Over the October half-term we were kindly invited to spend two nights and three days at the utterly splendid 5* Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington, London, set in the most perfect location for all the family.
It was wonderful to have my parents come along with us too on this trip, meaning quality family time for us all in the capital.
Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate had actually welcomed the President of Singapore, Tony Tan Keng Yam there the week before, with William even commenting he could see their bedroom at Kensington Palace from the hotel!
The Royal Garden is literally adjacent to the Palace with stunning views of Kensington Gardens so I’m not surprised he said that! Our room definitely had a wonderful view!
Staying in a grand Executive Room perfect for 2 adults and 2 children (under 11) it overlooked leafy Kensington gardens and we loved it at first sight.
We had a huge Queen size bed, wooden cot if we needed it and double sofa bed and ensuite, it was the ideal size for this family giving us space to relax, eat and rest in.
In fact my kids actually sleep better in hotels than our own home and we all had the best two nights sleep we’ve had in a long time!
Check out our room with a view!
I must state from the offset that this family doesn’t believe that having kids means compromising on luxurious getaways (we work hard and appreciate the finer things in life) but like many parents, understand and share the concern that naturally noisy children might not be wanted at luxe hotels!
I actually remember staying at The Ritz with my parents as kids (I realise we were very lucky children) and being ordered to stop taking photographs of the hotel…how times have changed!
Hands down, the Royal Garden is the most welcoming, child-friendly 5 * star we’ve ever stayed at and that’s not because we were reviewing it either, I observed lots of families at breakfast and afternoon tea, receiving the same fantastic service and treatment as we did, all content that their kids were wanted and encouraged to enjoy the hotel and the surrounding areas.
With kind staff who did everything they could to accommodate the needs of young children with toys and books along with the Royal Garden complimentary backpacks filled with organic food and drinks, playing cards and activity sheets, everything can been considered. We were also offered free scooters and large play bricks and board games to use throughout our stay.
And let me tell you when the ethos of the whole staff is to welcome children, the other guests follow. When a baby was crying in reception, no one batted an eyelid.
So back to our arrival, we were given a Royal welcome ourselves, there were flowers, artisan chocolate cakes, fresh fruit and the kids’ rucksacks waiting for us. Such a thoughtful start to our stay. Within the bags there was also a list of child-friendly activities and hot spots to visit if we so wished while we were there. Another lovely touch!
Now back to our room-talk about palatial huh?!
Isn’t it beautiful. Understated chic with large discreet cupboards, a desk, wide screen TV and lots of floor space for little people!
After a peaceful night’s sleep we were ready for breakfast and what an epic experience that was- as was all the culinary feasting we partook in-from room service the night before to afternoon tea before we left- delicious, seasonal food that was stunningly presented.
We opted for window seats at breakfast and the sun was out!
Breakfast was a three course affair with a sumptuous buffet of cereals, dried fruit, pastries, bread selection, three fruit salads, a range of yoghurt, cheese and cold meats followed by porridge, a cooked breakfast if you wished (beef, pork and vegetable sausages available), bespoke omelettes, scrambled eggs with smoked salmon, American pancakes and more. You drooling yet?
Oh and Alexander was given some drawing activities by one of the charming waiters to keep him entertained so we could eat too! It’s these extra touches which make staying at the Royal Garden so effortless and relaxing!
Full and content, we headed for a walk around Kensington, an area we know well and love (we used to live in Barnes), Oliver using a scooter and knee pads from the hotel.
Despite living in London for 11 years and Oliver being born there (we moved to Leeds when he was 1), we actually felt like tourists again and two of these London bus and taxi sets were purchased for the boys!
My parents went off to do some shopping on their own and we headed for a late (very late, thanks to the breakfast) lunch at the Hare and Tortoise, one of our favourite child-friendly restaurants in London!
Alexander was fast asleep so Oliver got our undivided attention and made a gallant attempt to work the chopsticks!
As we expected, the fresh salmon and tuna sashimi and sushi was out of this world! Here are just a few pictures I snapped (I focused on food, Peter took the other shots) of what we ate, I was so excited about the food I forgot to take more.
After what was a whole day of eating with more to come, we headed back to the hotel to relax before dinner at the captivating French restaurant Aubaine! Full review of that gastronomic experience to come on the blog soon!
The following day we headed straight to the tranquil and Autumnal Kensington Gardens, literally next door to the hotel. The sun was shining and it was a glorious day-surprising for October!
…Oh how I love this little joyous running sequence of Alexander chasing pigeons in the park!
Nearly got him!
Lugging the cars by hand through the gardens, we quickly discovered the horse, bicycle and scooter lane so they could go for a spin!
This go-karting lark is tiring work!
Alexander stayed to play outside with my Mum and Dad (who visited after us)…
Staggeringly beautiful, I had to share some pictures from inside too!
Oliver was in complete awe, asking me if the chandelier was ‘real gold’! I could safely say it was!
Oliver and I played snap for ‘gold’ coins in one of the palace rooms! How funny, playing snap in a palace!
An adjacent room was dedicated to dress up and arts and crafts for children. Oliver created a regal plate of food for King George III and had a mini history lesson in the process!
We did giggle at these rules for children from 1701 too! Remember to break your bread first kids!
Then it was back to the hotel for afternoon tea at the Royal Garden Hotel-to the restorative piano concertos played for us and soothing cups of tea. The choice was endless but I went for Earl Grey to start and ended with fresh mint tea with the cakes!
Wearing gifted Fever London
A delectable array of sandwiches and gluten free ones for Oliver too, with various fillings ranging from beef to egg, chicken, salmon and cream cheese and roasted vegetables, all original, delicate morsels of loveliness! They should write that on the menu!
The cakes were heavenly! Masterful, light, flavoursome pieces from traditional scones with jam and Dewvonshire clotted cream to French pattiserrie cakes.
It is little wonder they were awarded the prestigious ‘Awards of Excellence’ by The Tea Guild for the second year running. If you are seeking a quintessentially English Afternoon Tea, do book in at the Park Terrace Lounge there.
Below is my favourite shot, Oliver kissing his Papu-the kids were so appreciative of everything and so well behaved, I was very proud of them both!
Now, full of tea and sweet treats, we popped to Harrods with renewed vigour making our way straight to the Toy Kingdom, which I actually prefer to Hamleys- a more serene, spacious, uncluttered haven for kids, it’s almost like a museum for books and toys as much as it is a shop!
The car below is an absolute bargain! Ha! Santa’s letter for this will be getting lost in the post that’s for sure! Check out the price tag! Ouch!
The boys left with a small teddy and car as they’d had enough toys to last a lifetime this trip!
Talking of which it was soon time to try and pack the electric cars into our real one and drive back to Leeds so the boys could sleep all the way (which they happily did), no doubt dreaming of their new wheels!
What an incredible break for us all!
Huge thanks to Jonathoan, Anita, Charlotte, Panos and everyone at the Royal Garden Hotel for making our stay so special.
Disclosure: we were gifted 2 nights stay, breakfast, afternoon tea and tickets to Kensington Palace, and my parents were given a reduced rate for their room.
All opinions are honest and my own.