London is one of the most glamorous, exciting cities in the world, and among the best options for luxury family travel. Its renowned museums and exhibitions, plays and musicals, high-end shopping and world-class hotels and restaurants provide endless itineraries. Below is our guide to London, listing the best of everything for stylish families with kids of all ages.
GUIDE TO glimpse
Each recommendation lists address, phone number, website (if available), and gives a basic overview for all of you busy parents. There are also a few words listed to sum up each restaurant, including the type of food they serve, and I have also included whether or not a restaurant has high chairs and a kids’ menu. Keep in mind, even if there is no specific menu, all restaurants on the list will work with families to come up with simple dishes.
Here is the guide to those words:
Contemporary – the décor is simple and modern
Classic – the décor is conservative yet elegant
Cont/classic – the décor contains elements of each
Constant – the spot never goes out of style
Hot – this is the place to be at the moment
Stylish – your outfit should be smart and sophisticated
Casual – jeans and flats are okay here
Posh – men grab your coat and tie, ladies, your heels and diamonds
4-6 Russell Street, WC2B 5HZ
+44 20 3301 1155
Every bit as chic as its New York City counterpart, Balthazar London is a hot table in town. Think typical French-feeling café a stone’s throw from the Covent Garden market, with brilliant menus and stylish clientele. Everyone loves a classic French restaurant, and kids love the frites.
French • Classic • Hot • Stylish • High chairs • Children’s menu
10 Berners Street, W1T 3LF
+44 20 7908 7979
The new Ian Schrager restaurant in the London Edition hotel is one of the most visually stunning sights in the city. Massive ceilings with ornate mouldings and large gilded chandeliers converge with walls covered in oil paintings and photographs, completing the feel of a glamorous, bygone era. The room is so spacious and the crowd is so loud that kids are fine lining the banquettes.
British • Classic • Hot • Stylish • High chairs • Children’s menu
102 Old Brompton Road, SW7 3RD, +44 20 7341 0802
119 Sydney Street, SW3 6NR +44 20 3730 9344
Bumpkin is one of those rare restaurants that feels incredibly stylish, yet also very welcoming of boisterous families – maybe because the owners themselves have small children. The rustic chic interior feels like an upscale pub, with traditional British dishes on the menu plus healthy selections like cold pressed juices. Everyone in the family is sure to be happy at any of the three London locations.
British • Classic • Constant • Casual • High chairs • Children’s menu
5a Burlington Gardens, W1S 3EP
+44 20 7434 1500
No matter what, we always head straight to Cecconi’s after an international flight. There’s just something about the beautiful marble interior with green leather seating, and the flowing cappuccino’s that start our London trips off right. Plus the large open windows in bustling Mayfair provide great people-watching as we make plans for the day.
Italian • Classic • Constant • Stylish • High chairs
50 Cheyne Walk, SW3 5LR
+44 20 7376 8787
Situated in a gorgeous space with a creative French menu, Cheyne Walk Brasserie has a large following in London’s Chelsea neighborhood. The elegant diners meet for animated conversations over lunch and dinner, and with private rooms and party spaces upstairs, it is the perfect place for an upscale meal with children, followed by a stroll through the picturesque surrounding streets near the Thames.
French • Classic • Constant • Stylish • High chairs • Children’s menu (at lunch)
112 Draycott Ave, SW3 3AE
+44 20 7589 4257
Another absolutely chic and stunning spot is Daphne’s, which is of course by the same restaurant group as Scott’s and The Ivy. The conservatory seating is cozy in colder months and blissful in warmer months, and the glamorous bar is the perfect meeting place after a day of shopping in Soho or just to meet fashionable friends. Bustling and exciting, the atmosphere is great for kids.
Italian • Cont/classic • Constant • Stylish • High chairs
66 Knightsbridge, SW1X 7LA
Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park
+44 20 7201 3833
Even though it has been open for a few years now, Heston Blumenthal’s renowned restaurant at the Mandarin Oriental in Knightsbridge is still one of the hottest spots in London. Inspired by historic British gastronomy, the menu has received two Michelin stars, and self-proclaimed foodies declare this at the top of their dining list. While children are welcome and highchairs are available, lunchtime would be a better option.
