Two glorious days of aristocratic immersion into the life of the Crawleys
West End London possesses a star of its own, a film-worthy celebrity perched on Regent Street where equally lauded institutions, such as Hyde Park and Royal Academy, are just a stroll away. The 1865 grandiose building shines with a neoclassical flair, complete with its own precious relics—the ornate trimmings, the elegant dome, the wispy flags waving at the top of its roofs, reminding one of the age when regency romances were a reality. The Set Hotels exude a finery that doesn’t seem to wear out, which makes it a perfect backdrop for fans of the much-beloved Downton Abbey, a proper welcoming rite to the title’s upcoming film (released September 2019, via IMDB).
Like a classic backdrop set in the 1920s, Hotel Café Royal is no stranger to aristocratic patrons. Inside its noble halls once walked prominent luminaries—Winston Churchill, Virginia Woolf and Princess Diana, to name a few. It is just right to embrace the British royal era and set back time to when big skirts, elaborate sleeves and stately coaches were a thing.
In the 2019 film, the beloved Crawley family makes a reprise in their sharp suites. Aristocracy involves much finery as much as snobbery, and the high-browed kin of the Dowager Countess of Grantham seems to have gotten so much of her vivacious DNA. It is a film much-awaited after the television series ended in 2016, where, after many beloved characters and storylines: Edith is married, Mary is pregnant, and Violet still calls the shot. Everything, just like its small-screen interpretation, is done with resounding sophistication. Expect the same treatment as the cast reprise their roles.
For those who are set in their couches, gripping in anticipation for the theatrical premiere, here’s a chance to experience the life of being a Crawley—minus the snappy shots from the moody matriarch. The Royal Package croons with an $8,500 treat: two decadent nights inside the historic suites of Hotel Cafe Royal, plus exuberant tours that bring back the romantic nostalgia in the 1920s. As the morning approaches, get whisked away into the Highclere Castle, the Crawley home, and survey the grounds where beloved character lingered. As the sun passes its midpoint, there’s a much-desired afternoon tea, of course, with a pop of champagne inside the renowned lounge named after the writer Oscar Wilde.
The second day calls fora drive around the illustrious areas of the city where a hold-your-breath chance arrives at a Butler’s picnic indulgence inside the Marlborough House—because, of course, George V must make that call to the Crawleys!
Finishing off the day is a royal session of amusement, in which one learns to concoct their own cocktails in a retro-themed mixology session. Old-world aristocrats know how to reward themselves: a cheerful pour of a tasteful liqueur.
Come morning, hold the teacups correctly and assemble the fine china the way noblemen expect. While at it, engage in a lively conversation a la Crawley, and make a toast before the royal dream ends. www.thesethotels.com ◼
© This article was first published online in Sept 2019 – World Travel Magazine.