There is a whole raft of things to consider when travelling with children.
Here are 10 of the best family-friendly places to stay in London – from Victoria to Clerkenwell – with spacious or interconnecting rooms, free meals for children, complimentary activities, swimming pools, kitchenettes and added extras such as toys, games and treats. As well as five-star luxury, London also has budget options.
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Best for luxury: The Goring
Known for its royal credentials, the 1910-opened Goring remains owned and run by the family who built it. Although there’s an old-fashioned English feel to this lavish five-star hotel, with Gainsborough silk-lined walls and a royal warrant, there’s a surprisingly homely atmosphere and friendly staff who make children feel welcome. The personalised service is special: children can expect teddy-shaped cakes, a perfectly selected welcome gift tied beautifully with ribbon and card bearing their name, and a bedroom strewn with cuddly sheep toys (The Goring’s mascot is Barbara the sheep). The utmost delight was elicited by a wooden chest filled with immaculate fancy dress costumes.
Parents can take a breather while children decorate cakes with the chef and make mocktails with the bartender; they return laden with treats. It’s part of the Bring the Family offer, which allows you to book two adjacent or interconnecting rooms for 50 per cent off the children’s room. Mini fluffy bathrobes and slippers, baby toiletries and bath mats are provided. There’s an extensive children’s menu in the Michelin-starred restaurant, a library for children, and the concierge will advise on family-friendly attractions. The garden – a centre court-sized lawn bordered with herbs and flowers – is ideal for a run around.
Rooms from £370
Best for all-weather activities: Royal Garden Hotel
The Royal Garden goes all out for children, offering a tipi filled with cuddly animal-faced cushions plus torch to play explorers in the bedroom, a branded backpack containing a quality stationery set and an activity pack. In the excellent Park Terrace restaurant, where there’s early dining from 17.30 and small cutlery, children are presented with another activity set. There’s also free ice cream for children who complete the hotel’s fun family trail. The Food and Flicks package is ideal for rainy days: unlimited films for 24 hours plus a delicious, generous spread of duck fat-cooked chips, homemade chunky fish-fingers, dough balls with garlic dip, pizza wheels, fruit with chocolate dip and a Coke float.
The location means children can run around Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park and its excellent Diana Memorial Playground, and the hotel loans Mini Micro scooters plus helmets. The Science Museum and Natural History Museum are a short walk away, too. Choose from connecting rooms or executive rooms large enough for two adults and two children. If parents opt for breakfast, children will get it for free.
Rooms from £260
Best for design: Haymarket Hotel
Neighbourhood: West End
This hip five-star hotel has a bright, friendly atmosphere that matches Kit Kemp’s colourful and quirky interiors. Ideal if you’re seeing a show as a family, the Haymarket is in the heart of Theatreland. The generous welcome amenities for children are highest quality and tasteful: mini bathrobes and slippers, cookies and milk in bottles with striped paper straws at bedtime, a specially chosen gift and book, organic toiletries, plus a voucher to be exchanged for ice cream or a fruity drink tailor-made by the bartender. Children are welcome in the hotel’s lounges where there are games for all ages; smiley staff are happy to provide additional entertainment. The children’s menu in the Brumus restaurant offers the usual chicken goujons and burgers, but with healthy sides of broccoli or salad, and the choice of a fruit bowl for dessert. Don’t miss out on the basement’s funky, pink-lit swimming pool which offers inflatables for water fun.
Rooms from £348 including breakfast
Best for long stays: Taj 51 Buckingham Gate Suites & Residences
If you want the convenience of ample child-friendly space, a large kitchen complete with mod-cons and an array of spoiling treats, the apartments and suites at Taj 51 will not disappoint. It’s why this hotel, comprising Victorian townhouses and a quiet courtyard set back from the bustle of Victoria, was named Best Family Hotel in the World in the 2019 Hotel of the Year Awards. Our vast, neutrally decorated, contemporary two-bedroom apartment was well equipped including a playmat on which to put the activity books and crayons – within the goodie bags given to children on arrival – to use.
Expect animal-themed organic toiletries for the littlest children, rubber ducks, mini bathrobes and slippers, and a turn down service with warm milk, homemade cookies bearing children’s names, and sweet smoothies. Choose DVDs from the selection catering for the whole family and enjoy complimentary popcorn and soft drinks in the rooms. Don’t miss the Alice in Wonderland-themed afternoon tea. Our two and four-year-olds delighted in the exquisitely decorated treats and imagination-sparking details such as tea served in owl-shaped teapots.
Rooms from £400
Best for surprises: Brown’s
Since its 1837 opening, Brown’s has welcomed illustrious guests from Winston Churchill to Rudyard Kipling (The Jungle Book was completed here). Children get their own check-in and Families R Forte passport at Brown’s, in the heart of exclusive Mayfair – and that is just the start of the many surprises to make them feel spoilt. A hand-written note welcomed our two to their tent to play hideaway, while as part of the Monkey Turndown Service, a plush Jellycat monkey – the hotel’s mascot Alby – sits on their bed, which is decked with embroidered bedding.
The decor here is elegant: sage greens in our room and hand-painted walls elsewhere. There is also a beautifully illustrated Albemarle storybook for bedtime reading, and milk and home-baked cookies. A popcorn machine was a fun addition to our room. A VIP membership card allows children to borrow books from the reception’s “library”, while they can also expect their own toiletries and rubber ducks. Parents can request equipment from bottle steriliser to baby monitor, films and games consoles. The concierge will create a bespoke teen itinerary on request. The open spaces of Green Park are a short walk away.
