It’s the little things that wow the babes when you’re staying at a 5-star London hotel like Royal Horseguards Hotel: cards that swipe doors open, fancy soaps, chocolates on the pillow – ‘look what someone gave me, Mummy!’
Indeed, it’s the attention to detail that charmed the pants off me at the Royal Horseguards, a Guoman hotel in Westminster. And I’m not just talking about the decor with its haughty ceilings, chandeliers, vintage tiling and plush carpeted hallways.
It’s in subtle touches like automatic doors on bedroom floors (handy when you’re pushing a stroller). Or the PG Wodehouse-style note in the room guide about guests pinching bathrobes:
‘Whilst we recognise that this initiative helps spread the reputation of our establishment we nevertheless urge our most fervent supporters to make an effort to separate themselves from this admittedly endearing garment when they leave.’
Our family checked into the hotel last Thursday as part of a complimentary review package* including room, breakfast and afternoon tea.
In Whitehall, just around from 10 Downing Street, The Royal Horseguards has hosted MPs, celebrities, royalty and the Secret Service.
But the vibe inside is far from stuffy. Both hotel staff and guests (more suits than sneakers) were warm and chatty, and I soon felt quite relaxed about my little ruffnecks stomping around like baby elephants.
We stayed in the Executive King Suite, a luxurious double room that comfortably fit two extra beds for the boys. The hotel will provide cots for younger babies, and for parents seeking a romantic break they offer connecting rooms as well as a babysitting service. Suites with balconies overlooking the Thames are snapped up quickly in holiday season.
Despite being old-school, The Royal Horseguards is hooked up with everything from a compact gym (somewhat hard to find on the 8th floor) to bedrooms with wi-fi, iPod docks and flat-screen TVs. There’s even a plasma TV in the bathroom so you can have an MTV Cribs moment while showering. (That’s until your 5-year-old switches the channel to Splatalot on CBBC).
We slept so deliciously in our beds, even my 2-year-old found waking up in the morning a struggle!
Breakfast in the stylish One Twenty One Two restaurant was a feast of traditional English (buttery mushrooms, thick cut rashers of bacon and crunchy hash browns), pastries, cereals and cut fruit.
You can request highchairs and there are Kids Corner menus and activity packs available throughout the hotel.
The Royal Horseguards has a fab location, with the Southbank Centre, Trafalgar Square, Covent Garden and St. James’ Park all within strolling distance.
We spent an idyllic afternoon in the park, feeding ice cream cones to the ducks and waving excitedly at black swans and pelicans.
By 3pm, it was still gorgeous outside so tea was served on the Royal Horseguards terrace, with the London Eye looming in the backdrop.
‘Wow, somebody’s having a party!’ the guests next to us exclaimed, as our cake stands arrived.
The boys shared a Mini Tea – a mouthwatering selection of treats like chocolate dinosaur, alphabet shortbread, traffic light fruit kebab and rainbow smoothie shots.
I ordered a pot of Sapphire Earl Grey (made with whole blue Malva flowers) and did my best to work through the Royal Horseguards Tea, crammed with traditional sandwiches like roast beef, smoked salmon and cucumber, along with scones, Cornish clotted cream, jams and cakes.
Tea was yummy but I have to admit, we failed to do it justice.
Bellies bursting, the Babes said a fond goodbye to the Royal Horseguards and cheerful doorman Yousrey.
‘Yesterday, we lived there,’ Ezra said, looking back wistfully at the hotel as we left.
And for that brief stay, it felt like home sweet home.
Stay at Guoman Hotels’ The Royal Horseguards from £500 per double executive suite per night excluding bed and breakfast and VAT.
For more information and to book, visit www.guoman.com/theroyalhorseguards, email ReservationsAdmin.email@example.com or call 0871 376 9033.
The Mini-tea is available at Guoman’s The Royal Horseguards until Sep 15 2011 for £12 per child, £70 for a family of four (two adults and two children) or £38 for one parent and one child. For more information visit http://www.guoman.com/mini-tea.