I am glad to see that American Express's Departures Magazine is on the lookout for kid-friendly travel spots; while the London finds sound brilliant, this month's recommendations for "Lisbon with Little Ones" needs some work.
From Sophy Roberts' report ["wow--what charm, what attention to detail"], the new Haymarket Hotel [left] sounds divine. The waiter brought extra mini-pots of marmite for her son, she writes, "And my children's nanny, exhausted from her charges, was delivered tea when we arrived, all unasked for." [$4,500 for a 2BR suite, haymarkethotel.com]
If Piccadilly isn't the neighborhood for you, "The brand-new three-bedroom, four-bath Royal Suite at the Baglioni Hotel, which is perfectly located across from Kensington Gardens, is ideal for those traveling with children." The personal butler can familiarize your nanny with the plasma TV controls, and will present each child with his own Baglioni teddy bear. The butler can also install the car seat in the hotel's courtesy car, a Maserati Quattroporte, for you. And while you're out, get him put some padding around the less-than-ideal edge of that obsidian coffee table. [from $10,000; baglionihotels.com]
Unmentioned: London's art scene dilemma. Ever since Damien Hirst's shark was sold to an American and a warehouse fire destroyed Tracy Emin's name-embroidered tent sculpture, Everyone I Have Ever Slept With, 1963-1995, parents have faced a shortage of entertaining-but-hard-to-explain art. One option: go old school! Point the Quattroporte toward the National Gallery, which houses Caravaggio's grisly masterpiece, Salome receives the Head of John the Baptist.
Maybe the cheaper Lapa Palace [from $480, lapapalace.com] is better after all, even if it does involve riding some type of public streetcar. And then you can park the kid in the falconry class for the day.
Also, while older kids might get the art historical joke, Cerverjaria de Trinidade's dessert, "Toddler receives the Ice-Cream-Filled Head of Pingu," is just asking for trouble. Also, the "limited" kids' menu turns out to be a hamburger patty and fries clown face. I would expect more from the oldest beer hall in Portugal. DT's recommendation: go to Lisbon first.
"Headline-changing, how'd I miss this?" update: Even if they don't want to admit it, even demographically desirable families--and their nannies--can grow weary of trying to get the kid to eat the local food. Departures to the rescue: "If you need a break, head toward the blue awnings of the Pasteis de Belem to sample the pastries. It's across the street from McDonald's." Yes, you deserve a break today.