Top Family Friendly Things to do in Soho & How to Spend 24 Hours in the Neighbourhood - London


In the West End of London lies the charasmatic streets of Soho featuring a fusion of dining, nightlife as well as shopping options for the locals and the visitors alike. The Old Compton, Beak and Dean streets are the epicentre of activity, both during the day and even after sunset. Soho also attracts theatre fans who make sure to head to the Shaftesbury Avenue to enjoy their favourite plays while the shoppers have endless options to go on a spending spree at the popular Carnaby, Oxford or at Regent Streets. The iconic Liberty's department store is also easily accessible to anyone in Soho. Either one is visiting the neighbourhood for a day or is staying at one of the hotels near Soho, there's lots to do and explore both for traveling solo, with friends or with family! 

Soho Square Gardens 

Adorned with beautiful flowers and especially colourful tulips that can be seen during the summer, The Soho Square Gardens are a great place for children to run around and chase the pigeons or for adults to sit on the benches and relax. In winter also, the gardens are lovely to grab a seat and enjoy some time with a hot drink or a snack. Being a busy area, parking might seem limited but there are some paid car parking spots near the Soho Square Gardens. The parking charge (Location number: 8462) is £4.9 per hour, and can be paid by phone. The chargeable days and hours are Monday to Saturday from 8:30 till 6:30 pm, however the convenience of paying via mobile is commendable. Besides this, there's also Q-Park Soho where lots of parking spaces are available and is open 24 hours every day. 


Shopping at Carnaby & Oxford Streets

If you're interested in shopping, then you must definitely head to these streets as they've got some popular brands with lovely window displays - brilliant not just for shopping but even for window shopping or a great place to stroll around to see the lights that have been displayed to mark the Christmas festivities.





Luxury Shopping at Liberty London, Regent Street 

The famous Liberty store can be easily spotted at the Regent Street, and even if you don't plan to buy anything, you must definitely go inside and explore what the store has on offer for the shoppers. The store sells high end brands, however they also have products which aren't too expensive and you might want to get something to keep as a souvenir or to gift to the loved ones. Liberty London also has an amazing Christmas display nowadays, and you might not want to miss seeing that. 









Stop at Hamleys Toy Store 

A little ahead is the Hamleys toy store, a heaven for children and since BabyN' was with me, I had to stop there for a while. The store currently has a sale going on and some products can be purchased at half-price - definitely a bargain! Also, the staff at the store entertains the visitors really well. Hamleys at the Regent Street also sells waffles and ice cream, and who would want to say 'no' ice cream even in winter? 


Shaftesbury Avenue 

If you love theatres and watching plays, then you're at the right spot as the Shaftesbury Avenue in Soho has lots of theatres including the extremely famous 'Harry Potter and the Cursed Child' theatre where lots of tourists and locals can bee seen at all times!




Explore the China Town 

Just at a stone’s throw from Hankies Cafe in Soho is the China Town, where visitors can find Bubblewrap, a popular bubble waffle place which generally has quite a long queue outside but luckily I didn't have to wait for long when I was there. The waffles are generally priced at £6.99 and there's extra chargers for any extra toppings. 



Try some Instagram Famous Places in Soho

You could get a drink from Jo & the Juice (generally £5 each) or grab a bubble tea from Bubbleology (£4.09 for large). Also, there's a dessert place called Chin Chin that serves delicious ice cream and hot drinks. 


M&M's World 

A little ahead of the China Town is the M&M's World - a place where kids would love to spend some time or do some shopping. Nowadays, they've got amazing Christmas gifts and some products are also on offer. 






Eat in Soho

Soho has lots of different eating options for everyone and with a variety of different cuisines, you won't have to look for food elsewhere. One of my favourite places for Indian food and small plates in Soho is the Hankies Cafe. However, other restaurants such as Dum Biryani and Masala Zone also serve Indian food. For burgers, there's Stax diner and Shake Shack to name a few and just across the street of Soho near Covent Garden is another Indian restaurant called Talli Jo. If you're looking for cheap eats, then check out Chopstix Noodle Bar, The Katti Roll Company or Chattime. The neighbourhood also has lots of cafes and other places for snacks and drinks. 




