How to holiday like a royal
Where do the Windsors go to flop and drop? In this coronation month, we round up the hotels that will treat you like a king ‒ because they’re used to hosting the real thing
This month will see people from around the world descend on Westminster Abbey for the coronation of Britain’s new monarch, Charles III. But what to do if your invitation to illustrious occasion is, ahem, lost in the post? We propose taking advantage of the King’s generously bestowed bank holiday to jet off to one or more of the royal family’s favourite stays for A-Grade service, lashings of luxury and someone to take the top off your boiled egg for you.
From the former Queen’s kiwi bolthole to the Prince of Wales’ proposal spot and several razzy stays featured in The Crown, here’s a rundown of some of the least rundown hotels in the world, all given the regal stamp of approval.
The Mark, New York City
This New York establishment is an outsider in royal terms, being most closely connected with Princess Margaret’s former husband, Lord Snowden (as seen in The Crown), and the Duchess of Sussex, whose first baby shower was held here in 2019. But other celebrity guests are definitely the in-crowd: Oprah, Russell Crowe, Marc Jacobs, Novak Djokovic and the Beckhams all adore this famously discreet 1920s townhouse hotel. The good news is you don’t have to stump up $75,000 a night for the Penthouse, as Meghan Markle’s friends reportedly did for her baby shower. You can get an ordinary-person room from $1,075. Or if that’s still out of reach, settle for a $6 grass-fed, organic chicken and beef hotdog from the stand outside.
High Life says: The real joy of this hotel is its 24-hour services, including a Michelin-rated room service menu from Jean-Georges Vongerichten, tailoring from Bergdorf Goodman and in-suite hairstyling from Frédéric Fekkai. Got to look your best for those paps.
The Goring, London
The only hotel with a Royal Warrant from Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, and just a ten-minute walk from Buckingham Palace, The Goring is the epitome of refreshed Edwardian elegance. Its Michelin-starred Coronation tasting and à la carte menus bring together Welsh specialities and foraged ingredients, making for delectable dishes such as buttered morel and wild mushroom vol au vent, and organic new season lamb. Don’t have a big sweet tooth but still love afternoon tea? Delight in delectable sarnies and desserts such as bittersweet chocolate macaroons at The Veranda overlooking the garden.
High Life says: A delightful strawberry and elderflower jam has been made and batched specially for the coronation, so it’s now or never if you want a taste.
The Prince of Wales Guesthouse, Romania
Romania’s Carpathian mountains aren’t the first place you might expect to meet King Charles, but our new monarch is full of surprises. In fact, he doesn’t just visit the Zalán Valley in Transylvania each year, but he actually owns a hotel and nature retreat there. Enjoy an off-grid existence in this beautifully and traditionally restored guesthouse, where an all-inclusive room rate includes communal meals, wine and activities such as horse riding, hot tubs and sleigh rides.
High Life says: There’s no TV or radio on site, but there is a pool and great wine, so bring lots of books, and enjoy a digital (but not a total) detox in the clear mountain air.
The Fife Arms, Braemar, Scottish Highlands
Just nine miles from Balmoral Castle, the Scottish home of the Royal Family, this restored Victorian coaching inn and eccentric art hotel is set amid Royal Deeside (an area that Queen Victoria famously fell in love with in 1848). Over the coronation weekend, enjoy a special afternoon tea in The Drawing Room, where Picasso’s Woman Seated in an Armchair hangs on one of the tartan-adorned walls – don’t miss the ceiling that looks like the inside of an agate crystal.
High Life says: After some fresh mountain air? Treat yourself to plush picnic at the nearby Highland Games Centre, then top off the day at Bertie’s Whisky Bar with a flight of the King’s favourite drams.
Half Moon, Jamaica
This hotel in Jamaica’s Montego Bay captured the heart of Queen Elizabeth on her last state visit to the island in 2002, and has hosted some of her children and grandchildren practically every year since. This colonial-style Caribbean resort blends typical Jamaican charms ‒ white sands, rum punch, laidback hospitality ‒ with exhaustive activities over 400 acres, including eight bars, six restaurants, golf, tennis, squash and a swimming lagoon. The hotel loves horses almost as much as the Queen did, with its own equestrian centre on site. Among many other excursions, guests can ride along the beach for a swim with the animals at sunrise.
High Life says: The spa takes next level to the next level with its own waterfall, meditation labyrinth and over-ocean treatment rooms where you can be pummelled into bliss to the lapping of the Caribbean Sea.
Huka Lodge, New Zealand
As we saw from The Crown series one, the first years as Queen were hard for young Elizabeth II, but she was buoyed by the warm welcome she received on various Commonwealth trips. On one of these in 1953, she stayed at this remote lodge on the Waikato River in New Zealand’s North Island, and her visit helped turn this former fishing camp into one of the country’s top luxury resorts. Today, as well as angling, it’s known for its wine cellar, golfing and helicopter rides over the Huka Falls, and has been voted the most romantic hotel in the country.
High Life says: Channel the 1950s with a genteel game of croquet on the lawn, before tucking into green-lipped mussels and other Kiwi dining delights.
