By Marianne Belmonte
Spring is here and at last the end of winter is around the corner and it’s time to plan a getaway for a few days. If you are like many fellow New Yorkers you probably went on vacation this winter to one of the islands or at least someplace warmer than NYC. This no longer being a reason to take a holiday, how about making your next destination a trip to Europe? In fact, how about a trip to London in springtime? London is one of only a handful of places that can fulfill your need for excitement and satisfy your New York sensibility.
If you agree than your first stop should be the Radisson Edwardian Mercer Street Hotel located in Covent Garden. This is an establishment that caters to all. It is a kid friendly hotel as well as being perfect for business trips or yes, a romantic weekend getaway.
How can this be you might ask? Well just like the saying goes in real estate, the answer is location, location , location. Right at your doorstep is all the glamour, history, theatre and shopping that London has to offer. Additionally, the hotel itself is one of the most beautifully decorated in all of Covent Garden. There are 151 luxurious bedrooms as well as eight fabulous suites each equipped with all the amenities of the modern age bringing your iPod, iPad, iPhone and DVDs into your TV screen. Set in an elegant but not over the top, decor and featuring original works of art including a unique collection of Japanese prints.
Considered to be a landmark, in the Seven Dials Village section of Covent Garden, this hotel is chic without being ostentatious. It is comfortable and stylish at the same time. Rooted in its community it blends in perfectly with its historic location. It also features a restaurant and bar called Dial. Here you can socialize with the locals at the bar or enjoy a four star meal prepared in modern European style with fresh produce from the local market. Although the meals are impeccably prepared, including but not limited to some exotic wares, this establishment is far from being pretentious. You can relax and sit back and just enjoy the ambiance. Additionally, if you are a business guest you will have six spacious HD-ready meeting rooms that can accommodate fifty guests. They feature touch screen technology and the services of a conference team to ensure that all your needs are being met including your gastronomic ones where up to thirty-two guests can enjoy private dinners. And, lest we forget that this is all taking place in the heart of, in my opinion, the most exciting locale in all of London.
Now that we’re all settled in we can start enjoying all that this area has to offer. Right at your doorstep is almost four centuries worth of history. Covent Garden dates back to Roman times and was an important site for the early Christian church. Monasteries were established here and the monks created elaborate gardens of fruits and vegetables and then sold their bounty to the locals. In 1630 the Earl of Bedford ordered that a piazza be built. Having just returned from Italy and very much impressed with the design of her cities, he felt that the gentlemen class of England be afforded the same grandeur that these Italian cities had to offer and stylish homes be built befitting the gentry class of Brittan. In 1632 the indoor market was built, known as the Apple Market and remained a produce market for centuries. Today although the produce market has been relocated, you can walk through and find the wares of locale craftsmen, antiques, as well as vintage jewelry. Built in 1638 St. Paul’s Church is the centerpiece of the piazza. However, if touring churches is not your thing, right outside its doors you can be entertained for days on end. Mimes, jugglers, street singers and performers of all kinds congregate here to put on shows for the tourists and locals alike.
Of course, let us not forget that this is also the heart of Theatreland, as it is known in Brittan and it was at this square that the play My Fair Lady was based. Unfortunately this area did not always maintain its dignity over the centuries and did fall into disrepair and neglect for decades. Today however, it is home to the Royal Opera House, numerous theatres, bars and restaurants. Here you can feel what it was like in the very early days when you stop into the Lamb and Flag Pub that has been around since the early 1700s and housed such events as bare knuckle fights. Mixed with the old and new alike, Covent Garden is enjoying a renaissance and is more exhilarating and exciting than ever before.
Although one never has to leave this wonderful neighborhood famous for its shops, bars, restaurants and street performers, don’t overlook the fact that you are in London in the West End within minutes of Soho, Trafalgar Square, Oxford Street and Leicester Square where you can enjoy additional British flare.
If you’ve never been to London, then please, as a New Yorker, you must go at least once in your lifetime so that you can know and experience how they live across the pond. Follow my recommendation and stay at the Radisson Edwardian Mercer Street Hotel where you will feel and be treated like royalty. In the end, upon the final analysis, you deserve this. Take a trip back in time, mingle with the Brits, they are after all our cousins and enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!! Bon Voyage!
Radisson Edwardian Mercer Street
20 Mercer Street,
Covent Garden, WC2H 9HD,
London, United Kingdom
Reservations: (800) 333-3333