Also, the Rainforest Cafe located on the Shaftesbury Avenue is a perfect place if you're with children. There's not just a restaurant that serves hot food but there's also an interactive store for kids to explore and buy their favourite animal toy. 





Go on a Candy Shopping Spree 

As you walk across the streets of Soho, you will come across many candy and sweet stores such as Kingdom of Sweets or American Candy that sells lots of different varieties of sweets. I also spotted tins of shortbread and other goodies, and we had to stop there for some shopping. 




It was a great experience exploring the Soho neighbourhood and I hope you enjoyed reading about my recent excursion. London definitely has some amazing places to explore as well as some hidden gems. Please let me know in comments, if I've missed anything interesting in Soho as I would definitely love to explore more of the neighbourhood. 

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Dinner at Leila - Moroccan & Lebanese Cuisine in Ealing, London

Leila Halal Moroccan Lebanese cuisine in London

Less than a minute's walk from the Ealing Common tube station, Leila a well established restaurant in London opened four years ago, serves Middle Eastern cuisine for dine-in, takeaway and events. The variety of dishes available on the menu have been selected to appeal to all ages and palates. Leila mainly serves enticing Moroccan and Lebanese cuisine with a choice of flavoursome food prepared using fresh ingredients and is served in generous portions. Diners have the option to start the meal with nibbles such as Saj (Moroccan bread) before moving onto the dip tasting platter, soups and the mains.

Leila Halal Moroccan Lebanese cuisine in London

The interior of the restaurant is a mix of both formal dining with neatly placed crockery and cutlery, tea-light candles flickering on each table along with a touch of quirky decor with colourful throws and floor cushions to give the diners a feel of the Moroccan and Lebanese culture. Moroccan and Lebanese folk art can be seen on the walls, and the restaurant also has a conservatory dining area with beautiful Moroccan lamps while the main dining area has a mix of booths as well as banquette seating perfect for small parties and gatherings. Also, don't forget to try out the Fez - a red felt headdress shaped like a short cylindrical peakless hat with a tassel attached to the top and it has been named after the Moroccan city Fez. 

Leila Halal Moroccan Lebanese cuisine in London

Leila Halal Moroccan Lebanese cuisine in London

My husband and I started off with the beverages and ordered an Apple Carrot & Ginger juice and a Carrot juice for ourselves, while a mango juice for the little one. It was quite good to know that the drinks were very reasonably priced at £2.50 each. The restaurant also serves other juices and soft drinks as well as the alcoholic drinks. 

Leila Halal Moroccan Lebanese cuisine in London

Leila Halal Moroccan Lebanese cuisine in London

Leila Halal Moroccan Lebanese cuisine in London

Moving on to the food, I ordered a Lebanese Dip Tasting Platter for Two (£11.95) which included a perfectly made hummous, moutabal, tabouleh, kabis & spiced olives. I wasn't a fan of hummous when I was introduced to it first time 6 years ago, but after spending a few years of my life in the Middle East, I became quite a fan! Moutabal tastes somewhat same like Baba Ganoush if you're aware of that!

Leila Halal Moroccan Lebanese cuisine in London

Leila Halal Moroccan Lebanese cuisine in London

Leila Halal Moroccan Lebanese cuisine in London

Also ordered Harira Soup (£3.50), a traditional Moroccan vegetable soup made with saffron, lentils, vermicelli, coriander and chickpeas as well as a Chicken Soup (£3.50). Although the Harrira soup was not too spicy, it was flavoursome and the chicken soup was creamy and prefect for those who do not prefer spicy food. From the cold starters, I opted for Moussakaa Batinjan (£4.25), a dish prepared using baked aubergines, chickpeas, spices, onion  and tomatoes. 

