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The Traveller's Magazine
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It’s old news that Kate and William are engaged. The love-struck couple are planning on tying the knot on April 28th, the last weekend of the month, at Westminster Abbey. Travel agents are expecting sky-high traffic to London that month thanks to two long weekends. Planning a royal-themed holiday next year? Here’s how to do it.

London will no doubt be packed come April, with foreigners and locals alike hoping to get a glimpse of the princess-to-be with their own eyes, on her and Prince William’s wedding day. While you’re at it why not plan your own royal affair and visit London like a queen (or king).

What to see

  • Buckingham Palace is the heart of London, built in 1702, it has been the home of several members of the Royal Family ever since. As one of the few working royal palaces in the world, it is the headquarters to the Royal Household and the permanent residence of Queen Elizabeth II.
  • Royal Mews is where you can get a sneak peak at the Royal Carriage to be used on the wedding day. All of the state vehicles are kept here from horse-drawn carriages to motor cars and others.
  • Windsor Castle is the oldest occupied castle in the world. For more than 900 years members of the Royal Family have lived here. Highlights in a tourist visit include St. George’s cathedral, Queen Mary’s Dollhouse (which has hot/cold running water and electricity) and a tour of the kitchen.
  • Clarence House is where Prince William and his brother Harry live with their father Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall. It’s located on The Mall, just across from St. James’ Park in London.
    When in London, toast to the Queen's health... especially at Queen's Head Pub (img: flickr cc)
  • Kew Palace is under renovation until the wedding but the surrounding gardens are still worth a visit. The Royal Botanical Gardens are home to more than 30,000 living plant varieties and close to 7 million preserved plant specimens. View the gardens from 250 ft up on the newly added Xstrata treetop walk.
  • Tower of London was at one point in its long history a fortress, palace, prison, execution place, zoo, arsenal and jewel house. Today it houses the famous Crown Jewels, including the State Crown which holds more than 2,800 diamonds.

Sleep like royalty, for cheap

Snagging a cheap hotel in London isn’t that hard if you know how to do it and where to look. Book your room well in advance, as soon as possible really, especially if you’re in London for the wedding. When Princess Diana married Prince Charles an estimated 600,000 tourists were attracted to the city for that single event 30 years ago. Plenty more than that are expected this time around due to Kate Middleton and Prince William’s popularity meaning that hotel prices will be through the roof.

Tune Hotels opened their first low cost hotel in London which offers 4-star service using a low cost pricing scenario. Essentially the rate includes the bare minimum and any extras can be added at additional costs.

When booking your hotel, ask for discounts if you’re staying several nights at the same place. Room prices change drastically even a few streets away from main tourist areas so look for a hotel away from the city centre and the Thames.

Where to have High Tea

  • Langham Hotel (1c Portland Place, Regent Street) – This prestigious hotel was voted in 2010 as the best place to enjoy “a spot of afternoon tea” in London. It is rumoured that the mid-day tea tradition was born in this hotel’s Palm Court where it is still served today. Luxury comes at a price however! Enjoy tea, fresh sandwiches, scones with cream and organic strawberry preserve and pastries. Reservations are essential, served 15:00-17:00, £37 a person.
  • The Goring (Beeston Place, Grosvenor Gardens) – Goring Terrace Afternoon Tea has become something lavish in recent years starting with a special house tea blend, freshly prepared sandwiches, fresh baked scones served with Devonshire cream and jam and ending with delicate pastries. The terrace overlooks stunning gardens. Reservations are essential, served 15:00-17:00 daily, £35 a person.
  • Grosvenor House (Park Lane) – Celebrities and London’s leading businessmen are known to frequent this historical hotel. Lounge on comfortable sofas and enjoy live piano entertainment while sipping your cup of house brew and nibbling on raisin scones, cream puffs and French pastries. Children are welcome. Reservations are essentail, served at 14:00 and later at 18:00, £30.50 a person.

At most hotels serving High Tea the dress code is formal or smart, no shorts.

Will you be heading to London for the royal wedding?

Img: beastandbean / flickr cc

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One response to “Make your next London holiday a “royal affair”

  1. There’s not much to see at Buckingham Palace but it’s definitely a must when visiting the capital. I’d also suggest taking the time to visit the National Gallery and National History Museum, some of the pieces and exhibits are amazing to see.

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