British • Contemporary • Hot • Stylish • High chairs
175 Westbourne Grove, W11 2SB
+44 20 7229 9111
This casual Notting Hill hotspot by famed Australian chef and TV star Bill Granger is a requirement for anyone in the area. The menu, full of dishes made from fresh, local produce, has a decidedly simple flare, with the wine list adding a nice sophisticated touch. While very kid-friendly, it operates on a first come, first served basis, so heading over for an early lunch or dinner would be best.
Australian • Contemporary • Constant • Casual • High chairs • Children’s menu (small portions from adult menu at dinner)
17 Bruton Street, W1J 6QB
+44 20 7907 1888
One of the most popular choices for Asian cuisine in London, Hakkasan is also a top pick because of its sleek interior and energetic vibe. The fashion crowd, business crowd, tourists and locals can all be seen enjoying the innovative Cantonese dishes, which have received a coveted Michelin star. Although there is no children’s menu, they usually love the dim sum among other dishes, and there’s a good chance they will be enchanted by the lively atmosphere. There are no high chairs, but strollers are welcome.
Chinese • Contemporary • Hot • Stylish
Carlos Place, W1K 2AL
The Connaught Hotel
+44 20 7107 8880
Located in The Connaught hotel, Hélène Darroze is formal dining but without the stuffiness. The hotel is famous for welcoming children, so this is the perfect spot for a special occasion in a gorgeous setting, but keep in mind it is fine dining so lunch is probably the better option.
French • Classic • Constant • Posh • High chairs
1-5 West Street, WC2H 9NE
+44 20 7836 4751
With its recent highly anticipated revamp, The Ivy’s popularity has resurged and the iconic spot is better than it was before, if that’s even possible. The famous restaurant has been known to welcome all kinds of celebrities, politicians and royals, with its discreet dining room, dark stained-glass windows and alluring reputation.
British • Classic • Constant • Stylish • High chairs
195 -197 King’s Rd, London SW3 5EQ
+44 20 3301 0300
For a truly stylish dining experience, be sure to visit The Ivy Chelsea Garden for lunch or an early dinner. The fashion crowd loves this spot and so will you after seeing the gorgeous garden seating and atrium full of flowers, from the purveyors of iconic restaurant The Ivy. Afterwards, enjoy some great shopping in the area.
British • Classic • Constant • Stylish • High chairs
28-32 St Martin’s Court, WC2N 4AL
+44 20 7240 2565
Not many eateries have the honor of staying relevant for multiple years, much less for over a century like J Sheekey. Since the 1890’s it has been the top fish restaurant in London, attracting celebrities, socialites and seafood lovers. The impressive art collection and leather banquettes are a nice backdrop.
Seafood • Classic • Constant • Stylish • High chairs
54 Brook’s Mews, W1K 4EG
+44 20 7495 4774
For those who love France, La Petite Maison is the closest you’ll come to finding it in London. With its airy, light-filled dining room in Mayfair serving French-Mediterranean dishes that are meant to share, the restaurant is always packed. Children are welcome, particularly at lunchtime, while their parents can enjoy a great selection of rosé from the gorgeous bar.
French • Cont/classic • Constant • Stylish • High chairs
Thames Wharf, Rainville Road, W6 9HA
+44 20 7386 4200
Described by many as the best Italian food in London, The River Café in Hammersmith along the Thames provides a gorgeous setting, whether having a romantic dinner with your significant other or enjoying a meal with the entire family. During warmer months, be sure to reserve a table outside so the kids can play on the adjacent grass while waiting for meals to come, and although there is no children’s menu, the chef will accommodate for them.
Italian • Contemporary • Constant • Stylish • High chairs
37 Charlotte Street, W1T 1RR, +44 20 7580 6464
30 N Audley Street, W1K 6HP, +44 20 7305 5644
Part of the well-known Zuma restaurant group, Roka has expanded to several locations, as this restaurant continues to explode in popularity. The stark setting with tan wood is very typical of a contemporary Japanese restaurant, and the bustling atmosphere is perfect for those with children. Be sure to try the tasting menu if time allows.
Japanese • Contemporary • Hot • Stylish • High chairs
20 Mount Street, W1K 2HE
+ 44 20 7495 7309
Scott’s on Mount Street is the perfect stop after a day of shopping at the plethora of nearby designer stores. The loyal, upscale clientele is one reason why this restaurant has been popular for so many years. Other reasons include the amazing seafood and gorgeous champagne bar, as well as the management, who also run top spots J Sheekey, The Ivy and Sexy Fish. In the summer, nothing is better than the sidewalk seating.
