Growing up, I was always bummed that I was never given a middle name. Sure, it made things easier during test time, because I would have less scantron bubbles to fill in, but apart from that, I’ve always missed a middle name. Maybe this could be part of the reason that Jason and I decided to give all of the kids two middle names. Well, Siella’s middle name is Siella London Harbor! Why London, I’ve been asked on countless occasions. I wish I had some incredible story about how Siella was conceived up in the clock tower of Big Ben, or that I was traipsing around London while pregnant with her. Honestly, our doula was named London who I felt such a connection with, so I really wanted our daughter to have that middle name. Fast forward eight years and my little girl has been begging me to take her to the city of her namesake, because she feels this unfounded connection with this city. I had to finally make this wish come true.
The beginning of the school year is always filled with holidays and days off, so what better time to escape for a mother daughter five day weekend with my special girl. We spend so much time together as a family, its seldom that the kids get one on one time with either Jason and I; so Siella was psyched for this time away with just mommy. I booked a late afternoon flight, so we landed super early in the morning London time, and headed straight to the Hotel Athenaeum. Our intent was to drop our bags, and immediately head out to hit the town, but once we saw our room, our itinerary for the morning changed. Our room was one of Hotel Athenaeum’s sprawling apartments, so we decided to snuggle and sneak in a few hours of shut eye, so we were fresh for our sightseeing. Well, as fresh as you can be following a red eye flight! After a brief nap, we hit the streets. Now, let me share our London adventure with you.
Where To Stay
The family run Hotel Athenaeum is located in the heart of Mayfair, opposite Royal Green Park. Their newly launched rooms, suites and residences epitomize London’s proud heritage, excude British craftsmanship and celebrate Art Deco roots. The luxurious residence was absolutely ideal for families, groups and long-term stays. All 18 apartments are fully-serviced with private entrances, totally equipped kitchens, living and dining areas, as well as 24 hour In Room Dining. Naturally, Siella and I opted for room service most mornings, because we loved spending time in our little home away from home. Staying in an apartment actually made us feel like we were residents of London! I loved that we had hotel amenities, with the freedom of our own suite. And with two separate entrances, we had the option for privacy heading in an out of our suite, or the other entrance to take us straight into the rest of the hotel. At the end of most days, we would head up to Athenaeum’s newly renovated top floor called “The View”, where I would usually unwind with a glass of wine in hand, and Siella experimented different teas, all while taking in the incredible views of the city!
I also want to mention how the hotel staff were so incredibly friendly and accommodating. Each morning, they helped plan out the day ahead, offering fun suggestions! And I love how Hotel Athenaeum has a dedicated Children’s Concierge to keep little ones happy and entertained. Whether it is delving into their Toy Store, arranging a kite-flying session in Hyde Park or making sure milk and biscuits are waiting in your flat at bedtime, consider it handled! Siella returned home one evening to find a cute plush Teddy waiting for her with milk and cookies. It was the absolute cutest ever. Part of their crew includes a fantastic team of Nannies and Babysitters on standby to take care of your children should you fancy a shopping trip, or much-deserved night out without the kids. I can tell you I will absolutely be using this service when the whole family comes to town in the future.
Oh wait, I can’t forget the REN Spa. On our second morning, Siella was totally jet lagged, so I let her sleep in, while I snuck down to the REN for a quick massage. Just what mama needed! I can totally see spending a girls weekend here for some pampering.
Where To Eat
The Atenauem offers an afternoon tea, which was exactly were Siella and I kicked off our London romp! The Afternoon Tea is created using the finest ingredients, many of which are produced by Royal Warrant holders who supply Her Majesty The Queen! A truly majestic treat. We enjoyed a selection of sandwiches like Galvin cure smoked salmon, Cumbrian beef & Coleman’s horseradish on onion bread and traditional scones with Tiptoe strawberry jam and lemon curd. Yum!
Galvin at The Athenaeum is the hotel’s award-winning restaurant from Michelin-starred London chefs Chris and Jeff Galvin. The restaurant exemplifies the brothers’ no-fuss, ingredient-led approach to cooking with a distinctly British style. My fish dish was probably the best I’ve ever had, while Siella noshed on a kids bangers and mash! It was so delicious that I’d go back just for that!
THE BAR at The Athenaeum is accessible from the hotel, or from a discrete entrance on Down Street. This refined bar is all about chic tradition with small nooks, plush sofas and leather chairs providing an intimate environment, while backlit display cabinets show off their prized whisky collection, and collectibles from around the world.
Tea at Sketch – This fabulous Mayfair restaurant with insane interiors was probably our most favorite. It’s total sensory overload with pink on pink on pink everything. What a fabulous afternoon for tea. Oh and make sure you visit BOTH bathrooms! A total trip!
Rock and Sole Plaice – This was our first fish and chips of the trip, and it definitely did not disappoint! One of the oldest chippies in town, with simple decor, a traditional seafood menu and outdoor seating.
