A Royal Retreat in London

When looking for a flight path direct to London the obvious choice is to fly one of our all-time favorite air carriers, the iconic Virgin Atlantic airlines. With seamless connections to more than 350 destinations, Virgin Atlantic has been Britain’s second-largest carrier, and for very good reason. With British billionaire Richard Branson at the helm Virgin Atlantic has always strived to create the best experience in the skies for their customers, no matter the class, the service is as good as it gets.

With one of the most modern and efficient fleets of airplanes in the industry, the choice was easy and Upper Class never looked so good. With roomy seats that lie flat into beds, premium food and beverage service plus an amenity kit including pajamas, a toothbrush, eye mask, and face cream, one thing is certain when you trust your cross-Atlantic flight path with Virgin Atlantic, you are in the best of hands.

Smooth Flying from LAX to LON With daily nonstop flights to London from Los Angeles, Virgin Atlantic is the airline of choice for our travels. With friendly and hospitable service, travelers can relax on their internationally bound journey with over 300 hours of on-demand entertainment all while enjoying complimentary curated wines in partnership with London-based fine wine merchant Jeroboams. We can certainly cheer to the Upper Class pods which offer extra comfy seats in a bubble of privacy. There is ample room to sprawl out and when you are ready to call it a night the seats transform into fully flat beds with cotton pillows and a duvet to ensure you won’t be jetlagged upon arrival.

As you touch down at Heathrow airport, the anticipation and excitement both grow knowing what lies ahead. You are about to pay a visit to one of the most magnificent cities in the world. The capital of the United Kingdom boasts so much to offer you could literally spend weeks here and not see everything. The best part about visiting this royal city is that you can always enjoy the usual historical sites such as Buckingham Palace, the soaring arches of Westminster Abbey, the iconic Houses of Parliament and of course Elizabeth Tower (most known as Big Ben, although that’s only the clock portion), but there are always new tourist attractions, restaurants, and hotels popping up to try as well. Since London is such a melting pot of cultures there are endless opportunities; new dining experiences, cultural festivals, art galleries, museum exhibitions, and sporting events, just to name a few. Due to the massiveness and diversity, the city has to offer it is important that you plan out how to maximize your time in order to create the best travel experience.

After customs head straight to the Revivals lounge to re-invigorate and re-energize after the long flight. Freshen up with a power shower and then sit down and relax with a complimentary full English breakfast and coffee. You can catch up on emails or read the newspaper all while the housekeeping service team presses your clothes. Now that is what we call arriving in style.

Great Fosters

Take a trip back in time to the majestic Great Fosters. A mere 10 miles from Heathrow airport and you will be transported to a country hotel that not only offers absolute seclusion but a stay at a historical landmark dating back to 1550 AD. At the time of its original build, Great Fosters was conveniently placed for its royal residents between Windsor and Hampton Court. Today it serves as the ideal spot for visiting both Windsor Castle and Hampton Court Palace, as well as Windsor Great Park, Runnymede, Ascot, and much more. Set on 50 acres of iconic gardens and stunning grounds framed on three sides by a Saxon moat, complete with topiary mazes, a fountain, many thought-provoking art sculptures, as well as a superb art-deco heated outdoor pool, this indeed stands alone as a one-of-a-kind property.

A perfect setting for the weary traveler, and a rare find so close to an international airport, Great Fosters truly is a diamond in the rough. Originally built as a hunting lodge, the building still bears evidence of the noblest of names that graced its halls such as Henry VIII who was thought to have used the house as a royal residence and hunting lodge. Princess Elizabeth, later Elizabeth I spent time there as a child and later used it herself for hunting as well. Over the porch, you will find the coat of arms that is dated 1598 signifying the royal connection. The connection is even more evident in the Anne Boleyn Room, where Queen Anne Boleyn’s crest and royal symbols are used.

Walking the grounds, you pay witness to the fact that this is easily one of the finest arts and crafts gardens in Europe, designed to imitate the effect of a Persian rug, its intricate formal patterns surely make for some world-class photo opportunities. At the center, you will find the Drake Sundial, which dates to 1589 and is owned by the descendants of Sir Francis Drake. The main formal gardens were laid out in the 1920s with a knot garden bounded by clipped yew hedges. An Oriental bridge draped with Wisteria (a purple flowering plant) crosses the moat and leads to a rose garden. Another one of the garden highlights is the Archery Pavilion, built in the 1920s and restored in 1998.

