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Tuesday, 8 January 2019

Review: Family-friendly London hotel St Ermin's

A lot of luxury London hotels are so swish you feel worried about turning up with your tots: the marble, the priceless breakables, the silent lobbies with clip-clopping heels, the too-pricey restaurant when really one of the great things about going to hotel with kids is that they can tumble up to bed upstairs after a lovely dinner.... 

Luckily, we're just back from a stay at St Ermin's, a four-star hotel in Westminster, a toddler's scoot away from Big Ben, the Thames, St James' Park and the West End, where the kids couldn't have been more welcome, the food was really fantastic, and the stay was relaxing. 
Oh, and you're sleeping a few metres away from 350,000 bees, too, which was a real favourite with the kids... Read on to find out more about St Ermin's Hotel.

It didn't take long to realise St Ermin's was a child-very-friendly hotel: at check-in, once we'd walked through the cosy lobby, packed with Christmas decorations including a tempting festive chocolate tree during our December stay, the kids were each handed a bedtime story book. Once we'd settled into our room, they both demanded we read it immediately - and it really helped set the scene for our stay, with a tale of a bee thief in the hotel that our eldest kept talking about all stay long!

We stayed in a Family room which was generously-sized, (albeit a lot of the main bedroom space was taken up by two large double beds - one of the few downsides); a cot with a range of bedding was ready and waiting for us, and there was another sofa/day bed so there's room even for big families. Best of all was the fact that each family room has two bathrooms - so no squabbling over bath time/loo time etc as there's double of everything!


Once we'd settled in, it was time to explore: St James's Park Tube station and a gazillion bus routes were a two-minute walk away, but we set off by foot. Lots of big London landmarks are really nearby, including Buckingham Palace ("we're neighbours of the Queen," beamed tiny man!), St James's Park and Green Park, and the Houses of Parliament - Big Ben was particularly popular with our crew. We kept on strolling right through to Oxford Street to see the lights and then on to visit Hamley's (of course), before hopping on a bus back in time for bath-time, slope-around-on-the-beds-in-our-cosy-bath-robes-time, and getting dressed for dinner.
 Ah, dinner. The St Ermin's food was the most impressive part of our stay: a lot of hotel restaurants coast on their location and rely on guests not wanting to go far. The Caxton Grill was not one of those hotel restaurants! The menu is broad - it's far more than just steaks, although they are great - and the presentation and food?Outstanding. The staff were also so friendly with the kids, bringing colouring packs, special mocktails for the tinies as per our request ("99% water, but with a dash of grenadine or an umbrella or something to make it look exciting..!"), and not minding at all that they left the floor area looking like a Jackson Pollock..

Highlights include the parsnip soup, Wagyu burger and exceptional desserts - check out the milk chocolate, passion fruit and coriander combo below....




 The children's menu (£12 for two courses, £15 for three) was great too: a far cry from the usual deep-fried rubbish, ours polished off fish cakes, roast chicken breast and salmon fillet, all served with fresh vegetables and mashed or new potatoes. 

The children's favourite part of food at St Ermin's, though, was definitely the popular afternoon tea we enjoyed the next day, where they received their own box of goodies including the chance to decorate their own chocolate lollipop with icing pens, marshmallow goodies and a reindeer tea cake. 

Despite all that great food, though, when we arrived home and I asked tiny man what his favourite part of our mini-break away was, his response came: "the bees." Because on the third floor roof terrace is a home to 350,000 bees, and you can view them in their hives safely from behind glass, as they buzz around making the hotel’s honey. On top of the hives, there's a ‘Bee and Bee Hotel’ (puntastic): special hexagonal structures offering bees (and spiders and more) bamboo nesting areas. The kids were enthralled:



And they made sure to drizzle lots of honey on their yogurt the next morning at breakfast - with a pit-stop to "say thank you to the bees" on our way back up to our room after! We loved the food, the care and attention of staff, and the location of St Ermin's - but the bees and their care really added something special to a London city break.


* We were invited to review St Ermin's but rest assured, we're seriously gobby and only rave about things we really love.
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