windsor weekend: classic claridge’s

A stay at Claridge’s was the highlight of my first grown-up trip to London almost 20 years ago. I still remember quite clearly being advised of the strict dress code in advance of my arrival. This was the 1990’s and yet it was frowned upon for gentlemen to appear in the lobby wearing anything less than a jacket, while ladies were encouraged to forgo appearing in trousers.  As terribly posh as it all sounded, nothing quite prepared me for the real thing, however; a sumptuous and elegant Art Deco jewel on Brook Street that had seen more than it’s fair share of kings, presidents, and prime ministers, as well as most of the golden names of Hollywood. (During the Second World War Claridge’s became a haven for exiled royalty and heads of state. Just after the war, before the wedding of the then Princess Elizabeth, a harassed diplomat telephoned Claridge’s and asked to speak to the King. “Certainly sir,” was the response, “but which one?”) The walls of my room were covered in bright canary chinoiserie and the overstuffed four-poster bed was the most comfortable sleep of my life. Enough bowing and scraping took place to make me think that perhaps the staff thought I was an incognito head of state. And then there were the frothy champagne cocktails in Claridge’s Bar, which I thought was the epitome of chic. To this day I hold the hotel as the ideal to which all overnights are measured, so it seems almost too good to be true that a standard room can be had for £299 per night through the end of the year.  The promotion also includes a welcome bottle of chilled champagne and traditional English breakfast for two. And if you’re thinking what I’m thinking you’re thinking it’s time for tea.


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