The Rubens at the Palace is what it says on the tin; four star luxury accommodation, closer to Buckingham Palace than any other London hotel. The Goring might have the Middleton stamp of approval, but what this hotel has is location, location, location.
The family and Twitter friendly hotel
On the way down to London I tweet that we are looking forward to our stay at The Rubens at the Palace. I add that my daughter wonders if The Queen wears swimming goggles when she takes a dip in the royal pool. Hotel staff tweet back that it’s their sole mission to find out. When we arrive, there is a picture of Her Majesty in 3D glasses waiting for us at reception.
It’s the kind of attention to detail that’s there throughout our stay at this Red Carnation hotel. It’s also typical of their family friendly attitude. In the rooms lie welcome packs filled with colouring books, children’s maps of London and bars of chocolate. The concierge doubles up as ‘Director of Fun and Adventure’, publishing a newsletter for families with ideas for your stay. No one minds if the kids take up bar space with a lemonade in the evening, and children staying at the hotel get the chance to be pastry chefs. No, not work experience, but a pink and white sprinkled treat.
Mini chefs do elevenses
The hotel chefs are brave, letting my kids into the kitchen. I warn them there will be fights over the toppings, and those icing bags… well, they’re just weapons. But pastry experts Francesco and Sophie are patience itself, and even find time to make a few chocolate brownies whilst supervising. The children’s clothes are protected by miniature chefs outfits with badges and flashing lights. Handy that, as there’s icing and flumps everywhere.
Cupcakes with a view
We eat our decorated cupcakes over a coffee in the bar. The Rubens At The Palace looks out onto the Royal Mews and guests (especially the American variety) love its proximity to Buckingham Palace. The hotel was formerly owned by the royals, and lent out as apartments for people coming to collect awards. People still stay for this reason, and over its time the hotel has seen many famous faces, including the 1966 England football team who came for their royal seal of approval after the World Cup.
If your timing is good you can watch the Queen’s horses come and go. You might even catch a glimpse of the royal cars as they leave from the back door. Joao Goncalves, the Deputy Head Concierge stops to chat over coffee. He’s been working here for 33 years but in all that time he’s only come face to face with The Queen once, I was a luggage porter and took the post over to the Royal Mews. She came out in the old Bentley and gave me a wave. he grins. You get the feeling he might have told that story before.
Kirstie Pelling is Director of The Family Adventure Project.