Leila Halal Moroccan Lebanese cuisine in London

From the hot starters at the restaurant's menu, we ordered Sauda Djaj (£4.25), chicken liver cooked in pomegranate molasses and garlic sauce. The dish had a strong flavour and the combination of the sweet and savoury worked quite well!

Leila Halal Moroccan Lebanese cuisine in London

The other hot starter I ordered was Pastilla Djaj (£4.25), a traditional Moroccan chicken filo pastry pie with roasted almond and saffron. This starter was more on the sweeter side and was served with a slice of lemon. It's totally up to you to eat it with or without squeezing some lemon juice on it, and I tried the starter both ways. The addition of a few drops of lemon juice did give the starter a  lovely taste! 

Leila Halal Moroccan Lebanese cuisine in London

Leila Halal Moroccan Lebanese cuisine in London

Since the menu at the restaurant is a combination of both Moroccan and Lebanese dishes, I also spotted delicious Tagines and grill items while skimming through it. On the recommendation of one of the restaurant's staff member, I ordered Tagine Bil Lahme (£13.50), a tender lamb dish that was cooked with prunes, roasted almonds and caramelised onions - a very hearty dish and also the 'showstopper' of our meal! The Tagine was served with couscous and was absolutely brilliant in taste! 

Leila Halal Moroccan Lebanese cuisine in London
Leila Halal Moroccan Lebanese cuisine in London

From the grill, I ordered Lamb Meshwi (£13.95) - the dish included lamb cubes that had been marinated and grilled, and was served with pickles, grilled tomato and some green salad. All the items from the grill at Leila are served with a choice of chips or rice - and my choice was chips as I had my little one with me. There was also a slice of Khubz, an Arabic bread which paired up with the lamb cubes and humous or garlic sauce makes a delicious bite. 

Leila Halal Moroccan Lebanese cuisine in London

With plenty of choice for the diners including the vegetarian dishes as well as the salads, it wouldn't have been fair to end the meal without something sweet, and at a restaurant serving Middle Eastern cuisine, my choice is always a baklava with some piping hot Mint tea!  There are also some other desserts served at the restaurant, but we were too full to try anything else, but maybe next time. 

Leila Halal Moroccan Lebanese cuisine in London

Leila is open 7 days a week from 12 noon – 10.30pm and as mentioned earlier, Leila also provides event and catering services and can cater for parties and gatherings ranging from 10 - 700 people, whether they're corporate events, weddings or themed parties and functions. We had a lovely Moroccan and Lebanese meal at Leila and I've already made a list of things I need to try next time I plan to eat there. They also serve set menus and that also seems to be a good option! 

Leila is launching a wonderful Moroccan Afternoon Tea from Saturday 3rd November with homemade pastries, savouries and scones, with Moroccan tea.




-------------------------
Rating: 8/10 
Pricing: Medium 
Halal Options: Everything is Halal
Child-Friendly: Yes, sitting is child friendly but not sure about baby changing.
Alcohol Available: Yes
Location: Grosvenor Parade, Uxbridge Road, Ealing, London W5 3NN
Contact: 020 8993 2782
--------------------------

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Stay at the William Cecil & Top Things to Do in Stamford, Lincolnshire

Top things to do in Stamford

Operated by the Hillbrooke Hotels, the William Cecil in Stamford has 27 stylish and quirky bedrooms that offer great beds with Egyptian linens, flatscreen TV offering more than 30 channels, tea and coffee facility, power shower with White Company bathroom products and complimentary WiFi for the guests. The hotel’s eccentric style and a relaxed and friendly service in quirky surroundings is sure to bring back the guests yet again either it is for a short stopover or for a relaxing long weekend. 

The William Cecil at Stamford

The William Cecil at Stamford

We stayed at the impressive room called the Queen of Palmera at the William Cecil. The bedroom itself was very spacious with lots of corners for BabyN' to explore and to run around. The comfortable bedding was great for a good night's sleep, and the duvet tog was just right! Although our bedroom was facing the main street, our sleep wasn't disturbed by the traffic passing by and we all woke up fresh the next day, ready for the breakfast and to explore Stamford before heading to our next destination in the North East. 

