Luxury Family Holidays Handpicked for Parents

Family-friendly restaurants

Culinary Backstreets got its start in 2009 as the blog Istanbul Eats, founded by Ansel Mullins and Yigal Schleifer. Taking on its present form in 2012, it has expanded beyond Istanbul and into several other cities worldwide. In Istanbul and elsewhere, the goal is always the same: to introduce travelers and locals to a city’s best unknown traditional eateries and to celebrate the food makers keeping these places alive. Yigal Schleifer is Culinary Backstreet’s Editor-in-chief and chats to about this fantastic, family-friendly business.

Culinary Backstreets Kostas

So what exactly is Culinary Backstreets’ Eatinerary?

The Eatinerary is a food-focused custom travel itinerary that we developed after realizing two important things: firstly, finding great local and authentic places to eat and avoiding tourist traps is one of the most stressful parts of travel and, secondly, more and more people now are structuring their travel days around where they eat, making the search for those great food spots all the more important (and, again, stressful). So, we decided to make it easier for travelers by crafting for them an itinerary that guides them to all those vacation-defining, special places that they might not have found on their own. The final product is a PDF document that can be either printed out or used on a mobile device that serves as an indispensible travel companion.

How does is work?

The Eatinerary is created using a client’s taste and Culinary Backstreets’ on-the-ground expertise. To get started, someone goes to our site and fills out the online Eatinerary survey, which asks them a series of questions that gives us a good sense of how and what they like to eat and what particular cravings they may have. We then send that survey to one of our local correspondents who gets to work on creating the guide. Depending on the profile, we’ll send you to the best backstreet dive bar, the busiest lunchtime joint or a romantic place to impress your beloved. We’ll also advise you on eating with kids, the best options for vegetarians or what to avoid if you’re on a particular diet. And, whether it’s someone’s first or fiftieth time in a particular city, we’ll be sure to send them only to the spots that we’ve tried and tested ourselves.

Culinary Backstreets steamed buns

How can travelling families use the Eatinerary?

This service is really ideal for families, who have an even harder time when it comes to finding those perfect places to eat while travelling. As we all know, travelling with kids can often limit our options for what to do and where to go to eat, but we don’t think family travel should mean the end of eating really well. With our Eatinerary, for example, we’ve directed families to the best local spots in Barcelona that also serve dinner before bedtime, exceptional kebab joints in Istanbul that just happen to have kid-friendly museums nearby and to friendly Shanghai noodle houses where the staff will happily listen to your request to hold the spicy chili oil. Of course, with the Eatinerary we can also send a family to a city’s best traditional ice cream spots or its top chocolate makers, places that will leave the kids giddy with delight. We see our job as making sure our clients – and that includes the little ones – have the gastronomic holiday of a lifetime.

Culinary Backstreets child eating

Can you tell us a bit more about what else Culinary Backstreets offers?

The global guide to local eats, Culinary Backstreets covers the authentic food scene and offers small group culinary walks in several cities around the world. We got our start in 2009 as Istanbul Eats, a blog devoted to exploring Istanbul’s best local eateries, and soon after started offering food walks that took visitors off the typical tourist map and into neighborhoods and little restaurants they typically wouldn’t have gone to. In 2012, we expanded beyond Turkey, bringing our model of telling the story of a city through its food and the people who make it, to several other locations worldwide. Today, we are working in nine different cities and offer several different walks in each place we work in. Along with our reviews, walks and Eatineraries, we also help people explore our cities with guidebooks and an app that we’ve developed.

Where are you currently offering your Eatinerary service?

Eatineraries are available in every city that Culinary Backstreets works in, which currently include Athens, Barcelona, Istanbul, Lisbon, Mexico City, Rio, Shanghai, Tbilisi and Tokyo. But, we are always in the process of adding more cities to our roster, so stay tuned!

The Lanesborough tea

Like many of you, my television is awash today with images of Her Majesty the Queen, adorned as she so often is in peony pinks and sensational, headline-grabbing hats. But, while you may be neither willing or able to hop flights quite as often as she has done in her decades on her throne, the new Pink Princess Tea at the Lanesborough Hotel will delight princesses and queens of any age.

