Thank you to the gorgeous Rosario Hubert for her local and insider
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.
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 This is an outdated recommendation and there are far better restaurants.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Haunch of Venison Gallery – no longer selling art
(Photos courtesy of the Four Seasons London at Park Lane, The Berkeley, and the Thompson Belgraves.)