The Definitive Guide to Will and Kate's London
The capital has been the seat of British power since Alfred the Great “refounded” it in 886. For well over 1,000 years the city has been home and office for British royalty—and that’s likely how it will stay for the foreseeable future.
Earlier this month, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge announced that they will move back to London with their two children in the fall.
Even though the royal family has hidden away in country homes over the past few years, they are no strangers to the British capital. William grew up in London, and Kate grew up just 45 minutes outside the city.
But this time in London will be different than when they lived there before. After university, the couple moved back to the city, becoming fixtures on the nightlife scene and bopping around between fashionable restaurants, bars and shops. Although it wasn’t all fun and games—Kate was employed as an accessories buyer for a local shop while William was flying a helicopter for the Royal Air Force.
When the family moves back to London they will likely hit up a few of their favorite haunts. Here’s where you may be able to spot them in, around and outside of London. And if you're planning a walking tour, consider investing in Kate Middleton's boat shoes or sneakers.
No royal visit to London is complete without a stop in Kensington Palace. Will and Kate will be moving back to the palace this fall to live in their royal apartment, which has undergone a $6.5-million renovation. They’ll be in good company, as Kensington Palace is where Prince Harry currently lives.
And when the duke and duchess have to go visit England’s reigning monarch, they will head to Buckingham Palace. If/when William becomes king, the family will likely move to Buckingham—it’s where the ruling monarch has lived since 1837. Although it’s still a functioning palace, much of Buckingham is open to the public for daily tours.
Westminster Abbey is, famously, where Will and Kate got married in 2011. It’s also been the coronation church of England since 1066 and the final resting place of 17 of the country’s monarchs (and, as made famous in The DaVinci Code, Sir Isaac Newton).
National Portrait Gallery
The Duchess of Cambridge has a multi-faceted history with the National Portrait Gallery. Not only is her first official portrait on display there, she has been a patron of the museum since 2012, expressing a keen interest in portraiture and photography. Kate has visited the museum several times—which makes sense, seeing as she studied art history at university.
St. Luke's Church, Chelsea
If it’s possible to name a church the most posh in town, St. Luke’s in Chelsea would win the title hands down. Prince William and Pippa Middleton have both been spotted in the front pew. Less royally (but no less famously), Charles Dickens was married at the church in 1836.
St. Mary's Hospital, Paddington
The private “Lindo Wing” of St. Mary’s hospital is the place to be born in London. Not only did Kate deliver both Prince George and Princess Charlotte there, both princes William and Harry were born in the hospital. But a royal birth doesn’t come cheap—the cost per night can be upwards of $8,000.
The Goring Hotel
The night before her wedding, Kate Middleton booked the royal suite at the Goring Hotel. For those who can’t afford the suite’s $10,000-a-night price tag, the hotel also serves an afternoon tea that the Duchess has been known to attend.
Harbour Club, Chelsea
In order to get in shape for her wedding, it’s rumored that Kate got a membership at the exclusive Harbour Club and would go for early morning workouts. When in London, she’s been spotting sharing a tennis court with a trainer, her sister or sometimes even her husband. The gym has a royal history—Princess Diana used to work out there with a personal trainer in the 1990s.
Dans Le Noir
Pre-marriage, it’s rumored that Will and Kate would head to the restaurant Dans Le Noir for romantic dates. The reason they liked it so much? It’s completely in the dark (dinner is served by blind waiters), so they could dine completely anonymously.
This classically-British restaurant is thought to be one of Kate’s favorites. It was a date night spot for Will and Kate before their wedding; she has been spotted eating with her sister, Pippa, on the cafe’s terrace and also grabs lunch with friends there when in town now.
Kate has been known to head to the cosmetics counter at the London department store and chat with employees about the latest make-up. (She does a lot of her own make-up for appearances, so it only makes sense that she would be intrigued by what’s on the market.)
One of Kate’s favorite British designers is Temperley London. She’s worn many of the label’s cut-out lace dresses to high-profile events. Make a stop at the brand’s flagship stop in Mayfair which spreads across two floors. There’s even an on-site private suite for royal occasions that necessitate a bit of personal shopping.
