Whatever you think of London when you live in or near it, there’s no denying it’s an amazing place for things to do.

But how many of us actually appreciate its full value and how many of us take it for granted by hardly ever enjoying the many great days out it provides?

I suspect it’s mostly the latter. Certainly my family and I are guilty of that, rarely choosing to travel in from our quiet haven in the south-east to take advantage of the museums, galleries, shows and myriad attractions.

So when the opportunity came up to be tourists on our doorstep for a weekend and to do some of what visitors do, we jumped at the chance.

We were put up in the Thistle Holborn Kingsley hotel in Bloomsbury near the British Museum and got set for a mini break less than an hour’s travel from home that would give us the rare chance to make the most of what the capital has to offer.

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Checking in at the four-star Thistle and immediately receiving some friendly and helpful service, something that London is hardly renowned for, we knew we were in some fine surroundings.

The exemplary first impression continued as we got to our room, one of the premier rooms known as a junior suite, which managed to stay unshowy while still oozing class and style. Or certainly more class and style than I’m used to.

It was also vast. We were already impressed after seeing the main bedroom with its lovely big double bed and the side room with its sofa bed but then we discovered a whole other section to the room containing an armchair, dining area and lots of space to stroll around in.

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We were reluctant to leave the room but were looking forward to the afternoon’s entertainment provided for us, which was to be one of a new series of walking tours devised to complement guests’ stays at the seven Thistle hotels in London.

Not wanting the action option for a warm Saturday, which would have involved climbing The O2 and flying across the Thames on a cable car, and not being history buffs or culture vultures, we had opted to do the food tour. And it was very tasty.

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Expertly curated by Blue Badge tourist guide Eve Milner, the route for the Be Closer to Delicious Delights route started off from the central and easily accessible point of Trafalgar Square.

From there we headed to the National Gallery to view some food-related art and then it was a stroll into Leicester Square to see the M&Ms World store but since we’d been there before we chose not to go in.

After this it was Chinatown and our first chance to graze as we stopped off at Beijing Dumplings for some moreish nibbles.

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More eating quickly followed as we made our way along the tour route to the Chinatown Bakery, the beautiful French pâtisserie Maison Bertaux.

The tour has been designed for families with children aged seven to 11, so it’s a wise choice that it ends with ice cream at Udderlicious and sweets at the Willy Wonka-like Choccywoccydoodah. There were also some great tasting cheeses to try at Neal’s Yard Dairy.

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We were joined on our tour by our Eve herself, whose company and local knowledge we greatly enjoyed for the four or so hours she was with us. Most of the time though the tours are designed to be done unaccompanied, which I don’t see a problem with, as certainly the food journey was an easy to follow route with a good selection of stops that families can enjoy at their own pace.

We thoroughly enjoyed the tour as we got to see places we wouldn’t have otherwise thought to go to and try things we wouldn’t normally have considered.

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Once our tour was complete we decided to fit some shopping in, with a trip to the geek heaven that is Forbidden Planet in Shaftesbury Avenue and then the wonderful Foyles bookshop in Charing Cross Road.

For dinner we chose to return to one of the places we’d briefly stopped at on the tour, Ed Diner’s in Soho. With its chrome, neon, jukeboxes and above all else great food, this place serves one of the more authentic tastes of America in London - along with some of the best burgers and shakes around.

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Full up, we began walking back to the hotel but with a detour via the Lego store and Hamleys. Saturday nights don’t get much better than wandering a toy store.

After getting back exhausted, we settled down for a peaceful and comfortable night back at the opulent Thistle.

After one of the better hot buffet breakfasts I’ve had at a hotel, and sadly checking out of the hotel, we decided to continue being tourists for a bit before returning home, so we went back to the start of our tour the previous day and visited the National Gallery.

Crazy busy as it was, there are worse ways to spend a Sunday morning. Pro tip - if like me you’re no art appreciator and don’t know your Monet from your Botticelli or you wonder how a painting of some sunflowers can fetch millions, you can still have fun totting up all the boobs those saucy old artists painted.

And so that was our weekend as tourists on our doorstep.

While we might not have the luxury of a Thistle hotel in future, or the expert assistance of a guide, we have been inspired to start doing this sort of thing more regularly and making the most of London.

It showed there is still so much of the capital we’ve never seen and gave us a fresh appreciation for what’s so close by.

There’s a good reason why millions of tourists flock to our capital every year, and when you look at it through their eyes you start to see it in a different light.

I would definitely recommend breaking from the normal routine and enjoying a weekend break in the unlikely destination of London.

• See www.thistle.com/BeCloser for more information.

• As part of a standard booking with Thistle, the tours are unaccompanied, but can be accessed through londoncovered.glhhotels.com

• For your chance to win a Be Closer package which includes a hotel stay for a family of four and an accompanied Be Closer tour visit www.thistle.com/BeCloser. T&Cs apply.

• Tourist guide Eve Milner is recommended is you're looking for someone to show your family or party the sights of London. See www.britainsbestguides.org or email her at yourguide@leisureroundlondon.com