There was one night in London where we couldn’t get a room at Premier Inn. So we stayed at the Holiday Inn King’s Cross/Bloomsbury.
It was good – two double beds – and check this out. I opened up one of the drawers that appear to be a desk and …. TEA DRAWER!
(Note, I did make the tea that is in there. I didn’t open the drawer to find two hot cups of tea!)
Okay, this is seriously mad, but also looks like fun! Sorry we didn’t check it out when we were there!
When we visit London, we stay at the Premier Inn, which remains our go-to hotel.
For some reason, it is just hard to get a room in London for a family of four. Seriously. Either their rooms do not have the capacity for four people or they are quite expensive. It’s almost like an outlandish request if you want to stay together in one room, with your two small children.
But not at Premier Inn. We get the family room and they provide a double (which is basically an American queen) bed for us and two cots for the kids all in the same room for about £120/night. We stayed at one in London Southwark near the Tate Modern, and tried another one near King’s Cross. Both were ridiculously quiet, efficient, clean and consistent.
Even the check-in process is streamlined so you can use a glorified vending machine to get your keys. I’ve never seen anything like it in the U.S.
Plus, kids get a free hot buffet breakfast the next morning (and about £10.50 per adult). We ordered it every morning that we stayed at a Premier Inn because it’s just easier with small kids to be able to get breakfast quickly and taken care of – but the spread was very traditional, with fried eggs, British bacon (boo!), black pudding (double boo!), tomato, beans, croissants (plain, chocolate and almond varieties, yay!), cereal, fresh fruit, toast, crumpets, pancakes, coffee, tea. You name it! It was a smorgasbord of great options! Better than any Embassy Suites breakfast and I don’t say that lightly!
(Note: I am not being paid to say any of these lovely things about Premier Inn. But they really are awesome.)
Don’t you love when an impromptu singalong strikes people on the London Underground?! It’s Erasure. It’s Kentish Town. It’s amazing.
It was lunch time in Covent Garden and we were hungry. We nearly went to an All Bar One for old time’s sake, until we spotted a man butchering a huge piece of meat in the window of another restaurant: Flat Iron.
Amidst so many tourist traps, this place was a gem and really the best lunch experience we had in London – very reasonably priced (£10 for the whole shebang), awesome customer service and a unique dining experience. Beef dripping popcorn to start, flat iron steak as the main event (with horseradish because that’s the way I roll) and salted caramel ice cream, rolled in chocolate, scooped on your way out. Small menu so they know what to do and do it well. It was a well-rehearsed dance that was smooth and effortless from start to finish.
Plus, they were very cool with our kids. My son ordered the burger, which was massive and decadent (probably would order without the béarnaise sauce for kids’ next time, but I took a couple of bites and loved it). An ooey, gooey masterpiece.
So, I told you about our epic proper British tea. But did I share the heartbreak that had happened just an hour before we waltzed into Grosvenor House?
There we sat on the London Tube – Bakerloo line – mentally preparing for bountiful treats that were awaiting us on that jet lagged afternoon — and we were nearly there. We just needed to change to the Central Line to get to Marble Arch … and the moment we got out of the carriage, my daughter turned and realized that she had left her stuffy, Oscar the Owl, behind.
One of the highlights of our trip was getting tickets to see Wicked in London. I had never seen it, didn’t even really know what the story was (apart from being a different storytelling of the Wizard of Oz from the Wicked Witch’s point of view) and it really was as awesome as I had hoped.
We went to an afternoon matinee show and got great seats! The voices and music were really strong, just a really big and fabulous show! The kids loved it, we loved it, it was a win-win-win-win overall!
Have you seen Wicked?
After our legendary afternoon tea at Grosvenor House, we did some window shopping in London. No one does Christmas lights better than London. No one. It was great fun walking around Oxford Street and Regent Street and hitting some of our favorite places like Liberty London.
I love Liberty’s stationery section. It’s amazing and huge and there are always great gift ideas!
We capped off the evening, taking the kids to Hamley’s Toy Store!
I made the very good decision to schedule our English tea on the day that we arrived. After sleeping only a couple of hours on the plane, I just needed proper pampering and we had reservations at the Park Room at Grosvenor House Hotel.
I’ve never been to Grosvenor House, but it was absolutely perfect for our family. I ordered their special Christmas tea.
So where were we? Ah yes, just landing at London Heathrow! We took the Heathrow Express to Paddington Station, which remains part of my favorite ritual of returning back to London. There is just a certain peace in that travel – something about the homes whizzing past, the calming British accents on the overhead speaker, the quick news roundup — the 15 minute trip is one of my faves!
And then it’s Paddington Station, which still feels familiar from when I used to live here – the soup cart, Delice de France and Burger King is still there, you still have to pay to use the toilets, but there’s more construction going on! More retail and food stores in the works! It’s enough new and old to make me feel that I have returned!