The Cotswolds

 
Loomis Luggage- Porsche
 
The Cotswolds are an incredible way to see some of the most picturesque Brittish scenery, just a short drive from London. We were absolutely floored by the bright green of the rolling hills punctuated by the happy yellow of the wild flowers and the impossibly quaint towns you pass along the route. You could have a wonderful time meandering through different villages, but here are some of our highlights.
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The Kingham Plough in Chipping Norton in Oxfordshire: This is an incredible gastropub. Fantastic food at the best butter we have had life to date. The butter makes it— like nothing you have ever tasted.
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Daylesford Organic in Gloucestershire: This country store is absolutely amazing. Their cheese room has an incredible selection- we sampled many and bought many and ate many. Their produce is so fresh and good looking would make you believe you were in the middle of the South of France. But the freshness makes sense, given the abundance of farms in the surrounding hills.
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Their beautifully packaged honey, lemon curd and jams are perfect gifts. And here’s the kicker, they have the above mentioned butter from the Kingham Plough. Transporting butter back from the Cotswolds to San Francisco requires a level of dedication which speaks volumes (about the butter).
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Stowe is a town that deserves a stop-off . Their town square is lined with boutique shops–filled with Barbour, campaign furniture and tweed. However there was one store which we absolutely loved called As Long as it Sparkles. And it wasn’t just because of the name. Here, the store owners have meticulously combed through estate sales in London and stores in Paris to find the perfect mix of one of a kind pieces of costume jewelry, beautiful clothing and really rare finds like incredible crocodile clutches.
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Bourton on the Water is the venice of the Cotswolds. It is touristy. But along with that comes the benefit of a lot of places to eat and shop– so it’s really a matter of personal preference. Upper and Lower Slaughter are gorgeous villages. Tetbury has good antiques.
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We spent our time in the Costwolds in a place called Overbury with our friends Tamara and Caspar. Days were easy. Breakfast was at 11, champange at noon, lunch around 4 and dinner closer to 11. We filled time eating, sitting by the fire (yes even in the summer), going for long walks (or as some Brits would call it, rambles), and trying to get close enough to the sheep to pet them (unsuccessful).
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And, to my endless delight there was a trampoline on the estate where I was able to resurrect some of my trampoline skills (or rather skillz as you can see).
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High Time for High Tea

The Best Places for Tea in London 
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The Ritz:
The Ritz is probably the most famous place to do tea in London. It is wonderful- but also one of the most expensive. I have fond memories of my time living in London and attending the most opulent 21st birthday party, of our friend Trace, in the Ritz’s stunning atrium where they serve tea during the day. I was in a floor length bubble gum pink gown– I still have it. It’s so adorable. I recommend dressing equally as fabulously for tea- when in London…
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Fortnum and Mason:
This is a department store (but more like a fine home decoration store meets Henri Bendel) very close to The Ritz that specializes in home goods and tea. Brits would urge you to pass on the glitz of the Ritz and go for the more classic experience here.
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Claridges: High Tea at Claridges is probably the best combination in-between the first two options.
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For More Read:

Having Fun in London

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Shopping:

Kings Road has good shopping as well as Sloane Street. There, you will find the same types of shops you can find in most every major city.

For fun shopping, a place I discovered on my last trip (which I loved) is Dover Street Market, very cool. Otherwise, one cannot go wrong Harvey ‘Nicks’/Nichols in Knightsbridge. Right near to Harvey Nicks is a great boutique called Luisa Spagnoli, a Milan designer with just one store in England and none Stateside.

The favorite shopping of all the British-born is Selfridges on Oxford Street.

Marylebone High Street is also great with nice boutiques and some cute frommageries and pubs off on the side streets. French purveyor of tea, Kusmi Tea, has a shop on the street– try the Almond Green Tea.

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image: Anderson Wheeler

Shopping for the Men:

While the women may occupy themselves shopping, the men will want to check out Anderson Wheeler– the British Rifle maker featured in the most recent James Bond film (named one of the best Bond guns of all time, too). The store in Mayfair has more than just rifles- English Men’s Clothing, details for Safari and one of a kind artwork and taxidermy adorn the store.

The Uber Fabulous:

For that, there is LouLou’s where the who’s who of London mix. It’s worth scouring facebook see if any of your friends are ‘double-barreled toffs’ who may be part of this private social club. Thought this quote was appropriate, from a piece on LouLou’s in the Pursuitist, about the club: For any expat traversing the London nightlife scene, Loulou’s may be the equivalent of walking Downing Street and believing that you can somehow talk your way inside.

