August 7, 2022

The best family-friendly hotels in London

There is a whole raft of things to consider when travelling with children, from dining options to proximity to family attractions to noise levels.

Here are the best family-friendly places to stay in London – from Victoria to Clerkenwell – with spacious or interconnecting rooms, free meals for children, complimentary activities, swimming pools, kitchenettes and added extras such as toys, games and treats. As well as five-star luxury, London also has budget options.

The best hotels in London are:

  • Best for five-star bargain hunters: The Goring,
  • Best for park visits: Royal Garden Hotel,
  • Best for junior culture vultures: Haymarket Hotel,
  • Best for luxury self-catering: Taj 51 Buckingham Gate Suites & Residences,
  • Best for book worms: Brown’s,
  • Best for eco-friendly family fun: The Zetter Hotel,
  • Best for oodles of room: The Landmark London,
  • Best for large families: Rubens at the Palace,
  • Best for central London attractions: Park Plaza County Hall,
  • Best for families on a budget: Premier Inn Bank (Tower),
  • Best for waterfront wandering: Bingham Riverhouse Hotel,

The Independent’s hotel reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and book, but we never allow this to affect our coverage.

Neighbourhood: Belgravia

Barbara the sheep is the hotel’s mascot

Known for its royal credentials, the 1910-opened Goring remains owned and run by the family who built it. Although there’s an old-fashioned English feel to this lavish five-star hotel, with Gainsborough silk-lined walls and a royal warrant, there’s a surprisingly homely atmosphere and friendly staff who make children feel welcome. The personalised service is special: children can expect teddy-shaped cakes, a perfectly selected welcome gift tied beautifully with ribbon, a card bearing their name and a bedroom strewn with cuddly sheep toys (the Goring’s mascot is Barbara the sheep). The utmost delight was elicited by a wooden chest filled with immaculate fancy dress costumes.

Parents can take a breather while children decorate cakes with the chef and make mocktails with the bartender before returning, laden with treats. It’s part of the Bring the Family offer, which allows you to book two adjacent or interconnecting rooms for 50 per cent off the price of the kids’ room. Mini fluffy bathrobes and slippers, baby toiletries and bath mats are provided. There’s an extensive children’s menu in the Michelin-starred restaurant, a library for children and the concierge will advise on family-friendly attractions. The garden – a centre court-sized lawn bordered with herbs and flowers – is ideal for a run around.

Price: Doubles from £370, room only

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Neighbourhood: Kensington

The Royal is right next to Kensington Gardens

The Royal Garden goes all out for children, offering a tipi filled with cuddly animal-faced cushions plus torch to play explorers in the bedroom, a branded backpack containing a quality stationery set and an activity pack. In the excellent Park Terrace restaurant, where there’s early dining from 17.30 and small cutlery, children are presented with another activity set. There’s also free ice cream for children who complete the hotel’s fun family trail. The Food and Flicks package is ideal for rainy days: unlimited films for 24 hours plus a delicious, generous spread of duck fat-cooked chips, homemade chunky fish-fingers, dough balls with garlic dip, pizza wheels, fruit with chocolate dip and a Coke float.

The location means children can run around Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park and its excellent Diana Memorial Playground, and the hotel loans Mini Micro scooters plus helmets. The Science Museum and Natural History Museum are a short walk away, too. Choose from connecting rooms or executive rooms large enough for two adults and two children. If parents opt for breakfast, children will get it for free.

The Royal Garden will reopen on 1 April 2022 following a refurbishment.

Price: Doubles from £252, room only

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Neighbourhood: West End

This hip five-star hotel has a bright, friendly atmosphere that matches Kit Kemp’s colourful and quirky interiors. Ideal if you’re seeing a show as a family, the Haymarket is in the heart of Theatreland. The generous welcome amenities for children are highest quality and tasteful: mini bathrobes and slippers, cookies and milk in bottles with striped paper straws at bedtime, a specially chosen gift and book, organic toiletries, plus a voucher to be exchanged for ice cream or a fruity drink tailor-made by the bartender. Children are welcome in the hotel’s lounges where there are games for all ages; smiley staff are happy to provide additional entertainment. The children’s menu in the Brumus restaurant offers the usual chicken goujons and burgers, but with healthy sides of broccoli or salad, and the choice of a fruit bowl for dessert. Don’t miss out on the basement’s funky, pink-lit swimming pool which offers inflatables for water fun.

Price: Doubles from £417, room only

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Neighbourhood: Victoria

A Junior Suite at The Taj

If you want the convenience of ample child-friendly space, a large kitchen complete with mod-cons and an array of treats, the apartments and suites at Taj 51 will not disappoint. This hotel, comprising Victorian townhouses and a quiet courtyard set back from the bustle of Victoria, boasts a vast, neutrally decorated, contemporary two-bedroom apartment that includes a play mat on which to put the activity books and crayons located within the goodie bags given to children on arrival.

