TRAVEL: London still retains capital gains for all the family
It has been truly capital idea to invest in family-friendly London trip'‹s'‹Â asÂ long as city breaks have been '‹a "'‹thing".
Longer than the Thames itself that winds through bustling boroughs like 346 kilometre'‹ water snake (subconsciously soundtracked by soap opera synth drums), here accompanied by SuperBreak 60 second whistle-stop city tour and timely "how well do you know London?" quiz complete with skyline digital tour.
Such stay-cations '‹were never more attractive than now, amid '‹ongoing '‹destabilised Sterling Brexit exchange rate. And, continuing to patronise and populate our biggest metropolis in the wake of Westminster attack atrocity, ensuring tourism - not terrorism - wins.
City streets may not be paved gold, as befits 19th century Dick Whittington '‹folklore, but golden opportunities aplenty are available to sight-see this homeland gem.
While politico Benjamin Disraeli branded the destination "a modern Babylon," more London-bound parents than ever are today choosing to bring baby along.
Its attraction is literally obvious. Landmarks litter this thriving UK flagship, entertaining and educating in equal measure '‹tomorrow's '‹short-trousered tourists.
'‹And increasing number of families are choosing to '‹play generation game when it comes to these getaways.
SuperBreak research reveals grandparents want to spend more quality time with '‹loved ones. When asked to describe their role, most matriarchs and patriarchs agree it is "to be generous - to treat and spoil grandchildren whenever they can".
In response British holiday company chiefs launched 3G short breaks '‹collection, tailor-made for three generations. As SuperBreak's Jacquie Fisher says: "We wanted to create a unique collection of getaways that are perfect for the whole family to enjoy together.
'‹"School holidays provide perfect opportunity for grandparents to spend more quality time with their grandchildren. Our new collection is designed to provide plenty of inspiration to keep everyone entertained."
And, as Rosary Priest Patrick Peyton almost said: "The family that plays together, stays together". London remains '‹'‹today, more than ever, ace place for young and old alike to enjoy non-taxing capital gains.
How to travel: First Class simply doesn't do justice to Virgin Trains high-speed, low-stress service.
What better way to travel to and from modern-day Londinium than by letting train take the strain, courtesy of table-topping long-distance franchise operators.
On track for more industry '‹honours after recently posting marked improvement in stations and on-board facilities, the company scored similarly high '‹with National Rail Passenger Survey journey time, frequency and punctuality'‹ plaudits.
Substantial Â£50 million facelift cash splash for entire fleet signals enhancement in customer experience comfort, never more so than in VIP comfort "Virgin" on the luxurious.
On arrival, open-top buses offer hop-on, hop-off opportunities for families large and small while river cruises offer similar transport of delight.
Affording alternative vista on cityscape, peppered by features familiar from favourite film locations, City Cruises www.citycruises.com '‹supply fleet treat for all, operating scheduled '‹voyages of discovery serving Westminster, London Eye, Tower and Greenwich piers.
A SuperBreak added extra, purpose-built wheelchair-accessible RiverLiner vessels boast open-top deck, enclosed lower saloon complete with panoramic windows and, accompanying entertaining commentary, convivial bars.
Recently introduced Uber is attractive option to not get caught counting cost on black cab clock of crippling traffic congestion.
Moralist Samuel Johnson was spot-on to say "When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life". But, adding "For there is, in'‹ London, all that life can afford'‹,"'‹ he'd clearly not accounted for taxi fares higher than The Shard!
RAIL FACTS:'‹ Doncaster-London single Standard Class fare available from Â£14 (from Â£28 return), single First Class fare available from Â£39 (from Â£78 return) on '‹regular week-day services, typical journey time '‹1 hour 40 mins - visit'‹ www.virgintrainseastcoast.com.
What to see: Family-focused musts don't come any friendlier than green lungs, amid inner city's densely populated red double-decker throng, that is Regent's Park and, within its flora and fauna, zoology gem 700 species call home.
World's oldest scientific site of its ilk, ZSL London Zoo www.zsl.org/zsl-london-zoo has since 1828 amassed animals with more than 20,000 today making it among UK's largest collections.
