Working out of his Manhattan atelier, Mark Ingram is best known for pairing the most beautiful brides to the most gorgeous wedding dresses. Dempsey and Carroll’s Austin Ackles recently asked him to take note of his very favorite delights and inspirations while out and about in glorious London. Spot on, Mark!
How to get There
I absolutely adore London–I have traveled there one or two times a year for the past 14-15 years. One of the reasons I find myself there so often is that I love to fly Virgin Atlantic Upper Class service ‘across the pond’. Whenever I am going to Milan, Rome or Barcelona, I will normally fly through Heathrow, have a small layover, and then go on my way via British Airways. I could spend a full day in the Virgin Upper Class lounge as it remains one of the few full service clubhouses with complimentary menu dining, full bar selection, showers, and rest options. A layover is a pleasure!
The 15 minute ride on the Heathrow Express train to London makes that trip painless, with train platforms just below the Virgin Airways terminal.
Where to Stay
My preferred hotels in London are mostly part of the Firmdale boutique hotel chain. I will trade full service and larger (usually poorly designed) rooms for the decor, ambiance, spa-like bathrooms, high thread count linens, and location of these exquisite boutique hotels. I have stayed in Firmdale properties in Covent Garden, Knightsbridge, South Kensington and Dorset Square a number of times. They may be pricey, but hotels are a huge part of the travel experience whether away on business or pleasure. I don’t treat it with a “well, I just sleep here” mentality!
About two years ago I discovered the charming Radisson Blu Edwardian-Mercer St. Hotel, and the lobby and restaurant were just upgraded recently. If you enjoy theater as I do, then this Covent Garden location is amazing. Located on a charming corner where seven small streets meet at a roundabout and monument, this is also a favorite place to stay when budget is more concerning.
Overall, I prefer the Soho/Covent Garden, Marylebone and Chelsea/South Kensington neighborhoods to rest my head. I always love to use the remarkable and very efficient London Tube subway system to zip around the city!
Where to Eat and Drink
- Adventures in Notting Hill will usually lead to a stop at the fabulous Ottolenghi for lunch and/or dessert.
- A visit to the Art Nouveau Michelin Building in South Kensington must include lunch at Bibendum upstairs (the entire area is quite charming).
- Any of the Carluccio’s restaurants are perfect for enjoying a light meal or coffee and dessert
- The Wolseley, a London restaurant staple located in Piccadilly, used to be a grand bank before it was converted to a very popular eatery about a decade ago. The tall ceilings and marble décor make it very appealing along with a broad range of food on the menu.
- Nothing is better than High Tea at Browns Hotel and evening cocktails at Claridge’s Hotel.
Top London Sites and Experiences
- The hustle and bustle of the narrow, two lane Oxford Street, with pedestrians, double decker buses, street vendors and grand old emporium department stores like Selfridges.
- The curve of Regent Street as it approaches Piccadilly; the limestone Regency office buildings at that vantage point are so grand, impressive, elegant, and stately.
- A walk across the Thames River on almost any bridge (especially Waterloo Bridge) with clamor of the railroad trains just beside you at street level as they leave and approach Waterloo Station and Embankment.
- Arriving at the Baker Street tube station and learning that it was built in the 1860’s for the underground steam engine subway line. Steam was released at holes in the tunnels leading up to the street level.
- A stroll through Chelsea and South Kensington (just off the tube station), through the beautiful streets and courts of stately town houses with immaculate gardens and window boxes, on the way to Harrods and Harvey Nichols. A walk through Pelham Crescent off of Fulham Road is a must, as you will see pristinely preserved architecture from the Regency Period.
Where are your favorite destinations to visit in London or other cities around the world?Discover our Jet Set Collection to inspire your next trip and use the #DestinationDempsey hashtag on social media to share your travels.