The British monarchy’s first Diamond Jubilee marked Queen Victoria’s 60-year reign in 1897. The second, celebrating Queen Elizabeth’s astonishing six decades on the throne, takes place throughout 2012, with key events centered around June 2-5. Hotels throughout London are getting into the spirit with special promotional packages and discounts, but one of my favorites is at the St. Ermin’s Hotel, an unfussy yet thoroughly dignified (i.e. still delightfully British) 4-star property just five minutes from Buckingham Palace – on foot even, not via swift royal carriage.
Inaugurated last October by actress Kristin Scott Thomas (the MGallery collection’s brand ambassador), the 331-room hotel has a jubilant history of its own. Built upon the site of a 15th-century chapel, the building that now forms the basis of the hotel was built eight years before Victoria’s big bash, in 1889 (needless to say, the architecture is distinctly, um, Victorian). Sir Winston Churchill held secret meetings at the hotel during WWII, and it’s rumored that a tunnel still exists between the hotel’s grand staircase and Parliament. The MGallery renovation retains all of this historic ambiance while introducing contemporary décor and amenities (like the lovely Caxton Grill, where I enjoyed the definitive English breakfast during a recent stay).
View package details and see what the hotel looks like today.
Now, back to that Diamond Jubilee Package. For £999 (about $1,565) plus tax, here’s what you and your travel companion get:
• 3 nights in a deluxe room
• Tour of Westminster Abbey (site of Queen Elizabeth’s coronation in 1953)
• Royal afternoon “QETea” in the hotel’s library, from executive chef Hus Vedat
• Full English breakfast
• Picnic lunch in St. James’s Park
• Welcome pack of flags, hats, and Jubilee souvenirs