CAPITAL PLACE TO STAY
LONDON Bridge is without doubt an iconic landmark. Most of us are introduced to the name via the nursery rhyme telling how it's falling down – probably based on the amount of rebuilding since it was originally built by the Romans in 43AD.
But it's certainly not falling down now.
London Bridge connects the borough of Southwark with the city and from it can be seen spectacular views of Tower Bridge as well as being close to a myriad of attractions – old and new.
And in its heart is the four star 138-roomed London Bridge Hotel just opposite London Bridge rail station and relatively easy to find off the Jubilee or Northern Line.
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The current building dates back to 1916 and during its life it was a telephone exchange during the Second World War.
The independent hotel opened its doors in 1998 during the redevelopment a host of Roman and medieval artefacts were discovered, many of which are on display at the Museum of London.
We headed up to the big smoke by train – advance fares meant I paid around £30 for myself and two children into Paddington – arriving at 11am.
Although the hotel had said check in at 2pm, when we arrived our neighbouring rooms were ready and we were able to dump our case and head into London via a pizza place for a hastily grabbed lunch.
Given it is London, there's plenty to do – our problem was trying to decide what.
The hotel is right next to the tube station, a stroll from pick-up points for the many sightseeing buses and close to a myriad of attractions including Tate Modern, Shakespeare's Globe, the London Dungeon, Clink Prison Museum and London Bridge Experience.
But really not far away from the shopping paradises of Oxford Street and Regent Street through to theatre land and the many musicals and plays showcased in the city.
After some debate we headed for Britain At War – last time we had been to London the queue for this had been round the block, this time we strolled straight in.
I wasn't sure what the girls would make of this but this was wartime London captured on film and recreated in a way children (and adults not around during the war) can get a small taster of what it was like.
We were able to sit in an Anderson shelter – although we could leave the enclosed tiny space when we wanted unlike those who really needed to use them; look at how many were crammed in to London tube stations, see the tiny bunk beds, the warning signs and the limited provisions.
Displays of fashion, toys for Christmas stockings and weddings were shown – and I was surprised and impressed when my eldest pulled out a notepad and paper to start jotting down information on evacuees for her history GCSE.
This was an exhibition which really brought wartime home for the girls – not least by the final exhibit, we walked in the dark through a bombed street complete with 'flames' and air wardens shouting.
After an educational trip, it was time to hit the shops – a short tube journey to Parliament Square and then a London bus ride to Trafalgar Square where we walked and window shopped until our stomachs told us it was time to eat. We had pre-booked a late meal at the hotel so after taking some time to freshen up, we headed for the hotel's Londinium restaurant.
There was plenty of choice in this silver service restaurant from a chicken wrap at £9.50 for the youngest, cod and chips at £13.50 for the teenager, both from the snack menu, and a rib-eye steak, celeriac and spinach mash with glazed carrots at £21 for me.
Starters, which included a delicious Parmesan basket – rocket, sun-dried tomatoes and red onion – at £7, from £6.50 to £9.50. Main courses ranged from £15 to £25.50 and desserts from £6.50 to £11.
After the many hours spent on our feet during the day we were too weary to head out again so enjoyed the room's LCD TV at bedtime in a very comfortable bed.
Each of the rooms boasted a wide range of satellite TV channels, mini bar, telephone, air-conditioning, hairdryer, iron and ironing board, duvet, tea and coffee making facilities and complimentary water. There's also 24-hour room service but we didn't feel the need to indulge.
A choice of full English breakfast or continental greeted us in the dining room the following morning which we thoroughly enjoyed before heading off to Paddington to catch the 11am train home.
A 24-hour trip at a delightful hotel which has all mod cons yet has history on its doorstep.