'‹Enjoying no state funding and relying entirely on Fellows and Friends, it is sister site to even more spacious Whipsnade Zoo.
African Bird Safari and Attenborough Komodo Dragon House to Tiger Territory and Land Of The Lions via Fruitbat Forrest and Meet The Monkeys, there's something spectacular to see in every enclosure.
Such superior creature features have ensured this Zoological Society of London success story since opening, in 1849, country's initial reptile house, 1881 insect house, 1938 children's zoo and 1853 first public aquarium.
Seamlessly, Sea Life London Aquarium www.sealife.co.uk/london offers similarly amazing marine subject matter.
One million annual visitors - including 40,000 conservation campaign classroom schoolkids - can't be wrong'‹, supporting rightfully acknowledged king of the deep, whose South Bank County Hall home for last two years basks like beached whale 135 metres beneath overshadowing London Eye summit.
Cuban crocodiles to butterfly goodeids via seahorses, breeding programmes are central to the cause of a concern that actively supports Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, Shark Trust and Save Our Seas.
Launched two decades ago this month, the facility some years ago enjoyed Â£5 million refurb that saw addition of underwater tunnel, revamped Pacific Ocean tank and complete rerouting of exhibits, later welcoming penguins who migrated south from Edinburgh Zoo.
Today's visitors can marvel at 500 species, set to be supplemented next month by "Ocean Invaders: Enter the World of Jellyfish" installation, in tanks together awash with titanic 2,000,000 litres volume capacity. What a lot of water!
Another SuperBreak bonus comes in distinctive shape of unbelievable amusement available at www.ripleyslondon.com Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! Kitschy oddities from shrunken human heads to rare animal skeletons populate this Piccadilly Circus London Pavilion palace of the disparate.
With over 700 obscure exhibits waiting to be discovered, the venue is ultimate home of the incredible. Where else could you discover Harry Potter's Hungarian Horntail consisting recycled bike parts or Tower Bridge made of matchsticks?
‘Gallery of the Greats’ is as good as its word, where Michelle Obama made from soda caps and Michael Jackson sweets construct amaze cheek by jowl with Kate Middleton lipstick kisses canvas and incredible art form from toast, presumably pop-up installation!
Where to stay: Edwardian era encapsulates romantic golden age of summer garden parties, basking in a sun that never set on our Empire, while Vanderbilt has long been synonymous with Gilded Age opulence and elegance in form of America's once wealthiest clan bearing that illustrious name.
Radisson Blu Edwardian, Vanderbilt therefore is a hotel with a lot to live up to. The family's former home - one of many - it measures up majestically, standing as a superbly situated bastion of style, retaining many of its original town house features and charm.
First impressions count. And this venue can count on its luxurious entrance lobby. The recently refurbished Grade II listed building retains legacy of grand bygones with plush staircases leading to stunning frescoes, richly decorated ceilings, stained glass windows and wood panelling superior interiors.
Every guest room offers comforting and convenient calm, unwind haven from hustle and bustle, each equipped with air-conditioning, TV and wireless Internet access. Such exacting standards have ensured industry experts' accolade Superbrands recognition.
Mews with Kensington views, few doors down from Baden-Powell House, the four star base is perfectly placed to scout around a fashionable area, complete with nearby Science, Natural History and V & A museums. Short walk leads to likes of Hyde Park and Royal Albert Hall as well as options many and varied to share square meals around Square Mile. Oxford Street shops and West End shows also attract family focus.
Similar success on plate comes in shape of on-site bar cum restaurant, rejoicing in Bacchanalian title Scoff & Banter, serv'‹ing soul food from vast range of traditional dishes with modern twist, civilised afternoon tea and craft beers to sate real ale aficionados. Or, to blow off some steam, in-house gym is just the tonic.
'‹There's no better way to "make your short break a super break" than by booking with SuperBreak, acknowledged specialists for such add-on extras as attractions' entry and rail travel that ease planning and are easy on purse-strings.
HOTEL FACTS: 4* Crowne Plaza London Kings Cross (comparative 4* hotel) from Â£652 for four adults & two children for two nights' accommodation with full breakfast, dinner on first night and Ripley’s Believe It or Not tickets, valid arrival May 20 2017 - visit www.superbreak.com.