London is the perfect place to take children and let them experience all the excitement of the modern metropolis but with so much on offer where do you start? Here’s how we spent a half term weekend with our children in the capital.
We dropped our bags at our Airbnb in Lambeth and congratulated ourselves on finding such a great location. Situated right next to Westminster it was so convenient for the tube and buses which the girls absolutely loved hopping on and off.
Next up we headed out for a slap-up meal. We’d booked a table at Ottlolenghi in Spitalfields which was a special foodie treat for us – especially Nico who is a big fan of chef Yotam Ottolenghi’s and has all his cookbooks. Even better still our girls loved the whole experience – especially the cakes and Eva chose a delicious raspberry meringue the size of her head! The restaurant has a deli and you can choose your desert from there which is a great concept. Even more importantly, we felt welcome as a family which is not always the case in some of the more expensive restaurants. There aren’t any children’s menus, but the waiter patiently guided us through the options and pointed out some of the best choices for children. For the four of us the bill came to £200 including a good bottle of wine.
For our first full day we went to St James’s Park and had ice cream, saw ‘duck cottage’ where the ducks live (mummy duck had 8 ducklings), and watched the locals feeding fish to the herons that live there.
Next stop was the London Eye and having booked standard tickets online we arrived to see an enormous queue in the hottest day of the year so far and decided to pay extra to upgrade to fast track, which was a lifesaver. Having booked a London Eye package we had a river boat cruise included and although we didn’t manage to get on the top deck we still got a great view of all the key landmarks whilst the guide gave an interesting commentary. It’s a great way to see lots of sites in one hit and a good alternative to the open top buses.
We went to a Chinese -self-BBQ on Saturday night which was unusual, and the kids were impressed. Nico found it in Jay Rayner’s Guardian review and it was reasonably priced at around £100 for the 4 of us.
On Sunday morning we had planned to visit Borough Market for a street food brunch but sadly it was closed so we settled on a nice local coffee shop. Fully fed our next stop was the Shard and we had a lovely cocktail at the top and the kids had a celebratory ice cream. Eva particularly enjoyed writing several reviews including: “Hi it’s me again, Eva. I just felt your building wobble.” It’s true that you can feel it ever so slightly move and feel even more wobbly looking over the edge. There are over 68 floors and it takes two lifts to reach the top. The staff were great and gave us a free guide – but be warned the refreshments are very expensive at £36 for 2 cocktails and 2 ice creams!
In the afternoon we visited the Tate Modern which is such an awesome space in an old power station and the expanse underneath the gallery is amazing. We had a few drinks in Flat Iron Square which was a nice outside area.
We went to Hixter for dinner as recommended by our London friends Emma and Michael. The food was fantastic, and we feasted on chateaubriand, truffle chips, minted peas. The children chose burgers from the kids’ menu and they arrived ‘medium’ just as we asked for and were much tastier than the usual offerings for chilldren – proper homemade burgers. They had a piano and were happy for the girls to have a go and the other diners gave each a round of applause! Just be warned the toilets do have rude decor ,which our eldest who has just turned 10 noticed, but we had a laugh about it. We enjoyed a cocktail in the bar afterwards and the meal was reasonably priced too at around £100 for the 4 of us.
We managed to stop at Trafalgar Square on the way to Euston and visit the National Gallery In all honesty the girls were a bit bored to start, but then our youngest in was taken by the Tudor paintings as she is learning about them at school. There was also children’s display in a room downstairs which they loved, and it’s a shame we couldn’t spend more time there.
All in all, we had a fantastic weekend in London. We walked a lot (20 miles over 3 full days!), talked a lot, ate some wonderful food, saw some famous sites – what more could you ask for?!