We often stay at Holiday Inn Bloomsbury which is a great base for getting to the shopping meccas of Oxford Street and Covent Garden, and also has lots of fun things for children to do within a short walk. If you're heading to London this Christmas, here's our pick of the best things to do with small people, all within a short walking distance of a Bloomsbury base.
The British Museum
I lived across the road from this glorious institution in the heart of Bloomsbury for several years and love its huge range of artefacts, fantastic exhibitions, and airy spaciousness. Recently it has adopted a real child-friendly approach with activity trail packs and backpacks for hire during weekends and holidays. Our favourite exhibits are the fascinating mummies. Free entry
Russell Square and the University of London
Luckily, the girls have inherited my love of a good wander, so we take a walk round and look at the architecture, sit in one of the leafy squares, reminisce about my time at UCL, and stop for a snack or lunch at the lovely cafe in Russell Square, or take up a people-spotting pavement spot at an Italian restaurant in Southampton Row. One of the best ways to explore a place is to get a bit lost after all, so have a good amble!
The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology
Part of University College London, the Petrie Museum houses an estimated 80,000 objects, making it one of the greatest collections of Egyptian and Sudanese archaeology in the world. The artefacts do a brilliant job of illustrating what life in the Nile Valley was like, all the way from prehistory through to the time of the pharaohs. There are also items from the Ptolemaic, Roman, Coptic and Islamic periods. The Museum might be a little dry for some children's tastes as it doesn't have all the bells and whistles stuff of the big museums, but if your child is interested in Archaeology and Ancient Egypt, this is a fantastic collection. Open Tuesday to Saturday 1-5pm, free entry
This brilliant seven acre playground and park for children provides a cornucopia of fun activities, with a great playground, huge sandpit, an adventure playground for older kids, and a cute city farm with goats, chickens and rabbits. Ride-on toys are sometimes available for young explorers to make the most of the enormous site. In such a natural setting, it's hard to believe busy London streets are a stone's throw away. It is a fitting memorial to the Thomas Coram's Foundling Hospital which occupied the site from 1747. Free entry, adults only admitted if accompanying a child under 16
London Transport Museum
A short walk down Drury Lane to Covent Garden and you'll find lots of lunch options, and the amazing Transport Museum. Full of buses, trams and trains, this hands-on museum is full of fun exhibits that the children can swarm over and explore, as well as signs, models, videos, posters and more. Don't miss the chance to drive a Tube train! Entry for adults is £13.50 and valid for 1 year; under 16s are free
Wander through a maze of narrow streets via the lovely Seven Dials and you will reach the bottom of the Charing Cross Road and Trafalgar Square. With over 2300 paintings, there is certainly something for everyone at the Square's famous gallery, and it is a brilliant introduction to art for young children. We tend to visit for bitesize chunks, but always visit Van Gogh's Sunflowers as they are Lara's favourite. Free tours and kid-friendly audio tours are available, or you can just wander and absorb. Make sure you take pencils and sketchpads for your budding artists too. The sister National Portrait Gallery next door is fab too, with everyone from Henry VIII to David Beckham immortalised. Free entry
Pollock's Toy Museum
Crammed into two townhouses on a pretty Bloomsbury side street, this charming museum boasts a large and diverse range of toys from all over the world. The winding staircases reveal a nostalgic treasury of battered and beloved teddies, dolls, dolls' houses, tin toys, folk toys, a Victorian nursery, and even a 4000-year-old Egyptian clay mouse. Live toy theatre performances take place during school holidays. Children will love the fun toy shop on the ground floor. £6 for adults, £3 for children, under 3s are free
Further afield you will find many more top attractions, ideal for young children. Some of our favourites include the Natural History Museum, the South Bank, Big Ben and Westminster Abbey, Tate Modern, Hyde Park, and the London Eye. Dependent on how far those little legs can be persuaded to walk, you will need to use public transport for most of these.