Lie ins, unmarked cream carpet, and luxury hotels: three things I was pretty sure we'd have to give up when we became parents. And the first two, pretty much - bar those amazing mornings when Mr ROOW does the early shift. But the latter? No way.
Hotels have got savvy and know that families aren't all looking for Crayola-coloured furniture and a children's menu when they book a holiday. I was a total luxury-lover who'd save for a splurge-hotel before I became a mama... And I still am now.
Which is why we just had the best weekend at The Berkeley, in Knightsbridge, a super-lovely hotel which you might think is too designer/relaxing/foodie for families - but which doubles over backwards to make you feel welcome.
It started at check-in: my shoe-less toddler (long story..) was greeted like a celebrity, not with the snooty look some hotels hand out. Three Golden Key-totting concierges were competing to get a smile or a wave out of tiny man, whilst someone else dug through a toy box to hand him a fab musical paintbrush gift.
The Berkeley does serious luxury: toiletries are Bamford, the bathroom has an amazing marble bath and a Toto robot toilet with heated seat that I start googling to see if we can buy for home (the first hit suggests £11,000.. so that's a no..) The room is full of calm wood, sliding doors to separate the huge lounge/dining area from the spacious bedroom (and amazing to give us all space at night), there are Dyson hairdryers and a dressing room stocked with his'n'her Burberry classic trench coats to wear during your stay. Yup, seriously.
That luxury is shared with children too. The provided Bloom cot is a far cry from the usual lumpy hotel travel cot, there's a tiny towelling robe to match our grown-up ones, and ickle slippers that take cuteness to new heights, whilst Child's Farm toiletries are by the bath.
Tiny man takes Mr ROOW to Harrods' enormous toy department (a five-minute walk away) whilst I sink into a ship-style cabin in the seventh-floor spa for a really relaxing massage. Then we all meet at the roof-top pool: here the removable roof and white loungers look Sex and the City-does-Soho-House cool - can kids really be welcome, I wonder?
Then 30 seconds after tiny man arrives, a pool attendant brings out octopus floats, noodles, monkey inflatables, and even goggles for him to enjoy the water. Yes, kids really are welcome, and three other families soon joined us. (Weekend swimming sessions for kids span 90 minutes and are at 8.30, lunchtime and 4pm).
In the evening, we get a gift not even the best hotel in the world could guarantee: tiny man fell asleep in his buggy and stayed snoozing throughout our cocktail-sesh in the Blue Bar and dinner in the Collins Room. So we could gorge mojitos and G&Ts, and on duck, sesame and watermelon salad, the creamiest burrata, seabass and gnocchi, plus sticky toffee pudding - delicious. It was even easier to relax knowing we only had a two-minute walk to bed too.
The next morning, tiny man woke up and requested"Weet-a-bix!", as he usually breakfasts on, but we promised him the Berkeley's spread would be a bit more exciting... And so it proved.
Each breakfast table hosts a cake-stand that diners can fill up with almost anything - ours was soon teetering with croissants, fresh OJ and hot chocolate we had avocado on sourdough, poached eggs, Bircher muesli and fruit salad..
All too soon it was back to reality. The next morning, we were back at home with a Weetabix breakfast.. But hey, you've got to have a grey lumpy cereal everyday to appreciate a special break - and The Berkeley definitely offers that for parents and kids of all ages.
|"Dear Berkeley, Please can we stay all week? Love, tiny man"|
* We were invited to review The Berkeley but rest assured, we're seriously gobby and only rave about things we really love. For latest rates, click here.