Town Hall Hotel

Adamo kids at Town Hall Hotel
kitchen at Town Hall Hotel
Town Hall Hotel
Ivy on the steps of Town Hall Hotel
Town Hall Hotel_exterior
Town Hall Hotel pool
Town Hall Hotel corner room
This past weekend we enjoyed our very first ‘staycation’ — a little weekend holiday in our own city! We stayed at the super cool Town Hall Hotel over in Bethnal Green, East London, and it was so fun to get to know this part of London and to enjoy a weekend out of our home, away from the usual laundry and chores we would have been faced with at home.

The rooms at the Town Hall Hotel are especially spacious and so stylish with a blend of old and new decor (check out this suite!).  Many of the rooms come with little kitchens and dining areas which are great for families, and our room even had a washer/dryer unit! So handy! The hotel also has a pool, which the kids were SO excited about and which provided hours of entertainment on the rainy Sunday.

Apart from the continental breakfast in the stylish Corner Room, we went out for our meals — taking advantage of the nearby Broadway Market on Saturday, Columbia Road flower market on Sunday, and our favourite pizza restaurant, Story Deli, located nearby. The hotel is also a five-minute walk from Victoria Park and the wonderful Pavillion Cafe, and is just down the street from The Museum of Childhood. So there were plenty of activities to keep us entertained and restaurants to keep our bellies full.

A wonderful holiday in our very own city!

 

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Konditor & Cook

Roast Restaurant

Roast Restaurant
Roast Restaurant offers a unique bird’s eye view of the bustling Borough Market below as well as an up-close view of the towering Shard above. Diners can also see St. Paul’s Cathedral in the distance and (kids will love) the overground trains regularly passing by. A wonderful, iconic London experience… and I haven’t even mentioned the food!

young diners at Roast

Using the finest seasonal produce from British farmers and producers (many of the ingredients coming from the Borough Market’s very own stalls), the restaurant offers classic British cuisine that is reliably good. It’s also extremely kid-friendly with a ‘young diners’ menu, highchairs, and a colouring page and crayons. Bonus – kids eat free during halfterm school holidays!

La Coqueta


La Coqueta is a wonderfully welcomed new children’s boutique in the heart of London’s Hampstead village. This charming little shop offers a beautiful selection of timeless and vintage-inspired children’s clothing & shoes from Spain. The clothing is beautifully displayed, the shop is full of sweet little details, the shop owner and manager could not be nicer, and you’ll have a hard time leaving without picking up something perfect for your children. Oh, and the price point is good too!

La Coqueta
5 Heath Street
London NW3 6TP
+44 (0)207 794 6333

Ruby Violet, handmade organic ice cream


A new ice cream parlour has opened up (in my neighbourhood! hooray!), and the ice cream really is the best in town. Ruby Violet in Tufnell Park might be located on a busy and not otherwise impressive street, but this charming little shop with its tiled floors and thoughtful decor, will win you over immediately. The ice cream and sorbets are all handmade on site using the finest natural and local ingredients. You’ll find such interesting flavours like Regent’s Park Honey, Cardamon and Lemon, Flintham Damson with Sour Cream, Liquorice with Blackcurrant Ripple, etc, and the flavours are so fresh and recognisable. You can also buy tubs of their ice cream to take away, and they also make ice cream cakes and other desserts for parties and events.  They’re open every day from 11-7, sunshine or no sunshine. (more…)

Byron for proper hamburgers

It’s not easy to find good hamburgers in London. Unless you go to Byron.

Byron is a proper hamburger joint, hoping to ‘do a simple thing, and do it properly’. They source good meat from Scotland, mince it fresh every day, and then cook it medium so it’s pink and juicy. They then place it in a soft, squishy bun with minimum fuss and fanfare, and ‘serve it with a smile’. I love that.  They also serve great milkshakes, good French fries and other sides, and have a kids menu.  Byron now has several locations across London, so check their site to see which one is nearest to you.

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Rossopomodoro PizzaThe London EyeHope & Greenwood

The London Eye

We took the kids to the London Eye a few weeks ago and it was a huge hit! It’s funny how sometimes these really ‘touristy’ things are actually quite nice to do (I feel the same way about the Bus Tour).  Anyway, it’s a fun way to see the sprawling city (25 miles, actually), and the kids really enjoyed the ‘ride’. The queue seemed long, but it moved really quickly, and before we knew it, we were up 135 meters in the air.  It takes 30 minutes to go around, which really seemed like the perfect time to be inside a glass bubble. I really recommend the experience!

Click here for visitor information and opening times.

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Huggle — A shop, café and playspace in one!

Imagine a children’s shop stocked full of great toys, baby equipment, children’s decor and stylish furniture… doesn’t that alone sound impressive? Now, imagine this store has buggy parking, kiddie toilets and baby changing facilities, a little café, and an indoor play space for kids — aaahhh, it’s like heaven for parents! This heaven is called Huggle, and it’s a newly opened shop located in Swiss Cottage (just opposite the leisure centre). It was started by a local husband and wife team who spent two years researching the market before opening up their shop and who completely get what it’s like to be a new parent struggling to find the best products for their kids. (more…)

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River Café

The River Café hardly needs an introduction. This well-known restaurant is both a celebrity hang-out and a favourite brunch locale for London families.  The prices are high, but the food is so good it’s worth it.  I once read somewhere that the best Italian food in Europe can be found at the River Café — meaning even better than Italy itself. I’m sure that made the Italians angry… and perhaps it was a generous compliment, but the food is really that good.  The restaurant is located on the Thames and has a grassy courtyard separating it from the river. On a sunny day you can sit outside and let your kids run around while you finish your meal.  Otherwise, they have paper and crayons to keep your kids entertained inside.  Perfect for family brunch on the weekend. Just make sure to book well in advance.

