Carly and I recently attended the Inaugural ILTM (International Luxury Travel Market) Spa Conference in London. This was the first event of its kind to bring together VIP buyers who specialize in health/wellness travel with destination spa and wellness resort suppliers from around the world. Carly and I flew Virgin Atlantic direct from Vancouver to London and return. On the way to London we flew in the economy class of service. That was the smallest/squishiest economy seat I experienced thus far. My knees were touching the seat in front of me. The man beside me was 6’4” and he didn’t look very comfortable either. Despite the small quarters I was able to rest my head on his shoulder got some shut eye. On our return flight to Vancouver from London we flew Virgin Atlantic’s premium economy service. I highly recommend this class of service. It is spacious, the service is of higher quality and it is great value. The 10 hour flight passed quickly as the other passengers on board were also in high spirits and excited to talk to their neighbours.
As for our accommodation in London, Carly and I experienced staying in 4 different hotels and I was able to do sight inspections at 14 Virtuoso Properties. The choice of luxury hotels in London is so vast. The level of service in each of these hotels is similar and of the highest quality but their décor, size, location and overall feel make it unique and perfect for the right guest. It is important for us as Virtuoso Travel Advisors to make the appropriate match of client to hotel in order for them to have the best experience possible.
Carly and I first stayed at The Metropolitan by Como. It was located on Park Lane right across Hyde Park. Our room was simple and great for people who are sensitive to electronics when they sleep as there was no buzzing or blinking lights on. The Metropolitan by Como is also host to a Como Shambala Spa. Finally, it is also important to note that there are a plethora of healthy food options for breakfast, lunch and dinner which caters to many dietary preferences.
After our stay at The Metropolitan we moved to the Jumeirah Carlton Tower. This hotel is most appropriate for business travelers. It is located in the heart of Knightsbride and walking distance to Harrods and Harvey Nichols. It was convenient for Carly and I as the conference was being held in the hotel. The service was impeccable and when you stay here do make a point to talk with Jason the Head Concierge. He was able to get me tickets to the Champions League Soccer Game, Arsenal vs. Napoli the day of the game. He is a gem!
We then moved to The Lanesborough, a St. Regis Hotel. We were greeted by wonderful doormen who allowed us to give them a hug upon arrival. The Lanesborough was once a hospital from the 1733 until the 1970’s and reopened in 1991 as a hotel. The feeling in the Lanesborough is slightly more masculine with its dark wood and Cigar Garden Room. The hotel has their own cigar sommelier who advises the guests on which cigar is right for them and which liquor is best to pair it with.
Our final stop in London was The Corinthia Hotel. Located right across the Embankment Tube Station near the geographical centre of London allows guests to walk along the river Thames and cross the Hungerford bridge to the south bank. The Corinthia is modern and contemporary and host to one of the best spas in the London. The thermal floor on the bottom level of their 4 level Spa has a gorgeous pool, glass encased sauna, vitality hydrotherapy pool, steam room and heated chaise lounge, perfect for any guest to relax in after a day of touring.
London is a city rich in history as it was inhabited by the Romans in 43AD. Due to this rich history that spans across centuries, city tours are a necessity when visiting. Carly and I took a wonderful 8 hour day tour with one of our Virtuoso preferred tour operators. My favourite spot on the tour was Westminster Abbey as it was very inspiring to be around great minds (scientists, radicals and royalty) such as Sir Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin and Charles Dickens to name a few.
After one week in London Carly and I left the city and went south to Hampshire, UK to stay at Chewton Glen Country Hotel and Spa. See my article on the “Detox in the Trees” for information on Chewton Glen.
After Chewton Glen, Carly and I spent 2 nights at The Stoke Park Golf and Country Club Hotel. This hotel is 20 minutes from Heathrow Airport and therefore is a perfect spot to stay before one fly’s home. Stoke Park is a classic Mansion, the grand staircase in the Mansion is a rare sight as floating staircases are no longer built. The Mansion is elegant with large paintings and chandeliers decorating the interior. Stoke Park also offers a contemporary Spa building for those looking for modern rooms. This is a wonderful destination for weddings, golf trips and tennis trips. Stoke Park is host to The Boodles every year. The Boodles is Wimbledon’s pre tournament. If you want to interact with the professional players such as Andy Murray, Djokovic and Maria Sharapova in a intimate setting I recommend watching the final days of The Boodles. Then stay around for the first few days of Wimbledon’s Tournament to experience a larger venue.
I look forward to return to the UK. The next cities visited on the isle will be Devon/Cornwall, Bath and the Cotswold’s.