There’s 50 per cent off all children’s meals in the restaurant and In Room Dining (children under three eat for free) and a special breakfast corner at busy times; small jars filled with berries and smoothies are a painless way to entice children to eat healthily. Additional beds and interconnecting rooms are available, as are two-bedroom suites and a five-bedroom townhouse.
Rooms from £545
Best for eco-friendly stays: The Zetter Hotel
In a converted Victorian warehouse in a quiet enclave of cobble-stoned Clerkenwell, the colourful, cutting-edge-design, boutique Zetter Hotel is the hippest option for families. It’s also environmentally friendly; water from a borehole beneath is decanted into glass bottles in the bedrooms, and there are no throwaway activity packs here – instead, a basket full of age-appropriate books to borrow, and a cuddly teddy to keep. There are also mini robes in the rooms while cots, extra beds, baby video monitors and a childminding service are available. Chemical-free Ren toiletries are gentle for the whole family. Cots and an extra bed for children aged two-16 can be added to Deluxe Rooms for free, and interconnecting rooms have their own adjoining corridor. If you’re travelling with a baby, the pantry will come in useful both for milk storage and preparation and caffeine hits.
The restaurant has a fabulous children’s menu featuring fish and chips or grilled chicken that parents will happily help polish off; you won’t find better value than the £6.95 three-course menu including a drink (we recommend the berry smoothie). They also do a delicious pancake breakfast for children.
Rooms from £120
Best for space: The Landmark
What you really need with young children is space – and at 592sq ft, the smallest rooms at the Landmark are bigger than many London flats. Floor-to-ceiling windows, plus creams and golds ramp up the glamour of this grande dame hotel. There’s a Family Escape package with a tent and headlamp to entertain children, plus a teddy, activity pack and cookies on arrival. There’s also a relaxing chlorine-free swimming pool, ideal for little ones’ sensitive skin, with children’s hours so you don’t have to worry about disturbing other guests.
Family bedrooms accommodate two adults and two children in double beds and there’s plenty of space for extra beds (for an extra £60) and cots, which are provided on request as are highchairs and bottle warmers. The sun-drenched, exotic Winter Garden restaurant offers delicious children-sized breakfasts such as pancakes with caramelised bananas, with smaller prices to match. They also do a chocolate afternoon tea. An extensive family-friendly DVD menu is useful for rainy days.
Rooms from £294
Best for flexible accommodation: Rubens at the Palace
There’s an opulent splendour to this hotel where the bedrooms have silk wall coverings and chandeliers. Children can expect an activity pack and cookies waiting in their bedrooms, as well as a cuddly corgi that nods to the hotel’s proximity to Buckingham Palace. Babies get their own branded babygro, and the hotel will provide everything from night lights to bathroom steps to make travelling with little ones easier. Also available are movies, PS4 consoles and games. There’s a “director of fun” who can help to plan activities, and a late 6pm check out on Sundays to make the most of nearby attractions. Children can take part in a Rubens Pastry Experience to decorate and take away their own cupcake.
There are plenty of room options for families. Under-12s stay free when sharing a triple room with parents and eat free when dining with adults, and the larger suites accommodate two under 12s, while the many interconnecting rooms in the family wing accommodate up to 11. The next-door South African bar does fun, tasty food for children, while the main restaurant has breakfast options such as pancakes.
Rooms from £278
Best for views: Park Plaza County Hall
If you want to be within a few minutes’ walk of some of central’s best attractions – the London Aquarium, London Eye, the Houses of Parliament and the South Bank’s venues and restaurants – Park Plaza County Hall is ideal. The rooms, neutrally decorated in cream and wood, are more businesslike than characterful, but the views over the City, Shard, Houses of Parliament or the London Eye make up for it. The mini kitchenettes with microwave and kettle make travelling with babies easier, and there’s a family area for breakfast, and a children’s menu.
Its Family Getaway package includes a complimentary gift bag, three vouchers to be redeemed against food and drink, in-room Sky movies, accommodation for two adults and two up-to-12-year-olds in a studio double room or any of the suites, with up to 15 per cent off the best flexible rate, and breakfast for all (children eat breakfast for free). Children eat from the children’s menu in the main restaurant for free when their parents dine. Interconnecting rooms are available, and all studio rooms include a sofa bed – or splash out on a penthouse on the 14th floor for the ultimate view.
Rooms from £207
Best for budget: Premier Inn Bank (Tower)
If you’re looking for a budget option, you can’t beat Premier Inn’s value for family stays in central London. What the hotel lacks in ambience and frills, it makes up for in comfort. From just £59 a night, you get sizeable rooms with comfortable Hypnos bed – many king-size – and two pull-out or sofa beds for children, or a cot (under 16s stay for free). This branch, a short walk from the Tower of London, has nine adjoining rooms.
For children, there are in-room goodie bags containing sweets, crayons and colouring material (the artworks are then displayed on the restaurant wall), and on weekends every family room with children receives a sweet treat on their bed. Look out for themed activities taking place during some weekends, where staff dress up – think pirates or Disney. With one dining adult, children also get a free breakfast.
Rooms from £59
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