Whether you’re sightseeing or striking a deal in London, consider taking a break from all the action and making like many of the world’s wealthiest by treating yourself to a pampering escape in the ever-so upscale enclaves of exclusive Knightsbridge. It’s no secret that many of Knightsbridge’s luxuries are hidden—there’s an astounding wealth of decadent pleasures tucked away behind its elegant red brick and stucco facades. The real secret lies in discovering what they are.
But don’t sweat it if you don’t have discreet riches stashed at nearby bankers-to-the-Queen Coutts (rumor has it they only accept clients valued £5 million+). Provided you’re in the loop, options are abound for breaking into this exclusive scene.
Get in the door by playing house Knightsbridge-style at The Lanesborough (a converted mansion with spoiled-rotten treats like personal butlers) or the somewhat more affordable Knightsbridge Hotel. For a refresh session, check in at the sleek Berkeley, with its pampering Spa at The Berkeley and exclusive rooftop pool.
Drinking and dining establishments in Knightsbridge combine dazzling culinary and cocktail indulgences with utmost discretion. The upscale take on Indian street food at Amaya pulls in the celeb set (Madonna, Hugh Grant, most of the Rolling Stones) when they’re looking to unwind away from the glare of the paparazzi (although the smoldering lighting and scene-y bar still ensure plenty of intrigue and action). Hidden gem of a pub The Grenadier (we’re talking seriously hidden on a back alley—bring a map or you may not find it!) packs a restorative punch with a mean Bloody Mary.
If showy is more your style, keep yourself in the upper-crust loop at high profile Knightsbridge destinations like the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park. Its gates are impressive (including an entrance that was once designated for royal use only), but behind them lies a theatrically pampering property, with overblown red brick façade and a wealth of luxuries. Let yourself go at Spa at Mandarin Oriental, our pick for the most luxurious spa in London, before rubbing elbows with moguls and movie stars at the Mandarin Bar.
Not sure you look the part? Go for a retail makeover at fashion-forward Harvey Nichols. If you get a little overwhelmed shopping the clothing collections at nearby Harrods, make for the store’s buzzing spa Urban Retreat and then indulge in decadent treats like bespoke chocolates and rare truffles at the charmingly old school Harrods Food Halls.
Of course, even though the key to Knightsbridge’s charm often lies in its exclusivity, perhaps the best spot to get your R&R on is also the simplest to access. No need to be on any guest list if you want to head to historic Hyde Park. Though it was landscaped by a queen and went through stints as a royal hunting ground and aristocratic equestrian turf, today the sprawling park is terra firma for everyman (and everywoman) recreation. So, if you don’t fancy fighting (or financing) your way into Knightsbridge’s inner sanctums, simply recharge by taking a brisk walk along its pathways, picnicking in the sun (when the weather warms up), or taking a turn through the elegant Serpentine Gallery (with edgy, contemporary art offerings) before heading back into the thick of things.