The William Cecil at Stamford

The William Cecil at Stamford

The William Cecil at Stamford

The William Cecil at Stamford

The other amenities available at the hotel includes a hair dryer, iron and ironing board, travel cots (available on request) and ample complimentary parking for the hotel guests. 

The William Cecil at Stamford

The William Cecil at Stamford

The bathroom at the William Cecil was extremely massive, something very rarely seen at hotels. Also, the bathroom had a free standing bath as well as a shower and complimentary The White Company toiletries that includes a shampoo and shower gel, soap and a lotion. Its' absolutely relieving to know when a hotel provides complimentary toiletries because that can really help in keeping the weight of the luggage lower, and I've always been a fan of the The White Company products - so this was a great selection made by the hotel! 

The William Cecil at Stamford

The William Cecil at Stamford

An A la carte and bar menu enables guests to enjoy plenty to choose from at the property. Also, the hotel’s sister inn, The Bull and Swan located just 150 yards away is also an option for informal dining. It is indeed a memorable experience dining at The William Cecil whether one chooses to eat at the hotel's award-winning restaurant or at the bar! The meal prepared by the Head Chef Craig McCready and his team using the fresh local and seasonal produce isn't just beautifully presented, but equally tempting to the tastebuds too! The hotel has received 2 AA Rosette awards mainly because of the passion the team puts into creating seasonal menus using the best ingredients. 

Beginning with the nibbles, I ordered Red Chilli and Mango King Prawns (£5.5) which were served with Dill Aioli - a delicious creamy and flavourful dip prepared with mayonnaise, sour cream, garlic and dill. It was absolutely fantastic - I really liked the taste of mango and it complimented with the prawns well! 

The William Cecil at Stamford

The starter for us was the Pearl Barley Risotto (£7.50) that was cooked with peas, mint and whipped goats cheese. The serving was quite generous and it was a filling bowl of risotto. 

The William Cecil at Stamford

Moving on the mains, as you can see in the photos below, they were beautifully presented and had a piquant taste. The first dish, the baked hake fillet (£19) was served with kohlrabi, a German turnip along with butternut squash, spring greens and nasturtium. 

The second main was loin of line caught cod (£19) that consisted of cod brandade, artichoke and asparagus. We requested the dish to be served without chicken reduction. 

The William Cecil at Stamford

The William Cecil at Stamford

To end the meal, we opted for 3 scoops of the hotel's homemade ice cream (£1.50 per scoop) to share and the flavours were pistachio, cinnamon and caramel. This was the first time I was trying out cinnamon as an ice cream flavour and the consistency of the cinnamon was not at all overwhelming, it was just right - tells that the Chef knows his work well! 

The William Cecil at Stamford

Breakfast is served at the William Cecil from 7:00 am - 9:30 am between Monday to Friday and 8:00 am - 10:30 am on Saturday and Sunday. The buffet table had already been laid with fresh fruits, juices, milk and cereal, croissants and yogurt and for the hot breakfast, we selected ours from the menu card on our table. 

The William Cecil at Stamford

The William Cecil at Stamford

The William Cecil at Stamford

The William Cecil at Stamford

It was the Vegetarian Burghley Breakfast for me that was served hot and had two vegetarian sausages, grilled tomato, flat mushroom and scrambled eggs - my choice of eggs from a few options available. Husband breakfast was Scottish smoked salmon, scrambled eggs and a toasted bagel. BabyN' doesn't eat anything immediately after waking up, so we didn't order anything for him but we were all fuelled up to conquer the rest of the day!

The William Cecil at Stamford

The William Cecil at Stamford

The other options for hot breakfast included in the menu were hot porridge with a choice of honey or sugar, warm Belgian waffles with maple syrup and cured back bacon, Egg Benedict, Eggs Royale, grilled flat mushrooms on a choice of toast, grilled kipper with fresh lemon wedge, smoked haddock with poached eggs and continental breakfast to name a few! 

