19 March 2019

Afternoon Tea At Kensington Palace

A few weeks ago, Mum and I had a girly weekend in London. We saw a trip advertised by our local travel company including free time in London, tickets to Princess Diana's dress exhibition and afternoon tea at Kensington Palace. We've always said we'd like to go on a weekend away together and this was absolutely perfect. 

We travelled to London bright and early on a Sunday morning, stopping for two McDonalds and at a service station with a Wetherspoons (you could tell we were down south!). I'm not a keen traveller but we were there in no time and being sat at the front of the coach meant we got the perfect view of everything going on. We even saw royalty!

As we were approaching London we saw a police escort on the opposite side of the road, followed by a huge black landrover. Everyone leaned over to the right-hand side of the coach and sat in the black landrover was none other than Prince Harry, most likely on his way to Wembley to watch the rugby. It's exactly how I think people imagine London to be. (Note: we don't always see royalty). 

We stayed at the Holiday Inn, Kensington and it was such a beautiful hotel. There was a doorman in a top hat ready to help us all with our luggage and it's safe to say that Mum and I felt like we were in a film. We've always walked past hotels in London with doormen stood on the door and said that we'd love to stay there one day, but we didn't expect this from a Holiday Inn. 

As we had an early arrival at the hotel, our rooms weren't ready so we handed our luggage to the concierge and ventured into Kensington. We normally stay around Oxford Street so I was very excited to see a different part of London. 

It wasn't long before we came across Kensington Palace - it was literally down the road from our hotel. We walked through Kensington Gardens and saw the main gates to the Palace. I recognised it from photos I'd seen of the floral tributes to mourn Princess Diana when she passed away in 1997. Other than that, I spent most of my time running away from pigeons and hiding from the parrots that are free to roam around the park - if you know me, you'll know it's my worst nightmare. 

We also saw the Royal Albert Hall where the BAFTA's were being held that night. It's situated in front of the golden statue of Prince Albert which was shining beautifully in the late afternoon sunlight. 

We left Kensington Gardens and wandered around the suburban streets of London. It was every Instagrammer's dream and I'm sure Mum was fed up with me taking photos of all the houses. We both noted that it made us feel like we were extra's in Mary Poppins, which we'd been to see just a few weeks before. The streets of London really are the prettiest, and I couldn't help but notice that they smell exactly like the Creed aftershave. 

Eventually, with a bit of help from Google Maps, we made it onto Knightsbridge High Street. It's like a completely different world and I was a tad overwhelmed by all the shops I wanted to go in. It was at that point that Mum and I decided we needed to go back just for a shopping day. We had a browse in ZARA and Topshop but as much as I enjoyed looking around, I was itching to get to Harrods. 

'Are we near Harrods?' I asked Mum for the sixtieth time as we left Topshop. She laughed, pointed in front of us and there it was. The biggest department store in London. I WAS BEYOND EXCITED!

Mum had told me so much about what Harrods was like when she was a little girl, I always remember a story about there being a pet shop on the top floor. I couldn't wait to get inside and have a look around. Of all the times I've been to London in the past few years and I've never been to Harrods - something needed to change. Without a second thought, I dragged Mum across the road and in through the main doors. 

Harrods was beyond my wildest dreams. It sounds like an exaggeration but I walked through the doors and my mouth dropped to the floor. It was beautiful, like stepping into a completely different world. One thing I noticed was that you could tell who was there to shop and who was there as a tourist.

It had absolutely everything, from an estate agent to a pet clothes shop to the most beautiful Chanel section I have ever seen. We spent the rest of the afternoon going from floor to floor, looking at stuff that we (sadly) couldn't afford. The attention to detail in the architecture was stunning, the toilets had three floors but sadly there was no pet shop on the top floor. We browsed the designer brands and I bought a cute little phone case from the Harrods Gift Shop - considering it was £9 for a key ring, I thought £12 for the phone case was pretty reasonable. 

We could've spent the whole day getting lost in Harrods and when we finally came out, at closing time, it was dark and the whole building was covered in twinkling fairy lights. I stood taking photos of it for a good half hour (my camera roll was almost full!). I think it's very safe to say that Harrods is my new favourite store. 