Prestonfield House, Edinburgh
Designed in the 17th century by Sir William Bruce, the architect who rebuilt the Palace of Holyroodhouse (the King’s official residence in Edinburgh), Prestonfield is both imposing and intimate. Life-size angels soar on plasterwork ceilings above rooms of red and gold, as you sink into velvet cushions below, while candlelit dances are held to the familiar melody of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons. During coronation weekend, cruise in a classic Rolls-Royce to Holyroodhouse for a tour and partake of regal afternoon tea based on the 1953 Coronation menu and His Majesty’s favourites.
High Life says: Toast the new era with ‘The Royal Warrant’ cocktail, crafted from Royal Lochnagar Whisky (a go-to of King Charles III’s).
La Residencia, Mallorca
Series five of Netflix’s The Crown featured Mallorca’s San Telmo region as a stand-in for the Italian coastline around Naples ‒ where Charles and Diana took a “second honeymoon” trip in 1991. In fact, Diana did visit Mallorca in 1996, but alone, when she holed up at this hilltop retreat in Deià for some much-needed peace. Then owned by her friend Richard Branson, it’s now a Belmond, with all the five-star swank you’d expect from that brand. You’ll soon see why this made a relaxing royal escape ‒ it’s filled with art, surrounded by olive groves and backdropped by the Tramuntana Mountains.
High Life says: Feel like a princess after an afternoon in the spa with its open-air terraced treatment rooms, massages using local olive and citrus oils and a private indoor pool.
Rutundu Log Cabins, Kenya
Very much on the other end of the scale, these cabins are the last word in rustic: off-grid, wood-hewn and very, very private. Set on the wooded shores of Lake Rutundu, in the shadow of Mount Kenya, with no network or Wi-Fi, it’s just the place to deliver the most eagerly awaited proposal in the world ‒ just as Prince Willaim did here back in 2010. Don’t expect palatial décor but, if you’re looking to get away from it all in the African bush, this is the one.
High Life says: Anglers, walkers and honeymooners will love this place ‒ or why not combine all three? Take a romantic stroll down to the lake and bring back your catch to grill under a mountain sunset.
Rajmahal Palace, India
This former Maharajah’s palace in Jaipur, now a boutique hotel, hosted the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh on a state visit in 1961, when the former rode out on a jewel-encrusted elephant. Built in 1729, the palace was home to the Rajasthani royal family for decades, and many of its heirlooms are still on display at the property, preserved alongside an immaculate Art Deco restoration. Other good reasons to book include stunning gardens, where you can opt to dine where you like, and a pose-perfect swimming pool.
High Life says: For a real taste of majesty, opt for the Queen Elizabeth suite, where Her Majesty stayed in 1961. The hotel can also organise a right royal selection of activities, too (but no jewelled elephants these days).
Originally built in 1963 as a vessel for the Northern Lighthouse Board (of which Princess Anne is a patron), this floating luxury hotel and sister ship to the Royal Yacht Britannia has hosted the royal family on more than one occasion. Every detail mirrors its life as a once working vessel, from the seafoam-shaded, leather-clad wardrobes in the cabins to the three-prong trident-like forks in its restaurant and bar, where executive chef Mark Alston (who also runs Britannia’s kitchen) serves up seasonal dishes, including Fingal’s own hot smoked salmon.
High Life says: This spring and summer, experience the hotel’s Coronation package, which includes a bottle of Moët to toast the new monarch.
The Cotton House, Mustique
The Caribbean island of Mustique in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines must be one of the most famous holiday destinations for the Windsors ‒ and not just because of Princess Margaret’s long-standing affair with the privately owned island. Today the paparazzi-free idyll is popular with the new Prince of Wales for his family holidays, although unlike his great aunt, who had her own villa, he’s happy to slum it in the island’s only hotel, this $600+ a night Plantation-style mansion.
High Life says: It’s not just royals that love Mustique. Rub shoulders with many of the island’s celebrity clientele at the hotel’s Basil’s Bar or when honing your tennis skills at the Mustique Tennis Club.
Hotel Walserhof, Switzerland
It’s fair to say that Charles III is devoted to skiing in Klosters, Switzerland ‒ this is the first year in 45 that he hasn’t been for his usual winter holiday (no one wants a broken leg at their coronation). He’s a repeat visitor to this classic Swiss chalet hotel, as are both his boys ‒ it’s said that Harry almost took a job here on his gap year. The rooms are spacious, with fires and their own bars, the service is old-school and the breakfasts are lavish. Stays come with the use of a neighbouring spa with thermal and Himalayan salt rooms.
High Life says: Upgrade your stay by renting a whole floor, à la Charles, or hiring one of the hotel’s private residences for a masterclass in expensively understated luxury.
Best of British
Keen for a curated coronation experience? The Goring, Prestonfield House, Fingal and The Fife Arms are part of PoB (Pride of Britain) Hotels, which has launched a 24-hour Coronation Concierge service. Have a specific itinerary designed until 31 May or get advice on the best-suited hotels to mark this historic event (available throughout spring and summer).
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