There is a certain stigma attached to 5 star establishments whereby children should be ‘seen and not heard’. Or so you may think. However, our experience with the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington recently was nothing like this. I had previously stayed at the hotel for the MAD Blog awards in 2013 and then visited again in 2014 for the awards, but bringing my family was a whole new experience.
We were invited for a two night stay to include breakfast, a family room and one evening meal in the Park Terrace restaurant. We had decided to make use of the first bank holiday weekend in May and Grace, aged 8, chose to bring her school friend, Molly, along for the adventure.
The journey to the Royal Garden took slightly longer than anticipated but this was down to London traffic and an event at Twickenham stadium. Upon arrival the car park was easy to find and the lift up to the hotel steps was very straightforward. The doorman helped us with our luggage up into reception.
Now, I don’t know about you but, as parents, we tend to feel a bit apologetic on a regular basis whether it be that you feel like you are being a nuisance, that your children are being a nuisance, that they might be noisy, that you have lots of luggage, extra toys or whatever it might be. With the hotel though, they put you completely at ease and we soon felt comfortable. Nothing was too much trouble and, if your kids were making a bit of a noise, you didn’t feel like you had to get embarrassed about it.
Our room was well-appointed. It had a lovely view which overlooked Kensington Palace gardens – one you would not expect to get in London. There was a huge bed and also in the room was a sofa which was to become a bed when the maid came along to carry out the turn-down service. There was a large bathroom with toilet, bidet, bath and a separate shower cubicle. We found robes hanging up for the adults and plenty of towels. There was also plenty of toiletries on hand.
The wardrobe space was plentiful and there was a safe, mini bar, tea and coffee-making facilities and even 4 pairs of slippers waiting for us. The room was spacious and were able to set our bags down without them encroaching on the room space.
The thing that really impressed the girls though were the two backpacks that had been left especially for them. They came complete with a water bottle, some popcorn, a sticker activity pack, some playing cards, some cereal, a small cuddly bear and a child-friendly map of Kensington to show them all the local landmarks and activities.
Ross and I didn’t get left out either. We had a lovely hand-written welcome note and a pack to help us find what the hotel had to offer.
After returning from an afternoon out around London, we found a plate of fruit, some truffles and some bottles of water waiting for us. Something which we welcomed when we got back from all that tube-riding and walking. This saw us through until our evening out.
The following morning, breakfast was extremely relaxed. The girls were very excited to see just how much was available – and how much they could try and fit on their plates! They particularly enjoyed the pastries, fruit (especially the strawberries) and the probiotic drinks. Molly opted for a waffle which they prepared in front of her. Ross and I chose some pastries, followed by some items from the hot buffet.
During both Sunday and Monday morning breakfast sittings, the children were all welcomed and assisted on the same level as the adult guests. I noticed on Monday morning, one of the waiters stooped down to the level of a small child to interact with her. It certainly did not feel like we were being a ‘nuisance’. All the staff treated the children as equals.
That afternoon we had tickets to see The Railway Children, so we set off for another adventure before returning to the hotel for another rest prior to dinner which was to be served in the Park Terrace restaurant at 7.15pm. We all decided to dress up for the occasion.
Arriving at the restaurant – which was the same area as used for breakfast – we felt that the atmosphere was certainly that of a 5 star restaurant but, once again, we did not feel out of place having the children there (despite the fact that the girls were the only two children in the restaurant). They were catered to on the same level as we were. The girls both opted for items from the childrens’ menu. Molly chose a chocolate milkshake to drink and, when Grace requested her own special cocktail, the barman made one up especially for her which consisted of strawberry and peach juice with lemonade – oh, and the obligatory umbrella!
I felt that the children’s menu had been thought out very carefully. They had the right amount of younger children options on there as well as catering toward the slightly older starting at chicken nuggets and building up to pan seared sole fillet.
On both nights we all slept soundly. The girls agreed that their bed was comfy – despite the fact that Molly decided to take up the whole bed on the first night! We solved that the next night with some handy cushions. Ross and I agreed that our bed was the right amount of hard and soft. I rarely sleep well when I am away from home, especially on the first night. I had no problems here though.
There were a number of other matters which made the hotel feel family-friendly and these were:
- The complimentary voucher to pop over to Wholesome Foods for some cookies
- The ability to request board games, puzzles, toys, books, scooters and helmets from the concierge desk – for big kids as well as small! (we wish we had had more time to make use of these)
- The fact that the sofa bed was only laid out in the evening during turn-down meant that the girls had plenty of room to play during the day
- We loved the very useful child-friendly map
- The location. We found the hotel perfectly placed – away from the hustle and bustle of being in total central London but a convenient tube ride away from all the many attractions
To me, it is really telling when a child tells you what they think. Honesty when it comes to visiting places tends to come naturally to them. This morning, as she was getting ready for school – a week after staying at The Royal Garden – Grace repeated something to me that she has says pretty much every morning since our stay. ‘I wish we were still at the hotel, Mum’.
Catering for a family is not something you would come to expect from a 5 star hotel. The Royal Garden not only do it. They do it brilliantly.
A separate review of our hotel room and the Park restaurant will follow.
Disclosure: We were given a two-night stay at The Royal Garden Hotel to include breakfast and one meal at the Park Terrace restaurant, however, all words and opinions expressed are our own and have not been influenced in any way.