Hotel Café Royal in London was an iconic destination among politicians and novelists alike in its 19th and 20th-century heyday. But how does the erstwhile landmark of the city’s social scene fare as a family-friendly hotel in the 21st century? Harriet Mallinson went to find out.
It bodes well for Hotel Café Royal if size impresses you. Everything in the establishment on London’s Regent Street is enormous, from the Murano glass chandeliers and floral displays to the swimming pool and marble bathrooms.
In fact, there’s so much of the quarried rock from Carrara it’s said to weigh the equivalent of 300 adult elephants, making the property the heaviest hotel in London!
You need hardly lift a finger at Hotel Café Royal, the staff are so efficient
What’s perhaps most impressive though is how far Hotel Café Royal is willing to go to make sure your stay is perfect. “Anything is possible,” staff tell me and, given they’ve looked after such big names as Naomi Campbell and Mariah Carey, I can believe it.
Families staying at this illustrious hotel need hardly bother planning their own holiday ahead of arrival. The concierge can take care of everything, whether you want to immerse yourself in all things Harry Potter, ogle sharks at the London Aquarium or take in the latest exhibition at the British Museum. Even sold-out shows or booked-up restaurants are no impediment, the concierge will get you in as if by magic.
You also won’t have to worry about getting around. The hotel’s location just off Piccadilly Circus is a big draw for a London family holiday as it’s a front-row seat to the capital’s beating, buzzy and beautiful heart.
A glut of the city’s hottest highlights are within 20 minute’s walk, from Soho to Covent Garden to Southbank. And the tube station on your doorstep will whisk you anywhere else you want to go with ease.
Pack in the best of London during your stay
Top tip: if you’re in London for several days target a different area each day to avoid excess travel and tired little feet.
- Head to Buckingham Palace, Parliament and Westminster Abbey on day one.
- On day two, visit Tate Modern, Borough Market, Tower Bridge, and the Tower of London.
- Then on day three, check out the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum. Or make time for the Diana Memorial Playground in Kensington Gardens which was inspired by the story of Peter Pan and boasts a huge pirate ship to play on!
Hotel Café Royal also works with private tour companies should you require exclusive and unique days out with the kids to land true bragging rights.
However, if giraffes at London Zoo, live shows at Shrek’s Adventure London or the gory horrors in the London Dungeon still leave the kids wanting more then there’s lots to spoil them rotten back at Hotel Café Royal.
Hotel Café Royal offers plenty of fun to keep kids happy
Children’s hampers stuffed with kids’ robes and slippers, teddy bears, books, games and PlayStations are guaranteed to keep youngsters entertained. The hotel also has a list of approved babysitters if parents want an evening off parenting.
Got a special occasion to celebrate? The team can set up balloons, serve up cakes and stock up on sweets, you name it.
Children can also enjoy the pool during kids’ twice-a-day swimming hours. This is the time when they can make as much noise as they like, and some floats and toys are available. Although it’s worth noting the pool is quite deep so probably more suited to older kids. There’s a steam room, sauna and jacuzzi as well, if mums and dads want a spot of downtime.
No one will go hungry during a getaway here
Hungry nippers are well-catered for after all the excitement of a day out in London. Brasserie Saint Germain is the “casual dining” experience best suited to families. It offers up kids’ menu classics such as spaghetti and burgers as well as tempting adult dishes ranging from burrata and sea bass tartare to ossobuco and roasted lobster. Portions are hearty and the food is delicious. I particularly enjoyed the Entremets Chocolate dessert and I suspect the kids will too!
Breakfast choices are extensive for little guests as well. Think pancakes with maple syrup, boiled eggs with soldiers plus juices and hot chocolate. There’s even a late-night room service menu should anyone get peckish in the wee hours.
Hotel Café Royal bedrooms cater for families of all sizes
Talking of rooms, no matter what family size you’re travelling with, the hotel can meet your needs. The property features a number of connecting rooms or you can reserve an entire wing if there are lots of you. Parties of royal guests have done this in the past but, you didn’t hear that from us!
Cots and pull-away beds can all be provided and there are even tipi tents the team can fill with toys for a fun-packed hideaway. Don’t worry about being cramped, space is far from an issue in the hotel’s capacious suites. You could fit my extended family in the bathroom alone and still have some wiggle room.
Little additions will certainly charm
As for other touches that impress, I couldn’t help but be amazed at the giant marble bath, plus the lovely Diptyque products. The Japanese toilet never ceased to spark a smile. And the TV was ready-loaded with kids’ channels and complete with the type of fancy speakers that keep dads happy.
What’s more, windows are triple-glazed so you’ve all the benefits of staying in central London without any of its noisy soundtrack. Blackout blinds are another thoughtful slumber-aiding touch.
For those who do want to soak up the city, rooms at the front of the hotel afford impressive views of the mammoth Piccadilly Circus screen or Regent Street’s majestic architecture. Come at Christmas and you’ll be treated to an unparalleled view of London’s most famous festive lights!
There’s a lot of intriguing history to swot up on
Older children might well appreciate some of the hotel’s history. Greats such as Rodin, Oscar Wilde, Muhammed Ali and David Bowie all frequented the establishment when it was simply Café Royal (the property opened as a hotel in 2012). So do quiz staff about its star-studded guestlist over the centuries.
Head to the luxurious Baroque-style Grill Room for a lavish afternoon tea and sit in the same spot where James Bond (well, Sean Connery) once sipped a drink or Winston Churchill puffed on a cigar.
Prepare to be dazzled by the sheer amount of gleaming gold amid the mirrors and paintings here too. A whopping 27,000 layers of gold leaf were used in this Grade II listed Grill Room which dates back to 1865.
Indeed, entering the hotel is a little like stepping back in time. The historic main entrance on Regent Street comes complete with original mosaic tiling and stained glass windows. Even the lifts are still fitted with old-fashioned dials and of course the Victorian bannisters come wrapped in yet more gold.
What great secrets and stories have been traded in these hallowed halls? And more to the point, what adventures will you have during your stay? With all of London just seconds away, the possibilities are simply endless.
Plan your stay at Hotel Café Royal
How to get there
Hotel Café Royal, London is a short walk from Piccadilly Circus underground station.
Where to stay
Adjoining family rooms from £2,000 per night.