Crowley Manor

Napa is an amazing place to live and I’m grateful for the fact that I get to live here, but the allure of new places and new experiences is just too tempting to pass up sometimes.  After all, the thrill of the open road is a cliché for a reason and who doesn’t want to have a little adventure every now and then?  
With that in mind, and the idea that we could get there in early September before the weather turned cold, we winged it over to jolly old England recently.  We hit all the major attractions, Big Ben, the London Eye (which did not disappoint), and of course, the Cotswolds, a pristine natural area with rolling hills that eventually rise up to provide sweeping views of the Severn Valley and Evesham Vale. 
As the saying goes, when in England, do as the English do…wait maybe that’s not exactly right.  But the point is high tea at Sketch London should not be missed.  And, even if you aren’t going to make it that way anytime soon, a visit to their website is even fun, as it has a really cool, innovative design.

Sketch London

We were very fortunate to stay at Cowley Manor, an elegant Italianate hotel in the Cotswolds that includes a spa, heated indoor/outdoor pools and 55 acres of lush, manicured gardens. 

Crowley Manor Garden

Strolling along the River Windrush while shopping and checking out the many shops, restaurants, cafes and tea rooms is certain to be a favorite memory for us, from when we visited Bourton-on-the-Water.  It’s a really cool little town with beautiful architecture, no surprise it’s known as the Venice of the Cotswolds.

Staying at Daylesford Farm was another great experience, as it includes the Daylesford Organic farmshop, a number of award-winning restaurants and the Bamford Wellness Spa.  The cottages at Daylesford were rebuilt in 1868.  They were built entirely of natural stone and are situated amongst (like the old English?) 2,500 acres of serene English countryside.

Daylesford Farm

After learning more about the Belmond Express historic train and the British Pullman Murder Mystery Experience, we decided we bloody well ought to make it a part of the trip.  We were equally impressed by our visit to the Borough Market, which was established in 1756.  It’s highly unlikely I could describe it better than the website:  “If all you come with is an appetite, you’ll be able to sate it in a thousand ways. But if you care about what you eat and where it comes from, our traders can feed your curiosity too.”

Belmond Express

As far as hotels in London are concerned, a visit to the London Edition is definitely a worthwhile endeavor, as it is in a landmark building that has been beautifully re-imagined.

London Edition

Similarly, it is difficult to condense everything that MiMi Mei Fair has to offer in a few sentences.  Essentially, it’s a Chinese restaurant set in a three-story Georgian townhouse, where the interior was meant to echo the Forbidden Palace at Beijing, but my words don’t do it justice.

MiMi Mei Fair

Art enthusiasts should not leave London without a visit to the Connaught in Mayfair, which, in addition to having rooms and suites, houses a distinctive interior evoking English and Irish Cubist art of the 1920s, with a touch of timeless elegance.  Their neighbor The Red Room adds a touch of exclusivity, as it is a hideaway that guests are only able to discover by opening a velvet-curtained doorway from the hotel’s Champagne Room.  It features a variety of creative works by celebrated female artists.

Also located at Mayfair, the Park Chinois offers exquisite Chinese food set amidst a backdrop of live entertainment, with acrobatics, a cabaret, a live DJ and performers.  There is also a dining room if you want something quieter.

Of course, a visit to the world-famous Harrods for a shopping excursion should be on the list.  Finally, the Bluebird at Chelsea is a fun destination for brunch.  It’s a modern restaurant and bar with outside terraces and a lounge that has earned a three star rating from the Sustainable Restaurant Association.

Learning from my friends and family about their favorite parts of a destination is something I love to do before a vacation, which is partially why I write these.  The idea being that this could be a resource, or that we could have a lively conversation about the area, if you’ve been there already.  Also, what better way to look back and revel in some fond memories?

Please share your favorite parts of London if you would like, I would love to hear from you!  And, as always, please let me know if you have any comments or questions.

Chloe Bello
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