London, Park Lane: The Crown Jewels and Sotheby’s

Enjoy your own private moment with the Crown Jewels. And receive an exclusive insider’s look at Sotheby’s auction house, previewing an upcoming sale.

Jan 11, 2012
Crown Jewels at the Tower of London
Enjoy a private viewing of the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London.
Photography Pietro and Silvia

Freshly opened in early 2011, Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane has already received the highest possible star rating from the United Kingdom’s Automobile Association, earning the supreme accolade of “Inspector’s Choice.”

Set across from Hyde Park—steps from Mayfair and Knightsbridge shopping—this flagship Four Seasons feels both classic and contemporary, hitting the perfect London balance. There’s chic Italian dining at Amaranto and, above it all, a rooftop spa with all-natural skin care and treatment rooms with breathtaking views of London.

Boasting well-established concierge connections, Four Seasons can arrange private, behind-the-scenes tours at many of the world’s most famous landmarks.

Enjoy Your Own Private Viewing of the Crown Jewels

This exclusive experience at the Tower of London includes a private viewing of the Crown Jewels, carried out either in the morning or evening when the tower is closed to the public.

Your escort is a Blue Badge Tourist Guide, representing the highest accreditation from the U.K.’s Guild of Registered Tour Guides. The tours are usually conducted in the guide’s own vehicle, but if you prefer something more befitting a royal tour, you can request a Mercedes, Bentley or Rolls-Royce.

You’ll drive directly to the Tower of London, founded in 1066. Over the centuries, the castle fortress has served as a royal residence, a treasury, a public records office and a prison. You’ll be greeted by a Yeoman Warder—in traditional “Beefeater” attire—who will escort your group on a short external tour, taking in the Traitors’ Gate and the Execution Site.

You’ll then head to the Jewel House, used for the secure storage of precious objects since the early 14th century. There you’ll be welcomed by the Jewel House Exhibitor, who will supervise the private tour of the Crown Jewels.

Enjoy peace and quiet as you view the ceremonial objects associated with the coronations of English kings and queens. These include crowns, sceptres, orbs, rings, bracelets and swords—many of which are still in use today.

Among the famous gemstones on display is the Great Star of Africa, mounted atop the Sovereign’s Sceptre. Weighing 530 carats, this is the largest flawless cut diamond in the world.

After exiting the Jewel House, you’ll be escorted to a private area in the New Armouries for light refreshments. Then you’ll follow your own guide for a complete tour of the Tower of London—with a rare, crowd-free view.

Go Behind the Scenes at Sotheby’s Auction House

London’s oldest auction house, Sotheby’s was founded on March 11, 1744. From an original specialty in selling rare books, the company’s expertise quickly expanded to encompass fine art, furniture, coins and jewellery. In 1917, Sotheby’s moved to its current location on New Bond Street in Mayfair—just a five-minute drive from Four Seasons.

Over the years, Sotheby’s has been entrusted with the sale of many of the world’s greatest treasures, including Napoleon’s St. Helena library, the Duchess of Windsor’s jewels and the estate of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. In February 2010, the sale of Alberto Giacometti’s L’Homme Qui Marche I reached $104.3 million, setting the auction record at the time for any work of art.

Your guide is a former Sotheby’s employee who wrote her doctorate thesis on the auction house and can recount the most intriguing stories of the company’s history. Together you’ll explore the galleries, offices and storage areas. You’ll view future sale items currently on exhibit, and learn tips on the subtleties of the auction process. The tour can be arranged to coincide with one of the season’s major auctions.

After your tour, you can enjoy refreshments in a private salon, or opt to visit the popular Sotheby’s Café, serving breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea within the auction house. It’s a wonderful opportunity to be immersed in a distinctive London tradition.

To help you plan your winter escape to London, these exclusive Four Seasons opportunities are available in easy-to-arrange packages.

Or, read more about the European Capitals of Culture.


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