Anyone can give advice on what is best to see and do in London. But few have a more impressive pedigree to offer than Ian Steiger, Head Concierge of the historic Dukes London in St. James’s. Named Concierge of the Year 2010 by the Society of Golden Keys of Great Britain and the Commonwealth, Steiger is looking ahead to the spring and summer travel seasons with his “Top 10 Tips” for visiting London.
For travelers looking to catch a glimpse of the Royal couple on their way to Westminster Abbey on April 29 or those who are just planning getaways to the city this season, here is how best to spend your time in London this season:
• Buckingham Palace isn’t the only Royal residence in town. One alternative a stone’s throw from Dukes London is Clarence House, the official residence of Princes Charles, William and Harry, which offers public and private tours from August 6th through September 4th.
• The best place to catch a glimpse of William departing Clarence House for the Royal Wedding will be the steps of the Duke of York “Son of George III” statue on Carlton House Terrace, right near Dukes London. Show up early, says Steiger: “Royal watchers will begin queuing two or three days ahead.”
• While St. James’s Palace isn’t open to the public, it’s a great spot to see the comings and goings of Royal Family members. A fine example of brick Tudor architecture near Dukes London, the palace was the Royals’ official residence from 1699 until 1837.
• Even the Royal Family goes out on the town. Among great dining spots they’ve been known to frequent: Annabel’s, a private club that is a favorite of the Prince of Wales; Wiltons, a famous fish restaurant founded in St. James in 1742; and Le Gavroche, Michel Roux Jr.’s Michelin Two-Star French restaurant in Mayfair.
• For those without an invite to the Royal Wedding, Dukes London will host a special Royal Wedding Champagne Afternoon Tea on April 29. The wedding will be shown on the big screen in the Regal Marlborough Suite, while Champagne, tea, finger sandwiches and assorted cakes and pastries will be served. The special afternoon tea is available for £34 (approx. $55 U.S.).
• Glimpse Prince William’s maternal side at Spencer House, the ancestral home of the family of Diana, Princess of Wales. Dukes London is currently offering a special travel package including overnight accommodations, two tickets to Spencer House, afternoon tea and more from £280 (approx. $457 U.S.)/double.
• Spring and summer bloom with possibilities in London. Prime among annual events that the Royal Family never misses is the Royal Ascot Races from June 14-18 and the Chelsea Flower Show, May 24-28.
• Art lovers will be enthralled by the Royal Academy’s annual Summer Exhibition of contemporary works, scheduled this year from June 7-August 15. Meanwhile, the lesser-known Courtauld Gallery is among the finest small museums in the world, with a collection stretching from the Renaissance to the 20th century.
• Several historic buildings are set around Dukes London, including Marlborough House, built with red bricks from Holland in 1711; Burlington House, begun in 1660 and remodeled twice since; and St. James’s Church, which was fashioned by Christopher Wren for his friend Henry Jermyn from 1674-86 and restored with a garden of remembrance following bombing damage from the London Blitz.
• Can’t get enough of the Royals? Tour Buckingham Palace, one of the few working royal palaces in the world, from July 23-October 3; or head for Windsor Castle, the largest and oldest occupied castle in the world with 900 years of British history to go around. It’s open daily from 9:45 a.m.-4:15 p.m.
For more information or to reserve the Spencer House Package at Dukes London, please call U.S. reservations at (800) 381-4702 or visit www.dukeshotel.com.
About Dukes London
Dukes London is an independent luxury boutique hotel located in the heart of London, in a private courtyard near Green Park and Buckingham Palace. The intimate and exclusive hotel has been welcoming guests for more than 100 years and features 90 rooms, including 11 suites and one Penthouse Suite. The hotel’s design offers a mix of classic and contemporary features, including an impressive art collection. The historic Dukes Bar is home to some of the world’s best martinis, and is the birthplace of the famous “shaken, not stirred” line from James Bond creator Ian Fleming, while the recently unveiled Cognac and Cigar Garden serves the finest cognac and Cuban cigars in a heated outdoor area, open year-round. Dukes London serves classic British dishes at its Dining Room, and also features a Drawing Room and Conservatory, gym and health spa, as well as three well-appointed meeting rooms and elegant wedding facilities. Dukes London is a member of Leading Small Hotels of the World. For more information or reservations, please visit www.dukeshotel.com.