WHEN visiting London with children, my husband and I adopt a Kirsty Allsopp and Phil Spencer approach and consider location, location, location as the key ingredient to a successful trip.
Staying on the edge of the city is not worth the risk of losing a trailing toddler in the bustling underground or catching bedbugs on the bus (we’ve been sat next to a woman with four scratching children complaining loudly that they have a severe dose). Since many central hotels cost as much as a monthly mortgage payment (which can never be fully appreciated by children) it’s with great delight that we have finally found the ideal place to stay. Thistle Marble Arch Hotel is near the end of Oxford Street, right on the doorstep of all the attractions a family of sight- seers may wish to visit. And with 692 bedrooms and 193 Superior, Deluxe and Suites, we hopefully won’t have a problem booking a room after sharing our find.
WINING AND DINING? Breakfast is buffet style and includes a mesmerising choice of fruits, cereals and a continental selection. Several cooked items and omelettes are cooked to order so there is something for all the family. For dinner there’s the Marmor Grill, but if you’re out on the town there is a great variety of family-friendly eateries. Enter the jungle, complete with waterfalls, trumpeting elephants and wild gorillas, at the Rainforest Cafe, or there’s American diner-style Planet Hollywood, jam-packed with memorabilia from our family’s favourite films, Indiana Jones, Star Wars and James Bond.
ROOM SERVICE? There’s a timeless 1920s theme to the decor, which is fitting as we are housed in one of the few genuine Art Deco buildings in London. Clean and comfortable, the rooms are air-conditioned, have flat-screen TVs, and 24-hour room service is available.
WORTH GETTING OUT OF BED FOR? There’s so much to see and do within easy reach, the real question is ‘How late will it be before your child hits sleep-deprived meltdown?’ There’s the trio of museums to visit (Science, Natural History and V&A), shopping galore (including the Disney Store and Hamleys) and the obvious sights to see (Buckingham Palace, Big Ben and the London Eye). As for evening entertainment, it doesn’t get any better, or more central, than going to the theatre in the West End.
BUDGET OR BOUTIQUE? Thankfully not boutique. Expensive works of art, white carpets and cocktail bars tend not to mix with children, but that doesn’t mean there’s not everything you should expect of a four-star hotel, and with rooms priced from £169, for such a central location it’s a definite bargain.
LITTLE EXTRAS? Children receive a goody bag. In the room there are tea and coffee-making facilities and toiletries. Wi-fi is available and vouchers can be bought at reception. There are gym facilities onsite and guests in executive rooms can check in/out privately and access complimentary continental breakfast and bar in the executive suite.
GUESTBOOK COMMENTS? Thistle offers a high standard in an ideal location without blowing the annual family budget.
Thistle Marble Arch, Bryanston Street, London (0871 376 9027, www.thistle.com), double rooms including breakfast from £169)