10 of the most luxurious London experiences

 

Ah, London. One of the world’s most exciting, cosmopolitan, culture-rich and diverse cities. If you’ve never been, this sprawling mass of fun, fashion, food and high living should definitely be on your bucket list. But what to do when you arrive? Well, luckily for you, there are plenty of luxurious experiences to immerse yourself in. Here’s our pick of the finest…

London at night

1. Shopping at Harrods

Based in the heart of Knightsbridge and oozing class, the world’s most famous (and largest) department store has a wealth to offer well-heeled shoppers. Here’s where you can stock up on lush designer clothes, hard-to-find perfumes and high-end cosmetics – and don’t forget to visit the Food Hall. If you could spend all day grazing at deli counters, be prepared to part with a small fortune here. Founded in 1834, the store has stood the test of time, and up to 300,000 people visit during peak shopping times. There are 330 departments to peruse and a number of haute services on offer, including a to-die-for personal shopping service called ‘By Appointment’, a tailor, a wine steward and a watch repair service. You can even buy gold bars off the shelf at Harrods Bank. Don’t worry if you regret your purchase, though – you can always sell your bar back to Harrods at a later date.

Harrods

2. Picnic in Hyde Park

We’re not talking about a rug laid on the ground and a hastily-assembled selection of sandwiches bought from a supermarket. Oh, no. To picnic in style, indulge in a Fortnum & Mason hamper and feast in style. The Belgravia Hamper will set you back a cool £500, but when it includes foods like wild Scottish smoked salmon, venison salami, organic Stilton, and a suitably outsized tin of Chocolossus Biscuits, not to mention vintage Champagne, how can you argue? If money’s no object and you fancy delighting someone you love during the festive season, for a cool £1,000 you can get your hands on The Windsor Hamper. It includes triple-smoked ham, salmon, preserves, a magnum of vintage Champagne, rich Christmas puddings and whiskies. We’d recommend picking a day when it’s fairly dry and wrapping up warmly if you’re going to enjoy a winter picnic, but they’re just as romantic as summer ones, if not more so.

Picnic

3. Stay at Claridge’s

This hotel is, quite simply, the best place to stay in London. Frequented by the creme de la creme of London society, referenced in American Psycho and the hotel of choice for honeymooning A-listers, this is the place where your every whim will be catered for. Expect unparalleled service and the softest bed you’ve ever encountered. If you’re feeling lazy, you don’t even have to leave the hotel to be entertained – there’s a state-of-the-art gym to enjoy, and there’s even a spa. If you fancy really pushing the boat out, book the Deluxe King room; it’s 50 sq. m of unrivalled decadence. There’s a king sized bed, a marble en-suite bathroom and flatscreen TVs in each room. Fera, the hotel’s new restaurant, is run by Michelin-starred chef Simon Rogan, who offers a ‘creative and natural take on modern British cuisine’.

Claridge's

4. See opera at the Royal Opera House

From Madame Butterfly to La Bohème, the Royal Opera House is the only place to watch world-renowned performances. The best bit? It’s located in the heart of Covent Garden, so you’ll be in the heart of the West End when the performance is over. Current performances include Don Quixote, Tristan und Isolde, and Swan Lake. A seat in the orchestera stalls will set you back around £115. Don’t forget to watch out for the ‘phantom’ that supposedly stalks the building – in 1999, workmen on the site reported being hit by flying objects.

Royal Opera House

5. Enjoy a tipple at Kettner’s

This Soho restaurant boasts a Champagne bar that can obliterate any hangover in the blink of an eye. This stylish 1920s-themed bar will transport you back to a bygone age when glamour ruled, so make sure you dress appropriately. Don’t be fooled into thinking Kettner’s is a one-trick pony; their traditional Sunday roast is spectacular (the saddle of Welsh lamb is especially good) and their afternoon tea is a wonderful post-shopping treat. Traditional finger sandwiches, homemade scones and a mouthwatering selection of sweet treats, including lemon meringue pie and coconut parfait, are on offer.

Kettners

6. Make time for a spa

The Agua Spa at Sanderson, tucked away in the heart of Fitzrovia, is the last word in decadent relaxation – and provides ‘pampering, spiritual relief, and tranquility to all who enter’. Sounds good to us. This 10,000 square-foot idyll has 14 all-white treatment rooms, a chill-out zone and meditation beds. Their specialities are their facials and massages – bliss. A 75-minute hot stone massage will set you back £135, and the Eve Lom Signature Facial, which lasts two hours, costs £270.