To Get Outdoors:

Richmond Park is a short train stop from London and incredibly picturesque. It looks like a British fairytale with manicured lawns, gorgeous estates and the expansive park where the Queen’s Deer (just in case you thought they were your deer) roam free, as pictured below. After a stroll around the park you can sit beside the Thames and have a pint with some fish and chips at The White Cross Pub. This is a wonderful way to see more of the greater London area and get some fresh air.

 

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For Those Into History:

Clearly, England has no shortage of rich history. So we have distilled the list. St. Pauls’ Cathedral is one of the most historic places in and around London (right up there with Westminster Abbey and possibly Shakespeare’s Globe). A architectural beauty with a incredible stories of fires and imperialism. It’s worth a visit to the crypts below. The Cabinet War Rooms is where Churchill ran the war during the blitz. A good spot for people who like WWII History.

For Summertime:

Try to structure a visit around Ascot, Henley Royal Regatta or Wimbeldon. Each event is special in it’s own right and worth seeing…. Pimms, party dresses, top hats and strawberries and cream.

For More on London Read:

Best Places to Stay in London 

 

Best Places to Eat London

Places to Eat
Fish and Chip's London
image: The New York Times
 
For a scene and sushi:
Zuma: in Knightsbridge, is very hip Japanese restaurant. You can usually see a lime green Lamborghini parked outside. 

For fantastic farm raised meats in artisan fashion

 Tom’s Kitchen in Chelsea. See New York Times article here.


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image: Running the Block

For the views:

Dinner or drinks at Sushi Samba in the Heron Tower.

For a great deal if you can get it

Burger & Lobster: no reservations. Get there at 11.50 for lunch, or sometime before 5.30pm for dinner if you don’t want to wait for hours! Limited menu (either burger or lobster and fries, GBP20 either choice) – awesome!

For a change of pace outside the city

River Café, relaxed Italian with great quality food, a 20 min taxi ride from Knightsbridge. The Hind’s Head is a michellin starred gastropub right next to The Fat Duck (very famous Blumenthal restaurant).  The Crooked Billet is excellent near Henley.

For a power lunch:

Green’s Restaurant and Oyster Bar, very old school scene on Duke Street right next to Fortnum & Mason and the very fashionable Jemyn Street. The steak tartare composed table-side is fantastic.

 

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For a quick cheap eat:

Pret-a-Manger- they are everywhere. And the food is very good, well-priced, with organic, vegetarian and vegan options as well. The environmental angle they have taken appeals to the Californian in me (check out the above), rendering this a go-to snack spot. It even beat out even the highly acclaimed Caviar House in Heathrow for my pre-flight purchase– the Caviar bar has fioe gras, too.

Other Honorable Mentions:

Boudin Blanc in Mayfair- in an absolutely charming location, fantastic French food. Pollen Street Social – good bistro, great cocktails and desert bar, very central. Ceccones – there is on in the SoHo House in South Beach, but this is the original one, it’s sceney. Bumpkin for good low key English. And the Painted Heron – great Indian food in Chelsea.

For More On London Read…

High Time for High Tea: Best Places in London

Places to Have Fun in London

London Calling..

London Calling
A guide to London. One caveat, this is definitely not a hipster or touristy version of a travel guide. Nor is it entirely cost concisous. It’s centered around Kensington/Knightsbridge/Chelsea and it is simply what we know to be the most fabulous things to do in London right now.
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Places to Stay
 
Number Sixteen:
When you walk by this place, pictured above, in South Kensington, you would truly think it is just a gorgeous home in an exclusive neighborhood that was throwing an early evening cocktail party. When we walked up to the entrance, there was more than a part of me that thought I was walking into someone’s foyer by accident. There are 41 individually designed rooms. The hotel boasts a beautiful conservatory that opens into a private garden where you can dine all day.
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The Ampersand:

This is a great hotel, part of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World’s boutique collection. However, we love this hotel for one main reason: it’s the best priced luxury hotel in this prime location. It is about a block away from the Natural History Museum (as you can see from the beautiful windows in the hallway pictured above) and a very short walk to the Victoria and Albert Museum. They have a very sweet lobby area where you frequently see posh looking guests sipping tea and nibbling on macaroons. The staff was extremely accommodative to our changing schedule. And they do not nickel and dime you with extra costs like internet access.

Other Honorable Mentions:

The Mandarin Oriental is iconic, right in the center of Knightsbridge near Harrods and Hyde Park. Their bar has a cocktail served in a martini glass with a giant circular ice cube that has inside it’s frozen sphere, an elderflower. Blakes is good spot as well. The Lanesborough is stunning.

For More on London See:

High Time for High Tea: Best Places in London

Best Places to Eat in London

Places to Have Fun in London

 

And always remember when in London…
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