With an American princess waiting to be crowned when Suits star Meghan Markle weds Prince Harry on May 19, 2018 at Windsor Castle (pictured above), it’s the perfect time to cross the pond and experience London like a royal. Here are our favorite places to do just that.
THE PRINCESS AND THE PEA
While many hotels in the city have royal wedding packages, you’ll sleep like a princess at our two top picks. For traditionalists, Rubens at the Palace is ideal. With a location overlooking Buckingham Palace’s Royal Mews, the rooms are lavishly decorated in rich colors, with opulent touches like the ornate chandelier over the bed that give the feel of staying in a palace. Book the Royal Collection Package to celebrate the upcoming wedding and you’ll enjoy a sumptuous room, a royal cocktail and afternoon tea, and tickets to the Queen’s Gallery and The Royal Mews.
For a more contemporary feel, the five-star One Aldwych in Covent Garden should be your base. Housed in the former building of The Morning Post (where Winston Churchill once worked), the hotel features a 400-piece art collection fit for a king, from established artists like Cecilia Vargas and rising stars like Justine Smith. On weekends book the Royal Wedding Celebration package, which includes bed and breakfast, and fruit and flowers delivered to your room daily. Continuing to play on Markle’s love of flowers, try the Royal Cup Cocktail made with elderflower, gin and Perrier-Jouet, and topped with gold leaf in the popular lobby bar.
The State Opening of Parliament procession from Buckingham Palace
THE ROYAL TOUR
The saying goes “When a man is tired of London, he’s tired of life.” While choosing what to do can be hard, it’s easy when you follow in the footsteps of the royals. See where the prince grew up with a tour of Kensington Palace, now the home of Prince William and Kate Middleton, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Book a private tour when the palace is closed to the public for a VIP experience. Do a similar tour of iconic Buckingham Palace with a private evening tour of Queen Elizabeth’s home. A day trip to Windsor Castle, the oldest continually inhabited castle in the world and site of the nuptials, is a must. A private tour will take you to St. George’s Chapel, where Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will exchange vows.
King’s Road / Anna Moskvina / Shutterstock
For a cheeky look into Prince Harry’s London, the Prince Harry Walking Tour will visit the city’s sites that have shaped his life. Connect with Henrietta Ferguson, one of Britain’s Blue Badge Guides, to lead you on a bespoke Royal Warrant Tour and you’ll have the chance to find your perfect souvenir. The Royal Warrant of Appointment recognizes businesses that have supplied goods or services to the households of Her Majesty the Queen, HRH the Duke of Edinburgh, or HRH the Prince of Wales for at least five years, and who have an ongoing trading arrangement. There are more than 800 royal warrant holders, with more than 200 in London alone, including Floris perfume, Lobbs shoemakers, and Berry Bros. & Rudd, which has supplied wine to the royals since King George III, and Cornelia James, who makes the queen’s famous gloves.
For more royal favorites head to King’s Road in Chelsea, where both Markle and her future sister-in-law, The Duchess of Cambridge, are known to shop. London is famous for its many markets and Markle’s favorite is Notting Hill’s Portobello Road, with its many antique hawkers and stores.
The Royal Botanical Tea at Ting
Is there anything more synonymous with Britain (besides the royals themselves) than tea? Markle’s first meeting with the queen took place over afternoon tea in her private sitting room in Buckingham Palace. If your invitation got lost in the mail, it’s still easy to experience a royal tea in the city. At Rubens at the Palace, book a loveseat table with a window view of the Royal Mews and enjoy a special Royal tea blend. Start with a plate of classic finger sandwiches like smoked salmon or coronation chicken before indulging in the traditional, or a chocolate chip scone topped with clotted cream and jam. Desserts include a gin & tonic cheesecake (the queen finishes her day with a Dubonney and Gin cocktail), and a Rubens royal chocolate cake because Prince Harry loved chocolate cake as a child.
For a view of the kingdom with your tea, it’s impossible to beat The Royal Botanical Tea at Ting in The Shard, the tallest building in the European Union. Located in the toney Shangri-La Hotel, the tea includes elements inspired by royals past and a soon-to-be royal. In celebration of the roast chicken meal Prince Harry popped the big question over, enjoy a roast chicken and myrtle finger sandwich. Myrtle symbolizes love and hope, and every royal wedding bouquet since Queen Victoria contains a sprig. The pastries take their cue from the royal gardens. The raspberry, rose, and lychee mousse is inspired by a silver-pink rose known as the Queen Elizabeth Rose, and the cassis violet macaron is in homage to Queen Victoria’s love of violets. The presentation platter is decorated with pink peonies, Markle’s favorite flower. The extensive tea menu affords the opportunity to do a tea tasting. Don’t miss the China Milky Oolong with buttery notes that will remind you of movie theater popcorn, or the pungent Pu’erh which smells, and thankfully doesn’t taste like, sardines.
Bocca di Lupo
FEAST FOR A KING
Even royals want a jolly good meal out sometimes, and the London food scene is one of the best in the world. It’s not surprising that Markle is a fan of A-lister favorite Chiltern Firehouse, led by a Michelin-star chef who draws on his career split between Europe and the United States. The future princess is also known to frequent Bocca di Lupo, a family-owned Italian trattoria in SoHo. For a less formal meal, choose Prince Harry’s haunt, Rum Kitchen in Notting Hill. Pair a flavorful jerk dish or curry mutton with one of the many handcrafted rum cocktails. A visit to a pub can’t be missed when in London, so head to The Sands End in Fulham, where the prince and his bride are known to lunch. A friend of Harry’s owns it, and the kitchen is helmed by a Michelin-trained chef.
While you may not have an invite for the big day, it’s still easy to live like an American princess in London for a few days this spring.