Spa

7. Enjoy Dinner with Heston Blumenthal

Dinner is Heston’s London offering, and while the Fat Duck celebrates flamboyant, hi-tech dishes, the meals on offer here are historic dishes with a professional twist. Crowd-pleasing favourites include roast marrowbone, cod in cider and Hereford ribeye steak – and don’t miss the brown bread ice cream. If you’re looking to impress, book a seat at the Chef’s Table, where you and up to five of your dining companions can observe Dinner’s ‘inner sanctum’ and watch the chefs at work. They’ll even explain to you the methods they’re using and how each dish is created, so if you’re looking to improve your culinary flair, pay close attention.

Dinner Heston

8. Leave the Tube for everyone else

Public transport can be a nightmare in London, and taxis nearly always have the aroma of boozy businessmen. Splash out and book yourself a chauffeur-driven car for the length of your stay – and don’t forget to order some Champagne for the drive. Hic.

Limo

9. Shop till someone else drops

If your retail therapy is taking it out of you, you can hire personal shoppers to do the hard work for you. Harvey Nichols and Selfridges both offer this service – as do Westfield – so if you’re looking for that perfect outfit for the opera, someone is sure to be able to help you. If you’d like the man in your life to smarten up his act, Daniel Johnson, who has worked with Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell and Gerard Butler, works exclusively with men. Expect your other half to arrive back at the hotel looking totally transformed.

Personal shopping

10. Get a sugar high on the London Eye

If you’d like to indulge your love of fine chocolates, delight someone special and enjoy a few glasses of fizz, you can hire one of the London Eye’s pods for a chocolate-tasting tour. You’ll even be given a luxury goody bag to take home. If you’re after something a little more intimate, book the Cupid’s Capsule. For £350, you can enjoy priority boarding, a 30-minute trip on the London Eye, a bottle of Pommery Brut Royal Champagne and a luxury box of Hotel Chocolat Pink Champagne Truffles.

London Eye

Vicky Anscombe is Editor-in-Chief at Columbus Direct.

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Comments (6)

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  1. Aline Dobbie says:

    Good advice but a bit unremarkable really. There are lots of good places to enjoy upmarket London not mentioned and activities that would inspire and enhance a good trip to London without thinking of the budget. Claridges yes but there are others in the same league, and lovely eateries and Selfridges as a quality big shop and the sublime bijou shops where one can’t even think of the price. Harrods has become very vulgar really and I am one with a Harrods card since 1986.London in the late spring is sublime if able to choose without regard to budget…so much with the capital looking wonderful too….the royal night – the preview at the Chelsea Flower Show…things like that. Trooping the Colour with HM The Queen and the Royal Family etc.

  2. Kevin Jones says:

    Interesting article however this list isn’t very appealing….. so where is the helicopter ride view of London at night, where is the private dinner party at Berry Brothers, where is the visit to Covent Garden Market, the private tour of HM Tower of London, and HM Queens garden party? oh and ASCOT, a dinner at the Shard etc etc. London has so much to offer everyone at all price ranges to suit all those pockets

  3. Simon Lee says:

    Thanks for sharing, planning for a trip to London since middle this year but still could not decide on the final itinerary. This list of suggestion definitely helps.

    Thanks Kevin Jones for his additional suggestion too.

    Simon

  4. A nice article, with a good mention to the Heston Blumenthal at Mandarin Oriental, for the hotel certainly I will quote some other more cosy like The Kensinghon ot The Arch as luxury boutique hotels where you feel at home or more iconic Dorchester or Ritz. For the Spa I love the wonderful one at Mandarin Oriental London or the K-West Spa with exclusive brads. Good idea the Picnic in Hyde Park with so nice food selection of Fortum and Masson. More cultural I will add a visit to the National Gallery.

  5. Colin says:

    Great list Vicky. The things is with lists like this, especially when comes to London is “how long is a piece of string?” There is much to do, it really depends on what kind of person you are and what excites you but number 8 which is what we do is a great option because if you get a driver with good knowledge of London it takes a lot of time out of planning your itinerary and you could just jump in a car and away you ago. Also the tube is an experience but its not for everyone! Saying that I probably shouldn’t have brought my friend vising London for the first time during rush hour.

  6. Great advices, some of the finest luxurious experiences in London. It might be difficult to afford all of these top luxury experiences at a time for someone like me… Anyway, I will include Shopping at Harrods, Seeing opera at the Royal Opera House and a dinner at Heston’s London in my list…

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