Alexander McQueen designed the duchess’s most famous look, her wedding dress. But Kate has also picked the designer for many of her red carpet appearances. The brand’s flagship store, on Old Bond Street, is an ode to the contemporary, clean design that the duchess seems to favor.
It’s been rumored that the duchess is British designer Jenny Packham’s most loyal client. Not only does Kate regularly pick up new looks from the brand, she often re-wears her favorite pieces.
Fenwick Department Store
When shopping for an event without a specific designer in mind, Kate has been known to head to Fenwick Department Store in Mayfair. She once famously picked up two of the same dress (designed by Preen) in two different colors at the store.
The duchess is famously low-maintenance (for a royal) and—especially while she was pregnant—could often be spotted wearing Topshop. Pay homage to the lower end of Kate’s closet at the massive Topshop store at Oxford Circus.
There’s more than one royal who loves a bargain—both Harry and Kate have been spotted at the U.K. version of TJ Maxx. When the royals are looking to stay on the thriftier side of their budget, they can be found at the brand’s Kensington High Street location in Central London.
Fortnum and Mason
The duchess was once spotted with the queen and Camilla at this upscale food market. Although the trio was there for afternoon tea, Londoners stop in at Fortnum & Mason to pick up luxury and hard-to-find food items, like ultra-British chocolates, biscuits and jams.
The key to looking like royalty in real life is glowing skin. The Hale Clinic is where Kate gets hers. The holistic spa is apparently a must-visit on her list every time she’s in London. To copy the duchess exactly, request a bee-venom facial from skin guru Deborah Mitchell.
Before Prince George was born, the duchess and her family were often spotted out shopping for kids’ supplies. At Trotters, she picked up clothing for the prince before his birth. Just before Princess Charlotte was born, the shop came out with a whole new line of royal clothing. It’s unclear whether or not the princess sported any of it. But for those who decide to stop by with a child, the charming store offers a certificate of bravery for anyone who undergoes his first haircut there.
When deciding how to decorate the nursery, Kate settled on furniture from Blue Almonds. She brought along her mother for the shopping trip and together they decided on a wicker crib for the prince.
For a stylish baby look, the royal infants often sport something from Amaia. When Princess Charlotte made her grand balcony debut, it was in a $3 ribbon from the line and Prince George often wears the brand’s adorable (and dapper) shorts when making official appearances.
To go full-on Kate, get her signature hairstyle performed by her signature hairstylist at his signature salon. The “Chelsea Blow Dry,” which Kate made famous, is available from a junior stylist at the salon for about $30. If you want the real deal from Richard Ward himself, it’s going to cost a lot more.
During the royal couple’s brief separation in 2007, Mahiki made headlines when Kate went there alone (in an attempt to make Will jealous, according to tabloids). The Polynesian-themed club was also a favorite of Prince Harry in his heavy-partying days.
When Will and Kate were staples of the London nightclub scene, they spent Tuesdays at Boujis. However times have changed and after an incident at the club last year, Bouijs became a members-only lounge last year. You’ll have to book a table or know somebody already on the guest list to get in now.
Although this club didn’t open until after the royal wedding, that doesn’t mean that the duke and duchess haven’t christened it. Although it’s more of a favorite with the younger royals (Princess Eugeniee and Prince Harry have been spotted there on multiple occasions), Will and Kate attended a party with Pippa there in 2012.
This no-fuss South Kensington restaurant bills itself as “your local British Brasserie,” but it’s got plenty of class. In 2012, Will and Kate hosted a Christmas lunch for their household staff at the restaurant—and they were both spotted dining at the restaurant together while Kate was pregnant.
When the royal couple are in the mood for traditional British cuisine, they’re known to swing by this Chelsea eatery, run by Michelin-starred chef, Tom Aikens. The menu features classics like fish & chips, guinea fowl and norfolk horn lamb cutlets—all which ring out under $30.