British • Classic • Constant • Stylish • High chairs
27 Cale Street, SW3 3QP, +44 20 7349 0202
Somerset House, Strand, WC2R 1LA, +44 20 7845 4646
Tom’s Kitchen by acclaimed chef Tom Aikens has constantly been described as one of the best brunch spots in London. Located in Chelsea in a beautiful townhouse, as well as Somerset House, the casual eatery is the perfect stop for families enjoying those areas. The children’s menu contains all the typical choices, such as mini burgers and macaroni, while the main menu features British classics like beer battered pollock and chips, and shepherd’s pie. Add a generous bloody mary or bellini and the kids will seem much more tolerable.
British • Cont/classic • Constant • Casual • High chairs • Children’s menu
1 Tavistock Street (Covent Garden), WC2E 7PG, +44 20 7836 3330
109-125 Knightsbridge, SW1X 7RJ, +44 20 7235 5000
Every family should make a trip to Wagamama when visiting the UK. This casual restaurant chain serving Japanese dishes in a fast-paced, family-style environment is hugely popular in England, and many more have begun popping up across the globe. The location in Covent Garden is a great spot after sightseeing in the area, but also try the one in Harvey Nichols after a day of shopping.
Japanese • Contemporary • Constant • Casual • High chairs • Children’s menu
160 Piccadilly W1J 9EB
+44 20 7499 6996
It is no secret in London that The Wolseley is a favorite of locals and tourists. While best known for its famous breakfast, lunch and dinner are just as packed and there is a constant excitement buzzing throughout the day. Decades ago, it was a showroom for cars followed by a bank, which is why the grand dining area with atrium is such a stunning sight.
British • Cont/Classic • Constant • Stylish • High chairs
5 Raphael Street, SW7 1DL
+44 20 7584 1010
In the center of fashionable Knightsbridge lies Zuma, a highly popular Japanese hotspot with some of the best sushi around. Glamorous tourists and local residents congregate around the swanky bar, then proceed to their tables to rave over dishes like the thinly sliced sea bass with yuzu and truffle oil or the infamous spicy tuna roll.
Japanese • Contemporary • Constant • Stylish • High chairs
Afternoon tea is a big part of London culture. Below are some great choices:
The Berkeley – teenage girls will love this hotel spot because they design their tea pastries and dishes based on the current designer fashions of the season
- Wilton Place, SW1X 7RL
- +44 20 7235 6000
Fortnum & Mason – the luxury department store has sold tea for over 300 years, making this the ultimate place to enjoy it
- 181 Piccadilly, W1A 1ER
- +44 20 7734 8040
The Ritz – a beautiful hotel in London with a famous, elegant afternoon tea to match. Children always welcome, and the outdoor terrace is divine.
- 150 Piccadilly, W1J 9BR
- +44 20 7493 8181
23/25 Davies Street, W1K 3DE
+44 20 7399 0500
C London, the British outpost of the Cipriani family empire, provides the best people-watching one can imagine. Birkins, fur, air-kissing and table-hopping combined with delicious Italian food and perfect bellinis make this a favorite dining spot. While we have seen children here, we think you would have more fun there without them.
Italian • Classic • Constant • Stylish
1 Chiltern Street, W1U 7PA
+44 20 7073 7676
The recently opened restaurant at Chiltern Firehouse, Andre Balazs’ first London hotel, immediately established itself as the hottest scene in town. Located in Marylebone in an old fire station, the outdoor terrace is coveted in warmer months and the highly desired ‘Ladder Shed’ bar is where the real party happens.
American • Cont/classic • Hot • Stylish
43 Upper Brook Street, W1K 7QR
+44 20 7408 0881
Le Gavroche, Mayfair’s top formal French dining institution in a beautiful townhouse is the perfect choice for a romantic dinner of caviar and fine wines. Awarded two Michelin stars for its impeccable cuisine, Chef Michel Roux Jr. will not disappoint, and following a small renovation of the kitchen, the restaurant is more popular than ever. Don’t forget to book months in advance.
