To celebrate the latest Royal wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, here’s the second half of the London series. Celebrations are going to be kicking up in high gear soon, so cheers to the happy couple and to all the revelers who will be crowding into the streets near Windsor Castle in less than a fortnight.
Saturdays are best spent waking up early. Blasphemy you say? Nonsense, for it is the day of the busy Notting Hill Portobello Road Market. This very busy street fair draws crowds from near and far with its antiques, street food and farmer’s market. There’s also a ton of tourist shops around, so if you really need to get that Union Jack bottle opener, here’s the spot for a deal.
You will have worked up an appetite, and by all means, give in! You’re on vacation. But, I recommend a snack before a big lunch. The most super decadent snack is at Melt chocolates. Make the quick hike over to partake in their rich drinking chocolate and candies.
By the time you make the hike back into Central London, your hardcore antiquing will have probably rendered you hangry. Because this is your vacation, you need to make the best of it and have one fancy schmancy meal. Might I suggest Mayfair’s Jamavar.
Jamavar is one of London’s renowned eateries, holding a Michelin star for its culinary prowess in Indian cuisine. The marble, dark wooden furniture and brass embellishments all give it a real old school colonial vibe. This place is classy.
And it’s good. The Malabar prawns have an intense kick, pretty spicy, and I’m someone who likes a hot dish. And I can’t put my finger on it because I’ve had so many iterations of butter chicken in my life, but there’s has got a little something extra. Of course, I had the date mango lassi. It was all delicious; none of it was cheap.
I had to walk off some of the richness of the food for the rest of the afternoon, and what better way to do that than shopping? I preferred the shops on Oxford and Bond Street. I mean, when in London, you have to check out the flagships of Burberry, Stella McCartney, Alexander McQueen and Tod’s. And you should definitely make a stop at Liberty of London and Creed, whose window displays are always works of art.
And of course, who can forget Selfridges? One of the big high end retailers, stop to have some tea/coffee at Dolly’s whilst perusing the goods.
Mayfair is a quick jaunt from Piccadilly Circus, which is indeed a circus of tourists. London’s version of Times Square has all of the popular stores you could want, but it’s a little claustrophobic for me.
So is Leicester Square and Trafalgar Square for that matter. But, the National Gallery sits at one end of Trafalgar, so what can you do?
The National Gallery (also free!) houses works from many 19th century/20th century power players: Renoir, Klimt, Matisse, Picasso, Monet, Cezanne, Gauguin. And perhaps you’ve seen this work a few hundred times or so before: Seurat’s Bathers at Asnieres.
Everyone always makes a fuss over Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, but warning: unpopular opinion: I like its neighbor Two Crabs a little better.
And one of my favorite pieces, the Execution of Emperor Maximilian by Edouard Manet is literally in pieces. It’s thought that the artist cut it up himself, and then his son cut up the rest of it after his death. Friend, Edward Degas, reassembled it as best he could, and here it lies.
I cannot get enough of the art in London. I wish I had time to do the Tate Modern, but you have to save something for the next visit, right? To cap off the sightseeing portion of your trip, I’ve saved the subjective best for last: Buckingham Palace.
Even though the Queen (and apparently Prince Harry and Meghan) prefers Windsor Castle, and she’s not really here all the time, Buckingham Palace just seems like a focal point in the city. It is quite beautiful, very stately. It may not be as ornate from the outside as some of its other European counterparts, but there’s something to be said about “simplicity.” It’s quite regal and majestic appearing.
After passing back through Green Park, head back through Soho, the very fancy neighborhood between Mayfair and Covent Garden. How fancy? I almost got run over by two separate MacLarens. That’s how fancy.
If I had nicer clothes with me, I would have tried to make a reservation at Park Chinois (because I’m obviously not a member of Soho House). It looks hella cool, and hella spendy. Next time. Or I guess, I could have just gone a few blocks over to Savile Row, and gotten new threads, but again, bloody expensive.
Instead, I was able to procure a reservation at the most beautiful restaurant in London, Sketch. Well known for its artistic flourishes in each of its very different dining areas, I was stricken by how every detail was so intricate. The pink gallery dining room has ~100 displayed works by David Shrigley.
I’m like Shania Twain, things don’t impress me much, but damn. The Glade lounge is Alice in Wonderland meets chic turn of the century Paris, with a splash of woodland creature. Like, you expect to see a nymph or deer crawl out from behind the bar to serve you. The loos in this restaurant are individual pods, and they get dolled up according to the season. This is not just a restaurant, it’s a museum experience.
If you’re there for the wedding, good luck and have fun! Avoid the paps and mind the gaps! Even though there’s a lot of criticism of Britain’s Royal family, I think the symbolism of the monarch is very traditional and English. The younger members of the family seem to be doing a nice job of ushering the Royals into a new, more culturally conscious era, too. And I mean, how cute are Princes George and Louis and Princess Charlotte? Perhaps there will be more in the future, but first things first, royal wedding before babies. Happy wedding Meghan and Prince Harry!