Travel Review: How To Do London Like A Royal
Wills and Harry may be off the market, but that doesn’t mean one can’t dream… Ever fancied living up London town like a princess? Well, with some careful planning, a few ‘bob’ in your pocket and the right attitude, you too can enjoy this sophisticated capital just like a Kate or a Meghan (or, at the very least, like Beatrice or Eugenie). From the royal family’s favourite hangouts and hobbies, to VIP moments fit for a queen, we uncover the English charms for a truly majestic holiday.
Harrods (harrods.com) is a bookmarked shopping location on the royal sat-nav, with seven floors of the finest clothing, electronics and homewares, plus an incredible food court. Meanwhile, over on Oxford Street, Selfridges (selfridges.com) offers an equally luxurious shopping experience with a huge range of boutiques, should you need a gown for an upcoming charity gala or governor’s ball.
Prefer fancy silver souvenirs to flags and tinned biscuits? Then have your driver drop you off at Chancery Lane for The London Silver Vaults (silvervaultslondon.com). In 1876, this was a safe deposit for the wealthy and provided storage for silver dealers during World War II. Today, however, it serves as the largest retail collection of fine antique and contemporary silver in the world and is secretly frequented by international royalty.
Feast Like A King
In the early days, Prince William famously took his future wife for dinners at Dans Le Noir? (london.danslenoir.com) in Farringdon. The Parisian restaurant serves food in pitch black darkness. Dans Le Noir? was a genius way for the couple to dine anonymously.
You enter with hands placed on the shoulders of the guest in front, and are led to your seat by waiting staff that are blind or partially sighted. One of four menus is pre-selected, so just turn up and have hours of fun guessing what’s going into your mouth. If only Queen Liz knew the kind fun and frolics Will and Kate were getting up to! Without giving too much of the surprise away, the food is fresh, insanely tasty (though, perhaps the darkness heightened our senses) and a great social experience – you may even find yourself seated next to another superstar couple hiding from the paps.
For beautiful food that you can see, visit Novikov (novikovrestaurant.co.uk). Located in the heart of Mayfair, this is a firm favourite among music royalty, from Rihanna to Spice Girl Mel B, and is one of the spots to snap and be snapped. Novikov is divided into two dining areas. The Asian Restaurant specialises in pan-Asian cuisine. The menu has an extensive range of sushi, dim sum and barbecued and charcoaled dishes, lemongrass duck and miso black cod included. The Italian Restaurant, meanwhile, offers regional Italian fare with a contemporary twist. The menu includes a superb assortment of antipasti, homemade pasta, seafood and meat dishes. We recommend grabbing a seat by the ‘seafood market’ of the Asian restaurant area, where you can watch guests select their catches of the day, with which talented chefs then prepare a designer spread. Oh, and if you’ve ever been in a royal pickle, whereby the chef on your own private jet has called in sick, then we have some great news: Novikov recently launched a Private Jet Menu. Via its website you can now order food from both eateries for your flight home. What a relief!
British monarchs have been visiting India for over a century, due to a long shared history between the nations, so it comes as no surprise that the clan has acquired quite a taste for Indian cuisine. William recently told BBC Radio 1 that he and Kate regularly order Indian takeaway – the mild sort. Well, we’ve found the king of Indian cuisine, Benares (benaresrestaurant.com), possibly the best in London. This Michelin-starred Mayfair restaurant serves modern Indian cuisine with a distinctive British twist, so the Windsors need not worry about burning their tongues. Chef Atul Kochhar has created stunning dishes, inspired by frequent trips to his homeland and showcasing a modern take on the classics. Go for the changezi chaapein (smoked tandoori lamb cutlets) with a side of gobi adraki (spiced cauliflower). Atul’s talent for pairing complex and subtle flavoursextends to the bar, where stunning mixed drinks feature unusual spices, homemade chutneys and syrups. The ambience at Benares is Mayfair chic without the pretension, and we’re obsessed.
Toast To The Capital
Whatever you want to toast, whether it’s business success, new shoes, or a Diana-sized engagement ring, do so at one of the swankiest tables in the city.
Out Of The Blue, a hidden room within The Blue Bar at The Berkeley in Knightsbridge, allows for just four guests at a time. Each is given a secret drink to taste while being transported on an intense immersive journey where incredible 360-degree visuals, smells and sounds are pumped into the room to invigorate your senses. This is the most fun and exciting way to sample London’s finest concoctions, and the city elite has been positively raving about the experience since it opened in November last year.
Other notable spots to cheers include The Waeska Bar at The Mandrake Tottenham Court Road, a beautiful venue; and glam The Roseberry Lounge at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, with live blues, jazz, and swing music.
Those wishing to refine their palate might like to check out British TV grape expert Amelia Singer’s very exclusive supperclubs. Amelia offers intimate tastings of off-the-beaten-track bottles, followed by a feast of fine food prepared by renowned chef Danny Jack in her stunning Notting Hill Mews house.
Sightsee in style
You wouldn’t want to risk wearing your crown jewels on the London underground, so surely the only way to see this fair land is by helicopter? That’s right, The London Helicopter (thelondonhelicopter.com) is the ultimate way to sightsee like a VVIP. We took the 18-minute London Sights tour, where an informative pilot guided us through the city’s most recognised landmarks from west to east London, including Westminster Abbey to The Shard. The most fun part? The movie-star take off and landing. If there was ever a time to feel like a Bond girl, this would be it.
Say ‘Cheerio’ To Jet-lag
Ever heard HRH complain about jet-lag or a stiff neck from that bargain red-eye flight? Of course not! And flotation therapy can ensure you don’t either. It is the practice of lying back in a flotation tank full of wonderful healing Epsom salts, and drifting into a blissful meditative state that rejuvenates and revives your mind and entire body. Experts say that an hour in the tank is the equivalent to around four hours of deep sleep. The sensation is quite amazing and is used by savvy travellers to help overcome jet-lag. Floatworks London (floatworks.com) is the leading flotation centre in the country, so be sure to book your session pre-trip.
Something else to ease travel fatigue, as well as exhaustion from the day’s ‘royal duties’ is the five-star Berkeley (the-berkeley.co.uk) in Knightsbridge. This hotel really is one of a kind – your own little Buckingham Palace, minus corgis and pesky phone calls from the Fergie who wasn’t in Black Eyed Peas. You can opt to rest your head in The Gallery suite, the Park Suite (with views over Hyde Park), or choose from a selection of Terrace suites and The Apartment overlooking St Paul’s Church. We were lucky enough to nab a Grand Terrace Suite, which was even bigger than our Downtown Dubai apartment. When your room’s grand walk-in wardrobe stocks Burberry coats on loan, you know you’re in the epitome of modern British luxury.
Up on the seventh floor, you’ll find a glorious temple-like pool with views of the city skyline and Hyde Park treetops. If the weather’s on your side, you can relax on the sun loungers in the lush secret garden. The hotel’s Bamford Haybarn Spa uses British-made formulas from skincare experts at Bamford, and Oskia London, for all body treatments and facials, should you need a bit of pampering ahead of those red-carpet events in the famous Leicester Square.
Finally, there is no leaving Great Britain without sampling afternoon tea; and for the finest in the country head just downstairs to Prêt-à-Portea for cakes and pastries with a fashion twist. Every day from 1.30pm-5.30pm, The Berkeley serves a gorgeous menu of couture treats reflecting the latest catwalk trends, colours and designs. A great place for modern in-laws to meet, we’re pretty sure the Windsors and the Markles will be spotted instagramming tiered plates and tea cups at Prêt-à-Portea, come wedding season. Oh, the royal life!