French • Classic • Constant • Posh
127 Ledbury Road, W11 2AQ
+44 20 7792 9090
Consistently included in many of the world’s best restaurant lists, The Ledbury should not be missed when hiring a sitter for the night. The recipient of dozens of awards, and the winner two Michelin stars, the restaurant is fine dining but with a modern feel. We suggest the tasting menu (which is the only choice on the weekends), and reserving two months ahead of time.
British • Contemporary • Constant • Stylish
17 Berkeley St, W1J 8EA
+44 20 3327 8888
Step back in time to 1930’s Shanghai at this exciting, decadent Chinese restaurant in Mayfair. Enjoy an upscale meal with your significant other surrounded by gold and red accents and posh patrons while listening to crooners take the stage with songs from past eras. Don’t be afraid to head to the dance floor after an unforgettable dinner.
Chinese • Classic • Hot • Posh
55 Jermyn Street, SW1Y 6LX
+44 20 7629 9955
Established in 1742, Wilton’s is fine dining at its English best. The furnishings are a great combination of old and new, with white tablecloths and velvet chairs, while both portraits and contemporary art adorn the walls. Entrees are comprised mainly of game and fish, and patrons will love the oyster bar.
British • Classic • Constant • Posh
Wilton Place, SW1X 7RL
+44 20 7235 6000
One of the chicest hotels in London, The Berkeley is known for its fashionable clientele, and is on every top travelers hot list. Situated in Knightsbridge, its proximity, not only to Harvey Nichols and Harrods department stores, but also to the luxury boutiques in the surrounding area, makes it the perfect outpost for a day of shopping. The ever stylish Blue Bar in the lobby, as well as Marcus Wareing’s popular restaurant, create a perfect end to a long day in a city that provides an endless itinerary. The afternoon tea is not only one of the most decadent in the city, it is by far the most interesting, basing its food on various designer clothing and shoes from the current seasons trends. Also nearby is Hyde Park, which provides countless activities for energetic families. During the summer, children and adults alike will love the hotel’s coveted rooftop pool, one of few in London.
49 Brook Street, W1K 4HR
+44 20 7629 8860
Quite possibly the most famous of all London hotels, Claridge’s has an unrivaled historic past and an art deco interior unlike any other in the city. The black and white marble floor at the foot of the sweeping staircase has welcomed a plethora of famous faces over the last 150 plus years, including everyone from Queen Elizabeth and Jackie Onassis to Anna Wintour and Diane von Furstenberg. The rooms and suites each have their own unique styles and luxurious Bamford bath products, while the signature designer suites are known for their ornate furnishings and personal butlers. Children are treated like royalty, never wanting to leave, and just like its sister hotels, The Connaught and the Berkeley, Claridge’s goes all out during the holidays, created unforgettable, personalized experiences for kids. The location in Mayfair is a perfect starting point for the best the city has to offer.
Carlos Place, W1K 2AL
+44 20 7499 7070
One of the most renowned hotels in the world, and one of my absolute favorites, The Connaught is the ultimate classic luxury establishment. Located in Mayfair, a prime spot in London for high-end shopping and dining, the hotel boasts an undisputed reputation for its glamorous décor, impeccable customer service, and posh restaurants and bars, including one by acclaimed chef Hélène Darroze. The large, individually decorated rooms make it feel like a home away from home, and with beautiful, spacious suites, travelers will want to stay forever. The basement is home to the tranquil, zen-like Aman Spa from AmanResorts, an award-winning facility with dozens of treatments. For the younger set there is an indoor pool with kid-friendly hours, treats on arrival, activity books, children’s menus, and the list goes on. Holidays are a particularly special time, with such activities as Santa passing out gifts and horse-drawn carriage rides through Mayfair.
Hamilton Place, Park Lane, W1J 7DR
+44 20 7499 0888
For those guests who love a very modern hotel, the Four Seasons Park Lane is a popular choice. Only a few years old, it is already at the top of the list for many vacationers and business travelers because of its location on Hyde Park, its contemporary rooms and public spaces, and the spa on the top floor of the hotel. It is also known for its children’s amenities, which include personalized itineraries, activities, babyproofing services, toiletries, video games, babysitting services, and the list goes on. They even have special rates on adjoining rooms. Be sure to visit the highly acclaimed concierge for help with tickets to musicals, horseback riding in Hyde Park, and restaurant reservations.
