Since we met nearly three years ago, Szilvi and I have had little time together without the kids. No sooner had she finished extended-breastfeeding her little girl than I was pregnant with my third son and back into the world of all things baby. Our lives diverged again, and our precious girlie nights out after yoga classes came to an end.
Late this spring, having come to the end of breastfeeding my toddler and feeling culturally deprived, I proposed a trip to London to see a show. Two of my favourite actresses, Judi Dench and Frances Barber, were playing in Covent Garden, and I thought it the perfect excuse for Szilvi, an actress, and I to spend some time together.
"The beauty of the pre-theatre dinner in the hotel’s plush Cheneston’s restaurant – where we feasted on such treats as Jerusalem artichoke soup with truffle oil then risotto of Orkney scallops with peas and cockles – was that we could enjoy our starter and main before heading out to our show, then take dessert and coffee in the lounge when we got back."
Choosing a hotel wasn’t easy, but The Milestone Hotel in an imposing Victorian building opposite Kensington Gardens tempted us with its particular concern for women travellers, offering rooms with extra security and little touches such as the allocation of female service staff. It also has a spa and exercise pool, and staff will either arrange Pilates and yoga instruction in your room, or provide you with a yoga mat and video.
I’ll confess that when it came to it, we were far more interested in lounging around drinking champagne and enjoying the treats left in our room—cookies, bonbons, fruit —although we did manage to drag ourselves downstairs to try out the sauna and brave the tsunami-like currents of the resistance pool.
At the time of our stay, the hotel offered a Showtime package including West End tickets, and although we’d already made our own theatre booking, we did indulge in a pre-theatre dinner in the hotel’s plush Cheneston’s restaurant, feasting on such treats as Jerusalem artichoke soup with truffle oil, risotto of Orkney scallops with peas and cockles, and a ‘tasting of mango’ (a trio of mango soufflé, sorbet, and smoothie). The beauty of this arrangement was that we could enjoy our starter and main before heading out to our show, then take dessert and coffee in the lounge when we got back.
With its deep sofas, old portraits, glossy magazines and pianist tinkling away in the corner, this cosy, chintzy lounge reinforced our feeling of having truly escaped from domestic cares, if only for a night. Breakfast in bed over the Sunday newspapers the following morning was another welcome blast from the past.
We came home refreshed and longing to see our children, while conscious that we really needed a two-night trip to get fully into relaxation mode. But if you can’t face leaving the kids just yet, The Milestone is a very family-friendly hotel too, offering special packages, ongoing and seasonal, plus in-house nannies, behind-the-scenes kids’ tours of the hotel, and even buggy and playpen hire.
See more of our hand-picked recommendations for family-friendly places to stay in London.