It can be hard to find a genuinely family-friendly hotel in cities, where space is at a premium and properties often focus on business clientele or couples. As a family, we particularly like a hotel with a swimming pool when on a city break – it’s helpful for letting off steam during sightseeing, especially with younger kids who often can’t cope with a whole day out. And the indoor pool at the Park Plaza Waterloo’s Mandara Spa, where children are welcome any time between 8am and 8pm, is a lovely one, complete with loungers where you watch or catch some ‘me’ time while they splash around.
But it’s really all about location when you stay in London – there’s no point in saving money by being at the end of the Tube line and having to make long journeys in and out to the sights every day. The Park Plaza London Waterloo is beautifully placed on the South Bank, on hand for some of London’s top family attractions, including the London Eye, Thames river cruises and boat rides, SEA LIFE London Aquarium, Shrek’s Adventure! London and the Imperial War Museum. See more on our favourite things to do in London with kids.
Food is another crucial aspect of family breaks, and London is now one of the best cities in the world for foodies so there’s no excuse for not enjoying your breakfast, lunch and dinner and maybe even a sneaky afternoon tea too. The South Bank is crammed with family-friendly restaurants, but for those nights when you’re exhausted from sightseeing and don’t want to stray too far, the hotel’s own Florentine restaurant provides great kids’ dishes such as gnocchi with tomato sauce at extremely reasonable prices (£5–6 for a main course) as well as an interesting global menu that includes the likes of buffalo ricotta ravioli with black truffle, and baked shakshuka. The colourful kids' menu doubles as an activity book to keep them occupied. Under-12s also enjoy a hotel breakfast for free when sharing a room with two adults, and in a nice touch, the hotel donates £1 to the Magic Breakfast children’s charity for every egg dish ordered in the morning.
The fun starts as soon as you check in – kids get goodie bags with welcome gifts including food and drink vouchers, plus a wristband with the hotel name and phone number. The sleek, contemporary accommodation here includes Studio Rooms and One-Bedroom Suites, both with a king or twin beds and a pull-out sofabed. Suites have the best London views as well as a Nespresso® machine.