A Proper Getaway: Three Days in London
Like most proper Bostonians, I simply adore all things British – from ‘Love Actually’ to Burberry to a full English breakfast. To celebrate my 35th birthday, we hopped across the pond for a special getaway weekend. We've been binge-watching the Netflix drama ‘The Crown’ these days, and our itinerary, accommodations and attire embraced all that modern London has to offer while lending a stylish nod to a bygone era.
What to See and Do
Seeped in more than a thousand years of history, Westminster Abby has been the coronation church of England since 1066 and serves as the final resting place of seventeen monarchs . Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was married in the Abbey on November 20, 1947 and crowned there five years later on June 2, 1953. The Choir of Westminster Abbey is renowned worldwide, and my very favorite way to experience the Abby is to attend a choral service. Evensong is held seven nights a week and welcomes those of all faiths or none.
Originally known as Buckingham House, Buckingham Palace is the London residence and administrative headquarters of the reigning monarch of the United Kingdom. The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh live in the private apartments on the north side of the Palace, while rooms on the upper floors of the north and east sides are occupied by other members of the Royal Family. The State Rooms at Buckingham Palace are used extensively by The Queen and members of the Royal Family to receive and entertain their guests on official occasions and are open to the public daily.
Where to Stay
Nestled in the heart of London's iconic West End, Hazlitt's Hotel was once home to the famed English essayist for whom it is named. Aptly described as"Civilised, charming and Oh! So curious." this beautifully appointed boutique hotel boasts antique furniture, a rich history and old fashioned hospitality. Cozy up in the Library with a proper cup of tea (or perhaps something stronger from the hotel's honesty bar). An enormous, languid cat by the name of Sir Godfrey calls Hazlitt's his home, and may keep you company by the fire if you're willing to offer a pat.
The favored hotel of London's most blue blooded residents, The Goring was awarded a Royal Warrant by HRM Queen Elizabeth II. The hotel boasts a beautiful private garden and lawn on which a round of croquet may be enjoyed during the summer months.
One of London's most luxurious hotels, Claridge's has long-standing connections with royalty and is often referred to as "the annex of Buckingham Palace". Book a reservation well in advance for its legendary Afternoon Tea, which is served in the hotel's glamorous foyer.
Where to Dine
Gathering around the table for a proper "Sunday Roast" with all the trimmings, including plump Yorkshire pudding, is a beloved British tradition. One of the best in England is found at The Gun, a beautiful public house on the River Thames with a 250 year history. In the eighteenth century, British war hero Horatio Nelson regularly frequented the establishment, where he would meet his mistress in an upstairs room for their secret assignations. The restaurant now offers superbly-sourced modern British cuisine served in an elegant waterfront setting.
A London institution for over a century, J Sheekey serves impossibly fresh seafood in a wood-paneled, white table-clothed dining room evocative of a bygone era. Although the restaurant is best known for their fish pie (a simple, comforting dish of cod, salmon and haddock baked in lots of butter and cream), you can wax nostalgic over sophisticated classics such as Lobster Thermidor and dressed crab. I love to recreate dishes from my favorite restaurants at home, and was tickled to pick up a copy of their cookbook, J Sheeky Fish, which features more than a hundred recipes from this legendary establishment.
Queen Elizabeth II was the first monarch to be crowned after India’s independence from British colonial rule and has visited the country on three occasions during her reign. London is home to some of the best Indian restaurants in the world, and at the very top of the list is Dishoom, a swish Bombay brasserie that pays homage to the post-colonial Irani cafés that were once part of the fabric of life in Bombay. Boasting a gorgeous, vintage atmosphere and impossibly flavorful cuisine, it is, simply put, one of my favorite restaurants on the globe.