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This time last week Joe, Arlo and I packed up our bags (and when I say bags, we did it in two which was absolutely remarkable for us) and headed into London for a night in our own city, soaking up the sunshine and playing tourist.
I can count on one hand how many times I’ve been into London for leisure since having Arlo; and although there’s nothing more I love than walking around with no agenda, since having a little person- spontaneity, although possible, tends to be a little more pre-planned (which certainly isn’t a bad thing, just something you need to allow a little more space and time for)! Anyway, when we were kindly invited for a same-city staycation at the beautiful Belmond Cadogan hotel; I giddily accepted.
Despite not living particularly far from central London, the thought of not having to rush back and a chance to stay somewhere as eye-wateringly pretty as this made it a very easy decision.
Anyway! With that in mind, we decided to plan a little day out in town- making the most of what the city has to offer for a little person, but also with enough wiggle room for naps, dinner time and a little bit of shop-hopping and pottering thrown in too (pottering is definitely not a word I’ve used much since having a baby, I’ll tell you that)!
Situated in arguably one of the best central spots I can think of, The Cadogan straddles Sloane Square, Chelsea, Knightsbridge and Victoria- making it the perfect location for coming into town and getting around. You’re within a very short walking distance to some of the loveliest brunch spots (Café Kitsune, Anya Café and Granger & Co to name a few), some of London’s best green spaces (Hyde Park to name the big one- but the hotel also has access to some very tranquil private gardens which you can picnic in too) and getting around couldn’t be easier. We walked from our hotel over to Covent Garden and even in inappropriate footwear (will I ever learn?) I didn’t grumble once.
Now, The Cadogan is a special ol’ place. It’s not every night we get to casually park up at a five star hotel for the night and this hotel truly delivers on the magical front. I mean, any hotel with a spa, TV in the bathroom (!!!) and pillow menu will do that, right? Joe and I were saying that if we were to get married again this would be the perfect ‘night before/night of’ hotel (especially given the fact you have private garden access) as it felt so special. Just opening the shutters to rows of Chelsea townhouses was a treat, and the novelty of seeing buses and black cabs drive past will never not feel novelty, even as a Londoner.
Importantly, they were also amazing with Arlo- and supplied a travel cot, high chair in the room, baby-friendly food and getting around with a pram was also straightforward too.
But you don’t have to stay the night to soak up its loveliness either. Offering delicious afternoon tea in the most decadent room (inspired by their iconic trains no less), and with their restaurant The LaLee offering a hugely varied menu inspired by the Belmond’s journeys across Europe, you can get a slice of the Cadogan’s magic in just one afternoon too. In the summer they also offer a picnic package too, so you can sit out in their gardens (and tennis courts), avoiding the hubbub and soaking in the city sunshine (which would make for a lovely treat date day too)!
And The Little Itinerary
With the weather forecast for sunshine, we decided to make the most of our day- heading across to Covent Garden with a walk along Piccadilly (with plenty of Fortnum’s window shopping to break up the walk, and a quick stop at the trendy Rose Bakery to oogle the cake selection too).
With little A in tow, we decided to visit the Transport Museum (which although he was possibly a little bit small for, enjoyed showing him the big old buses and selfishly we both liked reading about everything whilst he snoozed)! Covent Garden is also so gorgeous by evening, and walking around Floral Street (not just for Ganni I promise) was so lovely.
For dinner, we headed to Ave Mario; the newest addition from Big Mamma and somewhere I’ve had on my London wish list for a while. Although taking a baby to dinner is often a *bit* of a gamble, we tried to time it alongside Arlo’s dinnertime and felt like we’d struck gold by coming here. The restaurant is spread across three floors, which all offer slightly different experiences; downstairs takes you straight to a Kylie video, the middle floor takes you to an evening on the balcony in your Italian coastal hotel and the top floor back to a cosmopolitan city hideaway. Although it’s just the top floor which would be pram friendly- we felt so lucky to be able to take him there (and although perhaps boring, anywhere with baby changing instantly puts my mind at ease too). Plus, not only is it a sensory experience for everyone (the décor always amazes me, and the playlists are always *chefs kiss*) but we were all able to tuck into their delicious pasta (Arlo included) and iconic puddings, which made for a lovely end to the day indeed.
I’m hoping that in the next few months we might be able to get a couple more little city stays in as a family across the UK too (although diva Liv might now have to especially seek out pillow menus wherever she goes… ahem).
I remember feeling like in the early days these kind of things were so distant (my worrying mind always overthought everything and meant things seemed a lot more tricky than they always were), and it’s so nice to be able to relax into parenting and doing things together as a family. If you’re in the throes of feeling overwhelmed, trust me when I say it can and does get easier. Things slot into place and not everything always has to be a military operation, I promise you might even leave the little red book at home too! Just don’t expect to not have to share pudding with some little fast hands…