When looking for a luxury destination that is also family friendly, London is pretty hard to beat. Besides its fascinating history and tradition, London is a modern, sophisticated city with seemingly endless luxury dining and hotel options that are bound to please both parents and kids alike.
Our family had an incredible stay at the Corinthia Hotel. The hotel is gorgeous – the perfect mix of modern furnishings and warm hospitality. We loved the beautifully updated rooms, especially the spacious bathrooms featuring Italian marble, spa showers and heated floors (perfect for those damp London nights). Located right across the Thames from the London Eye, we found the hotel ideal for sightseeing. We made our kids walk EVERYWHERE (but then again we happened to be there the one week in August that the sun was out every day). The ESPA spa/fitness center/indoor pool area encompasses four stunning floors. Note, however, that kids can only use the indoor pool during certain hours and when the signs say they aren’t allowed in the awesome hot tubs, they mean it (trust me, my kids tried!)
We were pleasantly surprised by all the delicious dining options in London. Even some of our New York favorites (Balthazar, Nobu, even Shake Shack) are also in London. A friend told us to try Hawksmoor Spitalfields and we are glad we did. Hawksmoor is a traditional steakhouse with delicious steaks and all the usual sides. The service was very efficient and warm, but we found that to be the case throughout London. My son, Max, insists it is the best steak he’s ever had but that might also be because he was so grateful to finally be sitting down (we walked there after our tour of Buckingham Palace).
Too many to mention!! I would highly recommend taking the Big Bus Tour (yes this is that hop on and hop off bus that looks way too touristy). We hopped on this bus our first day and although terribly jet-lagged, it was the best way to efficiently and quickly see a lot of London. Another great way to see all of London is to enjoy the beautiful views from on top of the London Eye. If you have a fear of heights, Ferris wheels or cramped spaces, do not be afraid – the “ride” goes very, very slow and each capsule is actually quite large (private cars are also available which might be worth it if crowded). We loved taking the audio tour of the state rooms and grounds of Buckingham Palace, which is only allowed while the Queen is not in residence (generally late summer and over the holidays) – check the website to see what’s available. Westminster Abbey was a surprise – we loved finding the spot where Charles and Di and William and Kate were married, plus seeing where numerous dignitaries (Charles Darwin, Laurence Olivier, and T.S. Eliot to name a few) are buried. Our entire family LOVED the Churchill War Rooms, a unique interactive museum in the bunker where Winston Churchill and his government lived during the Blitz. Also, don’t miss the Tower of London, which houses the incredible Crown Jewels. We hired a guide, which gave us not only a great history lesson, but also a way to get to the front of the very long lines.
What’s not to love about London! Don’t miss seeing a show in the West End and walking around Covent Garden.
Personally, I do not think it is worth waiting for hours to watch the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace. If you have a good spot in front of the gates, you will see the actual ceremony but miss the parade, and the opposite is true if you stand anywhere else. Instead, try standing in the Mall where you can watch the guards marching on their way to the Palace.