The Big Smoke, the home of the West End, and a regal choice for travelers seeking a destination hot on events, glorious history, evocative museums, and spectacular shopping – London has it all. from wandering the gold leaf state rooms of Buckingham Palace to helicopter flights above Westminster, afternoon tea at The Ritz, and catching controversial exhibitions at the Tate; you may tire of the weather, but you will never tire of the Great British capital.
Every year London plays host to a plethora of star studded events, all starting with the London Fashion Week hitting catwalks around the Strand starting this week, the 6th-8th. Spring sees the Water Yacht Show sail down the Thames, and summer comes with a dollop of strawberries and cream at the elite sporting event of Wimbledon and the Royal Ascot. Whatever takes you to London, we have the very best suggestions for where to stay, dine and play…
Where to Stay
The Taj 51 is one of London’s most delightful places to stay, boasting an unrivalled location only five minutes from Buckingham Palace. A mesmerizing history makes the Taj stand out – once an almshouse for the poor owned by a relative of Anne Boleyn, then a meeting place for nobility, and now a glorious hotel. Expect emerald brickwork depicting Shakespeare plays, mosaic floors, peacock wallpaper, and 19th century paintings. Expect libraries lined with glass and globes, and expect 24 karat afternoon tea and access to the best Indian restaurant in London.
If you like to take breakfast with duchesses and dukes, then The Goring could be just the spot for you. This historic hotel played host to the Duchess Kate Middleton the night before her wedding. In the summer months patrons can play croquet on the lawn, an array of footmen, butlers, and personnel are there to serve, and the Royal Suite stretches the length of the building and boasts a grand piano, swathes of silk and Georgian glassware.
The Ritz is nothing short of an institution in London and a firm favorite for well-heeled visitors looking for the best afternoon tea. Tradition is the name of the game here, with white gloved doormen, Louis XVI suites, and Michelin starred chefs taking up the helm to serve at one of Europe’s most dashing dining rooms.
Where to Dine
While Britain doesn’t have a sterling reputation when it comes to cuisine, London is a smorgasbord of creative culinary skills. You can taste the Finest French food at Le Gavroche, with its impeccable 8 course tasting menu serving up everything from clam minestrone to Scottish beef in red wine, French artisanal cheeses, and perfect pastel petit fours.
Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester is also one of the only chefs to have been awarded three Michelin stars. Every tantalizing touch is as lavish as they come; think a whole menu dedicated to black truffles and a tasting menu composed of foie gras, Dorset crab with caviar, saddle of venison, lobster and a citrus vacherin.
Leave fussy French palates behind and opt for the clean razor-sharp execution of sushi master Chef Mitsushiro Araki. The Araki boasts one of the most expensive tasting menus in the whole of London; in fact, The Araki only has one item on the menu – sushi omakase. Expect melt in the mouth fresh fish and incredibly delicate offerings from the Michelin starred chef.
Where to Play
Knightsbridge is the spot to splurge if you are looking for designer gems without the crowds that flock Oxford Street. Both Harrods and Harvey Nichols reside here boasting an endless array of gourmet goodies, high class knick-knacks, and fashionista fun. Sloan Street is the place to linger for those craving Gucci, Armani, and Christian Dior. While over on Bond Street you will find Tiffany’s, Cartier, and Sotheby’s Antiques.
London’s cocktail scene is certainly worth exploring, whether in the elaborate 1930’s Shanghai style of the China Tang Bar or sipping a flawless French 75 at the famed Dukes Bar on St James Place. During London Fashion week you cannot go wrong showcasing your best dress at The Riding House Café, the hip Hangout Sketch, or at the illustrious club Tape.