London has two dozen FABULOUS hotels and they are all completely unique. I always try to stay some place different than my last visit so I can determine which hotels best suit each client.
We started at the classic Dorchester built in 1931 overlooking Hyde Park in Mayfair. What an exceptionally comfortable hotel with beautifully appointed spacious rooms and bathrooms, and where interconnecting options are terrific for families. The restaurants and bars are first class with service to match the stellar cuisine. This is the place to be pampered!
The art deco China Tang at The Dorchester is a great place to duck into for an expert cocktail and some dim sum!
London has some of the best international cuisine in the world. When in London, Lebanese, Persian, Indian, Spanish, Italian, Chinese, and British gastro are always a must. On this trip we had terrific Peruvian as well.
Some of the city’s best Middle Eastern restaurants are a 5 minute walk from the Dorchester at Shepherd Market in Mayfair. These restaurants are packed with jet setters late into the night. It helps that the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia happens to be across the street. Here was our first meal at Al Hamra and it was absolute perfection!
This trip was a homecoming of sorts as our kids had not been back to London since we lived here in 2009. We wanted to see all of our old stomping grounds and check out some new experiences to share with the families I send to London.
We so enjoyed a private tour of the Household Cavalry Museum with the the museum’s engaging director Alice before the doors opened to the general public. The Household Cavalry is a living and working museum of the Queen’s Royal Mounted Bodyguards. We also had fun dressing in old cavalry uniforms and watching the changing of the guard!
For us, no trip to London is complete without lunch at Borough Market! For those looking to dine in, FISH, ROAST, and a terrific TAPAS restaurant are all highly recommended at Borough Market! (don’t miss artisan coffee at Monmouth)
A standard cruise on the Thames can lull you to sleep. For families I definitely suggest sightseeing on a fast moving Rib Ride. It is a beautiful, fast-paced, and fun-filled hour of the prettiest sights on the London Thames. Heavier protective wear will be provided for inclement weather days but bring a hat and gloves, just in case!
The Admiralty is a great little pub to stop for a beer and some chips post Rib Ride.
I recently had a family stay at the charming Haymarket Hotel in the three bedroom penthouse which is truly perfect for a larger family that requires a little extra space and would like a serviced apartment and kitchen, but also still wants access to all of the hotel facilities, restaurant, concierge and even the pool (which is terrific for post-touring days)!
Here are a few pictures of this lovely boutique hotel which is part of the fantastic Firmdale collection –
I could not help but take the time to check out the 45 Park Lane, the contemporary boutique version of the Dorchester located just across the street.
The next two nights, we stayed at the playful Ham Yard Hotel located in Soho and part of the fabulous Firmdale group. The hotel has a wonderful restaurant and bar that’s great for pre or post theatre. It has a wonderful buzz about it that extends into its own spacious courtyard surrounded by shops right off of busy Regent Street. As always, fun art abounds!
Our favorite day and guide were without question heading to East London for a Street Art and Food Tour with the fabulous Pepe.
First stop for desserts at Ottolenghi….
Very typical english food at where else but the ENGLISH RESTAURANT…
Spitalfields Market – eclectic range of retailers and delicious food.
And the essence of our tour was to check out the incredible street art of Shoreditch and to learn of world renowned urban artists and the scene of the Banksy vs Robbo rivalry, plus Stick OBEY, Invader, and countless others.
East London is alive with art, music, food, coffee, hipsters, boutiques, markets and hotels. Our guide, Pepe, captured our teens and adults alike!
Nothing like meeting up with old friends! I had not seen Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane and Piccadilly since we moved away, and I was not prepared for how chic and wonderful the recent renovation had rendered what has always been an impeccable hotel! Four Seasons always guarantees the most wonderful and genuine service in the city simply because of the people, and this fresh vibe in the bar, lobby, suites, and spa were such a treat to see! And drinks with old friends at Four Seasons made for a wonderful night!
Gil and I reunited with Kristien and Susannah at Four Seasons Hotel London: seems like old times indeed! Then we continued on with Pisco Sours at Peruvian restaurant Pachamama!
Next stop was the The Stafford London! Sunday Roast at the Stafford Hotel’s Game Bird restaurant was a find and a study in British comfort food. This little gem of a boutique hotel is tucked away in historic St. James perfectly located to everything yet feels like a country escape.
Sunday lunch was as English as it gets with table side served selection of smoked salmons and eel followed by the main course – absolutely delicious display!
More fish and chips for the young lady, with mushy peas, of course! And for the rest of us, table side carved roast of beef with all of the English accompaniments was a gluttonous lunch time treat!
The American Bar at the Stafford is a sight to behold and the perfect place to come in for a drink even if not staying at the hotel.
In addition to rooms in the Main Inn, guests and especially families will love the privacy and uniqueness of staying the Mews Suites or Carriage House across the courtyard from the Main Inn.
The historic wine cellar is perhaps the best kept secret The Stafford has!
The Stafford’s 17th century vaulted Wine Cellar, used as an air raid shelter during WWII, now houses 8,000 of the world’s most special wines. Master Sommelier Gino Nardella is the perfect host for special dinners here! (After 40 years with the Stafford, there is not a bottle of wine there that he has not tasted! Chin-Chin, Gino!!)
Our stay in London would not be complete without our ultimate mission of visiting our old stomping grounds where we lived and the kids grew up for 3 years. In Southwest London along the Thames river is the charming town of Fulham where we supported our beloved Fulham Football Club in the historic stadium lovingly called The Cottage. We also loved visiting our old friends, a multi generation Italian family where we enjoyed breakfast so many mornings at their River Cafe.
In London we mostly walked and walked, just like old days, that is how we discovered so many incredible neighborhoods – each with its own character and way of life.
Walking through gorgeous Hyde Park – London has more parks per capita than any city in the world.
Last stop was to Ascot, located 45 minutes outside of London to Coworth Park, a Dorchester property. This is a gorgeous country retreat ideal for a couple of days of spa, horse riding, tennis and fresh air. A superb location to explore the English countryside or simply to enjoy a long layover as the property is just 25 minutes from Heathrow Airport.
My kids love taking the train and I feel pretty certain could find their way through any country that has a good train and subway system.
Wonderful sense of arrival to the gorgeous Coworth Park for our last night in the UK. Another magnificent welcome! I guess they know we love bubbles!
Rooms are in the main mansion, in the stables, in a private cottage, or in the historic 3 bedroom Dower House.
Our rooms were in the stables and perfectly lovely –
Off to explore the lovely grounds! No one does gardens quite like the English.
Our last dinner before departure: a deconstructed caesar salad and a final fish and chips.
Farewell, London – you always give so much!