There are many wonderful things I could tell you about my trip to London for the Royal Ascot. I could tell you about my awesome friends Erin and Alex, who rounded up a big crew to experience one of their favorite pastimes. I could tell you about the Queen, the horses, or the amazing dinner we had at the hotel in Kensington the night before the races. And instead, the story I am going to tell you is an honest and sloppy one. Because apparently bubbles and horse racing go hand in hand, almost as tightly as gambling and big, fancy British hats. I’d never been to the races before, and so I didn’t quite know what to expect. My friend Erin, who frequents the races and makes intricate and stunning derby hats, prepped me accordingly. The Royal Ascot is the crème de la crème of horse racing. There is a strict dress code, a rich history behind the event, and even the queen herself is present! I expect a major fashion event, opulence, and spirited gambling. What I did not expect was the sheer amount of champagne consumed before, during, and after the event – to put it politely, it was a royal shit show.
Having lived in the UK, I know that Britons like to get boozy. And the Royal Ascot is no exception. While there are plenty of races at Ascot between May and October, Royal Ascot Week typically takes place in June and spans over five days. As the course is a mere six miles from Windsor Castle, it’s often frequented by the Royal family, and the Queen herself is known to present the Gold Cup to the winning racehorse and jockey. This does not hamper the debauchery. While there are some of the most beautiful frocks and hats at Ascot, there are also some of the most drunk ladies and gentlemen I have ever seen! And in all honestly, my crew was no exception.
Michael (aka Ed Sheeran, my main friend-squeeze) and I arrived in London on Friday morning. We had tickets to Ascot on Saturday but we’d planned a fun day in London catching up with friends and boozing our way around town (see, no exception!) Michael used to stay at Hotel Xenia in London for work A TON, so no surprise when we showed up and were welcomed with some complimentary bubbles (let the Ascot boozing begin!)
We popped the prosecco on the back balcony (where I promptly dropped and broke a full glass of bubbles – stellar work, Ali).
We then hit the town for some brunch, to meet Richard, one of Michael’s long-time London friends (and now my friend too – you can spot him in some of my Italy birthday photos!)We wound up at Muriel’s in South Kensington where we splurged on some more chapms and avocado toast. Annoyingly enough, I wound up having to work for the rest of the afternoon (my 2016 work-life in a nut shell for ya!) so we went back to the hotel where I sprawled out on a fluffy bed with my laptop for the rest of the afternoon. However, come dinner time the laptop went away for – surprise! – more bubbles (are you noticing a theme yet??) Michael had arranged for the chef at Xenia to cook us a private dinner, which kicked off with nibbles and drinks on the terrace outside. We then all went downstairs for a delicious three course dinner, surrounded by purple flamingos. Just the way I like to dine!
It was awesome using the private dining room as our own little function hall, and as more friends slowly rolled into London for the Ascot, our fancy pants dinner evolved into rowdy billiards and cocktails. That said, we kept the evening fairly tame, as we had an early start for Ascot the next day.
Thankfully, the kitchen saved our extra champagne from the night before, so we were able to kick-start the next day with eggs and mimosas.After fueling up, we left the hotel around 9am and hopped on the train to Ascot. The train ride was cramped and stylish, with most passengers in full fancy-racing attire. We kept the mimosas flowing, and even did a bit of tail gating in the parking lot before we all lined up to enter the Queen Anne Enclosure. While there are multiple enclosures, we picked one with great views and a slightly more strict dress code. Men must wear suits, women must wear hats at all times, and no strapless or belly-revealing dresses permitted.The enclosure itself was a marvel, one which might have been more appreciated if our whole crew wasn’t a thousand drinks in.The hats! The coat tails! The heels! The Royal Ascot was the pinnacle of British fashion and was a true sight to behold.^ ^ My friends and I having just arrived to the enclosure! I was super proud with my homemade race hat, but was told that I looked like a cabbage patch kid – ha!!Like any good race, there was betting. I did not have any luck and lost about fifty quid, but serves me right for always rooting for the underdog!The highlight of the race for me was seeing the Queen. She pranced around the race track in an opening ceremony, and I spotted her again later in the day, awarding a jockey The Golden Cup.Can you spot that little blue hat below in the sea of people?! Hey Queen!! :D Although the races were impressive and fun, they were also sloppy. The line to the bathroom was incredibly long, because at any given time at least three girls were vomiting in the stalls. There were lost shoes speckling the stands and girls tipping over on the grass. There were loud, rowdy betting men and even a fight that broke out over one of the races. While the event itself was formal, the crowd often resembled one you would find at Oktoberfest – the alcohol was expensive but flowed perhaps a bit too freely. I love a good glass of bubbles, but if I attend Asoct this year, I will keep the boozy celebrations a bit more low-key and will instead enjoy the history and ceremony of the race course and perhaps even the races themselves ;)
The next day we woke up slowly for breakfast and spent the morning strolling around London in the sun.
The vitamin D was just what the doctor had ordered after a weekend of debauchery. Attending The Royal Ascot was an amazing experience, and I can’t wait to go back for more hat-wearing and mimosa-sipping!