The best way to travel around London

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We bought our first Volvo XC90 when my eldest was 2 and we were on temporary assignment in California. We wanted a 7-seater that would accommodate our growing family (I was pregnant with number 3) and the ever-present grandparents and out-of-town visitors. We were planning to put the car to the test and drive all around California in varied conditions so extra safety features, like the anti-skid system, were key. My other criteria? Don’t laugh: heated seats and reverse sensors!

When we took it home we loved the flexibility of the 3rd row of seats and how easily they convert from seats to extra cargo space. I have a tricky back and the lumbar support really works. And I’ll admit it, I liked the look of the car. It’s not “mumsy” like a people carrier, but makes us feels a bit stylish.

That was back in 2004. Since then we’ve moved back to the UK. We loved our XC90 so much, instead of selling it, we left it at my parent’s house so we can get around in comfort while we visit in the Summer.

The first purchase when we came back to the UK? Another XC90! It’s worth the peace of mind we know the car very well.

But we’ve never had anyone chauffeur us in one, so when Volvo offered to whisk us around London to do some last-minute Christmas shopping and a few activities designed around my family, we said yes please.

We started our London #volvoconcierge day with an ice-skating session at the Natural History Museum, then we had lunch, saw a show and did some, OK lots, of shopping. We ended up in Chinatown for dinner and then took in the Regent Street lights.

Here’s our story, in pictures…

Our #volovconcierge day has started! We were picked up in a shiny white XC90. That's my smiley 11-year-old waving.

Our #volovconcierge day has started! We were picked up in a shiny white Volvo XC90. My daughters commented it was much cleaner than our own XC90.  That’s my smiley 11-year-old waving.

 

We started our adventure with ice skating at the Natural History Museum. The first challenge was getting the skates on!

We started our adventure with ice skating at the Natural History Museum. The first challenge was getting the skates on! Our last skating outing ended in tears as our youngest had spaghetti legs. This time she was determined to glide on the ice.

 

We enjoyed ice skating in front of the Natural History Museum. Nothing say "festive" more than this!

We enjoyed ice skating in front of the Natural History Museum. Nothing says “festive” more than this!

 

I couldn't resist including this pic of my youngest learning how to ice skate. It was a triumphant day.

I couldn’t resist including this pic of my youngest learning how to ice skate. It was a triumphant day.

 

After ice skating, our driver took us over to Victoria and we had a grown up lunch at bBar.

After ice skating, our driver took us over to Victoria and we had a grown up lunch at bbar.

Our XC90 was waiting for us after lunch at the bBar to whisk us over to the Apollo Theatre to see Wicked.

Our XC90 was waiting for us after lunch at the bbar to whisk us over to the Apollo Theatre to see Wicked.

 

We stopped at the Apollo Victoria Theatre to catch a matinee of Wicked. Playing since 2003, it tells the story of the Wizard of Oz from the  witches point of view.

We stopped at the Apollo Victoria Theatre to catch a matinée of Wicked. Playing since 2003, it tells the story of the Wizard of Oz from the witches point of view. It was the first musical the girls have seen and they absolutely LOVED it.

 

Wicked characters Boc and Nessarose take a bow at the end of the performance.

In this pic, Wicked characters Boc and Nessarose take a bow at the end of the performance. Can you see us standing and applauding?

 

Shopping started with a trip to Hamleys in Regent Street.  It's the oldest toy shop in the world, and certainly the busiest!

Shopping started with a trip to Hamleys in Regent Street. It’s the oldest toy shop in the world, and certainly the busiest! The shop had safety officers at the escalators directing traffic.

 

The girls on the top floor at Hamleys with a life sized lego queen!

Smile! The girls on the top floor at Hamleys with a life-sized Lego queen!

 

Checking out all the Christmas lights on Regent Street. We later found out that all the Santas were part of Santacon.

Here we are checking out all the Christmas lights on Regent Street. We later found out that all the Santas were part of SantaCon.

 

Dinner in Chinatown: What a fun way to end an evening

For dinner our Volvo made its was to Chinatown where we had our evening meal. The atmosphere was fantastic.

 

After dinner in Chinatown, we walked through Leicester Square and gazed at the festive lights.

After dinner in Chinatown, we walked through Leicester Square and gazed at the festive lights. I was tempted to go on the Ferris Wheel, but then remembered I’m afraid of heights.

 

And what would a trip trough Leicester Square be without checking out M and M World! This was on middle daughter's "must do" list (I know).

And what would a trip hrrough Leicester Square be without checking out M and M World! This was on middle daughter’s “must do” list (I know).

 

Our trusty Volvo XV90 waiting to take us back to the Landmark!

Our trusty Volvo XV90 waiting to take us back home!

 

We fit in a little shopping on Marleybone High Street, sneaking into Daunt Books.

The next day, we fit in a little shopping on Marleybone High Street, sneaking into Daunt Books.

 

We stopped in LOccitane in Marleybone High Street and picked up lost of smells and other treats.

We stopped in L’Occitane in Marleybone High Street and picked up lost of smellies and other treats. Ho, ho, ho!

 

According to my 11-year-old, the best part of our #volvoconcierge day was when we got home and unpacked all the shopping!

