The London Kids Guide
For such a posh city, London is actually very kid-friendly. What’s more, so many of the child-specific experiences—be it parks, specialty shops, restaurants, or bakeries—are just as much fun for grown ups.
Charlotte Street Hotel15-17 Charlotte St., Soho | +44.20.7806.2000
Part of a larger group of wonderfully homey, modern and totally English hotels, one of the highlights here is high tea. What's truly thoughtful is that you don't have to rush to make tea time (a tough ask when sightseeing with little ones) since here, it's served all day. Kids go bonkers for the three-tiered trays of scones, cakes, and sandwiches while parents appreciate the quiet respite (and lengthy cocktail menu) of the hotel bistro, Oscar. This is the sister hotel to The Crosby in NYC.
Hotel Café Royal68 Regent St., Piccadilly | +44.20.7406.3333
Opened by a Frenchman as a restaurant in the mid-1800's, the Café Royal came to be known not only for its wine cellar—at the time, the largest in the world—but also as the intelligentsia's favorite watering hole. Everyone from Oscar Wilde—today, the sleek, green glass-tiled absinthe bar is named after him—to Rudyard Kipling, Virginia Woolf, D.H. Lawrence, and later, David Bowie, Princess Di and Mick Jagger showed up. When the glamour died down, the small hotel chain The Set came to the rescue for a revamp via David Chipperfield Architects and reopened the institution as a hotel and private club. Nowadays, the hotel, café, bar, and club attract a new kind of intelligentsia— namely fashion and media types—and is a hive of activity especially around fashion week, Frieze, and PAD. If you're splurging, don't miss the dreamy, pastel-hued Dome suite on the top floor, which boasts a terrace overlooking Regent Street, and the Akasha Spa, which is an unlikely, peaceful haven in the middle of Piccadilly.
Brown’s Hotel33 Albemarle St., Mayfair | +44.20.7493.6020
Brown's has epitomized British luxury since the Victorian era. And after its recent top-to-bottom revamp, it started racking up accolades for its elegant, amenity-packed rooms (there's even cookies-and-milk turndown service for kids) and classically British HIX restaurant at lightning speed. Request the Kipling Suite: Legend has it this is where The Jungle Book was written.
The BerkeleyWilton Place, Knightsbridge | +44.20.7235.6000
This is one of our favorite grown-up hotels in London. It is decorated beautifully in subdued tones and offers pretty wonderful services, many of which are geared toward families (on-call babysitters, goody bags, video games). On sunny days, the rooftop pool is the best spot to take in everything on offer: hula hoop classes, al fresco lunch, and twice-daily kids swim hours. Beyond than the now-famous breakfast spread, there's no lack of dining and boozing options thanks to The Blue Bar, Koffmann's bistro, and the luxe Caramel Room.