The Lanesborough Hotel

The Lanesborough Hotel, if you aren’t familiar with it, sits adjacent to Number 1 London on the edge of Hyde Park and punctuates the area surrounding Buckingham Palace itself. A stunning, seriously luxurious property that we highly recommend for stays in London, it’s also a gorgeous and often lesser thought of afternoon option in the capital. And now, to celebrate Princess Charlotte of Cambridge’s first birthday in May and Her Majesty The Queen’s 90th birthday, The Lanesborough is launching a Pink Princess Afternoon Tea. The hotel’s award-winning Head Pastry Chef Nicolas Rouzaud has personally created the tea to include entirely pink patisseries that are offset by glimmers of gold, white and silver decorations, all topped with delicately iced butterflies, flowers and petals. Served in the hotel’s Regency period dining room,  Céleste, (May 1st to June 12th 2016), this is a gorgeous way to make memories with your own little lady (the mass of pink will no doubt delight) and celebrate the Queen’s next decade.

The Lanesborough drawing room

The Lanesborough exterior

And aside from the pink aesthetic, there is plenty to please adults, too. Traditional fresh baked scones with jam and clotted Devonshire cream will be served alongside finger sandwiches and a choice of 38 teas (that include Rose of the Orient, White Rose and White Peony infusions presented by The Lanesborough’s in-house tea sommelier). This is the quintessential Englishe tea served in the most beautiful of surroundings, all to be finished off with either the ‘Flower Dome’ rhubarb cheesecake, strawberry mousse ‘Rocher’ or cherry cream éclair and raspberry sablé biscuit. We could finish up with puns about this being fit for a Queen, but would rather not. We just recommend you get booked and check it out for yourselves. If you’ve never had the joy of experiencing the Lanesborough Hotel, this is the perfect excuse. And, if you have, you’ll know why we are such big fans.

Available May 1st to June 12th 2016 The Lanesborough’s Pink Princess Afternoon Tea will cost from £48 per person or £62 per person with a glass of Champagne Taittinger.

No matter where you are in the world, there are some wonderful options for family-friendly eateries. 


The Standard Grill

The Standard Grill bar

Spliced beneath the High Line in the Meatpacking District and a moments walk from Chelsea market, this eatery at the Standard hotel is a sanctum for glamorous diners and their little ones.  The Standard Grill doesn’t shout out as being family-friendly, but it very much is. High chairs materialize at a moment’s notice and, although there’s not a kid’s menu, we’ve never known the likes of buttermilk pancakes with Nutella and cheeseburgers with fries to get a thumb’s down. The dining space is vast, spread between a cosy, banqueted inner room, a sun-soaked bar area, and a patio that’s a people-watching gem. In winter, the hotel sets up a divine mini ice skating rink and parents who don’t have their ice legs can watch, hot chocolate in hand, on any of the complimentary blankets. On warmer days, take the steps up to the High Line for an ice-cream sandwich.


Verdi, The Royal Albert Hall

Verdi Restaurant mozzarella bar

Verdi is located in The Royal Albert Hall, one of London’s show-stopping, no-holds-barred beauties. This gorgeous eatery offers up fantastic family-style lunches on Saturdays all accompanied by live blues and jazz performances. There is a wonderful Sunday Brunch series on selected weekends, seeing beautiful family-friendly food accompanied by live jazz music. Little ones will adore the stone-baked pizzas, all of which are made from fine Italian Caputo flour. Perfect pasta is served too – we’re talking cannelloni al cinghiale, which is filled with wild boar meat or tagliatelle all salsicci, which uses Napoli sausages for its meatballs.

Verdi Restaurant mozza


Cafe Drouant

Cafe Drouant Paris dish

Cafe Drouant is a historic restaurant, which offers young diners a haute-cuisine experience with an inexpensive kid’s menu that includes three child-sized courses and even an alcohol-free aperitif.  Meanwhile, celebrated chef Antoine Westermann will regale adult diners with his widely acclaimed hors d’oeuvres and unique take on classic French cuisine. The set lunch menu is a particularly good option and this will delight both adults and children, alike.


