Get the Royal Treatment
NEW YORK (MainStreet)The recent birth of Will and Kate's tiny prince has brought renewed attention to the British monarchy and the grand lives they lead. From their magnificent palaces to their posh cars, jewelry and fashion, the Windsors enjoy a lifestyle most of us mere mortals can only dream about. While your chances of landing a spot in this exclusive family are a long shot, there are ways to get a taste of what it's like to be a royal without going broke. Here are a few ideas to help you feel regal for a day.
Enjoy Afternoon Tea
There's nothing more quintessentially British than teatime, and you can enjoy this beloved tradition like a royal at several well-known hotels across the United States. The Plaza in Manhattan offers a variety of afternoon tea menus daily from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. "The New Yorker" menu, for instance, costs $50 per person and includes tea with an assortment of sandwiches, freshly baked seasonal scones and desserts such as mini cannoli, chocolate cupcakes, lemon tea cakes and New York cheesecake.
If you're on the West Coast, you can sip a variety of teas while nibbling on homemade scones, tea sandwiches, Devonshire cream, lemon curd and rose petal jam at the historic Palace Hotel in San Francisco. The hotel serves afternoon tea on Saturdays between 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m., as well as on special days during the holiday season, and prices start at $47 per person.
Don a Fancy Hat
As you've probably seen from photographs, Kate Middleton's glamorous outfits are often complemented by a stylish hat or fascinator. And who could forget the, shall we say, eye-catching headpieces Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie wore to the royal wedding in 2011?
If you'd like to don your own hat or fascinator in true royal fashion, you can find a variety of styles under $100 at sites such as Macys.com, Nordstrom.com, Hats.com and ModCloth.com.
Horseback riding is a royal tradition all generations of the Windsors enjoy. Queen Elizabeth has been riding regularly from an early age, and her children and grandchildren share a love for horses as well. In fact, the queen's granddaughter, Zara Phillips, won a silver medal for equestrian in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
You can search online to find horseback riding lessons near your homejust be sure to check reviews and call for prices before making an appointment. You can also search for horse riding lessons in your area by typing in your Zip code at EquineNow.com.
Catch a Polo Match
Polo is another beloved pastime of the British royal family. Prince Charles was given his first polo pony at age 15 and enjoyed competing until retiring from the sport in 2005. Today Princes William and Harry are polo enthusiasts as well (William recently made headlines for playing in a charity match on July 14, just a week before the royal baby's birth).
If you're interested in catching a polo match, you can find competitions right here in the United States. The Greenwich Polo Club in Greenwich, Conn., for instance, hosts Sunday polo matches that are open to the public in June, July and September for a fee of $40 per car. You can also search for upcoming polo events throughout the country by visiting the website of the United States Polo Association.
Get a Spa Treatment
One of the perks of being a wealthy royal is enjoying sumptuous spa treatments such as manicures and pedicures, massages and facials. While we don't advise that you splurge on these treatments weekly if you're on a tight budget, enjoying a spa visit every now and then might be just the thing to make you feel pampered. You can find spas and wellness centers near your home by typing in your location on SpaFinder.com. You can also receive emails about great deals at local spas by signing up with deal websites such as Groupon and Google Offers.
Stay in a Castle
Even if you don't actually live in a palace, you can get a feel for what it might be like by booking a room at a castle that has been converted into a hotel. In the United States, the Castle Hotel & Spa in Tarrytown, N.Y., sits atop one of the highest points in Westchester County overlooking the Hudson River and features luxe guestrooms and suites with wood-burning fireplaces (prices start at $355 per night for a standard room).
You can also stay at stunning castle hotels in Europe, such as the Pentillie Castle & Estate in Cornwall, England. Originally built in 1698, the hotel today comprises more than 2,000 acres and features luxuriously appointed rooms available from £130 ($198) per night (price includes breakfast).
Rent a Designer Dress
Kate Middleton's busy social calendar of charity balls, official royal appearances and red-carpet events calls for an array of stunning cocktail dresses and gowns that have made her a fashion icon. Luckily, you can feel like the Duchess for a night without spending royally by renting a designer dress for an upcoming event.
Rent the Runway, for instance, allows you to rent dresses and accessories by top designers for a fraction of the retail cost. Here's how it works: Visit the website to see what's available, then choose your favorite items and your size. After you check out on the site, the items will be shipped to your home via UPS. When your event is over, all you have to do is mail back the items in a pre-paid envelope (they'll take care of the dry-cleaning). Dresses currently up for grabs include the "Coral Coconut Rum Sheath" by Hervé Léger for $150 (retails for $1,450) and the fuschia silk "Sneak Peak Gown" by Cushnie et Ochs for $250 (retails for $1,895).
Buy Hip Baby Gear
It seems like Duchess Kate's every move is photographedand her shopping trips for the royal baby are no exception. In fact, her purchase of a large wicker Moses basket from an exclusive children's store in London in April made headlines. You can give your little prince or princess the same royal treatment by purchasing a special item for him or her, though you don't have to spend a bundle to get something meaningful.
Pottery Barn Kids, for instance, offers the option to personalize a variety of baby products with your child's name for an additional $7 per item, such as silver baby booties, blankets, bedding and robes. You can also find unique items on Etsy.com, including handmade crocheted hats and vintage books and toys.
--Written by Kristin Colella for MainStreet