Beeston Place, SW1W 0JW
+44 20 7396 9000
The Goring might be the most quintessentially English hotel in London, helped by the fact that it is the only family-run hotel left in the city. Managed by the Goring’s since 1910, it has always been known for its impeccable service and traditional country house-like accommodations, but was made even more famous in 2011 when Princess Kate chose to get ready for her wedding to Prince William in one of the luxurious suites. It has been said that the Queen is a fan of the hotel, often stopping by for tea, with its proximity to Buckingham Palace, which also makes it a great choice for families hoping to walk to most of the sights in the city. The Goring is also renowned for its hospitality towards children, welcoming babies with baskets full of toys and other essentials, welcoming small children with activity packs and stuffed animals, and also featuring a Bedtime Story Library full of books for all ages. There is also a chance to bake cakes and cookies with the resident chef while parents can unwind in the bar or beautiful garden. Never, will you feel more at home or more welcomed.
Hyde Park Corner, SW1X 7TA
+44 20 7259 5599
A true English landmark, The Lanesborough has a renowned reputation not only for its gorgeous stone façade, but also for its impeccable service and amenities. Located directly across from Hyde Park, guests enjoy large traditionally decorated rooms with unparalleled views, and following an extensive renovation in 2014, the furnishings are now even more decadent thanks to new management, Oetker Collection (also of The Bristol in Paris). Residents have access to their own personal butlers, a spa and fitness center, highly acclaimed concierge services, and elegant dining areas and bars, including Céleste restaurant by executive chef Florian Favario. While the hotel is more on the formal side, guests should not be dissuaded from staying with children. The Lanesborough provides many amenities for the younger set, such as mini bathrobes, movies, games, special itineraries, and picnic baskets.
16 Sumner Place, SW7 3EG
+44 20 7589 5232
For those families looking for a hotel that feels like a house, this is the one for you. Number Sixteen is a charming boutique hotel by the Firmdale group, also responsible for seven other London properties, as well as the Crosby Street Hotel in New York City. This location is known for being very quaint, and families will love strolling down the quiet streets of residential South Kensington, while popping into the many casual restaurants and shops. Rooms are individually decorated in owner and designer Kit Kemp’s quirky yet charming style, and come with all the amenities expected of a top tier hotel. Children will love the welcome gift upon arrival, selection of games and activities, and the milk and cookies at bedtime. Adults will enjoy afternoon tea in the beautiful garden on a sunny day, although with all the wonderful attractions in the area, like the Victoria and Albert and Natural History museums just steps away, we recommend venturing out. Our only concern is there are lots of stairs, so it may be a bit of a challenge for those with strollers.
SHOPPING FOR KIDS
London children’s shops evoke a certain charm – the toy and candy stores are full of character, and the clothing boutiques have a quintessential English feel to them. Below are our favorites.
Accessorize – teen and pre-teen girls will love this inexpensive accessories chain store.
- 7 James Street, Covent Garden, WC2E 8BH
- 72 Piccadilly, Mayfair, W1J 8HP
- 53 Brompton Road, South Kensington, SW3 1DP
Benjamin Pollock’s Toy Shop – theatrical toys, including old-fashioned pop up theatres and puppets, in the Covent Garden market, since the 1880’s
- 44, The Market Building, Covent Garden, WC2E, 8RF
Bonpoint – adorable French clothing that is famously pricey but worth it
- 197 Westbourne Grove, Notting Hill, W11 2SB
- 15 Sloane Street, Knightsbridge, SW1X 9NB
- 52-54 Marylebone High Street, Marylebone, W1U 5HR
Blue Almonds Boutique – luxury children’s cashmere, gifts and furniture
- 164 Walton Street, Knightsbridge, SW3 2JL
Caramel Baby and Child – luxury British children’s clothing and home goods
- 291 Brompton Road, South Kensington, SW3 2DY
- 77 Ledbury Road, Notting Hill, W11 2AG
- 4 Denman Place, Ham Yard, W1D 7AH
Hamleys – the famous toy mecca on Regent Street, since 1881
- 188-196 Regent Street, Soho, W1B 5BT
Harrod’s Ice Cream Parlour – enjoy ice cream, shakes and desserts, then head upstairs to the designer children’s section
- 87-135 Brompton Road, Knightsbridge, SW1X 7XL
Hummingbird Bakery – the most popular cupcakes in London
- 133 Portobello Road, Notting Hill, W11 2DY
- 47 Old Brompton Road, South Kensington, SW7 3JP
- 155 Wardour Street, Soho, W1F 8WG
ilovegorgeous – whimsical dresses, baby clothes and accessories for little girls
