Despite my name and online personality, I am (unfortunately) only The Duchess in the world of The Glass House. I was not brought up with a Blue Bloodline, neither am I aware of any royal lineage in my ancestry. (Sorry to disappoint.) One thing that may shock you more than that, is that I have only ever been to London less than a handful of times, and even then, only in passing and whilst waiting for connecting flights around the globe.
This trip however, was my chance to really experience London in all its glory, and alone no less! For two entire days I was to be child-free, carefree and full of excitement to explore a city I have been excited to visit for ever.
To all intents and purposes, I am the Ultimate London Virgin. Or at least I was. I finally lost my V card, and I was to do it in the most elegant of ways.
Last month, my husband returned home and announced that he was to take a business trip to the Big Smoke. I, of course, jumped at the chance to piggyback on his business trip and enjoy some alone time whilst he fought to stay awake during one of his many boring conferences.
Despite my obvious first worries about travelling with The Duke, (anyone who has been a long time fan of The Glass House will no doubt remember my ramblings in The Neurotic and The Rebel) the flight was painless, and the train journey into the centre of London even less traumatic than I expected. I have always been a people watcher and find nothing more intriguing than trying to assess the faces of those around me. The London underground gave me ample opportunity to indulge in my hobby of creating worlds for the strangers I was surrounded with.
First stop, of course, was to check in to our hotel.
Given that this was a last minute business trip, I have to say I was not expecting anything more than a cheap and cheerful pit stop. But to my surprise, it seemed the husband had struck gold.
The Adria Hotel in London’s Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, was of course the perfect selection. Nothing less than royal for The Duchess!
This beautiful hotel, set in one of the most idyllic parts of London, opened its doors from the busy street outside, to a tranquil haven inside. The high ceilings adorned with sumptuous chandeliers, bay windows perfectly framed with decadent heavy curtains (but styled in the most effortlessly colonial way), exuded a warm and inviting decor.
Staff were, of course, attentive and helpful, with tea and coffee offered while they prepared our room for arrival.
We stayed in the Queens Gate Suite. My husband was quick to mention that he had upgraded me from Duchess to Queen for the weekend. And the suite would do little to disappoint.
With a gorgeous living and dining area framed by a beautiful working fireplace, it wasn’t long before I curled up on the sofa with my book to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy a glass of wine. The bedroom was equipped with everything a royal lady would need.
A beautiful dressing table and well lit mirror, a hairdryer (but not one of those nasty plastic ones that feels like it does little more than whistle through your cold wet locks) and a bed that quite literally envelopes you with marshmallow like comfort.
The bathroom would take my breath away with a lovely rain shower, kitted out with a massage shower, as well as a luxurious bath – one long and deep enough to actually take a proper bath in… with enough water to cover me entirely. (One of my normal pet peeves in hotels… who wants to take a shallow bath in luke warm water?!)
After a restful night and plenty of champagne by the roaring fire, followed by a luxurious bath and restful night’s sleep, I was ready to tackle all that London had to offer.
The best bit about the hotel, was of course its location. A short five minute walk will have you at South Kensington underground station, giving you easy access to all that London and its massive tube system has to offer. But even better than that was its incredibly close proximity to the Victoria and Albert Museum, The Natural History Museum and the short 15 minute walk to Harrods.
Yes indeed, my husband had placed me in prime pampering perfection. I spent the morning marveling at the exhibitions in the Natural History Museum (yet another of my many guilty pleasures, I am a Culture Vulture and love nothing more than spending time wandering around museums on my own with nothing but my iPod playlist for company), before heading to the Victoria and Albert Museum where I marveled once more at the grandeur and intricate carving works in the Sculpture hall, as well as the tapestries and ornate ornaments in the maze, and the ornate galleries.
As if this blissful encounter was not enough, after a short tea break in the John Madejski gardens, I tripped down to Harrods for a spot of retail therapy. So far my day had been full of moments I captured just for me. Which, when you are a mum, and a working mother at that, come very few and far between.
The evening was spent wandering down Oxford Street, hand in hand with my husband and taking in the sites; the buskers on the sidewalks, amazing passers-by with their talents; the twinkling lights of the stores, and the stunning and iconic window displays of Selfridges.
Over the course of the two days, I sampled the sights of Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge, Westminster Abbey and The Houses of Parliament, not to forget the London Eye of course.
I weaved my way through London foot traffic, experienced true London Cabbies in all their glory and yet again marveled at the multi-cultural world I now find myself in. The faces and place, the sights and smells, the history and pure innovation molding into one another.
Beautiful London, you did not disappoint. I am however amazed that during such a short trip I managed to fit so much in, yet miss out on so much in equal measure. I am, of course, planning to return (possibly for a spot of festive shopping) to take in a proper West End show and a night at the comedy clubs.
London has so much more to offer than just anecdotal tourist hot spots. The most amazing moment I had during my entire trip, was a half hour of reflection sat by The Diana Memorial fountain in Hyde Park. All the while, locals milled about on their normal daily commute, fitness enthusiasts pounded the pavements with their Apple watches counting each and every step, faces old and young stared across the glimmering waters of the Serpentine lake taking just a moment to breath in a city that seems sometimes almost too busy to stop.
That was my moment. That was the moment for me that truly made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. London is a glorious city, for so many more reasons than the guide books will ever tell you. Everyone should visit, if only to have their own ‘moment’.
So throw away the guidebooks, pick up a sat nav device and just walk. Look around at the amazing architecture, the many faces of the diverse culture that walk the streets, and most of all… go off piste when looking for a hotel. Because a gorgeous boutique hotel might just amaze you in ways that popular central hotels like The Savoy or The Dorchester won’t.