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We review a staycation in Belgravia, London, including a stay at the Lime Tree Hotel, and visit to the Fine Cheese Company


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If you want to get away from it all this summer, head to Belgravia in central London.

Yes, central London may not sound like the obvious place for a quieter weekend, but Belgravia is peaceful.

Belgravia Picture: George Whale
Belgravia Picture: George Whale

After initially expecting to feel like Dick Whittington walking along the streets paved with gold, we were able to discover bars and restaurants that were within our reach - although we firmly stuck to window shopping when it came to the exclusive boutique-style retailers.

A five minute walk from Victoria Station, Belgravia is home to whose who have private gardens seen in the film Notting Hill - and we definitely did not dare do an "oopsa daisies" Hugh Grant style break-in.

But you won't feel out of place. Staying in the Lime Tree Hotel, our floor to ceiling windows of around 20ft gave us a perfect view of Tomtom coffee house, clearly the place for trendy locals to seen and be seen.

There wasn't a moment it was open when the alfresco tables along Ebury Street were not buzzing with chatter and folk meeting and greeting.

On the opposite corner was Peggy Porschen, an exquisite looking cupcake shop for lovers of all things pink, where people stopped, or had tea and cake to share on Instagram.

Alfresco dining rules - with or without a dog - in Belgravia
Alfresco dining rules - with or without a dog - in Belgravia

Both are the epitome of this summer's campaign for Belgravia, See and Be Scene.

The Lime Tree Hotel may have been a hotel, but it felt like a home. A family-run establishment created from two Georgian town houses, it was cosy and had a rustic feel which ran all the way down to the flowerbeds in the garden where we had breakfast, where it was as though Mr MacGregor had just stepped away to chase Peter and left his trowel in the soil.

The Lime Tree Hotel, London
The Lime Tree Hotel, London

Whoever tends the garden - we didn't see Mr MacGregor - does an amazing job, as the whopping agapanthus in pots are a sight to behold. A resident robin was also adding to the rural vibes in the inner city while waiting for a few crumbs.

The perfectly designed room was one we did not want to step away from but when we did, friendly staff were on hand to chat and answer any questions. Rooms cost from £99.

The Fine Cheese Company Picture: Marc Hankins
The Fine Cheese Company Picture: Marc Hankins

Our first stop was the Fine Cheese Company, where we were reminded that somewhere like Belgravia is a little bit more pricey for a reason.

The beautifully tiny shop has a "cheese wall" and, if that was not overwhelming enough, a "wine wall". It has more than 100 artisan cheeses from around Europe, and you can try before you buy.

All hail The Cheese Wall
All hail The Cheese Wall
The Fine Cheese Company's croque monsieur
The Fine Cheese Company's croque monsieur

Deputy manager Monika Koperczuk gave us a tour through Europe via cheese, so we found ourselves tasting Red Wine Farmer cheese and a truffle cheese, to name a couple that lingered in the memory.

The shop has a few tables inside and some outside - with blankets - so you can eat there. I had a croque monsieur which I swear was the best thing I have ever tasted. And my opinion wasn't just swayed by the prosecco we had with it. There are also freshly baked cakes - try a colourful macaroon if you get the chance - to eat in or take away.

The shop was buzzing with customers, many of whom were on first name terms with the staff, too.

Besides marvelling at the stores along the roads; window shopping and just wandering the quiet streets imagining what it would be like to live there, you can also try a 'Fragrance Tapas' at Jo Loves in Elizabeth Street, where you are served a selection of aromas and learn about founder Jo Malone's favourites and inspirations.

The Thomas Cubitt in Belgravia Picture: George Whale
The Thomas Cubitt in Belgravia Picture: George Whale

Later, when we stepped out for dinner once we had room, we tried the Thomas Cubitt, a short walk from the hotel also in Elizabeth Street, and a haven for more trendy folk, many dining with their dogs outside. The oak panelled establishment has a traditional feel, but with modern vibes, partly given off by the young waiting staff.

We were able to savour brunch at the Lime Tree Hotel while admiring the garden the following morning, where, rather like the perfect croque monsieur served at the Fine Cheese Company, I was also lucky enough to have the perfect pot of tea. It came with an amazing breakfast - just the right amount, all perfectly cooked and beautifully presented.

The Lime Tree Hotel's perfect pot of tea
The Lime Tree Hotel's perfect pot of tea

A trip to central London may not sound relaxing, but a staycation in Belgravia may be one of the most relaxing stays I've encountered. It was topped off with a watercolour masterclass at MasterPeace in Eccleston Yards, a creative and community-spirited spot around the corner, with restaurants and an artists' studio where we enjoyed two hours of blissful creativity - and even came away with our (relative) masterpieces too, thanks to a welcoming and encouraging tutor. The experience was £45 each.

When we left, we stepped out of Eccleston Yards to head for Victoria station, and the heavens opened. It was as though even the weather is better in Belgravia.

To find out more about staying in Belgravia, go to belgravialdn.com

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