I’ve just returned from an amazing trip to England. I started out at the new Bulgari. The hotel, which just opened in June and still has a wonderfully fresh “new hotel smell” to it, is a true gem. It’s contemporary and luxurious. It’s a place to be seen and have tea in the lobby in the afternoon and cocktails in the evening and I loved the main restaurant, which serves fabulous Italian fare with very attentive service. Now that I’ve experienced it, I truly get the new Bulgari brand. Super luxe, extremely high design that is also practical (dark leathers, glossy wood panel walls, silver adornments everywhere) and it’s run by the legendary Sylvain Ercoli, whom I got to meet for the first time ever as I was having a cappuccino and croissant one morning in the hotel’s very beautiful bar. For more on my stay, see page 24.
Next stop. A jaunt up to Thaxted in Essex, where I had a business meeting. Thaxted is a small village of 2,000 that dates back to William the Conqueror times. I stayed at The Swan, which also serves as the main pub in town. The rooms upstairs are modern and clean, with good TVs and new bathrooms. The food downstairs is excellent (what’s better than fish and chips and ale?), and it’s filled with convivial people from town. The pub and the inn are dog-friendly, too. On my trip, there seemed to be a strong repeat factor of guests from all over Europe stopping off on drive vacations. I recommend it for a practical, genuine side trip as you’re traveling through the British countryside.We drove up from London but I took an express train back by getting a quick cab ride over to Stansted Airport, which is just eight miles away.
Next stop, The Savoy. I had been dying to see this grand dame London hotel. I had read all the details of its painstaking redo and seen plenty of lovely photos but I wasn’t prepared for the overwhelming feeling of luxury I felt when I pulled up in its driveway in a cab and was welcomed by doormen in top hats who whisked me into the lobby, which was buzzing with all sorts of elegant-looking people. On the way to the elevators I stole a glimpse of the domed Winter Garden, where guests were enjoying afternoon tea. Upstairs, a butler was waiting for me at the door to my suite.
As those who know me on Facebook will already know, I was in a one-bedroom suite, No. 726, which is lined with windows overlooking the Thames River. If you have one night in London, spend it here, since you don’t have to leave it to get a glimpse of the city. Right in front of you is the London Eye, to the right is Big Ben. I will tell you more in a future issue but for now I will say that a visit to The Savoy will dazzle your clients. Clearly London society has made the hotel its “it” place again, which gives it a very exciting vibe.
The next day, I jumped on a double-decker bus called “The Original London Sightseeing Tour.” I recommend this for any client, no matter how affluent they are. What’s better than seeing the city from so high up and having a ticket that lets you jump off and on. I thought the guides were all very good as well.
The one thing I didn’t do, which was included in the price, was a Jack the Ripper night tour, but I’ll be sure to allow time for that on my next trip.