London's best family-friendly hotels
Children will love the futuristic exterior of this vast modern hotel close to City Airport. And whilst it’s a little out of the centre, Aloft is close to the Emirates Air Line cable car with its stomach-dropping views of the city and the attractions in Greenwich, including The O2 and the Cutty Sark ‘pirate’ ship. For 2-12-year-olds the hotel offers a welcome programme, which includes healthy snacks and a sticker map, plus there’s a decent-sized indoor, heated pool.
Not all design hotels feel welcoming to families, but thankfully The Ampersand is an exception. The suites here come with small kitchenettes to give you the flexibility you need when feeding tiny mouths. There’s also a games room – dominated by a ping-pong table that older kids and adults alike will be thrilled to discover. But what’s really great is the hotel’s location – it’s just around the corner from the V&A, Science Museum and Natural History Museum, three of London’s superior family attractions.
There’s a dedicated children’s concierge at The Athenaeum, which is charged with keeping your brood happy and entertained during your stay. Said concierge is armed with snacks, a vast DVD collection and even kites and footballs for outdoor activities. They’ll also sort out trips for you – whether you want to head to Theatreland to see Wicked or get up close to the Beefeaters outside Her Maj’s house. This luxurious art deco hotel also looks out over Green Park so energetic children have acres of green space in which to let off steam.
This slick Mayfair establishment, which first opened its doors in 1837, really goes all out when it comes to children. There are kids’ check-in cards, turndowns with monkey teddies, rubber ducks in the bathrooms and a spa that does mini-treatments for those aged 4-16. There are several seasonal family packages – keep your eye on their offers pages. And in the restaurant, under-10s eat for free (certain times apply). You’re also very well placed for the toy Mecca that is Hamleys.
Ham Yard’s colourful and eclectic design means that kids will be as enchanted as adults in this oh-so-elegant Soho residence. As well as the important practical stuff – like interconnecting rooms and a babysitting service – there are also some cute extras: mini bathrobes, milk and cookies at bedtime and books and board games galore. And just wait until they discover the secret in the basement: a beautiful original 1950s bowling alley. It’s magical!
This large modern hotel next to Waterloo station is a surprisingly excellent choice for families. First up is the location: it’s right next to the London Eye, Shrek’s Adventure, the Sea Life Aquarium and the London Dungeon. That lot will keep you busy for the first few days. It also treats young guests like VIPs: on arrival children get a goodie bag, plus there are scheduled weekly events including movie nights and holiday-themed events (like pumpkin carving at Halloween) which give parents a welcome breather.
London’s fanciest hotel makes sure children feel just as pampered as the adults. The Kidz @ The Ritz programme offers a heap of special services to under-16s. There are in-room games consoles, books and DVDs; welcome gifts; turndown treats and, most excitingly, free ice cream in The Palm Court and Ritz Restaurant (prepare for serious sugar highs). For parents staying in the suites, children up to the age of 15 can stay with them for free.
A few roads away from the Tate Modern, Shakespeare’s Globe and the ‘wobbly’ Millennium Bridge you’ll find this modern hotel which, rather unusually for London, has rooms spacious enough to swing a cat in. Those aren’t the only things that make this Hilton attractive to families: there’s also a heated indoor pool, and compared to its central London counterparts it’s not exorbitantly priced.
This smart boutique hotel in Clerkenwell has everything to satisfy parents and kids alike. First of all it's decked out head to toe in Scandi-cool furnishings, plus it's located in one of the finest areas to eat out in the city that also happens to be served by all modes of transport. That should keep the grown-ups happy, while kids will be pleased to discover colouring books in their rooms (there are offers on inter-connecting rooms) as well as balloons and little bathrobes.
Located on the southwest corner of Kensington Gardens, this five-star hotel offers views to die for. As well as the verdant foliage, you can also gaze upon the seventeenth-century Kensington Palace. But let's be honest, you'll probably spend more time in the gardens than looking at them! And so you should be. The park provides the perfect space to let kids burn off a load of energy and, to help them do so, Royal Garden Hotel hires out micro-scooters for kids. The little ones also receive free breakfast to set them up right for the inevitably busy days ahead.