A stop for tea at Hotel Cafe Royal, on Regent Street in London’s West End, is a step back in time. The Oscar Wilde Bar (known as The Grill in 1865) was the place Wilde went for lunch every day, and where he fell madly in love with Lord Alfred Douglas.
It was a favorite gathering spot for 19th-century London writers, including George Bernard Shaw, and more recently host to Winston Churchill and Mick Jagger. The original owner was French, which may explain why the over-the-top gilt decor is reminiscent of Versailles—with plates designed by Versace, a perfect complement.
The hotel’s spacious, silent rooms feature triple-glazed windows to keep out noise, and bathrooms with heated Carrera marble floors. Delicious food at the Ten Royal Cafe—house-smoked salmon, Dover sole, Cotswolds’ chicken, English cheeses, gluten-free breads and pastries—has a local flair. And Hotel Cafe Royal is home to Akasha Wellness Spa, a lovely oasis of healing in the city, based on the elements of nature, with a roster of wellness experts including an Intuitive Counselor, a Nutritional Therapist and a Life Coach. The 90-minute Sodashi Chakra Balancing Treatment is transformative, and a dip in the serene and stunning lap pool or hammam is not to be missed. Akasha also features the first watsu pool in London.
And for those in search of something a bit more, shall we say, bracing, the hotel’s Green Bar offers an absinthe tasting, with three varieties, including Pernod. Oscar Wilde and his friends would have felt right at home. hotelcaferoyal.com —Rona Berg
Getting There: Norwegian was just named the “Most Fuel-Efficient Airline on Transatlantic Routes” by the International Council on Clean Transport. Their fuel-saving initiatives keep the cost down, and explain how Norwegian’s Premium Cabin can offer the perks of Business Class for a much-reduced price.