View from The Athenaeum.
Research for the Robb Report‘s Concierges’ Guide to London started back in September, when I flew Virgin Atlantic across the pond to Heathrow. My mission upon arriving in London: Tour a dozen hotels in order to determine what properties would be included in the Guide, and begin interviewing concierges. (In case you missed Robb Report’s first-ever city guide on newsstands, you can still order a copy here. Or you can check out the FREE online version.)
Day 1: While climbing into a black taxi from Paddington station, I tried to tell the driver where I was heading. “The Athenaeum,” I said, and he looked at me like I was speaking French.
So I repeated myself more loudly, “The ATHENAEUM.”
I held out my itinerary for him to read, and he replied grumpily, “Oh, you mean The Athenaeum”–which in his English did sound like an entirely different word.
Alas, I was off to my first stop, a newly refurbished boutique hotel with the tallest doorman in London and spectacular views over Green Park.
Day 2: After a tour of the oldest hotel in London, I fired interview questions at Brown’s head concierge Simon Thomas for over an hour. He never missed a beat.
You can read his secrets about London’s best restaurants, bars, afternoon tea, and more in our Guide (watch for Simon’s initials “ST” at the end of various listings to see what he recommended).
Day 3: From The Dorchester—where I stayed, had a spa treatment, and interviewed head concierge Andy Davies—I walked across the street to Como Hotels and Resort’s Metropolitan Hotel.
Day 4: I caught a black taxi to Chelsea for the Burbberry Prorsum show to celebrate FALL fashion week (pun intended, don’t miss this video).
Day 5: At the Lanesborough I stayed in an Apsley suite and interviewed head concierge Colin Bell for the Guide.
Day 6: General manager Anthony Lee showed me around his new London post at The May Fair Hotel. (He came over last year from the Connaught, where he had worked for 30+ years.)
Day 7: I squeezed in a tour of The Langham and sported a hard hat for my tour of the Four Seasons at Park Lane, which opened in February 2011.
Day 8: And on the last day of my trip I traveled to the English countryside for an equestrian lesson, a tour, and lunch at the Dorchester Collection’s Coworth Park, which opened in September 2010. I would have loved to stay for a week. (You can read about my visit here.)
On the flight home, my Malibu neighbor Pamela Anderson was one seat over from me in Upper Class. And even better: the Virgin Atlantic attendant brought me Hӓagen Dazs ice cream to follow the Port and cheese course. I am forever smitten, VA.
What seemed like hundreds of phone interviews, emails, follow-up phone calls, and rough drafts later (not to mention a separate London visit by two of my colleagues, and all of their hard work), you have Robb Report’s Concierge’s Guide to London. Use it wisely, and enjoy.
What city should we guide you through next?
The Athenaeum has 156 rooms and suites, as well as many large apartment-style accommodations.
If you watch Seinfeld, you understand why someone might find this photo slightly offensive.
Lunch at Indigo at One Aldwych was worth the walk from Mayfair over to the Strand.
The Pope was in town, so I made sure to say hello that first evening.
The Pope said he already had plans for dinner, so I ordered room service for one.
It was hard to decide what to order at the Connaught Bar. I settled for this.
Mayfair's Metropolitan Hotel, like the Dorchester, overlooks Hyde Park.
Can you spot Sarah Jessica Parker in the audience?
The suites at The May Fair Hotel are quite spacious and bright, and the new champagne bar downstairs is worth a visit.
The Ritz exceeded my expectations, and head concierge Michael de Cozar is a class act all the way.
The lovely Langham hotel, where I must to return for a cocktail at the Artesian bar.
I was pleasantly surprised by the variety of accommodations at the Stafford.
You can have dinner in the Stafford’s vaulted 16th-century wine cellar.
I hope I can return to the Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane now that renovations are complete.
The spa at Coworth Park uses herbs grown on its roof in treatments and in the food at its cafe.