Sometimes you get the opportunity to travel and you just have to take it! A few of weeks ago I booked the kids and myself tickets to Europe: First stop was London. We landed in Gatwick, Friday noon with Emirates. Going via Dubai is one of the options you have when travelling from/to Mauritius. It makes the travels a little longer than flying direct – but the rates can be good (and they were) so we took Emirates. And I have to say the service is just so much better than Air Mauritius or Air France – and the new generation of A380 is awesome and very comfortable even in economy. From the airport, we took the Gatwick Express to Victoria Station. It took 35 minutes and is pretty easy: the Gatwick express leaves from Terminal South, but there is a small train going between the terminals. I bought the tickets at the airport and you should ask the staff there what is the cheapest option (I ended up with a family travel card). You can also buy them online before, but I think that’s not very handy that way – from Gatwick I mean in case you are delayed or it takes a long time to get through customs, unless you just take an open ticket.
Where we stayed: W Leceister Square
A short taxi ride and we checked in at the W London, on Leicester Square. We used to go often to the W Seminyak in Bali – when we lived in Indonesia (it is one of my favourite hotels) and I have stayed and visited quite a few others in South East Asia – the W Leicester Square is very hip – many funny small W features here and there. It is very ‘W’ – there really is a big difference between the retreats and the city hotels and I think that esthaetics here were more important than actual functionality of the room, but hey! It is the W after all. The beds are comfy, the shower great and I just love their Bliss amenities! They are renovating the W Lounge at the moment so there is unfortunately not really anywhere to get a funky drink (there is a pop-up bar but let’s be honest, it’s not that much fun). We didn’t try their restaurant – Burger and Lobster – we went to have a look at the menu, and even though I am sure the food is good, the noise level was a bit too much for the kiddos (and their tired mother). Most of the service was great: at the front desk it was very good as were the doormen, recognizing us always as we came and went. The rooms are clean, I have the impression though that their corridors could need a good spring clean or maybe it’s just because they are very dark.
The kids were absolutely thrilled with the choice of Leicester Square as home base for a few days. It cannot be more central, however coming from my little island, well there are a lot of people on around Chinatown and Leicester Square over the week-end! Both kiddos absolutely loved the Lego Store that has opened on the Leceister Square, it is just ‘Awesome’, as well as the 4 floored M&Ms shop!
Where we ate during our 4 day stay in London
- My favourite of favourite restaurants in Chinatown is not actually Chinese, but Malay. We have been coming there for over a decade and even though they have expanded and it seems cleaner now, the food is as always awesome and it has a very good value for money: C&R – My favorite dish is Nasi Lemak! Price Tag: £8-10 for a main course. (4 Rupert Ct, London W1D 6DX).
- Sexy Fish is located on Berkeley Square in Mayfair, the address comes with a price tag obviously, but the food is great. An Asian restaurant with a focus on Japanese cuisine. If you are a whisky connoisseur, the late bar stocks the second largest Japanese whisky collection in the world. Count £12-20 for a starter and mains start at £20 to …a lot!
- Our favourite ‘every day’ Chinese restaurant is not in Chinatown, but on Baker Street: Royal China is our preferred Dim Sum house. There are a few across the city, but we have been coming here for ages and love it! The Royal China Club, also located on Baker Street has more refined dim sum and finner foods in general. Only problem at Royal China? We order too much and eat too much!! Price I don’t know because we don’t order like normal people! Dim Sum basket around £4, dish around £10 – special dishes much more.
- We usually have japanese food at the Japanese counter in Harrods… but really? it has just gone too expensive: £14 for 3 slices of salmon sashimi well I think it’s too much… specially when you travel with 2 kiddos who eat it like candy! So this time we went out of Harrods and had lunch at Cantinetta Teresa on Hans Road. Their pasta is great, the service so-and-so. Price for 4: £100 (no booze, just one small glass of white wine!) – might as well have eaten sushi at that price… or gone to the second floor of Harrods to hear the pizzaiolo singing opera (check it out!).
- So had we thought about it, we would have a pizza at Harrods – instead the kiddos had an ice cream at the Ice Cream Parlour. It is really worth it and their ice creams are a-ma-zing! – Price: ‘Harrods Price!’ – we always end up in Harrods, Kiddos 1 loves their ‘Harrods shop’, she literally studies every pencil, bag and teddy… I am happy because I get to spend time at their Christmas decorations department. I have been collecting their Christmas baubles for many years now (my first date back to 1991). Kitsch, I know!
- As we stayed on Leicester Square we ended up eating quite a few times in the area. On our last evening we went to Ichibuns! We had seen people queueing up over the week-end and wanted to see what it was about. It is a Japaneese ramen/burger joint, basically. But, are these burgers nice?! I had their ‘Hokkaido” burger” a double patty burger with blue cheese, red onions, white truffle oil and shiitake mushrooms – it was awesome – all a burger needs to be and it is Asian so of course there is chili sauce on the table and that just makes it perfect! Main dish around £10-12, Sides/starters: £4-6 – and great special beers to go with.
Kiddos 1 just loved going to Pret-à-Manger, so it became our daily coffee joint. Their coffees are actually not bad and they have lots of healthy snacks as well as things to munch on for small breaks with the kids (and there is nearly one every corner in London). Other stops included Selfridges food hall, the Japanese Center, the Cafe in the Crypt of St Martin-in-the-Fields.
One of my next posts will be about our walks around London: a visit to the National Gallery, a stroll in Green Park, Covent Garden and London Zoo…