Planning a family break in London can be a logistical nightmare – but I think I’ve cracked it.
To save precious time, my wife and I needed a location with easy access to the sights, and to save our sanity we needed a self catering apartment with a separate bedroom for the kids.
Step forward Fraser Suites Queens Gate, in south Kensington, where we stayed for a weekend during the school summer holidays.
It’s just around the corner from Gloucester Road underground station, which is on the District, Circle and Piccadilly lines, meaning many of London’s sights can be reached in no time.
The Natural History Museum, London’s top free family attraction, is even easier to get to, being literally across the road.
And next to this is the Science Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum.
Fraser Suites Queens Gate is also extremely handy for supermarkets and pizza places, allowing us to feed and water the kids without paying ‘London prices’.
The elegant, recently refurbished Victorian building has a classic charm with tall pillars and soaring ceilings.
Its 105 contemporary serviced apartments range from studio to two-bedroom types, all with comfortable furnishings and a fully equipped, modern kitchen.
Kensington Gardens / Hyde Park is a 10-minute walk from Fraser Suites Queens Gate and after checking in early we did a circuit, taking in the Italian Gardens and boating lake.
The kids loved the Peter Pan-themed playground and the fountains that are both named in honour of Diana, Princess of Wales, who lived in nearby Kensington Palace.
We also checked out the new statue of Diana in the palace’s sunken garden, which was unveiled by her sons to mixed reactions last year.
The following morning, after devouring a generous continental breakfast delivered to our door, we took the tube to Westminster (four stops away).
Just below Big Ben, we bought a 24-hour ‘hop-on hop-off’ Thames River pass with City Cruises (£41 for a family of five).
Weather-wise, our luck was in, so we were able to sit up top as the guide pointed out such sights as The Shard and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.
We disembarked twice, to get a closer look at Tower Bridge and the Tower of London, and then in Greenwich to see the Royal Observatory and the Cutty Sark tall ship.
We walked part of the way back to our apartment, taking in Trafalgar Square, Horse Guards Parade, Downing Street, St James’ Park and Buckingham Palace.
After checking out on Sunday we headed for the Natural History Museum (it would have been rude not to).
This cathedral to nature has hundreds of permanent and temporary exhibitions, many interactive, a highlight being the dinosaur skeletons.
We certainly packed a lot of sights and family-friendly activities into our weekend, which was made possible by our choice of accommodation.
What is it TV’s Kirstie and Phil say… location, location, location.
Fraser Suites Queens Gate is close to Gloucester Road tube station. It’s also easy to get to by car, whether arriving via the A4 or the A40, although there is no on-site parking. There’s a fully-equipped gym, lobby bar, breakfast room, complimentary wi-fi, housekeeping services and a 24-hour reception and concierge service to help arrange babysitting duties should you require. A deluxe, two-bedroom apartment for two nights from Friday, February 25 costs from £243 per night. For more information visit london-queensgate.frasershospitality.com
London’s Hyde Park will host a spectacular festive event with more than 200 attractions and food and drink offerings
The UK’s largest outdoor ice rink, a ‘Magical Ice Kingdom’, a Christmas circus, live music, ice sculpting workshops and a giant wheel will all form part of Hyde Park Winter Wonderland.
Under a canopy of sparkling lights, the ice rink will wrap around festive singers on the Victorian bandstand, while the Zippos circus show will boast jaw-dropping acrobatics and laugh-out-loud clowning.
Continuing the circus theme, Cirque Berserk will also be in Hyde Park with their international troupe of brave daredevils, aerialists and acrobats, as well as the full-throttle Globe of Death.
The Magical Ice Kingdom will take visitors to a mythical world of forest glades, dazzling lights, snow slides, sorcerers, dragons and enchanting tunnels into different lands.
The temperature of the Ice Bar will be -10C and everything, including the glasses, will be made of ice. It’ll have a ’70s New York disco theme, with glitter balls making the ice sculptures sparkle.
The event will be open daily (except Christmas Day) from November 19 to January 3, 10am – 10pm.
Timed entry tickets are free (off-peak), £5 (standard) and £7.50 (peak). The charges are waived for visitors who spend £20 on attractions or food and drinks in advance.
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I like so much the activities that Hyde Park offers! It is full of life!