The Lensbury

The Lensbury – summer fun by the Thames

The Lensbury – summer fun by the Thames

How to combine work, rest – childcare and fun!


Like many parents, I’ve been frantically juggling work and childcare over the long summer holidays. But having just visited The Lensbury, I’ve realised how you do it.

The hotel and leisure club, with an idyllic spot on the Thames in Teddington, has the answer – if you’re a member or a guest of the hotel. Over the summer holidays, the club runs activity camps for children – many of which make the most of the riverside setting with water-based, half day, day, or weekly courses. And there are tennis and squash camps, too. On Saturdays, there are also cinema clubs.

Meanwhile, parents can head for a swim, go to the gym or the spa, relax with a coffee, or buckle down in the co-working suite to get on with your tasks. It’s a perfect combination.

Rocking up on a sunny and still day, it was ideal conditions for the activities on the river. My children, aged 9 and 12, joined a small group with friendly and enthusiastic coaches, who set out the day’s activities – first some kayaking in the morning, then for the afternoon, some raft-building, followed by a dip in the Thames (in life jackets, of course).

Feeling reassured, I left them to it, and wandered back down the path to catch up on some emails in the lounge with a great coffee. It sure beat my usual start to the day (make own coffee, shut lounge door to drown out the games of Fortnite, feel guilty as the kids really should be out in the fresh air, get on with work!).

For the morning’s screen break, I had a dip in the pool – with its floor-to-ceiling windows, this is a lovely light-filled space and really energises you for the day. Needing to focus for work, I then set up base in the co-working space – there’s a large auditorium where a few others sat at proper desks, with all sockets to hand, and fast wifi. Next to it is a lounge where you can grab free teas and coffees, make calls and work more informally.

Lunch for me on a working day is normally a quick fix sandwich but it was lovely to have the children join me for a proper screen-free break in the restaurant. There is a beautiful conservatory that looks out on to the terrace and to the river beyond. Service is delightful, the atmosphere informal and it’s all very welcoming. We started with some deliciously crisp calamari. Then on to huge pizzas for the children, and a flavourful pasta with pesto for me.

We skipped dessert – the children needed to be back at camp and I had to crack on with work. The plan was to reconvene for ice cream in one of the tepees afterwards… the tepees had already piqued our curiosity earlier in the summer when we spied them from across the river on our walk between Teddington and Kingston when they were lit up for the evening. They are there until around October and can be hired out for dinner with the family – or hire all three and make a party of it.

Work finished, I picked the kids up from camp. They looked exhausted but were beaming. They loved building the rafts and the dip in the Thames. We wandered past the rugby field (every blade is perfectly manicured so don’t even think about running across it – this is where the professionals sometimes train!) and to our our tepee. I sat out in the sun, while the kids made the most of the comfy sofas inside. It felt more like an evening on holiday.

Admittedly, the children have done other sports camps over the summer elsewhere, and they have been brilliant. But to be able to get a change of scene for myself, and still be productive, with some great opportunities for screen breaks in between, an offering like this is invaluable.

So this is how to combine work and childcare – everyone is happy… now, where do I sign up?

For memberships, contact the club directly. For hotel reservations: Nightly room rates start from £145 for a Classic Double or £225 for a Deluxe Twin / Family Room, including breakfast. Details at