Expect animal-themed organic toiletries for the littlest children, rubber ducks, mini bathrobes and slippers, and a turn down service with warm milk, homemade cookies bearing children’s names, and sweet smoothies. Choose DVDs from the selection catering for the whole family and enjoy complimentary popcorn and soft drinks in the rooms. Don’t miss the Alice in Wonderland-themed afternoon tea. Our two and four-year-olds delighted in the exquisitely decorated treats and imagination-sparking details such as tea served in owl-shaped teapots.

Price: Doubles from £338, room only

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Neighbourhood: Mayfair

Beds comfy enough to jump on

Since its 1837 opening, Brown’s has welcomed illustrious guests from Winston Churchill to Rudyard Kipling (The Jungle Book was completed here). Children get their own check-in Brown’s, in the heart of exclusive Mayfair – and that is just the start of the many surprises to make them feel spoilt. A hand-written note welcomed our two to their tent to play hideaway, while as part of the Monkey Turndown Service, a plush Jellycat monkey – the hotel’s mascot Alby – sits on their bed, which is decked with embroidered bedding.

The decor here is elegant: sage greens in our room and hand-painted walls elsewhere. There is also a beautifully illustrated Albemarle storybook for bedtime reading, and milk and home-baked cookies. A popcorn machine was a fun addition to our room. A VIP membership card allows children to borrow books from the reception’s “library”, while they can also expect their own toiletries and rubber ducks. Parents can request equipment from bottle steriliser to baby monitor, films and games consoles. The concierge will create a bespoke teen itinerary on request. The open spaces of Green Park are a short walk away.

There’s 50 per cent off all children’s meals in the restaurant and In Room Dining (children under three eat for free) and a special breakfast corner at busy times; small jars filled with berries and smoothies are a painless way to entice children to eat healthily. Additional beds and interconnecting rooms are available, as are two-bedroom suites and a five-bedroom townhouse.

Price: Doubles from £580, room only

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Neighbourhood: Clerkenwell

Goodies for children at The Zetter

In a converted Victorian warehouse in a quiet enclave of cobble-stoned Clerkenwell, the colourful, cutting-edge design, boutique Zetter Hotel is the hippest option for families. It’s also environmentally friendly: water from a borehole beneath is decanted into glass bottles in the bedrooms, and there are no throwaway activity packs here – instead, a basket full of age-appropriate books to borrow, and a cuddly teddy to keep. There are also mini robes in the rooms while cots, extra beds, baby video monitors and a childminding service are available. Chemical-free Ren toiletries are gentle enough for the whole family. Cots and an extra bed for children aged two-16 can be added to Deluxe Rooms for free, and interconnecting rooms have their own adjoining corridor. If you’re travelling with a baby, the pantry will come in useful both for milk storage and preparation, and caffeine hits.

The restaurant has a fabulous children’s menu featuring fish and chips or grilled chicken that parents will happily help polish off. They also do a delicious pancake breakfast for children.

Price: Doubles from £176, room only

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Neighbourhood: Marylebone

Child-friendly rooms at the Landmark

What you really need with young children is space – and at 592 sq ft, the smallest rooms at the Landmark are bigger than many London flats. Floor-to-ceiling windows, plus creams and golds ramp up the glamour of this grande dame hotel. You’ll find a tent and headlamps for children to play camping, plus a Landmark teddy to take home, and freshly baked cookies on arrival. Don’t miss the treasure hunt through the hotel – for a reward on completion. There’s also a relaxing chlorine-free swimming pool, ideal for little ones’ sensitive skin, with children’s hours so you don’t have to worry about disturbing other guests.

Family bedrooms accommodate two adults and two children in double beds and there’s plenty of space for extra beds (for an additional £60) and cots, which are provided on request as are highchairs, bottle warmers, baby bath tubs and potties. The sun-drenched, exotic Winter Garden restaurant offers delicious children-sized breakfasts such as pancakes with caramelised bananas and Nutella, with smaller prices to match. They also do a chocolate afternoon tea. An extensive family-friendly DVD menu is useful for rainy days.

Price: Doubles from £351, room only

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Neighbourhood: Victoria

Activity packs await children at Rubens at the Palace

There’s an opulent splendour to this hotel where the bedrooms have silk wall coverings and chandeliers. Children can expect an activity pack and cookies waiting in their bedrooms, as well as a cuddly corgi that nods to the hotel’s proximity to Buckingham Palace. Babies get their own branded babygro, and the hotel will provide everything from night lights to bathroom steps to make travelling with little ones easier. Also available are movies, PS4 consoles and games. There’s a “director of fun” who can help to plan activities, and a late 6pm check out on Sundays to make the most of nearby attractions. Children can take part in a Rubens Pastry Experience to decorate and take away their own cupcake.

There are plenty of room options for families. The larger suites accommodate two under 12s, while the many interconnecting rooms in the family wing accommodate up to 11. The next-door South African bar does fun, tasty food for children, while the main restaurant has breakfast options such as pancakes.

