The sight of kids tucking into Charlie & the Chocolate Factory inspired afternoon teas in the plush lobby bar of chic boutique hotel One Aldwych – launched to coincide with the run of Sam Mendes' musical version of the classic Roald Dahl children's novel at the nearby Theatre Royal Drury Lane – had my boys' eyes boggling in wonder. Unfortunately for them, their evil mother forbade them the amazing-looking treat on the basis that dinnertime was fast approaching.
The hotel's most informal restaurant, Indigo, is super child-friendly too, with a kids' menu that runs from peanut butter and jam sandwiches to chicken noodle soup and fish of the day with seasonal vegetables. Or, if they're adventurous like my 11-year-old, they might enjoy calves' liver with onion rings, crispy bacon and mustard cream or other Modern European dishes from the main menu.
'The kids appreciated such welcoming touches as fruit cocktails on arrival, mini bathrobes and slippers, and Wii consoles – together with the mini TV screens on stalks in the bathrooms. Best of all, however, is the gorgeous, chlorine-free swimming pool with its cinema screen featuring aquatic life and its underwater music'.
While the boys feasted, enjoying the views down over the lobby bar and across the street to the Lyceum, where families were gathering for the evening's performance of The Lion King, my husband and I sampled pig-head fritters with sauce gribiche, shallot and parsley salad, and chorizo-crusted hake, artichokes, grilled beans, olives and aioli, and decided that afternoon tea is for wimps.
Ours has been a long love affair with One Aldwych. I first took my husband there more than a decade ago, as a birthday surprise. About a year later, unable to go on honeymoon because I was hugely pregnant, we chose it as the luxurious venue for our wedding eve and wedding night. Returning there with our kids was only natural – indeed, this was our third stay with the boys.
On this weekend in late August, we were pleased to see plenty of other children at the hotel too, of a range of nationalities. No doubt they too appreciated such welcoming touches as fruit cocktails on arrival, mini bathrobes and slippers, and Wii consoles – together with the mini TV screens on stalks in the bathrooms. Best of all, however, is the gorgeous, chlorine-free swimming pool with its cinema screen featuring aquatic life and its underwater music, plus the eucalyptus-fragrant steam room.
New this time around was a guests-only lounge where you can dip into Rizzoli books curated by fashion designer Paul Smith, curl up in cosy armchairs and sofas, and enjoy food and drink all day, as well as such benefit from services as online flight check-in and concierge theatre and restaurant bookings. Although they are welcome there, it seemed to me the perfect place to escape from one's children for a while!
Read more about London city breaks at One Aldwych.