“This is the best thing ever, in my WHOLE life!” shouts my daughter (she is 3 going on 13; loves a superlative) from inside a pretty, patterned DockATot tipi. Within minutes of arriving in the Dover Suite at Brown’s hotel in Mayfair, she set up camp in the tipi, inseparable from her new cuddly toy monkey and the softest bunny with her name embroidered onto its ear. She waggles it out of the tipi opening. “Do we get to KEEP them?” Yes, you do, and so does your brother (who is six).
They are radiating the kind of total, wide-eyed joy that is equally joyful for my husband and I to witness. This is kid heaven. There are mini hotel dressing gowns and slippers. ‘Handwritten’ cards from Alby the hotel monkey. Little red ‘passports’ to record their adventures. Age-suited DVDs, books and games. Jammy shortbread biscuits with their names iced in chocolate. My son stretches out on his bed and declares, in a thoroughly spoilt and very satisfied manner: “I feel like a king”. Uh oh. Will they expect every hotel stay from now on to be like this?!
One of the big USPs of staying in a Rocco Forte hotel, of which Brown’s is one, is its family focus; Sir Rocco leads from the top with his sister Olga Polizzi (who has designed all the Brown’s rooms) and his children Lydia, Irene and Charles – so it makes perfect sense to me that they ensure families are made to feel so welcome. After an hour of exploring Brown’s epic family suite set-up (and with repeated assurances that we WILL be coming back in plenty of time to try out the huge bathtubs – our suite has two), Alby’s welcome pack inspires a walk to Buckingham Palace through Green Park.
As the children race around chasing pigeons, two new cuddly toys apiece in their Brown’s canvas drawstring backpacks, I gaze up. The central London park is notable for having no lakes or buildings, and only minimal flowers; taking centre stage are hundreds of colossal trees, from the lofty London plane trees to the rarer silver limes and black poplar. Oh, the stories they could tell. Gnarly, towering and majestic, these trees create a green canopy of shade across the 40-acre site. The guards change as we arrive at the Palace – children transfixed briefly, before the inevitable ‘Why do they wear big furry hats when it’s so hot?’ – and we walk (us)/dash (them) back to Brown’s in time for tea.
The kids’ afternoon tea is Jungle Book themed – this seems to apply not to the food itself but to the printed menu and its colouring-in page. It is inspired, I assume, by Alby the monkey, ‘the Jungle VIP’, and is served in the smart Charlie’s restaurant. At 4.30pm, it’s full of kids so my two’s excited voices – and the four cuddly toys that continue to travel everywhere with us – don’t matter one jot. I suggest you order nothing for yourself and get ready to tuck in as a veritable feast (per child) is served: nine sandwiches, four scones, seven cakes or sweet treats, four biscuits and a slice of cake. My children barely seem to make a dent, even though they love the sandwiches, the scones (especially the cream), the biscuits, and everything with chocolate on or in it.
Next: the suite life. This is a significant upgrade from Friday afternoon’s usual routine. My husband and I drink champagne while the children play hide and seek. The Dover Suite is ideal for it: so many capacious curtains, a walk-in wardrobe, the tipi… the list goes on.
Bath time, after a fair few questions about the bidet, is also way more fun than at home, I’m told. Who knew a shower cap could entertain a child for 45 minutes? Once they are tucked in, new cuddly toys alongside them, we order room service and kick back. It’s delicious and we finish our champagne, watch some Netflix and turn our lights out as the revellers start to arrive at Bagatelle, the ‘clubstaurant’ next door which we can see from our windows, quite happy to be ensconced in Brown’s and having an earlier night than them.
The benefit to kids being up with the sun? (Approx. 5.35am – Brown’s, might you consider black-out shutters?) There’s time for a pot of tea, another game of hide and seek, fruit from a heaving bowl and CBeebies in our king-size bed, all before being the first into breakfast at 7am. This, effectively a private sitting as no other guest makes an appearance, is given full marks by us all. Our son opts for Belgian waffles: “These are AMAZING. 10/10 – Daddy, sorry, but yours are 9/10.” Pancakes come with four different kinds of berries, to my daughter’s delight, and my vegetarian full English is exactly as I hope it would be – filling, perfectly cooked and generously portioned. The staff are as charming as ever, engaging with our children about the stuffed bunnies sitting alongside them and their stay at the hotel so far.
Before we leave, there’s time for another walk (this time to St James’s Park) and a kids’ bath, which my husband supervises while I wander around the Dover Suite, collecting our possessions which seem to have multiplied overnight and appreciating its elegant décor; classic marble bathrooms, mirrored wardrobes, botanical wallpaper, an ornate fireplace and – one contemporary touch – a couple of framed photographs of plant close-ups.
We are ushered into our car with water bottles for the journey and Brown’s tins of boiled sweets (a very old-school English treat; enjoyed by me and my husband, swiftly hidden from small mouths and milk teeth) by a smiling member of staff and, as we pull away, my son pipes up from the back seat. “So when are we going to stay at Brown’s again, Mummy?”
From £800 per night, based on two people sharing a double room and including breakfast, visit roccofortehotels.com