Well we’ve just returned from a Grown Up mini break in London and my goodness what a great time we’ve had! This trip was the very first time my partner and I had ever left our little one and, after the initial flood of tears from me when we departed, it was actually lovely to just be a couple again and for me to be me and not Mum for a few days.
We stayed at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge Hotel which is a really great central location, perfectly suited to our weekend of exploration. The Hotel itself was lovely and check in was fast and simple. We made our way to our room (258) and were pleasantly surprised to find we had a small suit complete with a living room too! The décor was modern but cosy and the double bed I found really comfy. Despite the hotel being lovely and the staff all incredibly helpful I have to say breakfast was sadly a total let-down. The cooked breakfast buffet was tepid at best matching the coffee which along with being tepid smelled like cigarettes, YUCK!
Moving on, I am a HUGE Harry Potter fan and as the premier of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald was on only a day prior to us visiting London, Wizarding Magic was obviously filling our minds. Whilst trawling over Facebook the day before our trip my partner had discovered a Magical Cocktail Experience Pop Up Bar called ‘The Cauldron’ not far from our hotel and after reading reviews decided to book us a place!
When it was time we opted to walk to the bar as I’m super nervous of the Tube and as we got closer and closer, I begun to seriously regret that decision. It looked like we were heading into a much ‘less salubrious’ part of town and every inch of my being was telling me to get the hell out of there. I stuck it out though and when the Sat Nav on my phone cheerfully stated ‘You have arrived at your destination’ my heart literally sank, it was a Shipping container with a tent roughly shoved on top! I was absolutely horrified!
It goes to show though you should NEVER judge a book (or in this case a bar) by it’s cover!
Upon entering it really is like what I imagine walking into ‘The Leaky Cauldron’ would be like, it was amazing! Every ounce of doubt I’d had instantly disappeared and we became fully fledged Witches and Wizards for the afternoon! Capes and Wand included! It was EPIC! Cocktail making was just the best fun and I simply can’t recommend this place highly enough! It’s an absolute MUST if you’re into Harry Potter and Cocktails! We made the ‘Blood Boiling Curse’ and ‘Time Transfixed’ which was my favourite.
We were very lucky to catch up with family whilst in London and we arranged to meet up and go for an evening meal. Our venue choice was Madison, as we had wanted a London Skyline style meal with great views over the city! Madison filled that brief and proposed to serve a menu selection which was more suitable for us country bumpkins than some other restaurants we had considered as they did Burgers, Venison and other food we had actually heard of!
Madison is located on top of a shopping centre and, after the trauma of catching the tube, it is safe to say on arrival we felt more than a little lost! Thankfully our family spotted us and directed us to where we needed to be! The venue itself was what I can only describe as ‘Vibrant’, the views from the terrace were absolutely stunning, and from our table we had a lovely view of St. Pauls Cathedral all lit up in the London Skyline. Now as I said the ambience of the place was ‘vibrant’ which for us Country Bumpkins basically means you could barely hear yourself think over the ‘music’ if that’s what you can call it. Thankfully the ‘vibrancy’ could not cast a shadow over the deliciousness of the meal! I chose the Venison and I was definitely not disappointed, it was cooked beautifully and with the accompaniments was a real treat. My partner opted for the Burger which also looked fantastic, a real nice thick patty in a toasted cob with all the trimmings. The service was also excellent and despite struggling to hear the staff they were more than happy to recommend a nice Rosé wine for us which again was delicious! After our meal we opted to try and find somewhere a little less ‘vibrant’ so we could regain our hearing and maybe hold a conversation without having to shout!
As the family we met live and work in central London and know the area far better than we could ever Sat Nav our way around we followed their lead and walked around taking in the sights, sounds and smells of the Big Smoke. It was a lovely evening and both myself and my partner thoroughly enjoyed it.
Our next London adventure was breakfast in the Sky Garden! Now this was very special and something I would highly recommend doing if you ever get the opportunity! The Sky Garden is located at the top of the Walkie Talkie building and boasts outstanding views over the city! Luckily the weather had begun to clear from the foggy day that we had arrived to the previous day. After the airport style security check in when made our way to the 35th floor and the sun was burning through glistening on the Thames and allowing us to see more and more the longer we were there. We had Croissants and Pan au Chocolat with Lattes which came to a very reasonable £14. Not bad for breakfast with a stunning view (although if like me you feel the cold you’ll need your big coat as it is a bit chilly that high up!) Now my partner is immensely terrified of heights and having gone a ghastly shade of green going up the Guinness Tower in Dublin I had my reservations about this being a good idea. He did however cope remarkably well and even mustered walking up to the top 37th Floor and with a little encouragement, stood looking over the highest balcony! A fantastic experience and one I would happily do again, I imagine an evening meal here is epic!
Hamleys was our next port of call, a firm favourite for both of us and we enjoyed looking around immensely, we obviously bought George a present, a Hamleys Marching bear and when we gave it to him when we got home his little face was an absolute picture!
For the rest of the morning we walked about London taking in the sights; Leicester Square, Picadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square etc etc and stopped at Pret a Manger for a bite to eat for lunch. I had a Hoisin duck salad wrap and a Latté and they were so good, the wrap really was delicious and the coffee far better than the hotels at about quarter of the price! It was here that my partner, having now ‘conquered’ his fear of heights suggested we go on the London Eye! (Now I’m not sure if he was delirious from the earlier trauma of the Sky Garden but nevertheless, I wasn’t going to say no!)
The London Eye is something I’ve always wanted to go on ever since it was built! My parents took my eldest on it and my Grandma and they both really enjoyed it but knowing how poorly heights usually make my partner it was something I thought we just wouldn’t do together. This time though he’d packed his bravery pants and we we’re going! EEEEEKKKKK I was so excited!!!!
We had booked our tickets online whilst sat in Pret and Fast Tracked them and thank god we did, when we arrived it was heaving with people, but we managed to get aboard the Pod within about 10-15 mins. I would certainly recommend Fast Track if you ever want to ride the Eye, worth every penny if you’re limited on time like we were. The experience was amazing, the views breath-taking and as we’d timed it the sun was just setting making the city transform beneath us as we gracefully glided round. I loved it and would highly recommend it, even with the little ones in tow!
All in all London was a fantastic grown up getaway, even for Country Bumpkins. It’ll certainly be somewhere I will go back to as there is just so much we’ve yet to discover and do. My next wish list will be to go up the Shard and Tower Bridge as friends have told us both these are very good!