Perfect week in London

Old Jul 20th, 2022, 03:42 PM
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Perfect week in London

Been back home for 10 days - better late than never

This trip didn't blaze any new territory really -- no big new discoveries but lots of fun, perfect weather, fun Fodors GTG, two new hotels checked out (both can be recommended), and I really REALLY lucked with my visit wedged in between the rail strikes and the current horrible heat wave.

Background: Was originally going to the Hampton Court Palace Flower Festival in July '20, which of course was cancelled. I had booked the special Members Sunday evening preview with food, champagne, a personal table for the evening, wandering musicians. The plan was to stay 2 nights at the Mitre Hotel just across from the Palace, then move into central London for 4 nights. At first the festival was re-scheduled to Sept '20 so I moved all my bookings - cancelled again The show was then set for July '21 so I moved all the bookings again. Well, the show did go on . . . but international travel was still locked down so I cancelled again. 2022 comes around and everything's a go so I rebooked . . . But unfortunately the Mitre was fully booked as were every hotel anywhere near HCP/Richmond (running the same time as Wimbledon didn't help).

Hotels: So I started looking for a place convenient to Waterloo station for easy access to the Hampton Court train. My Dec trip was such a splurge ( Splurge Birthday in London ) I planned on coming down to earth - no Savoy, no 3 star Michelin's no Champagne all over town (well maybe just a little ). I finally settled on Sanctuary House for the first two nights. It is a Fullers pub with rooms above close to the St James's Park tube station. Could not have been better for my purposes. Very large, quiet, well decorated room, super comfortable bed, full breakfast included in the pub, very friendly service -- booked via booking . com for $225/£190 per night. Totally fine. https://www.sanctuaryhousehotel.co.uk

For the next three nights I again used AAVacations to get a discounted airfare + hotel package. Decided to look in the general Barbican/Farringdon/Smithfield/Liverpool Street area because I was seeing Anything Goes at the Barbican and visiting the Super Bloom at the Tower. Settled on the Rookery - I had heard about this place for years (sister property to Hazlitt's) and it was a super bargain for the dates I needed. Beautiful(!) property - like staying in an 18th century townhouse -- so no lift . . . but less than a 2 minute walk from Farrindon station (super convenient for getting back to LHR), and about a 10 minute walk to the Barbican theatre. As long as one can handle the stairs - highly recommended. No restaurant on site but lots of places nearby. https://www.rookeryhotel.com

Then for the last night I moved out to the Sofitel at terminal 5.

Next: Saturday July 2 - Monday July 4. Sacramento to London to St James's; Hampton Court Flower Festival
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Old Jul 20th, 2022, 03:55 PM
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Here are a few photos of the Rookery:



Reception



Resident (giant) moggy



One of several residents lounges



Library



Garden Terrace



My Room



Room & Bath
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Old Jul 20th, 2022, 06:35 PM
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Charming hotel! Looking forward to reading more about your trip!
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Old Jul 21st, 2022, 12:16 AM
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Love the hotel pics. Thanks!
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Old Jul 21st, 2022, 12:43 AM
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There’s a Doubletree Hilton in Kingston upon Thames in a nice location by the river but I guess that was full. Even Surbiton had a decent hotel right by the station, 2 stops on the train to HCP.
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Old Jul 21st, 2022, 07:50 AM
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PegS & Sassafrass: I had somehow formed an idea of the Rookery being more 'quirky' . . . sort of Dennis Sever's House-ish. But it really was lovely.

Balthy: Yes, I do know about K-u-T and Surbiton. I'm fully aware of all the nearby areas. For one of the nights I needed the very closest hotel with any availability was much closer to LHR than to HCP. Central London was more convenient.
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Old Jul 21st, 2022, 08:44 AM
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Looks lovely! Looking forward to hearing more.
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Old Jul 21st, 2022, 07:26 PM
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janis, hopefully food pics or reports too.
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Old Jul 22nd, 2022, 07:08 AM
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That hotel looks wonderful... looking forward to more.
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Old Jul 22nd, 2022, 07:44 AM
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Was trying to post next installment last night but the site was down for a while so will try to get to it later today.

