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Museum Weekend at The Montague

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What is it? A relaxing weekend in the heart of London.

Where? The 4-star Montague on the Gardens Hotel in Bloomsbury.

Description: [montague.jpg]Not wanting to drag her three little monsters to London’s musuems and then face a long Tube ride home, Wendy Sloane opted for a museum weekend at the centrally located Montague Hotel. She discovered, not surprisingly, that using this 4-star luxury palace as a base made life a lot easier – and a lot more fun for both parents and unruly offspring…

To give the kids a bit of culture in central London, innit?

The Montague has an ideal location to enjoy everything London has to offer. It is literally a hop, skip and a jump away from the British Museum, and not too far from Covent Garden, Chinatown and Oxford Street. There is a lot to do – but not enough time to do it all!

The Montague is also a fantastic location for theatre-goers, as you can literally walk home from the West End, stopping at a few pubs on the way. Cinemas, restaurants, pubs and clubs are all just a leisurely stroll from the hotel – or a short taxi ride or rickshaw experience away.

If you need a babysitter ask at reception – in advance. The Hotel offers a complete child-minding service, although we didn’t take advantage of it.

The Montague has a small but perfectly formed gym, where die-hard work-out enthusiasts can work out a sweat on the machines. You can also order a massage, aromatherapy session or other complementary therapy in the privacy of your own room, or get a complimentary yoga mat from reception. If you want some additional pampering or a swim, staff can help you find the prefect spot. The Sanctuary in Covent Garden is only a stroll away, and the Oasis gym and YMCA are both withing walking distance. However, when we found the Y charges L15 for a daily guest pass per person, we decided to forgo the pleasure. Not really worth it for a family of five to go swimming!

Local activities: See Daytime fun, above.

Wish we had known: That hotel staff provide a selection of games to entertain the kids. Ours were greeted by not only children’s magazines, Connect4, UNO and a few other fun activities, but were also given a large basket of sweets, which they adored. Not so sure about their teeth…

Our top tip: We were offered Starbuck’s coffee from a thermos and delicious blueberry muffins while we waited for our breakfast table to be readied. The coffee was heavenly – and far superior to the coffee served in the breakfast room. Slurp it up while you can!

Kids say: “I liked the rooms because the beds were really bouncy, and I loved the hash browns,” says Josie, 9. “There was sweeties!” says Clementine, 4.

Getting There: The Montague is located in Bloomsbury, central London, not far from Russell Square, Holborn and Tottenham Court Road Tube stations. There are also several bus routes near the hotel. If you need exact directions, please phone the concierge. Prices begin at L230 per night (excluding VAT) for a classic double room, a Junior Suite begains at L400 per night. Special packages are available.

About our stay: As we live in London, it’s no surprise that my three darling girls are incredibly well-versed in art, opera and theatre. They are intimately acquainted with all the main museums and galleries, and have been taught to appreciate both contemporary and classical painting and sculpture. In fact, seven-year-old Tilly’s first word was “deconstructionist”, and Josie, 9, can argue the merits of Monet vs Degas aesthetics with the best of them, although Clementine, just 4, still maintains that Impressionists are passe… NOT! My three little monsters are usually bored in museums after five minutes – unless there is something absolutely fascinating to keep their attention, like a statue of a naked man (sans fig leaf) or a gruesome Salvador Dali painting. Although we live only about half an hour from many musuems, my girls rarely venture inside a museum unless it’s part of a school trip – and even then, they usually appreciate the obligatory ice lolly or the Tube journey more than the culture itself. So it was with excitement – and some trepidation – that we recently spent a weekend at the 4-star Montague Hotel, just yards from the British Museum and a short bus ride away from the Tate Modern. Our plan was to give the girls a little bit of culture, but hopefully not so much that they would tear their hair (or ours) out in frustration or vow never to step foot in a museum again. The Montague is the perfect spot for museum-hopping. Located in Bloomsbury, the famous haunt of the literary set, the Grade 2 listed building consists of nine Georgian terrraced houses that are as lovely and elegant as they are quaint. Inside are 88 rooms, 11 luxury suites and one apartment suite, as well as a restaurant, bar, bistro, wooden terrace deck and even a tiny gym. Best of all, everything was in walking distance, meaning that the world of culture was just a hop, skip and a jump away… [lounge.jpg] The girls began their weekend with great glee, finding several brand-new board games and magazines in their adjoining room, as well as a basket of sweets. After trying on the cherub-sized towelling robes and slippers and discovering the TV remote, they were more than reluctant to leave our new accommodation. We had to drag them kicking and screaming to The British Museum – not an asupicious start. Luckily, they adored the Egyptian rooms – even though two of the three had been there before – although I almost had a heart attack when Clementine got lost for three minutes (felt like 300). That evening we watched Night at the Museum on the hotel telly, as well as an episode of The Simpsons where Lisa gets lost while travelling to – what else? – an Egyptian art exhibit. Spooky. The next day we had a hearty hotel breakfast – Josie and Tilly loved the hash browns – then set off for a stroll and cheap-but-cheerful lunch in Chinatown before walking along the river eventually arriving at the Tate Modern. Luckily there was an interactive exhibit – Bodyspacemotionthings – where they could climb, slide, run, jump and balance on a series of wooden balls, platforms, rollers, tunnels etc. They adored it – so much that they even allowed us to take them (briefly) to look at a Soviet propaganda poster exhibit before complaining. They chilled out again when we took them to Covent Garden, where they had an ice cream and watched men chuck swords at each other for cash. [chinatown.jpg] Back at The Montague, we rested in the luxurious surroundings before nipping into a nearby Subway, where we bought sandwiches and crisps and had a light dinner in the park, entertained by several street performers who juggled metal rings and sang songs. We fed our scraps to an enormous flock of pigeons before retiring to our hotel, where the girls found chocolates on their pillows. A perfect end to a perfect day – and a perfect weekend. Wendy Sloane is the Travel Editor of entertainthekids.com, and a freelance journalist who writes on a variety of topics. She divides her time between working and looking after her three daughters.

Created: 2009-06-15 11:57:02.800

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