One of the best things about Florida? Staycations. We spent last weekend in Palm Beach, eating, shopping and visiting Downton Abbey: The Exhibition, where we toured recreations of several of the rooms at Downton and saw actual costumes worn by actors during filming.
We love the totally different vibes that you get from Palm Beach (the pristinely groomed lawns and amazing estates, home of The Breakers hotel and the Flagler mansion) vs. West Palm Beach (lively restaurants, bars and festivals), but they’re so close to each other that you can experience both easily in the same weekend.
WHERE WE STAYED IN PALM BEACH
This was our second time staying at The Chesterfield Palm Beach, and it won’t be the last. The style is unapologetically Palm Beach, from the banana leaf Martinique wallpaper to the perfect pink walls and the cheeky monkey mural on the elevator door. It was designed in the manner of a European bed and breakfast and does a perfect job of combining old-world charm and architecture with attentive English service.
Pro tip: Skip lunch before tea—you definitely won’t leave hungry! Not only was everything delicious and the service fantastic, it was such a fun experience we’ll definitely do again.
THE CHESTERFIELD PALM BEACH
363 Cocoanut Row, Palm Beach
Reservations: (561) 659-5800 or online
WHERE WE ATE IN WEST PALM BEACH
We headed over the bridge to West Palm Beach (a quick Uber ride) for dinner at City Cellar Wine Bar & Grill, which, in partnership with Downton Abbey: The Exhibition, is offering 10 percent off a meal with an exhibition ticket.
They also offer a Downton-inspired cocktail, the Lord Grantham Old Fashioned (Gentleman Jack, orange bitters and filthy cherry). Tempting as it was to sip the same drink as the Earl himself would, we aren’t much for whiskey, so we opted for the Hill Family Estates wine flight, which we liked to think the Crawley family would also approve of.
For dinner, Mom chose the Blue Crab Cake with piquillo pepper aioli, avocado and pickled corn, and I ordered the Diver Scallops and Spaghetti with one of the tastiest spicy San Marzano sauces I’ve ever had. (I’m now determined to figure out how to recreate it.)
For breakfast the next morning, we decided to check out the legendary Leopard Lounge at The Chesterfield, an institution in Palm Beach. Its black lacquered walls, gilded accents and leather banquettes probably set the mood for the evening hours better than breakfast, but the Smashed Avocado toast with poached eggs was delicious, and Mom ate every bite of her Traditional English Breakfast with two eggs, bacon, grilled tomato, home fries and toast. You can also dine from the same menu in the adorable hotel courtyard or by the pool (which we did last time we stayed here).
CITY CELLAR WINE BAR & GRILL
700 S. Rosemary Ave., West Palm Beach (CityPlace)
Reservations: (561) 366-0071 or online
WHAT WE DID IN WEST PALM BEACH
Geeking out for a minute: Visiting Downton Abbey: The Exhibition was top on our list of things to do in Palm Beach. Mom watched the series years ago and loved it, but I didn’t see it until recently, when I binged it every night for the last few weeks in anticipation of this exhibit. If you’re a fan of the show, it’s a must-see (and will definitely get you excited for the movie in September!)
If you’ve never seen Downton Abbey, here’s a quick summary: Set in a great estate in the English countryside from 1912 to 1926, it follows the Granthams and servants who live and work in the house through World War I, the Jazz Age and an ever-modernizing world. Even if you haven’t seen the show, the exhibit offers a lot of interesting historical tidbits and artifacts scattered throughout, particularly in the form of fashion; more than 50 of the costumes worn by the actors during production are on display—some of which are authentic vintage pieces—and the detail and craftsmanship on each is breathtaking.
You can also walk through several rooms of the house, including Mrs. Patmore’s kitchen (which smells like cinnamon!), Mr. Carson’s pantry, the servants’ quarters, the dining room and Lady Mary’s bedroom. We spent about two hours there. Downton Abbey: The Exhibition is on display at CityPlace in West Palm Beach until April 22.
DOWNTON ABBEY: THE EXHIBITION
575 S. Rosemary Ave., West Palm Beach (CityPlace)
Of course, we couldn’t stay at The Chesterfield without walking the two blocks to the famous Worth Avenue for some shopping and sightseeing. This famous street is home to around 250 upscale shops, including Tiffany & Co., Ralph Lauren, Neiman Marcus, Island Company and more, as well as some great restaurants—we love having dinner among the twinkling lights in Pizza Al Fresco‘s popular courtyard. But one of the things I love best about Palm Beach is the charming “vias” off the main avenue; they’re lush with beautiful landscaping, fountains and architecture, and peeking down each one feels a bit like uncovering a secret.
Thank you to Downton Abbey: The Exhibition, The Chesterfield Palm Beach and City Cellar Wine Bar & Grill for hosting us.