curiousgo: Not a lot of foodie reports this time. A couple of nice lunches and Champagne tea at HCP. But this trip was more focused on exhibitions/shows: HCP flower show, Anything Goes, Tiffany at the Saatchi Gallery, Beatrix Potter @ the V&A, Raphael @ the National, European influence on Disney @ the Wallace Collection, SuperBloom, Royal Family photography @ Kens Palace, Sickert @ Tate Modern.
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Old Jul 22nd, 2022, 10:31 AM
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Good thing you missed the heat wave! The bed looks gorgeous (ditto cat).
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Old Jul 22nd, 2022, 06:06 PM
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Saturday July 2 - Monday July 4. Sacramento to London to St James's; Hampton Court Flower Festival:

All of my flights/airports were easy peasy with none of the chaos happening lots of places. No delays, and being HBO didn't have any baggage problems. SMF > DFW > LHR and LHR > JFK > CLT > SMF were all on time, all of the Lounges were fine, and the only (very) minor issue was my gate for the CLT > SMF flight changed 4 times in the space of 90 minutes.

But things didn't start out on such a great note. SMF being a small-ish/generally efficient airport and flying Business, w/ TSA pre√ I didn't plan on driving out and getting to the airport more than about 60-90 minutes before the 2:30 departure. All packed and lazing around the house around 11:00 - I idly clicked on SMF parking (they display real time availability) . . . OOPS OMG, Parking Garage - my normal go to ($18/day) zero spaces, Daily Lot ($12/day) zero spaces, Hourly Lot ($29/day) zero spaces, West Economy Lot ($10/day) 20 spaces out of 2600, East Lot which is mostly unpaved and always has availability - open but alert that there are only two shuttle buses running (normally there are 10-15 shuttle buses) and expect 90+ minutes from parking to arrival at terminal. This is on a Saturday -- but it was July 4th weekend so maybe heavier than normal. But jeeze louise -- what to do? I don't do uber and Lyft isn't that great here for airport runs. So I called a taxi that came in 15 minutes and with absolutely no wait for check in/passport check, and 1 person ahead of me in the pre√ line I ended up with 2 hours in Vino Volo having charcuterie/olives/hummus and wine tasting.

DFW flight was uneventful and surprisingly there was an actual meal not just a substantial 'snack'. Pre-departure drinks, warm nuts, turkey, cheese & tomato sandwich, fruit plate, brownie and snacks. We landed about 10 mins early at 7:45 PM but taxi and reaching our gate took about 20 mins. Went to the Flagship Lounge - the Admirals Club was packed but Flagship was uncrowded with lots of places to sit quietly. They have a self serve Champagne bar and a full on buffet but knowing I'd get a full meal on the LHR flight I just had a glass of champs and a few nibbles. DFW > LHR flight departed right on time at 11PM. Another glass of Champagne before departure and as soon as we reach altitude they came around for drinks orders and to confirm I still wanted the Bourbon glazed salmon I'd pre-ordered. Yes please So at about midnight Dallas time I'm tucking into several courses - Farro salad/sun dried tomatoes/micro greens starter; Tossed green salad with raisins, sultanas, oven roast tomatoes, and breads/rolls; Salmon, roasted pepper orzo, sugar snap peas and cherry tomatoes main. Dessert was choice of cheese plate, ice cream sundae or lemon tart . . . so hot fudge sundae w/ sprinkles it was Apparently there were mid flight snacks -- a Mezze plate (hummus/baba ganoush etc) and other snack plates set out in the galley . . . but I was dead to the world and missed out -- slept nearly 6 hours of the 9.5 hour flight. They had to wake me for breakfast over Ireland - was a tad groggy so just had the fruit bowl/yogurt and don't think I even ate the yogurt . . . But is was a bit of time shifting because it was 'breakfast' but was served about 1:30PM London time. We landed right on time at 2:25

Being in the pointy end of the plane meant I was one of the first off and (after the typical looooooong walk at LHR) there was one person ahead of me at the eGates. Passed by all the baggage carousels, took £100 out of the cash machine (came home with £40 of that) and straight out through Customs. Topped up my Oyster with a 7 day zone 1-2 travel card and and added £10 to the £8+ PAYG which was left on it from my last trip. Hopped on the tube, changed to the District line at Hammersmith and was at the St James's Park station before 4PM. From there its barely a 2 minute walk to the Sanctuary House. Reception is upstairs on the 1st floor over the pub - there is a separate entrance and a lift, Room was immediately ready. On the 3rd floor and was great. I don't think I took any photos of it but the shots on the website I linked above are very accurate. Large, super comfortable bed, bath w/ two shower heads, complimentary mini bar/fridge (no alcohol, but water, juice, milk, snacks, candy, tea and coffee. Both an electric kettle and a Nespresso-type machine.

