I lived in London for 11 years before moving back to Yorkshire when my eldest son, Oliver, turned 1. I went to uni there (studying for a BA and MA at Goldsmiths, University of London), later working as a TV and Film Director, in the city.
Despite being born up North and returning with a baby in tow, I knew I would always be pulled back down South…its energy is addictive and incomparable. We recently moved to Windsor (a more gentle energy but close enough to the buzz) and have no regrets.
The commute to London is short and pleasurable and we feel lucky to be surrounded by countryside here with stunning parks at every turn and a castle on our doorstep (Windsor gained two queens when I moved in 😉 ).
As a family, we’ve always loved a long weekend away in the Big Smoke, and pretending to be tourists in a city we know well has to be our most favourite past-time. So, that’s exactly what we did the other week: we spent a long weekend in London having an absolute ball, savouring fun family time and ALL THE FOOD as per!
First up, we attended a very special screening of Pokémon The Movie: I Choose You on Friday night which was fast-paced beautifully drawn 2D entertainment, made even more special because I got to hang out with one of my BFFs Lela London and her boyfriend Mike for a night too. What followed was a whole lot of laughter, putting the world to rights and tantalising Turkish food at Efes round the corner.
Discloure: I’m so taken by Pikachu (and friends), a cuddly version of him is on my birthday wishlist! There’s a sentence I never thought I’d write!
After copious kebabs and photos like the one above us of posing with Pokemon characters my kids think are ‘the coolest pics ev-er’, we hot-footed it (aka caught an Uber) to the Hilton Bankside for a luxurious break in the capital.
We snapped the pics the following day when the sun came out to play (as we arrived too late to not just flop into bed on the Friday) and thanks to its fabulous location, spent the rest of the weekend lapping up London Bridge, The Southbank and surrounding areas.
Let me give you a tour of the Hilton Bankside.
It’s a beaut.
Modern meets art-deco interiors dazzled whilst making us feel right at home.
The Distillery bar-cum-museum (!) as it’s located on the site of the old Stevenson & Howell fragrance factory which distilled essential oils and manufactured essences, flavourings and garnishes during the 1800s is one heck of a spirit-loving mama’s dream.
I’ve already been back again since this stay!
Everything is so incredibly chic and considered…My Mum collects antique decanters so would have loved this stunning collection!
Check out a wall composed of old one pennies!
The breakfast didn’t disappoint either.
With a buffet of everything imaginable from pastries to prawn cocktail, exotic fruit and omelettes fried in front of you, this lot will fill you up until (late) lunch!
After breakfast we hit the streets to work it off, meandering all over the South, following the river as our guide.
We marvelled at musicians with top hats and tails, and the poetry made to order.
Alexander’s little life was made complete thanks to a chance meeting with Yoda.
He literally couldn’t believe his eyes!
It was then theatre time for the thought-provoking, vital play Princess Charming devised by the Spun Glass Theatre Company which challenged gender stereotypes (something I’m incredibly passionate about) set at the intimate Ovalhouse Theatre.
Double act Alexander Luttley and Charlotte Worthing are two gifted actors/performers who movingly illustrated the limitations society and the traditional media can place on kids, using the power of spectacle, song and dance, along with material examples such as gender biased sticker books too, provoking an important conversation about the importance of individuality and freedom for children and parents alike.
It was a punchy, emotive and interactive piece of theatre and I hope it can go on an UK tour soon. Every school needs to see it!
Making our way back via the Southbank, the kids complained of hunger (again) so we grabbed a sushi snack at favourite Feng Sushi before hitting the gin and prawns back at the hotel.
It’s not just gin at the Distillery at the Hilton though if you’re not a fan, the bar also specialises in craft beers as well, and they were making pretty cocktails for the crowds when we popped back.
Moving into the adjacent OXBO Bankside for dinner, we revelled in three divine courses for all the family.
With Chef Paul Bates at the helm, this innovative menu gives old favourites, a new, vibrant twist.
Here you can see just some of what was consumed- it was dark in the dining room so we couldn’t snap it all but highlights include- Lightly Smoked Scottish Salmon, Roasted Cod, Escalope of Salmon and Valrhona Dark Chocolate Terrine with mandarin glace and gold leaf. Unique, tasy and exquisite to look at and eat!
What a meal!
When it came to our beautiful abode, it was less than humble with two grand connecting rooms each with their own an en-suite bathroom, matching desks and wardrobes I could have filled for days!
We all slept like babies (even the actual babies) who felt comfortable and importantly, safe in their connecting room with our door open.
Just look at the cuteness as the kid donned their matching mini dressing gowns and slippers. The hotel also left thoughtful age-specific gift bags for them in the room with toys and books to help keep them entertained.
There is also a dreamy pool, gym and spa at the Hilton Bankside but we were too busy eating (story of my life) to sample them so we’ll have to return another time to get our sweat on. We did pop our head in however, and were totally sold on the serene pool and relaxation rooms so do check them out.
What a dreamboat of a stay.
Thanks a mill Hilton Bankside, you’re an absolute stunner of a hotel and we can’t wait to come back soon!
Watch the vlog!