There’s no denying the global fascination when it comes to the British crown. And the fairytale wedding between Prince Harry and American starlet Meghan Markle in Windsor — which has caused London hotel bookings to spike — would surely rank as one of the most meaningful “Visit Britain” campaigns in recent years.
While the wedding will be over in a day, it is most certainly guaranteed that the festive atmosphere will permeate London all summer long, with plenty of royal-themed shindigs — ranging from royal shopping tours to indulgent afternoon teas — to partake in.
To enjoy London like a true blue-blooded member of the aristocracy, we’d strongly recommend picking a hotel that oozes local character without compromising on the material luxuries of life. After all, London is the royals’ city, with many of them often spotted out and about doing very local things like shopping at the markets or driving around town. That’s where the Small Luxury Hotels of the World group comes in with their swish portfolio of unique indie hotels that embody the local character of their neighborhoods, like this charmer in Duxton Hill, Singapore.
Here are three modes of luxe, each with its special flavour, in London’s chicest postal codes.
For The Free Spirit: The Laslett
Located smack in the middle of Notting Hill and just minutes from the famed Portobello Road market, The Laslett is a London hotel designed to evoke the eclectic character of this charming neighborhood. The 51-room property is integrated across five interconnecting Victorian townhouses. There is nary a hotel sign so visitors should set the GPS on their mobile phones lest they miss the discreet entrance when they arrive.
Designed to feel like a quirky modern British home, the lobby-slash-living room has glass cabinets of curiosities displaying collectibles like malachite slices and framed butterflies from Les Couilles du Chien, an excellent Notting Hill antiquities and interior shop by dealer Jerome Dodd. The Library, which doubles up as dining space for the in-house cafe, is filled with a selection of rare art and fashion tomes. The cafe sees a constant stream of residents popping in for a cuppa or fresh pressed juice to go; we even saw songstress Ellie Goulding holding court in the Library through two days of press interviews.
The highlights though are the rooms. Each one bears unique interior elements so that repeat guests are sure to eventually discover their favourites. For instance, the sun-drenched rooms on the first floor boast super-tall floor-to-ceiling windows while those in the upper levels have separate dining alcoves or extra large bathrooms. Every room is also decked out with designer furniture by Pinch and Race, British art, a selection of vintage Penguin Classics (these are unfortunately not for sale) and hip touches like Ren bathroom amenities and lush Hamam bathrobes. It’s a space that we could see artsier younger royals like Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice as well as the laidback duo Prince Harry and Meghan Markle hanging out at.
For The Style Savvy: 11 Cadogan Gardens
Posh, fashionable and a lot less showy compared to Kensington, Sloane Square is where old money goes to discreetly update their wardrobes with the season’s latest. Kate Middleton has been spotted at department store Peter Jones and Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York is a fan of the bespoke exotic skin handbags by Ethan K, who has a private atelier on Sloane Street.
Just behind this prestigious shopping haven is the 56-room 11 Cadogan Gardens, located in the prestigious Cadogan Estate which was built by Lord Chelsea in the 19th century. The townhouses were in such an ideal location that they were soon converted into a London hotel that hosted travelling Victorian aristocrats, politicians and bon viveurs. Today, the hotel is still owned by the Cadogan family and retains much of its eclectic English manor charm, with Murano glass chandeliers, gilt-edged mirrors and ancestral portraits lining its many corridors and stairways. English hospitality has never seemed so genteel.
Guests have a choice of staying in opulent Victorian-style suites — the red velvet room with a theatrical four poster bed and the ornate mirror is apparently popular among honeymooners — or recently refurbished rooms that boast luxe touches like silk-panelled walls, USB charging ports by the bed, and heated towel racks.
We love their indulgent afternoon tea, which is served with bubbly in the hotel’s cosy Drawing Room. There’s nothing, we daresay, as aristocratic as spending a leisurely afternoon nibbling freshly baked scones, delicate pastries and traditional finger sandwiches while toasting the good life.
For the old guard: Dukes London
Looking for a luxury hotel where, well, those of a certain vintage would be comfortable in? Check out Dukes London where it almost seems like you’ve stepped back in time. Its rooms are furnished with everything one would require for a restful night’s sleep, including a classically sturdy bed, velvet armchair, writing table, bathtub and spacious wooden wardrobe. There is a no-frills feel to it all. Still, it is a space that parents and grandparents would feel right at home in, even if trendy, experience-centric millennials might wish for cool touches like modern art, or mood lighting.
What makes the London hotel stand out though, are its common spaces which have a clubby, private club feel to them thanks to its repeat clientele. The Tiffany blue drawing room where tea is served is Instagram-worthy, while the Cognac & Cigar garden make for lovely tete-a-tetes.
The hotel is also home to the legendary Dukes Bar, where the author Ian Fleming supposedly got his inspiration for James Bond’s “shaken not stirred” martinis. Indeed, martini purists will be glad to know the drinks there are delightfully strong and mixed with spirits that have been chilled to -20 degrees Celsius for a crisp mouthfeel.
It also makes sense that the hotel exudes a post-war old boys club atmosphere, seeing as it is located in one of London’s most historic locales. It is round the corner from Buckingham and St James Palace, and a short walk from old-school members clubs such as Carlton Club, whose members included Margaret Thatcher and Winston Churchill.
It is also within walking distance of St James Street and Savile Row, where generations of kings, queens, princes, and princesses have patronised for bespoke suits (Henry Poole & Co.), handmade millinery (Lock and Co. Hatters) and even cheese (Paxton & Whitfield). If it’s good enough for royalty, it’s probably good enough for the rest of us.