La Pergola, The Rome Cavalieri Hotel

La Pergola restaurant dining area

Though it’s part of the Hotel Cavalierri, we recommend La Pergola even if you stay elsewhere (but not with tiny children as it leans on the formal side, despite being family-friendly). The city’s only 3 Michelin Star restaurant has Heinz Beck running the kitchen and, for somewhere with such prestigious accolades, the price of dinner is isn’t as steep as one would expect. As you are likely to go with your little ones we suggest arriving on the earlier side as, though children are welcome, this is as fine dining as you would expect from a three-starred gastronomic leader.To get a proper idea of just what Beck is capable of creating, we highly recommend the tasting menu. Unsurprisingly, the wine list has been crafted to perfection and, if you are there during warmer months, dinner has to be enjoyed on the roof terrace with its panoramic views across Rome. If you can get a babysitter, treat yourselves to a dinner date here.


Tongue & Cheek

Tongue and Cheek Photo Credit David Durbak

Claiming to serve “ingredient-driven American fare,” Tongue & Cheek’s owner and chef Jamie DeRosa has tried-and-tested all the children’s menu items on his own daughter. Served with crayons to occupy little ones, there are delectable classics like mini burgers and grilled cheese for bigger kids, or vegetable purees and fresh fruit for babies. The adult menu is mouthwatering: trout, braised beef and even grouper cheeks can be found.


Bitton Cafe & Bistro

Bitton Cafe and Bistro table

This gourmet café and bistro has become a hit with Sydney families thanks to its superb French-Australian inspired menu and well-stocked children’s playroom. The café serves breakfast all day, including delicious French crêpes with seasonal fruit and incredible “one pan” bacon and eggs, while lunch includes favourites such as the spicy chicken and leek pie and a range of sandwiches. The Bistro, meanwhile, is open for dinner from 5.30pm (Wednesday to Saturday,) serving a range of elegant, grown-up dishes including beef carpaccio and quail saltimbocca, but served on the earlier side which is perfect if dining out with little ones. In the great Aussie ‘BYO’ tradition, you can even bring your own bottle of wine on Wednesday and Thursday evenings. At the rear of the restaurant sits a sun-filled courtyard and a fantastic playroom for the kids, featuring a floor-to-ceiling chalkboard and countless toys. With a well-crafted children’s menu and ample high chairs and baby changing facilities, this is a surefire family favourite. There’s even a park right across the street.

The Royal Albert Hall is one of those show-stopping, no-holds-barred beauties that defines the iconic and truly beautiful architecture of London. The heartbeat of music in central London, simply walking through the round edges into this amazing music hall is an experience in and of itself. And now, even if your little ones are too young for the Proms, you can introduce them to the Royal Albert Hall in all its Grade I listed glory by dining at Verdi.

Verdi Restaurant mozzarella bar

I recently had a glorious evening there, dining and drinking (Mama had a night off, obviously) in the beautifully-curated and newly-opened Verdi restaurant. What was once Café Consort is now a bevy of stunning Italian eats, buttery brown leather seating, a striking turquoise tiled Mozzarella bar (my personal favourite) and all with the backdrop of the Royal Albert Hall.

Weekend family brunches

This gorgeous eatery offers up fantastic family-style lunches on Saturdays all accompanied by live blues and jazz performances. There is a wonderful Sunday Brunch series on selected weekends, seeing beautiful family-friendly food accompanied by live jazz music. Parents: you’ll do well to kick the weekend off with a Campari Breakfast Martini – a beautiful hangover-healer made from Bombay Sapphire, Earl Grey tea, Campari and a scoop of homemade orange marmalade.

Little ones will adore the stone-baked pizzas, all of which are made from fine Italian Caputo flour. Toppings of porcini, parmesan reggiano, rocket, truffle oil and mozzarella abound, while more adventurous young eaters may try the pizzas with king prawns, asparagus, mushrooms, tomato and mozzarella. Perfect pasta is served too – we’re talking cannelloni al cinghiale, which is filled with wild boar meat or tagliatelle all salsicci, which uses Napoli sausages for its meatballs.