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The British Museum

The British Museum, founded in 1753, is dedicated to the history of the world’s different cultures. The collection includes a large and impressive section devoted to ancient Egypt, and it is here where you will find the famous Rosetta Stone, treasures from Tutankhamun’s tomb, a piece of the Sphinx’s nose, impressive Eqyptian sculptures, and real mummies (which never cease to impress my kids!). We also love the Medieval Europe gallery and the section for Ancient Greece and Rome. The museum is absolutely stunning and certainly worth a visit. It’s also (rather surprisingly) very geared for families with a Children’s Multimedia guide, free activity backpacks and designated family trails. There’s also the Ford Centre for young visitors on the lower floor which has feeding and changing rooms for babies.

Check out the Family Visits section of the website, which lists all the different activities available for children, as well as the Young Explorers page which has online games and other interactive and educational activities. (more…)

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Rossopomodoro Pizza

Sometimes you just feel like eating pizza. So easy, so tasty, so casual… and kids always love it! Rossopomodoro is a Naples-based pizza chain with three locations in London (Chelsea, Covent Garden and Notting Hill). All their ingredients come from the Napolitan region of Campania — even the water used in their pizza dough is rumoured to come from Naples! Pretty impressive for a Pizza chain. They also have highchairs and welcome children — they’re Italian after all.

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Borough Market

The Borough Market is not for the crowd-fearing or for the buggy-pushing — its popularity is widespread and it gets crowded! But, if you’re a food lover (and who isn’t?), it is definitely worth visiting. It is London’s largest and most renowned food market with more than 130 food stalls and culinary experts. It has been around (in this very location) for more than 250 years and continues to get better with each passing year. This is where the chefs and well-known restaurateurs can be found on Saturday morning picking from the finest fish, meat, cheese, produce, etc.  Kids will love trying all the samples, checking out all the displays (my kids love the fish stalls!), and taking in the buzz of foodie talk and knowledge.  Just don’t take a buggy if you can avoid it — carry babies in a carrier. And if you can, go on a Thursday or a Friday — Saturdays are insane! Check their website for more info. (Image from Flickr) (more…)

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Tricycle Theatre

The Tricycle Theatre, located in Kilburn (North London), is a publicly subsidized performing arts venue most well known its ground-breaking, politically charged performances. They specialise in presenting plays which reflect and promote the cultural diversity of its community.  The venue includes both a large theatre and a 300-seat cinema as well as smaller studios for workshops and other small plays.  They also have a Children’s Theatre Programme which puts on some of the sweetest little shows for kids, often with the use of puppets, live music, storytelling and singing…and with an added ecological or social message to their stories.  We recently went to see The Three Billy Goats Gruff and it was great fun! (more…)

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Daunt BooksOttolenghiBelgo — for mussels and frites!

Konditor & Cook

I tease my husband that one of his requirements when picking a new place of employment is that there is a Konditor & Cook within walking distance. (There are 6 locations in London and my husband has worked near to 3 of them.) Their wonderful cakes and pastries are his (not so secret) indulgence and I can’t blame him — I am yet to taste something that K&C has to offer which doesn’t blow me away. Every cake, muffin, croissant is melt-in-the-mouth heaven.

Konditor & Cook was started by German-born Gerhard Jenne, who studied to be a ‘Konditor’ (pastry chef) in Germany before coming here and learning to be a ‘cook’ in London. Other than tasting good, Gerhard’s cakes look the part too and can be customised for any occasion (I love these mini-wedding cakes pictured). He has even written a book on how to decorate Wacky Cakes & Kooky Cookies. Everything the team bakes or cooks uses organic free-range eggs and natural butter, and if you need your whistle wetting further you can see their menu here. (more…)

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Hanover Gate Playground in Regents Park

The Hanover Gate playground, located on the west side of Regents Park, has just recently been renovated and now includes two different play areas: a traditional playground for younger children and a new timber tree-house section for older, more adventurous kids. It’s also a great little spot to spend a sunny afternoon because it’s right next to the boating lakes and boat house where you can rent pedal boats (both family-sized and single) and float around, taking in the beauty of the park.  (The children’s boating pond is only open on the weekends and is meant for kids aged 5 and up — they have to be able to reach the pedals.) There’s also a little restaurant in the Boat House with outdoor seating facing the lake. It’s a beautiful setting, especially when the weather is cooperating. (more…)

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The London Duck Tours

london duck toursIt’s not until friends or family visit that you think to go to some of the more obvious places the Capital has to offer. I love those weekends when I become a tourist in my own home – I’m constantly surprised by how much fun some of our ‘tourist’ attractions are. Over the years we’ve built up a list of some of our favourite things to do with visitors, but since we now have kids (and so do many of our guests) we have a sure-fired winner: the London Duck Tours. A vehicle that not only travels on land but also on water – the splashdown (when you enter the water) is worth the ticket price alone!

The tour takes in some key London highlights (Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, Trafalgar Square and The London Eye) but it’s the tour guides who make it (ours got the whole ‘duck’ quacking when it saw another duck – the kids were in hysterics and couldn’t stop talking about it for days)! It is cheesy but brilliant — but you have to be the sort to throw yourself into these things — not for those who embarrass easily. (more…)

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