From special family packages to children’s concierges and one-off experiences, if you’re looking to treat little ones to a stay in the capital they’ll never forget, here’s our pick of London’s best family-friendly luxury hotels
Though The Dilly opened in April 2021 with a new name and swanky new look, there has been a hotel on this site since Edwardian times, and an air of glamour and fun still prevails, from the inky-blue lobby with its oversized flower-filled urns to The Terrace restaurant, with a jungly, botanical feel (the site of a spectacular open-air pool in bygone times).
Spacious family rooms with views of the London skyline come with marble-clad bathrooms, and children will be delighted with their welcome gift of sweet treats. There are more treats on offer at the hotel’s Peter Rabbit-themed afternoon tea, served in the light and airy restaurant. Alongside sandwiches and scones are creative pastries such as the Flower-Pot Hideout (an edible chocolate pot with camomile mousse, blackberry and chocolate soil) and the Magnificent Mushroom, a toadstool of strawberry ganache and meringue.
Afterwards, splash around with the kids in the basement swimming pool – one of London’s largest indoor pools – or treat them to a dance class in the spectacular ballroom, twinkling with chandeliers. Beyond the hotel, the neighbourhood couldn’t be more exciting for children. The hotel is a short walk from Hamleys, the capital’s biggest toyshop, and just over the road from Waterstones Piccadilly, Europe’s biggest bookshop, with an entire floor devoted to children’s books. Then there’s the lights and buzz of Piccadilly Circus and theatreland, just steps away.
Upon arrival at The Lanesborough, you’ll be greeted by bowler-hatted doormen and ushered into the supremely glamorous interior of this historic hotel. The fun starts at check-in: children are given their own VIP business wallet, which can be exchanged for a soft drink or ice cream in one of the hotel’s restaurants and bars. There’s also the chance to meet the hotel’s resident cat, Lilibet (a hypoallergenic breed, so no danger of sniffles).
Interconnecting suites makes keeping tabs on the kids easy while giving them their own sense of independence. The suites are palatial, with high ceilings and panelled walls in sugared-almond colours, and canopied beds will spark sweet dreams of fairytales. The Lanesborough is London’s only hotel offering round-the-clock butler service in every room and suite, and your butler will organise plenty of in-room fun and games too, setting up a treasure hunt in the room, and delivering popcorn to snack on as you enjoy a family film from the hotel’s extensive library.
As if that weren’t excitement enough, the hotel’s Little VIP Club offers activities such as Little Butler Bootcamp (skills such as setting the table and making the perfect cup of tea might come in handy at home), mocktail lessons and horse riding in nearby Hyde Park, and there’s also the possibility of ‘splash hours’ in the hotel’s luxurious pool.
A new five-star hotel in Westminster, The Guardsman is just a few minutes’ walk from Buckingham Palace, and children are certainly given the royal treatment here. Bookings are made in the child’s name (they’ll enjoy seeing their name flash up on the screen), securing their VIP status from the outset. Thanks to the hotel’s boutique size and private members’ club feel, the attention to detail and personalised service is top-notch. Kids are given a goody bag full of treats to keep them entertained, and staff are on hand to help with any special requests and recommendations.
In a welcome change from the limited dining hours you might find in other hotels, The Dining Room – reached by a showstopping spiral staircase – is at your disposal whenever you need it. The children’s menu will please even the fussiest of eaters with its roll-call of classic kids’ favourites such as bangers & mash and spaghetti with tomato sauce; the ice cream sundae with chocolate sauce and sprinkles is sure to go down well too. Meanwhile, adults can choose from a reassuringly short, seasonal and unfussy menu, with ingredients sourced where possible from local suppliers and farmers’ markets.
After dinner, you can stretch your legs with a stroll around Westminster or relax in your room. The configuration of the suites is flexible, with interconnecting rooms that allow kids (and parents) to have their own space. The rooms are decorated in luxe contemporary style, cosied up with soft textures and comfy beds.
Suitably refreshed after a sound night’s sleep, you come down to a five-star breakfast, again with plenty of options that children will enjoy, including boiled eggs and Guardsmen – a charming take on the classic eggs and soldiers.
“No request is too large, no detail too small,” says General Manager Malcolm Hendry of the guest experience at The Rubens at the Palace, and much thought has clearly gone into giving children staying here the time of their lives. From the little touches – fluffy child-size dressing gowns, children’s check-in, complimentary mocktails – to the array of experiences on offer, there is something here to appeal to all. The children’s afternoon tea – Prince and Princess-themed in a nod to the hotel’s location, just down the road from Buckingham Palace – is colourful and fun, and full of sweet treats (you might need to walk off the sugar in nearby St James’s Park afterwards).
If the kids are impressed by the afternoon tea pastries, you can sign them up for a free pastry chef experience, in which they’ll don full chef’s whites, head into the kitchen to see the pastry chefs at work and even make their own biscuits and cupcakes; a certificate, badge and photo will remind them of their time in the kitchen.
After all this excitement, you (and the kids) might need a lie-down. Rooms are either large family affairs or interconnecting, allowing everyone their own space. All are decorated in the Rubens’ signature opulent style and come with a welcome pack containing colouring and sticker books.
With a dedicated kids’ concierge, St Ermin’s Hotel near St James’s Park puts the child’s experience front and centre – making for a happy and relaxed stay for their parents too. The new Family Suites can sleep up to six, and come with a tepee and children’s books, so that kids can cosy up in their den for a read.
Buzz the Bee is the hotel’s child-friendly mascot; head up to the third-floor terrace for an encounter with some real-life bees, safely behind glass, busily at work making honey in the hotel’s four hives. Kids can enjoy a taste of the hotel’s own honey at breakfast.
Older children will enjoy the hotel’s spy connections. In the 1950s the spy Guy Burgess (part of the infamous Cambridge five) slipped secret papers to his Russian counterpart in the hotel’s bar, and Winston Churchill used the hotel during the Second World War. Children can embark on their own spy mission, turning sleuth to crack clues around the hotel.
Beyond the hotel, there’s plenty to keep kids entertained, not least two royal parks on the doorstep. In Hyde Park, you can hire rowing boats and pedalos (or simply relax on a deckchair), and let the kids run riot in the Princess Diana Memorial Playground; while in St James’s Park you can feed the ducks, track down the resident pelicans, picnic with a view of Buckingham Palace, and, if you time it right, see the Changing of the Guard ceremony.