Sometime back in spring I had a discussion with my boyfriend about taking our (now almost 18-months-old) toddler to London for the weekend. I don’t need to shout too loudly about my affections for our capital city: I was born there, I spent most of my early childhood there, I went to uni almost-kind-of-slightly there, I lived there when I graduated and it’s somewhere I end up most weeks for work meetings and events. It’s a huge part of my life and my identity.
But it’s rarely a place I get to explore as a tourist, and it’s certainly not a place that Atti is familiar with (despite a few midweek jollys down on the train for business breakfasts when he was a baby).
So when Le Meridien Piccadilly got in touch about us staying for a weekend and testing out all their family amenities – including their new Peter Rabbit afternoon tea – we jumped at the chance. Not least because pushing a teething toddler along Southbank in the sunshine is a touch nicer than pushing him around my local Tesco.
And so, at the start of June, we went. And here’s how it went…
Where? Le Meridien Piccadilly which, as the name suggests, is on Piccadilly in central London.
The story? After a solo Saturday morning train ride with Atti (we met my boyfriend in London as he’d come down the night before to see friends), and a very sticky tube journey, we arrived at the hotel.
It’s a couple minutes walk from Piccadilly Circus tube station, and stands out on the main road with its dancing blue flags and classic quintessential style of architecture.
The lobby has an insane smell (how do hotel lobbies manage this?! I would like my house to have a welcoming scent that isn’t clothes-drying-and-cats-existing-here), and nestled just off the lobby in a tiny cubby hole is the secret children’s library which is equipped with yes – books – but also bean bags, which are super handy with small kids.
It’s from this spot that the hotel’s ‘Peter Rabbit trail’ begins, which is designed to co-inside with their afternoon tea. It takes kids on a tour of the hotel looking for clues to fill in their map, which is a nice idea to fill a rainy hour!
We were shown to our room – which had enough floor space for Atti to cause havoc – and also ample space for his cot (there’s a list of items you can request for kids, ranging from cots to nappies and wipes). We also had incredible views over the city, and were able to see the London Eye from our (super king size) bed, which was a real treat.
We spent most of our time either star-fishing in bed (please tell me we’re not the only ones who find one of the main attractions of hotel stays just having a wonderfully comfy bed to roll around in for extravagant amounts of time?), and exploring the surrounding area on foot. Whilst the Mayfair/Westminster/Piccadilly area of London isn’t somewhere I spend much time, there’s something about just walking around it without a destination in mind that gives me the same buzz as being in New York. And I adored being able to introduce Atti to that city vibe.
We also explored the hotel amenities including the swimming pool and the afternoon tea (more on that below).
We had plans to have a decadent hotel dinner too, and did manage to sneak in one cocktail, but then the realities of hotel-life with a small child became apparent when he roared and roared and roared because we wouldn’t let him crawl underneath other peoples’ tables. So instead we retreated to our room for Saturday night television and pizza and red wine from the room service menu. Simple but perfect.
Food? There’s one restaurant at Le Meridien Piccadilly and that’s ‘The Terrace on Piccadilly’. It’s an indoor restaurant with a glass roof so super light and airy, and they serve everything from breakfast (which is a buffet style), to lunch, dinner and afternoon tea. As part of our trip we were invited to try the Peter Rabbit afternoon tea which is available until later this autumn – and can be booked for both adults and for kids.
I definitely did not have my first afternoon tea until I was at least 23, and probably awkwardly trying to convince people at a work event that I was grown-up! And cool! And not an imposter! And absolutely cut out for this job! But anyway yes, Atti loved it, most notably his chocolate scone which he obliterated. I’m training him young.
Personally, I was a fan of the smoked salmon pinwheel, as well as the blackberry macaron, but the whole set-up of the tea was incredibly cute, and everything – including the rabbits – were edible which was a nice touch. Also worth flagging that there was an entirely separate vegetarian afternoon tea menu which my boyfriend was thrilled about.
How much? Prices start at just over £200 per night for a classic room, and go up closer to £300 for a club room (which is bigger and allows access to the club lounge which has coffee, pastries, newspapers etc). Obviously prices are higher during summer months, but Saturday nights tend to be cheaper than weekdays.
How to get there? There is a car park available to guests, but to avoid driving in central London and the congestion charge, travel by train is easiest. Piccadilly Circus tube is closest and is on the Piccadilly line, but Green Park is also walking distance.
What’s nearby? Almost every classic London tourist hot spot is literally on your doorstep. You’re within a ten-minute walk of things like Buckingham Palace, the London Eye, Big Ben, Westminster, The Houses of Parliament and lots of glorious parks to enjoy if the sun is nice – including Green Park and St James’s Park. You’re also within a ten-minute walk of New Bond Street (fancy designer shops, hello Mulberry), and Oxford Street for all your high street shopping goodness.
Recommendations? As the weather was nice we spent a lot of time in the parks so that Atti could run wild – which was a particular joy when he had been up at 4.30am and we desperately needed to entertain him. There’s an M&S food just at the entrance to Green Park station which is super handy for picnic snacks (and a sly tin of Portnstar Martini).
The hotel itself also has a downstairs bar which we didn’t get a chance to frequent, but has a magic theme, including a magician who’ll perform tricks at your table.
Other than that there is so much to do and so much to explore. Even if the weather is grim, there’s things like the London Aquarium just across the river, and the location of the hotel lends itself well to so many incredible (but not overly expensive) London restaurant chains like Honest Burger, The Breakfast Club, Crosstown Doughnuts, Polpo and Flat Iron.
Best bits? The afternoon tea was a true highlight, as was the basement swimming pool which felt like a real hidden secret to treat Atti to. We also loved having a giant bed with such gorgeous sweeping views, and an unexpected bonus was that we could connect to both YouTube and iPlayer on the TV (great for both entertaining Atti with Baby Car videos and for starting season two of Killing Eve after he’d gone to sleep).
Worst bits? The room service is quite pricey and doesn’t offer the same variety as the restaurant but hey, I guess that’s fairly common.
What would I do differently? Definitely stay an extra night – I think two nights (especially with a kid) is the minimum for making it feel like a mini-holiday. I’d also skip the tube and travel by black cab between Liverpool Street and the hotel – so much less stressful (and sticky) when carrying a pushchair and suitcases.
You can find more information on Le Meridien Piccadilly here.
This is a sponsored post but all views my own.