|When in London...|
London effortlessly embraces the best of 21st-century style without losing its great love of tradition. The ancient walls of the Tower of London once dominated the skyline, now they look out towards the gleaming, modernist London Eye. The past and present are constantly merging; creating the special dynamic that makes London irresistible. For those who love the best life has to offer, London has it all.
Where to stay
London has no lack of boutique hotels, and one of the best is 22 Jermyn Street. Threadneedles is equally distinctive, with superb décor and amenities. Art lovers should seek out One Aldwych, which boasts a 400-piece art collection.
|Where to eat|
Enjoy a bit of discreet stargazing at award-winning restaurants like The Ivy and Le Caprice. Or experience mouth-watering meals from top London chefs like Gordon Ramsay and Tom Aikens. You'll find classic British cuisine, with an emphasis on game, fish and roasts at Rules, (London's oldest restaurant) Simpson's in The Strand, Sweetings, and Wilton's. And don't forget the Great British Afternoon Tea. Stepping 'out for a cuppa' has returned as a London ritual. Head for The Berkeley in Knightsbridge for the prettiest tea cakes, The Wolseley in Piccadilly, Brown's in Mayfair, The Lanesborough on Hyde Park Corner and of course, The Ritz.
|Where to go|
If it's your first time in London you absolutely must visit the historic sights. From the Tower of London to Buckingham Palace to the Natural History Museum, you’ll get a sense of Britain’s unique place in the annals of history. For contemporary kicks check out the Comedy Store or Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club.
|Where to shop|
Bond Street beckons with jet-set jewels, desirable designers and princely antiques, while Oxford and Regent Streets have all the street fashion brands your heart desires. For a bit of tailored refinement, have a suit made to measure at the legendary Saville Row. Selfridges and Harvey Nichols offer timeless couture classics, Chelsea’s Kings Road is unmissable while East London has the coolest retro and vintage selections.
|What to do|
Catch the cricket at Lord's (even if you don't understand the rules), bet on a thoroughbred at the races at Ascot or Epsom, or indulge in strawberries and cream at Wimbledon. The sporting life is all part of the British scene. For nightlife, you can't beat London's entertainment options which cater for everything from hardcore clubbing to the high arts of opera, ballet and more, from West End shows to contemporary music concerts and gigs.
History and healing waters in Bath Spa
Bath is a splendid feast for the senses and one of England’s oldest and most beautiful cities. Its hot springs — the only ones of its kind in Britain — were an attraction when the Romans still occupied the land, building a temple to the goddess Minerva which remains standing to this day, attracting visitors from all over the world eager to walk in the footsteps of the Romans on ancient stone pavements, and admire the beautifully preserved ruins.
Just 100 miles west of London, Bath is as much a destination for history lovers as the health conscious who bathe in the warm, mineral-rich waters at Thermae Bath Spa or abandon themselves to pampering self-indulgence at one of the many superb day spas and luxurious spa hotels in Bath and the surrounding area. The city is home to Bath Abbey, the last of the great medieval churches in England, and to several beautifully preserved examples of Georgian architecture.
One of the great attractions is Pulteney Bridge which spans the River Avon and is one of only four bridges in the world with shops across the full span on both sides. Which brings us to Bath’s other great draw — its dizzying array of shops selling everything from the finest art works and antiques to the latest in designer fashion, exquisite jewellery, fine foods, and more. The city is home to many independent and boutique stores, guaranteeing the prospect of finding that utterly unique special something.
|The Charming Cotswolds|
If you plan to spend some time touring England, there’s no better place to set up camp than the Cotswolds, one of the most unspoiled and quintessentially English regions sometimes called ‘The Heart of England’. The region has Stratford, Oxford and Bath on its doorstep, making it ideal as a base for touring. But be warned, you might find it entirely too pleasing to the soul and senses to decide to leave.
The area is famed for its picturesque honey-colour limestone villages in a beautiful rural setting, and is particularly inviting during the spring and summer months, as the region’s many open gardens start to burst into stunning displays of vibrant natural beauty, while in the autumn, the arboreta at Batsford and Westonbirt provide a breathtaking way to welcome the change of season. Those wanting to leave the urban landscape behind can stay at one of the many farms in the area, the produce of which are sold at the bustling farmers’ markets that attract visitors from miles around.
Its numerous quirky attractions that appeal to all ages makes the Cotswolds ideal for families. From arts and crafts to wildlife, museums and historic houses, it’s a delightful way to spend some quality time with the kids without having to sacrifice the ‘adult’ comforts offered by spas, designer and artisan shops and Michelin starred restaurants. You’ll also find the biggest concentration of antique shops outside London, the ultimate in organic shops in Daylesford, frequented by aristocrats and other high profile clientele, and Prince Charles’ new Highgrove shop in Tetbury.
Gourmet heaven in tranquil Bray
Heston Blumenthal’s restaurant The Fat Duck opened in 1995 and gained its three Michelin stars in 2004. The very next year, it was proclaimed The Best Restaurant in the world by the "50 Best" Academy of over 600 international food critics, journalists and chefs. The restaurant is noted for its unique approach to gastronomy, and offers both an A La Carte and Tasting menu at lunch and dinner. The dining experience is always intimate and relaxed; there is no dress code, and given the restaurant’s bijou nature, the maximum number in a party is six. It is closed on Sunday evening and all day Monday. The Fat Duck accepts reservations as far as two calendar months in advance.
Alain and Michel Roux’s Waterside Inn makes the perfect location for a romantic getaway, offering a range of eight contemporary bedrooms on the first floor of the inn, each individually styled and furnished. There are also newer additions in the form of a spacious one-bedroom apartment and two luxurious suites for longer stays at Ryepeck, a separate cottage by the river.
Those attracted by the restaurant’s three Michelin stars will not be disappointed. The cooking is proudly French, and the menu changes four times a year to bring patrons the best of seasonal products. Depending on the time of year, your menu might include Cornish crab, Scottish lobster, scallops, salmon and beef, or heavenly desserts making the most of English summer fruits. The Waterside Inn is open for lunch and dinner from Wednesday to Sunday, February through December, with additional dining on Tuesdays from April through August.