London with kids….
We try to go to London a couple of times a year & there are far too many amazing options to choose from to cover in one visit (or one post), but below I’ll share the things we got up to during our Spring 2019 break.
This was our first stop & the place Bella said she would most like to visit again. We went last year and she absolutely loved it. Kidzania is a city built for kids where during their 4 hour experience little ones can independently choose from a number of real life activities and test out their skills in a variety of professions.
Ideally suited for ages 4-14, so Penny was still a bit young for a few of the activities but there was still loads that they could do together.
Bella’s favourite last time was working as a courier, and this time it was the same again closely followed by presenting the weather.
For each ‘job’ that you complete you get paid in KidZos and you can spend what you earn in the gift shop at the end. If it is busy then the queues for certain activities can be long (for example to work as a Pilot), however, we advised Bella both times to just explore and try anything that didn’t have a queue even if she didn’t fancy it… this meant that they literally bounced from one activity to another quite happily.
A favourite this year was working in the newsroom (for ages 8 and up). It was a 30 minute activity followed by parents being invited to watch the participating children present the news/weather. Whilst Bella was leaning/practising we took Penny to the toddler room and then came back to see a very happy little girl present the weather. Penny also loved riding on the little tour bus that went around the city. A place where imaginations will soar.
Afternoon Tea at St Ermin’s Hotel – Traditional, delicious and beautiful. I spent some time researching where would be a family friendly place to take the girls for a traditional Afternoon Tea in the capital and this opulent Victorian hotel located in Westminster kept popping up in my searches.
We arrived to a spectacular setting & took our time walking up the beautiful staircase to the tea lounge and the outside dining area. We opted to sit in the tea lounge, with the beautiful soft furnishings making it the perfect environment to relax in for a couple of hours.
We enjoyed traditional favourites baked exceptionally such as the scones, and also devoured all of the signature sweet and savoury delicacies.
What made the visit for us, was the Mini Gardener Tea. Served every weekend and during the school holidays between 12 noon and 5pm the treats catering to children will result in wide eyes and big smiles.
With a selection of sandwiches to tempt even the fussiest of eaters, followed by a milk chocolate lollipop, DIY shortbread, chocolate ganache and a salted caramel rhubarb & custard verrine children will leave them feeling happy, spoilt and full. A lovely touch at the end – the girls were also gifted some tomato seeds which have since been planted in our garden.
It was the perfect choice of location for their first afternoon tea and Bella has asked whether we would be able to stay there next time we visited London as it’s ‘the prettiest hotel she has ever seen’
I wanted to take the girls somewhere to see the views across London, but not to somewhere we had previously visited so we booked to go to London’s highest public garden.
Tickets to enjoy the gardens and bars are free if booked in advance, however I’d left it too late so when I rang they said they had space for an early dinner in the Darwin Brasserie but that was all. I took it and although the gardens themselves are lovely, and the views spectacular but I would not recommend this particular restaurant with young children.
The staff were great, but it was SO loud in there. Packed to the rafters and hard to hear each other speak. It’s pricey too, so a visit without kids so you aren’t crawling under tables to retrieve toys just as your food arrives would probably be preferable.
With over 650 species of animals and amazing facts everywhere you turn this is a firm favourite. The weather was lovely which always helps and we walked over 15,000 steps exploring (if you visit make sure you don’t miss out the attractions under the bridge).
Penny absolutely loved the penguins and the girls watched them happily for about 30 minutes, the monkeys are something else too. One jumped onto Roy’s shoulder and Penny was beside herself with excitement. The gorillas, tigers and lions were out basking in the sunshine and we had ice creams sat outside watching the flamingos. In the aquarium Bella read that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than there are fish and she was truly shocked and saddened. A brilliant place for little ones to learn and be entertained at the same time and always a special treat for the girls.
We’ve taken Bella to see the Changing of the Guard before. We arrived early, bagged a good spot and it was brilliant. Penny however is a different kid with a different temperament, so we didn’t fancy our chances of her waiting patiently.
Instead we timed it so we were in the area at 11.00 and could hear and see all the excitement but from a bit further away. We walked through on our way to the Royal Mews. The Royal Mews is home to the collections of historic coaches and carriages and is considered to be one of the finest working stables in existence.
Bella was beside herself at being able to see the Royal horses and seeing the Diamond Jubilee State Coach. Seeing this beautiful coach up close is worth a visit in itself and although our tickets were booked in advance it was quiet and very calm compared to what was going on around the corner.
You can arrange a family guided tour of Parliament but the suggested age is 7-12, and as Penny had just turned 3 we thought we’d walk to the garden there after we’d visited the Royal Mews.
We knew there was a protest on climate change happening and it seemed a perfect opportunity to introduce Bella following our visit to the zoo.
We walked through Regents Park and had lunch in The Boathouse café. There are lovely views, and there was a good atmosphere, but again pricey (not surprising given the location ). There are 4 playgrounds in the park as well and it’s a fab option to combine with your visit to ZSL London Zoo as the zoo is located at one end of the park.
We also visited the Diana Memorial Playground in Kensington Gardens too and Penny’s face when she saw the giant wooden pirate ship was a picture.
The parks are obviously free to visit and open every day of the year so I’d recommend including at least a couple in your visit if you have time. More information can be found at www.royalparks.org.uk
We never visit London without visiting my favourite part – Notting Hill. We enjoyed Sunday lunch on Portabello Road after walking around the pretty pastel houses and a visit to The Hummingbird Bakery for a treat to take home.
If you want the market head there on Saturday but we knew this would not bring out the best in Penny so we headed there when we knew it would be a bit quieter. We had Sunday lunch at the Duke of Wellington and it was delicious.
We will hopefully be visiting again later this year and will share more of our favourites then.