Luxury London weekend: An elegant city break for the discerning gay traveller

Forget Paris, forget Tokyo, and forget New York, for no other city does luxury quite like London. As the capital of history’s greatest kingdom, there is nowhere more suited serving a slice of high society on a weekend break. (No wonder the queen of England and the queen of pop, Madonna, both reside there). Indulge in the pomp and circumstance of historical institutions like The Dorchester and London’s oldest restaurant ‘Rules’. Or lavish in the artistic brilliance of ultra-modern spaces like The Londoner Hotel. From its hotels and restaurants to its department stores, bars, spas, and even cinemas, everything you do in London can be done in style…if you know where to find it. Luckily, this guide is about to tell you exactly where to go for your weekend of luxury in London.

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London’s most luxurious hotels

With more five-star hotels than any other city in the world, it’s actually quite easy to find a ravishing room with a cloud-like bed to lay your pretty little head on at night. The difficulty comes with choosing between them. Do you go for the classy ‘Grand Dame’ properties like The Langham, The Landmark, The Savoy, The Lanesborough and The Ritz? Or do you opt for unique boutique options like The Milestone, One Aldwych, Hotel Cafe Royal, L’Oscar or The Baglioni? Of course, this comes down to style and taste, and the experience you’re hoping to receive from this ever-surprising city. A weekend living like the queen of England or the queen of pop are equally feasible, after all.

The Milestone | Photo: The Private Traveller

L'Oscar Hotel | Photo: The Private Traveller

London is all about location

In London, location is everything — especially when you’re there for a weekend break. As fun as the tube looks, nobody wants to spend all weekend commuting from one side of the city to another to tick off their to-do list. Instead, stay in the area that interests you most. For a weekend of seriously chic shopping, stay at The Langham on Regent Street. For a sophisticated stay in Mayfair with the option of getting gritty in Soho (the city’s coolest gaybourhood), opt for Hotel Cafe Royal. For a weekend of divine dinners and outrageously good evening entertainment, head to One Aldwych, Covent Garden.

Mr Hudson’s favourite luxury London hotel

Mr Hudson’s go-to luxury London hotel is none other than The Londoner, situated in the heart of Leicester Square. Self-proclaimed as the world’s first super boutique hotel, this genius urban resort will blow your expectations out of the water and turn your idea of a hotel on its head. Discover a collection of spaces, tastes and experiences across 16 floors from the izakaya lounge on the rooftop to the serene subterranean wellness retreat.

London | Photo: Clem Onojeghuo

The Londoner | Photo: The Private Traveller

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 Luxurious things to do in London

There’s a famous phrase by Italian novelist Silvio Negro that reads “Rome? A lifetime is not enough”. Well, the same is true for London. You could spend a lifetime here without being able to experience even half of what it has to offer. Actually, you could spend a lifetime solely admiring The British Museum’s impossibly vast yet extraordinarily compelling collection of objects. With a world-class assemblage of other museums and galleries like the Tate Modern, V&A, and National Gallery to visit too, though, we wouldn’t recommend it. Not to mention the lengthy list of illustrious landmarks like Tower Bridge, Buckingham Palace, and Big Ben.

Mr Hudson’s top sightseeing tips

While London would be nothing without these iconic cultural destinations, it can be hard to appreciate seeing the crown jewels or Van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers’ when they are blocked by a sea of tourists. That’s why there’s no better way to experience them than with private tours by knowledgeable guides. Sightseeing doesn’t get more luxury than that, right? Wrong. Hire a private car to act as your very own ‘hop-on-hop-off bus’ to your must-see city spots for that added (unnecessary yet totally justifiable) pinch of pomp.

Dior Exhibition at the V&A | Photo: The Private Traveller

Tower Bridge London | Photo: The Private Traveller

Alternative luxury London experiences

While some come to London to see its world-famous sights, others come to immerse in its local lifestyle. Rather than rushing from one attraction to another, sometimes it is more satisfying to simply treat yourself to a fun and relaxing weekend in the city. After all, there is so much more to London than its landmarks. So, instead of getting in line to see the Tower of London, why not get in line for a new film screening, treat yourself to a spot of shopping, or wile your weekend away at the hottest new spa? If you’re looking for alternative luxury experiences like these, read on to see what Mr Hudson recommends.

Luxury cinema experience

London may not be as glamorous as Hollywood but its film industry is just as sizzling. From its red carpet premieres in Leicester Square to its cult film screenings in Prince Charles Cinema, the city offers a cinematic experience to suit every taste. In more recent years, the city’s love of boutique cinema’s has exploded. It’s no longer about popcorn on a crusty fold-down seat in a mass-market cinema; it’s about a glass of wine on a plush red velvet arm chair in a boutique cinema. That’s right, London’s cinema experience has gone luxury. Even Selfridges, London’s chicest department store, has its own cinema. And trust us, it’s worth a visit.

