Welcome to The Check-In, our weekend feature focusing on all things travel.
Cocktails to confections: Here's how to celebrate the coronation in London
Did your invitation to King Charles III's coronation get lost in the mail? You can still celebrate on your own, with events happening across London through the end of May.
At The Doyle Collection's properties in London — The Bloomsbury, The Marylebone, and The Kensington — visitors can imbibe with a special drink inspired by sustainability, a matter that's reportedly near and dear to the king's heart. Each hotel is concocting a zero-waste cocktail using British spirits and sustainably-sourced produce. At The Bloomsbury, for example, you can sip on the King Charles Espresso, which includes a homemade coffee kombucha made from reusable coffee grounds. It will give you just the jolt you need to get around London.
Put your baking skills to the test at Biscuiteers, where there are multiple events to celebrate the coronation. At the School of Icing, you'll learn the ins and outs of frosting cookies, like piping, feathering, and coloring, and will end the session with nine beautifully-decorated royal-themed biscuits to put inside a special tin. Before you go, grab one of the Union Jack macarons to really mark the occasion.
Who's the commoner now? In the London Eye Coronation Capsule, you'll look down on everyone below. The capsule has been transformed into Westminster Abbey in the sky, with replicas of the coronation chair and Crown Jewels that visitors can pose with. On top of the props and extraordinary views, you'll also get a glass of champagne. This experience is available through May 8.
Open through May 14, the Crown Jewels Garden inside Covent Garden is described as a "bespoke coronation pub experience," with a host of different British beverage brands on the menu, as well as traditional bar snacks like sausage rolls and various pies. There are also photo opportunities throughout Covent Garden, including in front of a special coronation-themed mural by graffiti artist Jimmy C.
If history is more your thing, go to the ground floor of Claridge's to see coronation-related items from the hotel's archives. Some of these objects date back 200 years, and include pages from Queen Victoria's diary, fans made in 1911 for King George V's coronation, and menus from celebrations of the crowning of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. When you're done there, head over to the Painter's Room, where they're serving several drinks in honor of King Charles, including the Coronation Cocktail made with Fino sherry, dry vermouth, kina, agave, and orange bitters.
Of course, if you're in London, you'll want to go to afternoon tea. The Week UK has put together a guide to 12 of the best, including a special tea at The Rosebery inside the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park. It starts with a glass of Bollinger champagne, and only goes up from there. In a nod to culinary history, the tea includes a "King's Coronation Chicken" sandwich, as well as regal cakes — the showstopper is "The Crown," made with chocolate mousse, white chocolate, and a purple iced sponge cake. This afternoon tea is available through May 14.
Hospitality experts share tipping advice, from restaurants to rideshares
To tip or not to tip? That is the "hottest topic in etiquette right now," Daniel Post Senning, co-author of Emily Post Etiquette: The Centennial Edition, told The New York Times. In the United States, it's expected at restaurants, but as more businesses use tablets for payment, the tip option is showing up during some non-traditional transactions. This, Senning said, is leading to "growing anxiety and public discussion around tipping."
The Times asked several experts to weigh in on when to leave a gratuity, and most agreed that when it comes to dining in a restaurant, a 15 percent tip is standard, with 20 percent for excellent service. Pre-pandemic, the standard was closer to 18 percent, but inflation has bumped it back down, said Amanda Belarmino, an assistant professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. For taxi or rideshare drivers, tip 15 to 20 percent of the fare, keeping in mind how clean their vehicle is and the level of service.
Elaine Swann, founder of the Swann School of Protocol in Southern California, heads out on any vacation with lots of $1 and $5 bills, so she can tip people who help during her journey, like the valet or bellhop. Give those who handle luggage a few dollars per suitcase — more if they have to carry something cumbersome, like a ski bag — and leave $2 to $5 per night for a hotel housekeeper, putting the tip out in the morning so it's waiting for them. Belarmino told the Times that housekeepers are "some of the least-often tipped employees in the service industry. Unlike servers, who are often paid less than minimum wage that is then made up by tips, hotel housekeepers' pay is not contingent upon tips. However, it is a courtesy to tip them."
When it comes to private or group tours, it's recommended to give the leaders and bus drivers about $7 to $10, both CIE Tours and Intrepid Travel told the Times. If it's a free tour, $10 to $20 for the guide is the average, with anything higher greatly appreciated. Sometimes, gratuity doesn't have to be monetary. ToursByLocals is a platform used by local guides who set their own prices. Co-founder and CEO Paul Melhus shared with the Times that tips are discouraged because "the guides are in essence entrepreneurs, rather than employees, and we suggest that the best tip a traveler can leave is to return to the site and leave a thoughtful review, which will help that guide to grow their business."
Henn na New York: Yes, that's a dinosaur in the lobby
When you're ready to check into Henn na Hotel New York, just look for the giant T-Rex. The first Henn na Hotel Group property to open up outside of Japan, the Midtown Manhattan outpost is both tech-forward and irreverent. In the lobby, there's an animatronic Tyrannosaurus rex that welcomes guests to the check-in process, and just one floor up, there is an indoor green lounge with vertical foliage. The on-site restaurant, GOSUKE, serves Japanese cuisine for lunch and dinner, and hotel guests receive 10 percent off their bills. Henn na New York's rooms are minimalist, and the executive rooms and suites have a lifesaver for travelers on business: LG Styler Closets, which steam and refresh clothes.
Plan accordingly: Upcoming events to add to your calendar
Spoleto Festival USA is a music lover's dream. This performing arts festival is set for May 26-June 11, with events taking place all across charming Charleston, South Carolina, in theaters, churches, and other venues. What makes this fest stand out is it not only showcases seasoned performers, but also up-and-comers who get the chance to work with these established artists (one notable example: Yo-Yo Ma, who played here early in his career). If you like jazz, chorale, chamber music, opera, theater, and dance, then this is the place.
The Aspen Ideas Festival, running June 21 to 30 in Aspen, Colorado, is all about thinking big. This year's festival will feature more than 100 speakers tackling hot topics, including Patagonia CEO Ryan Gellert, who will talk about corporate responsibility and saving the Earth; John Mather, a Nobel Prize-winning astrophysicist and Webb Telescope senior project scientist who will share his views on the universe; actor Rainn Wilson (The Office) discussing how to find hope in a cynical world; and journalist Katie Couric in conversation with tennis icon Chris Evert. General admission passes include access to content sessions; networking opportunities; breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and espresso drinks; and activities like yoga and guided nature walks.