This is what I posted on my personal Facebook page before heading into London earlier in the week.
What little did I know?
We arrived a bit early at the Park Plaza Hotel (County Hall) for check in. We were warmly greeted and informed that they had a lovely room for us. I knew that already as I’d checked out the Junior Suite online; a separate room with big comfy bed for us, plasma TV, separate living space with a double sofa bed for Madame, kitchenette, bath and a walk in shower and of course Free WIFI. Rooms start from £99 a night.
As we were early, the helpful lady at the front desk had to ring up housekeeping to see if the room was ready. I overheard her say ‘is room 1405 ready’. I’ve stayed in enough hotels to know that room 845 would be on the 8th floor, room 310 would be on the 3rd floor and 401 would be on the 4th and so on. I had a quick glance over my right shoulder at the sign by the lift and it said that the 14th floor was the Penthouse Suites!!!!
I did my best to stay composed, but on the inside I was squealing with delight. No, this couldn’t be true and there must be a mistake, but yes, in fact it was true. We’d been upgraded to a Penthouse Suite. I’ve stayed in 5 star hotels before for work but could never afford such a treat as a family.
For someone with a fear of heights, the trip up to the top floor was a bit unnerving in the glass walled elevator which our daughter renamed the ‘Wonkavator’.
The room itself was absolutely amazing, it had everything that the Junior Suite had but a bigger bedroom with a King sized bed, a larger living space with a dining table and the most amazing private balcony with views of the London Eye, Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, Jubilee Bridge and of course the Thames.
The Tower of London
There are loads of attractions within a 2 or 3 minute walk of the Hotel; The London Aquarium, The London Eye, and The National Theatre. Our daughter could have spent the rest of the day in the hotel room but we dragged her out as we’d planned on visiting the Tower of London, which is only a 20 minute bus ride, just grab the RV1 bus from Chicheley Street heading to Tower Hill.
Both my husband and I hadn’t been to the Tower of London, neither of us had ever been with a child, which was built by William the Conqueror after his successful invasion in 1066. Since then it:
- was a Royal Residence for 500 years
- was a prison for those waiting to be marched up to Tower Hill to be beheaded
- a place for private executions, including Anne of Boleyn (who is buried on the site)
- contained the Royal Mint and the Royal Zoo
- now is home to the Crown Jewels if you like a bit of bling!
To get the most out of our visit we decided to join one of the Beefeater Tours which lasted about an hour with the perfect amount of History, gore and humour to keep all of us interested. We all thoroughly enjoyed it and learned a lot.
Adult tickets start at £18 and children under 5 go free. However, do have a look online as I’ve seen loads of 2 for 1 offers to many London Attractions.
Stress free dining with kids!
We then returned to the hotel for a lovely dinner in the Spectrum Restaurant, even though it’s rather fancy, as you can see by the pictures, we felt perfectly at ease dining with our 4 year old. The waiting staff including, Mirko the lovely maître d‘ went out of his way, including giving our daughter a stuffed animal, to make her feel welcome and at no point did I panic about her disrupting other guests.
They have an extensive children’s menu, a three course meal costs £11 and for central London we thought this was great value. Our daughter opted for Tomato Soup, which apparently she ‘loved more than Mummy and Daddy’, Fishcakes and a Chocolate Brownie with Ice Cream.
My husband and I opted for Rib Eye Steaks (£22), one of our favourites and shared a lovely bottle of wine (£20), again I think for London these prices are very reasonable.
The rest of the evening was spent sitting on the deck, with ‘another’ bottle of red wine soaking in the London Skyline by night.
I can see why the hotel was voted best family friendly hotel in London by HRS. As parents we often feel that we have to give up quality when we have children, so it was a really nice change to be able to enjoy a short break that resembled what we would have done pre-kids.
Disclosure: The room (£540) and meal were compliments of Park Plaza Hotel and our Entry Tickets to the Tower of London were compliments of Super Break