If a stay in London with kids fills you with dread, check out Sea Containers London and you might change your mind. Natasha Harding tested the water recently with her nine-year-old Lexi who’s autistic, and she has a lot of good things to say about the hotel.
Sea Containers London serves up luxury and lots of river
Everything about Sea Containers London in South Bank shouts luxury, from the moment you enter the quiet of the reception area, and feel immediately soothed by the low lighting and lavish design. As Lexi and I had just endured a long, hot journey from Cornwall feeling calmer (and cooler) as soon as we stepped inside the hotel was a great start.
Fortunately, check-in was effortless and the super-speedy elevator to our quarters much appreciated. A total of 359 rooms and suites means finding accommodation that fits your family’s needs is pretty easy. We stayed in a Riverside Balcony Suite which was incredibly spacious, especially for a London hotel.
It had an open plan living area, a Queen-size bed for me and a large sofa bed for Lexi, as well as a huge bathroom, complete with roll top bath, separate shower and toilet. We also had two private balconies which offered the most stunning city views. And I’ll confess to spending a perfect first hour, just the two of us, sitting there, people (and boat) watching.
Cute Capture the Moment packages captivate Lexi
Although the Thames looked resplendent in the sunshine, I was shocked at how busy it was. Lexi on the other hand was too busy being delighted by her Capture the Moment package which was waiting for her on the table in our room.
It consisted of a digital camera and an explorer passport, both designed to encourage children to take note of the iconic places in the hotel and the surrounding area. And as an added bonus, the pack contained biscuits which she could decorate with edible paint.
Once we were fully rested – and had eaten all the biscuits – we decided to go exploring.
A perfect hotel for exploring the city with your kids
The location of Sea Containers London couldn’t be better. Tate Modern is moments away and, apart from temporary exhibitions, completely free: if you want to see a temporary exhibition, it’s a plan to book tickets in advance.
Uniqlo Tate Play is the Tate’s new programme of art, activities and play for families and there are a variety of workshops to try. Although it was pretty busy when we went, and we took refuge in the quiet room for a bit of time out. This space for neurodiverse people and families who might need a calm five minutes is an incredibly useful resource.
Once Lexi had decompressed, she was desperate to go to the BIG Primark, because… Tik Tok.
Lexi’s Autism Threads lanyard passes the busy London test
I was slightly wary of taking her on the tube in the heat but thought if we went there via St Paul’s it might be slightly quieter. It’s a ten minute stroll over the Millennium Bridge to St Paul’s tube station and then three stops to Tottenham Court Road. Lexi has a lanyard from Autism Threads which she wears in busy places as it lets people know that she’s autistic and to understand her needs a little more.
It worked really well and she was offered a seat both ways on our journey which reminded me that there are so many good and kind people in the world.
Dinner at Sea Containers London with Thames views on the side
After all the shopping, we had a quiet dinner a deux in the Sea Containers London Restaurant with a prime table overlooking the Thames, so we were treated to the most spectacular sunset.
We both started with a cocktail – Lexi minus the booze of course – and shared flatbread. The children’s menu was good, with choices including SeaCo Cheeseburger, Trofie Pasta and grilled chicken. I dined on lamb rump and it was simply exquisite.
Once we’d finished our meal, we went for another stroll on the river, because why not – and treated ourselves to a ride on the Southbank’s resident carousel.
Milk and cookies at bedtime is another thoughtful touch
We were delighted to go back to our room and discover a tray of goodies had been left on the table, including a cold glass of milk, cookies and petit fours.
After a wonderful night’s sleep in our blissfully dark, quiet and air-conditioned boudoir we ventured down to breakfast. It was very busy but we managed to secure a lovely spot by the window and watched the City wake up while we feasted on pastries, fruit, cereal and juice.
Following a late check out at noon we walked along the water, passing street performers and food stalls, to Royal Festival Hall and County Hall, home to Sea Life London Aquarium, Shrek’s Adventure London and London Dungeon, which is suitable for adults and children aged 12 and over.
Kid-friendly Sea Containers London delivers, we’ll be back
Lexi and I had ride on the London Eye and as it was so warm and clear, the views were far-reaching, and the air conditioning was also very welcome.
There was an incident with a wasp in the queue, but once first aid had been administered by the attentive staff, we were good to go.
We couldn’t have asked for more from our girl’s trip to Sea Containers London and particularly enjoyed the hotel’s peaceful vibe.
Although it was warm and sunny when we were there, it didn’t feel ridiculously busy and there are many nooks and crannies at the hotel where you can escape to if you need a time out.
Also, those views were something we’ll remember for a long time.
Plan a stay at Sea Containers London
How to get there
Blackfriars South Station is 8 minutes walk from Sea Containers London.
Good to know
There are 36 wheelchair accessible rooms available.
Cribs are available on request.
Sea Containers London is also pet friendly.
Where to stay
Family friendly Sea Containers London offers rooms from £242 per night and suites from £611 per night.
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Images © Natasha Harding @