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Going that extra mile

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What is it? A parents’ get-away at the luxury Milestone Hotel in Kensington in central London.

Where? The Milestone Hotel is just a stone’s throw from High Street Kensington tube station, across the road from Kensington Palace, or “KP” as Diana used to call it.

Description: [milestone.jpg]Being a parent is hard work, and a night away can make a world of difference. Wendy Sloane and husband Duncan visited the Milestone Hotel in Kensington, a luxury hotel with a staff/customer ratio of 1.6 to one, for a bit of parental pampering…

Why not? This beautiful hotel was voted the Conde Nast Reader’s Choice for 2007, and you can see why. A loving attention to detail is evident everywhere, from the individually styled bedrooms to the resistance pool to the Conservatory bar. And if you want to take the kids – aaarrgh! – everything is carefully thought of advance, from kiddie welcome packs to child-friendly toiletries.

The great location makes this hotel perfect for shopping, wining and dining. Take advantage of the shops on Kensington High Street and don’t forget to visit Whole Foods, about 100 feet away, even if you’re not a foodie. The amazing selection of nosh on display will make anyone’s mouth water – and wallet whimper. Kensington Palace and Gardens, which lead on to Hyde Park, are nearby, as are the Science Museum, Natural History Museum and the Victoria and Albert. Also close is Knightsbridge, home to Harrod’s and Harvey Nichols.

Visit a club, the Royal Albert Hall, or one of the many neighbourhood cinemas. Restaurants in the area will suit any budget – we ate at a local Chinese for a tenner each – or you can sample the Hotel’s eateries, which will leave your tummy considerably happier (and your pockets emptier!).

The Hotel provides a nanny service as well as some on-site activities for kids, such as biscuit-making or learning how to work the reception desk. “It’s not unknown for the concierge to take kids to the Diana Memorial Playground either,” says Deputy General Manager Frits Potgieter.

Small but perfectly formed is the only way to describe the resistance pool in the Hotel health club: it will give you a full workout despite being only three metres long. Weight machines, exercise bikes and cross trainers are also available, there is a sauna and on-site therapist, Fiona, who will do facials, massages, reflexology and more on request.

Local activities: See Daytime Fun.

Wish we had known: That the hotel was so child-friendly – maybe we would have brought out three daughters with us! Then again, maybe not…

Our top tip: Try to get a good night’s sleep before you go. Amazingly, our youngest slept through the night – a rare occurrence – the night before we left. This is a lovely hotel – it’s important that you are awake enough to enjoy it.

Kids say: “I don’t want you to go, Mummy!” said Clementine, three, before we left. “Did you miss me, Tilly?” I asked our five-year-old upon our return. “Not really,” she replied. “Josie?” I asked the seven-year-old. “No.”

Getting There: From High Street Kensington station, turn right onto the High Street and in three minutes you’ll find it, opposite Kensington Park. If you are travelling by car, phone the hotel on 020 7917 1000 for exact directions as well as details of parking nearby. Rooms start at L320 per night for a Superior Double, excluding VAT. For more information phone the above number or visit www.milestonehotel.com.

About our stay: Our youngest daughter, Clementine, is almost three and a half, yet she has developed a strong aversion to getting out of bed alone in the middle of the night. What that means, in mummy/daddy terms, is that we often have to accompany her to the toilet two sometimes three times a night, and get up another once or twice to hand her a tissue or turn on her bedside light. Bad parenting, you might say. You might not be far wrong there, but as she is our last we are a bit reluctant to have her grow up too quickly. Her reluctance to cut the apron strings, however, has had some admittedly unpleasant repercussions, especially after a particularly bad night when my grumpiness is so thick you can hardly cut it with a sharp-edged machete. I was only too happy, then, to have the chance to sample a parents-only getaway at the Milestone Hotel, a luxury boutique hotel of just 57 bedrooms and six apartments in the Royal Borough of Kensington, also known as Shopper’s Paradise (well, my paradise, anyway). The Duncs was happy to sample anywhere that had a widescreen TV and a sports channel, so after the logistical nightmare of finding childcare was sorted, we headed off – by bus – to the Hotel. Unlike many London hotels in the area the Milestone is a luxury hotel, but not one that caters primarily to business travellers. The majority of its clients, says Deputy General Manager Frits Potgieter, are American, and they want their hotels to be quaint and clever, with fantastic service and access to all amenities at their fingertips. That’s what we got. After a welcome drink at the Hotel bar, Duncs and I were shown our room, a junior suite fashioned in honour of a former dancer that had its own private terrace. A tour of the hotel showed all the rooms were very individualistic – no Alan-Partridge-style décor here.[suite.jpg] From the restaurant to the bar to the communal rooms, everything was elegant, warm and, dare I say it, friendly. And the finishing touches – from fresh fruit platters to votive candles next to the bath – made it all seem incredibly civilised, all except for the bundle of prunes next to the bed in lieu of chocolates (“Americans like them, helps with the jet lag,” Potgieter says). If we had decided to take the children, they would have been in Seventh Heaven. The hotel sends out detailed questionnaires beforehand and provides kiddie welcome packs based on a child’s age and interests, with football cards, sweets, colouring books for little ones etc. Children are given child-sized slippers and terrycloth robes and the hotel even provides kiddie shampoo. “We are very family-friendly and we have a lot of dedicated people to make sure the kids are entertained,” says Potgieter. “We have six two-bedroom apartments, with kitchens and laundry rooms, and 70 percent of the clientele are families. Every apartment is given a welcome hamper of staples and we provide family picnic baskets upon request.” Unlike many hotels, Potgieter says, the Milestone has very low staff turnover and everyone gets on like a house on fire. It’s hard to know how true this really is – maybe they are all indentured servants working to earn back their confiscated passports and return to The Homeland – but it did seem a happy ship with staff smiles appearing genuine, from the chambermaids on up. One thing about the Milestone: it don’t come cheap. Our suite is listed on the website as costing about L900 per night it did have an enormour terrace- and the two-bed apartments go for L600, which Potgieter says is good value for money in the area. Maybe – but my budget would never stretch that high.[terrace.jpg] Money may not buy you happiness, but at the Milestone, it can certainly get you a happy, relaxing weekend. -With thanks to Melissa, Pete and Jack, who looked after the kids. Sorry about the vomit. Wendy Sloane is Travel Editor of entertainthekids.com. She divides her time between writing and taking care of her three small daughters.

Created: 2008-02-27 11:38:25.920

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