OK, so we all know that once babies come along, holidays become a bit of a different ball game. Gone are the days of laying in the sun and snorkelling until cocktail hour (oh the Maldives, I miss you). Now you’ve got a little person to think about; where are they going to sleep, how will you feed them, what is there for them to do, will they be OK with the journey, and so on.
I’ve always been a fan of city breaks and there are many more on my list I want to get to (looking at you New York). So when we got the opportunity to have a mini break in London we jumped at the chance. We did tackle London before, at Christmas, and if I’m honest it was a disaster. The tubes, the hecticness and attempting to go to the hell that was Winter Wonderland; I had “never again” in my head when it came to going to London with Josh ever again. But I’m a positive kinda girl and I figured with some planning we could make it an enjoyable and stress free break.
The hotel was the holy grail! It was insane. We were unbelievably lucky to be staying in an Executive Villa at Urban Villa , a boutique hotel based in Brentford, West London. The hotel is unique in the sense that the rooms are all, as the name suggests, villas. Everything you need for a functioning kitchen is provided and you can bring your own food and drink and make this beautiful space your own! We had a kitchen, lounge, a stunning bathroom, spacious bedroom and, the absolute highlight, an indoor garden! It was an enclosed balcony with garden furniture to lounge on and the most spectacular views looking out over London. With a kid in tow, this was exactly the sort of set up we needed!
It’s safe to say, Josh was in his element and quickly made himself at home…..
Having had a three hour drive from Norfolk, it was lovely for him to have somewhere he could have a run around after being confined to the car seat all morning! The hotel were amazing and provided a high chair and travel cot for Josh so we didn’t need to lug all that there with us. Our little break was off to a great start, as there wasn’t that stress of thinking we might need something else or had we forgot anything important. Plus we were treated to a very lovely liquid lunch upon arrival…..
Fed and suitably watered, we headed into Central London. One of the things I’d been most worried about on this trip had been getting into and around London. The thought of going on the Underground with Josh and his buggy in tow was not appealing to me. Thankfully Urban Villa is located an 8 minute walk from Brentford overground station which took us directly into Waterloo. There we had a lovely walk over Waterloo Bridge into Leicester Square where we enjoyed a drink in the sun, the boys had a wander around the Lego Store and then we headed to Bubba Gumps for dinner! Again, it’s safe to say Josh was pretty happy with this arrangement….
One thing I did notice whilst in London was the police and security presence. Given that it’s only been a week since the terrible Westminster attack, I personally found it a comfort to see so many police officers. I love London and I love its resilience, it’s inability to let anything stop the city from being alive and awake. I feel so proud that it’s our capital and that it’s full of people who won’t let the bastards get them down or stop them living their lives. It felt good to see that and be a part of it.
In my late teens and early twenties I was obsessed with London. I lived in Oxford so it only took an hour to get into Paddington, and it was a journey I did a lot. I always found an excuse to go there for the day; seeing my brother, seeing friends, or just to go shopping. I loved it; the hustle and bustle, seeing the fashion that people sported ( I have always loved that in London people just don’t care and wear what they want with pride even if it is an elaborate and risqué new fashion), I loved eating and drinking out there and I can’t lie, I went on some amazing dates there. And I always thought I’d end up there. But I can honestly say now, I am a country girl at heart. I love going to London now and then but I couldn’t be dealing with how busy it is. I don’t have the patience anymore.
Anyway I digress. After our delicious dinner we headed back and returned to our villa a little bit later than Josh’s usual bedtime but I just went with it. I figured we were on a mini holiday and that this once wouldn’t do any harm. The bed time routine is always the part I worry about the most when I’m away from home. The main reason being, Josh is absolutely hopeless at sleeping in travel cots! He seems to think they’re just one big play pen and refuses to settle in them! We were lucky that he was so worn out on this occasion that he did eventually settle but it took a while! We made the most of the local Sainsburys next door to the hotel and got ourselves some bubbles to enjoy whilst looking at the view of London at night from our indoor garden! It would have been perfect if Sam hadn’t come back from Sainsburys with screw top prosecco (seriously! WTF!) which upon tasting was like flat lemonade! Princess Prosecco here saved the day and went bought some actual bubbly!
I woke up super early the next morning – 6am to be precise, and took advantage of the early start by enjoying several cups of tea on the balcony whilst the boys slept. There was something so therapeutic about sitting there and watching such a vast and exciting city wake up. The hotel was close to Heathrow too and I loved watching all the planes lined up coming in to land and wondering who was on them and what adventures they had been on. Taking in the view from our balcony simply could not get boring.
Of course the peace and quiet didn’t last and a certain cheeky baby decided to come and join me and found the perfect spot for some morning reading.
And not long after that the other man in my life snuck up on me and got a cheeky shot… what is it with me and Josh and our inability to stay fully clothed on this balcony for all to see! Like Mother Like Son I guess. That and the fact we were so comfortable and cosy in this incredible suite that we just wanted to make ourselves at home!
After the most lovely long hot shower, and breakfast in our villa, it was sadly time to pack up as we had to check out that morning. But we didn’t want that to be the end of our London adventure already so we headed back into London Waterloo and had a little visit to Southbank and the London Aquarium. It wasn’t quite as warm as the day before and dopey here forgot a coat so I was a bit chilly. But it was a lovely Spring morning and seeing the beautiful blossom trees in Jubilee Gardens was so uplifting.
Josh absolutely loved the aquarium and it was such a brilliant place to take kids in the city! We did a cheeky 2 for 1 offer with our train tickets as the entry fee is quite expensive. However when your toddler gets to come face to face with a penguin and is ridiculously happy about it, you’d pay any entry fee! It was the highlight of the day
Once we’d eaten our body weight in Wagamamas (AMAZING service in here and very family friendly – I was so impressed) it was time to head home. The epic mission of driving out of London is not for the faint hearted but we managed it without too much trouble.
It is amazing what a couple of days away in a different place can do for your mind-set. My trip to London really got me thinking about Beauty Baby and Me, and where I want to go with it, and the things I’d like to do. It can be so easy in life to get stuck in a rut and lose your passion. I don’t want that to happen to me or this blog. I believe in myself and I believe in my writing. Having a bit of time to think, especially from the most beautiful balcony view in London, it’s boosted me, rejuvenated me and encouraged me. I don’t know what the future holds, but I know it’s going to be exciting.
Disclaimer: In return for this review post we were invited to stay at the beautiful Urban Villa Hotel but as always ALL opinions are my own.