London for 24 Hours

 

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Francophile or anglophile?  I’m not certain which but I love both Paris and London and jump at any chance to visit.  This month I met a dear friend in London on our way to a girls weekend in Ireland (more to come on Ireland in a later post).  While she was finishing up work, I had 24 hours to play in London.

Normally, I opt for the Sofitel.  It is near Buckingham Palace and Trafalgar Square making it perfect for a short walk to museums and galleries. This time it was Mayfair and the Beaumont. What a treat!  A small boutique hotel in fashionable Mayfair where they cater to your every need. It was perfect.

I was taken to my room immediately upon arrival after an overnight flight arriving at Heathrow. I’d had an unfortunate accident with a neighboring passenger’s glass of champagne which ended up all over me for the flight. Beware passengers attempting to get to their seats with more than two carryon items.  All I wanted was a shower and fresh clothes. The first thing I noticed was the decadent bath with the heated floor.  My jet lag was an immediate afterthought.

Refreshed with a shower and clean clothes, I was off to the V&A.  It is my favorite museum!  If you love the Tudors it is a must see stop for you.  In prior visits I’ve spent hours wondering the Tudor galleries.  This time I was headed for the Dior and Quant exhibitions  I’d seen the Dior exhibit in Paris but wanted to see the British modifications  I was not disappointed.  Princess Margaret’s gown is to die for as are the Dior London parts of the exhibit  Absolutely fascinating

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From there it was to the Mary Quant exhibition.  I’m not certain which was my favorite.  Would that the Met take their lead for their next fashion exhibition . . . .  The Mary Quant clothes looked so wearable and comfortable.  I loved the jersey dresses and the rain slickers.  I’d wear them today!

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From there I walked the two short blocks to Harrods and the food hall for a bite to tide me over.  The food hall is a sight not to be missed  anything you can think of to eat is there.

Back to Mayfair then to explore.  Hyde Park is there if the weather holds.  Mayfair is perfect for people and car watching with every conceivable car dealership there.  It’s also shoppers nirvana.

After exploring Mayfair, I was off to the Ritz.  Someday I’m going to book tea there as it always looks incredible.  As it was after 4, I opted for the Rivoli Bar and a French 75, or as they call it a Rivoli 75.  A wonderfully refreshing mix of champagne, gin, lemon, and simple syrup  it is a favorite of mine.  I opted for an early dinner with my second.  They have a lovely Caesar salad with grilled chicken – hold the anchovies.  From there, I walked back to the Beaumont enjoying more of Mayfair.

The time difference was beginning to catch up with me but I was still slightly hungry.   I opted for dessert at the bar in the hotel – doughnuts with a raspberry sauce.  They were delicious.

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I returned to my room and crashed  waking up the next morning for my flight to Dublin. The Beaumont once again rose to the occasion.  They have a wonderful breakfast set out with pain as chocolate, juice, tea, or for me coke complete with travel cups and boxes

 

 

Tea at the Peninsula Hotel, Hong Kong and Dining in Hong Kong – Hong Kong (part 2)

I love historic hotels and a proper tea which means a visit and tea at the Peninsula Hotel was number one on my must do list. The Savoy in London, Ritz and George  V in Paris, the Cloisters at Sea Island, GA, the Greenbrier, the Homestead . . . . There is just something about a historic hotel; a certain je ne sais quoi? I’m thinking it may be the legacy, the history, or perhaps it is the ability to imagine a time gone by that fascinates me.  I mean can’t you just imagine Coco in her apartment when you visit the Ritz or TJ at the Homestead?

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The Peninsula Hotel in Hong Kong is synonymous with glamour and old world grandeur. Opening in 1928, it is Hong Kong’s oldest hotel and referred to as the Grande Dame of the Far East. It is legendary for its fleet of Rolls-Royce Phantoms that whisk you to your destination. It is also famous for tea and it was tea I wanted. From 2 pm to 6 pm people line up for the experience of a leisurely afternoon of a traditional afternoon tea. You will not want dinner after. Be prepared for a line and dress appropriately as there is a dress code. Also, be prepared to simply relax and enjoy.

We chose the traditional tea for two and added a champagne mojito for a refreshing cocktail. We then proceeded to eat our way from the bottom to the top of a three tiered tea tray. The first tier presented traditional English scones with clotted cream and jam. They were perfect. The second tray held scrumptious cucumber, salmon and chicken salad tea sandwiches; the third bite sized deserts. My favorite dessert was the raspberry wafer. Did I mention that the venue was also perfect for people watching?  Two hours and two pots of tea, champagne, and completely satiated wth food, later we departed to explore the Peninsula Arcade. The hotel comes complete with a selection of high end shopping from Hermes, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Harry Winston and the list goes on. Finally departing for a visit to the Jade and Temple Markets, we were treated to a glimpse of the Phantom fleet as it deposited new arrivals from the airport.

 

I would be remiss if I failed to mention other dining favorites visited during my trip.

Felix, also at the Peninsula Hotel, is a perfect venue for the light show over Victoria Harbour. Still stuffed from tea, but on a quest for a cocktail, the concierge at the Peninsula directed us to the bar at Felix. Sitting atop the Peninsula tower it was the perfect venue to watch the light show with, yes another, champagne mojito. They are addicting. Make certain you visit the restroom in Felix. They are legendary for their view of the harbor and unusual design.

Lung King Heen, a Michelin 3-star restaurant located at the Four Seasons, is a culinary experience not to be missed. Specializing in Cantonese cuisine it is the first Chinese restaurant to be recognized by Michelin. You will need reservations but do not miss this experience. I began dinner with a glass of champagne and suckling pig. My main course was wok fried beef tenderloin with steamed rice and a side dish of wok prepared asparagus and garlic. I’ve had many good meals in my life and dined at many excellent restaurants, my dinner at Lung King Heen surpassed them all. Not only was the food exquisite but the service was unparalleled. They went out of their way to make suggestions, to cater to our taste, and to make certain our dinner was superb.

 

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Hutong restaurant in Kowloon also deserves a shout out. We booked reservations for dinner as part of an evening harbor cruise and were not disappointed. The tasting menu was excellent. The sweet and sour fish is the best fish dish I’ve ever had. The view of Victoria Harbour is also excellent.

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My greatest challenge was learning to use chopsticks. By the end of the trip I’d finally mastered the art of eating without a fork.

Bon appetite!