Mr Hudson’s favourite cinema

Did you know? You can also find private screening rooms in some of London’s best hotels. Our personal favourite has to be the boujie One Aldwych boutique hotel. Here, you will be wined and dined for brunch, lunch or dinner before being ushered into its intimate on-site cinema to watch an old classic or a newly released film with popcorn and champagne.

Private Cinema One Aldwych | Photo: The Private Traveller

Selfridges Cinema | Photo: The Private Traveller

Luxury shopping in London

As the shopping capital of the world, there’s no excuse not to treat yourself to a little spending spree while you’re in the city. Between Harrods, Selfridges, Liberty, and Harvey Nichols, designer shopping has never been easier. These department stores live and breathe luxury and provide personalised shopping experiences that will make even Vivienne from Pretty Woman jealous. While the likes of Harrods and Liberty are two of London’s most treasured historic institutions, Selfridges brings shopping to a whole new era with its contemporary urban shopping experience.

But why limit yourself to these department stores when the iconic Oxford Street, Bond Street, and Regent Street, or niche favourites like King’s Road, Carnaby, and Covent Garden are just around the corner. In fact, pretty much anywhere you go in London, you can go from scrubbing down in the shower to scrubbing up in the shops in precisely 0.2 seconds. And we haven’t even mentioned the markets yet. Now, the word market might conjure up unwanted thoughts of smelly fish and (frankly offensive) rip-off designer bags, but London’s stalls are in a league of their own. From the upmarket street food stalls at Spitalfields Market to the refined arts and crafts of Greenwich Market, browsing stalls has never been more boujie.

Mr Hudson’s ideal day of shopping

For the ultimate luxury London shopping experience, start your day by buying yourself a beautiful bunch of blooms from Columbia Road Flower Market, before brunching at Borough Market. Once you are fuelled up for the day, work your way along Regent Street and Oxford Street towards Selfridges. Then, you can spend the afternoon trying on suave suits or gorgeous gowns at the atelier, and the evening indulging in Italian cuisine on the building’s rooftop.

London | Photo: Clem Onojeghuo

Regent Street | Photo: The Private Traveller

London’s luxury spa experiences

From its Roman baths to its modern inner city wellness retreats, London offers every spa experience and treatment imaginable. So why not spend your weekend sweating out your toxins in a hammam, getting your butt sculpted at a holistic health clinic, or simply getting a sumptuous massage at the spa?

Sure a day trip to the spa is relaxing and invigorating. However, there’s nothing more luxurious than waking up to a full English breakfast in bed at your hotel before rolling out of it and directly into its very own wellness centre. After all, spa days are about doing as little as possible, right? That’s why hotel spas are the way to go on your luxury weekend in London. And boy does this city have some desirable hotel spas like The Shard’s Shangri-La, The Londoner, Pan Pacific and The Beaumont to name but a few.

However, these are some of our very favourites:

Akasha Spa at Hotel Cafe Royal | Photo: The Private Traveller

Health Club Spa, One Aldwych | Photo: The Private Traveller

Mr Hudson’s honourable spa mentions

The Langham: Chuan Body+Soul

Chuan Body+Soul provides a total wellness journey from their state of the art gym to a 16-meter swimming pool, sauna, and steam rooms. Not to mention their array of treatments where you can be pampered with everything from relaxing scrubs and wraps to specialist facials and body treatments.

Hotel Cafe Royal: Akasha Spa

This superb subterranean haven boats a 16-meter pool, hammam, meditation and yoga centre, and a modern gym with personal trainers on hand. Its biggest vice, however, its its hydrotherapy facilities. Check out its Vichy shower for cleansing hydrotherapy rituals as well as London’s first Watsu pool for tailored hydro-treatments and guided meditation.

One Aldwych: The Health Club

One Aldwych in Covent Garden also has an awesome underground spa complex complete with a pool (featuring underwater music), steam room, sauna, and state-of-the-art gym. What we most love about this hotel spa, however, is its signature spa treatments like the City Stress Buster Plus to the restorative and relaxing Diamond Rose Experience.

The Langham swimming pool | Photo: The Langham

Mr Hudson’s favourite spa experience

Just minutes away from Covent Garden, the Aire Ancient Baths London experience allows you to unwind in temples dedicated to mind and body relaxation in a historic candlelit building. Take your body on a healing journey through various baths of differing temperatures and heat treatments, before or after having a full relaxing body massage complete with a glass of Cava and a few cheeky Belgian chocolates. For something really special, check out their private couple’s wine bath experience.

