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Trip Ideas

Got Wedding Fever? Here’s How to Plan a Royal Day Out in London

With the royal wedding just days away and the internet—and our office—abuzz with all-things Meghan and Harry, we couldn't help but pull together a fresh guide to London. Just back from a whirlwind trip to the UK—where she scouted out all the royal family's favorite haunts—JS editor Chelsea Stuart spills on the best places to eat, drink, and mingle like a future duke and duchess.

A Brooklyn-based writer and editor, Chelsea's work has appeared in Matador Network, The Huffington Post, the TripAdvisor blog, and more. When not planning her next trip, you'll usually find her drinking way too much iced coffee (always iced—she’s from New England) or bingeing a Netflix original series.

See recent posts by Chelsea Stuart

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Shop stores with Royal Warrants

Don’t have the cash to shell out for your own castle? Luckily, there are other far more affordable ways to live like a royal, starting with shopping stores awarded Royal Warrants. In order to earn the coveted honor and graduate to the upper echelons of British retailers, companies and tradesmen must supply goods and services to the most senior members of the royal family (aka the Queen, Duke of Edinburgh, and Prince of Wales) for at least five years. While you’re in London, don’t miss the opportunity to browse—or throw down on—bespoke men’s suits at Savile Row’s Gieves and Hawke; fine fragrances at family-owned, circa-1730 Floris; and exotic teas and decadent sweets at royal grocer Fortnum & Mason in Piccadilly.

Cocktail at Tom's Kitchen in Chelsea, UK
Martini at Tom's Kitchen in Chelsea, UK
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Take lunch at Tom’s Kitchen

Follow in the footsteps of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and go for lunch at Tom’s Kitchen, highly-acclaimed Brit chef Tom Aikens’ flagship restaurant in Chelsea. Following an extensive redesign from B3 Designs, the former townhouse-turned-British-brasserie reopened its doors this spring ready to do what it does best: serve up rustic, seasonal, small shared plates just a stone’s throw from London’s Kings Road. Warning: You’ll have a hard time deciding on your dishes as everything on the menu is straight-up mouthwatering, but luckily—per the chef’s recommendation—each person should choose three to four plates. Our picks? The stracciatella with fresh truffles and honey, the courgette and pistachio risotto, and the chateaubriand with onion tart and peppercorn sauce.

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Visit Kensington Palace

Obviously, no royal visit to London is complete without a stop by Kensington Palace—the official London residence of many royals, including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry, and Princess Eugenie. This time around, make sure you take advantage of photo ops in the Sunken Garden, the very spot where Meghan and Harry had their engagement photos taken, and spend some time indoors checking out the Diana: Her Fashion Story and Victoria Revealed exhibits. The first traces the evolution of Prince Di’s glamorous outfits, from her Victor Edelstein ink blue velvet gown to her tartan Emanuel suit, while the latter chronicles the life of Queen Victoria (who ascended the throne at just 18) through more than 300 of her personal objects, including paintings, handmade dolls, letters, and more.

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Get afternoon tea at The Dorchester

The prestigious Dorchester Hotel has long held ties to the royal family, having hosted Queen Elizabeth for dinner the day before her engagement was announced, and then Prince Philip for his stag night. While we’d always recommend you spend a night at the five-star Mayfair grand dame—with its lavish interiors (see: Italian marble bathrooms) and three-Michelin-starred Alain Ducasse restaurant—if that’s not in the cards, you can always drop by for tea in the Promenade. The iconic lounge extends back from the hotel’s lobby in a swath of sumptuous linens, potted palms, and plush turreted sofas. Once seated, tuck into baby cucumber and truffle cream finger sandwiches, warm scones with jam and clotted cream, and elaborate French pastries accompanied by tea, of course, and soothing melodies from the resident pianist.

RELATED: 8 Most Luxurious Hotels in London
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Check out ‘The Crown’ filming locations on a walking tour

After debuting in 2016, Netflix’s biographical series on Queen Elizabeth II took the streaming world by storm with period costumes, real-life palace settings, and a whole lot of (pretty) historically accurate drama. With an average of $13 million spent on each episode, the production was able to buy itself quite the setup, but, despite their monstrous budget, certain royal haunts—like Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey—remained off limits to the crew. To see how they worked around the pretty major hiccup, take a walking tour of the series’ filming locations with Brit Movie Tours. Starting at the Temple tube station and ending at Buckingham Palace, the two-hour tour will take you to more than ten filming locations, including the Adelphi, Lyceum Theater, Smith & Wollensky, and Trafalgar Square. Oh, and be sure to pick the brain of your guide—they'll provide you with BTS details on how the show is made.

RELATED: 8 Real-Life Filming Locations from Netflix's The Crown
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Get dinner at Daphne’s in Chelsea

Opened in 1954 by Daphne Rye—the very agent who discovered Richard Burton—this Brompton Cross restaurant is a Chelsea institution. A favorite haunt of royals (especially Princess Di) and well-heeled Londonites, the elegant eatery is known for its seasonal Italian menu and a global wine list with special attention paid to female wine producers. You can’t really go wrong with any plate, but if it were up to us, we’d go with the mixed beetroot and watermelon salad with salted ricotta and mint, pappardelle with wild boar ragu, and the Amalfi lemon polenta cake with mascarpone to cap things off.

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Go for drinks at Andre Balazs’ Chiltern Firehouse

This Andre Balazs-owned hotel/restaurant/bar may have opened in 2013, but the London hotspot hasn’t lost its luster. Housed in a converted 1880s fire station in fashionable Marylebone, the venue has been known to host young royals and celebs from Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie and Meghan Markle to Bradley Cooper and Cara Delevingne. In the kitchen, Michelin-starred Portuguese chef Nuno Mendes whips up a contemporary menu of American-inspired brasserie dishes with an emphasis on seasonality. Secure a seat on the patio or in the buzzy dining room—done up with soaring pendant-adorned ceilings, cozy leather-trimmed booths, and vases of country style bouquets—and tuck into plates of sea trout ceviche and Todenham Farm lamb—perhaps with a side of paparazzi depending on who you’re dining alongside.

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Grab a slice of pizza at Bunga Bunga

It may not look like it, but this kitschy 21+ joint is co-owned by Charlie Gilkes, an ex of Pippa Middleton, and it attracts a thick crowd of young royals from Prince Harry and Kate’s lil sis to Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie. And luckily, despite the well-heeled guest list, a few slices of pie and some quirky cocktails won’t run you more than £25 or so. The ephemera-filled Battersea party venue—which was inspired by former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi—is split between the bar and pizzeria, club, and martini prosecco beach bar and hosts karaoke and cabaret acts on the regular.



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