It is unusual for one hotel to embody such paradoxes. Can you find a London hotel perfect for families that makes you feel like you are in the pages of Elle Décor? Can you wish for a location in the middle of everything but that is quiet and tucked away? You’re looking for the Ham Yard Hotel in the heart of Piccadilly Circus.
The Ham Yard is the ninth and largest for Firmdale Hotels, a husband and wife collaboration by Tim and Kit Kemp. They serve as incredible showrooms of leading designer Kit Kemp, and her spaces are examples of modern British eclectic style that’s fresh and airy—where art rules over antiques. She has just released a home line for Anthropologie that you will want to check out once you’re home to bring her bold colors and pattern play home with you.
The Ham Yard is adjacent to Piccadilly Circus but is within a cul-du-sac, so there is no car traffic in front of the hotel. Its exterior space is lit with tea lights, and even the pavement twinkles. The lobby is not grand in scale but has a cool vibe. The library is adjacent, and we enjoyed its “honesty bar” with coconut waters and energy drinks in addition to standard offerings like coffee, tea, and cocktails.
In front of the elevators is clock installation “A Millions Times” by Humans since 1982. Watch this video to see it in action because photographs don’t do it justice. It will be the smartest thing you see today. With conversation-starting pieces like this throughout, the Kemps have created the perfect early museum experience for your children. The Holly Frean poster of dog silhouettes in the elevator was my children’s favorite piece.
In addition to exposing your children to wonderful art, there are many unusual family perks at the Ham Yard Hotel, including a movie theatre and the most beautiful bowling alley you have ever seen. My kids loved engaging in both activities as much as I did. Among the more traditional conveniences, there are kids’ robes, milk and cookies, board games, and babysitting. To our astonishment, the hotel was able to secure a sitter for us on New Year’s Eve with a day’s notice, and just added it right to the room bill.
The rooms are each individually designed, making every return stay something novel. Our room was ample for a family of four without being a suite. We had a king bed plus a twin bed plus a full-sized sleeper sofa. The mattresses were great—even on the pull-out sofa, and the bedding was dreamy. The hotel also features another Kit Kemp creation, her own toiletries, Rik Rak. The room attendant heard me saying how nice the Rik Rak linen and pillow spray was during turndown service. When we returned to the room there was a bottle of it and a thank you note for staying at the hotel.
I usually prefer to use my own shampoo and lotion but I went ahead and used the Rik Rak products because they smelled that good and their quality was excellent. The bathroom was enormous, and I loved the huge bathtub and glass shower.
The gym was fantastic and had everything I could want: cardio machines, weights, mats for yoga, bars for stretching or Pilates, and bands. It was a hypoxic gym, which means compressors intentionally reduce oxygen levels in the room to ensure the body works harder in less time. There is a Soholistic spa on site, but I didn’t have time to enjoy it, and we didn’t see the roof terrace on top of hotel since it was winter.
We enjoyed the breakfast at the restaurant which had fresh vegetable juices and smoothies. The hotel was near a Whole Foods, and we found it easier to keep our children happy by making multiple runs for their favorite foods and snacks from home. Because the hotel is in the middle of the theatre district there are lots of restaurants nearby, and there are even shops within the hotel worth browsing like Caramel Baby & Child.
With our children aged 8 and 10, our trip highlights were the Tower of London, and the British Museum, and a meal at Maze by Gordon Ramsey. When we entered this elegant Mayfair restaurant, I was a little anxious because ours were the only children. Maze went above and beyond to treat our kids right. They offered them special drinks and menus and even let them prepare pastries in the kitchen. Our food was outstanding, especially the lobster dumplings and foie gras. The staff jumped through hoops to give us such an enjoyable and memorable family meal.
We loved the Ham Yard Hotel that offered us a perfect family vacation in London.