I LOVE London! Absolutely love it and while it’s hard to choose an absolute #1 favorite city, I think this has to be the ONE! Fish and chips, mushy peas, clotted cream, a millennia of fascinating history, those charming accents, shopping, royalty, english breakfast tea, Hunter boots, English taxi cabs, the tube, theater and I could go on and on. I just love it. My kids love it too which makes it all the more fun!
There are so many wonderful neighborhoods in this vast city and many many fantastic things to see, I’ll be sharing some of my personal favorites in a series of posts, but I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to complete this list. Just too many good things and I do hope to get back soon so I can add even more!
Not only do we love visiting this awesome city, but it’s a great place to start and end our various adventures. It’s a great jumping off point to many other destinations! It’s also great to fly into a place where we understand the language, know our way around and are familiar with the hotel! This can make all the difference in getting our trip off to a good start! It’s also a great way to end our journey. We’ve done this a number of times now and even have our arrival tradition of cocoa in the hotel lobby!
So, about that cocoa! It’s served in the absolutely exquisite lobby of The Corinthia Hotel, one of the many places I’m going to tell you about in this series of posts! The lobby is so beautiful it almost deserves it’s own post. Anyway, about that cocoa. Imagine our surprise and delight when we ordered a cup of cocoa and this is what we were served! We had just arrived tired and a bit damp straight from our flight and tube ride and we decided it would be a good idea to just sit for a few minutes and warm up. Who knew it would be the “high tea” of cocoa served in beautiful china pots with a selection of homemade marshmallows strawberry and traditional, white and milk chocolate shavings, and freshly whipped cream. Alongside each cup was a tiny quince pie and also included was a lovely plate of chocolate truffles! We set to work loading up on all the chocolate shavings, marshmallows and cream that our mugs could hold! we couldn’t believe our good fortune! This seemed like an experience worth making a tradition out of. Not only do we always order cocoa upon our arrival at the Corinthia Hotel, but we’ve done our best to order it in every single city we’ve visited since!
The Corinthia Hotel – The Corinthia opened in 2011 and is a luxury hotel. The rooms are beautifully decorated and very comfortable. If you’re visiting with kids they have “family” rooms which are quite spacious. They do a really nice job of making the children feel welcome in various ways. There are miniature robes and slippers, stuffed animals, bags of candy and even specialized toiletries waiting for them. The rooms themselves have many really nice touches including their own Nespresso machines, heated shower floors and bathtubs with televisions. There is turn down service each evening and included with that are small boxes of chocolate for each guest. In addition to the lobby, which is a lovely place to sit and have a small meal or drinks, there are also other dining options and all of them are worth visiting. The Breakfast is especially yummy! The spa and pool are incredibly beautiful and we always look forward to visiting them. However, the hours for children are extremely limited and are unfortunately during prime sight seeing time, so we don’t always get to go. They are very strict on this point and children are not allowed in the vitality pool either. The hotel is within walking distance to many things: Trafalgar Square, The National Portrait Gallery, Leicester Square, The Mall and many other places.
Above the lobby hangs an extraordinary Baccarat chandelier with one red glass orb! It’s amazing and it reflects upon all the shiny tables down below creating quite a cool effect! It’s an absolutely beautiful spot to just sit and relax. Even on the rainiest of London days it’s always bright and cheerful and the flower arrangements are all works of art!
The flowers change once a week or so and of course are always in theme with whatever is in season that time of year. A few years ago I dropped my computer so sadly I don’t have many photos of the Christmas flowers anymore, but you can see that the summer arrangements were spectacular. They have their own florist on site and it’s fun to take a look at what they’ve got going on. They also have a mini Harrods inside the hotel as well.
In 2011 we spent New Year’s Eve at the Corinthia. During our stay the boys met other children also staying at the hotel. We spent most of our evening in the lobby visiting with other guests and enjoying the atmosphere. Just before midnight we all went outside and watched the fireworks over the river. 2012 was a big year in London with the Queen’s Jubilee and the Summer Olympic Games taking place. The fireworks show was extra big! After it was over we just went back in and put the boys to bed! How convenient was that!?
This is a photo of Simon and I and all those fireworks! Pictures don’t do it justice, because you could also hear Big Ben chiming in the background and there were hundreds of people all around. All in all it was a night to remember!
The Spa in the Corinthia
The Spa in the Corinthia hotel is unlike any spa or pool area I’ve ever been to. It’s mainly for the use of adults, but twice a day for 90 minutes the pool area is open to children. We are usually too busy running around London visiting as many sites as we can to make the allotted times, but we do try to fit in a swim or two each time we visit. They’re pretty strict about this policy. There is a small gym with a trainer on hand that I’ve used a few times and it’s nice, but I’d rather go for a run outside if given the choice.
It’s very dark in the pool area and the floors are incredibly slippery, so shoes are a must! The pool is lined with what looks to be stainless steel and the floors and ceilings are all black.
Before you enter the pool area there is a lovely little room with water and sofas that has the most interesting ceiling. It looks like lots and lots of little fiber optic light strands!
There is also a vitality pool (luke warm hot tub) with an underwater sofa of sorts and a waterfall chair. The boys love that! In addition there is a sauna and a little lounge area with a fireplace. Of course all of this is nice, but what’s most important is the room itself!
The rooms as you can imagine are all very lovely. The closets are lit from within and are stocked with umbrellas (for the very likely event of rain!) and other amenities one might need while staying. As I mentioned above they take very special care of the children during the visit and it’s been different each time, so we are always surprised by what we find. Once when staying during the Wimbledon Tournament they left tiny chocolate tennis rackets for each boy!
Another time it was a bag full of chocolate playing cards and specialty juices. Of course there is a fully stocked mini bar in each room and you can prepare your own coffee using the in room Nespresso machine or cocoa or tea!
Other things our boys found fun were the doorbell just outside the door of our room, the TV with remote on the wall of the bathtub area and electric blackout shades over the windows! I love that the towels are always fresh and fluffy, the sheets are as soft as can be and the shower floor is warm! One thing I don’t love is the shampoo. However, I’ll admit that traveling isn’t the best on long hair no matter the products.
More often than not when discussing our next adventure our boys ask to go back to the Corinthia Hotel! Greeted by extremely polite doormen in top hats and long coats, gourmet cocoa, A hearty breakfast buffet, the softest sheets, a pool and spa with the vibe of a night club and surrounded by flower arrangements any bride would envy! What’s not to love?!