- 52 Ledbury Road, Notting Hill, W11 2AJ
- 73 Regents Park Road, Primrose Hill, NW1 8UY
Rachel Riley – top children’s British luxury brand, and one of my favorites
- 82 Marylebone High Street, Marylebone, W1U 4QW
- 14 Pont Street, Belgravia, SW1X 9EN
R.S. Currie and Co – new and vintage toys
- 105 Westbourne Grove, Notting Hill, W2 4UW
Semmalina – variety of well-known clothing brands and toys in a cute space
- 225 Ebury Street, Belgravia, SW1W 8UT
SHOPPING FOR ADULTS
Shopping in London is ranked among the best in the world, and listed below are a variety of clothing stores, areas, specialty food shops and other unique boutiques
Assouline – a boutique carrying the famous coffee table books
- 49 Brook Street, Mayfair, W1K 4HR
- 196A Piccadilly, Saint James, W1J 9EY
Bamford – the most beautiful clothing, bath products and children’s gifts by Lady Bamford
- 169 Draycott Avenue, Knightsbridge, SW3 3AJ
- 62 S Audley Street, Mayfair, W1K 2QN
Bond Street – the most upscale designer shopping in London. Be on the lookout for Burligton Arcade which contains wonderful little shops
- In the Mayfair neighborhood
Cabbages & Roses – beautifully made women’s clothing, home goods and fabrics
- 121-123 Sydney Street, Chelsea, SW3 6NR
Covent Garden – quirky boutiques, bookstores and cafés on cobblestone streets
- Close to Trafalgar Square in central London
Daunt Books Marylebone – go for the Edwardian architecture and leave with a novel. Originally a travel bookshop
- 83 Marylebone High Street, Marylebone, W1U 4QW
Daylesford Organic – organic goods, hampers and home goods, plus a great variety of gourmet baby meals
- 208-212 Westbourne Grove, Notting Hill, W11 2RH
Dover Street Market – a mix of upscale designer clothing with up-and-coming brands in a warehouse-like space
- 17-18 Dover Street, Mayfair, W1S 4LT
Harvey Nichols – a popular designer department store, very close to Harrod’s but without the hordes of tourists
- 109-125 Knightsbridge, Knightsbridge, SW1X 7RJ
Hatchards – the oldest bookshop in London
- 187 Piccadilly, Mayfair, W1J 9LE
Heywood Hill – another beloved bookstore selling old, new and rare
- 10 Curzon Street, Mayfair, W1J 5HH
Holland and Holland – luxury hunting and shooting attire plus gun room, since 1835
- 33 Bruton Street, Mayfair, W1J 6HH
John Lobb – shop here for custom made shoes, as the Royals have been doing for decades
- 9 St. Jame’s Street, St James’s, SW1A 1EF
Liberty – amazing gifts plus high-end designers. Origin of the ‘Liberty print’
- Regent Street, Soho, W1B 5AH
Melrose and Morgan – various food items that are beautifully packaged. Located just north of the London zoo
- 42 Gloucester Avenue, Primrose Hill, NW1 8JD
Mount Street – More top designer boutiques, like Balenciaga, Lanvin and Celine
- In Mayfair
McQueens – renowned London florist in Claridges hotel
- 49 Brook Street, Mayfair, W1K 4HR
Ottolenghi – Mediterranean take away deli with hampers and gourmet pantry items
- 63 Ledbury Road, Notting Hill, W11 2AD
- 13 Motcomb Street, Belgravia, SW1X 8LB
Philip Treacy – famous London milliner
- 69 Elizabeth Street, Belgravia, SW1 W9PJ
Portobello Road – eccentric finds at this famous old Saturday street market (although, open every day of the week)
- Portobello Road, Notting Hill
Rococo Chocolates – a beautiful, sophisticated chocolate shop
- 5 Motcomb Street, Belgravia, SW1X 8JU
- 321 Kings Road, Chelsea, SW3 5EP
- 3 Moxon Street, Marylebone, W1U 4EW
Selfridges – local London it-girls know to shop at Selfridges department store
- 400 Oxford Street, Marylebone, W1A 1AB
EXPERIENCES FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY
Buckingham Palace – the world’s most famous palace gives tours from July through early September, but be sure to check the website for exact dates. Children will love the Family Pavilion with activities and games
Buckingham Palace changing of the guard – from April to July, enjoy watching the guards ceremoniously change rifles and horses everyday at 11:30, although the music begins at 11:15. The rest of the year it is every other day so be sure to check the schedule
Legoland – build lego’s, have fun on exciting rides, and see shows at this wildly popular theme park a short train ride from London
- Winkfield Rd, Windsor SL4 4AY
London Aquarium – over 300 species to see, plus daily events including dives, talks and feeding times
- County Hall, Westminster Bridge Road, SE1 7PB
London Dungeon – theatrical shows, stories and rides based on Londons historic darkside. Very entertaining for ages 8 and older
- County Hall, Westminster Bridge Road, SE1 7PB
London Eye – kids will love this enclosed glass ferris wheel. A tourist trap but worth it for the views of the city
- Westminster Bridge Road, SE1 7PB
London holiday season – London is magical in December, with festive lights, markets and fairs, ice-skating, caroling concerts, and so much more.
