If you hunger for the England of a Jane Austen novel, if the London you seek is a world of drawing rooms and white gloves, then this is the home for you. This gracious apartment is sumptuously beautiful, its tall windows illuminating cherubs and chandeliers, embroidered fabrics and gorgeous antiques. And Lancaster Gate is as practical as it is romantic. You’re opposite Kensington Gardens, and surrounded by chic cafes and classy restaurants. Turn east for Selfridges, Bond Street and Mayfair, head west for Notting Hill and Portobello Road Market. Sense and sensibility – you’ll lose your heart in no time.
Your hostess is a novelist, and many of her books were penned at the Victorian writing desk in Lancaster Gate’s study. She and her husband divide their time between London, Sussex and Tuscany, and when in town they’re regulars at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden.
Lancaster Gate is spectacular, with its high ceilings, classically beautiful décor and art that wouldn’t seem out of place in a museum. Yet it’s welcoming, too, that pretty sofa just begging you to cuddle down with a book. The compact kitchen’s decorated with a collection of blue and white china, and you can dine in splendour beneath draped windows and a lavishly gilded mirror in the dining room. If you’ve some paperwork to catch up on, the study is charming and restful, or sit out on the balcony and overlook one of London's most idyllic squares wrapped around the architecturally striking St James' Church. And then, to the master bedroom, redolent of some of England’s stateliest homes. Richly floral curtains, hand-polished antique wood, a gold-leaf screen fluttering with dragonflies – to sleep here is to be cocooned in luxury.
Arm in arm
The era of the horse and carriage may be over, but you may catch the sound of hoof beats from Hyde Park. If the weather’s sunny, take a boat out on the Serpentine, and if the air grows chilly, never fear, you’re just across the park from Kensington’s museums, Harrods and Knightsbridge. Nearby Mayfair is filled with some of London’s most exclusive bars and restaurants, and the tube from Lancaster Gate to Oxford Circus takes only five minutes.
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