Town mouse on holidaying in London

This was not a five-star hotel summer for the Aslets: we spent it at Ramsgate. Coming back to London, however, we felt that life was one treat short of perfection, and so booked into a hotel. One night was enough to lift the spirits, not just because of the pampering, but because of the fresh view it gives of familiar sights. We could see London as visitors-and really, it’s very nice.

The hotel being Dukes, presiding in Edwardian, cigar-smoking opulence over a little courtyard off St James’s Street, we walked there on Saturday afternoon. Sunshine burnished the buttons on the guardsmen’s uniforms outside Buckingham Palace and striped the lawn of Green Park.

The Royal Academy’s ‘Sargent and the Sea’ is a gem of an exhibition, reminding us of Ramsgate. (Hurry-it closes on September 26.) There was a Scottish theme for dinner-smoked haddock soufflé, grouse and a deluxe version of the oatmeal and whisky pudding called cranachan-but the best moment of any hotel experience is breakfast.

With the Sunday papers spread about, ours went on until midday. How good St James’s Palace looks after sausages. Going away can be a strain; I recommend holidaying where you live.