During the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Queen Elizabeth II broke with hundreds of years of protocol and agreed to rent out the lavish rooms—or so-called “state apartments”—inside St. James’s Palace to various companies during the Games. Only holders of the Royal Warrant—companies with long-standing ties to the royal family—were able to take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime offer.
Holding a Royal Warrant signifies that Her Majesty prefers that company—or brand—over others. And the list grows.
Just this week, for the first time in history, The Queen granted a Royal Warrant to a hotel. The Goring, the 103-year-old Edwardian property near Buckingham Palace in London's Belgravia neighborhood where Kate Middleton slept the night before her wedding, was honored. “To be able to display Her Majesty’s coat of arms is something that the staff will be enormously proud of. Without doubt this is the most important recognition,” claims Jeremy Goring, great-grandson of the hotel’s founder.
Calling all (fashion-loving) cinaphiles: the most iconic outfits in film history are on display at The V&A’s autumn exhibition, “Hollywood Costume” (October 20, 2012 to January 27, 2013). Exploring the central role costume design plays in storytelling, the retrospective brings together clothes worn by unforgettable characters, from Indiana Jones and Jack Sparrow to Scarlett O’Hara and Holly Golightly.
Photo by 20th Century Fox / Paramount / The Kobal Collection
The Olympics are here! To celebrate, T+L rounds up 22 fascinating facts and figures relating to everything London 2012. Behold our smashing pyramid of zany Olympic numbers.
• 1 Life-size inflatable replica of Stonehenge erected in London for the Games
• 4 Skeletons removed from the site under the Zaha Hadid–designed Aquatics Centre
• 37 Languages that the Bard’s plays will be performed in during the World Shakespeare Festival
• 71 Age of Japanese equestrian Hiroshi Hoketsu, the oldest Olympian competing this summer
• 150 Bat boxes and artificial otter holts installed in the 500-acre Olympic Park
• 351 Average rate (in USD) of a hotel room in central London during the games
• 1,500 Seats in London's temporary McDonald's outpost, which will serve 50,000 Big Macs
• 4,000 Brand new BMWs ordered to escort dignities and officials to events
• 10,500 Olympic athletes from 205 participating countries
• 22,000 Pillows made available in Athletes Village
• 150,000 Condoms made available in Athletes Village (that's 30 per...couple)
• 203,000 Pieces of luggage to be handled at Heathrow on August 13, the busiest game day
• 1,000,000 Pieces of sporting equipment used during the Games
• 5,000,000 Brits who now regret signing up to receive Games-related emails
• 10,000,000 Free tickets available across thousands of events in the London 2012 Festival
• 14,000,000 Meals served during the Games across 40 different London locations
• 200,000,000 Viewers NBC expects to tune into the broadcasts (not counting Ann Curry)
• 777,000,000 Cost (in USD) of Olympic security for taxpayers...this covers only the venues
• 1,000,000,000 Expected visitors to London2012.com
• 4,000,000,000 Original expected cost (in USD) of the London 2012 Games
• 14,500,000,000 Current expected cost (in USD) of the London 2012 Games
• 40,000,000,000 Cost (in USD) of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing—the most expensive to date
Briana Fasone is a New York City–based freelance writer. You can follow her on Twitter @brifasone.
Photo courtesy of London 2012 Organising Committee
Mexican: the cuisine London could never get right. While the city mastered Emirati, Ethiopian, Polish, Syrian, Lebanese (and how!)—even Argentine steaks—attempts at Mexican fare have historically been less well-received. But that was then. Three years ago, the arrival of Mestizo—followed by the opening of popular burrito bar Chilango—began transforming London into a Mexican food mecca. Now the big guns from across the pond have arrived. Last month, Serge Becker opened hotspot taquería La Bodega Negra in Soho. Not to be outdone, Derek Sanders, the force behind New York City’s haute Mexican diner/speakeasy La Esquina, will soon open his London outpost right around the corner.
And don’t forget Peru! Star Peruvian chef Virgilio Martinez, who gained worldwide recognition for Central restaurant in Lima, will open his first London eatery this June. Meanwhile, Ceviche (pictured), which opened in March in Soho, is receiving buzz for its extensive menu and dedicated Pisco Sour bar.
Photo courtesy of Ceviche
For months T+L has been counting down to this summer in London, a city already pulsating with game-changing events and pioneering cultural festivals. Now, we’re adding another spot to your London itinerary: The Fringe 2012, a new pop-up members club that will offer ticket-holders some respite from all the Olympic buzz. Just a hundred yards from Olympic Stadium, The Fringe is housed in a converted Victorian stable house at Swan Wharf and will provide some of London’s finest food and drink (with Sweet&Chilli bringing their unique brand of creative cocktails to the experience). Olympic fans shouldn’t fret about missing any of the action—large LCD screens will broadcast all the main events.
