Cheerio London! Your Guide To What’s New And Hot In The British Capital

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shutterstock_370728353_previewPhoto Credit: Shutterstock

This spring all eyes will be on the British capital when Prince Harry weds Meghan Markle on Saturday, May 19, 2018. It’s a prime time to spend a week or two in jolly old England. Here’s a haute guide to what’s new and happening in the glorious city.

Getting There

Oakland Airport has become a hub for international travel with Norwegian Airways offering affordable first class flights directly to London Gatwick. Although Gatwick is outside of the city proper, it’s incredibly easy to hop on the train or take a car to central London. Ample seating space, plenty of entertainment options, and tasty snacks make the ten-hour flight a cinch.  

The entrance to Dukes hotel
The entrance to Dukes hotel

Stay

Located in a private courtyard, the historic hotel Dukes is an ideal place to stay in the heart of St. James Place—a five-minute walk from Buckingham Palace. This year, Dukes, which is celebrating its 110 anniversary, completed a luxurious renovation. All of the guest rooms and lobby have been completely remodeled. The boutique hotel has 90 charming rooms including 11 suites and one penthouse suite. Rumor has it Dukes was Princess Diana’s favorite hotel and for good reason. Its understated elegance, discreet service, and posh decor make the Dukes’ guest feel as if they are receiving the royal treatment.

The renovated lobby at Dukes
The renovated lobby at Dukes

Rooms are outfitted with crisp inviting bedding, antique furniture, thick curtains, and interesting artwork. Printed textural elements, like throw pillows and mosaic metallic wallpaper, provide a modern touch to the decor. Other amenities that will make your stay memorable? The Health Club with spa treatments, the recently debuted GBR Restaurant where chef Nigel Mendham serves sensational fish and chips and a lovely afternoon tea, and the cigar garden, a heated outdoor area where cognac and Cuban cigars are offered.

Princess Diana's dresses on exhibit
Princess Diana’s dresses on exhibit

See

Clarence House, Spencer HouseGreen Park, and Floris are minutes away from Dukes Hotel. Immerse yourself in royal history by exploring the surrounding area on foot. Fashion lovers should not miss the Diana: Her Fashion Story exhibit at Kensington Palace. The show is a retrospective of gowns worn by Princess Diana. It traces her style evolution from wide-eyed ingénue to global trendsetter. Designer sketches, photographs, and insider information about her clothing choices provide unparalleled insight into the beloved royal’s personal life.

GBR restaurant
GBR restaurant

Eat 

For dinner head to Chiltern Firehouse, a large bustling restaurant with a hip crowd and contemporary twists on timeless dishes. Instead of croutons, crispy chicken skin provides a salty crunch to traditional Caesar salad. Crab donuts—Chiltern’s signature dish—are savory pillows of dough and succulent crab meat. It’s a miniature sandwich that melts in the mouth. Other interesting dishes from the firehouse’s open kitchen include char-grilled pigeon with seared foie gras; Iberian pork with braised collard greens and spice crumb; and an 80-day aged sirloin on the bone. Chiltern’s wine list is worth mentioning: it’s filled with lesser known European varietals—an astonishing and eye-opening delight for someone used to San Francisco’s California-heavy wine lists.

Polpetto
Polpetto

At Polpetto, a whimsical restaurant in Soho, known for its Venetian cuisine and aperitivos, enjoy spritzes, an assortment of cicheti, pizzettes, and pasta. Everything is made in house and tastes like it was cooked by a beloved Italian grandmother. Think stuffed fried olives, grilled octopus with roasted vegetables, and rigatoni with beef shin ragu. Order a bottle or two of Montepulciano and linger at the table.

Dukes dry martini
Dukes dry martini

Drink

Dukes is home to a famed bar known for its martinis. Barman Alessandro Palazzi has been slinging cocktails since 1975. Palazzi knows everything there is to know about martinis and even makes his own vermouth. Drinks are shaken or stirred tableside and it’s hard not to be enchanted when Palazzi regals guests with stories. Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond, frequented Dukes and apparently, the bar inspired that famous Bond line.

Maison Assouline
Maison Assouline

Photo Credit: ©Andy Barnham

Maison Assouline is a bookshop filled with gorgeous coffee table tomes, curiosities for the home, and incredible gift ideas. It also has a chic cocktail bar. Photos of famous sisters like Princess Margaret and Lee Radziwill dot the gallery wall and small tables are the perfect place for intimate discussions over potent cocktails. Sip a Negroni or gin Martini and revel in the opulent setting.

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