Travel Diaries

London in a Long Weekend

by Kim Budziak

Going “across the pond” might seem like a long way for a long weekend, but in a city as robust as London, three days feels substantial. The city’s most notable neighborhoods are flush with culture, attractions, food and shopping, and I happily made the rounds.

london long weekend

Rub Elbows with Royals

The St. James neighborhood’s prestigious reputation feels part fine cigar, part bespoke smoking jacket, and part royal attraction. Time here is best spent floating between galleries and landmarks; watch the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace when actual royalty fails to make an appearance, enjoy a baguette on a park bench in St. James’s Park (the oldest of London’s royal parks) and dip into the National Gallery for a guided tour of European art.


Enjoy the View

I have no qualms about playing neighbor to the House of Windsor with a night at the well-heeled Trafalgar St. James. The Landseer Suite serves as a spectacular studio-style retreat, offering unbroken views of Trafalgar Square, stacks of design books and city guides, a bar cart with complementary spirits and a deep soaker tub to melt the day away. The hotel is also home to a fantastic rooftop patio with beautiful skyline views—a splendid alternative to the line-ups at the London Eye.

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Bond Streets, Old and New

Bordered by some of London’s most popular shopping, Mayfair has no shortage of boutiques to explore. Some of the best British labels live on Old and New Bond Streets, including classic clothes from Belstaff, handcrafted shoes from Church’s, and contemporary designs from Stella McCartney. I consider the stylish Rebecca Derby Shoes at Church’s but get lost in the eau de parfum at Floris London instead.

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The Park is the Place

Looking out over Hyde Park and Marble Arch is the Royal Park Suite at the London Marriott Park Lane. Rich contemporary décor and colorful art line the apartment-style room, complete with separate bedroom and living room areas. I take a relaxing dip in the pool before enjoying a complimentary selection chef-made bites, wine, and desserts at the hotel’s exclusive executive lounge.

London shopping

To Portobello Road Market We Go

The Portobello Road Market in Notting Hill is home to strange and lovely treasures and antiques. I browse silver charms to gift my Mum for her vintage bracelet, but get distracted by a glass of wine at The Duke of Wellington gastropub. Next, I satisfy my curiosity with a stop in at Gwyneth Paltrow’s stacked Goop pop-up. Verdict: beautifully curated with Goop-approved things, including homewares, clothing, accessories, skincare and supplements, it’s everything I expect it to be.


London hotels

Tuck in with Gin

A quieter approach to London’s finest, the elegant St. James Hotel & Club Mayfair is tucked away at the end of Park Place, just around the corner from The Ritz. The posh locale is underscored by gentlemen passing by in shirts and tails, and I take it as a signal to end on a high note: with a healthy sampling of the bar’s extensive and globally-sourced gin collection. Call it one for the road.