London is the UK at its best. It’s here that the country’s history is at its most prominent; here that world-leading theatre and arts entertain and enrapture; and here that a stream of new hotels, restaurants and bars are constantly throwing open their doors. It’s also, we might add, been home to Quintessentially HQ for the last two decades.
Below, we’ve drawn on our expertise to design three different London itineraries. Our classic itinerary is perfect for first timers looking for the quintessential London experience; our cultural guide is for those who want to soak up the city’s best art, theatre and dance; and our final edit is a showcase of what’s new and noteworthy in a city constantly on the move.
One of London’s longest-established – and most glamourous – hotels, Claridge’s is little short of an icon. Ask for one of the newly refurbished terrace suites and request a champagne from your private butler come sunset; the terrace views are spectacular.
The butter-smothered Dover sole at Scott’s, one of London’s oldest – and best – seafood restaurants. Dining with friends? Request the hidden Platinum Arowana Room, a vision in agate and artworks that seats up to eight. Make sure to also try one of the pies at Rules, which has been making them since 1798.
The Platinum Arowana Room at Scott's
Rooftop at Trafalgar St James
A Punch made with London gin from the Rooftop at Trafalgar St James. Perched on the 7th floor, the open-air bar brings you nose-to-nose with Nelson’s Column, with other big hitters such as the London Eye and Big Ben also visible.
Combine two British institutions by taking afternoon tea at The Goring – a hotel favoured by the Duchess of Cambridge, amongst others. Reds, golds and chandeliers run rife through the elegant lounge, and the tea itself is similarly decadent; opt for the Jubilee-themed edition, which is available until September and features her Majesty’s favourite fruitcake.
Jubilee afternoon tea at The Goring
Culture & Arts
11 Cadogan Gardens
Wake up in Chelsea at 11 Cadogan Gardens, a boutique, rabbit-warren of a hotel with sumptuous suites that come with four-poster beds and claw foot baths. The Saatchi Gallery is just around the corner, and the entire area will be covered in flowers for Chelsea in Bloom if you visit before the end of May.
The crème fraiche-smothered eel at Sessions Arts Club – a decadent former courthouse that feels like a private members club. Or, for an old-school seafood experience, battle through the crowds at Borough Market to Richard Haward Oysters to shuck and suck the city’s best oysters.
Sessions Arts Club
Royal Opera House
Even if you don’t have a show booked, head to the top floor of Royal Opera House for a glass of champagne on its open-air terrace; the views over Covent Garden market are great.
London and theatre go hand-in-hand. Book a seat at St Martins Theatre to watch its longest running show, Agatha Christie’s Mousetrap. Elsewhere, snag the final few tickets for the inimitable Swan Lake at Royal Opera House, or make like the locals and book a table at Ronnie Scott’s, London’s longest-running jazz club.
New & Noteworthy
Soho’s Denmark Street has lots of rock ‘n’ roll heritage; music-themed Chateau Denmark is a welcome addition. Everything is ostentatious, from the blood-red bathtubs to the shoulder-padded BTLR (butler). Looking for a longer stay? Quintessentially Estates have a selection of rooms and apartments available for both short and long lets. Also worth noting is Hotel Amano, whose ‘Goldy’ suites have golden bathtubs looking over Covent Garden.
A sushi tasting at Kurisu Omakase in Brixton – but you’ll move fast to secure one of just eight seats available per week. In Mayfair, upscale Italian Amethyst has just started inviting guests to its 12-seater chef’s table that is made of – unsurprisingly – amethyst. Its tasting menu is creative, with dishes like liquorice croquettes and a ‘surprise’ pasta course.
Below Stone Nest
A glass of natural wine at Below Stone Nest, a gloriously shabby subterranean bar squirreled beneath below Grade-II listed chapel, Stone Nest. Alternatively, pop to Italian bar Amaro for a Pomegranate Negroni by the Savoy’s former Head of Mixology.
Make the most of the city’s fleeting – yet fantastic – exhibitions and theatre. Current highlights include Our Time on Earth at The Barbican – an immersive depiction of our relationship with the natural world – and The 47th at The Old Vic, a political thriller that imagines what would happen if Donald Trump runs for presidency again…