There are certain things you expect from a luxury five-star hotel: posh toiletries for the shower, a fluffy white robe. What you don't normally expect is that the robes come in children's sizes and the toiletries include a kids’ brand designed for sensitive skin.
A fluffy white bear was the final welcoming touch, complete with his paw-print on a very cute welcome note. My daughter pounced with glee and only the chance to play Connect 4 at dinner in the Hunter 486 restaurant persuaded her to put him down again, saving his pristine fur from her enthusiastic demolition of tomato pasta and bedtime cookies and milk.
It's all part of the new Family Fun package from The Arch hotel near Marble Arch, which has realised that plenty of parents don't want to sacrifice the usual comforts just because they're travelling with children.
And it works beautifully, as you’d expect from a Small Luxury Hotels of the World member. Even with her rollaway bed, our suite had masses of room - a traditional library on the shelves in the comfortable seating area, Nespresso machine and mini bar in reach. Through the doors lay our own little patio; I regretted that we were there in winter.
Under the hand-painted wallpaper, our bed had duck down duvets to sink into and drink in the mix of Georgian architecture and contemporary artwork. The little luxury touches extended to the bathroom, from anti-steam mirrors to Malin + Goetz toiletries, not to mention the flatscreen TV above the bath.
With a colouring and activity pack to distract my daughter, I amused myself reading the ceiling of the
champagne bar, adorned with quotes from the great and good, including Napoleon’s own words of wisdom – “In victory, you deserve champagne; in defeat you need it.”
Handily, it also distracted her away from the ‘press to refresh’ button in the Martini Library, available just in case you need someone to top up your glass there, between admiring the travel-themed décor.
And the menu in Hunter 486 - named after the 1950s dialing code for Marylebone - is as good for adults as children; the Best of British-inspired menu includes Halibut with salsify and orange and chervil butter, along with Caramelised shallot and goat’s cheese tart cooked in the stone oven, while funky chandeliers apparently constructed from dozens of wine glasses hang suspended over leather booths.
The Jewish-owned hotel can also arrange kosher meals, as well as helping with lifts and electronic keys on Shabbat, plus information on timings of services at the Western Marble Arch and West London synagogues, both within walking distance.
As any parent knows, there's more to being family-friendly than a bear and a toy box to raid in reception. But here children are not merely tolerated, the welcoming attitude that I discovered at check-in was true of all the staff, right through to our very patient waiter. And that’s certainly worth celebrating. Napoleon, I’m sure, would have approved.