I quickly unpacked then headed out to St James's Park just for a walk around and some fresh air. About 6PM I wandered back to the hotel -- besides the included full breakfasts, they give you a coupon for a £14 meal for a choice of most of their main dishes and a pint or soft drink - this is a super deal because their mains run from around £17-£22. I wasn't that tired but figured it would be really convenient to just eat downstairs - then I could collapse in my room or go out if I felt good later. Had a Steak/London Pride/caramelized shallot/Mushroom pie, salad, and a half of brown ale all for (the coupon would have included a pint but at that point I thought a full pint might have put me under the table The pie was really tasty. Because Wimbledon was playing 'middle Sunday' this year I ended up just going upstairs to watch in my room.

Slept like a baby and woke around 7AM. Decided to try breakfast in the pub and it was surprisingly good. Both buffet items and full cooked options so I had some of both. Had afternoon tea booked at 2:30 at the Hampton Court Waterside Restaurant (this is a marquee venue just during the flower festival). The weather was gorgeous -- did cloud up later in the day but never a drop of rain. Walked past the Abbey and across Westminster Bridge and into the County Hall Marriott. Had a glass of Champagne and mixed olives in Gillray's lounge bar. Walked over to Waterloo and caught the 1:36 train to Hampton Court. From HC station is is a loooooooong walk to the actual show grounds. More than 15 minutes along the riverside path and then in to the meadows. I knew the show was large but not that is is ENORMOUS. Much larger acreage-wise the Chelsea. Went first into the middle of the grounds to the Waterside for my afternoon tea, which was lovely. Champagne (of course ), choice of teas and the typ set up -- 4 types of sandwiches, 2 savory pies, scones/clotted cream, sweets. Plenty ofr late lunch/early dinner.

Then spent the next 3-ish hours exploring just a part of the show -- my guess is I visited a little over half of the exhibits. Some really glorious demonstration gardens and flower tents. The rose marquee was absolutely intoxicating. Amazing green houses, etc. Unlike Chelsea where plants are only for sale on the last afternoon, there were many merchants and garden centers selling plants and flowers on site. Tons of people were prepared, pulling wagons and shopping carts filled with treasures. Still sorting out my photos but will post a few.

They were running a water ferry between the south side of the bridge (close to the station) and the festival grounds for £3.50. If I had known it was so far I would have taken it both ways, but definitely took it back.

Got back to Waterloo and walked across the river towards Covent Garden where I'd planned on having a light supper somewhere. But really wasn't hungry so just bought a sandwich/fruit and small bottle of wine at M&S in Charing Cross and took the tube from Embankment to St James's.

Next: Tuesday July 5 - Raphael at te National Gallery, Lunch in the V&A Members Room, Beatrix Potter, Fodors GTG
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Old Jul 22nd, 2022, 06:16 PM
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A few HCP Flower Festival photos:



Afternoon Tea






Fuschias
(oops - typo )


















These garden statues are made of driftwood



Water taxi

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Old Jul 22nd, 2022, 10:47 PM
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enjoying your beautiful London story
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Old Jul 23rd, 2022, 05:46 AM
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Gorgeous flower pix. Do you know the driftwood artist's name?
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Old Jul 23rd, 2022, 10:40 AM
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Originally Posted by northie View Post
enjoying your beautiful London story
Hi, Northie

Originally Posted by TDudette View Post
Gorgeous flower pix. Do you know the driftwood artist's name?
Didn't get the name - they were really really big and I knew they wouldn't fit in my rollaboard
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Old Jul 23rd, 2022, 11:01 AM
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Love that you get your Champs in! Extremely important. We had a wonderful lunch that turned into several glasses of wine with British cheeses across from HCP at The Mute Swan. I would love to go to the flower show! I love Fuschia but have killed everyone I have ever gotten. They grown in hedges everywhere in Ireland—I loved that!

i watched Wimbledon excessively this year. I have always wanted to go there. Seeing grass courts as a kid was amazing to me….no grass courts in Memphis!

last….very jealous that you went to the Tiffany exhibit at Saatchi Gallery! Can’t wait to hear about it.
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Old Jul 23rd, 2022, 05:11 PM
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Tuesday July 5 - Raphael at the National Gallery, Lunch in the V&A Members Room, Beatrix Potter, Fun GTG.

