LONDON: Among the great cities of the world, London is preeminent. Filled with characters of fiction and history, its stories unfurl from the banks of the Thames River like the lines of the Union Jack. The city heads in many directions but with a singular purpose—to set a standard for the world as to what a nation’s capital can be.
April showers bring May flowers. But in London, May flowers bring the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, one of the most prestigious horticultural events in the world. The 2018 edition of this highly anticipated springtime event takes place from May 22-26, showcasing garden designs from traditional to avant garde and featuring some of the world’s most celebrated horticulturalists and landscape architects. This year’s featured designers include Hay Hwang, who has created a garden to combat air pollution, and Sarah Price, whose work draws inspiration from the French Impressionist painter Claude Monet.
The Draycott Hotel
Visitors to the Chelsea Flower Show will find luxurious 5-star accommodations at the Draycott Hotel, an exclusive boutique property conveniently located in the upscale Chelsea neighborhood. The Draycott’s concierge possesses a wealth of information regarding the Flower Show. Guests can expect the inside scoop on how to navigate the show, as well as information about other local attractions and sightseeing.
The Draycott’s exterior façade does not immediately suggest a hotel. But that privacy is part of its allure. The 35 elegant guest rooms and suites are exquisitely decorated with Edwardian antique furnishings. Each bares one or more portraits and biographies celebrating persons of English historical significance. Those visiting the Flower Show will also find a beautiful back garden adorned with cherry blossom trees, which explode with color in the late spring.
The hotel’s green initiatives are a source of pride for the Draycott, as evidenced by its receipt of the Gold Award for four consecutive years from London’s green tourism association. The hotel also raises awareness about conservation through its support of Wilderness Foundation and Tusk Trust. The “Draycott Teddy,” a stuffed bear in each guest room, accompanies a letter explaining the plight of endangered African wildlife. For a modest donation of £10 added to the folio, the Draycott directs contributions on behalf of its guests to help these organizations support threatened habitats and wildlife.
The Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park and Dinner by Heston Blumenthal
Gardens, trees and 350 acres of beautiful landscaping are also on full display in London’s Hyde Park, one of the largest urban parks in England. Among the hotels convenient to the Park, and easily the most architecturally impressive, is the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park. The first phase of an extensive renovation of the hotel is currently underway, supervised by internationally-renowned designer Joyce Wang. The hotel remains open during the renovation, scheduled for completion in the third quarter of 2018.
Among the notable features of this 5-star luxury property, is a restaurant infused with Britain’s gastronomical history, aptly titled Dinner by Heston Blumenthal. Its eclectic menu, inspired by English culinary history, spans the centuries from the 1200s through the 1900s, ranging from Roast Sea Bass & Green Sauce (c. 1440), to Braised Celery (c. 1730), to Cod in Cider (c. 1940).
In addition to its well-appointed dining room, the restaurant boasts a private dining space that would not look out of place in a medieval castle, further evidence that Dinner by Heston Blumenthal is a dining experience for the ages. The Mandarin Oriental is perfectly located in Central London, between Hyde Park and the upscale shopping in Knightsbridge.
A notable luxury concerge service
Another well-known shopping destination is the London Luxury Quarter, in the fashionable West End comprising Bond Street, Piccadilly, St. James’s, Regent Street and Mayfair. For travelers seeking unique experiences, By Appointment is a luxury concierge service specializing in this area of the city. While other visitors may enjoy browsing at Floris, the perfumer to the Queen, By Appointment can schedule a private meeting with the Floris Perfumer to create a custom, hand‑blended fragrance. Among the unique experiences offered are private shopping with special rates at select retailers, insider access to appointments at exclusive salons like Richard Ward Hair & Metrospa, curated tours of special exhibitions, and admission to member’s only clubs and casinos.
The Hari: A unique London 5-Star hotel
While there are a number of beautiful 5-star hotels in London, there is one property that stands out for its unique ability to make each guest the center of a truly personal and deeply satisfying experience. That hotel is The Hari, and it is a place where everything is precisely as it should be, which is about as British as any accommodations could ever hope to be.
Situated at Chesham Place, in the self-proclaimed “quintessentially British neighborhood of Belgravia,” the perfection of The Hari starts with its location, within walking distance of Sloane Square, Knightsbridge and Victoria. Its 85 guest rooms, 14 of which are luxury suites, include all of the first-class amenities luxury travelers have come to expect, and then a few more. The internationally‑renown British interior designer Tara Bernerd has left nothing to chance with her superbly-appointed décor, featuring custom wood flooring and Italian marble bathrooms. The linens are opulently soft, the furnishings richly comfortable and welcoming, and the views are extraordinary from each plush velvet window seat.
The Hari is fond of anticipating the needs of its guests, with thoughtful attention to the smallest details. In consideration of the expense of international wireless service, a cell phone is provided to guests for their complementary use, equipped for local and international calls. Guests may also delight in finding a special item left in their room—something that reflects their personal interests or professional field. A photographer, for example, might discover an old-fashioned camera on the bedroom nightstand.
Dining at The Hari’s elegant Il Pampero
Il Pampero is the hotel’s sophisticated and elegant restaurant, serving contemporary Italian cuisine under the direction of Executive Chef Claudio Covino. Open for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner, the Chef Covino and staff prepare traditional Italian dishes with a dash of the modern, accompanied by an impressive wine list. Designed to satisfy a variety of cravings, and to be sensitive to guests with special dietary needs, Il Pampero’s menu changes regularly to ensure the freshest seasonal ingredients.
And no stay is complete without a visit to The Hari Bar and Garden Terrace. The interior bar adjoins a contemporary living room, with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves and credenzas adorned with flower boxes.
Upstairs, the open-air terrace features comfortable couches and deck chairs, surrounded by privacy foliage. The impeccable bar menu has ample offerings for a complete lunch, or just enough charcuterie and cheese to accompany a customized wine flight. Meanwhile, The Hari’s sophisticated cocktails will speak to the mixologist, while still satisfying the casual spirits. Such guests may similarly appreciate the abundant varieties of Scotch, Irish, Bourbon and Tennessee Whiskey, or selections of Rum, Gin, Cognac and Vodka. There’s also a menu of mocktails and healthy juices, and tea, of course, if the time is right. Add some bubbly to start and cigars to finish, and that’s an evening worth remembering.
An experience to remember
Regardless of how one comes to The Hari, all are bound to be changed in the end. It is a place that remains luxuriously distant from everyday life, yet feels like home. It might be said that one checks in as a guest, but leaves as part of The Hari family. It’s an enormously satisfying exclamation point on the luxury London experience — not to be missed, come rain or come shine.