Buckingham Palace is a bucket-list destination for so many travellers visiting the UK, but the area surrounding the Queen’s London home is equally as beautiful and entertaining. Base your trip around a visit to the palace, and explore the multitude of places nearby – from classic cinemas to contemporary Chinese restaurants.
The Grande Dame of Swallow Street, as it is often called, is a Mayfair institution: the home of London’s finest oysters, and under the ownership of chef Richard Corrigan, some of the country’s most refined British cookery. For over a century, Bentley’s has stood for indulgence – a very particular kind of indulgence typical to this corner of Mayfair, where the suits go to loosen up after work, clearing through plates of shellfish and bottles of champagne. It’s a level of decadence that is, beyond all else, a lot of fun.
Chef Andrew Wong has been putting out London’s finest Chinese food for some time now. After taking over this labyrinthine Pimlico space from his parents, Wong has wowed the city’s critics with his thoughtful, sumptuous take on Chinese cuisine. His menu and style is grounded in extensive research, both through all of China’s many gastronomic regions, and academically, in partnership with the London School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). As a result, Wong’s dishes make as much use of the little-known techniques and flavours of China as much as the tried-and-tested dishes of his parents. Head here for a dim sum lunch at the counter and prepare to be wowed.
The Harp is a publican’s pub; full of unique knick-knacks and salty old regulars, sticky tables and walls covered in beer mats. With 10 ales on tap, and a shelf lined with spirits when you’re after something stronger, The Harp is a quintessential pub experience – one that feels almost out of place in the centre of the city. Even its prices aren’t bad, which, for its location, is a rarity.
The Goring is the Queen’s favourite hotel and the site of her legendary Christmas party that she hosts each year for the members of her personal staff. The Goring is also the last hotel of its kind to still be run by the family who built it, and as such, the experience is quite different to a stay in The Ritz or The Savoy – the hospitality is more smiling than stiff-collared, winning a host of awards in the process.
Few hotels on the planet can match the glamour and intrigue of the Corinthia Hotel, which has been an unofficial royal residence, government department building, field marshal barracks and spy agency throughout its existence. Situated on the corner of Whitehall, as close to the corridors of power as you could ever stay, the Corinthia’s rooms offer an unparalleled view of Trafalgar Square, Nelson’s Column and Great Scotland Yard. It’s a hotel like no other.
For those wanting a luxury experience that also takes the whole family into account, the St James’s Hotel & Club in Mayfair is the perfect destination in Central London. Two children up to age 11 stay free in the St James’s Hotel, with interconnected rooms on offer to ensure space for everyone. What’s more, the family rooms come with their own designated children’s concierge, who provide whatever is needed for your child’s stay, even down to booking activities across the city on your behalf.