Little things please little minds. And it’s the small, thoughtful touches that absolutely delight all young guests at the Athenaeum on Piccadilly. Whilst for parents the swanky Mayfair location, just opposite leafy Green Park and a stone’s throw from Buckingham Palace, is likely to put a smile on their face, for a child, to be greeted by a bowler-hatted doorman and then to unearth a personalised welcome pack containing their favourite snacks and a toy box filled with games, books and DVDs is sheer heaven.
There’s a sense of something magical about the Santa Claus-like all-knowingness of the Kid’s Concierge. OK, so it might have something to do with the questionnaire of likes and dislikes parents are requested to fill in before their visit. It’s really no coincidence that the reception staff welcome your child by name, but it’s still funny to see their look of surprise.
The Athenaeum has worked very hard to improve its family-friendly credentials, alongside all the luxury and style you’d expect from one of the city’s premier five-star hotels. The result is truly impressive. You can stay in the luxurious surroundings of the hotel or, for a little more privacy, take up residence in one of the adjoining townhouse apartments whilst still benefiting from the hotel’s amenities.
The resident concierges – Darren, Alan and Duncan – pride themselves on their encyclopaedic knowledge about the capital’s history and most famous sights, but can also point out more quirky hidden gems, like the frozen yogurt sundaes at YooMoo in Harrods, or a visit to the Puppet Theatre Barge in Little Venice. They can get you tickets to the hottest West End shows (and during half-term and special holiday breaks parents can make the most of the five hours of free babysitting, should they wish to venture out on their own!), as well as out-of-hours shopping sprees at Hamleys. The hotel also hosts seasonal events, such as treasure trails at Easter or ice-skating at Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland at Christmas, or children’s cookery lessons in half-term. They can provide a handsome picnic if you fancy a leisurely stroll in Green Park – don’t forget to pack the birdseed that is thoughtfully included in your welcome pack. Your only challenge might be enticing your child from all the goodies they’ll find in their room, from colouring packs to PlayStation games. And, with just a call to reception, different games will be delivered – just don’t let your child turn into a little Eloise, with a penchant for room service.
There are more “little extras”, too: children up to the age of 12 eat breakfast for free and all soft drinks and snacks in the minibar are complimentary (so you don’t have to limit those irresistible mini boxes of Pringles!). There is a treat of hot milk and homemade cookies delivered before bedtime, and children can slip into cosy mini bathrobes and slippers to make them feel really at home.
So that’s the younger guests all happily catered for, but what of the parents, you might ask? There is that old adage that a happy child equals a happy parent and, of course, there’s plenty to divert your children. Parents can also indulge in pampering at the renovated Athenaeum Spa, while your child enjoys the hotel’s playroom, the theme of which changes regularly inspired by the latest blockbuster and is kitted out with toys from Hamleys. Or maybe take up that kind babysitting offer and visit the whisky bar, or grab a bottle of champagne and some glasses (just ask the concierge to arrange) and head off to Green Park to create your own version of splendour in the grass ν
The Athenaeum, 116 Piccadilly, Mayfair, London W1J 7BJ. Tel: 020 7499 3464; www.athenaeumhotel.com