London Zoo – with thousands of animals and species plus a petting area and butterfly house, kids will be entertained for hours
- Regents Park, NW1 4RY
National Gallery – Sundays are the best days to visit this renowned art museum, with family tours, workshops, storytime and more
- Trafalgar Square, WC2N 5DN
Natural History Museum – view dinosaur fossils, build a volcano, visit the wildlife garden and learn all about the earth and evolution
- Cromwell Road, SW7 5BD
Princess Diana Memorial Playground – the ultimate playground, with a giant pirate ship, teepees, toys and play sculptures
- Kensington Gardens, The Broad Walk, W2 2UH
Roald Dahl Museum & Story Center – activities and interactive galleries based on Roald Dahl’s life and work, just a short train ride from London’s Marylebone station
- 81-83 High Street, Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire, HP16 0AL
Shakespeare’s Globe Theater – for the family with teenagers studying Shakespeare in high school, this shows what an actual play was like during the 1600’s
- 21 New Globe Walk, Bankside, SE1 9DT
Tower of London – view the crown jewels, tour an ancient fortress, make your own helmet, and play games. Better for older children as not every area is stroller accessible, and some exhibits and tours can seem frightening
Victoria & Albert Museum – while more popular with adults, it is also very kid-friendly, and features backpacks full of activities to rent. The museum’s shop is a great place to find gifts
- Cromwell Road, SW7 2RL
Warner Brothers Studio tour of Harry Potter – a behind-the-scenes tour of the movie set. Kids will also love riding the train from London to the studio
- Studio Tour Drive, Leavesden, WD25 7LR
West End shows – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, The Lion King, and more
Wimbledon – take the older kids to a tennis match at one of the most famous tournaments in the world. Last minute tickets can be acquired at the venue early in the morning, or tour the site’s museum when the tournament is not in session
- Church Road, Wimbledon, London, SW19 5AE
Listed below are three sample itineraries appropriate for all ages. I have kept them light because we all know kids moods can be unpredictable. For more age specific activities, please go through the Experiences for the Whole Family section, which also gives more details on each recommendation listed below.
