Tim Hughes does London in style the easy way, with a boys’ break at the large Hilton London Metropole hotel

Walk out of the station, turn left, walk up the road for a few minutes and you’re there.”

The instructions from the ticket collector at Paddington, could not have been clearer. And he was as good as his word – with me and two excited children bowling through the gilded doors and into the calm of the hotel lobby before either boy had even thought to ask: “Are we nearly there yet?” And that doesn’t happen very often.

When it comes to picking a hotel for a London break from Oxford, you can’t get much better than the Hilton London Metropole.

Rising above the surrounding cityscape like a concrete and glass cruise liner, this sprawling hotel is an oasis of sophisticated calm at the gateway to the West End.

You’ve almost certainly seen the Metropole, comfortably occupying a boomerang-shaped block between the A40 Westway, Edgware Road, Praed Street and the glossily revamped Paddington Basin. At almost 300ft tall, its tower is among the highest in the City of Westminster.

First impressions were of its size – it’s big in each direction with 1,000 rooms, and firmly on the business map, being, reputedly the biggest conference centre in London. But while there’s nothing boutique about it, the welcome was charmingly human – a joke from the cheery Spanish girl on the desk when they were bombarded with the most important question of the day, to an 11 year-old boy anyway: “What’s the wifi code?”

We were here for a lads’ weekend away; a chance for the boys to see the fun London – the London of postcards, kids TV and Richard Curtis films: Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge and all that. And things started well – immediately, in fact, after checking into our room, halfway up that tower.

Shunning the usual search for mini-bar treats or fluffy slippers, the lads rushed to the window and stayed there – faces glued to the glass as the full panorama of the West End stretched before them – the Houses of Parliament and the London Eye topping the view in the distance.

Edgware Road tube station is a couple of minutes walk away, so, once prised away from the view, we set out to explore.

If you haven’t done ‘the tourist thing’ for a while, I can heartily recommend it. Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Horse Guards Parade, St James’s Park and the Churchill War Rooms – British icons woven into the very fabric of our nation, all a short walk apart – and all a great education (and decent settings for a selfie).

Back at the hotel, there was time for a swim and a splash (mostly splash) in the 12.5m pool (there is also a steam room and sauna – along with a fitness room, if that’s your thing), and then dinner.

Despite its size, the restaurants feel neither over large nor crowded. We tried the Fiamma Restaurant – which is evidently a magnet for diners from across London. The food was light, majoring on Mediterranean, with imaginative tapas (I can recommend the super-fresh tiger prawns and the chorizo lollipops with pear aioli at £6 a portion each), pasta, pizza and steaks. There was also an impressive buffet, and that all-important kids menu.

I loved my decadent lobster and tiger prawn risotto with cherry tomato, chilli and lobster oil (£18) – which was tasty and perfectly cooked – juicy seafood and moist yielding rice. The eldest made good work on a huge plate of battered cod and chips (£15) exclaiming the mushy peas particularly fine.

We rolled into the lifts to watch a film in the room – SpongeBob SquarePants, obviously – though the lively Sports Bar and handsome cocktail lounge, with its grand piano, were clearly just getting going. Another time, maybe.

After a comprehensive breakfast – the very definition of the fullest of full English fry-ups (for me) and pancakes with Nutella (them), we checked out, dumping the bags with the concierge and hit the town – this time to Regent Street for the world’s best toyshop: Hamleys – me easily enjoying it the most. Then it was time for a trip on a Thames Clipper to Tower Bridge, picking up the bags and back on a train from Paddington by teatime.

Truly doing London in style... the easy way.

The Facts:

  • Hilton London Metropole, 225 Edgware Road, London (four stars). Call 020 7402 4141. hilton.com
  • For half term, the hotel is offering a great deal for families. The ‘Stay Longer and Save’ package features an 18 per cent discount off best available rates, based on a minimum three-night stay, while children under 10 stay and eat free.
  • Although available in all room types, the Family Superior Rooms are perfect, easily accommodating two adults and up to three children. Prices start at £495, for three-nights in a Superior Room with breakfast.