Getting to London From Gatwick
We caught a 10am National Rail train from Gatwick to London on Saturday morning. It cost around £8 each (AUD$15), which is a bit of a saving on the Gatwick Express train. We endured just one train change to get to Victoria Station and then made our way through the massive yet severely-lacking-personal-space train station. I had been here many times before. My first was in 2001 when I lived in London, my second was in 2007 on a round-the-world trip with my husband. The station was extremely crowded and noisy, a busy meeting place of buzzing human traffic with automated ticket machines and clanking trains rolling to and fro in all directions.
Pre-paid SIM Cards in London
Mobile internet access is an absolute necessity for us, second only to air. A mobile SIM card pop-up booth drew our attention and we stopped to acquire a prepaid SIM. 2x SIM cards for £10 (AUD$17.20), followed by an extra £5 credit each for unlimited data and unlimited calls to each other. That’s roughly AUD$35. A small price for peace of mind.
Victoria Station & the London Taxi
After checking all was working we made our way through the rest of the station, keeping an eye on children while carting our entire luggage, and following the black line on the ground which conveniently directed us where to go – the far side of the complex to find the fabled taxi stand. We had contemplated courageously tubing (underground subway train line) to our hotel, but with all our luggage we figured a short taxi would be our quickest, and sanest, option. Plus, I remembered from our last trip how ghastly the underground stations can be with all the endless sea of stairs and inconceivable lack of lift facilities.
The black taxis in London are surprisingly spacious and we managed to get all our bags, pram and 4 people squished into the iconic cab. It wasn’t long before it was pulling into Half Moon street in the classy monopoly board suburb of Mayfair.
Mayfair Luxury Hotel
Flemings Mayfair presented a suspenseful exterior, giving nothing away. An unassuming entrance, with only the tuxedoed doorman giving away the plush interior that would be awaiting us.
Visualize Alice in Wonderland or Willy Wonka – a world of pure imagination – and you might find lounging around in the restaurants and bar at Flemings Mayfair a close comparison. The first room to the left of the lobby was the perfect place to wait for our room, where my son fell asleep and I got a feast for the eyes.
The hotel was founded in 1851 and now occupies 6 interconnecting Georgian townhouses. The hotel offers 129 individually designed rooms and apartments, and The Townhouse, a unique 7 bedroom private residence in the heart of Mayfair.
Not only do they have a beautiful hotel, but the concierge team were simply fabulous offering helpful answers to our many questions about London and also conveniently storing our pram for easy access each time we ventured onto the streets.
In London space is a luxury so staying in a 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom apartment complete with fully equipped kitchen and living room can be considered royalty. And yes, that is what we were offered at Flemings Mayfair. After a pleasant check-in with the friendly reception staff, it was a short walk through the historic corridors of the hotel and up the library-inspired elevator to our room at number 706. Let’s take a virtual walk through:
The kids were especially thrilled with their slippers, storybooks and presents found neatly piled on their bed along with an invite to call room service for irresistibly sounding cookies and hot chocolate. The children’s restaurant menu was also a fantastic touch with cute frog mascot.
The hotel room would have been perfect for a long stay in London. The only shortcoming we experienced was the Internet. It was very patchy – falling in and out and quite slow when it did work. We did ask reception and concierge several times if there were any problems and were told it was working fine.
Unfortunately for us it was not, which for a luxury hotel in central London I certainly did expect more. We received speeds up to 15Mb/sec in a small budget hotel in Gatwick and 40MB/sec in Stansted airport, while we got a very sporadic 1-2Mb/sec here. But with our unlimited data plan on the SIM cards (albeit without tethering), we relied more on our phones to stay in touch with the outside world.
Note: Management have informed us that Flemings are upgrading their internet connectivity next year so this will solve the only small problem we had. I mean the hotel was founded in 1851 so I can imagine the latest technology certainly has it's restraints.
Conveniently, Flemings Mayfair also features an inconspicuous back door into the hotel, which actually comes in quite handy when you are running from tube to hotel in pouring London rain.
The Grill Restaurant
Downstairs is main event - The Grill. This is where a fresh continental buffet is setup for breakfast with an option for a tasty hot breakfast: silky smooth buttermilk pancakes drizzled in syrup, full English breakfast with sausages and bacon, eggs benedict cooked perfectly and more.
Also in The Grill we had the opportunity to indulge in a London lunch fit for a king (and queen). We were presented with complimentary appetizers of salmon mousse, Rockford biscuits and mini spring rolls. The kids devoured the spring rolls and while not a salmon lover I actually enjoyed the salmon mousse.
After our appetizer I decided to try something different and went with a duck tain. It was a cold jelly-like substance to spread on crispy focaccia toast. Despite it’s strange appearance and texture, it actually really was delicious.
For our mains Josh ordered a perfectly cooked steak, as you would expect from a first class restaurant, while I indulged in a hearty lamb roast with garlic mash. To wash them down we sipped fruity cocktails – The Istanbul & The Sydney.
After my mains I felt as full as underground train at peak time, but Josh is never too full for dessert, especially when crème brulee is on the books. He found the crème brulee a little more scrambled egg than smooth, creamy dessert. It’s safe to say his steak was in his dreams that night rather than the brulee.
The kids had a choice from children’s menu filled with delicious alternatives. Caius chose pumpkin soup and puff pastry pizza. The first pizza came out uncooked and soggy, but was very quickly rectified by staff with a friendly and efficient manner. Mia ordered garlic bread and perfectly cooked pasta. They both ate the icing off their cupcakes for dessert, but left the carrot cake behind. I’m sure you did that when you were a kid.
The private dining areas of the restaurant are creatively designed, featuring modern décor and lighting and would be an ideal spot for birthday celebration or special event. Of course the location makes it an easy place to find, being just a short stroll from Green Park underground.
If you’ve ever played Monopoly and wondered what it would be like living in one of those little plastic red hotels, trust me when I say it’s even better than imagined. A fabulous location, a inspired interior and space that can only be described as luscious luxury in Central London. I have to admit I only wish we could have spent 2 weeks instead of 2 nights at the Flemings Mayfair.
Family rooms from £245 (excl. VAT) include:
- Under 12s dine for free from the Fleming Frog kids menu
- An exclusive signed copy of the Fleming Frog book
- Hot chocolate & cookies at bed time (Mia got throughly spoiled with this as a finale to our princess day)
- Goodies on arrival including froggy shampoo
- Children's slippers and bathrobe