TRAVEL REVIEW: Making family fun in London easy again
HOTEL visits with a young family are often rarely ideal.
You know the problems: not enough space for the kids to scatter all their mess, having to whisper to the other half in darkness while the young ones are getting off to sleep.
None of it is conducive to a relaxing time.
Imagine the delight, then, at trying out one of the Two Bedroom Family Rooms at London Hilton Canary Wharf for a festive break.
With two interconnecting rooms, it is the perfect solution to all those stressful conundrums. Knowing as much, the delicious welcome cocktail is immediately enjoyed with added relish.
For our six year-old Maisie and Henry (four), knowing they had their very own room to do what they wanted (to a degree, of course) was almost as exciting as knowing they’d be visiting Hyde Park Winter Wonderland the next day.
When Henry entered the bathroom to hear CBeebies being played through some magical speakers, he was in his element; he never had to miss a bit of Fireman Sam even when he had to pay a visit.
And then he found the child size slippers in the wardrobe. Ecstatic. A nice little touch to make them both feel right at home.
No arguing over the television either. Bed-time was a breeze.
For us boys, Star Wars followed by some rugby highlights in one room. The girls? Strictly, of course, in the other.
Well-rested and with a delicious and hearty breakfast in the delightful Cinnamon Restaurant the following morning, we were all set for a day of full-on action.
Set in the heart of vibrant Canary Wharf, this Hilton (which currently offers a winter sale of up to 25% off room prices) is just 15 minutes away from London’s city centre on the tube.
However, more precisely, it is Hyde Park - direct on the Jubilee line - where we’re heading to experience the Winter Wonderland. And it is wondrous.
Whether exploring the Magical Ice Kingdom’s Secret Forest, where 500 tonnes of real ice and snow have combined to create some beautiful sculptures - unicorns, wizards, fairies, foxes and swooping owls as well as a thrilling ice slide - or skating to live music around a gigantic Christmas tree on the UK’s largest outdoor rink, there is something for everyone.
The immersive cinematic adventure with The Snowman™ Experience, presented by Backyard Cinema, is a real treat as the famous festive film cleverly comes to life around you as you walk through three different stages.
It further enhances the brilliance of Raymond Briggs’ book which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year.
Arguably the pick of the bunch, though, is the exhilarating Zippos Christmas Circus with its mind-blowing acts including one remarkable bit of archery (I won’t give away the money shot) and a truly heart-stopping routine at the end which has to be be seen to be believed.
At around 45 minutes long, it is just the right length of time to keep the kids mesmerised and, with so much acrobatic fare, well worth a watch before heading off to browse through the Wonderland’s Christmas market, the biggest in London.
We travelled down courtesy of LNER who are currently running a great value-for-money Family Return Ticket.
For just £99, two adults and up to four children can travel from York, Leeds or Wakefield to London and back or £89, if heading out from Doncaster.
It can save families more than £150 and relieves so much of the stress of travelling by car.
Furthermore, the Family Return Ticket also offers exclusive 2For1 deals on attractions in the capital, including London Eye and SEA LIFE London Aquarium.
We visited both before heading for the hotel with SEA LIFE, in particular, keeping the kids fascinated especially being able to to get up so close to so many types of menacing-looking sharks.
Being Europe’s biggest Ferris wheel, unsurprisingly London Eye - on the South Bank of the River Thames and next door to SEA LIFE - offers a unique view of the England’s capital city.
Indeed, from the top, we think we can almost see our hotel...
For more details:
London Hilton Canary Wharf - www3.hilton.com/en/hotels/united-kingdom/hilton-london-canary-wharf-LONCWHI/offers/100116572.htm
Hyde Park Winter Wonderland - hydeparkwinterwonderland.com
London North Eastern Railway (LNER) - www.lner.co.uk/family-return
SEA LIFE London - www.visitsealife.com/london/tickets/
London Eye - www.londoneye.com