South Bank is a great location for a family day out. For me, the idea of taking the little ones into the city is enough to bring me out in hives, but with the support of my hubby I decided it was worth it for Pixie…. Here’s what we did for family days out on London’s South Bank. (Get 7 more tips on family fun on the South Bank, from BritMums cofounder Susanna Scott.)
How to get to London’s South Bank
We got the train into Liverpool Street and then for the sake of my sanity we jumped straight into a cab. The driver was really interesting to chat to, giving us a bit of an insight into ‘The Knowledge’! He was unaware of the pier we needed to pick our cruise up from, but as we talked he figured out where we meant, and he got us right to the door, which just made it so simple for us.
Taking a City Cruise in London
The tour itself was great: a City Cruise from Bankside Pier to London Eye Pier. They offer lots of different experiences including dinner cruises and speedboats. We took the hop on/hop off tour, zigzagging across the Thames, visiting landmarks along the shore, listening to a running commentary providing tourist information. The boat carried about 400 passengers and most of it was undercover, though there was also an outside area on the roof for if you happen to catch the one day of the year that is scorchio. It was clean and tidy – even the loos – and there is a small bar serving drinks and snacks. We were on board for about 90 minutes so it got a bit much for Pixie towards the end – mostly because she missed her nap as we didn’t take a pushchair for her!
Behind-the-scenes at SEA LIFE London
We visited the London Aquarium next and I was very excited to be getting a ‘backstage tour’! I’d heard we’d be feeding the sharks which turned out to be a slight exaggeration! That said, when I saw a genuine sign advising how to treat shark bites I realised that I maybe wasn’t so keen to get up close and personal with these predators after all. Instead Pixie was able to feed the rays and a giant turtle which was an incredible experience – alas she’s too young to fully appreciate how lucky she is!
At the end of the tour we were taken outside to an ice cream van where the venue has brought out a range of new crazy but incredible flavours, and treated to one of our choice. I say incredible flavours, but I was actually totally gutted to be unable to partake myself since my newborn has recently been diagnosed with a dairy allergy. They did look amazing though, and I was able to have a little bit of candy floss (not quite the same without the sparkly cone).
Early evening cocktails on the terrace at Mondrian London
Finally we walked to the Mondrian hotel on the South Bank. It’s somewhere I’ve actually been once before for a work event, though at the time I knew nothing about it. I now know that one of their two bars (Dandelyan Bar) have at times been voted Best International Bar, and I’ve seen that despite being very smart and swanky, they’re also quite quirky and family friendly. They served us some lovely cocktails and invited me back with hubby just as soon as we’re ready (probably not for another year!) which was a bonus! It had a really cool and eclectic vibe, and though I felt comfortable there with the family, I’d love to return as a couple for an overnight stay!