There’s something to be said for being a neighbour of the Queen. A stone’s throw from Buckingham Palace, Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane sits amid some of London’s best and most historical shops, museums, parks and galleries. Henry VIII chased deer in the area, Queen Victoria bought plates and the Duke of Wellington enjoyed society. Take a walk in Royal London and discover it all.
Fortnum & Mason
Photography Hemis / Alamy Stock Photo
This luxury emporium has traded from the same corner on Piccadilly for more than 300 years. Gentlemen clerks in frock coats – and more recently gentlewomen in smart suits – help customers create their own tea blends and choose exotic comestibles from around the world. Buy some London honey from the shop’s own beehives, kept on the roof.
The Household Cavalry Museum
Horse Guards Road
For a behind-the-scenes look at the Queen’s ceremonial regiment, visit the 18th-century stables in the middle of Horse Guards in Whitehall. After watching working horses and guardsmen going about their daily activities and guarding the monarch as they have for more than 350 years, peruse the museum’s collection of rare ceremonial regalia, which includes horse furniture and silver by Fabergé.
Victoria and Albert Museum
Located in the South Kensington museum quarter, which is a 25-minute walk or a quick taxi ride away, the Victoria and Albert Museum houses a collection that spans more than 2,000 years and includes rare books, drawings, photographs, textiles and paintings. The surrounding area is dubbed “Albertopolis” because of the cluster of museums Queen Victoria’s consort helped to establish. Besides the V&A’s collection of fine and applied arts, the district boasts the Science Museum and Natural History Museum. William Morris, Edward Burne-Jones and Philip Webb created the original décor of the V&A Café, which is a good place to recharge between exhibits.
This restaurant is the place to be seen. From early morning to late at night, the café-restaurant delivers breakfast, lunch, dinner or tea in a grand European style. Once a showroom for the now-defunct British car manufacturer bearing the same name, the Picadilly restaurant attracts jet-setters and London’s elite with its opulent Old World charm and bustling atmosphere. Be sure to book ahead.
Photography Jo Miyake / Alamy Stock Photo
The “Beadles,” in their Edwardian top hats, have been patrolling this luxury shopping mall since 1819, enforcing rules imposed by the landlord of that time, Lord George Cavendish. Visitors are asked not to whistle, sing or play a musical instrument, run, tote large parcels, open umbrellas, or wheel in a pram. They can, however, buy cashmere, leather goods and exquisite jewels.
St James’s Park
Photography Oli Scarff / Thinkstock
Horse Guards Road
London’s oldest Royal park and arguably the loveliest, St James’s Park is located in front of Buckingham Palace southeast of the Mall. The footbridge across the lake of Henry VIII’s former deer park is the place to take the best photographs of Buckingham Palace, and wildlife officers feed the pelicans on the lake between 2:30 and 3:00 pm daily.
The Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace
Go here to see a changing selection from the Royal Collection, the artworks and treasures accumulated by the monarchs over 500 years and now held in trust for the nation. Paintings, sculptures, miniatures, objets – the vast array even includes 600 drawings by Leonardo da Vinci. Housed in Windsor Castle, it is one of the largest collections of his work in the world.
Enter between Curzon Street and Piccadilly
The scene of the bawdy May Fair that gave this district its name, Shepherd Market, the tiny warren of lanes hidden behind Curzon Street, is home to pubs, cafés, antique shops, galleries and one of London’s most exclusive nightclubs, Loulou’s.
19 South Audley Street
One of the finest china shops in the world, this Mayfair institution has been furnishing the rich, famous and royal with bespoke tableware for more than 180 years. The Minton elephants in the window, icons of the brand, wowed the Paris Universal Exposition of 1889. Visit the shop’s museum to see more stunning works, including china made for Russia’s imperial court.