With an eponymous PBS series millions of fans watch for the clothes but mostly to ship her and hot Albert (no shame), Queen Victoria is enjoying A Moment—and a whole new fan base interested in her life and reign. (Also, hot Albert.) Here, our guide to a U.K. trip inspired by the hit show about the petite monarch that's anything but short...on fun nor the best modern life has to offer.
Then: Your own horse-drawn carriage, if you were lucky. (Though you might know that, in the program, Victoria and Albert are weirdly fixated on trains, AKA a symbol of progress and changing times.)
Now: Thank goodness for Norwegian Air, which provides economical direct flights to London from New York. You might have to line up two hours before departure so they can weigh every last case, but that's (literally) a small price to pay for futuristic planes that have party-bus vibes and neat window dimmers, flight attendants that wear funny blazers, and dece smoked salmon for breakfast.
Where to Stay
Then: Some hovel, probably. Or maybe the sad apartment the real Miss Skerrett lived because she got knocked up and that was the end of that in the olden days.
Now: Women have options! For now! If you really wanted to splash out—in celebration of having reproductive rights or access to several different types of birth control or whatever—there's no better choice than the Milestone Hotel in Kensington, where the 44 rooms and 12 suites are all decorated in different, elaborate styles (S/O to the four-poster bed and *two* bathtubs in the Regency) and the service is so seamless you will spend the weeks after checking out wondering why there isn't a miniature Winston Churchill biography being placed on your lovingly plumped-up pillow every night. Real life can be so rude.
Inside, just to make sure you never want to leave, they've also got Cheneston's, a well-appointed restaurant that serves the most divine Dover sole, and the Stables Bar, which whips up a dangerously delicious smoked Old Fashioned. But The Milestone's main selling point, aside from the luxe digs and being so close (across the street, precisely) to Kate's place guests have spotted the Duchess of Cambridge going for a stroll on the grounds? Andrew, Fabrizio, and Angelo, just three of the generously friendly and knowledgeable staff who will greet you by name and keep the whiskey flowing after-hours just because you needed something to chase the awful marg you had at the only place in Soho open past midnight.
Stuff to See and Do
Then: You might spy the old girl herself going for a drive in the park even while pregnant, despite everybody going "That is so dangerous, please stop."
Now: A royal sighting would be ace, but you're here to see old, shiny stuff, including Buckingham House, as it was known back then. Add Kensington Palace to the itinerary, of course, because 1) that's where Will and Kate and co. will live primarily when Prince George starts school in September, and 2) that is also where Queen Victoria spent an insular, lonely childhood until June 20, 1837, when everything was turned upside-down. They've also got an exhibition of Princess Diana's dresses on there until 2018.
On the more *Hollywood* side of things, hop on a train to York, where you can visit Castle Howard and Harewood House, both used in the filming of the show. (Do check if they're open—even if they aren't, touring the grounds and pondering what it's like owning such heaping piles of land and your own private William Morris-designed chapel would be nice.) You'll recognize such visual landmarks as the sitting room where Victoria learns she's queen, the long, antiquities-laden gallery a servant boy runs down to deliver the news of her predecessor's death, and the kitchen that played host to that rat fountain, shudder. And who knows? You might even run into a real dowager countess, an errant Sir, and her dachshunds, one of whom has her own oil painting.
Then: N/A, unless you were on friendly terms with the royal pastry chef dude, who would ply you with ice-cream bombes to make you want to run away with him, even though you won't because you are a strong, independent woman with secondhand abandonment issues who don't need no man but might want one.
Now: We are all Nancy, but don't let that keep you from living your best life and planning the Victoria-est trip you can. First stop: Visit Great Britain, a solid resource for travel tips, activities organized by interest, and booking tickets, in one go. Next, consider enlisting a Blue Badge guide like my dude Russell Nash to take you around the neighborhood (or another site of your choosing) whilst dispensing the most accurate information. Finally, order yourself a Stone Heart at Disrepute on Carnaby Street—Henny might not be historically sound, but if the series is any indication, Queen V. knew how to have a jolly good time.