Price: Doubles from £164, room only

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Neighbourhood: Waterloo

If you want to be within a few minutes’ walk of some of central London’s best attractions – the London Aquarium, London Eye, the Houses of Parliament and the South Bank’s venues and restaurants – Park Plaza County Hall is ideal. The rooms, neutrally decorated in cream and wood, are more businesslike than characterful, but the views over the City, the Shard, Houses of Parliament or the London Eye make up for it. The mini kitchenettes with microwave and kettle make travelling with babies easier, there’s a family area at breakfast and a children’s menu.

Its Family Getaway package includes a complimentary gift bag, three vouchers to be redeemed against food and drink, in-room Sky movies, accommodation for two adults and two up-to-12-year-olds in a studio double room or any of the suites, with up to 15 per cent off the best flexible rate, and breakfast for all (children eat breakfast for free). Children eat from the children’s menu in the main restaurant for free when their parents dine. Interconnecting rooms are available, and all studio rooms include a sofa bed – or splash out on a penthouse on the 14th floor for the ultimate view.

Price: Doubles from £158, room only

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Neighbourhood: The City

Double rooms at the Premier Inn Bank

If you’re looking for a budget option, you can’t beat Premier Inn’s value for family stays in central London. What the hotel lacks in ambience and frills, it makes up for in comfort. You get sizeable rooms with comfortable Hypnos beds – many king-size – and two pull-out or sofa beds for children, or a cot (under 16s stay for free). This branch, a short walk from the Tower of London, has nine adjoining rooms.

For children, there are in-room goodie bags containing sweets, crayons and colouring material (the artworks are then displayed on the restaurant wall), and on weekends every family room with children receives a sweet treat on their bed. Look out for themed activities taking place during some weekends, where staff dress up – think pirates or Disney. With one dining adult, children also get a free breakfast.

Price: Doubles from £65, room only

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Neighbourhood: Richmond

The terrace at Bingham Riverhouse Hotel

(Bingham Riverhouse Hotel)

Situated between central Richmond and quieter Petersham, the Bingham is a smart and beautifully kept boutique hotel haven in a Georgian townhouse with a home-from-home attitude and an unbeatable riverfront position. Staff are friendly, easygoing and welcoming, just what you want for a relaxed stay with children; nothing is too much. Need a baby bottle warmed in the early hours? More entertainment for the younger guests? No problem. Appropriate-aged books and colouring pencils were left in our room for the children to borrow during our stay. Babysitting can be organised if you want to spend adult time in the gorgeous Bhuti spa up the road (your stay allows you 15 per cent off treatments), or enjoy the nearby eateries and bars. It’s worth borrowing a baby monitor and staying in to enjoy the tasting menu in Steven Edwards’ restaurant, where high chairs are available – although there’s no children’s menu just yet.

Among the 15 rooms are two sets of interconnecting rooms, while extra beds for children can be added elsewhere. The copper baths are more practical for younger children than the usual showers (although there are fabulous monsoon showers here), and the hotel has two cloakrooms with changing facilities.

Best of all is the large, pretty terrace garden overlooking the river where parents can relax and enjoy a drink with a view while watching their children run around.

Borrow bicycles from the hotel and take the cycle path along the river and Richmond Park 15 minutes away, where the children can try out horse riding at Stag Lodge Stables. Or take a casual stroll along the river front directly outside the hotel for a picnic at one of the numerous patches of green grass and Petersham Meadows.

Price: Doubles from £121, room only

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Neighbourhood: Mayfair

Luxury awaits at the Athenaeum Hotel and Residences

(Athenaeum Hotel and Residences)

Staff at the Athenaeum Hotel bend over backwards to ensure that their littlest guests’ every whim is catered for. This is home-from-home, but of the most luxurious and spoiling kind.

Having filled out a form inviting us to detail the youngest guests’ favourite things, we arrived to favourite snacks in large glass jars (think pistachios, Percy Pig sweets, YoYo fruit snacks), delicious fresh fruit, and a fridge full of juices, olives, and cheese – all complimentary. The Children’s Concierge organises bedtime milk and cookies and other activities. Our children were delighted at the generous assortment of their favourite toys (from the hotel’s own toy store) to keep them entertained during their stay, while gifts included quality kites to be flown at Green Park opposite, plus bird food for feeding the ducks at St James Park. The location is perfect for introducing youngsters to London sites such as Buckingham Palace.

Stay in one of the 18 luxury apartments for practicality and space, with the top-notch housekeeping of a hotel. Cots are beautifully made up in the main bedroom and pop-up bunk beds or sofa beds are made up in the lounge, while interconnecting apartments are ideal for longer family stays. Luxury bathrooms include organic toiletries for little ones. Here, kitchens are compact but fully equipped with smart mod cons, and there are both dining area and sitting room. You don’t, of course, have to cook; the onsite 116 restaurant may not have a dedicated children’s menu, but the chef will make requests or youngsters can order from the main menu. Or book one of the hotel’s babysitters and head out on the town.

Price: Doubles from £245, room only

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