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Thursday, April 28, 2011

William and Kate’s Guide to London

Prince Charles and Lady Diana’s wedding in 1981 was as much of a landmark event as the Moon Landing, everyone remembers where they were when the shy young girl married the stiff heir to the British throne (and whether or not they thought the union would last).
 
This year, it’s their elder son’s turn down the aisle, as the most eligible royal bachelor in the world—Prince William, marries his long-term girlfriend, “Waity” Kate Middleton, at Westminster Abbey on April 29. British tourism chiefs expect it will lure 600,000–1,000,000 extra visitors to London. And the whole city, it seems, is offering a slew of promotions and gimmicks riffing off the royal pair.
 
On the wedding day itself, the Ritz Hotel—where grandma Elizabeth II celebrated her 80th birthday—is hosting a champagne brunch for royal-watchers ($244 per person), while chic One Aldwych hotel offers a Kate & Will champagne cocktail, mini wedding cakes upon arrival to every guest checking in on wedding weekend, and even Union Jack flags to wave as the procession passes nearby. (One artist even recently staged a show with a Tussauds-style wax statue of William where would-be Kates could be photographed, arm in arm, complete with a replica ring.)
 
But the real way to celebrate the wedding of the century is by following directly in William and Kate’s footsteps. With our handy cheat sheet, it’s easy to hit the royal lovebirds’ favorite haunts around their hometown of London—from Automat, a boho Mayfair diner known for its comfort dishes like burgers and mac-and-truffled-cheese, to the Archipelago, where literally anyone could find themselves sitting alongside the princess-to-be. Will and Kate aren’t the only ones who can enjoy the royal treatment. Here are some of Will and Kate’s favorite spots in London:
 
  • Tom’s Kitchen - Although Prince Charles took his sons to Christmas parties at the Ritz London Will and Kate like casual restaurants such as Tom’s Kitchen in Chelsea.

  • Whisky Mist - Another upper-crust hangout is Whisky Mist at the Hilton Park Lane where in 2008 Paris Hilton reportedly made an unsuccessful advance toward William.

  • Ship - Sunday nights you might find Will drinking a house-ale or Prince Harry dancing on a table at the Ship a gastropub on the Thames.

  • Automat - Deliberately downscale amid the tony spots of Mayfair, this bistro-diner will be eerily familiar to New Yorkers, since its design and menu make it a near-clone of Keith McNally’s boho hangout, Schiller’s Liquor Bar. Keep an eye on the wooden booths that line one wall of the slender space, where Kate and William are regularly spotted enjoying comfort food.

  • Archipelago - They’ve also tried more offbeat places, including Archipelago which specializes in exotic fare such as kangaroo (Will’s favorite) and chocolate-covered scorpions.

  • Dans le Noir - Choose from the menu in the dimly lit bar, then walk to a table in the pitch-black dining room, led by one of the servers here—all of whom are blind or partially sighted. No wonder Kate and William came here for a romantic dinner à deux—this is one of the few places in the world they could eat undisturbed. Boujis- Nowhere is more synonymous with good-lifing for Will and Kate than Boujis, the South Ken club/lounge whose signature cocktail is a Crack Baby (raspberry liqueur, champagne, vodka). In honor of the wedding, the club has created Faboujis Crown eggs—essentially a pitcher of cocktails for 10 served in a glittering egg topped with a crown.
 
You may not be able to be in London for the Royal Wedding, but next time you are there you can travel like royalty by visiting some of William and Kate's favorite spots. If you would like more information on how you can spend your next holiday like royalty on the royal River Thames click here.
 
Travel and Leisure April 2011 by Mark Ellwood, Yvonne Yorke
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