We plan a three-day itinerary for children in London and become secret agents at St Ermin’s Hotel
“Sir. We’ve been expecting you.” The receptionist slips an envelope marked Top Secret into my son’s hands. He becomes the latest ‘spy’ to take up residence in St Ermin’s Hotel, opposite Scotland Yard and next to St James’s Park, just a few hundred yards from the heart of Westminster.
This hotel was once home to MI6 and was where the famous Communist double agents Burgess and McClean met their Russian handlers.
The spy theme is being continued by the budding Bond package for families which encourages little ones to scour the hotel for clues as part of their trip.
And this elegant Victorian hotel is a joy to explore.
It might have some of London’s top attractions on its doorstep, but as you walk down the tree-lined entrance, it’s easy to forget you’re in the heart of the city.
And following a £30 million refurbishment a few years ago, the interior is stunning.
We enjoyed a delicious breakfast here every day and one fabulous afternoon tea with sandwiches and cakes, beautifully presented, but soon demolished by us.
Our lovely family suite boasted two big beds and the added luxury of two bathrooms.
But we were not there much as there was so much to fit in.
So, what is the secret to a successful trip family break to London?
With our two young children in tow, we decided the answer was to keep it short and simple. We broke it up into three manageable days. Each one in a specific part of the capital:
London Eye – this big wheel and a half is a great way to see the capital from above. An iconic way to start a visit to London and get your bearings.
Sea Life Centre – the aquarium is a good rainy day option or in our case, a welcome escape from the heat outside. The penguins and sharks were particular favourites.
Big Ben – children won’t want to miss seeing and hearing this famous landmark.
St James’s Park –a lovely oasis near to our hotel. We ambled through this Royal park to Buckingham Palace to watch Changing of the Guard.
Natural History Museum (or the Dinosaur Museum to our children) and the neighbouring Science Museum followed by fun in Hyde Park, paddling in the man-made stream.
Three fabulous and free activities in one corner of the capital.
A great history lesson at the Tower of London, touring the cobbled streets and towers and viewing the Crown Jewels.
From here we had a great view of Tower Bridge which my son and I were hurtling under a couple of hours later on a river tour with a difference.
The Thames RIB Experience took in all the sites with great commentary but became less ordinary once the James Bond music kicked in and our boat sped and bounced along the Thames in an adrenaline-filled trip.
Back at the hotel and our own 007 son had completed his mission and collected his prize.
He’d uncovered the secrets of St Ermin’s and we’d all discovered the secret to a fabulous family break in London.
*For more ideas see the official visitor guide www.visitlondon.com.
Accommodation: We stayed as guests at St Ermin’s Hotel in London for the purpose of this review. All views are our own.