Please note that this itinerary is a work in progress. More details will be shared as they become available. Watch this space!
Thursday, March 5: Arrive in London
We'll meet you at Heathrow Airport and take you to our charming boutique hotel in South Kensington, The Rockwell—where complimentary breakfast is served every morning. After you're settled in, we'll go on a walking tour of Westminster and pay homage to Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, and St. James's Park—capped by a delicious welcome dinner. Bed by 10 pm—to slay the jetlag monster in one night!
Hotel: The Rockwell Hotel will be our base for the duration of this tour.
Friday, March 6: Calling on Sir John and Alexander Hamilton
We start with the English architect who designed the Bank of England, Sir John Soane. His 19th Century home, which he gave to the nation on condition it be left exactly as he lived in it, has been called “one of the most complex, intricate, and ingenious series of interiors ever conceived” (Oxford Dictionary of Architecture). We’ve arranged a special tour that includes his private apartment.
After dinner at a toothsome London restaurant, we’ll see our first play: the most popularly and critically acclaimed musical of the decade in its original, first-run, brilliant London production: HAMILTON.
Saturday, March 7: Day Trip to the House of a Hero
After the Duke of Marlborough defeated the armies of Louis XIV in 1704, a grateful nation decided to build him a house named for the place of his great victory: Blenheim. House, did I say? It’s the most splendid baroque palace and extensive gardens of the early 18th Century, and we’ve arranged a personal tour that takes it all in—including the personal apartments of the present occupant—the 12th Duke and his family. Lunch will be a catered affair in one of the palace chambers.
Sunday, March 8: Flower and Fortress
If Mother Nature decided to settle down and live in one place, it would definitely be the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is home to 30,000 species of plants from all over the world, stately 300-year-old trees, the world’s largest glass house, woodland glades, two breathtaking art galleries, its own resident parrot population, and on this day—us! We’ll get there just in time for the famed Crocus Carpet behind Palm House.
And then that night, we’ll be among just 40 to witness the centuries-old Ceremony of the Keys at the Tower of London.
Monday, March 9: St. James High Society — and the World’s Smartest Playwright
Today we’ll visit, by special arrangement, one of the last grand aristocratic townhouses of London, Spencer House, urban seat of the late Princess Diana’s family—her brother, Charles Spencer, the 9th Earl, owns it now. Scene of many a glittering party throughout the years since it was finished by James “Athenian” Stuart in 1758, we’ll celebrate high society in a private tour. Dinner and a play to follow!
Now I may be biased about Tom Stoppard being the WSP, but certainly whenever he writes a new play, it’s a worldwide theatrical event. He just wrote one, and we’re off to see it this evening: LEOPOLDSTADT at Wyndham’s Theatre.
Tuesday, March 10: Oh, It’s a Palimpsest
Where does a 15th Century Great Hall meet a glamorous Art Deco drawing room beneath a Swedish Modern glazed glass dome? Only at Eltham Palace and Gardens, an English Heritage-curated extravaganza in Greenwich, southwest London. A dizzying palimpsest of English history, architecture, and garden style come together at Eltham.
That night (after we’ve cleared our heads) we’ll go see Mike Bartlett’s Baby Boomer epic play, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE.
Wednesday, March 11: Meeting Goldfinger
Not the James Bond super-villain: Erno Goldfinger, one of the most influential figures in the British modern design movement. We’ll go up to the beautiful, leafy north London village of Hampstead, tramp a trail on the famous Heath, and visit Goldfinger’s 20th Century modernist masterpiece, 2 Willow Road. And since all those clean lines and spare elegance will make us hungry, we’ll have lunch at a scrumptious Hampstead eatery.
That night we’ll see another minimalist masterwork, Samuel Beckett’s play, Endgame, starring Harry Potter. No, really.
Thursday, March 12: Day Trip to Paradise——and Gander, Newfoundland
Kew Gardens has a glorious big sister, but not many know it: Wakehurst Gardens on the High Weald of West Sussex, home of the Millennium Seed Bank, which for the last 20 years has collected wild seed from all over the world and is banking them in cold storage here. But that giant freezer is just the tip of the iceberg. There’s Bethlehem Wood, the Winter Garden, the Himalayan Glade, Loder Valley Nature Reserve, and the Mansion Gardens to visit, too. Lunch will be a catered affair in the Mansion, itself.
In the evening we’re off to the West End to see COME FROM AWAY. This new musical set in a tiny town in the Great White North of Canada that welcomed airline passengers downed as a result of the 9/11 attack, has won every major theatre award, including the 2019 Olivier Award for Best New Musical and Tony Award for Best Direction.
Friday, March 13: Victorian Charm
After the dazzling palaces and mansions, we thought it might be nice to end on a cozier note. 18 Stafford Terrace has been preserved as the late Victorian/early Edwardian home of the Edward Linley Sambourne family. Sambourne was a principal illustrator and cartoonist of Punch Magazine, and his house is a perfect example of the Aesthetic “House Beautiful” Movement, circa 1899. Gorgeous William Morris wallpapers set off elegant furniture and hundreds of beautiful objets d’art from all over the world. Goldfinger minimalism this ain’t!
We’ll meet for a final dinner together in the evening, attend a thrilling concert, and then assemble for a farewell party back at the Rockwell, our London home.
Saturday, March 14: Departures
Try to catch one more delicious Rockwell breakfast before you leave—and start planning your next trip to fabulous, inexhaustible London!
Photos courtesy Francesco Dazzi, Christoph Dressler, Panoramas, Chad Goddard, Oliver Mallich, Tony Banh, Didier Deveze