Mr Hudson’s luxury London grooming experience

If you’re like us, then you’ll believe a luxury weekend isn’t complete without some male grooming. For a refined and regal spot of grooming, stop by Ruffians in Liberty (just to see the terrific Tudor-revival building if nothing else) where they offer haircuts, cut-throat razor shaves, beard tidies, and facials. For a most extensive male grooming list then there’s nowhere better than The Refinery, in the heart of Mayfair. It offers everything from haircuts and beard grooming, to facials, manicures, pedicures, man-scaping, massage and body treatments.

The Refinery Mayfair | Photo: The Private Traveller

AIre Baths | Photo: The Private Traveller

Luxury restaurants in London

In London, there isn’t any food you can’t find. And trust us, you don’t even have to look hard to find it. Want some nasi goreng? Easy. Or how about some birra tacos? No problem. London’s diverse pool of talented chefs conjures the weird, wonderful, and everything tasty in-between. From its street food in markets to its Michelin-star restaurants, the city’s food scene is vibing.

Right now, some of the city’s best restaurants are founded by celebrity chefs like Dinner by Heston Blumenthal and Restaurant Gordon Ramsay. (We recommend the honeycomb-filled chocolate sphere). Another chef of the moment is Angela Harnett who owns Michelin-starred restaurant Cafe Murano featuring an irresistible menu of North Italian delicacies. Headed by a celebrity or not, London has more than its fair share of fabulous restaurants. Here’s just a few of Mr Hudson’s favourites.

For one of the most sophisticated dining experiences in London, book your seat at The Wolseley. Serving classic dishes from across Europe with an artistic flair, it will certainly get your taste buds tingling. Every visit to this world-renowned restaurant is guaranteed to be a deliciously refined affair.

Brasserie Zédel. Reminiscent of an art-deco ocean liner meets Parisien brasserie, this fine French restaurant in the Regent Palace Hotel offers an edible 1930s experience. It’s exactly the kind of place Picasso, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Gertrude Stein would hang out.

For a more alternative dining experience try Yeni Soho, a Michelin Guide restaurant featuring Turkish open-fire cooking and offering a new take on innovation sharing platters. Their delicious tava bread and smoked butter alone makes the experience worthwhile.

Brasserie Zedel | Photo: The Private Traveller

Brasserie Zedel | Photo: The Private Traveller

Delight in afternoon tea

When in London, why not indulge in a lavish long lunch like a Londoner does with a classic afternoon tea. Think salmon, cucumber, and cress finger sandwiches, scones with jam and cream, and of course, your choice of tea… or fizz if you’re feeling more frivolous! If you’ve ever watched Cherish Finden on Crème de la Crème Bake Off, then you’ll appreciate the artistry and talent that goes into the creation of the fancy bakes and cakes served at this traditional lunch ritual. Most of the five-star hotels offer their unique take on this very proper English tradition, although you often have to book some time in advance for the really popular ones.

Mr Hudson’s favorite afternoon tea

Devour an afternoon tea in the regal dining rooms of Hotel Cafe Royal in Mayfair. This hotel has famously served lunch to some of England’s most-loved legends including Princess Diana, David Bowie, and Oscar Wilde.

Langham AfternoonTea | Photo: Langham Hotel

Hotel Cafe Royal | Photo: The Private Traveller

London’s best luxury bars

Of course, with every top-tier hotel is a top-tier hotel bar. And it goes without saying, they are often the most luxurious places to grab a drink in London. That said, the city is bursting with incredible bars which can be found everywhere from the top of The Shard to old underground bunkers. If you’re looking for creative drinks served with a side of glamour, sophistication, and exclusivity, then look no further than Mayfair, Islington, Kensington, and The City.

However, the best London bars aren’t always the most elegant, they are the most unique. Going to a bar in London these days isn’t just about quenching your thirst with a local ale, it’s about experiencing something new. New cultures, new flavours, new styles — you name it, London is always inventing it. While discovering them for yourself as you wander through the city is often the best way to find them, but here’s a couple to get you started.

Mr Foggs Society of Exploration | Photo: The Private Traveller

Artesian Bar, The Langham | Photo: The Private Traveller

Mr Hudson’s favorite London bars

Stop by Artesian, a sophisticated oriental-inspired establishment designed by David Collins in The Langham on Regent Street for an artisanal cocktail or two. Expect delicious drinks amongst glamorous interiors. For a traditional pub experience with a boujie London twist instead, head to the hotel’s refined pub The Wigmore, The simple yet cool pub serves the very best of British drinks and food.

For the ultimate bar adventure step into Mr Fogg’s Society of Exploration, a cocktail specialist speakeasy on The Strand. Not only can you drink marvellous cocktail creations from a Victorian train carriage, you can get them served by the city’s first mechanical mixologist.

London, UK | Photo: Pixabay

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