The royal treatment: Experience the finer things on a lavish trip to London
One of the world's most exciting metropolis to vacation in, London's trend-setting restaurants, impressive museums and world-class boutiques make it hard to resist. | By Joanna Tweedy | March 03, 2022
If all the world’s a stage, then the best seats can be found during a trip to London. From exclusive out-of-hours tours at The British Museum to peeking behind the curtain during a private theater experience (all arranged by your 24/7 personal hotel concierge, of course, available at select Hilton hotels), the English capital invites you to immerse yourself in a vibrant arts and culture scene. Enjoy fashionable fine dining and shop ‘til you drop in famous stores. And let’s not forget the distinctive architecture, landmarks, acres of landscaped green space and royal palaces that provide the perfect backdrop for your visit.
Read on and discover how to make your glamorous London vacation one you'll never forget:
Go green: Mingle with well-heeled locals in Hyde Park, London’s 350-acre green space
Tea time: Enjoy afternoon tea and all the accompanying treats
The London look: Shop for vintage fashion, antiques and more on Portobello Road
Gourmet global cuisine
Whether you’re seeking an English classic like cucumber sandwiches and breakfast tea in a chic hotel, or Michelin starred African-inspired cuisine (we recommend Ikoyi in St. James), or Levantine street food from Soho’s historical Berwick Street Market, London’s table is vast, diverse and a hotspot for any foodie. The city has more than 60 restaurants with Michelin stars, and you’ll need to book well in advance of your trip (think months, rather than weeks) if you’re hoping to grab a table at one of them.
Mayfair has more than its fair share of fine dining establishments, including famed London eatery Le Gavroche (43 Upper Brook St.), which has been plating sophisticated French cuisine since 1967. It’s just a five-minute stroll from The Biltmore Mayfair, LXR Hotels & Resorts, which sits on pretty Grosvenor Square and boasts a restaurant helmed by Michelin-starred British chef Jason Atherton. (Top tip: stay in one of the hotel’s signature suites and enjoy 24/7 butler service — a sure fire way to ensure your every vacation wish is granted.) The hotel’s Tea Lounge serves divine finger sandwiches, indulgent cakes and fluffy scones — with Cornish clotted cream and jam, of course — in the most elegant of settings.
What's in store
Many of the city’s most famous department stores make shopping during a London vacation feel like an artform. Opened in the West End in 1924, Liberty London’s Grade II-listed Tudor building feels like you’re entering a stylish museum rather than a department store. Enjoy a spritz of the latest perfume from Paris, or browse the label’s much sought-after heritage fabrics or shop for elegant homeware. Selfridges & Co, up the road on Oxford Street, is similarly enchanting with nine elegant levels. Don’t miss Veuve Clicquot’s Champagne concept bar (themes have included a double-decker tram and art deco French cinema) on the ground floor. Harrods, in Knightsbridge, and Fortnum & Mason in Piccadilly (the latter a 15-minute walk from Conrad London St. James) remain temples to the finer things in life, complete with gourmet food hamper and respective 100-plus year histories. For more bespoke purchases, head to trendy Portobello Road market in Notting Hill, West London — you’ll find a diverse array of food, fashion and housewares, with an inspiring dose of performance art on the side.
London's art scene
How to spend a perfect Sunday during a trip to London? Dedicate a day to one or more of the city’s inspiring museums. Within easy reach of both Conrad London St. James and The Biltmore Mayfair, you’ll find a trio of London’s most visited attractions: the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum (more commonly known as the V&A) in Kensington. The V&A remains one of the world's leading art and design museums and is a special building to wander in; with its historical halls dedicated to architecture, fashion, photography, furniture and much more. The building also boasts one of the city’s most beautiful cafes — harking back to the Victorian era — in the city. For progressive, cutting-edge art, Tate Modern on the South Bank leads the global field. Its vast, Thames-side galleries house art by both newcomers and greats, including Dalí, Picasso, Rothko and Warhol.
The royal green
Exploring England’s preserved majestic green spaces, with the shimmering skyscrapers of the city never dominating the skyline, is one of the nicest things to do in London. At the capital’s heart lies Hyde Park, a 350-acre verdant playground that includes Kensington Palace at the western end. You’ll find some of the city’s wealthiest inhabitants jogging or walking their pedigree dogs here, and in the summer, taking a cooling dip in the Serpentine Lido — tourists are more than welcome to join them, or just spectate with a flat white (the city's current favorite coffee) in hand. Or head 30 minutes west by car to Kew Gardens and spend an afternoon in an UNESCO World Heritage Site that’s home to both botanical and human-made wonders — there are 50,000 living plants here, as well as the world’s largest Victorian glasshouse that have stood the test of time.
London theater and entertainment
Immersive musical theater, open mic comedy, drag shows, classical music and just about every other performing arts genre you can think of finds a home in London's diverse venues. For a truly authentic live performance, head to the open-air theater, Shakespeare’s Globe, on the South Bank and watch a contemporary take on one of the Bard’s famous plays. The Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, the heart of London’s theater land, is home to both opera and ballet, with leading lights from both worlds taking to the stage. Fancy something a little more offbeat? Head outside of Covent Garden to one of the smaller, independent theaters — we love the Menier Chocolate Factory (53 Southwark St.), the Royal Court (Sloane Square) and the Young Vic (66 The Cut) — for works by rising stars.
With its historical architecture, avant-garde fine dining scene and wealth of cultural opportunities, London offers visitors the chance to live out their most luxurious vacation dreams. Prepare to be swept away — this is one trip you’ll remember forever.
Joanna Tweedy is an award-winning travel writer and editor who lives in London.