By Laura Mason

It can be hard to find time for date nights when babies take over your entire lives.  Routines, baby bits of kit and toddler tantrums tend to put a bit of a damper on the idea of a romantic escape, so my hubby and I decided to take the grandparents up on an offer of a night of babysitting and escape to the big smoke for a night.

A romantic stay at the Park Plaza Riverbank

The thing I love about London is that it is so accessible from anywhere in the UK.  With reliable public transport options, we usually opt for the train to take us right into the heart of the city.

We have previously stayed at the Park Plaza hotels, which are dotted across London and other UK cities, and know how good they have been for family travel, especially as kids stay and eat for free (so we are usually sold!) but on this rare occasion we were keen to turn a blind eye to the kid’s menus, children’s activity backpacks and so on, to enjoy a little romance.

Park Plaza Riverbank’s Central London location

For this stay, we chose Park Plaza Riverbank, which as the name suggest is located on the River Thames, just offset from some of the big tourist attractions of Big Ben, House of Parliament and the London Eye.

First, stop and we decided to hit Borough Market for a light bite on the go before lazily walking along the Thames for a couple of miles until we arrived at the hotel.  If the weather is pleasant, it’s a beautiful walk – so much to take in, and the hour or so means you’re burning a few pounds while doing so!

Park Plaza Riverbank

Upon arrival you are immediately taken in by the lobby – very grand and elegant, this hotel doesn’t hold the history some of the better-known luxury hotels in the city are famed for, but it clearly captures the best when it comes to nouveau modern design.  The sprawling reception is adorned with immaculately dressed staff beaming with welcoming smiles, impressive floral displays that I can only dream of owning, and comfy chairs and sofas.  A quick check in from the charming manager himself, and we headed up to our room on the 12th floor.

Park Plaza Riverbank

Heading through the dark passageways, the design is very ‘Park Plaza’ – shadowy walls that create a moody environment accentuated with bright hues of blue LCD lights – it holds a little mystery and excitement for me, a bit like visiting a new bar and being not too sure what you may find.

The Executive Room

Hopping out the lift, and our room, an Executive Room, was a beauty to walk in to. Warm and welcoming, it’s a contrast to the public areas with the great use of natural light and bright, almost whitewashed walls.  The decor is modern and stylish – eclectic artwork and more of the striking blue light, yet it’s kept simple and is more calming.

Park Plaza Riverbank

The queen-sized bed is firm, and you will find all the little luxuries you could want to sprawl out and relax.  For a little indulgence, the Executive Rooms feature complimentary bottles of water, slippers/bathrobes and expensive bathroom toiletries.

Exploring the hotel

Dropping off our bags, I was keen to explore the hotel.  It’s a great business hotel with lots of facilities and event space for city slickers; however, at the weekend they’re almost redundant and the hotel is bustling with excited tourists, laughs echo from the bar and it becomes alive with a buzz.

I must admit I popped my head into the gym, great size for a hotel, however my focus was r’n’r so I made a beeline for the Executive Lounge, a stunning space towards the top of the hotel where you can leisurely enjoy a glass of wine and canapés while looking out to the south side of the Thames and taking in some of the very best views London has to offer. Whenever we stay in the city, we often use our hotel as a base to get out and about, but this time it was nice to enjoy the hotel, not clock watch or plan ahead.  After a drink in the Lounge, we relaxed in the room before popping by Chino Latino, the Pan-Asian onsite restaurant and bar, for a scrumptious cocktail, then walked along the Thames to take in the Southbank’s entertainment.

Breakfast at Park Plaza Riverbank

Breakfast is big business for the Park Plaza and the main restaurant was heaving, so much so, we headed up to the Lounge, and enjoyed a much quieter affair, again while literally drinking in those amazing views.  Forget cheap sausages and mushy beans, the ingredients are fresh and of the highest quality with hot breakfasts made to order, while the cold selection of meats, breads and pastries are a little naughty, but oh so indulgent, that it was rude not to!

Park Plaza Riverbank

Our time quickly came to an end – a bittersweet departure that meant saying goodbye to a fab stay, but recharged and raring to go with my ‘mum’ hat on I was looking forward to seeing my three tinkers again.  The Park Plaza Riverbank proved to be a great choice for enjoying the tourist trappings of London but also providing a much-needed luxury escape.

Need-to-know info

PRICE: £200.00 for one night’s accommodation in an Executive Double Room arriving 16th November 2018. To book, visit www.parkplaza.co.uk/london-hotel-gb-se1-7tj/gbriver.