After an eventful start to our trip, we made it to London and got settled into the most charming little mews house that we would get to call home for the next 48 hours. I booked this 3 bedroom flat in Holland Park through One Fine Stay, and it was the perfect place for Chris and I, the kids, and my parents to use as our home base on our quick stop through London. This was the first time I had ever booked a vacation rental apartment, and it was honestly SO AMAZING. Having separate rooms for us and the kids, a kitchen, some common places to hang out once the kids had gone to bed (our little terrace was heavenly) – it just made everything so much easier (and more enjoyable for everyone). The customer service at One Fine Stay was also excellent – they were very professional and responsive and helped me with everything I needed prior to arrival (they stocked the fridge with stuff I needed for us and the kids, set up a crib for Arabella in the kids’ room, even had a high chair there for us along with a kids welcome pack (coloring set, teddy bear, etc.!). One of their reps met us at the flat to help us get settled, show us around, and make sure we had everything we needed. More views of our cute street below.
Whenever I take a redeye (even if I don’t sleep much like on this one) I try stay awake and active that first day as I feel it really helps my internal clock adjust to my new time zone. So we soon headed out for a walk in search of some badly needed coffee for mom and dad (I made sure I ordered the cup holder accessories for our new double travel stroller – lifesavers). By the time we had made it the 8 or so blocks to a coffee shop the kids were passed out, so we ordered some food to take with us into Holland Park so we could have a little picnic whenever they woke up. Holland Park is so lovely and great for kids. There are lots of playgrounds and big open grass areas for running around (Declan was obsessed with the Adventure Playground which had this cool zip line thing). There are beautiful Japanese gardens, a lovely rose garden, as well as some public grass tennis courts, along with other curiosities like “wild” peacocks that they let roam about the park! We set up our little picnic in the sun and enjoyed our food and iced coffees while the kids napped under the shade of a nearby tree. It was perfect. The kids woke up before too long and had a little lunch, Bella chased a poor unsuspecting peacock and roared at it like a lion (her go-to greeting these days), and we got in some quality playground time before heading back to the flat to meet my parents (who had just arrived on their flight from LA). We showed them all around the cute house and let them get settled in their room. A few pics of the house interior below and full property listing here.
Our room ⇓
The balcony was accessible from the 2 upstairs bedrooms (where the adults stayed) and had the best view of this charming little street. Declan was so excited to see his Poppy and CeCe and couldn’t wait to show them all over “our new house.” Haha – I had to break it to him that it wasn’t actually ours. I realized on this trip that he thought every place we stayed was ours when he declared at one point “Wow, we have a LOT of houses.” My mom gets the photo credit for this snap below of me and my lovebug before we headed out on another walk.
Originally I had had grand plans of taking everyone over to see Buckingham Palace, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, and walking across the Westminister Bridge for a ride on the London Eye, but with all the recent terrorist attacks (on bridges and touristy areas in particular), we decided we would just stay more local in our cute neighborhood. However, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take a cheesy photo in front of a red telephone booth when we stumbled upon one. There aren’t that many of them left around the city anymore!
At first Declan didn’t want to come in with me so I took a solo pic as I tried to explain to him that 20 years ago +/- if you wanted to call someone you had to find one of these, put money in it, and dial their phone number (that you either had to have memorized or written down somewhere) – he looked at me like I was bonkers. I suddenly felt so old – like when my parents told me about how they remembered the day television changed from black and white to color. I finally got him inside with me and then told him it was actually a secret elevator that would take us down to the Ministry of Magic, which freaked him out (hence, I’m holding him inside in the pic below). Not quite up to speed on Harry Potter . . . YET.
We walked back through Holland Park and I took my parents to see the rose garden which I knew they would love. Me and my mum. 🙂 ⇓
I just loved walking around this gorgeous neighborhood – truly one of my favorites in all of London. The houses, the big trees, all of it was so beautiful. We also lucked out and had the most perfect weather while we were there – not something to be taken for granted in this town.
The kids fell asleep in the stroller again – poor things had only gotten about 3-4 hours sleep on the redeye the night before so they definitely needed it.
The front of our little carriage house. ⇓
Sleepy muffins. 🙂
We headed out to an early dinner at a nearby restaurant called The Mitre which was great, and they were so accommodating re: the kids (who we left sleeping in the stroller next to the table until their food arrived 🙂 ). After a nice dinner we strolled home in the sunlight (sunset wasn’t until around 9:30pm!) and headed to bed early (for us, late for the kids).
The next day I had meetings for work in the morning and afternoon and then met up with everyone in nearby Notting Hill to visit some dear friends and their kids. We took a nice long walk through Notting Hill back home, and then while my parents handled feeding the kids dinner (best parents/grandparents/babysitters ever!), Chris and I were able to get cleaned up for dinner and enjoy a glass of wine on our terrace, which was something I had dreamed about doing ever since I booked this flat months ago. I was really starting to get used to this.
We then headed off to meet friends for dinner at Casa Cruz (amazing food) where we had the most lovely dinner on the upstairs terrace.
The next morning we were up early, got packed up, had breakfast, and hopped in a car to Heathrow. Arabella was uncharacteristically fussy for the last part of the drive and kept asking for an “uppie” to get out of her carseat. I understood why when, JUST as we were pulling up to the curb at Terminal 5 departures, she threw up everywhere. She was in a backwards facing carseat and I think maybe got a little carsick? Anyway, it was a bit of a disaster. Luckily we had all our bags/clothes with us and it was warm out, as I literally just stripped her down naked right on the curb and remembered my good friend’s advice that no matter what happens when you’re traveling with kids, just tackle the problem one wipe at a time. 🙂 So, many, many wipes later, we were in clean clothes, only faintly smelled of vomit, and were off to check in for our flight to Rome. I love you London and can’t wait to visit again soon!