Birthdays are big, especially when it's your preschool BFF turning ten. My daughter and I recently joined friends for a whirlwind weekend in London to mark a not-so-little girl's big arrival to double digits. We were short on time and long on ambition, with a wish list from the kids that included the London Eye, a visit to the Harry Potter studios and climbing every tree they could find. How much can you do in 48 hours with two jet lagged kids? Turns out a lot, but we wouldn't have survived a minute without a good night's sleep. Here's everything we loved about the Connaught, a classic Mayfair hotel that had been on mom's bucket list for a long, long time.
- This venerable grand dame in the heart of posh Mayfair has 121 rooms and suites, a Michelin-starred restaurant plus casual brasserie, Europe's first Aman spa, and an indoor swimming pool (with family-friendly hours) and a sitter-worthy bar scene.
- The central setting puts families a short walk from Hyde Park playgrounds, Bond Street shopping and plenty of touring, yet the 'hood's hushed residential vibe means that you won't feel overwhelmed by big crowds.
- The Aman spa is a quiet space for massage therapies, body treatments and daily meditation classes; under-16s are permitted with an adult, but this is really a place to enjoy sans kids.
- The service. The seriously connected concierge team give you the keys to the city, or in my case, find tickets to a sold out Harry Potter tour and avert total disaster for a disorganized mom (that's me!).
- The two-Michelin-star Hélène Darroze at the Connaught is a date-night pick for decadent French classics from foie gras to pigeon, or there’s the more casual Espelette for brasserie favorites and a fun afternoon tea.
- Maybe it's the friendly staff, maybe it's the cozy ambiance, but despite the Connaught's grand decor, the hotel feels like a home away from home, where even younger kids might trot back up to a room on their own to grab a forgotten stuffed animal or parents can pop down to reception without worrying about the kids.
- A family of four should opt for two connecting superior king/twin rooms or splurge on the opulent two-bedroom Carlos Suite.
- There are no sofa beds, but rollaway beds can be added to suites for an extra £75 per night plus tax.
- Most rooms have a rich, gilded style, but design aficionados should consider the contemporary rooms in the hotel's new wing (these also have bigger closets although lack the quaint Carlos Place views).
- Children are permitted in the indoor swimming pool from 9 - 11 a.m. and 3 - 5 p.m. only.
- Book well in advance for both a table at Hélène Darroze at the Connaught and a hotel-organized babysitter.
- Hyde Park is just a five-minute walk away, but you have to cross busy Park Lane.
Passported Perks: Full English breakfast daily for two people per room, £60 food, beverage or spa credit, room upgrade and early check-in based on availability at arrival.
Mayfair, London W1K 2AL