Are you overwhelmed trying to choose which things to do in London on your next trip? It’s an extraordinary city. From inviting spas to incredible arts experiences and a dynamic culinary scene, London, England, has something to offer anyone who enjoys the finer things in life. Read on as we walk you through some of our favorite luxury experiences in London.
Stay at a Luxury London Hotel
London is blessed with beautiful hotels. Do you want to stay on the River Thames? The Savoy is a delightfully refined option. Set on the Thames (the only luxury hotel on the river, according to Travel + Leisure), The Savoy has a reputation for impeccable, upscale service, and opulent accommodations. Travel + Leisure raves: “As the first hotel built for the purpose of being a luxe hotel in all of London, it has a rich and storied history; seeing its beautiful architecture and dramatic decor is worth [the visit] even if you don’t end up staying here.”
For a retreat in the heart of London, take a look at The Connaught in Mayfair. The spectacular hotel has a more than 200-year history and has always appealed to travelers looking for luxurious things to do in London. Beyond the stunning rooms and fabulous location, this hotel has incredible culinary offerings. Travel + Leisure applauds: “Chef Hélène Darroze runs a restaurant with the distinction of [three] Michelin stars, and the bar was awarded Europe’s Best in 2019.”
If 1920s style, terrific food, and a thoroughly indulgent spa are among your priorities, you might be enchanted by The Ned. Once a grand bank, the building has been remodeled in brilliant 1920s fashion and boasts nine restaurants and bars to cater to nearly any preference. And if part of your vacation includes a wellness break, The Ned’s spa is not to be missed; “The Ned features a spa with treatments from massages to vitamin IV drips,” according to Travel + Leisure. It also features two pools, a hammam, a Yoga room, spin classes, and hair and nail salons. The 5-star hotel offers a trendy scene that is, as the Magazine advises, “an experience unto itself.”
Enjoy Live Performances
If you love live theater, start planning to attend performances in London’s West End as soon as possible. It’s one of the most inspiring things to do in London. TripSavvy cheers: “The city’s commercial theaters, where you can see the brightest stars and the newest theater sensations—musicals, dramas, comedies, revues, and of course, in season, Pantos are all here.” Tickets, particularly for star-driven vehicles, can be quite expensive and hard to obtain. However, with some early planning, and help from the concierge (if you already have booked a stay at a luxury hotel), you should be able to attend world-class performances that will enthrall you.
If the ballet, opera, or orchestral performances thrill your heart, an evening (or two) at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden is a must. Again, planning ahead to acquire tickets will serve you well. Tours of the Royal Opera House are also available and can be wonderfully fun and enlightening. TripSavvy reports: “Backstage Tours offers a chance to see behind the scenes before the theater opens its doors for a performance; Legends and Landmarks Tours entertains with stories and histories of the opera house and nearby Theatreland; the Velvet, Gilt and Glamour Tour focuses on the architecture of the Victorian auditorium and the stories of the famous performers who have appeared there.”
Book a London Eye Champagne Pod
Without a doubt, the 360-degree aerial views from the London Eye are unparalleled. The chance to see this city shine, particularly in the late afternoon as it approaches the “golden hour,” should be embraced. However, you may not be excited about the idea of jostling for position amid the selfie sticks of other visitors to the city. Luckily, there are other options. For a luxurious experience high over London, you can book The Vinopolis Champagne Tasting Capsule for an hour. Over this time, you get to experience the city’s beauty during the Eye’s two rotations and access to an expert who will offer the history and tasting notes on the wines you will be tasting (and some small bites for pairings). Private pods can be booked for two – perfect for a romantic getaway. They can also be booked for up to 25 people for group events. Finally, you can book tickets into an open capsule if you don’t mind sharing the Champagne experience with other oenophiles.
Experience Tea as an Art Form
It’s no surprise that tea rooms in London have elevated afternoon tea to an art form.
A symbol of refinement and elegant indulgence, afternoon tea has been part of the allure of Claridge’s for more than 150 years. And they aren’t content to rest on their laurels. In fact, as Travel + Leisure points out, “the hotel even has its own tea connoisseur, who travels the globe to bring back rare and interesting blends to this fine London hotspot.” The Magazine encourages visitors to pair the Sri Lankan hand-rolled tea with pastries and sample genmaicha tea with the salmon or traditional cucumber sandwiches. For something quintessentially English, Travel + Leisure claims that “the classic Claridge’s blend can’t be beat when it comes time for scones.”
The Biltmore Mayfair, surrounded by parks and gardens in luxurious Grosvenor Square, offers an elegant afternoon tea experience. According to Travel + Leisure, the tea was designed by “chef Jason Atherton, known for his Michelin-starred London restaurants.” The menu strives to highlight the delights of the UK; “With English cucumber, black truffle, and heritage tomato sandwiches, scones with Cornish clotted cream, fresh Kent strawberries, and chocolate mousse with Scottish raspberry jelly, the Afternoon Tea menu highlights fresh, classic UK produce.” And while the tea is a star, don’t hesitate to upgrade this already exquisite experience with a flute of Champagne.
