The royal wedding of Prince Harry and American Meghan Markle didn't occur at Buckingham Palace, or even in London, but considering how the Palace's closest neighbors celebrated, you'd have no idea.
Only a lucky few hotels can count Buckingham Palace as an immediate neighbor, due to the Palace’s somewhat isolated location amongst the greenery of St. James’s Park, Green Park, and Buckingham Palace Gardens. But the visitors who are lucky enough to stay in close proximity to the Royal Family’s London home will be celebrating in style this spring.
Even better: Many of these packages are available through May and even June, for anyone who caught royal fever after watching the nuptials.
At the recently refurbished DUKES Hotel, hidden on a quiet St. James’s backstreet just minutes northeast of the Palace, guests staying for a minimum of three nights between April 27th and June 2nd can book the hotel's Royal Wedding Package, which will include a 10% discount on best available rates. The package includes a free, customizable three-hour walking tour of Westminster and a complimentary trip to Windsor, where they can tour Windsor Castle or visit St. George’s Chapel — the very venue where Harry and Meghan will be wed. The package also includes afternoon tea and a three-course dinner for two at the DUKES.
Practically next-door to the DUKES, the Stafford Hotel took celebration of the wedding to another level. For a paltry £11,275 per person, the Stafford is offering guests a five-night tour which included a live viewing of the royal wedding from a venue on-site in Windsor. So yes, for the equivalent of nearly USD $16,000 per person, you could pretty much have attended the royal wedding.
The Stafford’s package also includes a private visit to St. George’s Chapel; a dinner at Kensington Palace (home to Will and Kate, and, soon, Harry and Meghan); an earl-led private visit to a stately home; a tour of royal-approved purveyors in St. James’s; and a dinner at the Tower of London, where guests will watch the nightly “Ceremony of the Keys” from the Medieval Tower.
But for royal enthusiasts visiting at any other time of the year, one of Buckingham’s neighboring hotels stands out as the most appropriate. The Rubens at the Palace, a luxury boutique hotel with a royal history, sits on Buckingham Palace Rd. with a bird’s eye view of the Royal Mews — essentially the Queen’s personal garage with storage for Her Majesty’s carriages, coaches and horses.
The heritage-listed Rubens traces its history as hotel back to the early 1900s, when debutantes visiting the nearby Palace used the hotel as a place to prepare for lavish balls and events. At the end of an evening, women retreated to the hotel to be entertained in the Palace Lounge by the gentlemen they met. Today, afternoon tea is served in the Palace Lounge, where panoramic windows stare directly onto the gates to the Royal Mews across the street, and tea takers can spot carriages coming and going from the Palace.
Tea options from Twinings, which has held a Royal Warrant (pretty much the Queen's personal product endorsement and seal of approval) for tea since the 1800s, include the exclusive Rubens Blend, and, of course, the Royal Jubilee Blend, which was created as a celebration of Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee — her 60th anniversary as queen. Guests can also add a glass of Lanson Black Label Champagne — also a holder of the Royal Warrant.
Even outside of the Palace Lounge, guests at the Rubens feel like royalty. The hotel is draped in sumptuous fabrics, jewel tones and, unsurprisingly, a recurring (but tasteful) crown motif. Rooms at the Rubens, which recently received a multi-million dollar refurbishment, have been designed and decorated by the enchanting Bea Tollman, the founder and president of the Red Carnation hotel group. Tollman considered the finest details in her designs, including marble bathrooms that match the bespoke color schemes in each room, and Murano glass chandeliers straight from Italy.
The hotel's rich red cabaret bar offers 60 different types of gin (the Queen's favorite spirit), and waiters in tailcoats at the English Grill serve up Aubrey Allen steaks and Forman & Son smoked salmon — both companies are of course holders of the Queen's Royal Warrant. The Rubens commemorated the royal nuptials with celebratory afternoon tea sessions on May 19th and 20th. Can't make it to England? Catch a view of the Royal Mews from the hotel's live webcam.