- After breakfast at your hotel, which I find much easier to manage when traveling with kids who have woken up hungry, head to the northwest corner of Hyde Park to the Princess Diana Memorial Playground
- Next, begin walking towards Knightsbridge, and on the way you can admire Kensington Palace where many royals live and work, although I don’t recommend touring with children in strollers
- Depending on how much time was spent at the playground, you can head to lunch at Zuma or make a stop at Harvey Nichols for some shopping. Kids will also love the Harrods food hall for dessert
- Next, head down the road to the Natural History Museum. Plan to spend a few hours here
- Finally, head to nearby Bumpkin South Kensington for a casual meal
- After breakfast, saunter around Mayfair, admiring the beautiful parks and architecture, as well as the high-end shops
- Right in between Mayfair and Piccadilly is Hamley’s toy store, and just up the street, Liberty. Both are great places to enjoy quintessential English shopping
- Head just south of Hamley’s to The Wolseley to enjoy a chic lunch
- Hail a taxi outside of the Wolseley and head to the London Zoo for a fun afternoon of animals and adventure. Afterwards, choose any restaurant on the list for dinner
- Spend the morning running around St. James park or touring Buckingham Palace (check the summer opening schedule), then plan to be at the front gates at 11:15 for the changing of the guard (double-check this schedule)
- Head down The Mall towards J Sheekey for great seafood
- Across the Thames, spend the afternoon on the London Eye and at the Aquarium. Afterwards, head to Covent Garden
- Balthazar is right next to the Covent Garden market
If bringing a nanny or hiring a sitter, I suggest the following:
- A light breakfast at Cecconi’s, followed by high-end shopping in Mayfair. I also love gallery-hopping in this neighborhood
- Enjoy a leisurely meal with wine at La Petite Maison
- Walk or take a taxi to the Victoria & Albert Museum for one of their iconic exhibits. Afterwards, men loving touring Churchill’s War Rooms, and that will take you near Westminster Abbey, Big Ben and 10 Downing Street, all major tourist destinations
- Book a table at The Ivy – it is great for a long meal or a pre-theatre set menu if going to a show on the West End
After dinner or a show
- Drinks at Chiltern Firehouse or one of the bars at The Connaught hotel are a must. Or go to both – absolutely no judgement – you have kids, and they’re sleeping
CITY TIPS AND HELPFUL INFORMATION
Baby food, diapers, etc
- London is full of pharmacies, like Boots, and they stock all baby items
- For organic baby food, there is a Whole Foods in Piccadilly Circus on Glasshouse Street and in Kensington on Kensington High Street. Daylesford Organic also creates gourmet baby food
- Each hotel we have listed is able to find reputable babysitters, but most require at least 24 hours notice
- Rockabye Sitters – London’s premiere agency for families and upscale hotels
- A few public restrooms are scattered throughout the city. Some areas include the Covent Garden square (only accessed by stairs), near Marlborough Gate at the entrance to St. James’s Park near Trafalgar Square, and opposite Westminster Abbey
- Alternatively, you can opt for a nearby Starbucks or Pret-a-Manger
- For a complete list with contact information by country go to this website
- Buses are a great way to see London, and kids love the top floor of the double-deckers. Tickets can be purchased at machines close to each stop, which also show the bus routes
- If you will be in London at least a week and plan to use public transportation, it would be easier to purchase Oyster cards at newspaper stores. They are pre-paid, hard-backed cards that can be used on buses and the underground Tube
- If renting a car, be sure to speak with the rental agency about driving into London. Otherwise, you will receive a mailed ticket for congestion charges
- All hotels can set up chauffeured car services, either around town or to and from the airports. Alternatively, taxis can easily be hailed from the streets, and line up at the airports. If you prefer not to make the drive into the city from the airports (Heathrow can take up to an hour while Gatwick can take 1 ½ hours), you can choose to ride the 15-minute Tube from Heathrow to Paddington station, or take a half hour train ride from Gatwick to Victoria Station. After clearing Customs at the airports, follow signs to the Train and the Underground, and upon arrival at Paddington or Victorias, follow signs to the Taxi queues
- In London it is customary to exit a cab before paying
- Children’s hospital: Great Ormond Street Hospital, 020.7405.9200
- The website for London’s public transportation lost property office is here
Police and Emergencies
- Dial 999 for the police or ambulances in the event of an emergency
- For non-emergencies, dial 101 for the police
- Many museums and sights have stroller parking areas, although they cannot be held responsible in the event of theft. Depending on the size of the venue, it may be wiser to coat check them and let kids walk or be carried in a sling
- No need to break down strollers when getting into London’s spacious taxis. Unless it’s a double stroller it will fit right through the door
- There is a section for up to two strollers on London buses, which is easier than getting on and off the underground Tube trains
- Journey Planner can show you which tube routes and lines to take that will not involve any stairs
- Try to avoid public transportation during rush hour, which is 7 am to 9 am, and 4 pm to 6:30 pm
- At a restaurant, a 10-15% tip is customary, although some will automatically include a service charge, so be sure to look over the bill
- It is not common to tip in bars or pubs
- Taxi drivers usually receive an extra 10-15% of the fare
- Two pounds per bag is normal for each porter at a hotel, as is one pound when they hail a taxi upon exit of the hotel
- Always tip the concierge per reservation, ticket procurement, etc.
- Some hotels will include a service charge on the bill. If not, be sure to leave something for housekeeping. Because all of our hotels are upscale, a daily tip is encouraged as the staff may differ day to day