Indulge in Fine Dining
Even if you aren’t staying at The Connaught, you should absolutely make reservations at the iconic Hélène Darroze at The Connaught for a sumptuous dinner or thoroughly indulgent long lunch if you are prioritizing things to do in London. This three-Michelin-starred French restaurant continues to wow critics, including the culinary experts at Martha Stewart Living. Local pastry chef Sarah Barber raves to the Magazine: “‘Hélène Darroze at the Connaught always feels like an indulgence. It’s three courses with canapés, wine, and petits-fours.’” For a genuinely luxurious dinner, choose the seven-course tasting menu, and then review the menu for supplements you might want to add to your dishes, like the much-lauded Highland wagyu.
While in Mayfair, Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester is another three-Michelin-starred delight. Experts confide to Martha Stewart Living that it is a contemporary gem perfect for a celebratory meal. Among the most notable dishes are the truffled chicken quenelles and sauté gourmand of lobster, and pastry chef Sarah Barber tells the Magazine that she adores the rum baba cake. Critics recommend trying the seven-course Chef’s Menu if you love diving into dazzling French cuisine. There is also an extraordinary tasting menu of vegetarian dishes that revolves around the best seasonal ingredients from the UK and France.
Notting Hill is not without its share of fantastic restaurants, but Core by Clare Smyth (which also has three Michelin stars) is certainly turning heads. Noted for focusing on the entire dining experience, the appealingly elegant restaurant has a decidedly welcoming and inviting ambiance. The menu is a refined collection of superb seasonal British cuisine. The tasting menus have gotten the most attention – with good reason. You’ll love the Core Classics for a modern take on traditional dishes that Smyth has continued to refine. For dishes the Michelin Guide refers to as “contemporary constructions with a luxurious edge,” the Core Seasons tasting menu will thrill your palate.
Pamper Yourself at an Upscale Spa
Recently named the “Best Urban Spa” at the Good Spa Awards, The Lanesborough Club & Spa offers its clientele an impressive fitness club and luxury spa treatments. Martha Stewart Living loves the “spa butlers, a health-conscious menu, hydrotherapy pool, and private mani-pedi suites.” But that’s not all. The Magazine also highly recommends trying “the caviar lift facial, featuring La Prairie products.” The easiest way to get into the spa is to stay at the lovely boutique property. You could also become a member, should you plan to travel to London frequently. However, day-spa passes are also available. This pass will give you access to many of the treatments, and a package, like The Travellers Tale, seems to be the perfect option for anyone who wants to feel reinvigorated and recalibrated after a long flight or busy day of meetings or sight-seeing.
Visit the Shops
If retail therapy is on your list of things to do in London, you are in luck. Bond Street is a haven for “exclusive designers, jewelers, and celebrity spotting,” while the area west of Piccadilly Circus boasts “luxury goods shopping and the entrance to London’s famous 18th-century shopping arcades,” according to TripSavvy. The Magazine adores Regent Street’s beauty and its host of London Brands. However, if antiques and art are on your mind, you’ll love perusing the galleries and boutiques in Mayfair and St. James’s.
Speaking of antiques, schedule some time to descend into the London Silver Vaults on Chancery Lane. In the 19th century, they were a series of safe depository vaults where merchants sold antique silver. As the market grew, TripSavvy reports that “each vault became a mini-shop, packed floor to ceiling and wall to wall with fine antique silver.” While it was damaged during World War II, the London Silver Vaults were rebuilt in the 1950s, and today, they boast “treasures available for tens, even hundreds, or thousands of pounds.” Fascinating!
Of course, before you set off to do any shopping, consider your transportation. Taking the Tube or climbing into a black cab/uber with an armful of carrier bags may be difficult. Plus, making extra stops when something in a display window catches your eye is not always possible. Instead, ponder seeing the city in style by hiring a breathtaking chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce Phantom. Your driver is on call – allowing you to shop and store your purchases according to your needs. You can also easily charge your phone, grab a solid Wi-Fi signal, and refresh yourself on Champagne as you wind your way through the busy London streets.
Appreciate Fine Art
Of course, if you have a chauffeur and car on call, it makes it easy to visit some of London’s most celebrated museums before moving on to afternoon tea, dinner, or a performance. The National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery are located in the West End, as is The Wallace Collection, an astonishing private collection donated to the people of Britain. As TripSavvy reveals, “if you want to see Frans Hals’s The Laughing Cavalier or Fragonard’s Girl on a Swing, you have to come here, just north of Oxford Street.”
If you desire a bespoke gallery experience, booking a private tour of the Tate Britain and Tate Modern art galleries is a captivating thing to do while visiting London. Several companies provide this service; however, you’ll find that the luxury tour offered by Viator is remarkable. This tour provides you with the expertise of a professional art historian who will act as your guide to both galleries. Not only will you benefit from the historian’s insights, but you can also tailor the tour to fit your personal artistic preferences. As a bonus, as you move between the two galleries, you can enjoy a delightful boat trip on the River Thames as part of the tour. It’s likely to be an experience that will stay with you long after your holiday has ended.
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