Stay-cations are great, in theory, but in actuality, who wants to spend summer in NYC with its relentless heat and humidity? It’s like living in a big armpit. And San Francisco’s summers are really like winter in most other places. When my NYC girlfriend suggested we steal away for a well-deserved getaway, awww, who am I kidding, not well-deserved at all but highly coveted, I said, “ If you want to cross the pond luv, I’m down.”
It’s been a while since I had visited London, which thankfully has figured out that they had to come up with more than pasties, shepherds pie, fish and chips and beer to keep sophisticated food loving tourists happy. And once you head out of town and start exploring some of the neighboring towns, you’ll be blown away by the number of restaurants offering farm fresh, “slow-food” cuisine, many with award-winning wine lists.
All the makings of a perfect girlfriend getaway, so tally-ho, off we go. Follow any or all of our meanderings through England, there wasn’t a soggy chip in the batch. We started and finished our explorations in London, with a welcome touch of luxe at two different, yet equally wonderful, 5 * boutique hotels that cater to women travelers.
After touching down at Heathrow:
we had previously booked a shuttle into town in order to save a few pounds (to put towards a high tea-which I’m sure added a few pounds.) I had made an on-line reservation with Dot 2 Dot which delivered us to our hotel in a safe and timely manner for around $25. Super deal and I would definitely use them again.
The Draycott, formerly the genteel residence of Lord Cadogan, built in the 1890s, consists of three red-brick houses tucked away on a picture-perfect street between Chelsea and Knightsbridge. The rooms are HUGE by London standards, perfect for two girlfriends who were pushing the luggage weight limits. Decorated with Victorian antiques, the guestrooms convey sophisticated grandeur, yet are filled with homey touches, such as the Draycott teddy bear perched on your bed. We stayed in the Gilbert suite (the guestrooms are named after famous theatrical or literary personalities) which had double closets, a writing desk, a well-lit make-up table and overlooked the private garden.
Too plentiful to list them all, but for starters: Spacious suites with fireplaces, mini bars, free computer, complimentary tea and cookies, champagne and nightcaps are served in the drawing room. Wonderful full English breakfast. Outdoor Garden perfect for a safe evening stroll. Gracious service was provided by all the staff. Instead of the loathsome “No problem” reply to a “thank-you,” they answer, “My pleasure. Is there anything else I can do for you?”
Great theater and food just round the bend. No need for maps or taxi’s since everything you need, including Harrods, is within walking distance- perfect for fighting off jet-lag. .
Three Things We Loved:
* The Royal Court Theater, dedicated to new work by innovative writers from the UK, is just a couple blocks away. We saw Jez Butterworth’s original new comedy, Jerusalem, that was better than anything on B’way this season.
*The Botanist, named in honour of botanist Sir Hans Sloane, (note the wall-hangings inspired by Victorian journals, pressed flowers & pinned insects) across the street, is THE red-hot spot of the moment. We chose herb-crusted medallions of lamb paired with a cassoulet-filled pastry and caramelised scallops with an apple & potato purée from the predominantly British menu. Tarte tatin with caramel & clotted cream, (we were good and shared it) provided a not-too sweet touch. But be advised, hipster crowds pack the place, spilling out onto the sidewalk, which makes for fun people-watching but not a quiet dinner for two.
* Lutyens on Fleet Street. Sir Terrance Conran’s newest resto is located in the old Reuter’s Building and offers up a charcuterie counter, wine cellar, sushi bar, a private members club and 4 private dining rooms. Typical Conran gorgeous décor with food to match. I’m pretty bad at directions, but even if this isn’t in the hood, it’s just a tube ride away.