What is it? Claridge’s, one of London’s grandest hotels

Where? In Mayfair within easy reach of Hyde Park, Park Lane and Oxford Street

Description: [BALLROOM_RECEPTION.JPG]Is something – or someone – making you feel tired, stressed out and miserable? Then leave them at home and get away from it all! Wendy Sloane and husband Duncan spent a night at Claridge’s – without the kids

Dating back to 1812, this beautiful hotel has always attracted both British and foreign aristocracy, from the Grand Duke Alexander of Russia to H.M. The Queen. But even mere mortals are allowed on its precious soil, as witnessed by our recent appearance – sans enfants.

Lounging in our enormous suite was great fun – until we got itchy feet and decided to venture further afield (see local activities). But to be honest, we could have spent all day trying on our fluffy slippers and matching bathrobes, reading our complimentary newspapers and dining on the complimentary fresh fruit and mineral water whilst watching telly and then ordering room service.

Claridge’s offers several eateries. The Art Deco Reading Room serves lunch and dinner, as does the Art Deco The Foyer, on the ground floor. If you prefer more European cuisine, try Gordon Ramsay at Claridge’s a la carte menu at L60 per person. We opted for a cheaper option and saw a film at Leicester Square before eating at nearby Yo Sushi, which came to L20 a head, including drinks. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to sample either of the hotel’s two fine bars: Claridge’s Bar or The Macanudo Fumoir, a smoking room that features 20 Cuban cigars and the largest selection of Macanudo cigars in Britain. Known as a great place for a seductive nightcap.

Who cares?

The Hotel’s Olympus Beauty and Fitness Suite has views across London – and the gym is available free to all hotel guests. A wide range of exercise equipment is at your use, and therapy rooms offer massage, facials and specialised body treatments, as well as a wide range of beauty treatments. Personal trainers are also available on demand. Sadly, there is no swimming pool.

Local activities: With the fine shopping of Bond Street on your doorstep and more affordable Oxford Street just a hop, skip and a jump away, there is no shortage of things to do. If you’re coming from far away, making an itinerary and booking things beforehand won’t be a waste of time.

Wish we had known: That we’d be allocated a two-room suite. We would have invited friends over to boast, then after giving them a quick drink made them all go home.

Our top tip: Tell your babysitter not to call you unless it’s urgent, and don’t tell anyone else where you are – unless you want to ring your friends and gloat, as Duncan happily did (I gloated after the fact, when people asked me where I had been over the weekend).

Kids say: ‘It’s not fair! I want to come!’ said Josie, six. ‘Why are you going without us? Who’s going to look after us?’ chimed in Tilly, four. ‘Bye-bye, Mummy,’ said two-year-old Clementine. Happily, they weren’t invited!

Getting There: Claridge’s is on the corner of Brook Street and Davies Street in central London. Most people take a cab there – we took the Tube and embarked at Bond Street, then walked. Rooms start at L300 and go up to L5,000 per night for the two penthouses, but families can have two Superior King rooms, either adjacent or interconnecting, staring at L375 per night for two adults and two children. Kids will get a complimentary age-appropriate gift and children’s amenities are available on request.

About our stay: Our eldest sprog is quickly approaching her seventh year, yet Duncan and I couldn’t remember even one night that we had spent together away from the kids (having Number Two and Three overnight in hospital didn’t count). So we were delighted to accept an invitation to spend a night at Claridge’s – arguably London’s grandest hotel – and be able to get away from it all (and them). There are two things I can’t stand about fancy hotels (apart from the largely inflated prices). I hate overly-obsequious staff who hover over you, anticipating your every whim to the extent that often your plate is whisked away before you’ve even put down your knife. I also despise hotels that look identical, as if the same overly zealous property developer had gone mad after purchasing a job lot of identical granite worktops, marble tiles and beige paint. [CLARIDGES_EXTERIOR.jpg] So you can imagine how relieved – and happy – I was to find Claridge’s didn’t fit into any of the above. The suite we were given was elegant and individual, and although it had obviously been modernised fairly recently it had kept its old-school charm and was a bit frayed around the edges. The corridors were largely empty, with plain carpeting that didn’t appear – or smell – as if it came straight from an Alan Partridge Travelodge. Best of all, the staff were polite yet reserved, showing us around, making sure we were comfortable, then getting our of our way. After retiring to our room and dining on fresh fruit and mineral water, I placed my tiny backpack in the cavernous dressing room before using the sumptuous bathroom suite (we also had a cloakroom for guests we sadly forgot to invite). After dining in town we retired back to our suite and spent the rest of the night in deep repose, confident that no children would wake us up wanting milk, to be taken to the loo, or to have their vomit/poo/wee wee cleaned up.[SUITE.jpg] Of course our lie-in was not to be, as I am now trained to wake up at precisely 6:59, come hell or high water. But Duncan did a lazy crossword while I had a long soak in the tub before we ambled into The Foyer for a simple breakfast of ham omelettes and toast, washed down by exceptionally good coffee. Again, the service was excellent, unobtrusive yet helpful. Sadly, our budget would not stretch to a frequent weekend at Claridge’s. But if it did, you can bet I’d be there in a New York second. And once I got used to having a bit of time to myself, I might even consider taking the kids with me. Then again, maybe not. (Wendy Sloane is the Travel Editor of entertainthekids.com, has three children and lives in London with her husband, Duncan)

Created: 2007-02-27 14:08:44.530

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