Junior travel contributor Zoey Goto decided to accept our challenge to find out! She checked into Lensbury hotel on the banks of the River Thames with her two children, aged four and ten, for an all-action weekend. Boasting impressive facilities including a rugby pitch used by the England squad, professional tennis courts and a water sports centre for messing around on boats, there’s quite literally never a dull moment at this riverside resort!
A Family Break at the Lensbury, Teddington: Check In
Arriving at the Lensbury resort, it’s hard to believe that you’re just 40 minutes from the bustle of central London. The first thing you’ll notice is that there’s just so much space – 25 acres of river fronted private gardens, to be precise.
Little ones can run free on the lawns, which lead down to Teddington Lock and the hotel’s thriving water sports centre, which is one of the main attractions here. Guests can book in for family kayaking, traditional rowing boats, laser boats, sailing and canoeing. During the holidays there’s also children’s kayaking, tennis and sports camps for non-hotel guests, supervised by the friendly staff.
Onsite you’ll also find a vast leisure centre, fresh from a multi-million pound refurbishment and offering a staggering 180 fitness classes a week, so don’t forget to pack your gym gear. In the main hotel there’s a crèche, Elemis spa, and 155 guest rooms. Our family room had two spacious double beds, en-suite bathroom with both a shower and bath and a small lounge area. It was clean and perfectly comfortable, but really the stars of the show at the Lensbury are the awesome sporting activities and the recently unveiled alfresco dining experience.
The Lensbury: Teepee Dining
Brand new for 2021, the Lensbury has set up a cluster of teepee tents to create the ultimate dining experience for families. Situated on the lawn overlooking the river, these gorgeous bell tents – decked out with bunting, snug blankets and a mini radio – bring all the festival vibes, minus the mud!
The family feasting menu is priced at £25 per adult or £15 per child for a two course meal, choosing from battered cod and chips, the Lensbury burger with skinny fries or a homemade stone baked pizza, followed by either a chocolate brownie or Eton mess. The teepees also include their own dedicated waiting staff, so you can sink back into the cushions and relax as your food is brought to the entrance of your tent. It’s a seriously fun way to spend an evening, and you don’t need to stay at the hotel to eat in the teepees – just book online or call the hotel (minimum four people and maximum eight per tent).
The Lensbury: Family Sporting Activities
The main draw of a stay at the Lensbury is the plethora of activities available for families. We decided to tip our toes in, by spending the afternoon on the river in a motorised boat. Admittedly, when we booked the activity I had assumed that a skipper would be driving, so was a little surprised when we arrived to be told that I was in fact in charge of the little boat!
But I soon found that being the captain rather than the passenger was far more entertaining. Thankfully, the rules of the river are simple and the boat can only his the dizzy speed of five miles an hour! We were soon tootling along the picturesque waterway to Hampton Court, waving at the passing boats and snacking on the crisps and juice that the hotel had included in our picnic hamper. It was a lovely reminder that you don’t need to travel to the coast for a waterborne adventure, as there’s plenty of fun to be had on the Thames.
The next morning we had booked in for a family kayaking session, where we cruised along the quiet backwaters. It was a peaceful way to spend an hour on a Sunday morning and worked well even for our youngest, who happily joined in with paddling and attempting to steer our kayak.
Next stop was the large indoor pool area, which includes a shallow pool that’s perfect for children who are learning to swim. There are also 22 tennis courts including a few toddler courts and an outdoor playground for children.
Rugby is a seriously big deal at the Lensbury as the hotel frequently plays host to the England team. Children can sign up for their three-day rugby camp, where they’ll get to play on the same pitches that the Lions practice on. In fact, we had timed our stay poorly as the elite team had apparently been staying in the hotel just a mere 24 hours prior to our arrival!
For a sporty minibreak within easy reach of the capital, the Lensbury delivered; game, set and match. The highlights of our visit had to be our lively boat trip along the Thames and the fabulous micro-festival meal in the teepees – both reasons why the Lensbury is well worth a visit for active families.
JUNIOR FACT FILE: The Lensbury, Surrey
The Lensbury tepee by the Thames dining experience: more information here
The Lensbury boating break package includes overnight accommodation, two-hour boat hire and breakfast, from £149.
The Lensbury great escape package includes two nights accommodation in a deluxe room, breakfast and a picnic, from £183.
BOOK HERE >>The Lensbury
** UPDATE FOR HALF-TERM 2021 **
The Lensbury, Surrey: There is a range of clubs and courses on offer over the half-term break (25th-29th October 2021) to keep children aged two and over entertained with everything from watersports to tennis to crafts. The activities are open to hotel guests and local visitors, so whether it’s a day visit or a week-long stay, there is something for everyone. With morning, afternoon, and full day options, the Kids Club for four- to 10 year-olds offers a variety of activities including crafts, games, swimming, and outdoor activities.
All activities and camps are led by qualified and experienced instructors and childcare professionals, meaning parents can relax and enjoy the resort knowing their children are in safe hands. Choose from selection of water sports courses or, for future Emma Raducanus there is a range of tennis camps, tailored for kids aged two and half upwards.
For the youngest players, aged two and a half to four, Tots Tennis Camp is an introduction to tennis through play, helping to develop physical and generic ball skills in a fun environment. Munchkins Tennis Camp, for five- and six-year-olds, will work on areas such as agility, coordination, balance, and social skills. Kids aged seven to nine can take to the court with a full or half day tennis camp; the perfect way for all abilities to learn and improve their game, these camps will include skill sessions, technique exercises and fun games. Full details of all the half term activity clubs and courses can be viewed here
>> Nightly room rates start from £145 for a Classic Double or £235 for a Deluxe Twin / Family Room, including breakfast.