This morning I have a 10:15 ticket for the Raphael exhibition at the National Gallery. Didn't feel like a big breakfast so had tea and biscuits in my room, packed, checked out and left my bag at reception before heading out about 9:45 - Gorgeous morning, definitely shirt sleeve weather. I walked across Horse Guards Parade and over to Trafalgar SQ with the the plan to get to the Gallery right at the 10AM opening and spend a few minutes in the gift shop before going to the exhibition space. Was not to be -- the main entrance is closed off and one must enter through the Sainsbury Wing . . . where there was a looooong queue outside (well, maybe not 'looooog' but definitely long) and a really inefficient security check - two guards opening every bag of any sort. But I guess with all the idiot anti oil demonstrators gluing themselves to various paintings they can't be too careful. By the time I got inside it was 10:20 and the exhibition space is all the way across the on the opposite side of the Gallery. I didn't need to run -- but I do hate being late to things so I rushed a bit -- that is one LARGE building (I knew that but having to cross the the whole bloody width from downstairs at the Sainsbury Wing entrance, upstairs and across to the very far corner just drove home how big it is)

Wow -- just WOW. Amazing show. I'd seen lots of Raphaels, but mostly his religious works, and of course the Cartoons in the V&A, but was really unaware of his architectural drawings, or many of his secular paintings, and beautiful portraits and self portraits. To think that he died at just 37 and still produced so many masterpieces. The portrait of Baldassare Castiglione is a wonder. The drawings alone could have been a major exhibition.

Pulled myself away after maybe 2 hours and took the tube to S. Kens/the V&A. Being a member I didn't need to pre-book for Beatrix Potter so decided to hit the Members Room for lunch first. Had a small starter salad -- I think a Caprese or something like that followed by asparagus risotto . . . nope - no Champagne . . . Prosecco instead and a pot of tea.

Really enjoyed the exhibition -- arranged in chronological order from her early years in London through her entire life. Lots of early photographs but mostly her artwork and manuscripts plus a lot of artifacts and personal belongings. Quilts, wooden shoes, clothing, a couple of walking sticks, one with a microscope in the handle for examining bugs, and an ink iron she used to 'brand' her flocks of sheep. An 'adult' exhibition but also with a lot 'touch & do' things for kids.

I had planned to do some shopping this afternoon before retrieving my bag and moving out east to my next stay at the Rookery. I'm meeting up later with flanneruk, jamikins and BikerScott -- so decided to skip the shopping (and likely champagne somewhere . . . LOL) . Picked up my bag and took the Circle line all the way around to Farringdon Station. I knew the Rookery was close - but it is literally less than a 2 minute walk straight up Cowgate.

Loved this place -- even with no lift. Just a really beautiful property (photos above), and super friendly service. Not a 'full service' hotel -- no restaurant, if you want breakfast its in your room (or you can have it served out on the terrace). But beautiful decor, an honesty bar in one of the lounges, just 'comfy'. The bellman took my bag and walked me through most of the public rooms, introduced me to th ehouse cat, and just generally provided a warm welcome. Not sure if they have any ground floor rooms -- forgot to ask. So if mobility is an issue it might not be the property for everyone, but if I wanted to stay in that part of town again, it would be a no brainer.

Unpacked, explored the building some more, then went the one stop to St Pancras/Kings Cross to meet the others at 6PM at the Betjeman Arms pub upstairs at St Pancras. So much fun -- hadn't seen Jamiekins/Bikerscott in ages - they are often traveling when I visit in winter -- and flanner was in his usual fine form We hung around for maybe 3-ish hours solving just about every earthshaking issue on both sides of the Atlantic. flanneruk had to catch he train back to Cotswolds-shire while the 3 of us stayed a little longer then headed out into the (still light) night.

Loved that both hotels are so close to tube stations -- really easy to get around . . .

Next: Wed. July 6. Royal Family photographs at Kensington Palace, Tiffany at the Saatchi Gallery, Pre-theatre dinner (complete with fire alarm evacuation) and a sublime Anything Goes at the Barbican.
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Old Jul 23rd, 2022, 05:40 PM
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I think you slept so long on your flight over because of all the food you ate.. it sounded very good
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Old Jul 24th, 2022, 07:14 AM
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Well, now I am jealous of your GTG group! Sounds like fun.
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