Guide to luxury London on a budget
My husband Peter is a wonder when it comes to finding luxury bargains as he hops around the globe.
This weekend, London was our destination, and there’s no better place to spend Halloween. The recession is still going strong in Britain, so it is also a good time to take advantage of the multitude of deals to be had.
We usually prefer classic English-style hotels, because the English really do know how to let you feel part of what is the best in the British lifestyle, but this time, Peter selected a boutique hotel, MyHotel Bloomsbury on Bayley Street just off Bedford Square.
MyHotel is entirely Feng Shui, minimalist and has a wonderful fitness center. The rooms are quiet and impeccably clean, the staff is pleasant and efficient and they speak very good English (which one cannot count on in London), it does indeed have a good feel about it, and the location is remarkably central.
Unfortunately, the hotel is the victim of British regulations regarding fire doors, so despite all the effort they had made to make it Feng Shui and calming, the fire doors ruined it all. Even the bathroom door slammed loudly. The clientele was extremely civilized, despite the fact that it was Halloween weekend, and the management was so conscious of maintaining the calm atmosphere, that they closed the bar on Halloween night.
In the UK, Top Table is an excellent site for booking fine restaurants at a nice price. With the credit crunch still alive and kicking, there is an abundance of choices, many offering forty and fifty percent off menu prices. Please note that the discounts do not usually apply to wine, supplements and service charge, and are sometimes limited to a limited number of people, but it can still significantly reduce the price of a meal.
We regularly get Top Table offers at the L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon in West Street in Soho. This weekend we went with Ana and Nicholas, two of our three children, who fall strictly into the bouche fine category, and lots of appropriate terms such as “yum,” “divine” and “I want to eat this every day in heaven” were to be heard, especially since the children ate Robuchon’s mashed potatoes for the first time.
Top Table is also offering other top restaurant deals at the moment, such as Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester on Park Lane, offering either 20% off the total bill or 3-course lunch for 2 people with 2 glasses of wine for £45.
One of my all-time favorite restaurants in London, The Landau in The Langham Hotel in Portland Place, is offering dinner for two, with 3 courses and a glass of Champagne for £37.50, or lunch for two, with 3 courses and a glass of wine £32. Tell the charming Italian maître d’hôtel Franco that the Galloway-White’s from Geneva sent you!
…from a set menu (two courses £32) Includes Vat, excludes service.
- Mon – Thu: 5:30pm – 10:00pm
Max people: 6
Ends: 12 November
We always like to eat at at least one Indian restaurant when we go to London. Top Table was offering 40% off at the Hason Raja in Southampton Row in Bloomsbury. They specialize in Bengali dishes, but add the classic Indian and Pakistani restaurant dishes like chicken tikka, rogan josh, etc. to their Bengali menu. The manager and maitre d’hôtel had an imperious manner and was unfriendly, and the menu offered some original dishes you don’t find elsewhere, such as lamb with grenada fruit seeds. One of my main criterion in judging an Indian restaurant is the quality of the dal, and the dal was just all right and served coldish.
Leonor, our eldest, joined us for Saturday night’s meal at Patterson’s in Mill Street between Oxford Circus and New Bond Street; it was a pure delight. Scottish chef Raymond Patterson offers an exquisite balance between classic French cuisine, adding Scottish ingredients, thus giving an original, modern English style of cuisine. I loved every bite and will definitely put it on my list of favorites in London.
Despite the small dining room and superb quality, they too are offering Top Table deals, with a choice of 50% off the total food bill, a private dining room with complimentary champagne and canapé reception, or 40% off the total food bill. We managed to eat a wonderful meal in a wonderful setting, with a tab of around £120 for our family of five. (By the way, the portions are huge.)
…from the a la carte menu (based on ordering three courses) Include Vat, excludes service and supplements.
- Mon – Wed: 6:00pm – 11:00pm
Max people: 6
Ends: 06 November
…Includes Vat, excludes service
- Mon – Sat: 12:00pm – 3:00pm, 6:00pm – 11:00pm
Max people: 24
Ends: 06 November
The only meal we didn’t book on Top Table was our dim sum brunch at The Golden Dragon in Gerrard Street in Chinatown, which gets a rating of 22 in Zagat. They have some of the most delicious dim sums I have ever eaten in the Western hemisphere, and you must book ahead of time if you don’t want to wait in line for hours. Prices are right.
On Halloween, all of London becomes one big party
Take note for next Halloween: London is so lively on Halloween night, and people dress in the most eccentric costumes possible. The streets are alive and buzzing, and some hotels offer Halloween weekend packages. Many clubs give a Halloween bash, and there are daytime activities for children in some theatres and other venues around town. No one does it better, I think.