PENHALIGON’S: Ah, the scent of a woman … Nothing makes quite an impression like having your own unique fragrance, which Penhaligon’s is happy to help you create. The founder of the parfumerie, William Penhaligon, was a “Wildean, Byronian rebel” born in Penzance (yes, like the pirates) who began making exclusive fragrances for clients in his Jermyn Street barbershop. “Blenheim Bouquet,” which he created for the Duke of Marlborough in 1902, remains the company’s best-selling fragrance. (Penhaligon’s also holds royal warrants from the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Edinburgh). You can also try your hand mixing bergamot, jasmine, and other oils to create something uniquely personal.
Penhaligon’s, 125 Regent St., London, UK, +44(0) 1795 519.
JENNY PACKHAM: Roll out the red carpet, Jenny Packham’s flagship store, housed in a former Victorian-era bank, has more glamour than last summer in St. Tropez. The British designer, known for her trendy ready-to-wear frocks and va-va-voom bridal gowns, dresses clients like Mariah Carey and Emma Watson for their magic moments. Visit the former vault where wedding dresses are displayed alongside beautiful chinoiserie (alas, not for sale), then choose one of the alluring cutout dresses with slits up to there. Choose one of these and you’ll be a real hit on the other side of the Atlantic.
Jenny Packham, 3a Carlos Place, Mount St., Westminster, London W1K 3, UK.
GAUCHO: Hungry after all that shopping? Have a meal at this hip Argentine eatery where the Wild West-meets-minimalism décor features rawhide on the walls and oversized chandeliers. Separate areas for dining, drinking, and lounging provide ample spaces to canoodle or party before or after an excellent sirloin, fillet, or ribeye. Time Out London declared it the city’s best steak restaurant, but the less carnivorously inclined can also enjoy king scallop ceviche and Patagonian seabass.
Gaucho Grill, 19 Swallow St., London, W1B, UK, +44 20 77344040.
THE LANGHAM HOTEL: What could be more British than The Langham? As iconically English as double-decker buses and Burberry plaid, The Langham, which opened its doors in 1865, recently underwent an £80 million renovation, a subtle nip and tuck which served only to heighten its elegant decor. The very much en vogue palette is a muted fawn gray and deep purple with lavish spaces and an impeccable attention to detail (piles of Marie Antoinette-inspired pink-and-white stationary in every room, bathtubs that are family- sized). The hotel is said to be the birthplace of the tradition of afternoon tea, but I was most taken with the tome left on my bed by the Book Butler. Location, luxury, and a good book? The best gifts of all.
Langham Hotel, 1c Portland Place, Regent St., London, GB W1B 1JA, UK, +44 20 7636 1000.
CROSSING THE POND IN STYLE
BRITISH AIRWAYS: Milk and cookies before bed, a fully extending seat with privacy dividers, and a new £4.3 billion terminal equipped with 96 check-in ports at Heathrow airport when you land – all are part of British Airways’ revamped business class service. Shuteye is the most important element in anytransatlantic flight, but having a nightcap, a pre-flight supper, and undisturbed sleep until breakfast will help you stay horizontal as you fly the friendly skies. And when you do land at the new Terminal 5, you can recline by one of the fireplaces or shower in one of the personal bathrooms before hitting the town.
VISIT LONDON: Established in 1963, Visit London is the official tourism organization for Britain’s capital. Not only does it keep up with the best restaurants, fashion outlets, and festivals, it also serves as a one-stop-shop for advice on everything from gallery openings and pub-crawls to highly-rated hotels and navigating the Tube. In an effort to further assist your trip, the new “Visit London Approved” marque can be found on hotels and B&B’s that meet Visit London’s high standards.
+44 (0)20 7234 5800