Book a private capsule in the London Eye to feel like you’ve got the capital to yourself: opt for afternoon tea if you’d like a meal with a view. As long as they’re not afraid of heights, kids of any ages will enjoy the view (www.londoneye.co.uk).
If you’re in the mood to splurge, Sketch offers flashy French-fusion fantasies, brasserie fare, cocktails, or delicate patisseries. If you’ve got a sophisticated tween or teen to spoil, afternoon tea here would be a special treat (www.sketch.uk.com).
London well deserves its status as a world city, and you’re right in the heart of it here. The famed theatres of the West End are steps away, the cultural attractions of the Southbank Centre are just over the river (stroll across the Hungerford bridge, three minutes’ walk from your doorstep) and St James’s Park and Buckingham Palace are an easy saunter away.
For a leafy stroll with royal views, you can’t do much better than St James's Park (www.royalparks.org.uk): the oldest of London’s royal parks leads right up to Buckingham Palace. It’s open from 5am to midnight every day. If you’re looking for a picnic spot with the kids in tow, this is it. There’s also a restaurant and several cafés, so you’ll never be too far from cold drinks and clean loos. Buckingham Palace, the Queen’s official London home, is worth a visit just to admire the façade (or catch the changing of the guard, which takes place daily during summer at 11.30am, and every other day for the rest of the year) … or take a tour of the State Rooms and gardens (open during summer and early autumn; dates vary). There are free State Rooms audio tours for children, and in August there’s a kids’ activity room (www.royalcollection.org.uk).
Admire the UK’s most prestigious art collection, with permanent and visiting exhibitions, at the National Gallery (www.nationalgallery.org.uk). It’s open daily (except New Year’s Day and December 24–26) 10am–6pm, and stays open late on Fridays, until 9pm. There are free art-inspired storytelling sessions for the under-5s and workshops for children of all ages, as well as special family tours. The Southbank Centre, London’s preeminent arts centre, has a variety of venues to explore, from the Royal Festival Hall to the Hayward Gallery, and has myriad restaurants, bars and shops, too. There are free interactive and educational events for families year round (www.southbankcentre.co.uk). The Southbank has a range of relaxed restaurants and cafés where kids will feel at home but grown-ups won’t be bored by the menu. Wahaca (www.wahaca.co.uk), where the menu’s inspired by Mexican street food, is one of the best. This place won’t help your kids’ spelling improve – the name’s a phonetic approximation of Oaxaca in Mexico – but little ones will enjoy the (almost) bite-size tacos.
For one of the best views you’ll ever see of the city, it's worth getting a babysitter and heading a deux to the Royal Festival Hall’s Skylon bar, grill and restaurant, where the floor-to-ceiling windows are as compelling as the ever changing menus and the cocktails on offer (www.skylon-restaurant.co.uk).