The Fringe 2012 will officially pop-up on July 20th, a week before the Opening Ceremony, and operate through the Olympic and Paralympic Games until September 9th. Individual tickets start at $112 per day.
Briana Fasone is a digital editorial assistant at Travel + Leisure. You can follow her on Twitter @brifasone.
Photo courtesy of Nylon Communications Limited.
We asked true travel pros what to do near The Ritz London, Piccadilly's grande dame for over a century. Want to share your expertise? Join our community on Facebook at facebook.com/travelandleisure and at Twitter @TravlandLeisure.
“Zara Home’s (129 Regent St.) pretty and affordable bed linens are a must-buy. I’m anxiously hoping they’ll open in the U.S.” —Carolyn Ernst, via Facebook
“You’ll find free choral recitals (and an amazing flea market on Tuesdays) at St. James’s Church (197 Piccadilly).” —Sunshine Flint, via Facebook
“The Only Running Footman, near Berkeley Square, is my favorite pub for people-watching—it’s packed with locals after work.” —Georgia Aarons, via Facebook
“I recommend the Wolseley for great cream teas, and the deck chairs in Green Park on a sunny day.” —Zoe Bramley, via Facebook
“Check out Paxton & Whitfield (93 Jermyn St.); they’ve sold crave-worthy cheeses since 1742.” —@tammypeters
“Fakhreldine (85 Piccadilly) is the place for high-end Lebanese food and an iconic park view.” —Julie Brennan, via Facebook
Photo courtesy of The Ritz London
Last Saturday, the Olympic Torch relay set off in Great Britain and began a 70-day journey through the United Kingdom that will end on July 27 at the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympic Games. The countdown has begun.
Set on making it across the pond this summer? It’s not too late—but you must act now! To inspire you procrastinators to begin booking, we present our last-minute get-to-London guide.
The good news: flights to the city’s hub airports (Heathrow, Gatwick, London City) are still available. Right now, a search of round-trip fares from major U.S. cities range from $1,100 to $1,500. Departing from Chicago, you’ll fork over about $1,200 for a round-trip economy ticket on Virgin Atlantic Airways (a seat in the carrier’s newly revamped Upper Class cabin will cost you $2,800).
These fares are steep—and getting steeper—but they aren’t higher than this time last year. “I don’t think airlines are price gauging,” says George Hobica, founder of AirfareWatchdog.com, a site that monitors ticket prices. “It’s still the summer season and we’re seeing reasonable fares for this time of year.”
A nice lady in the northwest London suburb of Wembley has created a guestroom for a very particular traveler: one who cannot get enough of the royal family, even in this Windsor-giddy period between Kate and Will's wedding and the Queen's Jubilee.
The Sandringham Suite, a visual explosion of Union Jacks and Diana portraits, is available to rent for rates from $121 per night from rental site Wimdu.com. If sleeping amidst more than 10,000 artifacts is not enough, you can supplement the experience by renting a corgi for the day.
Via the Daily Mail.
Ann Shields is a senior digital editor at Travel + Leisure.
Image courtesy of Wimdu.
Can't get a reservation at Noma until 2020? This summer, you have two other ways to work up an appetite for chef Rene Redzepi's wildly inventive New Nordic cooking, which just topped the Restaurant magazine's World's 50 Best Restaurants list for a third consecutive year. On July 1-2, the second annual MAD Symposium (Copenhagen, $350) addresses "Appetite" as its theme; along with Redzepi, expect tasteful thinking from other culinary wild men like Wylie Dufresne, Fergus Henderson and Ferran Adria. Then Redzepi moves his team to London for "A Taste of Noma" pop-up at Claridge's Hotel in Mayfair. (Five courses, $320, July 28-Aug. 6). To pre-register for reservations, click here now. First come, first serve!
Shane Mitchell is Travel + Leisure's special correspondent.
Photo (top) by Ditte Isager
BBC Travel | London's iconic double-decker buses have gotten an update that looks uncannily like the past.
Seven buses with an open hop-on hop-off platform at the rear hit downtown streets on 20 February, running on route 38, between Victoria Station and Hackney, an east London neighbourhood.
Between the 1950s and 2000s, royal red double deckers sported distinctive open platforms in the rear. But in 2005, authorities took that Routemaster model out of service, replacing it with versions that only have an entrance at the front.
(Photo courtesy of Transport for London.)