TheBabyWebsite were invited by SuperBreak to try out one of their Family London Weekends.
Nowadays, we're all so used to Googling before we go away anywhere that we rarely think to do anything else. We browse for ages, research the hotel we eventually choose, sometimes book flights, look for the attractions we'd like to see, book them if we can and basically spend an inordinate amount of time surfing and in my case, often ending up with a severe case of 'mouse-arm' (and yes! it does exist!!). Oh how wonderful then to find a trustworthy site which can do it all for you. SuperBreak has apparently specialised in UK short breaks for more than 20 years and is the clear market leader in this sector. You can book short breaks, including theatre breaks, airport hotels, theme park and attraction breaks, luxury hotel accommodation and a wide range of overseas city and beach breaks ranging from 5 star luxury to 2 star budget.
We'd been hankering after another trip to London for a while now. A few years back we were there during the 'heat-wave' and spent as much time as we could inside The Science Museum and The Tower of London trying to escape the excessive heat. This time though, it was March and just the right temperature for sight-seeing.
We were staying in the centrally-located Regents Park Marriott Hotel which incidentally is outside the Congestion Zone so no extra costs. The smiley lady at Reception had us all checked-in within minutes. SuperBreak had booked us into two large, inter-connecting family rooms which always makes me feel safer somehow. All of our 5 children are teenagers but as a Mum, I still worry about their safety and security. Probably silly but that's mums for you! We kept the doors between the rooms open until bed-time and then we left them to it and shut, not locked, the doors for a bit of privacy. For families travelling with younger children, inter-connecting rooms really are a godsend.
Only 3 of the kids came with us although in two family rooms, with two double beds in each, there was plenty of room for all of them. Thing is teenagers often make other plans and it's not always easy to find a weekend that's free for everyone. Free, as in 'not booked-up' and not free as in 'no cost, obviously. Because as we all know, family weekend breaks are expensive anywhere and none more so than in London. But at least with SuperBreak, there are few if any surprises/shocks when it comes to expense as you know how much everything is going to cost you beforehand so can budget easily for snacks, meals and tubes etc.
The breakfast at the hotel was superb and I don't think I've seen the girls eat so much since the last time they stayed at a Marriott!! I think Tom had two cooked breakfasts on one visit! I treated myself to waffles with maple syrup whilst Mr. C had the usual Full English. The staff were fantastic and the service at all times was friendly, efficient and not in the slightest bit over-bearing as can often be the case in the higher-starred hotels.
One thing however, The Leisure Facilities were a bit disappointing although in fairness, there were notices everywhere apologising for any problems caused by the ongoing refurbishment programme at the hotel. The pool was a great size but the decor was a bit tired-looking and it did look as if it needed a bit of a makeover. Give it 6 months and it'll be like new though!
We had booked to go on The London Eye and also booked in advance to go to Madame Tussauds. I've been to London many times but had never been there before and you have no idea how excited the girls were at the prospect of seeing a few wax dummies! The London Eye was a great experience and everything from the handing-in of tickets, to the queueing, to the getting in and out of the capsule, was very British and very efficient. Considering I'm quite scared by heights, I found it a strangely relaxing ride and loved being able to pick out landmarks all over London. Seeing the vast city from such a height really brings home to you how jam-packed-full of history and culture London really is.
After The London Eye, the plan was to go for a walk through some of
the more 'famous' streets and then onto Madame Tussauds. No queueing there at all as we'd pre-paid! The girls made a bee-line for Brad Pitt and varous other celebs whilst I was completely gob-smacked by David Jason. I even prodded him thinking he was real. The eyes in his wax dummy were frighteningly realistic unlike Ant and Dec who, although popular with the younger visitors, were a poor imitation of the real ones! Tony Blair was wearing slightly too much fake tan, I thought, whereas David Beckham was spot-on. I was surprised to find no Gordon Brown but apparently there hasn't been the demand yet. If that's the case, why does Angela Merkel have such a prominent place? Have that many Germans really requested her??
The highlight of Maddie and Megan's weekend though, plebs as they are, was the visit to AberCrombie and Fitch! A huge, very dark shop full of vastly over-priced clothes and packed with teens of all shapes and sizes! We went out of our way to get there and agreed to leave them in there for an hour and meet them later. Obviously it took more than an hour though as after queueing to try tops on for 20 mins, they then had to queue to pay. On the way out they then just had to have their photo taken with the legendary 'Abercrombie and Fitch' topless, tanned 'hunk' - a gimmick which has served their brand well over the years!
One area where it's easy to overspend is eating-out in London, but we did Bella Italia one night and Nando's the other and were surprised how low the bill was at the end of the evening. Dessert one evening was a Ben and Jerry's ice-cream in a cone after leaving Nando's. There are plenty of low to mid-range priced resaturants in and around the Marriott Regent's Park if your budget doesn't extend to a 3-course a la carte for 5!
The weekend was a resounding success on all counts and I'm sure it won't be long before we go back. For those wanting to take the hassle out of a City Break, let someone like SuperBreak do all the arranging for you, and you'll be surprised how easy it all is!