The summer holidays are here and parents have six weeks to keep kids out of mischief. If you haven’t planned to go anywhere, there’s still time for a mini break closer to home. And we recently enjoyed a great one.
Thistle Hotels have teamed up with Blue Badge Tours to create three bespoke ‘Be Closer To…’ family excursions.
The tours – namely Be Closer to the Action, Be Closer to London’s Hidden History and Be Closer to Delicious Delights – allow families to get a behind-the-scenes view of London with their very own guide.
With three young children in tow, location was a key consideration for us. Thistle Piccadilly, therefore, was ideal.
It’s just a short walk from Charing Cross station, so we didn’t need to take the kids on the tube. It also overlooks Leicester Square, so we were nice and close to some of the city’s biggest attractions.
Shortly after arriving and dropping off our bags, we met our guide, Eve, in the foyer. She was friendly, knowledgeable and engaging throughout the tour as well as brilliant with the kids.
I have to admit that my knowledge of London is fairly patchy. Well, overground anyway.
While I’m familiar with a number of locations, I don’t know where most of them are in relation to each other as I tend to stick to the tube when I’m there on my own.
Having Eve to show us around was ideal. It also made me realise that I’ve missed out on getting a true taste of London until now.
As we got underway, she explained that the tours have been designed with little legs in mind. Not only that, but there’s something that should be of interest for every member of the family along the way.
We went on the Be Closer to Delicious Delights tour. Our first stop was the National Gallery. There, we saw a couple of portraits depicting food.
The first included a dragon eating a person. Don’t worry – it’s really not as gory as it sounds and the kids thought it was funny!
Next, we walked the short distance to Leicester Square where we had a quick look around M&M’s World.
With four floors of chocolate, merch and photo opportunities, this was always going to be a hit with my lot. They enjoyed meeting the fab four in particular!
Then we headed into Chinatown. Our first stop here was to watch the signature dish being prepared at Beijing Dumpling. We then saw fish-shaped cream cakes being made at Chinatown Bakery.
The next port of call was Chatime. Their milk-based bubble tea is apparently very popular with teenagers.
We then had a quick look round the Chinese Supermarket. It was nice seeing so many products I didn’t recognise and the prices seemed reasonable.
A short while later, we arrived at Maison Bertaux in Soho, a French patisserie which has been in business since 1871.
I would quite happily have devoured everything there, but the kids were tugging at my hands as our next stop involved ice cream!
On we went to Udderlicious where the evidence that the homemade ice cream was tasty was literally all over the kids’ faces. And, in youngest’s case, her clothes too!
Then we popped into Neal’s Yard Dairy. As you can imagine, it was a feast for the senses in there. We all love cheese so it was great to try some samples.
Last but by no means least, we visited the famous Choccywoccydoodah. It’s amazing to think that all of the intricate creations we saw were made entirely of chocolate.
After thanking Eve for the fascinating Be Closer to Delicious Delights tour, it was time to head back to our hotel. The staff were friendly and helpful and our family suite was just what we needed.
There was a king size bed for us, a sofa bed for the boys to share and a comfy cot for youngest. It was a great space to relax in after our tour and we all enjoyed our day out.
There were two TVs, a good-sized family bathroom, a coffee machine and a free minibar too. Result! There was plenty to choose from for breakfast the following morning as well.
If you’re like us, a weekend like this should definitely appeal. A family trip to a major city can be a daunting prospect, but our tour and hotel were both well suited to us.
Big thanks to Thistle Hotels and, of course, Eve for a memorable weekend!
For your chance to win a Be Closer package which includes a hotel stay for a family of four and an accompanied Be Closer tour, visit www.thistle.com/BeCloser. Terms and conditions apply.
Disclosure: this is a collaborative post.