According to my 11-year-old, the best part of our #volvoconcierge day was when we got home and unpacked all the shopping!

 

If you go:

The Landmark London Hotel 222 Marylebone Rd, London NW1 6JQ +44 020 7631 8000 www.landmarklondon.co.uk A nice five-star hotel near Marleybone Station. The best feature is the indoor courtyard and atrium . There’s also a fabulous indoor swimming pool in the basement.

Natural History Museum Ice Rink Cromwell Rd, London SW7 5BD www.nhm.ac.uk Open 31 October – 6 January, one of the best places in London to glide on the ice.

Wicked the Musical at Apollo Victoria Theatre 17 Wilton Road, Westminster, London SW1V 1LG The story of the Wizard of Oz, from the witches point of view. It’s absolutely fabulous, with all kinds of themes such as bullying, friendship and human nature weaved in.

bbar 43 Buckingham Palace Rd, London SW1W 0PP +44 020 7958 7000 Burgers, hot dogs, Cobb salads in a south African atmosphere.

Tao Tao Ju Chinatown 15 Lisle St, London WC2H 7BE +44 020 7734 8822. www.taotaoju.co.uk Chinatown can be hit and miss, but I’ll definitely go back to this one. Mixed clientele (there was a large family reunion next to a couple that looked like they were on a first date). We had Crispy Duck, Chow Mein, Egg Fried Rice, Pork Cooked Three Ways (I made that up) and Orange Beef. Yum.

Hamleys 188-196 Regent St, Soho, London W1B 5BT +44 0871 704 1977 www.hamleys.com The world’s oldest and largest toy store. It’s worth a visit, but hard to do real shopping with so many people.

M & M World  1 Swiss Ct, London W1D 6AP +44 020 7025 7171 www.mmsworld.com I don’t get this place, but unfortuantley my 9-year-old does. M & M’s every way you want them, and more.

Daunt Books 83 Marylebone High St London +44 020 7224 2295 www.dauntbooks.co.uk A fabulous indy bookshop with all the bells, whistles and character. You could spend hours in here.

Note: Our Volvo experience was provided free of charge. All opinions are mine and my families’.

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20 Comments

  1. 20/12/2013 / 22:34

    What a day!!! Call me next time you do this, I want to tag along

  2. 20/12/2013 / 19:56

    Firstly how do you not get M&M World it is amazing!!! Hamley’s – busy is an understatement – we went Dec 1st last year and it was so busy it took my breath away lol.

    Looks like you had an amazing time. The car looks fab and especially all the room in the boot.

  3. 20/12/2013 / 19:37

    Wicked is brilliant, Hamleys an eye opener and I love the ice skating by the Natural History, oh and the shopping…
    What a brilliant day, you can see from the girls smiles they had a great time too

  4. 20/12/2013 / 19:29

    Now this is one car i would love to travel in. Lovely pics!

  5. 20/12/2013 / 16:49

    What a fab experience. We’re thinking about a third baby and it makes fitting everybody in a car much more difficult that before. I’ll have to check out the XC90.

  6. 20/12/2013 / 13:04

    You gotta love London, don’t you! Sounds like you had the best day ever. And how nice to do it with the comfort of a car!

  7. hello329
    20/12/2013 / 12:10

    what a fab day out, I have London Envy, and I actually live here! 🙂

  8. 20/12/2013 / 11:59

    What a great day out – so memorable too. Happy childhood memories of our old Volvo!

  9. 20/12/2013 / 09:02

    What a great way to see London! We have had a couple of Volvos over the years and loved them. On our fly drive round Sweden, our hire car was a lovely big Volvo we named the Big Brown Bear.

    • 20/12/2013 / 10:09

      Love it that you name your cars! Really gives them a personality. x

  10. 20/12/2013 / 08:46

    Congratulations on a great article, the London tourist board should send you on an assignment. It must be very satisfying to know your work brings so much fun to your family.

    • 20/12/2013 / 10:09

      I could easily work for the London tourist board!

  11. 20/12/2013 / 08:41

    It looks like a perfect way to spend a day! I’m a huge fan of Volvo; we’re planning to upgrade our little Fiesta to a Volvo once the baby comes along, so its good to see how much boot space there is for shopping…*ahem* I mean…buggies!

    • 20/12/2013 / 10:48

      We’ve been really happy with our Volvo.

  12. 20/12/2013 / 08:06

    Wow! That’s a lot of fun to pack into one day! x

    • 20/12/2013 / 10:10

      Yes, we needed a weekend after the weekend to recover. x

  13. 20/12/2013 / 07:59

    what an amazing festve fuelled day out! i love the idea of having a chauffeur for the day, how celeb like!. I recall that we had a volvo when I was young – maybe 9 or 10 – and it broke down on the way to Cornwall for our holiday (before we lived in Devon). I also remember that it had black leather setas whcih were a nightmare in the summer when it was hot and i wore shorts!!

    • 20/12/2013 / 10:11

      When I was small we had a white Volvo sedan. I thought it was so posh.

  14. 20/12/2013 / 07:27

    Wow, that looks like an amazing day out! I saw Wicked a couple of years ago and loved it, hope to see it again one day!

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