Verdi Restaurant Verdi Blanca pizza

The mozzarella bar menu, which I personally adored, showcases mozzarella di bufala and delicately creamy burratta, which I ordered with fresh vegetables and prosciutto crudo. Dessert-lovers both big and small won’t be dissapointed either: tiramisu, torta ai limoni di Amalfi, gorgeous gelato in a range of flavours and super-strong affogato will delight. Your children will love the offerings of the grown-up menu, but if they are on the small side, there is an excellent children’s menu, too.

And if you do treat yourself to a cocktail and a cab home, the Lake Garda cocktail is fabulous. A perfect blend of gin, elderflower, lemon and tonic, it was the reason I suffered for a night out sans famille. Delightful at the time and enjoyed in such stunning surroundings, Verdi is set to become a firm favourite in our household both for family meals in central London and evenings out with friends.

Verdi Restaurant seating

The Royal Albert Hall’s family days  

If you want more than one reason to visit Verdi this summer, there are some wonderful family events happening in the coming months. On August 19th and 20th, The Royal Albert Hall is doing a two day program to introduce children to music from around the world. Children aged between 5 and 11 years of age will meet performers from France to India, and take part in a wonderful and very exciting creative art workshop.

Verdi Restaurant ice cream

And with the upcoming Proms, this year sees the first ever CBeebies Prom. On Sunday July 27th from 11am, children will get the chance to see perfornances by some of their favourite CBeebies characters with a backdrop of music by the BBC Philharmonic. What better way to introduce the next generation of classical music fans to The Proms before lunch upstairs at Verdi? We’re booked already…..

For other fabulous things to do in and around London this summer, click here.

For other ideas on where to eat, stay and play in and around London, click here.



What do you get if you mix a centre-of-town London location, inviting interiors, a restaurant headed by the sensational Jason Atherton and fun, family-friendly touches such as in-room tent beds for kids? The London Edition hotel, of course.

Family-friendly London Edition

This Marriot-owned property is in the heart of central London and beautifully blends classic architecture typical of Fitzrovia, with clean and crisp, but always luxurious, interior touches. Yet, despite being an obvious choice for those wanting to stay for corporate functions (there are rooms available specifically for such purposes), housing a restaurant headed by one of the country’s leading Michelin-starred chefs and a setting a stone’s throw from hedonistic Soho, the London Edition is surprisingly family-friendly. If you’re travelling en famille, the lofts and loft suites are spacious and perfect for guests of all ages. Both have complimentary connecting rooms (it’s rare not to pay for the privilege of a little privacy) and the hotel’s “Big Kid, Little Kid” treats include a children’s guide to London, a movie night and a London inspired in-room tent, which all children will adore.

London Edition Hotel Milk tray


Jason Atherton and Berners Tavern

Having been lucky enough to eat at Pollen Street Social recently, I can absolutely testify to the brilliance that is the food of Jason Atherton. The food is knock-out fabulous, but the atmosphere (as is the case with all his restaurants) is unstuffy, warm and not at all formal. It is sophisticated, absolutely, but it isn’t pretentious. Berners Tavern is no exception. The seasonal, British menu is ideal for families. There is the classic Sunday roast made with the finest Devonshire Ruby Red beef, and best of all, its extremely well designed for those with little children. Whether intentional or not, the front of the restaurant has a very informal Cafe air to it, thanks to the tub chairs that fringe each table, while the main dining area is defined by banquette seats which, as every parent of a toddler knows, makes ideal seating for those with tots.


London Edition Hotel bed



So whether you’re a Londoner already and want to check out the new smash hit that is Berners Tavern or you’re visiting London for the first time and stay at the London Edition, the hotel is perfectly located for a family day out. Local attractions include London Zoo, an array of gorgeous parks (in particular Hyde Park and Regent’s Park), and the fantastic shopping that comes with staying in central London. At the end of long day’s exploration, the hotel’s Punch Room is a top spot for much-needed cocktails (or fruit juice for little ones) and that sensational bedroom beckons only steps away. And at the time of going live, the restaurant still had availability for breakfast, lunch and dinner this coming Bank Holiday Monday.


London Edition tray


**In-room children’s tent is suitable for ages 3 – 8 years only.

For more information visit the hotel’s website here.