There are so many ways to explore London with children — the city so vast, the options so expansive — that the choices can seem endless. But how to navigate them all? The new London Covered interactive online map, that’s how! http://londoncovered.glhhotels.com/
The folks at GLH hotels have created the London Covered map to help visitors discover hand-picked trips, from shopping to riverside attractions to foodie temptations. BritMums is thrilled to partner with GLH to promote the launch of this tool essential for every well-versed parent looking to have fun in London with kids.
We followed the London’s Festive Heritage for families, exploring the delights this tour has for children and parents. Read on to hear what these trips have to offer.
The great thing about these itineraries is that while BritMums explored this one during the festive season, they can be enjoyed in all seasons, with attractions selected for their year-round appeal.
Win a magical London trip with London Covered!
To celebrate the launch of London Covered, GLH Hotels is giving away a London Covered experience, which includes:
- A stay in a London GLH hotel (room varies according to trip chosen)
- Choice of 1 of 3 London Covered itineraries, including vouchers toward activities along the route
- Go here to read full details of the prize options
Enter by 23:59 on 26 December for a chance to win! (Be sure to read the Terms & Conditions)
Stop 1: My Old Dutch
Where best to start than someplace to eat? My Old Dutch is a cheerful London pancake restaurant with 3 locations in the city. For the London’s Festive Heritage itinerary, we visited the location in Holborn, near the British Museum and minutes from the GLH hotel where we stayed (more about that later).
My Old Dutch serves crepe-style pancakes and American-style stacks, as well as soup, salads and other nibbles. The orange-and-blue space is bright, with a buzzy mix of diners of all ages and group sizes.
There’s almost every conceivable version of filled thin pancakes, along with other tasty treats. We started with the bitterballen Dutch meatballs served with mustard – they reminded me of croquettas and were quite moreish. Next was the chilli con carne savoury pancake, served with tortilla chips, guacamole and sour cream (what can I say? You can take the girl out of Texas…). It easily could have fed at least 2 people, perhaps even 3! The highlight though was the “butterscotch” pancakes with eggs, bacon and maple syrup– these were like a traditional American stack. “I could eat this every day,” said my young-at-heart dining companion. To add a little green, we also shared a spinach, avocado and bacon salad, which was perfectly dressed and wonderfully fresh.
En route to Stop 2
To get to our next stop, we followed Drury Lane – could there be a more storybook name for a street to walk down? It takes you just by the Freemasons’ Hall, one of the UK’s finest Art Deco buildings. When the Grand Temple in the building is not in use there are free tours (Saturdays require prebooking). Then we passed Drury Lane Gardens, a great little community playground a few steps off the street and fringed by trees, including seating areas and a disabled toilet. It would be perfect to stop off here to let your child have a play and burn off some energy.
Stop 2: Southbank Centre Winter Festival
The Southbank Centre is a gem of the capital and its Winter Festival is a highlight of the season. We loved visiting the winter market just along the Thames, listening to street musicians, admiring the crafts and gifts to buy, pondering which treats we should indulge in. The warm brownies? The raclette? The US-style hot dogs? Ultimately we went for the hot waffles with strawberries, chocolate and whipped cream – are you sensing a theme, here? Check the schedule at the Southbank Centre for music, performances, the irresistibly named “pram jam” with fun singing and dancing and more. But the activities here don’t end at New Year’s: play in Jeppe Hein’s Appearing Rooms in summer, watch the skateboarders perform kickback flips, have a drink on the rooftop garden and attend fantastic performances and exhibitions throughout the year. A perfect stop for families with kids of all ages.
Stop 3: Somerset House
The ice skating here is among the most picturesque in the country – family-friendly in the daytime, DJs and date night in the evenings. We loved strapping on skates and wending round the rink in the shadow of the giant Christmas tree before warming up with a hot drink in the “lodge” overlooking the skaters. The Neoclassical building is a feast for the eyes, famous for its kid-friendly fountains in the warm weather and its thoughtfully curated exhibitions. We took in North: Fashioning Identity as well, a photography and multimedia show all about identity in the North of England and how it has affected and influenced fashion and media. A visit to Somerset House is a don’t-miss no matter how often you’ve been before.
Stop 4: Dick Whittington at the London Palladium
This classic rags-to-riches pantomime is perfect for a festive family outing. The fact that it’s at the grand London Palladium, home of countless shows, musicals, and live performances makes it all the better. From The King and I to Morrissey to Justin Fletcher’s live band (Mr Tumble!), the shows here are spectacular. Plus, it’s right in the middle of the hustle-and-bustle of the Oxford Street area, perfect for window shopping, grabbing a quick snack and watching the entire world go by any time of year!
Stop 5: Thistle Holborn, The Kingsley
Whew — after all the exploring, like us you’ll be looking forward to relaxing. I’d never come across The Kingsley on Bloomsbury Way before, but am now wondering how I ever missed this delightful hotel. It’s moments from Tottenham Court Road station, just next to the imposing St George’s parish church – there was a view of it just out our room’s window! – and its 129 suite rooms are modern, spacious and comfortable while still set in a gorgeous historic building. The staff were cheerful and friendly to a fault.
We stayed in an Executive King Room, which had a king bed, desk, foldout soft bed and light-filled bathroom. I loved that in our corner room, the sofa was set within an alcove – this gave the arrangement a roomier feel and also provided a place to comfortably sit during the day. We had fab views onto as well as up and down the street from the curved bay windows. The highly effective double-glazing and blackout curtains meant it was so dark and quiet at night, we forgot we were smack in the middle of town.
The good impressions kept coming at breakfast. A full English buffet breakfast, including vegetarian sausages, is set out in the bright and elegant Kingsley Two Brasserie along with cold cheese and meats, yoghurt and cereal, pastries and an array of juices and fruit. I went back for seconds…then thirds.
Indulgent? Yes. But what better way to set up your crew for another day exploring with a trip from the London Covered map!
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BritMums’ hotel stay and activities were covered by GLH Hotels, as part of a paid project.