For the rest of the evening, we looked around a few more shops, had dinner at Pizza Express and then headed back to the hotel on the tube (which I navigated myself AND didn't get us lost!). When we got back to the hotel, we checked into our *very posh* hotel room and spent our evening sat in the lobby, drinking cider and watching everyone come in from the BAFTAs in their long sparkly dresses and tuxedos. The hotel constantly had pilots and air hostesses coming in and out from Heathrow. I just love how London never sleeps. 

We woke up the following morning feeling refreshed and both very excited for our royal day ahead. The breakfast at the Holiday Inn was delicious; it was self-service but I had a full breakfast with a selection of sausages and eggs that were cooked to perfection. If you're looking for somewhere to stay in London that is good value for money, I highly recommend.

Then, it was back on to the coach and headed towards Kensington Palace, the current home of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their three children. Fun fact: their apartment is said to be haunted by the ghost of Princess Sophia and is one of the most haunted apartments in the Palace. 

We also had access to Princess Diana's dress exhibition as well as the Gardens and other exhibits such as the chambers of King William III and Queen Mary II; the first royals to take residence in Kensington Palace. 

Being able to walk around the chambers of  King William III and Queen Mary II was fascinating. The architecture was beautiful and I could tell how much effort had gone into preserving certain artefacts. As I stood on the staircase, I felt like royalty. I could just imagine the Kings and Queens walking around in big dresses and all the extravagant parties they must've thrown. I'm not going to lie though, it did creep me out a little bit. 

One thing I did notice was all the photos pinned around the palace walls, whether that be of Prince William and Princess Katherine or Prince Harry and Meghan. There was also a tribute to Princess Diana which was very fitting - it's so lovely to see them keeping the memories of her alive.

Princess Diana has been an inspiration to me since I was young. She was the first real-life Princess I ever knew and I always looked up to her. I even had an imaginary friend called Diana when I was at school! Whether that be from her incredible work for charities or through her effortlessly chic style, I've always admired her elegance and kindness. I think she's an unsung role model to females everywhere.  

It's safe to say that Princess Diana is a fashion icon and the exhibition really captured this. We saw how Diana transformed from a shy young girl to a glamorous young woman who used her image to communicate with the world. The exhibition included some of her most iconic dresses, including the black dress she wore when she danced with John Travolta and the classic checked suit she wore on her Honeymoon. The outfits tracked her evolution as a Princess, trend-setter and woman whose legacy will live on forever.

Each dress told a story, such as the dress she wore to Brazil on a state visit. Argentina had just knocked them out of the World Cup and she asked that the dress not include any colours that appear in the Argentinian flag - how lovely is that!? Diana sold most of the dresses in the exhibition at an auction in New York a few months before she died, giving all the proceeds to charity. 

As we walked around, reading and admiring the beautiful dresses she wore (my personal favourite is the white dress with swallows) it's clear why she was such a style icon. There were quotes lining the walls from designers who had worked with her and it made me realise just how loved and missed she is. It was also interesting to compare the dresses we saw in Harrods the previous day - I'll be honest, they really don't compare.

After spending a good hour looking around there dresses, and getting over how beautiful they were, we went to look at some of Princess Victoria's crowns as well as a handwritten letter she wrote to Prince Albert on the day she met him. Then we had a look around the gift shop and had one last walk around Kensington Gardens. 

Does anyone recognise the garden in the background of the photo? It's where Prince Harry and Meghan had their engagement photos taken so obviously, I had to have my photo taken there too. It'd be rude not to. 

Then it was time for afternoon tea. 

We walked into the dining room to see ten tables set perfectly with little china cups, small plates and cutlery including a fork and spoon in one. There was unlimited tea available and the actual food itself was to die for. Included in the tea for two was six little finger sandwiches, two scones with jam and cream and two little cakes - strawberry cheesecake and tiramisu. It doesn't look like much but my goodness was it filling!

Oh, my opinion on the food? Absolutely divine. No, like seriously. The scones were warm, soft and fluffy, the cakes were sweet and the sandwiches were surprisingly tasty. I even drank my tea with my little finger in the air. I felt like a Queen but sadly, Liz herself didn't make an appearance. 

When we'd drank Kensington Palace out of tea, it was sadly time for us to depart for home. As you can tell, we had such a lovely weekend and if you're visiting London I highly recommend going to Kensington Palace, even if you do just go for afternoon tea. 

Lots of Love,


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