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Magical Mystery Tour London…

“We’re going on a magical mystery tour” declared Angela Walker, Director of Crown Lawn Apartments. How exciting! To celebrate Christmas and the end of 2019, a hectic year for all, Angela kindly invited colleagues and friends to join her for a special day out in our amazing London.

Ashburn Gardens apartments
Luxury apartments in Ashburn Gardens
Serviced apartments

We made an early start.  Well early in terms of the time of day to drink champagne! and met at her lovely Ashburn Gardens serviced apartment residence in Gloucester Road for the first glass of the day…..

After chatting with colleagues for a while we boarded a very nice coach with two guys in attendance offering – you guessed it – more champagne!  The champagne was served, of course, in crystal flutes! A most civilised way to travel around London on a chilly December morning!

The Crown Lawn staff
Binh, Sorin and Angela of Crown Lawn
Jazz Pizza Express

Off we headed in the coach and after a couple of turns round the block in Soho arrived at the Jazz Pizza Express in Dean Street. And for someone who’s not used to the daytime “nightlife” of London it was a bit of a surprise! Going down the stairs to the Jazz Club was like entering another world. Fabulously lit in soft shades of blue and red it had a timeless feel. It was very easy to forget that it was barely mid-day! And equally easy to forget that we are nearing the end of 2019. NB: It seems like a venue to remember for a  discreet, low-lit lunchtime date…

Earl Okin
Earl Okin performs at The Pizza Express Jazz Club
A good lunchtime venue

Pizzas abound – obviously – it is Pizza Express after all! But the lighting alone makes this unlike any other Pizza Express I’ve ever visited. They’re usually too well lit and often not very relaxing. Our glasses were filled for the second time and the artist, Earl Okin, appeared.  He is a very old friend of our hostess Angela – her school teacher apparently!  So he proceeded to perform an hour of jazz numbers to chill to. Singing (both in English and Portuguese), he played the guitar and tinkled on the piano. What a lovely way to spend a Friday afternoon!

The Crown Lawn staff
Ismail, Angela, Matthew, Alina and Sorin

The atmosphere, company, music and food created a very chilled vibe. I was lucky to sit with Stephen of Crown Lawn. I’ve spoken with him many, many times so it was good to finally meet him along with the one and only Sorin and the lovely Alina. And my colleague Nora from Citylife Apartments was a pleasure to be with.

The Royal Academy of Art
The Royal Academy of Art
The Royal Academy of Art

Suitably replete, we were dragooned back to the coach or should I call it the champagne charabanc? and headed off to Piccadilly. We parked outside the Royal Academy and headed in to the Lucien Freud exhibition.

It is a stunning exhibition of self-portraits – one can spend hours and hours browsing such intriguing artworks. With pieces from his early life, right through to old age, his advancing years and torment are plain to see in the raw expressions of his work.

His style evolved from quite simple line black and white line drawings to complex, works featuring layers of bold paint colour and using heavy texture for dimension and depth.

The Academy has many other sculptures, paintings and installations on display to the public – it is a great place to wander, observe and study the art. It is also an excellent venue for “people watching”…..

Inside The Royal Academy of Art

We were supplied with headsets which gave us the low down on each painting – highly recommended and very informative!  Time constraints prevented us spending more than 45 minutes there but I will be back. I loved it.

The Royal Academy
Architecture in The Royal Academy – where old meets new
Fortnum & Masons

We didn’t waste any time in walking to the next venue – just along the road to Fortnum & Masons in Piccadilly. No tour of London is complete without a visit to this temple of culinary treats. As you can imagine, on a late Friday afternoon it was buzzing full of Christmas shoppers in a frenzied state of “retail euphoria”…..

Jars of honey for sale
Honey for sale in Fortnum & Mason

Tasting was offered – including biscuits with sparkling strawberry jam. An amazing array of bottles, tins and jars of splendid food was on display. For examples honeys, jams, biscuits, chocolates to name but a few. It is one of London’s most beautiful stores and a perfect place to buy gifts.

Fortnum and Mason staircase
Fortnum and Mason at Christmas
The Burlington Arcade

So then the next stop on our whistle stop tour was the Burlington Arcade….. Just across the road and guarded by the unique Beadles in their uniforms and top hats.  The Arcade is a very fine example of Regency architecture in the heart of London. We meandered through the beautifully lit passageway viewing luxury after luxury in the charmingly decorated boutique shop windows. It is a pleasure at any time of the year but at Christmas it is particularly special.

Sparkles and spangles reflecting excited anticipation of Christmas ahead. The shop windows in the Arcade display exemplar after exemplar of the finest craftsmanship offered in London. For instance, handmade leather shoes and gloves are for sale in quaint little shops. Beautiful gold and silver jewellery abounds. Stylish clothing is tantalisingly draped on timeless mannequins. The Arcade boasts many small independent boutiques. Having opened in 1819 it is an enduring testament to London style.

Burlington Arcade
Stephen, Angela and Sarah
The Milestone Hotel

Then we were back on the bus to our next destination. Again, duly served with more champagne en route! Enjoying the marvellous London Christmas lights we wended our way back to the superb Milestone Hotel for a very special afternoon tea. Beautifully illuminated and adorned with Christmas decorations, at the entrance we were greeted by a doorman in a top hat – in true British style. So the Milestone is a traditional English country house in the centre of London offering 5* luxury in every sense you can imagine. It is simply timeless elegance.

Afternoon tea at The Milestone Hotel

We were ushered to their Windsor Suite – a beautiful, wood panelled room where tea where we were served what must be one of the best afternoon teas available in London! With beautiful napkins, silver cutlery and bone china we were treated to a feast. Charming waiters attended to our every need.

Sarah beside Christmas tree
Sarah by the tree…..
Afternoon tea

Glasses of champagne abounded – yet again – and tea was served. Tea consisted of the most delicious sandwiches you could imagine and the most beautiful display of intricately prepared cakes. The ambience was enhanced by the sounds of Christmas music playing joyfully in the background.

Afternoon tea at The Milestone
Afternoon tea at The Milestone

In the Milestone Hotel, guest services are what it’s all about. It is comfortable and luxurious and has won many awards over the years. With such exquisite accommodation and superior service, this unique establishment is also a great place to stay. You can even bring your dog and they will take it for a walk! They have a sumptuously furnished library for guests and a couple of very nice bars.

The Milestone Hotel
Library at The Milestone Hotel

Exquisitely furnished in classic English style this luxury hotel is a fabulously discreet retreat for the rich and famous. It is a wonderful place to spend a quiet afternoon. Or you can sit in the library and enjoy tea with your friends. It is well situated for  strolling around London’s Hyde Park from it’s Kensington location.

Back into the coach “you’re not going home yet” said Angela and off we headed again – to see the Christmas lights.

Knightsbridge Oratory
Brompton Oratory
The Brompton Oratory
En route we popped in to the Brompton Oratory in Knightsbridge. This is the most atmospheric of venues, particularly around Christmas time being tranquil and gloomy in the darkness of the evening. And illuminated by the few candles flickering gently in the dim light, peace reigned throughout our brief stay.
The Christmas Lights
We concluded our trip with a lovely ride along Regent Street and Oxford Street to see the fabulous Christmas lights. And the lights in Regent Street are particularly superb this year – dazzling and beautiful. Those in London’s Haymarket are also stunning.

So it was a lovely way to round off the great day we had – thank you so much Angela – we had a blast!

So do you fancy coming to visit London? Crown Lawn offer short stay studios, 1 and 2 bedroom apartments in South Kensington, Belgravia and The City. Please call Janette on 01923 45110 to discuss your requirements.

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