As one can imagine the accommodation at this iconic landmark is no less than magnificent. Choose from 56 individually styled bedrooms, each designed with indulgence and all the comforts of home in mind. All Great Foster’s bedrooms can be found spread across four buildings. The Main House, dating back to 1550, features a collection of beautiful historic suites and bedrooms, whilst The Cloisters and The Coach House, a short jaunt across a courtyard, offer an array of more contemporary suites and rooms. The newly restored Dower House features 2 historic suites brimming with wondrous tales from a time long ago as well as 2 splendid suites and 3 luxury king bedrooms, all rich in their original details bearing the decor of that time. From 17th-century Flemish tapestries adorning the walls to elaborately carved feature pieces dating back to Jacobean times, and Grade I Listed wall features, you will feel like Tudor royalty who once called Great Fosters home in any one of The Historic Suites.

At Great Fosters, expect the finest of modern English and European cuisine, created using only the freshest local ingredients. Whether you choose to dine in their gastronomic restaurant The Tudor Pass or opt for a more casual fare at The Estate Grill, prepare to embark on a culinary journey fit for a king or a queen. Recently re-opened for dinner service, the former iconic Tudor Room became the new and improved Tudor Pass. Under the tutelage of Executive Head Chef, Alex Payne guests will marvel at the level of excellence that is evident in each meal that is served. This intimate dining affair with only seven tables is a new chapter in the storied history, a chapter that Chef Payne is taking full responsibility for creating lasting memories for his guests in the years to come. Alex’s signature tasting menu, which is available for both lunch and dinner is inspired by classic flavors and seasonal ingredients, artistically displayed using the most modern of techniques. Having worked under such culinary geniuses as Heston Blumenthal and Gordon Ramsay Alex’s approach to serving classic English fare with a twist surely is a sight to behold.

Utopia Retreat

Tucked between the gardens of the property, the heart of Utopia Retreat is the art-deco heated outdoor pool & hot tub, with treatment rooms spread throughout all awaiting guests seeking healing and respite. Locally acclaimed with gentle therapists who use locally and carefully crafted skincare products the Utopia Retreat allows guests to enjoy one-of-a-kind treatments that will transport them to the sunny shores of the Mediterranean, using essential-oil packed products.  Have a nice long soak in the hot tub. Immerse yourself in the amazing health benefits, literally, while you find harmony and become one with nature. Treat your partner to a couples treatment in the Medieval Teepee or opt for the Ultimate Full Body Swedish Massage solo. Whichever you choose, you will leave this country hideaway feeling invigorated and whole again.

Once you have finished exploring London and it is time to say goodbye to the English countryside there is just one more level of luxury that one must succumb to back at Heathrow Airport. No trip to London would be complete without a visit to the Upper Class Lounge. Out of all the first-class lounges, we have had access to over the years, I think it’s safe to say this is our favorite. As your car pulls up for the departure home, the airline staff is ready and eager to greet you. As you are whisked through a private security channel straight to the Clubhouse, the celebrity treatment begins. No need to worry about getting a workout in before you head to the airport as the Clubhouse offers Peloton bikes overlooking the runway. Sweat it out with Cody and then hit the showers to freshen up.

Once you’ve got your apple watch counts in for the day, head over to the bar and watch expert mixologists create unique and delicious cocktails. A must-try is their signature Virgin Redhead which is created with Bubbly, berry liqueurs, Bombay Sapphire Gin and fresh raspberries. For those morning travelers the bar offers a delicious Espresso Martini and Bloody Mary, but for something a little different we recommend the Breakfast Martini which tastes like a lemon drop topped with a piece of toast.

Whatever time of day, the menu at the Clubhouse offers a selection of freshly cooked food, with a local flavor. From Small Plates that include BBQ Cauliflower Wings to Large Plates of Lucky Saint Beer Battered Fish & Chips, you won’t be disappointed.

While we certainly could spend hours in the Clubhouse, our time seemed to fly so quickly, and the departure gates were calling. Before rushing off don’t forget to grab a few selfies at the Instagramable photo ops. Leaving the Clubhouse can be a feat but knowing a glass of champagne is waiting for you once you board the flight does make it a bit easier to say goodbye. Book your flight to London today at https://www.virginatlantic.com.