So, your kids like the luxe life? London’s got you covered. (Photo: Getty Images)
Age is nothing but a number when it comes to living the good life in London. Your children may be small, but that’s no reason not to live large on your visit to the British capital. With welcome candy and children’s bathrobes and slippers at your disposal in the Family Suite, guests of all ages feel welcome at London Marriott Hotel Park Lane.
When it’s time to get out and explore the city, the hotel’s prime location also offers quick access to some of London’s best family experiences for even the most discerning little ones — from high tea at a celebrity hot spot to playing in a princess’ playground.
A Spot of Shopping
Designer clothing stores catering to kids abound in Mayfair, from French brand Petit Bateau on South Molton Street to the vast children’s department at the iconic department store Liberty, where designer duds from names like Stella McCartney line the racks. If your little ones aren’t quite at the clothes-shopping stage, they might better appreciate a visit to a couple of the world’s best toy stores.
From the London Marriott Hotel Park Lane, a 20-minute walk east takes you to Hamleys, the oldest and largest toy store in the world. Stepping into the store, with its spectacular window displays and roaming life-sized mascots, is a magical experience for younger children — as well as their parents.
During school holidays Hamleys hosts kids’ activities, and tours of the massive seven-floor space, stuffed full of all manner of toys, are available throughout the year.
Children with a true taste for the finer things in life should head just outside of Mayfair to Harrods, the landmark Knightsbridge department store that is a byword for luxury.
On the third floor, the 26,000-square-foot, multi-sensory Toy Kingdom offers wild imaginations a journey through six different “worlds” and features an enchanted forest, an intergalactic science lab, a big-top circus tent and a “Grand Canyon” display made up of the store’s most exclusive toys.
See How Royalty Lives
If you can make it to Buckingham Palace — a 25-minute walk or 5-minute taxi ride from the hotel — by late morning, you can savor the spectacle of British pageantry that is the Changing of the Guard.
The sight of fuzzy bearskin–hatted and red tunic–wearing soldiers going about the meticulous motions of the iconic ceremony will surely capture the kids’ attention.
To see the palace from the point of view of its residents, you can book a visit to the State Rooms and Queen’s Gallery, both of which are open to the public in the summer. The Family Pavilion offers games and crafts as well as king and queen costumes to dress up in.
Time for High Tea
The pretty pink color scheme and quirky surroundings of Sketch, a swanky Mayfair restaurant favored by celebrities, is a feast for young eyes. Banquettes are upholstered in pink velvet, and whimsical tableware is adorned with art and cryptic messages — children will have fun guessing whether salt comes out of the shaker labeled “Dirt,” “Dust” or “Nothing.”
Children’s Afternoon Tea comes with a stuffed Pat the Bear to take home, while adults can accompany their dainty sandwiches and pastel-colored macarons with a glass of Champagne.
Play Like a Princess
If the kids have energy to burn, head through Hyde Park and let them loose in the Diana Memorial Playground next to Kensington Palace, the late princess’ former home and a 20-minute walk from the hotel. A giant pirate ship forms the centerpiece of this Peter Pan–inspired playground, but active kids will also likely want to commandeer a teepee and scale play sculptures.
For further fun, head back east through Hyde Park to the Serpentine Lido, a section of the park’s lake cordoned off for swimming and sunbathing. Hardy kids can take a dip in the unheated Lido or its accompanying paddling pool. Others can content themselves splashing in the adjacent Princess Diana Memorial Fountain.
Dinner with a View
Finding child-friendly upscale dining in Mayfair is not always easy, but the grand art deco–style Wolseley on Piccadilly and Corrigan’s Mayfair on Upper Grosvenor Street both welcome younger diners for dinner, although neither offer specific children’s menus.
If you don’t mind making the 20-minute tube or taxi journey from the hotel, make reservations for dinner with a view at Babylon on the upscale Kensington High Street. Seven floors up, Babylon offers a children’s menu and views over the London skyline and into the Roof Gardens, home to a delightful flock of flamingos. It’s the perfect spot for parents to toast a family day out.