• Thursday, May 25, 2017

London Luxury Travel Guide

The London Travel Guide
July 8, 2014

Good For: Couples, solos, families and business travelers whose company picks up the tab. This is a year-round destination, with some of the best offerings in culture, food, sights, private clubs, and pubs. This August, London is prime for those brave enough to navigate the Olympics.

The Highlights:

  • Tea at Claridge’s, with its optimal people-watching. Look closely; that may be Marc Jacobs sketching next season’s line or Sarah Jessica Parker descending the staircase like she owns the place.
  • Shopping at the Queen’s grocer – the specialty food purveyor Fortnum and Mason.
  • A stirred martini at the Connaught, followed by their signature Bloody Mary with celery foam.
  • Late-night drinks at Blakes Hotel, where that girl in the corner who looks like Kate Middleton, actually is.
  • Shopping on Mount Street in Mayfair, which besides the better-known Bond Street, is the real insider’s place to hit the stores.
  • Taking in the scene at Scott’s, a classically civilized English dining experience.
  • Getting chauffeured around in the Four Seasons Park Lanehouse Rolls Royce, a gratis service for clients of the hotel.
  • Culture – the Tate Modern, the Tate Britain, and the art galleries on our Sights List.

What to Know: London is outrageously expensive; the budgetary challenged (sorry, Greece, Spain, and Portugal) need not apply. The expense extends to taxis, clothing, bribes to doormen to get you into the Box, and pretty much everything in between. Almost everyone will recommend Zuma sushi in Knightsbridge; we say skip it. This is an outdated recommendation and there are far better restaurants.

Stay

Hotel: The Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane

Location: Hamilton Mews, Mayfair

The vibe: In sheer comfort, the Four Seasons is hard to beat. And that’s not just owing to the plush amenities scattered from lobby to rooftop spa. To be sure, sampling Amaranto’s superlative Italian food, viewing the panorama of Hyde Park and the skyline, and lounging in private “relaxation pods” are all pretty luxe pastimes. But perhaps the hotel’s greatest offering is simply its location, squarely between Mayfair and Knightsbridge, some of London’s best walking neighborhoods. (Not that you’ll want to turn down the free Rolls-Royce chauffeur service.)

Price: from GBP660

Website: www.fourseasons.com/london

Hotel: The Connaught

Location: Carlos Pl., Mayfair

The vibe: When a hotel’s known for its cocktail bar, the local cool kids are never far behind. And that’s exactly the case with the Connaught, which has the hands-down best cocktail bar in the city. Maybe James Bond would turn down his nose at the stirred – not shaken – martinis, but the vibe was enough to win notoriously picky Gwyneth Paltrow when she renovated her townhome. Indeed, the only feature more beautiful than the old-school suites (not least the gorgeous, David Collins-refreshed Apartment where she stayed) are the people who hang out here.

Price: GBP570

Website: www.the-connaught.co.uk

Hotel: Claridge’s

Location: 49 Brook St., Mayfair

The vibe: In a hotel this happening, anything can – and does – happen. Throughout its over-200-year history, Claridge’s has welcomed visits from Queen Victoria and Audrey Hepburn and a partnership with Diane von Furstenberg. Maybe horse-drawn carriages no longer pass through the lobby, a place so historic that it deserves its own architectural tour. But one Sarah Jessica Parker is apt to show up any moment on the main staircase, dressed to the nines, and do the same.

Price: GBP450

Website: www.claridges.co.uk

Hotel: The Berkeley

Location: Wilton Pl., Knightsbridge

The vibe: More mod than the Claridge’s, the Berkeley is a fashion hotel in its own tradition. Style shines through in every aspect, including the one-of-a-kind “Prêt-a-Portea” with confections inspired by the current season’s runway looks. But the hotel curbs its sartorial playfulness with a healthy dose of realism: Rather than expecting you to tote along your entire jewelbox from home, the staff will lend out the signature Fashion Trunk (curated by Atelier-Mayer) and its dazzling vintage array of Chanel, Courrèges and Lacroix treasures.

Price: GBP450

Website: www.the-berkeley.co.uk

Hotel: Brown’s Hotel

Location:Albemarle St., Mayfair

The vibe: People who stay at Brown’s are known to never leave, or at least to abandon their loyalties to the hotel. And that’s because it has the minimalist edge that has always distinguished Rocco Forte, the visionary behind it, from his fellow five-star hoteliers.  As close to Soho as it is to Green Park, Brown’s is London as it is right now: young and old, cheeky and sophisticated, all at once.

Price: GBP492

Website: www.roccofortehotels.com

Hotel: The Thompson Belgraves

Location: 20 Chesham Pl., Belgravia

The vibe: An air of VIP exclusivity hangs over the Thompson, and it makes it hard to resist. Nested into a neighborhood of lingerie shops – and once known to place underthings in amenity kits – this place is sexier than your average (or above-average) London hotel, with a smoking terrace that only London insiders know to visit. A staff of awesome concierges is also known to get you in just about anywhere. The reasonable rates are an unexpected – if delightful – surprise.

Price: GBP394.80

Website: www.thompsonhotels.com/hotels/belgraves

EAT

Amaranto

Amaya

Hakkasan in Mayfair

Heston Blumenthal

The Ledbury

Mayfair Arts Club

Nopi

Novikov

Scott’s

Viajante

Brinkley’s Wine Gallery

Bucco di Lupo

Cinnamon Soho

Daphne’s

Delaunay

Duke of Wellington

The Duke of Cambridge Organic Pub

Electricity Showrooms

Ottolenghi

La Petite Maison

Shepherd’s Market

Scalini

The Thomas Cubitt

Trishna

The Wolseley

DRINK

The Botanist

Fashion Tea

Claridge’s

Hummingbird Bakery

Kopapa

Monmouth Coffee

Annabel’s

The Box

The Connaught

The Groucho Club

Loulou’s

Anglesea Arms

Bumpkin

Floridita

The Grenadier

Levant

The Paradise

Punch Bowl

Tramp

Westbourne Pub

SEE

Alan Cristea Gallery

Borough Street Market

Haunch of Venison Gallery – no longer selling art

Royal Academy of Arts

Portobello Market

The Tate Modern

The Tate Britain

Victoria and Albert Museum

SPA

Aman Spa

Berkeley Hotel Spa

Bulgari Spa

Four Seasons Spa

Mandarin Oriental Spa

SHOP

Anya Hindmarch

Bespoke

Brown’s Department Store

Jenny Packham

Noë

Pullman Gallery

Roland Mouret

for food:

Daylesford Organic Shop

Fortnum & Mason

La Fromagerie

Neal’s Yard Dairy

(Photos courtesy of the Four Seasons London at Park Lane, The Berkeley, and the Thompson Belgraves.)