Destination: London

The Ritz Hotel

On arrival at Heathrow Airport, you will be met plane-side and personally escorted to your waiting private car and driver for the transfer to the heart of Mayfair, the Ritz Hotel, where you will be greeted by a glass of champagne.  Once settled into your spacious and elegant deluxe room or suite, chase away the travel cobwebs with a walk through Green Park to Buckingham Palace for a picture, then stroll through the Gardens of St. James’s Park, circling back up to Piccadilly for lunch at Fortnum and Mason’s famous emporium.  Then it is off to “meet” the royal family and other celebrities at Madame Tussaud’s – a fun way to start your trip! A lavish – and substantial tea awaits on your return to the Ritz before you make it an early night in preparation for the next four days of England at its traditional best with a private guide including:

See related stories on Europe.

Tower of London (where Royals and Aristocrats were imprisoned and even executed): to  see the dazzling Crown Jewels and one evening witness the historic locking up of the Tower in the centuries old Ceremony of The Keys.

Westminster Abbey: Since the 12th century, the Abbey has witnessed Coronations, Royal weddings, and State funerals.

Windsor Castle: For over 900 years, this has been the home of England’s monarchs and is today among The Queen’s favorite residences.  Depending on the time of year, you can see not just the State Rooms and St. George’s Chapel, but other areas of the castle not always open to the public.

Buckingham Palace:  Though the State Rooms are only open officially in August and September when Her Majesty is in Scotland, there are opportunities for special curator led evening tours at other times of the year.  

Spencer House:  The last of the private palaces in London, owned by the Spencer family and now leased as the corporate offices of Jacob Rothschild, on Sundays you can tour the stunning rooms restored to their 18th century Georgian splendor.

Related Story: From London with Love

Cabinet War Rooms and Churchill Museum: War overshadowed Britain’s royal family and the aristocracy for the first half of the 20th century.  A private tour going behind the ropes can be arranged in this fascinating nerve centre for World War II.

Lunch at the Goring Hotel: in the spotlight for the recent Royal Wedding, the dining room there was designed by The Queen’s nephew Viscount Linley.  Keep your eyes open between courses for familiar faces!

Linley: And speaking of David Linley, don’t miss his amazing shop of exquisitely crafted wood items ranging from decorative pieces to furniture.

Dinner at The Wolseley.

Related Story: Artesian at the Langham London

Day trip to Highclere Castle (aka Downton Abbey!): See the rooms where Lord and Lady Grantham and their family “live” and sit beneath the tree gazing at the view in the manner of Lady Mary…the day includes Bampton village in Oxfordshire which doubles as Grantham village in the series.  Time permitting; you may swing by Swinbrook where the Mitford family was based.

Ellen Lecompte is a travel advisor with Brownell Travel.