Browns’ Hotel in Mayfair was, back in my Conde Nast days, a regular post-work pitstop for a cocktail and catch up with girlfriends after a day at work. On more than one occasion, that one cocktail turned into five (or seven!?) and a bleary cab ride home. So it was odd and delightful, all at once, to be checking in (sober) to that same West London beauty with my husband and two girls in tow last weekend.
Discreet but extremely luxurious, Brown’s Hotel has been a home-from-home for many a big name over the years. Rudyard Kipling wrote The Jungle Book while staying there (my daughter was particularly taken by that fact) while Winston Churchlll, so legend goes, once said: “I don’t stay at hotels. I stay at Brown’s.” Lola wasn’t quite so blown away by that historical reference.
And so it was on a dark and cold London day we arrived at the warmth and cosy elegance of Browns’ for a night. And I really can’t recommend it highly enough, especially if you’re hitting the capital with your kids. At check-in, our handsome and extremely eloquent concierge George greeted all of us, including the kids (something parents know doesn’t happen often). Lola was given her own Brown’s “passport” to document her stay and, upon arriving in our beautiful Dover Suite, cookies adorned with the girls names were ready and waiting, as was a teddy called Albie, story books and DVDs. Lola, particularly, was made to feel very welcome (as were we thanks to our spoiling confines and the lovely bottle of white waiting on ice, which was particularly appreciated after the traffic jam we endured en route through Knightsbridge). The hotel’s new Families R Forte programme aims to make young guests feel just as welcome as their parents, though I’ve always found the family-friendly offerings of this particular hotel to be of the highest standard. We are Londoners ourselves but the hotel offers a fantastic Kids’ City Guide which, were we new to the place, would have proven very useful. Lola received her own check-in card and comments card so felt very much a part of things.
The Dover suite (which we stayed in) is just one such room that offers huge space for the entire family but also has the option of interconnecting with a neighbouring room if you want even more. Though we were sitting in the midst of Mayfair I was particularly taken by the immense sense of calm and quiet that resulted, I assume, thanks to some seriously good double glazing. Despite being a few floors above Dover Street we could have been in the middle of nowhere. It was that quiet and, given that we had a four month old with us, it was one of the first things I noticed.
The suite itself was divine. The attention to detail given to families was unrivalled. Firstly, we were met in the bathroom by a baby bath for Maya and a bevy of Child’s Farm and Burts Bee’s goodies for the girls. The hotel had gone as far as to source the right size of nappy for a baby of Maya’s age and, at the end of our bed, was a beautifully-made (all pink) cot for her to rest in; adjacent to that was a floor mat with toys perfect for her age. Lola had a fabulous bed of her own made up in our ridiculously large and very luxurious living room (complete with personalised television, sweeping writing desk and sofas more comfortable than those I enjoy in my own home). She had her own robe and slippers; Maya had her own hooded towelling poncho. Had we stayed for longer and required babysitting services that would have been no problem and, should you request one, the hotels provides a Kids In-Room Bar complete with healthy snacks and drinks.
Hix Restaurant downstairs was our dining spot for the night and, as a big fan of Mark Hix, I was particularly excited about our reservation. Being a Saturday night I was well aware, even though we ate early, that we were surrounded by couples on dates. Maya slept the entire way through dinner and Lola was immaculately behaved but I could sense the presence of a buggy raised eyebrows as we walked in. The staff, however, were so welcoming. Lola got a children’s menu that was lengthier and offered up healthier offerings than many I’ve encountered for children. She dined on mini Mark Hix steak burgers, while we shared a Porterhouse steak and a beautiful bottle of Chablis.
And the trip couldn’t have ended on a higher note because Lola spent Sunday morning in the stunning Brown’s hotel spa. In the basement of the building, it is an inner sanctum of calm and tranquility. Again, peaceful and beautifully designed, one feels more zen for just for stepping out of the spa lift and it’s as lovely for children as it is their parents. Lola lay on a warmed treatment bed while the lovely Pru gave her a mini “twinkle toes” pedicure over milk and cookies. (Manicures, facials and massages are also available for children and, though I didn’t hit the spa myself, I’ll definitely be back).
Teenagers are no less loved and, if you’re staying with children aged 13-16, they can enjoy everything from cocktail-making courses to their own specially designed spa treatments (and, yes, there are games consoles for the bedrooms, too). The concierge will also design itineraries across the city should you need them.
Lola floated back up to our suite, her sparkling purple toe nails out for all to see, and we had a fabulous breakfast in our room before (very reluctantly) checking out. What makes Brown’s such a fantastic choice for families is how easy they make everything. Lola was considered every single step of the way, as was her baby sister. I needed her nightdress thrown in a dryer at one point – that wasn’t a problem at all. Warm milk was brought to our room before she went to sleep and our car was taken by the valet on arrival so all we had to do was grab our bags and head inside. Because they provide so much for the children, we could pack light and, had I needed bottle warmers or sterilisers, they would have provided those, too. Discreet as Brown’s is, the levels of luxury, thought and service really are second to none. It’s long been a favourite of mine in London and, while that was once thanks to my love of the Donovan Bar, it’s now the experience I’ve had there as a parent.
With Families R Forte, children are divided into age groups. ‘RBabies’ is designed for children from newborn to three-years old, ‘RKids’ is designed for children aged four to 12 and ‘RTeens’ for teenagers aged 13 to 16, with entertainment and gifts throughout their stay. For more information click here.