When looking to escape London (but when royal duties won’t allow a vacation), Will and Kate have stopped in on the restaurant that’s festooned with buddhas and features a menu of kangaroo, zebra and bison (alongside typical chicken and fish). Apparently, while he was there, Prince William went adventurous and ordered the crocodile.
Everybody needs a favorite local burger joint. this brasserie in Mayfair is the royal favorite for old-fashioned cheeseburgers. It’s currently temporarily closed for refurbishment and nobody seems to know quite when it will reopen. Perhaps to coincide with the royal move back to London?
Although she could (theoretically) raid the royal jewels, Kate seems to prefer more understated decorations. Her favorite pair of earrings—which she can often be spotted wearing—is a pair of “Classic Baroque Pearl Earring Drops” from Annoushka, which can be picked up at the designer’s Chelsea or Mayfair boutiques.
Garrard of London
Garrard’s created Princess Diana’s sapphire engagement ring, which William passed on to Kate for her engagement. Swing by the impressive shop (which served as the royal jeweller for 160 years) and marvel at the impressive collection of—you guessed it—sapphire engagement rings.
Turnbull and Asser
In more formal gatherings, Prince William often turns to Turnbull & Asser for his royal suits. The royal outfitters have also created clothing for several other iconic Brits, including James Bond (as played by Daniel Craig), Elton John and Winston Churchill.
Not only is Jigsaw a chic, modern store for clothing, it’s where Kate worked when she was first out of university (and she still wears some of their clothing). In 2007, the duchess-to-be (and then-recent grad) worked as an accessories buyer for the brand. Pay homage to the duchess’s time as a working girl by picking up a piece from jewelry designer Claudia Bradby, with whom she collaborated while at Jigsaw.
Wetherby Prep School
When the royal family heads back to London in the fall, Prince George will be enrolled in this prestigious Pre-K program. He’ll be in good company. The school is also the first alma mater of princes Harry and William, along with Andrew Lloyd Webber, Hugh Grant and Julian Fellowes.
This charming small town, just 45 minutes outside of London, is where Kate Middleton was born—although she didn’t grow up in a charming, small country house. She grew up in a seven-bedroom home that spread across 18 acres, with its own tennis court and swimming pool. The home is now listed as a Grade II English Heritage manor.
St. Andrews University
It’s widely known that Will and Kate met while students at St. Andrews University in Scotland. She was studying art history and he majored in geography. Pay homage to the duo by taking a stroll around campus, perhaps stopping at St. Salvator's Hall, where they both dormed.
When the royal family moves to London, they will be moving out of their home at Anmer Hall in Norfolk. The country home was a wedding gift from the queen, which plays well into the home’s history. In 1862, Queen Victoria bought the estate as a wedding present for Edward VII, Prince of Wales.
Princes William and Harry both attended this famous boys’ boarding school that has been in operation since 1440. But they aren’t the only famous alumni. Hugh Laurie, Tom Hiddleston, Eddie Redmayne, Ian Fleming, David Cameron, George Orwell and many, many more attended the exclusive (and expensive!) school in Windsor.
The oldest and largest occupied castle in England sits just across the River Thames from Eton. Currently, it’s Queen Elizabeth II’s favorite weekend retreat, but throughout its illustrious history, the castle has been home to Henry VIII (who held many of his extravagant feasts there), Elizabeth I and Charles I.
When the royal couple needs to get far, far away, they used to head to their private farmhouse in Wales. But in 2013, the beachside four-bedroom house was put back on the market and is now available to rent—albeit at a much higher rate than the monthly $930 (£750) rent William and Kate paid back then.
Just two miles from Anmer Hall is Queen Elizabeth’s escape, Sandringham House and Gardens, where the entire royal family generally spends Christmas. The house, museum and garden are open for tours when they are unoccupied by royalty (this year, that’s about April through October).
When the royal family is in need of a Scottish escape, they head to Balmoral. It’s been owned by the British royal family since 1852 and has remained largely the same ever since. However one big change is the 18-hole golf course that’s open to the public and provides a scenic tour around many of the Queen Victoria-era monuments on the grounds.