Maybe horse and carriage do go together, but couture and crown jewels? We’re far more interested in that pairing.
For those keen to feel what it’s like to live like royalty — but without the gilded cage and very public family drama — Red Savannah’s new Couture & Crown Jewels experience in London might be just the thing.
The U.K.’s first coronation in a generation, when Charles was crowned king in May, kicked off a renewed interest in the Crown Jewels and gave Camilla Davidson, head of destination management for Northern Europe at luxury travel company Red Savannah, an idea.
“My thinking was, ‘how do we create an itinerary that references the reverence and the magnitude that these objects represent, but how do you make that relevant for a traveler today who obviously wouldn’t be able to go home with the Imperial Crown of State but might want to experience some of that incredible majesty that comes with extraordinary jewelry for themselves?” she says.
Thus a new, yet-to-be-experienced itinerary was born — and it’s pampering at its finest.
Designed as a four-night itinerary, though it has “infinite capacity for customization,” it begins with a limo ride straight from the aircraft to a private lounge, and then it’s on to central London. Accommodations are set for a Heritage Suite in what Davidson calls “London’s hottest new hotel,” Raffles London at The OWO, which just opened this summer. (Fun fact: it was here that was said to inspire writer Ian Fleming to create his James Bond series following his work as a liaison officer between the War Office and Britain’s Naval Intelligence Service.) In the afternoon, guests are set for private tea in the Tasting Room at Fortnum & Mason, the department store company established in 1707 and most famous for its role as grocer to the royals and for its best-in-class teas imported from places like India and Sri Lanka.
On day two, it’s time to get fitted for couture.
Accompanied by a local private shopping guide and fashion expert, guests will be escorted to “a top Savile Row couture house” to be fitted for a custom piece. As to which couture house or bespoke designer, that depends on the individual’s preference.
“For one person, a bespoke Savile Row suit would be enormously exciting, for another person they might prefer something which is a little bit funkier and a little bit design-led,” Davidson says. “We would spend some time with the client understanding their style, understanding the designers they enjoy and how they like to present themselves, so we can match them with absolutely the very best fit, pardon the pun, so that they can then go ahead and have a custom piece made which would sit alongside the jewelry that they’re selecting.”
After the hard day of choosing couture, a private Venetian water taxi escorts guests to the Tower of London after hours to see the Crown Jewels for a private viewing — no rubbing elbows with the flock of tourists angling to see the controversial Cullinan diamonds. And because all those jewels could make anyone work up an appetite, a private dinner in the White Tower follows, where historic armor, King Henry VIII’s wrath and any number of ghosts could be part of the ambience, depending on what you believe.
By day three, it’s time for some sparkle. It will come courtesy of Humphrey Butler, one of the U.K.’s leading fine jewelry dealers whose pieces are often well in excess of 100 years old.
“He has the most amazing eye for beautiful pieces and, in some instances, they have provenance which dates back centuries and centuries and…they might be by renowned jewelry houses of the 20th century,” Davidson says.
After a hosted lunch and a getting-to-know-you session with Butler, guests “can then return to his salon and he can present a suite of jewelry from which they can make a selection.” That suite of jewelry, valued at 100,000 pounds and included as part of the itinerary package, includes a tiara, a pendant and a pair of earrings.
Naturally, the only way to follow that up is with a two-Michelin star dinner at Kitchen Table, where James Knappett is the chef. The tasting menu features only locally foraged ingredients — like oyster, truffle or deer (there are also vegetarian menus) — and reservations are hard to come by.
Couture & Crown Jewels concludes at Cliveden House, one of England’s best-known manor houses. It’s 45 minutes from the city but never fear — guests arrive by helicopter. The “Downton Abbey personified” location, as Davidson describes it, has a long history. The second Duke of Buckingham built the place in 1666, William Waldorf Astor owned it and it was the site of the major British political scandal “the Cliveden Affair” involving a secretary of state, 19-year-old model Christine Keeler and a swimming pool. Scandal aside, lunch unfolds in the property’s French Dining Room, complete with gilded paneling from Madame de Pompadour’s 18th century Chateau d’Asnières.
This itinerary is not for the faint of pocket, as the package starts at $550,000 based on two guests, depending on travel timing and tailored requests.
But this may just be the chicest travel indulgence yet.