Mad Hatter Tea at Sanderson London – Another dreamy afternoon tea spot, and yes I wanted to hit them all! It’s like tumbling down the rabbit hole and discovering a tea party beyond your wildest imagination, inspired by the whimsical world of Alice in Wonderland. With menus hidden inside vintage books, and teapots adorned with kings and queens, Mad Hatters Afternoon Tea is full of sweet treats and savory delights that tantalize your taste buds.
Cecconi’s – After shopping up a storm in Mayfair (which I speak about below), we had brunch at this Venetian brasserie, serving northern Italian dishes in a classic setting. This was right up our alley considering we ate plenty of similar cuisine during our trip to Italy in August.
Rococo Chocolates – We just had to pop in here for some goodies to take home!
A few others places that came highly recommended, but didn’t make it into the rotation were Chiltern Firehouse, Simon On The Strand, and afternoon tea at The Ritz!
Things To Do
If you are looking for a way to see the city, and I totally recommend Twizy Tours! Definitely check them out during your first days in London, that way you can get a sense of the city and decide where you want to revisit. Twizy Tours is immersive entertainment with the city as your stage. These two seater cars will give you an easy, safe and fun to drive through London and the GPS guided tour makes your adventure one to remember. Since I was a bit nervous to drive Siella and I around town, I opted for someone to take both of us around. We had two cars, and I have to say it was the best sightseeing tour I’ve ever been on. I learned so much, while also seeing the city and getting my bearings of what do see and do for the next few days!
The Victoria and Albert Museum in London is the world’s largest museum of applied and decorative arts, design, and sculpture, with a permanent collection of over 2 million objects. This was probably my most favorite museum to revisit!
Buckingham Palace – It’s a must see, obviously because the Queen lives here. There are no tours, however you can catch the changing of the guards if you time it right!
Nodding Hill Market – We strolled through here on Saturday, with stalls offering everything from fruit and bread to posters, vintage clothes, ceramics and music. This made Siella and I feel even more like locals!
Westminster Abby – A royal church in the centre of London offering daily services for all and a World Heritage Site with over a thousand years of history.
Tower of London & Tower Bridge – The Tower of London, officially Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London, is a historic castle located on the north bank of the River Thames in central London. Here you can see the Crown Jewels, take a legendary Yeoman Warder tour and meet the ravens! Sure, this is a total tourist stop, but like in every city, its a must see.
St. Pauls Cathedral – With its world-famous dome, St Pauls is such a significant part of the London skyline. We came to experience the Whispering Galleries which is at the top of its tower, but was told it’s closed for construction. We were bummed we couldn’t make it up, but nonetheless, it’s still such a beautiful church. We lit a candle and said a prayer while we were there.
Ride on the London Eye – this observation wheel on the South Bank of the River Thames was a great way to see all of London!
There’s a carousel right outside the London Eye, along with a fun playground that Siella loved as well!
GO SEE A SHOW! Siella and I scored tickets to Matilda at the London Theatre, and it was spectacular!
Harrods – Probably my favorite department store of many in London! After all, its the world’s most famous department store, with men’s and women’s designer fashion, luxury gifts, food and accessories.
Oxford Street – The heart of London shopping, Oxford Street has more than 300 shops, designer outlets and landmark stores. Home to the legendary Selfridges, it was incredible to visit since I use to sell clothing to them during my showroom days!
Hamleys – Every childs dream come true! The toy Store on Regent Street may be the biggest of its kind in London, but it also most certainly the finest. This place has been in business since 1760! Let that sink in for a minute.
Mayfair – renowned for its designer shops, but there are also many specialist shops that offer unique objects that you can’t find anywhere else. Grays Antique Market stocks anything from antique and out-of-print books to art.
Liberty – Commonly known as Liberty’s is a department store in Great Marlborough Street, in the West End of London, selling women’s, men’s and children’s clothing, make-up and perfume, jewelery, accessories, furniture and furnishings, stationery and gifts. They are especially known for their floral and graphic prints.
Fortnum & Mason – The ultimate destination for unique gifts such as hampers, elegant wines and spirits, famous teas and coffees, plus much more. Siella brought some of their tea home, and she was still drinking some this weekend, with her breakfast.
Harvey Nichols flagship department store in Knightsbridge is located in one of London’s most fashionable and exclusive shopping districts.
Covent Garden – A shopping and entertainment hub in London’s West End, situated on the car-free piazza, which is home to fashion stores, craft stalls at the Apple Market, and the Royal Opera House.
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Needless to say, our London trip was so special, and I could not have asked for a more suitable travel partner. I hope Siella will forever cherish these magical memories created together, and feel a true connection to the city whos name she bears. Sending all of our gratitude to The Atheneanum and its staff for hosting our stay, and helping us out along the way.