the toys and games that they had, just to let them know.
We did just that on Sunday morning, and joined the dog walkers and joggers, to blow away the cobwebs. A really great oasis in the city!
Something as simple as these kinds of facilities, speak volumes really about the family friendly vibe of the Royal Garden Hotel. Yes it did have a real feeling of luxury, it is in fact a five star hotel, but not intimidatingly so, it felt like we were very welcomed as a family.
The Royal Garden is actually a family run hotel, I believe they have two others, and this really came through during our stay. To give you an example, we’d had a busy morning, done lots of walking and visiting of the tourist sites, and decided to take a late lunch back at the hotel. Miss A was tired, and just a little grumpy, and as quick as a flash, the waiting staff spotted this and gave her a pack of colouring and puzzles to keep her going whilst we ordered and waited for food. It was brilliantly dealt with, I hardly noticed Miss A was about to bubble over.
The food at Park Terrace, in the hotel over lunch was excellent, really tasty and well presented. I loved the children’s menu, which was imaginatively thought out, with more unusual and familiar family favourites. This is Miss A with her Toy Story Chicken, what a fun way to name it! The Royal Garden also offers early dinner dining, great if you have very little ones.
Of course you don’t need to eat in the Hotel, it very close to other restaurants like Giraffe, Prezzo, Bills and Spaghetti house, which are also great for families.
Staying at the Royal Garden Hotel means that you have easy access to so many places in London. In fact you can pick up one of the infamous red buses right outside the hotel and for a couple of pounds get yourself to many places around town. A couple of hundred yards away is the local tube station too, both of which are free (for under 10’s) and believe me the tube and bus are exciting things for them to try out.
Two of our favourite places to visit in the day with children in London are also free – The Natural History Museum and the Science Museum. We could only fit The Natural History Museum in, but spent a good couple of hours wandering around, both my girls loved seeing the dinosaurs, well worth a visit.
We did also get to go to Harrods, and the amazing Toy Kingdom there, which we much prefer to Hamleys. Miss A of course had a little treat as we spotted a Frozen colouring book. The hotel is on Kensington High Street, so not forgetting that families can be very different in ages like ours, our 12 year old loved checking out the latest offerings in Top Shop, Urban Outfitters and American Apparel, a little fashionista’s paradise!
We also (using our Merlin Passes) went around the Sealife Centre, which is next to the London Eye. We could have also visited many other places for free like Buckingham Palace to see the changing of the Guard or the Winter Wonderland.
In the evening we went to see a show, and I can really recommend doing this if you are in London. There are lots of offers on tickets available, so you can usually get a good price. We went to see Charlie and the Chocolate factory, and I’ve got to say it was once of the best, if not the best show I’ve seen in the West End.
So if you are looking to spend a couple of days (or more) in London with the family, I can highly recommend the Royal Garden Hotel as a base, family friendly, close to everything which left us feeling like we had been pampered too, my idea of the best half term break with the children!
Disclaimer : We were given a nights stay at the Royal Garden Hotel. All thoughts and words are mine, and 100% honest.