Business and Golf: London
Many of the world’s best inland clubs, like Walton Heath and Swinley Forest, were established around London in the first decade of the 20th century.
The sixth-largest economy on the globe is built on London’s centuries-old commercial finance sector, as well as media conglomerates such as the BBC, the largest broadcast organization in the world. The majority of the city’s business and financial operations are located in the City of London, a one-square mile section in the historic center that generates 35 percent of the global exchange turnover each day. It’s also where the Bank of England, the London Stock Exchange and Lloyds of London are all headquartered. Business visitors alone account for roughly 20 percent of London’s average $25.5 annual million tourist revenue, and those numbers will increase dramatically when the city hosts the 2012 Summer Olympics, an event that has already generated a splurge of new construction projects, from hotels to businesses to sporting venues.
Located squarely in the financial district, just blocks from the London Bridge, St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Tower of London, Threadneedles (5 Threadneedle St., +44 (0)20 7657 8080) is a 70-room boutique hotel where lavish modern amenities are available inside the preserved marble, walnut and glass interior of a former banking hall.
Traders and bankers can get powered up—but not weighed down—at Bonds, in the Threadneedles Hotel, which uses an exclusive sausage supplier to supply three kinds of reduced-fat pork dishes.
Seal the Deal
Galvin at Windows (22 Park Ln., +44 (0)20 7208 4021) is situated in an almost futuristic-styled room on the 28th floor of the Park Lane Hilton, with views of the city and both Hyde and Green Parks. Meet for cocktails in the chic bar before settling in to enjoy the ambitious French haute cuisine.
The prices here aren’t for the faint of heart, but the objet d’art food at Alain Ducasse, at the Dorchester (53 Park Ln., +44 (0)20 7629 8866) is arguably the most luxurious and precise in London. The ultrasophisticated room plays off the ever changing menu using various modes of light and shade and large windows that look out to Hyde Park.
London golf is typically associated with heathland topography—sandy soils and low, dense shrubbery that provides colorful buffers and texture to golf holes, but can wreak havoc on your game with its impenetrability. Many of the world’s best inland clubs, like Walton Heath and Swinley Forest, were established around London in the first decade of the 20th century.
One of Britain’s great clubs, Sunningdale Golf Club is located roughly 30 miles southwest of central London and is open to nonmembers Monday through Thursday (sunningdale-golfclub.co.uk, $150–450). The Old Course, designed by Willie Park Jr. and opened in 1901, and the New Course, built by Harry Colt in 1923, are both classic, strategic heathland designs that have hosted numerous major championships between them, including the 2008 Women’s British Open and the 2009 Senior Open Championship. Perhaps not as well known as some of its neighbors, St. George’s Hill Golf Club (stgeorgeshillgolfclub.co.uk, $100–250), a 1912 Colt masterpiece also located 30 minutes southwest of London proper, has three nines that ramble exuberantly over the sandy, rolling, wooded hillside. Nonmembers may play on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
The Grove (33 Tunis Rd., +44 (0)1923 807 807) combines old and new England at the former estate of the Earls of Clarendon, 30 minutes west of London. The manor has been transformed into an impressive country hotel, with 227 rooms accompanied by an immaculate Kyle Phillips–designed parkland-style course that opened in 2003 and hosted the 2006 World Golf Championship.
When to Go
Summer (May through September), when temperatures average from the mid-60s to the low 70s, undoubtedly offers the best chance to avoid London’s notoriously gray and dreary weather.