A place where you will find at every footstep narrow alleyways with cobbled streets, blossoms around every corner, pretty churches with tranquil gardens, buildings with ornate clocks jutting out and lavish decorative detailing. There is endless history in London, making this city truly fascinating. London has over twenty free museums in the city that can provide you with endless days of exploration and learning, and all these are free to visit. Not a fan of history? Don't worry, everyday is market day in London and there are countless markets you can wander through, people watch, or window shop in, the most interesting ones being Camden market, Portobello market, Covent Garden market, Borough market and Southbank center. Fascinated by the royal life? Watch the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace at 11:30am as well as the horse guards at Whitehall at 11:00am.
Stroll around the city or just lounge in parks and admire the beautiful duck ponds. Go explore some really interesting street art, which by the way is abundant in Shoreditch, side streets around Brick Lane, Middlesex, and Sclater streets, or visit a church, which can be found around every corner of London, some just beautiful and worth visiting while some are dated back to the 1600s. Take the London wall walk or visit the Harry Potter Platform. So you see, even if you wish to explore London for free, there are endless things to do for all kinds of travelers here without having to spend a penny.
Now I've been to London a few times and stayed at quite a few hotels, most of them centrally located. And I get asked from time to time why I don't choose to stay outside the city centre where accomodation is cheaper. Here's why, it’s a choice that you’ll quickly regret, commuting into the city every day, sometimes several times a day to explore all that the city has to offer in terms of tourist attractions will cost a lot of money and time, a lot of precious time that you could otherwise use for sightseeing. By staying in central London you can see much more in less time, most of it on foot.
I chose to stay at St. James's Hotel & Club, London, a luxury boutique hotel tucked away in a courtyard in the buzzing Mayfair area. This elegant little hotel has only 60 rooms and is part of the hand-picked selection that make up the Small Luxury Hotels of the World. This hotel was a sure hit with me given the proximity to London’s most exclusive shopping areas and restaurants as well as the Hyde Park, Buckingham Palace, the theatres and nightlife of the West End and The Royal Academy of Arts.
Rooms are done up with utmost luxury, silk wallpaper and Murano glass chandeliers, windows with views of the colorful buildings in the alleys surrounding the hotel, Hypnos beds, Penhaligon's bath products, a modern yet contemporary bathroom with a separate bath and shower with stylish black tiles. I was welcomed with some succulent sweet treats specially prepared by Michelin Star Chef William Drabble, truly the sweetest start to my stay at this chic property- what more could I ask for?
The hotel also hosts a bucket-list restaurant, the Seven Park Place by William Drabble, famous for being the smallest Michelin-starred restaurant in London. First a glass of champagne at the hotel bar, William’s Bar and Bistro. And then a delectable dinner at the exclusive restaurant that includes only nine tables for approximately 26 people, assuring excellent service and great food. I also loved the decor of this plush restaurant, bold wallpaper, palatial furnishings and fancy artwork. The hotel has an impressive stash of 20th-century portraiture, including the 1920s–50s Rosenstein Collection, which adorns its public spaces and suites
William Drabble is known to combine French-influenced cuisine with British ingredients, and having grown up in rural Norfolk he champions British farmers and fisherman. He only uses the freshest of produce often harvested that day and delivered directly to the restaurant. I had the Roasted Quail and Baked Red Mullet for starters. Then I had the Roasted Monkfish and Slow Cooked Veal for main course. Might I add that the food was absolutely delightful, cooked to perfection and the presentation was exemplary.
The majestic red and white Victorian façade of St. James Hotel & Club Mayfair is newly revamped and restored. The decor captures that quintessential Mayfair elegance with ease. And as the name suggests, this place offers the intimacy of a private club combined with 5-star service. The club dates back to 1857, and despite the decor changes it has maintained the traditions of service, comfort and hospitality. The one thing that you can be absolutely sure of is that from the moment you arrive you will be made to feel like royalty. Don't forget to end your stay here with breakfast in bed!