The William Cecil at Stamford

Just after finishing the hearty breakfast at the hotel, I was intrigued to visit The Bull & Swan, the sister property of the William Cecil in order to check out their kitchen garden. That's because the hotel uses the same ingredients grown at the kitchen garden in the food which is served at the restaurant. It was lovely seeing the fresh plants and the garden also has an area with benches and sofas where the guests can enjoy an outdoor cinema twice every week (Thursday at 7:30 pm & Sunday at 12:00 pm) between April and October along with their favourite drinks and freshly baked pizza from the pizza potting shed. 

The Bull & Swan kitchen garden in Stamford

The Bull & Swan kitchen garden in Stamford

The Bull & Swan kitchen garden in Stamford

The Bull & Swan kitchen garden in Stamford

Important Information - The William Cecil at Stamford

Check-in: 3:00 pm
Check-out: 11:00 am
Parking: Complimentary car park spaces available
Breakfast: Complimentary hot breakfast is served 
In-room amenities: Hair dryer, ironing facility, complimentary toiletries
Location:  St Martins, Stamford, Lincolnshire PE9 2LJ
Telephone: 01780 750070

The William Cecil at Stamford

The William Cecil at Stamford

The William Cecil at Stamford

Top Things to Do in Stamford


There's plenty to see and do in the historic and beautiful town of Stamford, which has also been voted by The Sunday Times as the best place to live in 2013. You could either ask any of the team members at the hotel for recommendations or check out the brochure and magazines in the bedroom for all the details. 

All Saints Church - Dating back to the 13th Century, the church was rebuilt by the Brownes due to the damage caused during the Wars of the Roses. Located in the Red Lion Square, this church is opened daily and has Browne family memorial brasses, a carved angel roof, stained glass windows and a reredos of the Last Supper. 

Barn Hill - The well-preserved cobbled stoned street behind All Saints' Church has been used as a setting for locations for the BBC TV series Middlemarch and the Merchant Ivory movie (2000) as well as The Golden Bowl.
Stamford Meadows

Stamford Meadows - Just 0.5 miles from the William Cecil and known as the Water Meadows originally, the Stamford Meadows are quite popular for enjoying a picnic, walking or feeding the birds. The level walking along the River Welland while coming across the picturesque view especially early in the morning are fantastic. 

Stamford Meadows

Stamford Museum - The museum displays exhibitions and galleries and also organised a series of lectures annually - these are quite popular and its archives are available for the researchers and students to view.

Stamford Priory - Founded by the Benedictines of Durham Abbey in the early 12th Century, St. Leonard's Priory's purpose was to manage he order's southern estates and prepare students for entry into Oxford University. However, it fell into despair and today only the ruins remain of which nave, arcade and the west front are a feature.

Stamford Meadows

Stamford Shakespeare Festival - This auditorium has been been purpose built in the landscaped grounds of the Elizabetharn Tolethorpe Hall near Bourne for hosting  outdoor Shakespeare plays that attract 30,000 visitors annually and prior to performances, theatregoers can dine in the Hall or picnic on the lawns. Tickets can be purchased from the Stamford Arts Centre. 
Burghley House Stamford

Burghley House - Located just within walking distance form the William Cecil, the Burghley House is under the possession of the hotel’s owners. Known to be the finest Elizabethan house in England, and and the most famous family estates in Europe. Built over a period of 32 years, the Burghley House offers fun and history and the recent addition known as Historical Garden of Surprises is a fantastic addition. Features of the garden include a moss house, the swivelling Caesar busts, water basins, jets and mirrored maze - enjoyed by everyone! Although the grounds are open throughout the year, the Garden of Surprises opens from mid-March until the end of October. Please note that the Burghley House is closed on Fridays' but the Garden of Surprises remains open. Direct access to the grounds of Burghley House is available through the William Cecil, and a stroll around the beautiful grounds is absolutely fantastic! 

Belvoir Castle - Located in a rural countryside, the castle has been the home to the Manners family for 500 years, and has been the seat of the Duke of Rutland since three centuries. The stately rooms open to the public, contain many works of art.


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