run out of womb

... learning how to be a mum from scratch

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Review: baby-friendly stay in London - the Sofitel St James

"Bonjour" is the greeting from all the smiling staff as you arrive at Sofitel St James. So however far you've travelled - and for us, it was just across London via the Tube - you immediately feel like you're on holiday. In a glistening, deluxe hotel in the middle of France. 

And when you also turn up with an overloaded-buggy containing a bewildered tiny man, that 'bonjour' is followed up with, 'un bébé! Fantastique! How can we help you to check in?' 


The staff at the French group Sofitel's Piccadilly hotel almost all hail from across the Channel. And whilst the old stereotype might be that the French like their children to be seen but not heard, our weekend at this grand Gallic hotel - a former bank and grade II listed building slap back in the middle of anywhere you'd want to be in central London - couldn't have been more baby-friendly. 

With tiny man now seven-months-old, we reckon it's a great time to travel, stay away in hotels, and explore - our own city or others. At this age, you don't need to haul along a Moses basket or 38,789 nappies, for one thing, and there's also no need for restaurants with chicken nuggety kids' menus and primary colour schemed-walls

So exploring baby-friendly rather than baby-focused hotels - where there's a cot in the room but enough grown up touches for us to enjoy too - we checked into the Sofitel. 

There was one early glitch - our first room smelt a little smokey, but the staff couldn't be more apologetic and quickly whisked us to a newly refurbished luxury king room one floor up. Alongside a generously-sized room, with a huge bed and brown/cream colour scheme - all the practical touches parents need - cot, changing mat, steriliser - were already in-situ, alongside extras we loved: a cuddly snoozing teddy gift; plush tiny dressing gown which meant all three of us could pad about and pose for Instagram; organic baby bubble bath and creams, plus Johnson's unctions. There was even a stand-alone Chicco baby bath, although I opted to share the inviting tub in the huge black and white bathroom with tiny man later that evening. 


Welcome gifts
Didn't want to leave..
On arrival, though, having everything already set up meant we could pop tiny man in his cot for a quick nap - before playing (the thick carpet, huge bed and deep armchairs were all thoroughly explored by our new crawler) and feeding time steriliser supplied - and the housekeeping pointed out that snuffly babies can even request humidifiers). We bathed and relaxed, then settled the baby to sleep in the buggy before enjoying the novelty of strolling right into central London. 
After a spot of Christmas shopping (the hotel is minutes walk away from Carnaby, Oxford and Regents Streets and gazillions of wallet-lures), we had dinner at Honest Burger (who gave us their roomiest table with space for the buggy) and ice creams (because it's never too cold for ice cream) before heading back to our cosy room. 

We did face the usual hotel-and-baby in the nighttime problem: unless you've got the cash for a suite, you have to stumble around in the semi darkness to keep the baba asleep. But torch-like bedside lamps made it easier, and I used the luxury of being a long way from my laptop and home chores to relax.

Tiny man peruses the Sunday papers over breakfast...
Next day led to the highlight of the hotel: well, it is French - so the breakfast was bound to be brilliant. But crispy croissants, tree-ripe juicy mangos and other fresh fruit, lovely juice combos (orange and ginger, raspberry and banana) plus amazing hot chocolate and a cake of hash browns alongside perfectly poached eggs kept me happily filled up until dinner. 
Meanwhile, our careful attempts (12 laps of the corridor) to schedule tiny man to stay snoozing for his morning in his buggy ... totally failed. All that meant was that the waiters and most of the other guests beamed at tiny man - the only baby in the restaurant, and he lapped up the attention. As did we during our stay at the Sofitel - which we'd recommend to any new families looking for a luxury break with great food, everything you need provided, and lovely extras to make all of you feel very welcome.

* Run Out Of Womb was a guest of the Sofitel for the purposes of this review; rest assured, though, that we're seriously gobby and would never rave about something that was ropey.
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