Family Hotel Review: Four Seasons Hotel London at Canary Wharf
It's one of the best cities in the world, but how does London measure up for a weekend away with the kids? DAD.info sent Yamin Khan and family on a mini city break to the luxury Four Seasons Hotel London at Canary Wharf to find out...
Yamin says: "Located on the bank of the River Thames, the Four Seasons Hotel London is a great base to explore the redeveloped Canary Wharf area and the City of London, or take a cruise to the historic Royal Borough of Greenwich.
The hotel goes a long way to cater for families at the weekends and during the school holidays, as well as welcoming business travellers during the week. I checked in on a Saturday afternoon with my wife, Neghet, daughter Sana (8) and one-year-old twin baby boys, Ibi and Isa.
Sana was immediately smitten, as she was handed a cuddly toy and an over-sized key, and invited to sample the delights of Hardys Original Sweetshop at the hotel's first Petite Pop-Up Shop: a treasure trove of retro sweet treats, housed in a former phone booth in the lobby. Leaving with a handful of gob-stoppers, lemon sherbets and flying saucers, Mum and Dad were pretty happy, too...
We made use of the hotel's valet parking service and drove to the hotel, and despite arriving an hour before check-in time, we were guided through the spacious lobby and shown straight to our top floor junior suite, with amazing views along the river. The staff had obviously taken great care and attention to ensure the twins' needs were taken into account. The list of baby extras in the room were a pleasant surprise: soft toys; night lights; baby bath; nappy bin; swim and normal nappies; baby toiletries; dummy; bottle warmer; empty fridge for baby food and milk and high chairs, as well as two cots and a roll-out bed for our daughter, and a kettle to make up the formula milk.
Neghet headed off to the River View Treatment Suite for a full-body massage, where an excellent masseuse called Olga expertly released the back and shoulder knots that come from carrying our twins during the day. Then, with some time to explore before dinner, we checked out Canary Wharf and Jubilee Place, just a five-minute stroll from the hotel. Good disabled access throughout the area meant that for once we had no problem wheeling our double-buggy, and the riverside shops and cafes were just right for whiling away a couple of hours with the kids.
The tuna sandwich from the room service menu and dinner in the hotel's modern Italian restaurant, Quadrato, were delicious. Neghet had tempura prawns while I had the prawn caesar salad to start, and we tucked into two mixed fish grills for mains. Sana was given an activity book and colouring pencils to keep her occupied while we ate, and the chef was even kind enough to blend food from the children's menu for the twins (grilled chicken with veg). The food was great, but the location could be better, as the dinner tables are layed out by the side of the lobby, which felt a little draughty and exposed. We would have preferred a more private, cosy atmosphere away from passers by, but on the plus side, it did mean that we saw the Arsenal football club team walk by as we were finishing dinner!
Back in the suite, our bed was wide and comfy, although we missed the excellent pillow menu offered by some of the other Four Season hotels. Being on the top floor of the 10-storey building meant we could hear the wind in the room, but it didn't disturb our sleep, and we all had a peaceful night.
The following morning, after a slightly limited choice of breakfast (no baked beans?!), I took Sana to the hotel pool, located in the nearby Virgin Active. The allocated swim slot for families was from 9am to 11am, but we could only use two lanes of the pool, so it did mean the family lanes were little busy.
Still, Sana enjoyed her splash, and after a quick change, we joined her mum and brothers to catch the River Bus from just outside the hotel to Greenwich Pier, a scenic 10-minute boat ride away.
Greenwich is the perfect spot to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon. We visited the Old Royal Naval College and National Maritime Museum, followed by a walk uphill to the Royal Observatory to see the Planetarium show, and a walk back down to eat and shop inside Greenwich Village market.
Although the hotel was quiet at the weekend (it's busier during the week with business travellers), it serves as a good place from which to explore this corner of London. And while perhaps not the best Four Seasons hotel we've visited, it's still a wonderfully family-friendly place to stay with fantastically helpful staff, and the service – as usual for the chain – is exemplary.
With Easter just around the corner and a tempting pop-up sweet shop to savour, perhaps it's time for a long-overdue London treat..."
Four Seasons Hotel London at Canary Wharf will be hosting an Easter Sunday Brunch from 12.30 to 3pm on April 5, including a golden egg hunt, arts and crafts workshop and activities for all the family, priced at £60 per adult and £30 per child.
Yamin Khan is a father and an Executive Vice President of Clinical Development at Pharm-Olam.