Whenever we announce to the kids that we’re heading to London, they go a bit Dick Whittington! I swear they think London is some magical place where the streets are paved with gold, instead of Boris Bikes!
Since we live in the sticks, their “Country Bumpkin” point of reference is based largely on Mary Poppins. I think they half expect that other Dick – of the Van Dyke variety – to appear around the corner and give us a quick rendition of Bert’s “Chim Chimeney”! And yes, that would be a positive – apparently!
Whatever their image of London – trips there are always pretty magical. And I love their wide-eyed wonder. Having lived in London for most of my working life, it’s nice to see the place through their eyes. But this time we were taking things up a gear, involving beds. Cue maximum excitement!
Flemings of Mayfair (www.flemings-mayfair.co.uk) was our home for the night and the most stylish and family friendly hotel I’ve visited in London EVER! Amazing! Founded in 1851, everything about it was brilliant and from the minute we checked in, the children were made to feel as if they were special, not extras. I could see them both bursting with pride as they were addressed at reception upon check-in and we left our luggage for the day and headed out in search of Bert & Mary!
Covent Garden was the first stop but honestly, the kids would have been happy just riding The Tube for the entire day! Luckily we’d appropriately planned a trip to The Transport Museum (www.ltmuseum.co.uk) so the love of buses and trains could continue! The kids adored filling their cards at the “Stamping Stations” almost as much as being able to climb all over vintage trams, buses and tube trains. LOVE that the museum has a cloakroom upon arrival for your coats and bags to make the experience easier on parents! Totally a mummy hit. And the kids highlight? The faux horse poo at the horse & carriage exhibit. Yup – that poor carriage survived hundreds of years to be there, only to get usurped!
We then wandered around The Piazza, the kids spellbound as we enjoyed watching some amazing street performers and musicians and generally soaking up the atmosphere before heading to Leicester Square. Luckily the Swiss Centre Clock was chiming and animating and we stood and watched the entire show before jumping on a double decker (big hit!) back to the hotel.
The bar at Flemings serves virgin cocktails for kids, which gave Trey and I the perfect excuse to sample the not-so-virginal variety. Rude not to really!
Families have several room options at Flemings and you can even stay in your own apartment if you so desire! When Flemings invited us along I had no idea how much I’d love the place. I actually wanted to move in FOR REAL! The kids couldn’t have been more excited to discover their robes, slippers and signed “Fleming the Frog” books on their beds, not to mention frog bubble bath. Flemings totally get what it is to have kids and in that moment, I couldn’t have loved them more! The decor was luxuriously decadent yet modern, and as I stood in the enormous rain shower, I felt like a pig in the proverbial!
Dinner was a lovely experience, and under 12’s dine for free from the special Fleming Frog Kids Menu. Again, we totally felt as if the kids were welcome, not an inconvenience.
Just when we thought their excitement levels could rise no further at bedtime, we called down for the kids “Cocoa and Cookies” which cemented Flemings forever in their hearts! A lovely touch. And, surprisingly considering the sugar rush, everyone slept brilliantly since there were blackout blinds. BLISS!
Breakfast the following morning had everything a kid could possibly want on offer at the buffet so they were thrilled, as was I as I tucked into my favourite breakfast ever – Eggs Royale.
Flemings got everything absolutely spot on for a family. I can’t recommend the place enough. It’s everything – the place, the extras for kids – but mainly the staff who actually seemed to like the presence of children! I know – unheard of, right?
On the Sunday morning we thought it might be fun if we we headed to Buckingham Palace to watch Changing The Guard. In my head, I had images of us standing in the sunshine with a few other families, watching the guards march up and down and generally having a lovely time, possibly waving at Queenie if we were lucky.
On a Sunday. In the summer holidays. Yeah, right!
Alarm bells started ringing as we headed across Green Park from the hotel, only to clock quite quickly we weren’t alone. It was like a mass exodus, each person increasing pace with the realisation of the hoards around them. It was crazy! I got that slightly panicky feeling you get as a parent when you realise a great plan is about to go spectacularly wrong, but you can’t go back on it as you’ve whooped everyone up into an expectant frenzy, despite the pending fail? Yeah. That.
By the time we reached Buck Pal the section in front of the main gates was already about 6 people deep. Yup. SIX people! So we headed to a side section and spent the next 45 minutes jostling for position with, what seemed like, pretty much most of the worlds tourists!
When Changing The Guard finally started at 11.30, we put both kids on our shoulders so they got a great view. Us, not so much! When my shoulders could finally take no more and my body had surely impacted by a good few inches, we decided to head off. And made the discovery of the year. Save yourselves!
Once the change has happened, the “going out” guards process back to their barracks via Birdcage Walk and we were outside the Barracks as they filed past. The kids were SO excited! It was like a whole little show JUST for OUR family and JUST as I’d imagined originally. RESULT! Mummy Fail averted!
Our weekend was so amazing, just strolling around London as a family is so much fun! The children were so devastated when we had to leave the hotel, we’re now busy planning a London Weekend for Christmas. I couldn’t think of anything more perfect – London, christmas lights, chilly air, roast chestnuts and Flemings! Such a special family treat! And from 15th December to 12th January you can get family rooms from £245 exclusive of VAT and includes:
- Under 12s dine for free from the Fleming Frog kids menu
- An exclusive signed copy of the Fleming Frog book
- Hot chocolate & cookies at bed time
- Goodies on arrival including froggy shampoo
- Children’s slippers and bathrobe
All together now “Deck the Halls with Bows of Holly…. Fa la la la la… la la la la”!