Every year we spend a few days in London as a family, it's my eldest's favourite city and we are lucky enough to live just over 2hrs away making weekend city breaks a great option when your looking for somewhere full of culture and heritage. Our first 2 nights we stayed in the amazing London Hilton on Park lane - do read my review about it as it's a perfect base for those travelling with kids to the capital.
The great thing about London is that you really are spoilt for choice when it comes to family friendly activities and we often try and see and do something new every time we visit and this weekend was no exception. We didn't know what to expect however as we travelled to London only a few days after the devastating Westminster Bridge attacks but we found the city as safe and welcoming as always.
Our first proper day in the city consisted of having the amazing opportunity to be one of the first people to watch the new Peppa Pig film Media Premier at Picturehouse Central, it was a really fantastic morning with Peppa crafts, biscuits and goodies and of course Peppa and George making an appearance. Both boys also really enjoyed the film despite the age difference (2 & 6), if your looking for something adventurous but also gentle this is the film for you. We also managed to swing by Liberty and take in all the colours of the flowers outside.
We then headed over to Russell Square for a little impromptu picnic in the sunshine before heading off the a Mothers Meeting with Clarks Shoes where we attempted to try and master the art of origami (and failing pretty badly at it) while also checking out the new range of shoes for spring summer.
With the hotel being right next to Green Park is made sense to get up early one morning and walk over to Buckingham palace, my eldest was standing on the railings looking through to the palace and one of the armed police walked over, we thought he was going to ask him to get off the railings but instead offered for him to wear his policemen hat which of course made his day.
After trying to spot the Queen we headed over to the worlds oldest toys store that is Hamleys. While there is a small Hamleys in Cardiff nothing quite compares to the London flagship store. A VIP tour had been organised for us by the wonderful people at London Hilton and we were immediately greeted by our tour guide who was a real life toy that had come alive to show us all that Hamleys had to offer. First was exploring the basement with a massive array of Star Wars memorabilia and toys and making our way right up to the top floor and ending the tour with our eldest going wild with the Pic-N-Mix.
Along the way we learnt a lot about the store and how it came to be as well as interesting facts on the oldest toys, rare Teddy bears and how many people pass through those doors each day. From start to finish both boys were so excited and completely engaged with the whole experience. You also end the tour with a goodie bag which includes a Hamleys Bear, ball, coloured pencil pack and a few other bits and bobs. It was really fascinating and an experience I recommend especially on rainy days.
While we hadn't planned to stay three nights as we were having so much fun we decided to book an extra night but this time on the other side of London in Camden, this gave us the chance to explore one of our favourite parts of London with the kids. In the morning we enjoyed a leisurely stroll along the Regents Canal, passed all the houseboats and eventually led us to the London Zoo. We had been to the Zoo a few years back when our eldest was much smaller and while I have mixed reservations about Zoo's in general I do feel that Londons Zoo invest a lot in the conservation of animals and it's clear the welfare of these animals is at their core beliefs.
I find the one thing with London Zoo is that it's very big so allocate a whole day to see everything. We had around 4hrs here and only manage to see two thirds of the zoo. There are some really great places to eat and the sun was out and you can also hire buggies which is a great help as we generally don't take a buggy for our youngest when travelling but when you are somewhere where a lot of walking is required it's very useful having this available.
After 3 packed days we were pretty exhausted but happy after a wonderful time in this very busy but very family friendly city.